My last post made me think of one reason North Korea will be a tougher problem than the Middle East. It’s also the reason I find the EUlite so annoying. It’s a matter of making tradeoffs.
After it’s little misadventure in the 1950’s with military adventurism, North Korea became a true “Hermit Kingdom”. Their army is not set up to actually conquer the South, but to trash it. They have huge numbers of artillery pieces, but most of these are in fixed positions suitable only for blowing up things in Seoul. It would be a logistical nightmare to try and move them som place else if there wasn’t fighting in that one area. The fact that North Korea has given up on any larger territorial ambitions renders it far more resistant to outside influence. The focus is now on hostages, not invasion.
This is in strong contrast to Saddam Hussein, who peristed in military adventures even after the Iran-Iraq war. One notes that it was Saddam’s ambition to be the Arab Leader™ and his attacks on neighboring countries that provided both the means and the motive for his downfall. Saddam’s neighbors were all afraid of him and therefore willing to help (or at least look the other way) while someone else took him out. In contrast, North Koreas restraint has lead to the state where South Koreans are more afraid of the US than North Korea. Not a bad result for a psychopathic dictatorship.
Ultimately, this difference stems from the NK regime that it wasn’t going to win a war, so it should play with the cards it had. Saddam never got the message that he just wasn’t up to conquering Arabia.
This shows up many places. Take Europe, for example. The claim is frequently made that European Socialism is much better, much more humane, than the rough and tumble capitalism of the USA. That may be true, but it’s undeniably true that such Socialism has a high economic cost. If the EUlite simply accepted this basic fact and admitted “we’ll never be as materially well off as the Americans, but we will have a better society” I wouldn’t mind. What makes the situation annoying is the non-acceptance of inferior economic performance, with the constant blathering about the EU beating the USA economically, or the pathetic attempts paper over the economic strains (such as France and Germany blowing off the EU debt limits). No reasonable person gets upset at the Amish for living a technically backward lifestyle, because they accept the price in material goods they pay for their beliefs
Of course, the Amish believe that the spiritual rewards of their choice is better than the material rewards of ours, but such are the differences that spice up life in the USA. I may not agree with that view, but I can respect it. But the idea that holding back on a free economy isn’t costly is just silly.
That leads me to my final example, Islam. We wouldn’t be at war now if Islam were move like the Amish in their acceptance that their religion, as currently practiced (and particularly in the Wahabbia version) is simply incapable of developing or maintaining a technological society. Apparently their economic failure is resented as a mark of failure by Allah, but since when is an omnipotent deity impressed by the works of Man? The agony of modern Islam is that it doesn’t work in a technological society yet can’t let go of the material rewards of such a society. One solution to this is to erase the technological societies so that the issue disappears, but that seems a path fraught with the dange that the technoids will be the ones doing the erasing. It’s a hard choice but not one that can really be avoided. That’s the structure of reality for you.