North Korea is front and center in the news. This is understandable, as North Korea is an enemy of the U.S., has nuclear weapons (even though their capability to deliver these nuclear weapons is questionable) and is led by a secretive, totalitarian, ruling elite. The rhetoric from North Korea is highly inflammatory–as it has been many times in the past– as they threaten military action against the U.S. They recently tried to test a missile launch, but it was a dud. Rumor is that the U.S. may have played a part in this. Many are worried that the U.S. may soon be engaged in war with North Korea.
However, at Counter Boycott, we don’t think the threat from North Korea is nearly as dangerous as the media is making it out to be. We think the threat from Iran is much more dangerous.
North Korea’s political culture is similar to that of America’s former adversary, the Soviet Union. Like the Soviets, North Korea’s leaders are communists, which means they are atheists. And remember, hot war never broke out during the Cold War–even though it came close during the Cuban Missile Crisis– because of the doctrine of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). America and the Soviets both knew that if either side used a nuclear weapon against one another, the other would respond with a nuclear weapon, leading to massive deaths on both sides, and perhaps nuclear annihilation if things escalated. Since America and the Soviets wanted to live and had no desire to destroy their countries, war never broke out. It was as simple as that.
The same idea applies today. Like the Soviets, the North Koreans are atheists. Therefore, they want to live as they have no religious based death wish or hopes in an afterlife. North Korean leaders want to rule their country and enjoy the luxuries of limitless power in their small corner of the world. They know that if they attack America, we will wipe them out. Thus, the policy of MAD serves as an effective deterrent. The bellicose North Koreans will likely not do something as stupid as attacking America (assuming they even have the capability).
Iran, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The political culture in Iran is rooted in religious fanaticism–specifically, militant Shia Islam. As we all know too well, militant Islam does not value life. Dying while engaging in holy war, or Jihad, against infidels is considered the greatest achievement for radical islamists. A Hamas leader famously proclaimed: “We love death like our enemies love life.” He’s right. As such, MAD may not be a suitable deterrent for Iran, but perhaps an inducement.
The Mullahs in Iran have a firm belief that the end of days will bring the return of the Mahdi, which is their version of the Messiah. Iranian leaders are obsessed with hastening the Mahdi’s return by fomenting chaos and violence, which adds a very irrational and volatile element to the Iranian nuclear situation. In fact, Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran, stated in 2004 that an Iranian nuclear attack against Israel would kill about five million Jews, whereas an Israeli nuclear retaliation would kill about 15 million Iranians, which is only a tiny fraction of the Muslims in the world, and thus would be an acceptable sacrifice. By every account, Mr. Rafsanjani was a moderate.
In addition, Iran is a menace all around the world, whereas North Korea mostly causes problems on its border with South Korea. Iranian Shia militias are causing problems in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. Iran’s paramilitary wing, the terrorist group Hezbollah, has amassed 100 thousand missiles on Israel’s border in Lebanon, ready at any moment to strike the Jewish State. In 2011, an Iranian plot to blow up a Washington DC restaurant in order to kill a Saudi diplomat was thankfully thwarted. Iran is even making inroads into Latin America, where it is sowing anti-western hatred.
This is why preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons is vital; because the Mullahs might actually use it. Yes, its true that North Korea is a problem, and we must deal with it. However, let’s make sure we don’t take our eyes off the ball.