COMMENTARY | We want a world free from tyrants, rogue weapons of mass destruction, and terrorists of all ilk…but we don’t want to risk our blood and treasure to make it so. The United States’ controversial Iraq War and less-than-exemplary occupation of Afghanistan has given American intervention in foreign affairs a bad name in recent years. Since World War II our nation has had a spotty record when it comes to military intervention: Successes like Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, and the air wars over Serbia and Libya have been marred by longer-term failures in Vietnam and Iraq. Korea and Afghanistan have still yet to be decided.
North Korea, a Stalinist throwback that has been the world’s worst bogeyman since the end of the Cold War, has perpetually been in the news for its WMD aspirations, threats against South Korea (and everyone else), and horrid abuse of its own citizens. It has nuclear weapons, concentration camps, and may be used as a proxy warmaker against the West by China. If any nation is likely to unleash a nuclear weapon and/or provoke a full-scale war, likely out of sheer desperation in a final blaze of twisted glory before complete economic collapse, it is North Korea.
But, despite twenty years of atrocities and flaunting all manner of international law, nobody has done anything aside from promoting useless economic sanctions.
Until now. The United Nations has, for the first time, condemned North Korea as frighteningly similar to Nazi Germany, reports NBC. Using the “N-word” to describe a modern state is unprecedented…and just might lead to action. After all, how prevalent in historical fiction, and political studies of history, is the question of “what if you could go back in time and stop Adolf Hitler?”
We may not be ready to break out the aircraft carriers and main battle tanks to neutralize Iran’s growing collection of uranium centrifuges or Syria’s unsecured stockpiles of sarin, but who can say no to stopping the new Hitler? With young Kim Jong Un as the UN-declared Hitler 2.0, who can say “no” to stopping him before his regime finally creates a working ICBM that can reach a continental American city?
It’s hypocritical to say we would go back in time and stop Hitler and the Holocaust if we could but not act now when Kim Jong Un’s own concentration camps and WMDs are just as horrid. We did not step in during the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda. When Saddam used nerve gas against the Kurds immediately after the Gulf War we did not intervene. We stepped in only belatedly in Yugoslavia to end Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing. We have refused to intervene in Syria despite Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own citizens.
If we won’t step in after the UN drops the “N-word,” can we still look our children and grandchildren in the eye when teaching about the wrongs of genocide?