Taking North Korea at its (S)word
In an article published by North Korea News, B.R. Myers argues for "Taking North Korea at its word" (February 13, 2016):
Isn't it time . . . that we paid more attention to the DPRK's own declarations of its intentions? Reiterated in Kim Jong Un's New Year's address, and featured in garish new wall posters, the slogan of "autonomous unification" seems harmless to most outsiders, as the regime knows only too well. To the North Koreans themselves, it has always stood for the conquest or subjugation of South Korea after nullification or removal of the U.S. military presence.Myers then makes an interesting analogy:
For our part, we must at least stop acting as if the only motive for North Korea's armament too preposterous to discuss were the one that the country has reiterated, and acted in accordance with, for the past seventy years. Our initial response to 9/11 was to reduce it to a protest against U.S. support for Israel. Only recently have we begun to understand that the jihadists quite literally want the whole world. It is wishful thinking to assume that the ultra-nationalists in Pyongyang, who are far better armed than Islamic State, do not at least want the rest of their ethnic homeland.In other words, we should take North Korea's threats to unify the Korean peninsula by military force as seriously as we've learned to take jihadists' threats to conquer the whole world through military force. They might both lack the military capacity, but that fact may be irrelevant in their calculations.
For the record, I was already convinced in the 1990s that jihadists wanted the world. I became interested in understanding Islam in 1979, when Iranian revolutionaries - with Islamist approval - occupied the American Embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats and staff hostage, so I read the Qur'an, expecting a message of God's love and consequent gift of peace at its core, which would show that the taking of hostages was wrong. I didn't find either love or peace as Islam's central message. I did find a few verses of peace, but more of war. so I concluded that the text was contradictory.
Eventually, however, I learned of the principle of abrogation: later revelations abrogate earlier ones if there are contradictions. The sword verses therefore abrogate such peaceful verses as the no-compulsion-in-religion verse, for Islam does use compulsion, as we can all now see, and Islamists repeatedly proclaim their aim of taking over the world..
Myers' insistence on taking North Korea's threats seriously may thus be the position to assume and therefore the one to prepare for.