Recent threads have gotten me thinking about North Korea. In the debate over attacking Iraq, the question is often asked: if Iraq, why not North Korea? My response was always that that war would be cost-prohibitive, in money and lives (on both sides). The cost-benefit ratio just wasn't there. But I'm starting to change my mind. Hopefully, everyone knows what is going on in North Korea right now. If not, here is some background: http://www.disasterrelief.org/Disasters/990408nkorea/ is a description of the general situation. The basic problem is that the leadership of N. Korea (Kim Jong Il) has so destroyed the economy that farmers don't even have the resources to grow crops: upwards of 90% of the fields in North Korea are idle. ESTIMATES and time-frames of the death-toll vary, but the number is likely in the millions, in under a decade. Looking around, I've seen as much as 3 million in 5 years, and 4 million in 10. A more common number is 2 million in 10 years. Of a population of about 20 million, that's a 10% in 10 years. For some perspective, STALIN is credited with the deaths of up to 43 million people over his rule and Pol Pot, 2 million in 3 years (the per capita record of 8% a year). WIKIPEDIA puts Stalin's death-toll at 8-20 million out of about 150 million, most in about 4 years. So, as you can see, Il is right up their among the worst mass-murderers of his own people that this world has ever seen. Now, the above facts are one of two reasons I'm changing my mind. These are numbers that can't be ignored and the world should not allow this to go on. I don't accept the argument that its an internal affair. The second reason I'm changing my opinion is I'm rethinking the military situation. There are several reasons I think we could succeed, relatively easily, in overthrowing Il: Perhaps the biggest reason is that China is no big fan of Il. China is moderating and sees firsthand, through starving refugees, how big the problem is. Next, though North Korea's military is formidable on paper, there is good reason to believe that it only exists on paper. There are indications that Il is even having trouble feeding his military. Now if he's having trouble feeding his military, it stands to reason that he's also having trouble equipping it. And I don't mean providing tanks, I mean keeping them running and arming them. In addition, nothing hurts morale more than lack of food and equipment. Iron fist or not, I doubt the North Korean military has much will to fight. Saddam's military fell apart like wet tissue paper: North Korea's is bigger, but in worse shape and I think it would fall apart even faster. The one good act I attribute to Clinton was dumb luck due to wussiness, but it worked: A war with no ground troops in Yugoslavia. Basically, a month of airstrikes broke the back of Milosevic's regime, enabling the rise of dissent and his overthrow a year later. I think it is quite possible the same tactic could work in North Korea. The other side of the cost-benefit analysis is, of course, civilian casualties. With hundreds of thousands of people dying every year, even if 100,000 die in the war, it would be a positive result. An immediate influx of large quantities of food from all over the world could end the starvation rather quickly. And considering how bad the situation is there now and the fact that there is little latent hatred for the west there, I don't think there will be any post-war resistance. Now obviously, the US military can't handle such a thing today. Perhaps in a year or two, Iraq and the war on terror will have died down enough to free-up half a million troops to commit to the job (even if we don't use ground troops right away, they still need to be there). Politically, well... I suppose the world would like it if we built a coalition, but quite frankly, I don't care. We didn't have a great mandate this time in Iraq, but then, we didn't have one in Yugslavia either. The only reason we had one in Iraq, '91, was that the rest of the Arabian peninsula was worried Saddam would attack them next and the world was worried about their oil supply. The UN is impotent situations where force is required unless there is a clear threat to a large number of countries in it. I guess a year or so of threats and posturing in the UN would be a good idea to make it look like we care about the UN's opinion and to get it on the record that we gave Il an opportunity to step-down, but we all know such things are futile diversions that serve only to allow the enemy to prepare its defenses. Had Neville Chaimberlain refused to sign that stupid piece of paper in 1938, tens of millions of people could have been spared from death in WWII. So, opinions: should we do it or not (morally, ethically, pracically, politically?)? Would the world support it? How much risk is worth ending this cataclysm?