In the geopolitical landscape, North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un accomplished the impossible: take the mainstream media’s attention away from the bungled Middle East intervention. Having become a full-fledged nuclear power, North Korea is now in the same category as the U.S. military industrial complex. Naturally, this is unacceptable to the White House for the dangers and instability that it creates.
But accept it they will. North Korea called our bluff and belligerently ignored all calls to cease their nuclear program. Not only have they detonated a hydrogen bomb, they have the capacity to install a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. That too has been perfected as the hermit nation took ample opportunities to practice their deadly ballistics science.
The absolute tragedy in all of this is that a nuclear-armed North Korea could have been prevented at so many levels. If the political will existed, the Americans could have resolved the situation once and for all immediately after World War II. Military options were very much on the table in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Even up to the 1990s, we could have at least bought ourselves more time through refusing to trust North Korea and their empty promises for utilizing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. And I would also argue that the George W. Bush administration could have taken out the dictatorship as part of eradicating the world from his so-called “Axis of Evil.” If only North Korea had oil!
The crisis in the Asia-Pacific theater is an indictment of political apathy, and in a correlating manner, a denunciation of the inflationary ideas of John Maynard Keynes. While the economy, much like politics, can survive years, even decades, of “kicking the can down the road,” reality will eventually bite back.
Every Presidential administration since Eisenhower pushed off the North Korea threat to the next political cycle, and eventually, to the next generation. No leader wanted to have the blood of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American soldiers on their hands. Instead, every President up until the current one has relied on tough rhetoric and economic sanctions.
But during this time period, North Korea only grew stronger and more emboldened. When communism fell apart in the late 1980s to early 1990s, the dictatorship held strong. Again, multiple opportunities presented itself to deal with the issue, but it was pushed off the agenda.
However, similar to the inflationary policies of Keynes, trouble begat more trouble. North Korea is now at a point where only mutually-assured destruction (ie. a nuclear-armed Japan) can prevent World War III. The can cannot be kicked any further.
Eventually, we will also hit the point of no return with Keynes and the quantitative easing madness. While it may appear that the economy is back to recovery, we have actually solved none of the underlining problems of our financial system. Until we are ready to make some hard decisions that we should have made long ago, we’ll be facing another crisis that has no easy answers.