Mutually Assured Inaction
While I may be preaching to the wrong audience here, I cannot escape the thought that non-violence isn't always the answer. Back during the Cold War, the doctrine developed to handle nuclear weapons was MAD -- Mutually Assured Destruction. Nobody would ever use a nuclear bomb, because they knew that the nukes would be flying in the opposite direction before the first mushroom cloud dissipated. Post-cold-war, the policy shifted to AD -- Active Denial. If you didn't already have nuclear weapons, then we threatened you with preemptive strikes if there was any indication that you were building them.
It seems to me, however, that the modern age of humanitarian-thinking is self-defeatist at best. North Korea is the poster-child example. For nearly a decade now, we've been playing footsie with them, and ignoring one provocation after another. The reason? They're supported by China -- and the reason they're supported by China is that the Chinese government wants a buffer between themselves and the US-supported South, and because they have no desire to deal with a massive refugee crisis. Yet over the last year, even China has stopped doing anything more but supporting North Korea by policy. Only two weeks ago, the Chinese denied an aid package to NK and sent "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il packing back to Pyongyang a week earlier than expected.
The longer we play at diplomacy, the more mischief the reclusive North can get into. The argument not to flatten Pyongyang on humanitarian grounds is nothing less than a real-world instance of the Trolley Problem. The longer the regime endures, the more secure they feel in assaulting their own peasantry. Witness last year's currency confiscation/devaluation or the un-alleviated famine now in its second year. Would killing a few hundred or thousand people with a bomb truly be more cruel than letting their own government starve them to death or kill their relatives in forced-labor camps for the "disloyal"?
Instead, we pretend that they're merely acting like misguided children, and that if we only give them more time, they'll honor their word. Not that they'll kill 46 sailors in an un-provoked attack, or send assassins to kill high-ranking government officials. Or even shoot their own starving refugees in the back if they attempt to flee the country.
Now, we also allow them to actively destroy economic value on the Pacific rim by sowing fear, uncertainty, doubt and disruption among at least 2 of the strongest economies in the region. As far as investment and future development is concerned, threats by madmen are nearly as destructive as actual action.
Published US intelligence is that NK is a year or so away from placing a working nuclear warhead atop a missile. Since we've abandoned Active Denial in the face of a "humanitarian crisis", will Mutually-Assured Destruction work on a regime that has killed more of their own citizenry than the Korean War did?
The problem with a world that preaches a desire for unconditional peace is that you've tipped your hand to your own limits. Ronald Regan wrote hundreds of pages on how he feared active war and didn't think he'd have the guts to ever drop a nuclear bomb on Russia in any circumstance other than retaliation. Yet Russia, self-admittedly, spent a good 5 years believing that crazy bastard in the White House was ready to push the big red button at any moment. That's how brinkmanship works.
What we're doing with North Korea is trying to put a toddler with a gun into Time Out. Sometimes you just need to take their toys away and give their asses the whuppin' of their lives. You may destroy peace and happiness in the household for awhile, but that's generally a lot better than letting the bodies pile up outside your front door for years to come.
In the meanwhile, we're probably personally going to lose a few hundred thousand dollars over this (a mere drop compared to the billions that South Korean and Japanese companies are losing), and watch as the economies of northeast Asia are slowly destroyed. All because our government would rather watch the North Korean populace starve to death and become a nuclear power, than risk anyone thinking we're not "caring humanitarians." I just don't get it.