The cost of war is apparent with a quick look at the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan – thousands of lives lost, and homes and livelihoods destroyed. But in the contemporary anti-war West – ideologically embodied by the United Nations, which promotes liberal humanity and respect for the life and liberty of others – the cost of peace is often forgotten. These costs are illuminated, perhaps better than anywhere else, by headline-grabbing, nuke-seeking North Korea.
China, which often acts as if it is North Korea’s best friend, probably doesn’t care as much about North Koreans as it appears. Geopolitics isn’t about making friends – it’s about self-interest. China needs a stable North Korea, otherwise a massive emigration of North Koreans into China in search of basic necessities such as food and work may occur. This “underground railroad” from North Korea to China is already in place in many respects, as basic necessities in North Korea are lacking to an astonishing degree. For now, the North Korean refugees flocking to China number in the thousands. Without Kim Jong Il keeping a stranglehold on his people, China fears the flood of what can only be deemed politically brainwashed, helpless North Korean refugees could number in the millions and endanger the economy of an already destitute southern China.
In order to maintain geopolitical security and peace, the big sticks that China, Russia and other nations carry have led the rest of the world to walk softly. Those big sticks, in many respects, have also overshadowed the abhorrent human rights abuses in North Korea. The list of crimes occurring in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – a name that casts suspicion on all “people’s” (read: communist) movements – is long and horrific: enforced starvation, public executions, denial of even the most basic human rights, concentration camps housing political prisoners and more.
Because China fears instability, and because the rest of the world does not want to foster animosity with China, the crimes in North Korea continue. Sure, the United Nations might find a peaceful way to keep North Korea’s dictator from employing a nuclear weapon against another nation or selling such a weapon to a terrorist group. The United Nations might even find a way to offer North Korea’s “most beloved leader” – as he is called by his state-run news agency – enough incentives to stop threatening the rest of the world every few months. But every incentive the world offers him ensures more suffering on the part of all of North Korea, and every appeasement will do nothing but ensure more Kim Jong Ils in the future.