North Korea: The Next “Good” War?

by Robert Arvay

There is a principle in law that allows us to use deadly force when necessary to save the life of an innocent person who is in imminent danger of being killed by a criminal attacker. That is very cut and dried. It brings to mind the image of a criminal with a gun, shooting at his would-be victim. Before he gets off the next and fatal shot, the good guy, having warned the bad guy to drop his gun, and seeing that the bad guy is determined to commit murder—well, you get the idea. We’ve all seen that movie, and it ends well. It is indeed, an open-and-shut case of justifiable homicide. At least it is in the movies.

In the real world, it is rarely that clear cut. When the man next door is beating his wife, you might call the police, but what happens while you are waiting for them to arrive? Do you try to stop the beating, or do you let her suffer a few more blows to the head, hoping that they are not fatal? Do you step in to help her? What if he has a weapon? What if he threatens you and your family? Worst of all, what if this has happened before, and it’s getting worse all the time? How badly will you allow him to beat her while the police are supposedly on the way? What if the police still have not arrived?

If you do step in, you may be in danger yourself. Indeed, you may even be the one who gets arrested and/or sued. That is real life. This movie does not always end well.

Our neighbor in North Korea is beating his citizens. Worse yet, he is inflicting inconceivable torture on them. He kills them without qualm, and does so in numbers that stagger the imagination. Vast numbers of North Koreans have been quarantined in regions of their nation without food, intentionally starved to death by the dictator, by the hundreds of thousands. Would-be escapees are gunned down, or worse. A few survive to tell the story, but only a very few, and their stories are rarely given wide coverage.

Is help on the way? The United Nations has been called. It says is getting concerned. The UN might consider doing something about it. Someday. Maybe.

This kind of situation is, sadly, not unprecedented in history, including recent history. Saddam Hussein tormented the people of Iraq for years, while the world did nothing. The Taliban savaged the people of Afghanistan while the world did nothing. Josef Stalin systematically starved twenty million Ukrainians to death by confiscating all their food at harvest time. The world did nothing.

In decades past, during centuries past, there was little or nothing that could be done. Today, much can be done, but even now, the world stands by and does nothing.

The cynic might say, why should we help? Look at all the people whom we have helped escape oppression, and then look at how, a very short time later, they are burning our flag and cursing us. Let them help themselves.

Another might say, yes, we should help them, but at what cost? We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and lost thousands of our people killed, tens of thousands grievously wounded, and gutted our own economy in the process. Was it worth it? Is it worth losing your son or daughter, even for a good cause? Is it worth populating our nation with widows, orphans and amputees, in order to release another nation from its ordeal?

The cynic might say that we cannot police the world. Tyrants have always trampled their people, and as soon as we stop one, up pops another. The torture business continues to thrive.

Cynics say that wars should never be fought based on emotion. The only war worth fighting is the one that defends us against actual or imminent attack, and even then, only with enough force to repel the clear and present danger, nothing more.

I have no answer. What good am I? Had I the power, I would stop the horror. I don’t. I can’t. I won’t.

In response to the cynics, I can say only this:  evil is not an abstraction. It is real. Its victims are real. Their abject suffering is real. One day, we will stand in judgment. We will be asked, was there nothing, nothing at all that you could have done? Nothing?

I will hang my head in shame. I will fear and tremble. I will have no answer.

Robert Arvay is a Contributing Writer for The Patriot’s Notepad

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