"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Nuclear North

Maybe he thought it would scare his neighbors into giving him more food and money. Maybe he wanted to strengthen his negotiating position to exact concessions from America and the world at large. Maybe he really is ronery and wants some of the attention that Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan have been hogging for the last few years. Whatever his motivation, however, Kim Jong Il has now officially joined the nuclear club. Please forgive the other members if they don't pop the champagne corks right away.

Last time we saw a dangerous, potentially destabilizing and regionally lethal crisis - Israel's half-war against Hezbollah - my imagination ran away with me and before I knew it, I saw missiles flying everywhere and lots of dead Israelis, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Americans, Iranians . . . you name it. So I'm going to leave the flights of fancy to
someone else this time, because it's far too early to tell what's going to happen.

What we can tell right away is that this may be the final chance for the international community, and the U.N. in particular, to prove that the concept of multinational action isn't a foolish pipe dream. Pretty much everyone has condemned the test, even China; so what now? Will the world put aside selfish national interest and sanction (or bomb) the hell out of North Korea, or will it decide that, well, Korea's pretty far away and it was only a small nuke, and besides I occasionally buy their weapons and they give me discount prices, and even if the Beloved Leader decides to sell his nuclear technology to Iran or Saudi Arabia or Syria or Hezbollah or al Qaeda, we've already surrendered to Muslim intimidation so there's no way they'd use it against us, because what they really hate is America and this is all probably America's fault anyway.

So we'll see. We'll see if China thinks it's more worthwhile to stand with the global community or prop up its decrepit puppet state. We'll see if Kofi Annan and the feckless bureaucracy that is the United Nations has the balls to do something, anything, to back its rhetoric about peace and non-proliferation (right after they stop that nasty little mess in Darfur). We'll see if the President, after ranking North Korea as part of the axis of evil and saying that a Northern nuke would not be tolerated, will in fact tolerate the intolerable. We will see.

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