The rising tension coming from North Korea has long surpassed the occasional threats we already got used to that pop up in various areas of the world. This time, although it is one country and not one of the biggest in the world, we cannot ignore the fact that the old rules we remember from international conflicts do not seem to apply to the present tension, and despite everything – history tends to repeat itself.
World War II indisputably started as a result of the actions of Nazi Germany led by Adolph Hitler, its intentions and many allies, around a declared ideology of ‘Germany above all’, intolerance, racism and race supremacy aspirations, which were the guiding policies of this regime. However, the outbreak of this war had other partners as well. The central role of the appeasing British leader, Neville Chamberlain, who naively refused to acknowledge the German threat to world peace, and made concessions to ward off the imminent evil – facilitated the war that devastated Europe, which could not cope with the wave of evil that engulfed it.
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany intensified furthermore Germany’s expansionist appetite, and increased this nation’s power mania in a way that expedited WW2.
Both Neville Chamberlin and Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Minister, were perceived at first as working to lift the threat of war, by reaching out in friendship to the rising Nazi regime. The harsh reality proved otherwise to the supporters of appeasement and placation. The agonizing memory of WW2, which was not avoided due to concessions and indetermination – must be seared in humanity’s memory in view of future conflicts.
North Korea has not concealed its intention to become a major player in global politics. Its view was that it would gain its status of right and not on sufferance, which would be maintained only if it had the force and strength to be a threat to other countries.
In the early 1990s, in a meeting with senior Israeli officials, Fidel Castro spoke about the future of world peace. Castro argued that the collapse of communism and half the socialist world after the cold war had challenged the countries that were affiliated with this ideology, and had lost the protection of the Soviet Union. He praised the coalition of ostracized countries, which were obligated to helping each other, relying on the hidden power of those who opposed the new world leadership. In this coalition he included Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Vietnam, and other socialist countries in South America that stand or potentially stand with the coalition of ‘insubordinate’ countries that were excluded from the world consensus of the late 1990s.
Indeed, these countries promoted a network that eventually threatened the entire world. Nevertheless, President Bill Clinton refused to listen to the threats emanating from North Korea and to expert opinions about it and its allies. He chose to overlook North Korea’s leaders’ caprices and to give in to their demands, while relinquishing his own just demands for the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and termination of the development of other unconventional arms.
These concessions were accompanied by generous grants of funds and commerce, in exchange for promises to stop developing nuclear weapons. Through a line of political conciliatoriness, and at the high cost of economic aid – the ongoing dangerous armament process of North Korea was enabled on the one hand, and on the other allowed its allies to rely on the technology developed as tiebreaking tools in building their own threats in other regions.
Barack Obama’s election as president of the US, and awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize before he had proven his contribution to world peace, drove Pyongyang to try the new US president. And so, in June 2006, North Korea conducted an ostentatious missile test, and in October of that year – a nuclear test, without attempting to conceal or deny, but rather bragging about its success. The young American president did not react to this provocation, and his silence provided a form of tacit approval of North Korea’s offensive actions, as it cooperated with the other countries identified with the Axis of Evil.
Iran continued in its attempts to develop its own nuclear weapons as well, challenging (North Korean style) the entire world, while also cooperating with faraway North Korea’s weapons development and nuclear testing. Even after the agreement was signed between Iran and the West, Iran continued in the same way in pursuing the development of weapons, especially missiles, without its pre-nuclear capacity being damaged. But in addition, there is no doubt that Iran financially supported North Korea in its nuclear development efforts, transferred money for missile purchases, for aid to arm Syria, and for the massive development measures brazenly taken by North Korea, contrary to Iran’s previous international commitments. There is no doubt that the millions of dollars of grants that former President Barack Obama gave Teheran created an opportunity to promote the research in North Korea – a poor, resources-deprived country, in desperate need for cash flow, received from Iran with the help of the US.
With the assistance and support of Iran, North Korea’s involvement in the region has increased, and culminated with the North Korean and Iranian cooperation in developing a nuclear reactor in Syria – which international sources claim was bombed by Israel to prevent a tiebreaking action that would have put the entire Middle East in jeopardy.
Ever since, neither Iran nor North Korea have desisted from developing various-range missiles adapted to carrying various types of warheads, which can indisputably be seen as a clear and direct threat to all of Southeast Asia and perhaps even the US. Iran, which has invested a lot of money in South American countries (such as Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua), and of course in Syria, Sudan and Lebanon through Hezbollah – has opened the gates of these countries to the influence of North Korea and other terror-supporting countries – and has allowed these technologies to flow to terror organizations together with weapons components that it supplied.
Slowly, the reduced Axis of Evil became smaller, on one hand, but more dangerous and brazen, on the other hand, and no real efforts are made to stop the dangerous developments in the two leading countries – Iran and North Korea.
The development of nuclear weapons and missiles that can carry them to medium and long distances has created a new world reality. So far, the balance of terror has been a deterrent, and has prevented the potential of mutual assured destruction. The fact that irresponsible and uncontrollable regimes are equipping themselves with threatening and tiebreaking strategic weapons – has eliminated the balance factor from the equation; all that remains is terror, which is used for political blackmail, and puts the world in catastrophic danger. Once again, it is obvious that indetermination means lack of leadership, and as in any system in which leadership and governability are irresponsible – the results could be devastating and change the entire world.
The First World War broke out because of the inability to make the right decisions or to see clearly the behaviors of nations and powers that made up the world’s political puzzle.
The Second World War broke out because of indecision, appeasement and cowardice, which eventually led to the greatest, most devastating human disaster we have known so far.
The margins of the Third World War are beginning to show, and are threatening the daily reality in all our countries. The weakness of Clinton and Obama, the infinite determination of North Korea, and the hypocrisy of Iran – on one hand; self-righteous and on the other hand rearming – are the warhead that is at present driving us toward a nuclear disaster. The world leadership’s feebleness vis-à-vis these phenomena – is a worrying preview of the deterioration of the international consensus of mutual responsibility and accountability.
The willingness to contain terror and to look the other way from these phenomena and their perpetrators, the willingness to ignore terror-supporting countries and to allow them to continue to manipulate world politics – have a volatile potential for our lifestyle in most developed countries of the world. The policy of denial that allows us to bury our heads in the sand in belief that the harsh facts will disappear on their own – is similar to a person who refuses to read the worrying symptoms of a disease, denying that avoidance of preventive treatment could be fatal.
Pyongyang, Teheran, and other associated governments in Qatar and Ankara that impact global atmosphere, together with coalitions of extremists that are being formed, are bringing world politics closer to a volatile crisis, which could at any moment devastatingly affect the present and future of all humanity. Despite the abundant information available in this era – most decision makers throughout the world seem frozen in fear, avoiding making brave decisions – and their indecision is leading events towards a dangerous and all-engulfing global crescendo.