Tuesday, April 9, 2013

North Korea is NOT Iran (and Vice Versa)

After all the hullabaloo over North Korea and the unproductive nuclear talks with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan, certain usual suspects predictably brought out their old arguments about why Iran is so bloodthirsty and must be stopped. One of their favored arguments is the war-mongering nature and overall craziness of the North Koreans and how Iran must be stopped from becoming like them. When I no longer find it amusing, I become disturbed at this nonsense as it is paranoid and problematic in its bellicosity. 

There are a number of reasons why these comparisons between Iran and North Korea are illogical and ridiculous. Firstly, North Korea is not, and will never be Iran. North Korea is the bastard step-child of bastard step-children, isolated from the world. They rely on food aid, while simultaneously spending their budget developing weapons and running massive slave labor camps. As bad as some of the human rights abuses are in Iran, these countries are fundamentally different. No matter what one feels about the way in which Iranian elections have occurred (or not, depending on your point of view), they at least have the semblance of multiple political parties, and representatives from minorities are elected to the Majles (Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, and Zoroastrians). While things are becoming more difficult for Iranians as sanctions cut further into the ability of the state and its citizens to conduct business, it is very very far from becoming anything like North Korea economically. 

The next reason why this comparison is problematic is that North Korea considers South Korea and the South Korean people to be a part of the greater Korea that must be united (The North Korean political front is called the "Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland"). This perceived need for 'unification' perpetuates a conflict-minded state that will not be able to reconciled with its neighbor until one of them ceases to exist (I am counting an overthrow of the Kims in this category). Unlike North Korea vs. South Korea, Iran, and Islam (Sunni, Shia or other sect) are not diametrically opposed to Israel and Zionism. The current governments of the two states often disagree with each other, but they are not inherent enemies, it is not an existential disagreement. 

What people should be afraid of is not an Iranian nuclear weapon, but any nuclear weapon. Any capability to cause so much destruction, no matter how just and restrained the one who controls this power is, is potentially dangerous.

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