In a WSJ oped this morning that is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows, Bruce Gilley makes what he acknowledges is “An Immodest Proposal,” advocating a Chinese invasion of North Korea on “humanitarian grounds.” My first, perhaps a tad sarcastic, reaction was that someone should call Richard Gere, but, as many of us know, the great defender of Tibet is otherwise engaged.
But I wondered, after a moment’s reflection, whether Gilley actually made sense in his rash proposal. While I am some distance from picking up the cudgels (as if that would matter) for this idea, I am not prepared either completely to dismiss it. As he points out:
Seldom has there been a regime more deserving of being overthrown on humanitarian grounds. North Korea is one of the great disasters of our time. A famine from 1995 to 1998 killed between 600,000 and one million people — 4% of the population. Even today a third of the population is malnourished. Basic rights simply do not exist. All of this is because of a cruel and unreformed communist regime that makes Saddam’s Iraq look like a paragon of justice. As if these humanitarian considerations were not enough, North Korea’s nuclear programs pose a major threat to world peace and raise the specter of proliferation of WMD. So too do its biological and chemical-weapons programs, which have so far received far less international attention. In short, there is a firm basis for a just war to topple Kim Jong Il.
It also seems indisputable that the Chinese are by far the best placed to undertake such an action. Of course, the specter of the “Red Dragon” expanding its power as it did with the Tibetans gives pause. But Gilley seems to be implying that China has changed sufficiently and that an invasion of this nature might induce further change, encouraging the great Asian power to demonstrate its magnanimity.
Well, it’s hard to come to a conclusion about something like this at such short notice – to say the least. But Gilley certainly deserves plaudits for “thinking out of the box.”