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With North Korea has just completed their third nuclear test, and announced plans for more this year, they are still vulnerable. They are several years from being able to deliver a nuclear weapon to a target via plane or missile, which means their weapons are virtually useless at the moment.
On the other side of the globe Iran is most likely working towards the same goal. They don't even have nuclear weapons yet.
With all things considered, should we take advantage of this moment and attack them? Would invading be justified? If it's justified, and you think we should take advantage of their lack of nukes, which country should be a priority? Should we try both at the same time?
Me personally, I think North Korea is a more justifiable target to hit than Iran, and we're more likely to win. North Korea may be able to be controlled by South Korea, while Iran will have more insurgents. Also, the people in North Korea would be better off united under Seoul, while Iran will continue to be violent as always.
Invading both of them, imo, is out of the question. It would be too costly, and would spread the forces thin.
The biggest downside to a war in Korea is if we did end up losing, although that seems unlikely. If we lost South Korea would be annexed by the North, which would end bad.
If the US government cared about nuclear deterrence, it would view North Korea as a top priority.
The talk of invading Iran is hype generated by corporate-owned (and defense contractor-owned) media like CNN. The motivations for invading Iran are primarily driven by the military industrial complex having another war to profit from. If it were based on an assessment of Iran's nuclear program (which isn't a nuclear weapons program), we would understand they are nowhere near close to doing what we know North Korea has already done.
The US won't enter a war against any of those as it stands right now. First, it wouldn't be approved by the UN Security Council- Russia has interests in Iran and China in NK. Remember the last illegal war the US entered in? Irak. Well, didn't help the image of the US in the world, to the point dozens of countries started to qualify them as a "Rogue State" and Bush Jr. became quite easily one of the most hated people in the world.
Second, money, money, money! Irak and Afghanistan have costed the US budget several trillions that could have been used to prevent (or fix earlier) the economical meltdown. Unless there is no other alternative, I doubt anybody (at least within the current Administration) will want to go on a similar quest again.
Third: I have said it a million times and I'll say it again, as long as China has something to say in NK (and currently they say a lot), no nukes will be launched. It would go against the world peace and that's been the main cause for China's growth and the main reason why it's still stable despite being a pseudocommunist dictatorship, full of inequalities. No peace means less growth, means less money, means more inequalities means internal revolutions. China needs time to plan their growth reduction and make it so nobody riots, and a war in between wouldn't help.
Fourth, before doing anything about Iran, I suggest waiting for their elections this year and for the end of the Syrian Civil War. Al Assad is probably their most powerful ally these days and their bridge into Palestine and Egypt. If Damascus falls, Iran will be faced with a severe loss of influence in the zone and will be more open to negotiation. Threatening them with a war right today would only cause them to radicalize even further.
Oh, we've made a mistake
We've lost our minds
We've lost our memory
Oh, what's it gonna take?
There's always something else
So occupy yourself
North Korea is a threat that we cannot ignore, because of how close they are to us, but there are also next to China, who would make the war bigger than it would need to be.
In the Korean War, Chinese supplies were sent to North Korea, which caused the war to be a LOT bigger than it should have been. Same thing with Vietnam, except with the Russians.
Ultimately, if China did support North Korea in a second Korean War, then we'd have to go to war with them, which would make a huge political mess, and a huge, bloody war, with potential for WW3. I personally think we should go to war with North Korea, with all of our allies, just in case of WW3.
China wouldn't back North Korea if they were to engage the west in war. China stands to lose far too much economically and politically, so in the event that war breaks out, the Chinese's trade agreements with the U.S. would take precedent over a weak and superficial alliance with North Korea.
As several of you have already stated, North Korea is most certainly more of a threat than Iran, much more. Their leader is young, and may not think completely logically. They are weak now, but they will get stronger.
As for politics involving such a war, there's not as many problems as people think. Technically the US and South Korea are still at war with the North, we're only in a ceasefire, which North Korea has violated on several occasions, they've even attacked South Korea. Surely our image can't be hurt by responding to an attack? Besides, since then several other countries *cough*Russia*cough*France*cough* have been in wars.
As for China, they have more to lose by supporting North Korea than they do by sitting it out. I doubt they'd get involved. The only way I could see them getting in is by joining the West in attacking the North, so they could have some say in the post-war.
As for Iran, I personally think they can be ignored. Even if they develop nuclear weapons I don't think they're as likely to attack as the North Koreans.
The only con of such a war would be money. However, as far as that goes, I think North Korea would be far less costly as the wars in the Middle East. For one, the new United Korea would be governed by Koreans, and the people in North Korea could be pacified easier than Iranians. They believe their leader is a god, and if they see him defeated it would likely change their mind.
But what is there to do about North Korea? Sanctions won't make them back down, and an invasion is clearly out of the question - I don't think anybody, China, South Korea, Japan or the US wants to see a 10 million strong army being thrown around. And I don't know how easy it would be for the CIA to find "our guys" to support.
Iran seems easier to manage, as they have greater power in their region and can have more "responsibility" to their allies, the regional economy and so on to put it one way. North Korea only has official relations China, so if anything goes crazy, the other stakeholders most likely will get the news from China - or not at all within a reasonable timeframe - and international broken telephone is not fun.
Even though China has relatively the biggest say in what happens in North Korea compared to all other stakeholders, I don't think the North Koreans especially appreciate this. So if China was to step up its game, North Korea could do something stupid like another missile test, this time towards the middle of the Pacific, or blowing up another South Korean ship and so discredit China's ability to be a moderating force and scare the crap out of everybody else who has just lost faith in the one country believed most able to keep North Korea in line.
China would object to a US invasion of North Korea, and this would have horrible implications on their relations. Sure, even if China chooses to sit out, it's still choosing the less crappier of two crap choices. I think China would feel that such an invasion would force them to deal with millions of refugees, participate in a costly reconstruction, and a shaken-up power dynamic in the region that it did not ask for. And I don't think the US would want to act this way towards a key ally. An invasion by the US passes the bulk of the clean-up to China, no matter if it's in the US interest of security to remove the NK military threat.
I'm not even sure if China has a plan B in case of a US invasion. And we have no idea what such an invasion would look like. A unilateral invasion without consulting China is a huge insult to a major player that has much more to lose - and would most likely not happen. A unilateral invasion by the US means that the US will get all of the say in the aftermath and so China will join in the war too. But will both countries be willing to have separate campaigns without communicating with one another? That's just asking for friendly fire and screwups. But China and the US invading together just seems wrong... I don't think any amount of propaganda/media framing of the issue will change the impression of two world powers beating the crap out of this minor country for the sake of ensuring their own national interests will have a say - it's a bit of a stretch to claim "for the greater good" - and I'm sure all of us can agree that a resolution of the NK problem that is either pro-Chinese or pro-American is undesirable to all, especially because South Korea and Japan are very capable of being pissed at the US, to say nothing of their rivalry with China.
Although there might be a million ways to resolve this, China and South Korea would probably have to deal with most of the crap for 999,999 of them and so fortunately this will only give an incentive for all stakeholder nations to work closer than ever.