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Why We Won't Invade North Korea
Rhino Times ^ | January 9, 2003 | Orson Scott Card

Posted on 01/14/2003 12:39:33 PM PST by nina0113

Why We Won’t Invade North Korea

By Orson Scott Card

We’ve been hearing it from a lot of anti-Bush commentators – including some who should know better:

“Why are we preparing to invade Iraq, which has no nukes yet, when we’re using diplomacy with North Korea, which actually has them?”

Of course, you can take that as a self-answering question. Let’s see – which is safer to invade, the country that almost has nukes, or the country that already has them?

But the real answer is much more complicated.

First, let’s keep in mind what we’re actually trying to accomplish in Iraq. We aren’t preparing to invade because Saddam Hussein’s been a bad boy, or because we want to have an America colony in Mesopotamia. It’s not a punishment, it’s not retribution.

It’s prevention.

You can’t fight a war to prevent something that’s already happened. Preventive war to keep North Korea from getting nukes is impossible.

At the same time, it is absolutely imperative that North Korea’s nukes be neutralized. But how is that to be done?

For some Americans, the first thought is, “Send in the Marines!”

But military action should never be the first resort. Every time you use military force, you teach your enemies how to defeat you the next time. The best use of military force is to create the impression of invincibility – and then avoid testing it.

Conventional military action is not quite the last resort, however. I would put “nuking them back to the Stone Age” even farther down the list. Even lower than “sending Bill Clinton to negotiate another great treaty.”

Most people don’t understand what President Bush means when he says that we will pursue a “diplomatic solution.”

He doesn’t mean that we’ll negotiate with North Korea. What would be the point of that? They don’t keep their treaties anyway.

The diplomacy that will solve the problem is happening right now – between us and China.

That’s right, China. Because this is China’s problem as much as it is ours.

The only reason North Korea exists as a separate political entity is because in the early ’50s, when UN forces had virtually overrun all of North Korea, China sent a huge army that flung us back south. Only when each army held roughly the territory that had been North or South Korea before the war did the Chinese agree to an armistice.

This was a huge victory for China, and it remains one of the proudest moments in their history. Never mind that it has meant 50 years of desperate poverty and utter lack of freedom, while being forced to virtually worship a couple of megalomaniacal dictators. China beat the US-led allies and kept North Korea safe for communism.

Do you think there’s even the slightest chance that China would let the US conduct any kind of military action against North Korea without massive retaliation?

At the very least, there would be a prompt invasion of Taiwan. At the worst, it might mean some level of nuclear war – certainly against South Korea, and quite possibly against Japan and even the US.

Foreign policy is conducted in the real world. In the real world, madmen like Saddam Hussein respond only to credible military force – and sometimes not even then. For the safety of our friends and allies in the region (notably Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait), and to protect the First World’s vital oil supplies from domination by a ruthless enemy, it is reasonable to strike that enemy before he wreaks devastation again.

In that same real world, however, there are opponents whom it is simply too dangerous to fight, unless you are forced into it. If China or Russia attacked us, of course we would defend ourselves. But we would have to be insane to provoke either of them into war.

That’s why we left Russia to deal with Chechnya without our interference while using military force to protect Bosnia and Kosovo from the Serbs.

Does this mean that we’re like bullies, picking on the little guys while leaving really dangerous enemies alone?

Not at all. It means that while we have a moral responsibility to prevent truly dangerous or evil actions wherever it is within our power to do so, we can’t do it where it is not within our power without unleashing worse evils on the world.

Militarily challenging Russia over Chechnya would almost certainly have plunged the world into a massive war, to no good end.

Likewise, taking military action in North Korea would lead to immediate war with China. And sane people don’t want that.

So what do our negotiations with China consist of?

Cutting through all the diplomatic niceness, here’s what we undoubtedly said to them:

“You’re the ones who kept us from getting rid of the Kim dictatorship 50 years ago. So now it’s your responsibility either to take away their nukes, or get rid of the Kim government and replace it with a sane one.”

To which the Chinese almost certainly replied, “Perhaps we can work something out. You can take the first step by withdrawing all military support from Taiwan. After all, why should we be responsible for North Korea, which isn’t part of China, while you won’t let us take responsibility for Taiwan, which is an integral part of China?”

Our reply: “We will not discuss Taiwan.”

Their reply: “Then we will not discuss North Korea.”

All this was absolutely predictable and led nowhere. Here’s how we raised the ante: “All right. Since you have allowed North Korea to develop and build nuclear weapons, while we have prevented the much-more-technologically-advanced South Koreans from doing so, we have no choice but to level the playing field so that North Korea will not be able to threaten our allies.”

Those options would include:

(1) Stationing tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea ... with the option of placing them under the control of the South Koreans.

(2) An embargo – or even a blockade – of North Korea’s ports, so that China becomes the sole supplier of all goods to North Korea.

(3) Holding China economically responsible by cutting back – or cutting off – trade between the US and China.

None of these options would be tolerable to the Chinese. Putting nukes in South Korea would humiliate the Chinese leadership. Putting them under South Korean command would terrify them.

Economic sanctions against North Korea would force China, whose economy is not all that robust, to assume the huge burden of keeping North Korea afloat the way the USSR did with Cuba for so many years.

As for sanctions against China itself – its economy has become significantly tied to trade with the US. America could trigger a major recession or perhaps even a depression in China, even if we couldn’t persuade other economic powers to join with us.

Now, the Chinese know that none of these options would be painless for us. Stationing nukes in South Korea would provoke massive anti-American demonstrations in that country and in Japan as well.

An embargo against North Korea would be slow and sievelike, while a blockade would be casus belli and lead to confrontations between us and friendly powers.

And a cutback in US-China trade would hurt our economy, too, and there are those who think our own highly-evolved economy is less resilient than China’s more primitive one. (I think, however, that they are wrong.)

But even though the Chinese know that we are reluctant to use any of these options, they also know that President Bush means what he says, and, because he is his father’s son, they believe he will act on his threats even if it means political risks.

And there is another factor that the Chinese leadership always has to keep in mind: the possibility that any of these events might trigger domestic disturbances, a coup or even a revolution within China.

Dictators live in constant terror of a mob of civilians swarming through their palaces or office buildings, dragging the dictators out into the streets, and killing them.

The Chinese have very clear memories of what happened when communism fell in Romania. That’s why they ordered soldiers to fire on their own people in Tiananmen Square.

But they’d rather avoid any possibility of this. So at some point, if they believe that we are sufficiently earnest about the urgency of neutralizing North Korea’s nuclear threat, they will decide that it is in their best interests to do something about North Korea.

And here’s what they’ll do. They’ll talk to Kim and let him know that he has two choices.

(1) Kim lets the Chinese come in and take away his nukes and run his nuclear reactors and make sure he never gets nukes again. In exchange, the Chinese will make loud public guarantees that North Korea is now under their nuclear umbrella, so that there is no need for North Korea to have its own nuclear program.

(2) The Chinese cut him off from all economic and military aid from any source, and let it be known that they very much want a new, anti-nuke government in Pyongyang. Kim knows he wouldn’t last a week before one of his enterprising generals – perhaps one of those already in the pay of Beijing – decided that a change of government was in order.

One way or another, North Korea would be de-nuked. And it would all be done through diplomacy.

The reason none of this could work with Iraq is that there is no power in the Middle East comparable to China’s situation vis-à-vis North Korea. We are the only nation that can put a stop to Saddam’s ambitions.

But the key, of course, is that none of these conversations would take place in public. China can only bend to US pressure when they are not seen to be bending to US pressure.

In other words, if President Bush openly threatened China, then China could not cooperate with us without losing face – with the risk of a coup.

That is why President Bush cannot answer his critics. There is no answer he could give that would not wreck the diplomatic process.

When an American pundit or politician criticizes President Bush for being a hypocrite or a bully because he’s using diplomacy with North Korea and the threat of war with Iraq, it tells us one of two things.

Either the critic is hopelessly ignorant about geopolitical and diplomatic realities … or the critic knows that President Bush cannot respond to his criticism, and therefore the critic can make political profit at the expense of American foreign policy.

In other words, those who make this particular accusation against the president are either squirrels or snakes: either chattering stupidly or poisonously biting the president while he’s trying to protect us and our friends from a serious danger.

I prefer to think that these critics simply haven’t thought things through. And I’m happy to point out that few of those who have made this particular accusation are responsible officeholders.

You don’t throw rocks at the guy who’s trying to tame the tiger.

And what about me? Haven’t I just made all those private negotiations public?

Of course not. The Chinese don’t care what I say. I don’t speak for the government. I don’t have any contacts in the White House or the State Department.

I’m just a guy who knows how to read a map.

Orson Scott Card, author of more than 50 books of fiction, has lived in Greensboro since 1983.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bushdoctrineunfold
I got this in an email & it's too good not to share.
1 posted on 01/14/2003 12:39:33 PM PST by nina0113
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To: nina0113
If we moved on NK the rallying cry would be "No blood for Kimchi!"
2 posted on 01/14/2003 12:42:25 PM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
bump
3 posted on 01/14/2003 12:44:45 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: nina0113
Can't find any rational basis for disagreement...pert' much nails it. BTTT
4 posted on 01/14/2003 12:47:21 PM PST by dasboot
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To: nina0113
Did anyone catch the smarmy Miss Couric this morning? Her questions led to the obvious conclusion that an American invasion of Iraq would be what triggers the end of humanity as we know it. Later she was broadcasting from a Saudi F-15. What does she think they have those for?
5 posted on 01/14/2003 12:50:06 PM PST by gundog
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To: nina0113
Having read "Ender's Game", one can appreciate Orson Scott Card's grasp of strategy. He's no slouch. I was frankly surprised by his grasp of the sitution, and relatively shocked to see that we agree. Wow ... I must be smarter than I thought.
6 posted on 01/14/2003 12:50:18 PM PST by Hodar
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To: nina0113
(3) Holding China economically responsible by cutting back – or cutting off – trade between the US and China.

Unfortunately, though I consider him to be basically a good president, President Bush is incapable of taking this step as most of his advisors would be incapable of thinking of it. Bush the Elder demonstrated this problematic inflexibility -- simply put, people over 30 remember clearly when China was (supposedly) useful as a check on the USSR's influence. They have ceased to be any use at all for quite some time (if they ever were useful) but the Bush family remains close to the Chinese business and political communities and the Bush Administration flirts with the most insanely pro-Chinese intellectuals (e.g., Henry Kissinger).

7 posted on 01/14/2003 12:51:01 PM PST by American Soldier
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear; JenB
Pinged you guys since the author is the SF guy.

But it's a very interesting artlicle, don't know if Card is right on all this, but it makes sense.
8 posted on 01/14/2003 12:51:29 PM PST by Sam Cree
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To: Libertarianize the GOP
very, very good.

bump!

9 posted on 01/14/2003 12:52:12 PM PST by CatoRenasci
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To: nina0113
Excellent column from a source that not many of us would see. Thank you for posting it.
10 posted on 01/14/2003 12:58:40 PM PST by Celtjew Libertarian
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To: nina0113
Good analysis.
11 posted on 01/14/2003 1:02:00 PM PST by Incorrigible
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To: nina0113
Plus NK has a satellite weapon that shoots bolts of superheated ions. James Bond didn't destroy the satellite itself, best I recall.
12 posted on 01/14/2003 1:04:54 PM PST by Shermy
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To: Semper Paratus
If we moved on NK the rallying cry would be "No blood for Kimchi!"

And I would be screaming it louder than anyone - the stench of kimchi on a crowded Metro is unbearable.

13 posted on 01/14/2003 1:05:00 PM PST by nina0113
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To: nina0113

click to enlarge

so that China becomes the sole supplier of all goods to North Korea.

Geography check, the Russian Primorskiy Kray district has a small border with North Korea, and a busy rail line from Vladivostok and back.

And then there's always airfreight and shipping along China and Russia's sensitive coasts.

But the important part of the article is true: China's monster, China's problem.

14 posted on 01/14/2003 1:09:06 PM PST by struwwelpeter
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To: *Bush Doctrine Unfold; Ernest_at_the_Beach
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
15 posted on 01/14/2003 1:13:37 PM PST by Free the USA
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To: Libertarianize the GOP; nina0113; *Bush Doctrine Unfold; randita; SierraWasp; Carry_Okie; okie01; ..
Thanks for the ping!

Bush Doctrine Unfolds :

To find all articles tagged or indexed using Bush Doctrine Unfold , click below:
  click here >>> Bush Doctrine Unfold <<< click here  
(To view all FR Bump Lists, click here)



16 posted on 01/14/2003 1:14:07 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (Impeach Gray Davis!)
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To: nina0113
This seems to state that North Korea has nuclear weapons. They've never admitted so, and we've never directly accused them of having any (I think Rumsfeld hinted that he "believed" they do once).
17 posted on 01/14/2003 1:17:15 PM PST by RoughDobermann
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To: nina0113
Excellent analysis .....
18 posted on 01/14/2003 1:23:26 PM PST by Centurion2000 (Darth Crackerhead)
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To: nina0113
Good points.. I want to hear his thoughts on what we do with Iraq once we get rid of Saddam? Install a puppet government? Hold elections? Invite all the Iraqis to come live in the US? Whats the plan?
19 posted on 01/14/2003 1:37:26 PM PST by monday
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To: RoughDobermann
"This seems to state that North Korea has nuclear weapons. They've never admitted so, and we've never directly accused them of having any (I think Rumsfeld hinted that he "believed" they do once)."

They do, estimates are in the 3-6 range. Small ones about the size of tactical nukes. They also have missles capable of hitting south korea and Japan, and possibly Alaska.

20 posted on 01/14/2003 1:46:14 PM PST by monday
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To: monday
They do, estimates are in the 3-6 range. Small ones about the size of tactical nukes. They also have missles capable of hitting south korea and Japan, and possibly Alaska.

Source please?

21 posted on 01/14/2003 1:51:01 PM PST by RoughDobermann
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To: RoughDobermann
They do, estimates are in the 3-6 range. Small ones about the size of tactical nukes. They also have missles capable of hitting south korea and Japan, and possibly Alaska.... Source please?

I don't have a source, but in 1999(?) PRNK did lob a test missile over Japan.

22 posted on 01/14/2003 2:05:29 PM PST by Fudd
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To: Fudd
They do, estimates are in the 3-6 range. Small ones about the size of tactical nukes. They also have missles capable of hitting south korea and Japan, and possibly Alaska....

Source please?

I don't have a source, but in 1999(?) PRNK did lob a test missile over Japan.

I know they have ballistic missiles. I was asking for a source for the statement that they are estimated to have 3-6 nuclear weapons. Do you have one?

23 posted on 01/14/2003 2:14:24 PM PST by RoughDobermann
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To: nina0113
Accurate assessment bump!
24 posted on 01/14/2003 2:17:29 PM PST by Turbodog
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To: struwwelpeter
At that border is a small town, Khasan, all three countries meet there, all have barbed wire fences, guard towers and the like. None of the three trust each other.
25 posted on 01/14/2003 2:21:56 PM PST by cynicom
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To: struwwelpeter
That rail line you speak of is little used, differing gauges plus the mistrust of everyone.
26 posted on 01/14/2003 2:23:47 PM PST by cynicom
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

To: RoughDobermann
I've seen that information published, too, but don't know where it came from.

Printing this out for my son to read for this week's book report. This is the world he's inheriting.

THANKS for the post. OSCard bump.
28 posted on 01/14/2003 2:29:44 PM PST by ChemistCat
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Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

To: nina0113
Given that the South Koreans are constantly protesting against the US presence there, and given the fact that all the manufacturing they once did can be provide by China, why dont' we just pull our troops and let history take its course?

It would be interesting - and heck, look how many in South Korea are begging for it!

30 posted on 01/14/2003 2:58:27 PM PST by The Duke
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To: nina0113
"Why We Won't Invade North Korea"

Actually we are. But it is a secret and if Bush told Congress is might leak out.

31 posted on 01/14/2003 3:01:09 PM PST by ex-snook ("over next 10 years" Saddam is no threat. Then he will die of old age.)
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To: nina0113
Well, first there's no oil...which is why we should retake Alaska and the California coast.
2nd, who the hell wants to eat dog-meat?
Thirdly, we'd be next to S.Korea and everyone knows their dogs keep you awake at night.
32 posted on 01/14/2003 3:11:35 PM PST by Arkady
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To: nina0113
Orson Scott Card might not work for the government, but a person like him should be. Very clear and concise reasoning as to what I hope is going on within the diplomatic circle.
33 posted on 01/14/2003 3:26:47 PM PST by semaj
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To: Sparta; Lion Den Dan; Travis McGee; Squantos
A few pings. I came across this from another source, and of course found it had been posted here. It doesn't seem to have hit any of the big ping lists.

It's an excellent Realpolitikal analysis of our situation vis a vis Iraq and North Korea. Even if you don't agree with OSC's analysis, this will make you think.

For any of you not familiar with Orson Scott Card, go buy Ender's Game. Excellent military science fiction, with serious ethical/moral exploration.
34 posted on 01/19/2003 4:13:43 PM PST by FreedomPoster (This space intentionally blank)
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To: FreedomPoster
Good post. Well thought out. Thank goodness Condi and company are as bright!
35 posted on 01/19/2003 7:46:32 PM PST by Travis McGee (--------------------------- WAR SOLVED HITLER! -------------------------)
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To: FreedomPoster
Thanks for the ping. Ender's Game is a good book. It is a must read for military fiction fans and sci-fi fans.
36 posted on 01/19/2003 9:08:20 PM PST by Sparta (Statism is a mental illness)
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To: Semper Paratus
This read is okay as far as it goes, but it neglects several major points. First China is a net importer of energy. Controlling the Middle East and establishing a major trading relationship with Russia will enable us to cut off their supply of oil. Therefore China has to feel threatened by our incursion into Iraq. Therefore, they are playing the NK card.

However, they are also terrified of us giving nukes to Japan, more so than Korea.

The next question is what will happen when we invade Iraq. Will the NK's perform a nuke test or will they invade or will China invade? Based on our information available we can't say, but if they are going to do something it will be at the moment they perceive we are at our weakest.

However, lets go back to Iraq. Maybe the invasion that will take place will be a quick and powerful strike at Baghdad that will require only 15000 troops with the rest on standby and possible transfer to Korea. Its possible and it is the reason I believe why we never did a formal invasion of Afghan, but rather set up surrogates, so as not to dilute our strength and allow a Korea/Taiwan invasion.

In any event we will find out very very shortly.
37 posted on 01/19/2003 9:21:44 PM PST by appeal2
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To: nina0113; Alamo-Girl; rightwing2; backhoe; belmont_mark
FYI






38 posted on 02/03/2003 6:35:33 AM PST by Paul Ross (From the State Looking Forward to Global Warming!)
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To: Paul Ross
Thanks for the heads up!
39 posted on 02/03/2003 7:29:34 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: nina0113; Noswad; Paul Ross; swarthyguy; Jeff Head; Orion78
I guess I am therefore insane by this author's definition. Attack the entire Axis (particularly its core of great powers), early and often.

In fact, on the other hand, one might argue that this author, like so many of his fellow, pathologically pacifist Americans, is certifiable. After all, it would seem that if WW-II was not enough to teach the innately isolationist and naively optimistic American collective psyche a thing or two about the rare but certain need for proactive warfare, then nothing could or will. Our next "learning oppotunity" is going to be a doosey.
40 posted on 02/11/2003 6:37:16 PM PST by GOP_1900AD (Un-PC even to "Conservatives!" - Right makes right)
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To: belmont_mark
You clearly have not read the article. Try reading more than the title before painting with that broad brush, okay?
41 posted on 02/11/2003 6:53:20 PM PST by Teacher317
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To: ChemistCat
We need an OSC bump list!

For those not familiar with Card, he's an exceptional sci-fi and family reading author. I recommend Ender's Game for anyone. (I routinely give it out to my non-reader friends and students, and they finish it in less than a week.) Also, his large hardbound collection of short stories, called "Maps in a Mirror" (unfortunately there is a smaller collection by the same name), is exceptional. Of the 50+ stories, no fewer than 40 will truly inspire you, move you, or really make you think.

42 posted on 02/11/2003 6:58:37 PM PST by Teacher317
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