How big a stick should Christian foreign policy carry in North Korea?

Robert Joustra

Branson Parler
April 11, 2013

Thanks for the good thoughts on this topic. I sometimes wonder why Christians are less vocal on the very fact of nuclear weapons, the use of which obviously violates the just war tradition. The logic of deterrence seems to assume that both sides are operating by purely rational standards, an assumption that may be just as false with respect to America's actions as it is with respect to North Korea's.

Frank Guter
April 18, 2013

Au contraire, when dealing with a regime wrapped up in its own ungodly worship of a Supreme Leader, there is a vacuum wherein rationality and logic may be applied. Posturing begets posturing, and if pressing a button and possibly hitting one city, like Tokyo, results in the potential obliteration of your country, then you will think twice. North Korea is run by an absolute dictatorship which defies any just war theory. The key component here is deterrence. None of the allied powers want anything but the success of North Korea. But that regime is willing to use a steel fist on its citizens. I do not subscribe to a Christian foreign policy, but to an effective foreign policy built on the principles of our democracy, liberty, justice and dignity for all. The principles derive directly from our Judeo-Christian worldview, so they are sufficient causes for pursuing mutually beneficial policies. We used them once and all of us pray that we shall never use them again, but in a world as dangerous as ours is, there deterrence continues to be a crucial foreign policy factor. May they one day be gone from the equation, but we may never enjoy that luxury.

Robert Joustra
April 23, 2013

Quite a few Christians are vocal (Tyler being only one example), and of course those Christians like myself who have the privilege of being Canadian, don't spend a lot of time on the issue in part because our state does not possess them. I do agree that the 'pure rationality' of (neo)Realism and deterrence is a slim thing to hang your hat on, when the results are so catastrophic, and the evidence of logic 'outside the game' is now so preponderant.

Doug Vande Griend
April 24, 2017

This article repeatedly mentions the principles of MAD ("mutually assured destruction") but I don't see MAD as related at all to the North Korean situation. In other words, one might discuss the "justice" of MAD, but in so doing bring no light to the current "question of North Korea."

The question in fact related to North Korea, not mentioned in this article, is whether the international community really intends to enforce a nuclear non-proliferation policy in a manner that actually prohibits North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and/or delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

At a certain point in time, North Korea had no nuclear weapons, nor delivery systems for them. It is becoming clear that it now does have both to some extent and that its development trajectory is such that left uninterrupted, it will fully develop both nuclear weaponry and effective intercontinental delivery systems. And if that trajectory is left uninterrupted, THEN (and only THEN) a discussion about MAD might become a discussion to be had.

I would also suggest that this article's reference to the North Korean problem as a springtime ritual (suggesting if we just let it pass, it will be the 'same ol, same ol' and nothing to be concerned about) is a bit misguided. North Korean saber rattling may be a springtime ritual for North Korea but at one point, it had no nuclear technology and now it does. It's saber rattling now means something quite different than it once did.

Finally, if the US government does its job well, and assuming that it intends to continue a nuclear non-proliferation policy, it would do well to give North Korea's Kim Jong-un the clear impression that he (Kim Jong-un) will no longer exist if he does not discontinue and reverse his nuclear development plans (call it "Unilateral Assured Destruction"). As to that, I am far more concerned about the question of what might be effective to change the thinking/deciding of Kim Jong-un than I am about what whether "posturing nuclear weapons at all is a politically just thing to do." Related, I doubt the US would use nuclear weapons (and if it would, they would be reduced-effect of the 'tactical' variety, not the MAD variety) in an actual military engagement with North Korea.

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