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What About North Korea?

  1. Dec 5, 2004 #1

    russ_watters

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    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:

    HERE 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?
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2004 #2
    This question must be asked, If Iraq has cost the US several trillion dollars (I've heard estimates up to 7 by the end of the year)...
    The how much would Korea have cost if it's more expensive?
     
  4. Dec 5, 2004 #3
    7 Trillion!? Where did you hear that? The estimate I usually see is 150 Billion
     
  5. Dec 5, 2004 #4
    Debt wise, the USA can't handle another war of even close in cost to that of Iraq, already your great grandchildren will be paying off the current debt. One must consider the possible benefits of the Iraq war though, Oil is running out and if America controls Iraq (as in a similar situation to Israel) it will definitly pay off, likely however it will only pay the upper class and social elite. Back on topic, North Korea doesn't have a whole lot of usefull resources, it is for this reason I don't think the USA will not invade it in the near future.

    Morally, even if I shared America's "Freedom" oriented morals I would not think it was right. You can't spread Freedom at gun point, the people must do it themselves.

    Politically is where it gets interesting, I beleive the world will take it one of two ways. One, they will begin to see the US isn't just invading countries for oil and that they are accually going after dictators and oppressive governments and will support you. Two, they will think the US is flexing it's musceles again and anti-americanism will sky rocket throughout the entire world to a degree several multitudes that already being experienced.
    Possible three, they will see something (I wouldn't know what, I havn't studied North Korea) that the US will gain from it and consider it another Iraq, same reaction the US is getting for Iraq, some European and Asian nations may take a stance to hurt the US economically.

    I find the chances of the world supporting this to be unlikely, but possible, you'd have to regain world trust in international media first to make sure of it, not an easy task, but possible without doing so.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  6. Dec 5, 2004 #5
    I heard 7 trillion in an independant documentary I saw about a week ago. I've never heard anything as low as 150 billion, i think they're definitly leaving something out, the usual I heard for last year is around 3 trillion.
     
  7. Dec 5, 2004 #6

    loseyourname

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    I think you're referring to the total debt of the US, smurf, not to the cost of the war.

    I'd like to state that I thought we should have gone into North Korea in the first place, not Iraq.
     
  8. Dec 5, 2004 #7
    Probably... So what's bush spending it on if not the war?
     
  9. Dec 5, 2004 #8
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  10. Dec 5, 2004 #9

    loseyourname

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    The national debt has been accumulating ever since the inception of the nation. Bush hasn't spent 7 trillion more than the governent has brought in. Spending bills are drafted and passed by Congress, anyway. The president has some input and he signs the bill, but no one man could determine how and where to spend all of the money that is spent.
     
  11. Dec 5, 2004 #10
  12. Dec 5, 2004 #11
    .........so Bush just spent 3 trillion of America's dollars and no one knows where it went? Worse than i thought it was
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  13. Dec 5, 2004 #12
    More like 1.8 trillion, or 1800 billion. And 150 billion was for Iraq. Supposedly 9/11 cost 639 billion, I am not sure exactly what they are taking into account though. Another place says 9/11 cost NY about 95 billion. But I am no economists so I am not sure how this plays a role in the national debt.

    Here is a site that, I guess, has all of the govt spending for the month of October: http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/mts1004.pdf
     
  14. Dec 5, 2004 #13

    russ_watters

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    You're not getting it: The national budget is about $2 trillion a year, so in 4 years, Bush (Congress) has spent about $8 trillion. Of that, something like $1 trillion was added debt. And yes, we absolutely know where the money was spent: the budget is published every year.

    The entire Iraq situation could not possibly have cost more than a couple hundred billion unless you add a large fraction of the already existing military budget - in which case, the max that could be argued it cost is about $800 billion.
    That's probably the hit the US GDP took - nothing to do with government spending/debt.

    In any case, North Korea (perhaps I should have made this a poll): Smurf, you gave a lot of good pros and cons - so what do you think? Should we or shouldn't we?
     
  15. Dec 6, 2004 #14
    Well, that certainly clears up the whole debt thing. So the war so far has cost about 1.5 trillion, is that just since the war has ended? or including the cost of the initial invasion, including everything?
    I'll have a better understanding next semester when I take economics.

    Anyways, Should you invade Korea you ask?
    Well, firstly I'd like to say if you do, building a coalition can only be a good move, firstly because your sharing the costs, secondly because the war can no longer be blamed solely on your and the British (honestly I'm not sure if the British will go with you this time, Blair is about to lose the election so it's unlikely another pro neo conservative will be elected), also it will help with the peacekeeping, knowing it's the UN and the rest of the world as opposed to just one or even two nations invading them will laregly reduce the amount of resistance you receive. It will also further de-moralise the Korean army knowing the entire world is against them. And give your soldiers proper peace keeping training damnit, too often I see "bigger is better" with more armoured vehicles, better bullet proof jackets, ect... You need more than that.

    On a moral bases I am firmly against an invasion of North Korea because I do not think
    1. Democracy isn't the best Government I can come up with so I don't think it will help the world by spreading it any further than it's already gone.
    2. The US isn't really out to help anyone, but that aside I still have;
    3. You can't spread democracy at gunpoint and have people accept it, at best you'll end up with a puppet state that would topple as soon as you remove foreign support for the Government. The people need to revolt on their own.
     
  16. Dec 6, 2004 #15

    russ_watters

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    That's funny that you would preface that as a moral argument because 1 and 3 are strictly political and 2, while a moral argument, is trivially false.
     
  17. Dec 6, 2004 #16
    China will be FREAKING MAD, and I mean FREAKING MAD and never allow it. THEY BORDER ON EACH OTHER!!!

    On a calmer note (please Russ, don't get me all worked up, I have a weak heart :tongue2: ), and I wonder if it is reported in US newspapers, but down here I read that there are signs that the position of "Dear Leader" is shaky, photographs of him have been removed. I will try to find out more.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  18. Dec 6, 2004 #17

    russ_watters

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    I'm not so sure that's true anymore. According to THIS, it appears China and North Korea aren't as cozy as they used to be.

    Certainly though, we could not do it without approval from China.
     
  19. Dec 6, 2004 #18
    No, not 1.5 trillion, 150 billion. [150 billion does not equal 1.5trillion. 1.5 trillion is 1500 billion.]

    Back on topic.

    I do not think there will be any real problems with invading NK. Money could be an issue, US deaths is not an issue. As for world support. We will probably get more support for a NK attack than the Iraq one, but we have seen Bush in action, he doesn't need any other support.
     
  20. Dec 6, 2004 #19

    GENIERE

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    North Korea is not a threat to the US in the near or long term. It is a threat to all its neighbors. Japan and Taiwan can easily start assembling a bomb in less than a year’s time. Taiwan probably already has the bomb; it has had the ability to build them for over 30 years. China cannot afford a destabilization factor in its immediate sphere of influence. There is absolutely no reason for China to back NK except to pressure the US for political and economic concessions, which it is doing. Islam is a problem for China just as it is for the rest of the world; it cannot tolerate a NK nuclear equipped, Islamic terror organization any more than we can.

    It’s conceivable that NK’s maniacal leader may launch a missile at the US; but the anti-missile defense system is already in place. The system has yet to pass testing, so its effectiveness is questionable. Obviously if the US is nuclear attacked, successfull or not, NK will cease to exist; something even a maniac understands.

    A land invasion of NK by these United States is not necessary unless it
    attacks us, Japan or SK.

    Unless I lost track of the zeroes, it takes less than 3 days of work for the US citizens to pay for the Iraqi war, it takes about 7 days to pay for the military budget, it takes several hours to pay for the IRS budget, it takes a little longer to pay interest on the national debt. The cost of the Iraqi war is annoying; the growth of the economy easily swallowed the cost. The first quarter GDP growth in 2004 was an astounding 7.2%, the best in 20 years; unemployment is lower now than when Clinton was re-elected. Smurf as usual hasn’t a clue.

    ...
     
  21. Dec 6, 2004 #20

    russ_watters

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    Meaning you don't think it would be very expensive in deaths or dollars?
     
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