The U.N. this weekend passed harsh sanctions on North Korea.
And I suppose that given the lack of other options, it was about all that they could do. And certainly there will be some suffering in the country, as this article North Korea faces hungry winter points out. And don't shed any tears for the regime either-- one of the problems they have is that they, the North Korean government, refused to accept enough food from the World Food Program to feed about four million people earlier this year. They do face a shortage of about 800,000 tons of grain this winter, less than ten percent of which is expected to be made up by the world community despite the fact that the sanctions imposed this weekend specifically exempt food. There are also hints already that China, fearing a flood of refugees, may not comply with all of the sanctions which they themselves voted for.
It is also true that Kim Jong Il will eat well. Those who suffer will be outside of his palace walls, not inside. This is a regime that doesn't care a whole lot if people starve, as long as they are free to pursue their weapons programs.
And one risk we run as well is that if the sanctions bite too hard, it may push the country into exactly the scenario that we fear most-- that they will sell their nuclear technology, such as it is, to the leadership of al Qaeda (who despite the Bush administration's claims to the contrary, still control enough money to make a serious offer on it) or to other would be terrorists or terrorist nations.
Am I the only one who believes that our strategy towards nations like North Korea and Iran is exactly the opposite of what it should be?
I mean, we have been attempting to diplomatically and economically isolate them for the past half a century. And it has been about as successful as our similar efforts in regard to Fidel Castro have been. Maybe it's time to try something different.
As I've said before, what brought down the Soviet Union was not our thousands of nuclear missiles, which remained unlaunched (as did theirs). It was the desire of their people to be done with the regime, and to have more of what we have.
Consumerism is a strong force. I've said it in at least a couple of other recent posts, but it seems to me that if we traded with the North Koreans, especially consumer goods, they would experience a revival of the hopes and dreams of their own people-- and that is an even stronger force. Why conservatives, of all people, can't recognize the best weapon we have-- capitalism, and be ready to use it, is beyond me.