I was looking over some fascinating math and how it is represented as an image. On the radio was yet another breathless report on the nascent deal with Iran. Then a story about our Ambassador getting attacked in South Korea. Next I read Randalls Page about a message of approval about the knife attack from the North Koreans. Not exactly statesmanlike discourse. As usual NK wins the race to the bottom.
A Strange Attractor
The “Strange attractors” by analogy here are our allies in the two regions, our policies on nuclear and ICBM non proliferation and our foreign troop deployments in the two regions, Asia and the M.E. I have joked in the past that if North Korea was in the middle east we would have invaded them twice already. That’s the strange part. Maybe that’s just me and this analogy matters little. Maybe it’s an effective way to seat aside certain highly charged partisan and religious statements and concerns for just a moment.
So if you will trust me, please try a thought experiment in this admittedly oversimplified perspective. Please forgive any unintended insult to legitimate concerns.
In two particular locations we have two powerful nations that are considered to be an existential threat by immediate neighbors. Neighbors who are key strategic allies to us, enjoy special economic and immigration terms etc. Many families are extended into two or more countries involved. Consider that our long term policy is to not allow nuclear weapons proliferation.
North Korea is legally at war with us. They sometimes act like it. Sinking South Korean Naval vessels, kidnapping citizens. Then they added nuclear technology. No one stopped them. Then NK developed nuclear weapons material. No one stopped them. Then they tested nuclear warheads. Nobody stopped them. They repeat the test. They continue to develop long range missile tech.
Long patient Japan, one of the most nuclear powered nations in the world makes no threats. They have not (yet) applied the engineering they possess to create strategic weapons. They are as under the gun as Israel is or more. But no one threatens to preemptively attack North Korea.
North Korean Missile Ranges
I’ll not repeat the whole middle east side of the scenario described here. That has been very well covered. And I admit some doubts about exactly how close Iran or North Korea are to a working ICBM or medium range nuke. The cross currents here are enormous. political and partisan. Religious and cultural. The genocide looms large for all of us. The South Koreans have not suffered a genocide, but surely have suffered enormous deaths at the hands of North Koreans and Chinese forces in war.
But all this brought to a rather disturbing conclusion. In US policy, containment trumps non proliferation. The worst regime can and has gained nuclear weapons and faced zero military consequences. They do endure sanctions, but they just do whatever they have to do to cope with the sanctions. And bluster and bully. What does that mean on the ground? This map shows us.
What conclusion would Israels people or military or government legitimately draw from the Korean example? The conclusion that “boil a frog slowly” actually has worked to manipulate US policy against non proliferation. The message becomes that yes in fact if Iran takes it’s time with the US it will in fact suffer at worst economic consequences for the development and testing of nuclear warheads. That makes Israel the nuclear deterrent factor instead of the US.
What conclusion has the bifurcated government of Iran drawn for the lessons of recent history? Are they just playing for time? I’d like to think not, I can hope they see the advantages of a non nuclear military that’s still quite powerful and a nation electrified with nuclear as well as other energy sources.
Lastly what might the people and government of South Korea think of all this attention locked onto the middle east while North Korea makes more warheads and gives it’s blessing to attacks on Ambassadors?