Political Physics: Are We (and should we be) Going To War With North Korea?


a blogumn by Monique King-Viehland

Image Upload Credit: Kok Leng Yeo
Image Upload Credit: Kok Leng Yeo

In March 2009 in the midst of discussions about their planned launch of a long range missile, which they argued was carrying a satellite, North Korea issued a statement that read, “If the enemies recklessly opt for intercepting our satellite, our revolutionary armed forces will launch without hesitation a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds of the U.S. and Japanese aggressors.”

The U.S. and North Korea have been at odds over the nuclear proliferation issue since North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test in October 2006.  And history tells us that the tension between the two countries runs even deeper.

That tension is coming to a head as reports surfaced Monday that North Korea had conducted another underground nuclear test that caused a seismic tremor in the northeastern part around the town of Kilju.  According to US Geological Survey “a 4.7-magnitude quake was detected at 0054 GMT, 10 kilometers underground.”

North Korea is arguing that they have every right to conduct these tests and that they “safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism.” They cite the recent U.S. and South Korea military exercises as an example of a continued military threat that the nation must be prepared to defend itself against.  However, President Obama condemned the tests and argued that both the pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles flies in the face of the UN Security Council. He said, “The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community.”

But the question becomes, what is “action by the international community?”

Today, the UN Security Council emerged from a emergency meeting condemning North Korea’s most recent nuclear test and stating that it was a “clear violation” of previous resolutions. They also pledged to issue a new round of sanctions.

Is that enough of an action by the international community?

Will a new round of sanctions be enough to get North Korea to dismantle their nuclear programs as they promised to do in 2007?

Or is stronger action required (e.g., is war with North Korea unavoidable)?

Or is this a poker game?  The North Korean leadership might just be puffing up their chests like male frigate birds during mating season.  Do we believe that they’re really ready for war?

What do you think?

Next week I plan to share my thoughts about the North Korea situation, but first I’d love to know what you think.  And I’d like to incorporate your comments.

So give me your two cents!


EDITOR’S NOTE: You can also wish Monique happy birthday in the comments, since today is hers. :)