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 Post subject: Iran or North Korea? (p 2 Kim Jong Il is dead)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:56 pm 
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Who are people more afraid of as being a viable threat to the United States and its interests around the world, in addition to be risks to the destabilization of their respective regions? Personally, it is Iran for me for the reasons outlined in the Iran and nuclear weapons thread. North Korea is interesting as China can either keep it in check or provide it military technology, both of which it has done in the past. I thought this was particularly interesting for you northway, especially given you live in South Korea currently. What is the press towards North Korea and the Kim's like there?


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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:29 am 
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Eh, North Korea is kind of just same old, same old in the Korean mind. Most Koreans, particularly older ones, are vehemently in favor of reunification, but I'm not sure how much they're willing to sacrifice for it. Considering the huge disparity in wealth between the countries, it would be extremely expensive to attempt to piece them back together. I think the powers that be in the ROK would be horrified by the Kims falling, as it would result in an unstoppable flood of refugees and an expectation that the ROK government would take the lead in dealing with them.

In terms of nuclear weapons, North Korea doesn't really scare me. They don't have any way to deliver a nuclear bomb to a target in South Korea, as their missile tests have basically failed across the board. That said, they have enough artillery pointed at Seoul to absolutely level the city (and thus destroy South Korea). Their conventional weapons are a lot scarier than their unconventional weapons.

I guess I'd put it this way: Iran is a bit scarier geopolitically, but they play by the rules, at least as far as political science is concerned (not where international law is concerned). North Korea doesn't acknowledge any rules, and is far more top-heavy. As such, you're dependent on one person not making an insane decision, whereas in Iran you've got the Council of Guardians and whatnot fashioning something of a safeguard against individual insanity (which the Kims have loads of).

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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:17 pm 
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Thanks for the insider views, northway. I think if the two countries were to ever unify we would have to take the GDR and the FRD, East and West Germany, respectively, and amplify the effect by about a thousand. The wealth disparage, like you said, is much worse in Korea than it ever was in Germany. East Germany may not have been loaded with luxuries, but they had all the essentials, nevertheless. A unified Korea would essentially be starting from scratch with half the country left with no industry, infrastructure, and no commerce. North Korea would face what Germany still faces 20 years later with the rest of Germany still paying off the Eastern renovations, while struggling to get Germans to live in the former Eastern zones, even though two beautiful and historic cities in Dresden and Leipzig are in the East. All this despite countless programs to create jobs and get the economy going in the East, which still suffers from the highest unemployment rates in Germany.


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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:19 am 
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To be fair, there are a couple structural advantages that would come with reunification. Though I don't think they outweigh the costs of reunification by any means, they're worth mentioning:

1) The ROK currently imports pretty much all of its energy. North Korea has extensive coal deposits, and would provide a certain level of energy independence.

2) Tied to this, though in a slightly different vein, is the general mineral wealth of North Korea. Again, the ROK doesn't currently possess any mineral wealth to speak of. If you were to combine the mineral wealth of North Korea with the industrial capacity of the ROK, it would definitely provide some economic benefit.

3) Currently, the ROK imports much of its labor force. The men making your Kia coupes, LG refrigerators, and Samsung phones aren't Korean; generally they're Southeast or South Asian. With 60% of the country's native youth attending university and generally thinking itself above manual labor, this is a necessity. Were reunification to occur, it would provide a ready workforce that wouldn't require importing labor.

All that said, the potential costs are still huge. I might end up settling down here for the long-haul; as such, I'm very much against reunification. As I look out my window and see what this country has made of itself over the last sixty years, I can't imagine seeing so much economic progress go down the drain.

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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:28 pm 
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Basically agree. East Germany was in a much better place than the North Korea as the Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries really helped to prop each other up, as weak as it was, the support was the there. North Korea is basically isolated save for a few countries. Even West Germany did business with East Germany after Brandt's Ostpolitik. Plus West Germany, with one of the top 3 economies in the world could absorb the blow of absorbing a bleeding economic country like the GDR. Despite South Korea's economic strength and the surging won, I doubt they would be able to sustain the type of growth to survive reunification in the short term. Eventually, it would be helpful in the future, the distant future, however, for the first 10-20 years they could have some serious issues.


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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:06 pm 
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I think you are largely correct, though the educational level of N. Korea is quite high, and there are probably significant human capital resources under-utilized in the command economy. Unification would also disrupt the exclusive market (as small as it is) China has in N. Korea.

Basically though, you are talking about a rough 1/3 -- 2/3 combination which is difficult to see...

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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:31 am 
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jdawginsc wrote:
I think you are largely correct, though the educational level of N. Korea is quite high, and there are probably significant human capital resources under-utilized in the command economy.


Yes and no. They're pretty highly educated, but not in a way where they could easily merge with the South. More than 10% of the English used every day in the ROK is made up of English loan words, and there are a ton of Japanese loan words as well; none of these words are used in North Korea. This applies to everything from food to technology, and the more skilled a worker is the more necessary it is for him to have a strong grasp of English. Essentially, anyone with technical expertise is going to have to relearn anything they've ever learned. North Korean doctors and scientists generally have to start from scratch if they defect to the South. Moreover, as much as there's a fairly large educated portion of the populace, there are a lot more people who are totally brainwashed with little usable education outside of literacy, which isn't saying much when you're talking about the easiest language in the world to learn. Basically, I'm not particularly impressed by it's educational aptitude outside it's literacy rate, which isn't particularly impressive when we're talking about the Korean alphabet; it literally took me an hour to learn the alphabet to the point that I could sound out whatever I read, and the language is almost perfectly phonetic.

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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:16 pm 
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I hate to keep going back to German reunification, however, it is the only reasonable historical comparison, which even then is far from perfect. When the two Germanys reunited (or really West Germany absorbed the East), the Eastern states experienced wide-spread unemployment, which the government was then forced to pay for through unemployment as German, like many European countries, has some elements of socialist aspects, particularly with healthcare and employment. Therefore, the burden fell on the federal government in Germany to provide for these people. It is only because Germany has such a strong economy that they were able to survive. While South Korea has a very strong economy, the infrastructure and cost to basically get North Korea back on its feet would severely strain the economy to the point of collapse, as the population is greater than in Germany. That is not even taking into account what it would take to provide food, as we all know there are large shortages in the North. I could see South Korea experiencing financial ruin as a result of their unification. I also find the prospect of reteaching every skilled laborer to be a huge aspect, as you mentioned, Northway. This is where the majority of unemployment will stem from as well as unskilled laborers as there will not be as much use for them in a united country.


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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:25 pm 
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Iran poses very little threat to us. We have been a threat to them. We uprooted their government and installed a repressive dictator The Shah. Then when the Islamists revolted and took over, we backed another dictator in Saddam who used our money to kill his own people and war with Iran. This is a country that doesnt have a proper airforce, army or navy, not enough gasoline for themselves yet we beat the drums of war. Iran would never in a million years attack Israel because it holds Muslim holy sites, and it turn it would be a suicide mission as Israel would be the ones that wiped them off the map.

Yet last night the crazies like Santorum, Bachmann, Newt, Romney all said they would be willing to bomb Iran if it posed a threat to Israel. Another inevitable nation building mission that would cripple us for decades.

I doubt Korea is any threat. It was our involvement there in the first place that created that mess.

It's high time we start changing our foreign policy because it seems every problem in the world has been caused by America. Dont believe the fear mongering hype folks, Obama was right, "Iran is a tiny country. They pose no threat to us."

Too bad he turned into a warmonger just like every neocon


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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:12 pm 
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Ciaran, what are your thoughts on Ron Paul? I imagine you would think he has an attractive foreign policy, at the very least, as he advocates a "non-intervention" policy; he was the only 2012 candidate to have voted against the Iraq War. Also, he believes we must stop all forms of foreign aid as well as stop meddling in other countries' affairs. While I do agree about the last aspect, some of his other policies I do not agree with. For example, I think, for the most part, we should stop meddling in other countries' business, except where have agreements or treaties, such as with Japan. This is where Paul and I differentiate. While we are the largest contributor to NATO and it was most useful in the Cold War, to date, I believe we must and should honor these obligations as they only increase our national security. Great Britain has been our greatest ally for the greater part of 100 years, same with France except for about 240 years, and Germany (crucial in the Cold War) for the past 60 years. We cannot just cut all ties to these nations. That would do irreparable diplomatic relations, as well, reducing the good faith of our nation on a global scale.

Hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps we should have not invaded Afghanistan, instead just targeting the individuals, however, those people lived in the 6th century, in a country so far in the past and barbaric, which is not just a Western view as the Taliban's policies were denounced by many Muslim nations. It may not be our "right" to save or rescue every country, however, that is what our country has always stood for, we cannot just turn our back on people who need us, when we're presented with an opportunity to give them a better life. And we are. I read a story the other day about how teens in Afghanistan and Iraq were listening to American music (thanks to American soliders), texting, and using Facebook/Twitter, in defiance of how they used. Their parents, as expected, were having troubling reconciling their strict adherence to Islam as installed by the Taliban and the absence of freedom under Saddam, with their children's use of modern technologies. It reminded me of Amish children in Rumspringa, to an extent, as they were experiencing modern technology for the first time. The news only reports the negative. However, the facts are the majority of people are eternally grateful to be liberated, while experiencing liberty and freedom for the first time in their lives. That is America. That is what we stand for, not war-mongering, catering to the rich, oil, or money. We are about freedom, liberty, and "we the people." We believe all people are entitled to "the pursuit of happiness." Therefore, while we get blamed for being the world's police and how we should stick to ourselves, the world would be a much worse place without America and the aid/intervention to other countries on our behalf. Does that mean that it is always justified or we are always correct in our actions? No. However, more times than not, our actions have made the world a better, safer place, where freedom, liberty, and human rights are restored.


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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:15 am 
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Ciarán wrote:
I doubt Korea is any threat. It was our involvement there in the first place that created that mess.


No, it wasn't, and I find the statement offensive. Our involvement here was what built the country in which I live, and every dead American's name is listed at the Korean War Memorial because of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Iran or North Korea?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:02 am 
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I would imagine that the mess of North Korea was created by a completely random progression of post war events that led to a nitwit being able to consolidate power.

However, in some respects, Ciaran is absolutely right; our fear of communism shifted our emphasis in foreign nation-building and aid (if it really was a shift...since the 1800s/early 1900s are abundant with anecdotes of economic American Big-Brother-with-a-stick-ism), to supporting anyone who we felt would offset Soviet influences.

Going back further, Woodrow Wilson's rabid racism allowed Sun Yat-sen and Ho Chih Minh to slip toward Soviet Communism, and the Middle East to remain toys of the British and French until the late 1940s.

Bottom Line: If our emphasis has been as stated, as "democratic nation-building", our record is a hypocritical disaster. If it has been simply as many suspect to support our economic elites (companies and persons), "economic interests," it was a temporary success, and now we are dealing with the significant fall-out...

A short history of US foreign policy

--Oppose Chinese communism under Mao--support Chiang Kai-Chek, a brutal dictator. (Bad idea.) --> Years of civil war, and poor relations
--Oppose Chinese influence in Korea--support the non-Maoist government in S. Korea (Probably pretty valid since NATO/Europe was supportive) --> positive result
--Oppose Ho in Vietnamese independence movement----support French neo-Colonialism--support Diem (another corrupt guy)--> Vietnam War (enough said)
--Support Batista against democratic-popular movement -- Castro. Not only that, ignore the country for 50 years, even though they were no threat, and could have benefited us through trade. --> Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile, embargoes, etc...
--Support the Shah in an internal/external coup against a democratically elected Socialist PM who nationalized oil in the 1950s --> Islamic fundamentalist government
--Support the Mujah'adin against the Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan (1979-1989ish) through CIA training and intervention (supplying and training a young Egyptian zealot named Osama bin'Ladin) --> Didn't turn out so well.
--Support secularist dictator Saddam Hussein against fundamentalist Iran 1979-1988
--Oppose Sandinistas in Nicaragua because of Socialist leanings (even though they had begun Social Programming on a large scale to elimiate class divisions and poverty...
--Support Pinochet over the democratically elected Allende in Chile...
--Ignore Apartheid in South Africa...
--Ignore Amin (Israel in fact had supported his coup, then were expelled as Amin consolidated power--the US gave tacit disapproval in Nixon's second term--then it exploded)

--Ignore genocide in Uganda, Rwanda-Burundi, Pakistan-India-Bangladesh, East Timor, Kurds in Turkey...

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