Thursday, October 19, 2006

South Korea, Doing the Right Thing

I really support South Korea's refusal to kowtow to the Americans' wishes and come down hard on North Korea.

Think about it from the South's perspective. First, they know that they are a likely target of any North Korean attack. The North now has the bomb. Alienating them, especially with a crazy leader like Kim Jong Il, doesn't seem that bright. Second, they know that their regime will last longer than the North. Someday, the North will collapse. The South will have to deal with that--refugees fleeing across the border, overwhelming the economic and social system, the environmental disaster of the North, incredible educational disparity, etc., etc. So it is in the South's interest to not push for that. When I was there in the 90s, South Koreans were quite aware of what happened to West Germany's economy after the East fell. They know that their economy is less stable that the Germans and are wary of any radical change.

Continuing to engage the North with food aid and economic projects can't hurt. Sure, the North is taking that money and funneling it to the military, but they are doing that anyway and there's no evidence that sanctions every brought down a regime--people are already starving so what difference is it going to make. Slowly bringing the North along economically only helps to ensure stability in the South, which is what almost the whole world, except for the Neo-Cons, want. The North is losing more people to defection and change is bound to come there sooner or later. So why anger Kim Jong Il and give him a reason to lob a bomb at you? Just to make the US happy? I don't think so.