Columns / Discourse / April 17, 2013

Debating Columnists: The North Korea non-issue

Kim Jong-Un’s threats to “nuke” the United States have given rise to daily reports on North Korea and many news articles discussing the U.S. response. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the media bringing attention to a sensational situation when there are much more important things to cover.

In all fairness to the news organizations, the threat of a nuclear bomb is rather serious in today’s world. Currently, nine nations have nuclear weapons, with North Korea maintaining about 10 of the approximated 17,300. A nuclear weapon of any sort could do a lot of damage, but to me the statistics just do not lie. Even if, for some reason, the U.S. was worried despite their incredible advantage in terms of nuclear arsenal, there would still be the issue of North Korea’s severe lack of missile capabilities.

Despite the numerous press releases and missile tests, North Korea still does not have a missile capable of reaching U.S. soil, much less with one of their nuclear weapons attached. This makes it very clear that the nation’s claims of war with the U.S. and the rather humorous “hit list” of cities to bomb are nothing but show. North Korea cannot back up its claims so aside for the comical aspect of the story, there is very little reason to be focusing on the “issue” so much.

The only “real” problem with Kim Jong-Un’s threats was the relationship between North Korea and China. Yet now even the Chinese are turning their backs on North Korea and have been talking to U.S. officials about toning down the rhetoric of the North Korean leaders. Luckily, China and the U.S. appear to be looking for peaceful solutions to the situation.

For the most part, I agree with the actions of the Obama administration’s dealings with the situation, but it has been far from perfect. In the United Nations, a U.S. drafted sanctions bill has been approved to further enforce previous sanctions of items relating to nuclear production as well as tightening certain luxury import bans on the county’s elite. This is, in my opinion, a proper response. These ridiculous threats deserve further isolating the county and moving on with our nation’s daily activities. However, the U.S.’s hands are not quite as clean as they appear in this situation.

In addition to the UN sanctions, the U.S. has increased “military drills” near the border of the Koreas. This is the opposite of what we should be doing as a country. Obama’s idea of “strategic patience” (despite its vague name), is a good one. As mentioned above, there is little to no threat from North Korea at the moment, so one has to ask, why the drills? If we are to accuse North Korea of being overly provocative, then it seems rather ridiculous to be sending B-2 bombers to drop rubber-bombs at the North Korean border. These “military drills” are essentially giving Kim Jong-Un justification for his rather crazy claims. By showing that we can, and would, drop bombs on Korean soil, we begin to justify the nation’s need to run missile tests and military drills of their own. For this reason, the Obama administration needs to hit the breaks and realize that there is no reason to start poking at an unstable regime just because it made empty threats.

As much criticism as the UN receives, it truly is the best place to handle “conflicts” such as this one. By continuing sanctions and showing international disapproval of North Korea’s actions the country has only two options: either they stop the nonsense and try to gain any standing in the international community or they continue with empty threats and become more and more isolated. With no trading partners and a mess of an economy, it is safe to say that without international help North Korea is in trouble. So rather than continue to provoke the provokers, the U.S. simply needs to be patient and realize that there is no way North Korea is achieving its plans any time in the foreseeable future. For once, it appears that the international community is on our side and it would be great if we did not ruin it by flexing our military muscle at every available moment.

Payton Rose
Senior Payton Rose is a political science major with minors in creative writing and Spanish. This is his first year working for The Knox Student as discourse editor. He has written a political column for TKS for two years.

Tags:  China conflict Kim Jong-Un military drills north korea nuclear bomb nuclear weapon obama sanctions bill strategic patience U.S. UN sanctions

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