Lets talk International Relations for a bit, shall we. And lets start with the specific and move to the general. On North Korea, it’s attitudes like this that are fueled by media fans and the ignorance of the masses and group think that causes international relations to degrade into war.
The suggestion in this NBC article title “What happens if North Korea Gets Out of Hand” is that North Korea (or at least it’s leaders) are some illogical children that require discipline or wild animals that need to be caged. There’s also a strong insinuation in the U.S./North Korea relationship that the U.S. is the parent and has an obligation to watch over the poor choices North Korean leaders make.
I probably don’t have to explain the disturbing nature of this thought process to any of my readers. So lets move to my next point: assuming a state leader is illogical and irrational leads to terrible outcomes.
I’ve argued this in the past, but since the entirety of the world does not read my blog, I’ve failed to convince everyone to change their thought processes.
Kim Jong Un is no less irrational than any other leader. He wants power and the admiration of his people like all other state leaders. He also fears death, just like all other state leaders…irrespective of what you might think.
Now, would you like to know what’s actually going on?
South Korea and the U.S. held bombing drills with nuclear capable aircraft in close proximity to North Korea. When that information made it’s way to the press, Kim Jong Un had only one real choice. He could do nothing and look weak to his people and the rest of the world, or he could rattle his saber as if he took this test as an act of war. Since Kim is also a new state leader, he is doubly obligated to show his strength in light of the nuclear-esque tests in South Korea.
What’s happening now is completely normal. North Korea has to save face by showing it will puff up and defend itself against these aggressive acts by the U.S. and South Korea (and they are aggressive…It’s akin to a husband punching a wall when he’s mad at his wife). At the same time, the U.S. has to let citizens know that they are not taking “these threats” lightly, but that nothing will come of North Korea’s actions.
But something else is in play. Because the U.S. and South Korea are democracies, state leaders are at the whim of public opinion. If the public is demanding military action, they may have to choose between war and their jobs. Obviously, you and I know the appropriate response. But if you were in their shoes, could you tell your family and your colleagues, “Sorry, I know you think I have no balls…but I couldn’t go to war with that state.”