Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Axis of Evil

The North Koreans admit they kidnapped Japanese citizens to learn language and culture skills to better infiltrate Japan. The horrible nature of this crime, carried out during the 1970s and 1980s, is made all the more horrible by the North Korean statement that the surviving Japanese citizens "might" be allowed to return to Japan!

This small-scale example of North Korea’s nature may be more easily grasped by those who doubt North Korea has earned its label as evil. Launching a bloody war in 1950 was not enough to make the appeasers suspicious. Assassination attempts and terrorism directed against the South was not enough to question whether something might be amiss in the North. Mass starvation because they would rather hide the result of their misrule rather than ask for help was not enough to raise an eyebrow. The gulags and hair-trigger military that soaks up the North’s resources and is poised to invade with little notice is not enough to consider them hostile. Those are all mere bumps in the road to those who would look away. But eleven innocents kidnapped, long denied by the North, might put a graspable human face on the problem of North Korea. They snatched innocents off the streets to squeeze them dry of their knowledge of their homeland in order to destory their country and countrymen. That is evil.

But apologists will instead hail this admission as a sign of wonderful opportunities for constructive engagement or some such rot.

This does not mean we move on to invade North Korea after we take care of Iraq. North Korea is different than Iraq. The problem here really can be contained. There is no Kim Jong Il cult around the world that the North Koreans can incite to violence against us. Their pursuit of nuclear weapons truly does seem more intended as a deterrent to protect the regime. They may be persuaded to curtail missile sales and nuclear weapons development with diplomacy. But other than that cooperation and aid, they should be contained until the government collapses. And it will. It is highly militarized and broke.

The South is hardly eager to absorb the North, especially after watching wealthier West Germany pay the price for absorbing a relatively well off East Germany. The South would be hobbled by the cost of governing the poverty stricken North. The North will collapse, but the South is too fearful of the costs to be eager to foment collapse as long as invasion does not seem imminent.

And Iran is different too. They will overthrow their mullahs and welcome normal relations with us. We do not need to invade Iran, just support the opposition in Iran.

Critics of the "Axis of Evil" statement mistakenly assumed that lumping these states together implied one strategy to defeat them. Poppycock. The original axis was dealt with by invasion and occupation (Germany), nuking (Japan), and defection (Italy). The modern version will be defeated on terms that make sense for each of them. Another difference is that the modern axis is just the first grouping. Others, of a less immediate threat, must be dealt with too. They may not ever even require military means to resolve. But we will defeat them too.

But first, on to Baghdad.