Timothy Davis / January 8, 2016

Diplomacy Has Failed, Part 1: North Korea & the Middle East

Over the past week the world has gone insane. By 21st century standards, that’s saying something. The Middle East took one step closer to an all-out war as Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies took drastic measures to sever or reduce diplomatic relations with Iran. Iran for its part has upped its usual rhetoric against Saudi Arabia and has most recently accused Saudi Arabia of firing a missile at its embassy in Yemen. For its part, the Yemen civil war got even more violent with the Saudi-lead coalition announcing an end to a cease fire that never actually took effect. A few thousand miles away, North Korea exploded yet another nuclear weapon in defiance of multiple U.N laws and in the face of overwhelming sanctions. What we are seeing now is the result of decades of endless bureaucracy and feeble attempts by politicians who believed grand words and polite talk could somehow bring order to a chaotic world.

Yet they still talk.

The response to events of the past few days has been the standard political response. Diplomacy will work. Let’s talk some more. Sanctions will surely work — this time. In response to Saudi Arabia and other countries cutting ties with Iran, CNN reported that a senior State Department official stated, “With so much turmoil in the region, the last thing we need is for people not to be having conversations.” Apparently this idiot doesn’t understand that these countries are already having conversations; they’re all screaming about how much they hate each other. They’ve hated each other for years, and now they are finally shedding the false cloak of international cooperation in favor of honest and open hostility. In response to the North Korean nuclear detonations, the oh-so-useful United Nations convened an emergency meeting to discuss what other sanctions could be slapped onto the country, because the past landfill’s worth of sanctions have clearly worked so well.

It’s time to stop believing that somehow talking is going to fix the world’s problems. Talking doesn’t fix anything. Talking isn’t the reason that the U.S and the U.S.S.R didn’t go to war during the Cold War. We both possessed weapons capable of reducing the other to a pile of ash. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), not a friendly chat over mint tea at the U.N, was the only reason that the history books don’t talk about a WWIII.

Most politicians and bureaucrats will never want to publicly admit that talking and “having conversations” amounts to the political equivalent of banging your head against a wall to stop a headache. Why? A couple reasons. First and foremost, they don’t want to actually admit that they themselves are utterly useless. Second, the only other alternative to talking is war, and it’s not exactly easy to tell people that we need one of those.

Unfortunately, that’s where we are as a world right now. We’re on the edge of another war, or several of them, and the U.N is just delaying the inevitable for a couple more years by making enough fuss that everyone stops what they are doing and plays nice to look good.

The Middle East

This is a region that has been at war with itself since the dawn of time. True, it has not had a major inter-state war in several years, but you can bet anything that there is one brewing. The death of one man, Nimr al-Nimr, has triggered levels of open hostility that haven’t been seen in decades. Nimr was a Shiite leader who criticized the Saudi government, which is Sunni. That’s why they executed him. Iran is predominately Shite. Most of the countries that have severed ties with Iran are Sunni. You don’t have to be a political expert to see the lines that are being drawn in the sand. It’s one sect of Islam against another. It’s the two biggest kids on the block finally preparing to see which one is tougher. Could the death of this one man really start a major war? It’s not exactly without precedent. WWI was started by the assassination of a man 90% of the world had never even heard of. The worst part of all this is that the U.S has managed to ally itself with Saudi Arabia, a fact the Saudi government is well aware of. Having America on your side used to be enough to stop a war. Now, given our recent attempts to kiss up to Iran, are we on one side, both sides, or is it such a feckless farce that it no longer matters? Through our brilliant attempts to bring peace to a region we know nothing about, we’ve managed to tie ourselves into one conflict that is just itching to break out.

North Korea

This is a country that should have been stomped out of existence years ago. Instead, we’ve tried to reason to a group of certifiable lunatics. We’ve promised food, easing of sanctions, pretty much anything we could think of to guarantee that North Korea wouldn’t acquire an atomic bomb. They accepted all of those deals, and developed, and detonated, atomic bombs. Instead of squashing North Korea the first time it broke its word, we gave it another chance, and another, and another, and… But I’m sure they were all “good talks.”

Now we must once again listen to the U.N “condemn in the strongest terms” the denotation of a nuclear weapon by North Korea. We get to listen to North Korea spew out propaganda that is more a crime against the English language than anything else. Instead of finally moving in to finish off what we started, we’ll sit back and let Kim Jong-Un have his temper tantrum and then we’ll go back to ignoring him until the next time he does something stupid. What will it take for us to finally understand what an evil and dangerous regime this is? A mushroom cloud over Seoul? Over San Francisco?

There is no easy solution to the problems the world faces. Inter-state rivalries are too complicated emotionally for a group of suave pen-and-ink men in thousand-dollar suits to understand, let alone fix. Talk to no purpose is yet more time wasted. Recent events show that we can try to hide from reality, but sooner or later it catches up with us. America will be dragged into yet another global conflict because we couldn’t just accept the fact that people who hate each other aren’t ever going to become friends no matter how much they talk. We tried to fix the world. We made it worse.

Our only choice is when we fight. Now or later.

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