In thinking about the state of the world, and in reading the latest news about Colin Powell’s intelligence to the United Nations, I wonder how the difference in systems of government has affected the current world crisis between President George W. Bush and two dictators, Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.
What it boils down to is the difference in how many abuses of power these leaders are allowed to make under the legal framework of their respective countries. These different legal checks and balances are what, according to CSU’s own political science professor/international politics genius Robert Lawrence, creates the difference between a legitimate government for the people and a corrupt government with no curbs on abuse of power or excess greed.
When there are no checks on power, leaders such as Saddam or Kim are effectively above the law, both domestically and internationally. This is why the possibility of a two front war is becoming more of a reality than at any point in recent history. I’m sorry, let me add on to that President Bush’s warmongering at a completely inappropriate time that is also making the two-front war a reality.
I guess that is the nature of presidents vs. dictators: both are ambitious individuals who would love to write themselves into the history of both their people and the world, and are willing to sacrifice the lives of their own people to achieve these ends.
The main difference is that dictators have a lifetime, in theory, in which to implement their goals. Presidents have only four to eight years to write themselves into history before they have to get out and let somebody else deal with both the problems they caused and the problems they failed to solve.
This completely reminds me of Bill Clinton’s relationship to North Korea that accomplished nothing except for the saving of a serious problem for a day when it could be compounded with another problem to create one serous crisis. Clinton just wanted to sweep the dirt under the carpet and wait out his time in office – exactly what Kim Jong Il, ruler for life and seemingly master strategist, wanted to happen.
Kim Jong waited a few years, and bingo, he’s got the United States exactly where he wants it. Now, in order for the United States to save face it is going to have to prove that it can fight simultaneous wars against Iraq and North Korea. While this is theoretically possible to fight this war, it seems highly unlikely that casualties will be low, especially in Korea.
With this major problem having been stated, I have to ask if the world would have been better off if first Saddam Hussein had been taken out by a bloody march on Baghdad in the early 1990s, or the United Nations/United States/world community had disarmed North Korea of any nuclear potential before we reached a point, like the present, where our hands our bound and negotiation is practically forced upon us.
Another option is to wait, see what inspectors find, see how Saddam’s and Kim’s ambitions play out, and then act. A reaction to aggression is always justified, but a pre-emptive strike on a potentially hostile target, with unclear intentions, does not usually sit well with the global community.
The catch-22 of international relations: strike first and ensure your safety, and you are criticized as a hegemonic aggressor; Wait until the storm is upon you, and you will be remembered as a Neville Chamberlain (United Kingdom-WWII).