The recent American-North Korean exchange of vows to annihilate each other may not be all bad if we can make things worse for them, using the verbal fireworks as a distraction from subtler subversive activities.
We have already achieved a significant diplomatic victory, with Chinese and Russian support for serious Security Council sanctions on North Korea, putting pressure on a regime that has raised its people’s hopes for economic improvement it now must satisfy. Equally important, these sanctions legitimize the principle that the North Korean people must suffer for the sins of their leaders.
We have a historic example — the decline and fall of the Soviet Union — where external pressure tipped the balance by revealing the Soviet regime’s inability to deliver on its promise of a better life for all.
The partner of Soviet collapse, and the symbol of Russian-ness, was vodka, the escape route from despair, and ultimately companion of decline, defeat, and death.
In our own domestic array, we have a similar item, almost as American as vodka is Russian, our own escape route from despair and companion of decline, defeat, and death:
We should use them to undermine North Korea. But it won’t be easy. The robust pharmaceutical industry, the persistent Ask Your Doctor About (fill in drug name) TV ads, and the compliant medical establishment, which, together, have fueled our addiction, are all, sadly, lacking there.
One possibility is our stealth aircraft that could make high-altitude pill-drops, with flyers — It’s More Fun with Fentanyl; I’m OK with Oxycodone (we’ll need our best English-Korean translators). Adding kimchi to the packets could give us humanitarian cover.
There’s an added benefit. As culpable as the drug industry may be in addicting Americans to opioids, let us not forget its positive role in improving our overall health (e.g., victories over neuritis, neuralgia, and the heartbreak of psoriasis). The opioid supplies necessary to addict North Koreans would make up for the losses the industry might incur if American opioid consumption should decline.
But we should not rely solely on opioids in our campaign against North Korea. We have another weapon, just as destructive:
The logic is the same. Like opioids, our gun addiction is the manifestation of despair (loss of confidence in our personal safety), decline (loss of confidence in the political process), defeat (loss of faith in our public security institutions), and death (loss of life).
If we could introduce personal weapons into North Korea, the rationale need not be to kill off more of the population (though, frankly, why should we treat them any better than we treat ourselves?). Rather, as here at home, it would be to give the population just enough firepower to frighten them that others also have arms, and convince them that only the individual can provide his/her own security, thus hastening the process of social and political disintegration that opioids have already begun.
This two-pronged strategy will not solve our own decline. But, at least it will leave to us, and no one else, the responsibility for our own uncertain destiny.