North Korea

The country has faced widespread famine, malnutrition and poverty among its people.

The alleged testing of a nuclear weapon by North Korea has set the world on edge and, unfortunately, there’s little we can do about it. The impoverished nation of 23 million has routinely defied the international community on matters of militarization and this is yet another example of the world’s incapacity to stop such pursuits.

The most obvious option to curb such threats is to use force. Under the current circumstances, this is not viable. Not only are our country’s military and intelligence operations focused on the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but confronting a nation with nuclear weapons is perilous indeed. Europe and China are equally reluctant for this same reason. Instead, it appears the world will choose containment over confrontation. It is likely various forms of economic sanctions will be enacted to hinder Kim Jong Il’s regime.

The approach is safer than military action, but the efficacy of sanctions is unclear. The regime has made military strength and nuclear attainment its ultimate priorities – often at the expense of the people of North Korea. Sanctions would inflict economic harm, but the country has maintained its war machine under similar circumstances for years. The country has faced widespread famine, malnutrition and poverty, yet military development has continued unabated.

The current state of affairs further indicts the policies of our administration. Less than five years ago, President George W. Bush delivered a speech condemning North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, as part of the “Axis of Evil.” Ultimately, it chose Iraq as its focal point. It is now clear North Korea, more than Iraq and perhaps more than Iran, warranted the most attention. One can only hope we have what it takes to handle this conflict appropriately.

This development will have countless effects on the world politics, particularly in Southeast Asia.

The solution to this problem is unclear, and our Cold War example provides foggy insight. How do you stop the use of nuclear weapons in a country that disregards the lives of its own people?