Tuesday, January 28, 2003
The Thing with Iraq: I accept part of your formulation, i.e., that we should take an equally strong stance with North Korea. On the other hand, I don't think we are obligated to use the same methods. For one, I think North Korea is using their nuke program as a bargaining chip. (Why else would they admit to it?) Not true of Saddam. I think he wants the weapons more than he wants humanitarian relief. The starvation of the Iraqis can be conveniently blamed on the decadent west and their lust for oil. Not so in Pyongyang. I think it's pretty clear to the average North Korean that they have nothing we want. In addition, there is the fact that they need only look across the DMZ to see a successful, democratic, capitalist Korea selling us all kinds of stuff. Where, exactly, would the Iraqis look to see this kind of example? Certainly not Turkey, with its unfashionable desire (Muslims might say "pretentions") to join the EU. Certainly not, on the other side, Iran, where a once thriving, educated middle class has been beaten into submission by a theocracy that makes Jerry Falwell look like Jerry Garcia. North Korea, even with nukes, has the look of the Soviet Union circa 1988: trying to project military strength while really having more rattle than fang. Iraq, on the other hand, has a bit of the decadent look of twilight fascism. While the Soviets could, in fact did, go out with a whimper, Nazi Germany was destined for a bang. While I don't want to play analogues too deeply, Iraq is more like Germany, and North Korea is more like the USSR.