US at fault for North Korean nuke program?

A tiresome tendency of many observers of world politics is to blame US policy for, well, practically anything that happens in the world, especially if it’s a bad thing that happens. A recent example of this is efforts by the Chinese government and others to blame US policy for North Korea’s continuing bellicose language and obstinate insistent on continuing nuclear weapons development. This is the fault of the US? I think not, and I’m not the only one who’s skeptical. So is Gordon G. Chang of the World Affairs Journal:

Anyone reflecting on the troubled history between the US and the DPRK would realize that Beijing’s blaming Washington does not stand up to scrutiny. Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first leader and the current supremo’s grandfather, sought nuclear weapons beginning in the 1950s.

The US, in fact, had little contact with his regime after the Korean War. After signing the 1953 armistice, Washington restrained Seoul and urged limited reconciliation with Pyongyang. Moreover, America had been restrained, some would say to a fault, in dealing with serial provocations. North Korea’s acts of war—the seizing of the Navy’s Pueblo and its crew in 1968 and the downing of the EC-121 reconnaissance plane the following year, for instance—went unpunished.

Furthermore:

Moreover, Kim Il Sung did not need nukes to keep Americans at bay. His odious regime was protected by the Soviet “nuclear umbrella” every minute of every day. Great Leader Kim had all the security he ever needed—and it was provided without cost. Soviet protection was in addition to North Korea’s conventional and chemical deterrent that was more than sufficient on its own.

In short, thoughout most of its history, even when it had no “need” of nukes to protect itself because it was under the nuclear umbrella of other Communist regimes, North Korea was working on nuclear weapons development anyway. The view that every bad thing in the world and all bad behavior by other regimes is the fault of American policy, and all good developments and good behavior happen almost despite US action is a kneejerk reaction that this observer is very weary of. But I encourage you to click here to read Gordon Chang’s entire piece.

There’s almost always something terrific appearing on World Affairs Journal, by the way.

  • Sigivald

    The view that every bad thing in the world and all bad behavior by other regimes is the fault of American policy, and all good developments and good behavior happen almost despite US action is a kneejerk reaction that this observer is very weary of.

    I am also weary of it, for a (possibly) parallel reason.

    Not only am I weary of it because it’s so often wrong (I’d venture “almost always”), but because it denies agency to every other actor in the world.

    It, in practice, makes the United States the prime mover, the only source of action (or reaction).

    This is utterly ludicrous, but people keep doing it…

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Yep. You name it, America’s responsible for it.

    When we don’t act, we’re evil. When we act, we’re evil.

    Not just in the Pacific Rim either. Really, nothing has happened in the Arab world or has been done by any Arab anywhere that wasn’t the fault of the United States.

    It must be nice to go through life not feeling you ever have to be held accountable for any of your own actions.

  • http://www.aclassicalliberal.net Classically Liberal Dave

    Dean, you just hit on the essence of modern leftism. If I go out and buy a gun and intentionally shoot myself in the head with it, it’s the gun manufacturer’s fault. Wrong! If there were no guns and I really wanted to kill myself, I’d figure out another way.

    To some degree, North Korea is our fault. We allow a repressive regime to continue to exist. We could choose to decisively attack North Korea and put an end to this. If we did it would cause much death and suffering, and we would be responsible for that.

    We have the power to choose whether the people of North Korea suffer in the world’s largest prison camp, or whether tens of thousands of South Koreans die in a war to end the suffering of the North Korean people. Whichever choice we make, we are responsible for human suffering. There is a difficulty between responsibility and fault however. The fault for this human suffering lies at the hand of the dictator of North Korea. He could end this peacefully, but he won’t. Why? Because he is evil.

    The disgusting people who fault us instead of him are doing nothing but making themselves the pawns of the evil North Korean dictator.

  • http://www.aclassicalliberal.net Classically Liberal Dave

    Of course the World Affairs Journal always has something interesting to say. Among other things, they host Michael Totten’s blog.