Meanwhile, the US believes (with no proof) that Iraq is in the process of developing a nuclear bomb that might be ready in a few years.
Why is it that the US is getting ready to attack Iraq but not North Korea?
Iraq is believed to be an easy target. The USA defeated Iraq in the Gulf War in 1991 with almost no loss of American life. The USA tanks rolled directly over the Iraqi troops who were hunkered down in foxholes. They never had a chance. Also, the USA tanks rolled across the desert and came around behind the Iraqi troops. The Iraqis were expecting to be attacked from the front, not from behind.
It was such an easy victory that the USA expects the same thing to happen again. Plus George Bush Senior was such a nice guy that he let Saddam Hussein stay in power. This turns out to be to the advantage of his son, George W. Bush, who is able to boost his political popularity by kicking around an old foe.
In contrast, the USA recognizes that North Korea is a dangerous opponent. Many Americans were killed in the Korean War. It is often forgotten that America did not win that war, not at all. American forces mostly retreated and were nearly driven into the sea. The end result was a draw. America is not anxious to take on such a tough opponent again.
Another factor is the mental stability of the opponent. Although Saddam Hussein is widely regarded as a madman, he is not. There is a method to his madness. The North Koreans however are regarded as totally crazy. There are many examples of this. The North Korean people are starving to death, and yet the North Korean Government is investing all its resources into developing an Atomic Bomb. For what purpose? To attack South Korea?
A recent development provides an example of this. For decades, the Japanese people have known that swimmers and beach goers mysteriously disappear into the Sea of Japan. My wife, for example, grew up being told that if she wants to go to the beach, she should go swimming on the Pacific Side. "Do not swim alone on the Western Side of Japan, which is the Sea of Japan", she was told. Do not go there except during the day time and when there are a lot of other people there. Nobody knew the reason, but there was a tendency for beach goers to disappear into the Sea of Japan.
If these are not the actions of a lunatic government, I cannot imagine what is.
There are many other irrational acts by the North Korean government over the years. North Korean agents have planted bombs which blew up commercial airliners. They planted bombs which blew up and killed diplomats at an official reception in Burma. They have sent spy ships off the coast of South Korea and, when caught, all of the North Korean spies took poison and killed themselves. They have tunneled or tried to tunnel under the boarder into South Korea. And so on.
North Korean has missiles which are capable of hitting Japan. They have fired missiles which flew over Japan and landed in the ocean. North Korea also says that they already have atomic bombs, although this report is widely disbelieved.
All these facts seem to show that North Korea is far more dangerous than Iraq. The North Koreans are both more crazy than Iraq and are more technologically advanced. Iraq might be able to develop nuclear bombs and missiles within the next few years. North Korea has them already. Iraq is one of the richest countries in the world, with the second largest oil reserves in the world. North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its people are starving.
Iraq is controlled by just one man, Saddam Hussein. America believes that with one assassin's bullet, Iraq will become just another peaceful Arab country. By contrast, nobody knows for sure who is really in charge of North Korea. Some believe that President Kim Jong Il is just a figurehead. The real power is held by a committee whose members are unknown, or by a counsel or by the military, some believe. Not knowing who the enemy really is makes things difficult for America.
Iraq is considered more dangerous because its recent actions have been more openly hostile. First, Iraq declared war on Iran. Then, it called off that war, but only to attack Kuwait. Iraq set fires to all the oil wells in Kuwait, an incredibly crazy act. Saddam Hussein has murdered his own grand-children and his son-in-laws and his holding his daughters under house arrest. Meanwhile, the two sons of Saddam Hussein have a reputation that, if they see an attractive woman walking down the street with a man, they will kill the man, abduct and rape the woman and then kill her and chop her up. They have done this several times, receiving only a stern warning from their father, Saddam Hussein. Nice boys.
The North Koreans never do that. They just let their own people starve to death while building nuclear bombs.
Most of the really crazy acts by the North Koreans took place decades ago. The Korean War ended 50 years ago. They kidnapped Japanese off the beaches of Japan 30 years ago and they are even letting some of them go now. The last time that North Korea blew up a commercial airliner in the sky was a decade ago. They hardly ever send suicidal spy ships off the South Korean Coast any more. In short, they have mellowed and may even want to make peace some time soon.
Finally and most importantly, US foreign policy toward any foreign country is almost always dictated by the people in the US from that country. For example, US policy towards Cuba is dictated by Cubans living in America.
US Policy towards North Korea is dictated by South Korea and by Koreans living in the USA. Almost all Koreans want a policy of reconciliation towards North Korea. Nobody wants for the US to attack North Korea right now.
US policy towards Iraq is influenced by Israel and by Fundamentalist Christians living in America. One cannot say that Israel and the Fundamentalist Christians living in America control US policy towards Iraq, because if they did control it, we would have attacked already. Nevertheless, they do have some influence.
This influence is to some extent counter-balanced by American policy towards Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Saudi Arabia is a strong ally of America, but has a restive population and serious worries about Islamic Fundamentalism. If the Government of Saudi Arabia were to openly back a US attack on Iraq, they might be overthrown by their own people.
We have to face the facts. The election victory by the Republicans on November 5 effectively gave George W. Bush a mandate to attack Iraq. We can expect such an attack to come soon. Meanwhile, North Korea is safe from attack.
PS I wrote this essay for my daughter, who needs it for a school report.