Another Korean Crisis?
Yes folks, there’s a North Korean crisis alright, but as usual the media and politicians have managed to point the finger in the wrong direction. The danger, once again, comes exclusively from American saber rattling and tough-talk negotiations over North Korea’s test launching of yet another nuclear missile.
Amazingly, the various North Korean ‘crises’ always seem to follow a similar pattern: every 3 years or so suddenly North Korea will be back on the news headlines, slightly more advanced nuclear warheads are being tested, pictures of the dreaded Kim Jung Un are blasted away across the media, Congress slaps on more needles sanctions, while the Secretary of Defense makes a grandiose saber rattling press conference, and then…..nothing happens! Nada, zip! It becomes old news, no one on either side budges, a new crisis somewhere else in the world occurs, and everyone forgets about Korea for a few years. So why this anti-climactic cycle?
Libertarian writer Murray Rothbard was also perplexed by this pattern, pointing out in 1994 that the reason this has continued has more to do with a combination of defense spending and South Korean politics:
“The new North Korean threat is, as usual, totally bogus. I refer the reader to a man who is probably the foremost expert on the Korean War…University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, is admittedly a leftist, but his analysis of the current phony “crisis” makes a great deal of sense…The real story, Cumings shows, is that hysterical alarms about imminent North Korean attacks have been trumped up for the past four [now six] decades, usually accompanying one of two periodic events: the annual Congressional debates on defense appropriations; and talks between the secretary of defense and South Korean defense officials.
This last scare is in the glorious U.S.-South Korean talk-crisis tradition. The last time a U.S. defense secretary visited South Korea was in November 1991, when then-Secretary Dick Cheney went to Seoul, and an anonymous U.S. defense official rattled the missiles: asserting that if North Korea ‘missed Desert Storm, this is a chance to catch a rerun.’ Professor Cumings concludes his dash of realistic cold water on the latest hysteria oNorth Korea: No one knows the state of Kim Jong II’s mind, but if I were Kim I’d be a bit paranoid too, since on any given day there is someone in Washington willing to say that we might wipe his country off the face of the earth – and sometimes it’s the president himself.”
Fast forward 23 years later and we find that not too much has changed. The South Korean elections held last May have come and gone, but new president Moon Jae-In has at least reportedly been in favor of peace talks with North Korea, far more than his predecessor. Ironically, on the campaign trail Jae-In had called for disengagement of the THAAD missile system, but has since reversed and at present has reportedly asked the US for re-engagement of THAAD. Trump has also reversed stances, from going on the campaign trail to question our Korean defense perimeter and bases, to now more saber rattling and unpredictability. As for defense appropriations, well the budget numbers of course just keep going up.
So what are the libertarian stances here? First, withdraw all troops, bases and fleets away from the peninsula, and look the other way in hopes of Korean disarmament and unification. The Koreans are strongly nationalistic, and the present DMZ line was merely drawn since the armistice of the Korean War in the early 1950s (similar to the North-South Vietnam divide after WWII, which American intervention was used under the domino theory excuse of stopping communism).
So let them begin this peace process on their own. The last time this almost occurred was in the late 1990s via the Sunshine Policy to begin the process of unification of the Korean peninsula, which reduced restrictions on trade and migration. However this process was ended by meddling of the State Department and military bribes toward the South by the Bush Administration.
Skeptics often ask, wouldn’t North Korea feel tough and capable of invading the South without big brother America involved? On the contrary, the North Koreans would feel a sigh of relief knowing they were no longer threatened with 3 fleets armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles and over 30,000 America soldiers right at their front door. Dictators of all ideologies have never backed down in the face of overwhelming military superiority, but instead tend to grow even tougher if anything. And don’t forget that the tenet of all Marxist Leninist states for the past century has been one of ‘peaceful coexistence’ with the capitalist powers; that is, to be relatively non-interventionist in foreign affairs while being tyrannical internally against their own peoples (e.g. communist China, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc.).
As for South Korea, their regime also could no longer act tough without America to back them up, but would have to negotiate with the North on mutual trustworthy terms. The South Koreans, aside from their far more prosperous Samsung economy, already have their own trained military, along with trade negotiations with the Chinese (contrary to popular Cold War belief, the Chi Coms have not had any political friendliness with their North Korean comrades since the mid-1950s when the pro Chinese faction was violently purged from the Korean Worker’s Party). So let the South Koreans take chances on their own. If King Jung-Un is crazy enough to launch a missile South, America can sit back and watch as the North gets crumbled between a Chinese–South Korean pincer attack.
The second lesson is to stop playing the sanctions game, which the Senate nearly passed unanimously (except the lone noble dissents of Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders). The sanctions play right into Kim Jung-Un’s hands, as his people will suffer yet even more with decreased food and imports, while Kim in turn can say “I told you so! Those capitalist American pigs are responsible for your suffering.” Even from a statist standpoint, it’s hard to see how sanctions aid the Washington imperium. Congressmen apparently need to look like they’re ‘doing something’ during this crisis.
How many thousands of Koreans will be killed from starvation via sanctions remains unknown, but we can rest assured that their names and lives will sadly be forgotten once this phony crisis is also forgotten.