Way back in 2012 when I first formulated my initial list of countries to move to, and not move to, I said that South Korea was not an option for a place where I could relocate to. I said that although South Korea is awesome, it was simply too risky. No matter how interesting or economically successful it is, I have no interest in moving to a country with thousands of missiles pointed at it that could be launched at any time by a literal madman.
Worse, the events of the last week have shown that Seoul could be vaporized by North Korea even if South Korea does nothing wrong. A hotheaded neocon US President like Trump could easily provoke Kim Jong Un into launching an attack on South Korea that would cost the lives of tens of thousands.
This is made more interesting (or tragic, based on your point of view) in that North Korea really can’t retaliate against the USA if Trump rattles his saber; they can only retaliate against regional nations like South Korea and Japan. North Korea doesn’t have any missiles that can hit the US from across the Pacific Ocean (at least at the moment). It’s true they have some submarines, but they’re old, pussy submarines, none of which can fire nukes, and only a handful of which can fire ballistic missiles. Maybe. So the absolute worst-case scenario for Americans is that maybe a North Korean sub gets past our Pacific naval security net and maybe a few non-nuclear missiles get lobbed into Los Angeles without accidentally detonating first. But that’s about it.
This means that South Korea is essentially at the mercy of the US President. One misstep in American foreign policy can get thousands of innocent South Koreans killed.
This is why South Korea was never on my possible move-to list.
What To Do About North Korea
So, if antagonizing North Korea is reckless and stupid and not the answer, what can we do about them?
Well, the left-wing answer, sanctions, aren’t going to work. History clearly shows that psychotic dictators don’t care if you enact sanctions against their country. They’ll still be just fine with their limos and palaces while their people starve. They don’t care.
Bullying is clearly not going to work. Staying very strong is always a good idea, but actively antagonizing a psychotic dictator with his button on thousands of missiles, including nukes, is not a smart move.
Bribing them isn’t going to work. We tried that. Back in the 90’s, the sociopathic Bill Clinton took $4 billion of your tax dollars and gave it to North Korea in exchange for a promise to not develop nukes. Just as you’d expect, North Korea took the money, laughed at us, and developed nukes anyway. Thanks, Bill. (What a great president he was!)
Diplomatic pressure against North Korea isn’t going to work. Again, they don’t care.
Diplomatic pressure on China might help a little. North Korea needs China, so China is the only entity that can slap Kim Jong Un around a little bit.
The problem is that China likes North Korea just the way it is. It’s a buffer state between them and the “Western” capitalistic Asian countries like South Korea and Japan. China likes watching the West sweat a little by having North Korea around. A reunified Korea literally on China’s border is the last thing China wants. North Korea is basically a rabid, foaming, barking pit bull chained up in front of China’s house; it’s a little extra protection for them.
So China will gently yank on North Korea’s leash a little bit now and again, but they’re not going to actually do anything to solve the overall problem.
Cyber warfare is another option that might help a little. Our government has hinted that our cyber warfare efforts have, perhaps, caused missile launch malfunctions with North Korea. This is a very good thing and we need to keep it up, but my understanding is that North Korea has hundreds of thousands of missiles. If they decide to launch them, our cyber warfare won’t stop them all; just a percentage of them.
So what do we do?
All the options are bad, but the least-bad option was one suggested by the Heritage Foundation a very long time ago. That is, let Japan develop their own nukes. Right now, Japan is prohibited from developing nuclear weapons, with the promise that we in the US will use our nukes to defend Japan.
This is, of course, insane. The defense of Japan is Japan’s problem, not our problem. In a very real way, North Korea is South Korea and Japan’s problem, not our problem. We should not be the world’s policeman; not with our debt and other huge domestic economic problems.
Japan is a wealthy, high-tech nation. Just change the treaties to allow them to develop their own nukes, and let them know that they need to defend themselves from now on. Hell, we can even sell them nukes and all the relevant nuke tech and make some money on the deal. Once Japan has some nice, scary nukes, North Korea is going to be very nervous about launching any missiles at anyone, for any reason.
To be clear, there are lots of problems with this plan. I didn’t say it was a good plan; there are no good plans when it comes to North Korea. I said it was the least-bad plan available to us, because it is. Let Japan become its own nuclear power in the region, and let them take dick with North Korea. American taxpayers should not be forced at gunpoint to give money to defend wealthy Japanese and South Koreans.
This will never happen, of course. Bush-Obamaism, of which Trump is clearly a follower, is committed to being the world’s incompetent, bankrupt policeman. So, the USA will continue to spend billions of your tax dollars to antagonize a psycho with nukes, and put thousands (if not millions) of lives at risk.
Oh well. I tried.