Nuclear Arms Race and North Korea

According to this CBS news story, former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung is afraid the current UN-North Korea flap over nuclear arms will cause a military conflict. This is a real possibility. After much browbeating, arm-twisting, and probably not-so-subtle US threats of unilateral action, the UN unanimously approved a resolution to block military and luxury-item shipments in and out of North Korea, in effect making such shipments illegal.

The UN’s mandate does not provide for military force (the U.S. “concession”). But the only way to enforce such a mandate is for someone to board and inspect outgoing and incoming ships from North Korea. And guess who that someone will be. You can be sure it won’t be Japan, Russia, China, or South Korea. It would be the United States.

Not too surprisingly, North Korea would consider such an enterprise to be an act of war waged by the United States and backed by the UN member nations in whose name this idiocy is to be carried out. After all, reason the North Korean leadership, under international law, interdiction of trade is considered an act of war.

The North Korean rulers are likely to see this as a dare and a challenge to their pride or even manhood. Resisting such interference of their shipping is the North Korean version of “staying the course” and not “cutting and running.” Minor military skirmishes can easily spiral out of control, and a general war between North and South Korea, perhaps Japan and China is not out of the question. According to Global Security, the North Korean Reserve Military (active army) has 1.7 million soldiers under arms right now. These are active duty or important rear position support. On top of that, they have Worker-Peasant Militia and the Young Red Guards 5.3 million people who are the equivalent of the US National Guard and are undoubtedly combat ready. This is 7 million people under arms.

So how will this play out? My nightmare scenario is that the United States military attempt to carry out these inspections and an armed confrontation results. The United States looks to be bogged down right now in Iraq, but there is not that much of a shorefront in the desert, and so the US Navy is not playing that large a role. Thus, the redoubtable and foolish Mr. Bush and his buddies could send the Navy there to patrol and “inspect.” It is not entirely unlikely that a land war with millions of combatants could suddenly arise, a situation not seen since the Second World War. And this time, the United States , Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel, and likely even countries such as Brazil have nuclear weapons–all UN members and therefore enemies in the eyes of a North Korea at war.

The United States’ policy shows that power knows no shame. At the same time that the United States is developing new nuclear weapons and has a military budget that is larger than the military budgets of the rest of the world combined, US policy makers take it upon themselves to say who may or may not develop nuclear weapons. And in case the North Koreans need more grist for their propaganda mill, George Bush just declared that the United States has the right to determine who uses space. Under this doctrine, the United States could say North Korea, Iran, or another such state cannot put a satellite into space and reserves the right to take it down by any means necessary.

It is time for all American citizens, and all citizens of the world, to mount a gigantic antiwar movement to stop this insanity. I will write soon of how I think this can come about..

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