In many ways, the constant threat to world stability has become such a part of daily life that it’s easy to forget about. The international community rushes to deal with concerns raised by IS or a nuclear Iran or the possible election of a fascist in France (or the United States), but North Korea has long been the problem that’s stumped the world.
North Korea is a small country, with a low population and an incredibly weak economy. But it’s also a nuclear power with one of the world’s largest militaries that regularly stands against and even threatens global superpowers.
The United States’ policy for North Korea has long been one of defense. Its most recent plan has been the installation of a nuclear missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea.
While the development of technology to defend against nuclear weapons initially seems like it would be to everyone’s benefit, this has drawn the ire of the Chinese government.
China (mis)interprets nuclear defenses as a U.S. work-around to mutually assured destruction. If the U.S. can successfully block nuclear missiles, the theory says, it would be able to bomb other countries with impunity.
North Korea is by no
means an ally of China, as they are often popularly portrayed. Rather, North Korea is often a thorn in China’s side.
North Korea’s actions regularly threaten Chinese security, as evidenced by Chinese worries about the United States’ missile shield. But China feels it has to prop up North Korea, because a collapse of the North Korean state could cause a flood of refugees into China that could put a financial strain on the country.
Also, a unified Korea could give the U.S. more influence in the region. But this presents a clear way for the U.S. and China to work together to solve the problem.
The U.S. does not want to go to war with North Korea, because the country’s nuclear capabilities could cause unprecedented destruction. It’s almost certain, however, if war were to break out, North Korea would be destroyed.
Because China has such a keen interest in keeping North Korea stable, it has an interest in preventing North Korea from provoking war. North Korea relies on China because China is its only powerful ally and because it is economically dependent on China. Therefore, the U.S. should encourage China to use its considerable influence within North Korea to stop it from sparking conflict.
Alex Hayes is the Public Relations Chair of the Hofstra Democrats
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