North Korea throwing a worrisome tantrum.

So the UN passed harsher sanctions against North Korea, and even China signed on.  Among the prohibitions against stuff that could be used to enrich uranium, there will also be a block against shipping luxury items like yachts and jewelry to North Korea. The latter was kind of a “fuck you” to the wealthy class that lives it up while the rest of the populace is impoverished.

Anyway, Kim Jong Un is unhappy and North Korea is threatening nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States.  As far as them launching anything at the United States that will so much as disturb a dandelion, I’ll file that away under “Won’t Happen”.  However, South Koreans may want to get a good ways south of the border just in case North Korea decides to clumsily lob a nuclear missile wannabe at the country.

Anywho, I’m on a three flight journey to Madison, WI today for the Madison Freethought Festival and the delays are already piling up.  Content will be pretty light today, but you guys can use the comments here to talk about whatever, or about how to deal with a bellicose, unhinged North Korea with dreams of harnessing nuclear weapons.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Chris Hallquist

    Christ. I’m glad I’m not living in South Korea anymore.

  • Glodson

    I wish I had a good answer on how to deal with North Korea. But I don’t.

    I’m at a loss. I don’t fear them directly, they don’t have the ability to strike at us in the US directly. But they do have the ability to strike at millions close by. That’s unacceptable.

    I don’t think they would do it. They have to know that their closest ally, China, wouldn’t put up with that at this stage in the game, and that North Korea cannot take on the world. But they will push it, and terrorize their neighbors.

    Sadly, I wouldn’t bet on this being correct because they could be deluded enough to believe that China will support them no matter what and they can take on the world.

  • Adam

    How many times have they threatened to use nuclear arms again? I may have run out of fingers for this one.

  • nentuaby

    The nastiest thing about the military situation between the Koreas is that Seoul (pop. 25,000,000+) is within artillery range of the DMZ. Even a sudden conventional strike could be deadly to a degree usually considered the province of nukes.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

    Don’t forget that the DPRK also has quite a lot of chemical weapons. I know at one point they were actually deployed and pointed at Seoul, and nothing I’ve heard since suggests they’ve been removed. If the DPRK decided to go to war, they’d likely use nuclear and/or chemical weapons because what do they have to lose if they do? They’ll lose any conventional war and they do know that, so might as well take your enemies down with you.

    It’s also possible that Kim Jong Un isn’t as crazy as we think he is. A common sub-theme in a lot of analysis is that the Kims might be ‘crazy like a fox’. They’ve been able to use threats and coercive language to good effect in the past; it ups their own military’s morale and they know no one outside the DPRK takes it very seriously. They can trade rhetorical flourishes for actual food aid. Also, we’re not sure Kim isn’t crazy, so we have to walk a bit softly so he doesn’t do something … regrettable.

    As to the DPRK launching missiles at us- it’s unlikely, and they probably couldn’t hit Washington, DC. They can hit the Western half of the country, though we’re not sure with what amount of accuracy, and we do have some missile defenses that might be able to stop incoming ICBMs. Or they might not- we don’t know what countermeasures North Korean missiles might have, and while our (known to this civilian) missile defenses are pretty good against single incoming warheads, they’re pretty bad against MRVs, MIRVs, and decoys. It would still fall under the heading of Bad Thing, though.

  • Shelley

    I am still in Korea. The peace pact that has held for many years has been completely negated. North Korea has pulled back from the dividing line, the DMZ, and “Panmunjom” Joint Security Area (the building in the DMZ which NK and SK hold talks). There are threats of a bomb being lobbed at us. South Korea is ramping up their security….which is infinitely better than NK’s. SK has the technology, NK has the people.

    The moment a bomb is sensed entering airspace above NK….
    Let’s just say not one South Korean is all that worried. Neither am I.

  • Compuholic

    Although it is worrisome I see this somehow more relaxed (ok, that might also have something to do with the fact that I live a couple thousand kilometers away).

    I don’t think little Kim is stupid. He knows that if he launches an attack against South Korea there is no way back. China is probably the only supporter he has. And even China is getting more and more annoyed with North Koreas behavior, so I would not bet much on them giving much support. On the other hand they know that pretty much the whole world will back South Korea.

    Kim is in a classical dilemma. The current political course of isolation in North Korea is not sustainable and I am pretty sure he knows that. But he also knows that if he opens up the country to trade the capital will create new interest groups and the power of the government would fade fast. And even if he would be willing to do just that I am sure that there are lots of generals who have profited from the current system and would strongly disagree.

    So I doubt that anything will happen. But nevertheless South Korea would be stupid not to prepare themselves just in case…

  • Thurston Howell III

    I don’t get it. North Korea is an Atheist state. Isn’t this what you want?

    • Loqi

      It’s also a totalitarian state. Isn’t that the Christian ideal?

      • Thurston Howell III

        The Soviet Union was Christian?

        • Loqi

          What? You seriously can’t follow logic, can you? Christianity advocates complete supplication to a higher power who controls every aspect of your life. That’s what North Korea does. Except, to quote Hitch, at least you can fucking die and leave North Korea.

          • Thurston Howell III

            Nor do you seriously understand Christianity. Which, y’know, is obvious.

          • Compuholic

            @Thurston: Christians don’t worship an unquestionable authority? That would indeed be news.

          • Loqi

            Please, good sir, explain it to me, since apparently my church was doing it wrong. Instruct us on which version of Christianity is the “true” Christianity. We always seem to argue against things that aren’t really Christianity.
            Please, put your foot down and explain real Christianity to us so theists have to stop with the No True Christian shit. Is there no absolute, divine authority to which we are all accountable? Is god not omniscient knowing and monitoring every action we take and every thought we think? Is there no afterlife in which the people who do not follow this absolute authority are punished for eternity and where his followers are infinitely rewarded by allowing them to bask in the god’s glory and worship him for eternity?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      OK, repeat after me. “Atheism means a disbelief in gods.” That’s it. You can be a totalitarian, communist, capitalist, humanitarian, or total jackass and it has absolutely nothing to do with atheism.

      Most of us here are atheists. Many of us are also mostly liberal, which means feminist, pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-social safety net, and many other things. None of that flows directly from our atheism, but rather from a healthy skeptical attitude. In other words, the skeptical attitude leads to both atheism and liberalism as a third confounding factor. However, many others of us are conservative, libertarian, communist, or socialist, because they have taken their healthy skeptical attitudes and come to different conclusions regarding the world.

      None of us like what North Korea does. It’s a totalitarian police state in which an ideology is elevated above human needs and decency. The comparison to Christianity (or any other ideology taken to its extreme) is obvious- Christianity is also an ideology that gets elevated above human needs and decency. It is this elevation of ideology that is absurd, vicious, and illogical. That is what we reject. We support secular states, not atheist states. You know, the ones in which anyone can believe anything they like, no matter how stupid it might be?

      • Thurston Howell III

        Christianity is an “ideology” that is elevated above human needs and decency? You actually believe that? Wow. And you call me stupid.

        • Loqi

          Does the bible not instruct you to take no thought for the morrow? I seem to remember that from bible study, but perhaps I was just doing it wrong, as you are so adamant that none of us understand real Christianity. That’s elevating worship above human needs.
          As for human decency, I vividly recall Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

          Well, considering that modern Christianity includes denying gay people rights, teaching women they’re broodmares with no brains or rights, supporting “Kill the Gays” bills, torturing people accused of witchcraft to death, covering up the rape of children, and beating children in order to break their spirits, yeah I’d say Christianity was an ideology elevated above human decency.

          That doesn’t even begin to cover the pogroms, inquisitions, crusades, witch hunts, suppression of science, burnings, torture, slavery, and other vile things that happened historically because of Christianity or that were supported by Christianity.

          Now, not all Christians are bad people or believe any/all of this crap. The problem remains that Christianity has been and continues to be used as an ideology of oppression in large parts of the world, including parts of the US. If you’ve never heard of Debi and Michael Pearl, I suggest you look them up for a taste of how Christianity can be abusive. Libby Anne here at Patheos is doing a really good review series of Debi Pearl’s book “Created To Be His Help Meet” or CTBHHM. They’ve also written “To Train Up a Child” which advocates beating babies with 6-inch PVC pipe.

    • Glodson

      I don’t get it. North Korea is an Atheist state. Isn’t this what you want?

      Several things are wrong with this statement.

      First, atheism is just a position on the existence or non-existence of gods. It is distinct from morality, ethics, and even effective governing. I don’t like a state that forces any religious position on its populace. I’m a secularist in that regards. Many atheists are. As well as many theists as well.

      Atheism is not dogmatic. We just agree there’s no god. As such, just because a group of atheists act badly doesn’t reflect on the group. When we evaluate the religion, I am looking for people who act badly because of their religion. I want to see how their beliefs manifest in actions. A Christian who murders out of rage is just a person who murders out of rage. It probably has nothing to do with his religion directly. A Christian who tortures his child because he was told the child was witch and so he cannot suffer a witch to live, that has something to do with his religion. The Christians who protect pedophile religious leaders because they are men of god, that has something to do with religion.

      I don’t like any form of authoritarianism. I dislike it when a government forces their religious views onto anyone. As such, I disliked it when I read of the accounts of the Khmer Rouge, the various atrocities done in China, and so on. It is an example of totalitarian rule, which I find disgusting. I reject this, and many people seem to think in the same terms.

      And finally, while North Korea is officially an atheist state, you should look into Juche. This is an ideology, the official ideology of North Korea. Really, it is full of nationalistic mysticism, and it turns their “dear leader” into a living god. A few months ago, there was a claim that they found an unicorn lair. It was really a kirin, a mythical beast. This was to add credence to an old legend, and a bit of propaganda.

      Juche has much in common with religion.

      And like religion, the ideology demands the followers not ask inconvenient questions. It is about control. Much like religion.


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