North Korea have now stated the usual cycle of sabre-rattling and combative rhetoric, determined to make the South feel under threat. This tactic is sometimes effective, but the mechanisms of its use are erratic and unwieldy. An example is the factories of the DMZ and the surrounding areas, which had become the last vestige of normal relations between the two countries. Now, Southern workers turn away from the gates in disappointment, into a bank of cameras, as the borders remain resolutely shut. The irony of this is that, only a week ago, this same industrial park was used to demonstrate the lack of any hostile action, and workers who were interviewed then predicted a peaceful, and swift, outcome to the conflict.
This most definitely has not happened, and the world is left with a potentially dangerous situation in a nuclear trouble-spot, which threatens to draw in the greatest military powers (armed as they are to the teeth with warheads and other implements of flaming radioactive death). We, as a responsible member of the international community, ought to do something about this. Since we have a stable government, as well as the military hardware to do the job, I humbly suggest that we act, militarily if need be, to remove the evil dictatorship against whom we cannot possibly justify inaction.
The first potential path of action is the targeted assassination of either Kim Jong-un or other members of the upper echelons of the country. Drone strikes or SAS squads, aping the resounding success of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, could not only paralyse the command and control structure of the nation, but also have the benefit of spreading fear among those, not only in North Korea, but also across the world who would seek to tyrannise those who are so vulgarly called “their own people” or to violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This would, of course, see off the problem of Mr Kim rather well, but only, that is, if it succeeds.
While it would be lovely to be able to blow up evil men at the touch of a button from thousands of miles away, it is not always that easy. While I’m sure that the drone, much like the 1940s bomber “will always get through”, there is a special difficulty in the case of North Korea. The whole society, on the brink of war for six decades, has hunkered down – even train stations are built like bunkers. Killing him that way, while certainly possible, would take a lot of time and may not reach the expected conclusion. It is actually illegal to just murder people, regardless if they are villains or not, and so if we did engage in any extra-judicial slaughter the UN wouldn’t be too happy, and George Galloway would actually be correct in his assertion that the UK was a “rogue state”.
I, personally, would be happy to risk vindicating a few balding socialist slime-balls if that led to a few deaths of the people they so doggedly support – under my government; we’d have got to Chavez before the tumour did. I’m not so sure that the rest of the country would see it quite that way, however.
We could also look to the campaign in Libya, and think of some sort of no-fly zone or air war to destroy potential armaments factories or troop concentrations. This, at first, seems quite attractive. The idea of a ‘limited war’ against an oppressive regime is seen as good by the public as they can claim to be helping those in need of support, but not have the sort of involvement which a ground war, or the phrase to trigger spasms of outrage “boots on the ground”, can cause. While it looks good to those who would rather we had no involvement with the funny foreigners, it puts me in mind of the disastrous military compromise which comprised the NATO campaign in the former Yugoslav republics. It took direct military intervention to stop the Kosovars and the Albanian Muslims being massacred and this can only be seen as a good thing.
The final suggestion, and one which is sure to trigger seizures from Sun readers and Guardian columnists alike, is the prospect of a ground war, or: horror of horrors “boots on the ground”. The sort of people who oppose this are normally either bellicose supporters of the regime, like the Stop the War coalition, (happily reneging on its commitments to oppose militarism and unnecessary aggression) or the sort of barely literate oafs who snort loudly during any mention of immigration on the news, and exhibit brightly coloured Help for Heroes bumper stickers. They also insist on calling all servicemen “our boys”, despite never having met them, and seemingly not knowing that a large proportion of them are actually girls.
An invasion of North Korea (which is what I am advocating, as merely increasing the number of troops in the South won’t do anything accept increase the legitimacy of the regime in saying it is under siege) would most certainly cost much blood and treasure. If casualties were confined to under 100,000 people, though, it would be worth it not only in the lack of a cross-border nuclear exchange, but also in the immediate help liberating powers could provide to alleviate famine and shortages of consumer goods. The government would fall, and even if there was an insurgency, it would have little support considering the tangible benefits the Westerners could bring; we wouldn’t, for example, repeat the Afghan poppy embargo which cost us so much support there.
In the current opinion poll driven political climate, doing anything to help the people of the outside world is unpopular. Britons are a bunch of selfish introverts, but this can change now! After their idiotic lack of support for intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, the British people can genuinely make a positive difference with a new, internationalist, agenda. Another tyrant would be dead, captured or missing, and we could be secure in knowing that the liberation of one of the world’s most secretive states was down to the initiative and benevolence of ordinary British people.