Monday, September 14, 2009

[DeCal] Why Should I Care About Korea?

The first meeting for Breaking Down Borders: Korea DeCal is on Monday and one of the things that we will be talking about is "Why Should I Care About North Korea?" Or, Korea at all for that matter (Other than to be a more well rounded and informed individual). You see those are the wise words of none other than former U.S. President George W. Bush as reported in Bob Woodward's book, State of Denial:

George W. pulled Bandar aside. "Bandar, I guess you're the best asshole who
knows about the world. Explain to me one thing." "Governor, what is it?" "Why
should I care about North Korea?" Bandar said he didn't really know. It was one
of the few countries that he did not work on for King Fahd. "I get these
briefings on all parts of the world," Bush said, "and everybody is talking to me
about North Korea." "I'll tell you what, Governor," Bandar said. "One reason
should make you care about North Korea." "All right, smart alek," Bush said,
"tell me." "The 38,000 American troops right on the border." ..."If nothing else
counts, this counts. One shot across the border and you lose half these people
immediately. You lose 15,000 Americans in a chemical or biological or even
regular attack. The United State of America is at war instantly." "Hmmm," Bush
said. "I wish those assholes would put things just point-blank to me. I get half
a book telling me about the history of North Korea." "Now I tell you another
answer to that. You don't want to care about North Korea anymore?" Bandar asked.
The Saudis wanted America to focus on the Middle East and not get drawn into a
conflict in East Asia. "I didn't say that," Bush replied. "But if you don't, you
withdrawl those troops back. Then it becomes a local conflict. Then you have the
whole time to decide, 'Should I get involved? Not involved?' Etc." At that
moment, Colin Powell approached. "Colin," Bush said, "come here. Bandar and I
were shooting the bull, just two fighter pilots shooting the bull." He didn't
mention the topic. "Mr. Governor," Bandar said, "General Powell is almost a
fighter pilot. He can shoot the bull almost as good as us." (I obtained this excerpt directly from this blog).

You see, I'm of the belief that President George W. Bush, the first president I voted for during the 2000 election cycle, though I really was pulling for Senator John McCain at that time, became president since he was a likeable figure thought to be not too different than the average American (Though, former President Gore's likeability issue and disgraced activist Ralph Nader probably also had something to do with it). So, when then Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. becomes a tutor of George W. Bush's and answers precisely why the U.S. should care and in a very concise manner too, it should go someway in helping us to understand as well.

If the U.S. probably had a very public debate about fighting another Korean War, then I doubt U.S. public opinion would support it at all (meaning if another war did break out then I'd think another Republican would get elected to office, probably not too unlike that of, let's say, another President Eisenhower). Why else would both Republican and Democratic administrations --except for the first Clinton administration, oddly enough -- be so willing to accomodate North Korea? (George W. Bush's first administration doesn't count. During his first administration, there really was no U.S. policy towards North Korea -- I'd suggest reading "The Long Road To Pyongyang" (Foreign Affairs Nov/Dec 2007).

"But a look back at the history of the Bush administration's approach to North Korea highlights a somewhat different aspect of the White House's foreign policy. The portrait that emerges is not one of a confrontational, militaristic administration; what instead becomes apparent is an image of a White House with extremely poor conceptual strategies and decision-making processes" ("The Long Road to Pyongyang" : Foreign Affairs)

At any rate, if North Korea launched an invasion, then overnight the U.S. would have about twenty thousand dead Americans. What happened on 9/11 will pale in comparison to the loss of life if such an event were to truly occur. It is in this light that the U.S. should care. Basically, North Korea holds U.S. foreign policy hostage; that is North Korea can basically force the U.S. to be at war overnight.

If twenty thousand Americans died overnight, there'd be no way that the U.S. would let it just pass by (and no way that the North Korean regime would survive in tact of course). But, nonetheless, aside from general and genuine concerns of North Korean proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technology, counterfeiting U.S. dollars, abducting foreign nationals, and, of course, probably the worst human rights violations in the history of the world, this is the prime reason, why we as Americans should care.

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