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Legitimizing Horrible Regimes
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Kevin Drum asks:

Of course, the part I've never really understood is our reluctance to give [North Korea] the one thing they've consistently asked for over many decades: diplomatic recognition and some kind of security guarantee. After all, what's the downside? Treaty or not, if North Korea provoked a war we'd declare them in default of their obligations and then squash them. Recognition and security guarantees literally cost us nothing.

Gosh, I don't know...why don't we just recognize North Korea as part of the community of nations, tell them they're fine, trade with them, and promise we'll never be mean to them?

Why didn't we (along with nearly every other nation on earth) recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government?

How about this: Because it legitimizes regimes that are abhorrent by every standard of freedom and human rights? By recognizing them, you're giving them additional power. By trading with them, you're helping to prop them up.

And the assumption here, espoused by many a liberal, is that if we give them what they want, they'll fundamentally change their character. That's such a ridiculous, naive stance that I can hardly believe that educated people not only take it seriously, but advocate it.

Drum even frames North Korea as a victim of circumstance, just a slighted, misunderstood little nation. How can Drum, or anyone else, actually think that if North Korea had actually been given more money, and more aid, ane more nuclear technology, that as a nation they would fundamentally stop pursuing militarism at the expense of their population's well being. Is Drum actually arguing that they would have given up their nuclear ambitions if we'd been nicer to them?

There's a word for this sort of behavior: appeasement. You don't get Hitler to stop from wanting to take over the world and kill all the Jews by being nice to him. It just don't work that way.

I really do think that it will be a blight on history that the liberal democracies of the 20 and 21st centuries not only tolerated, but coddled, the hold-out dictatorships in the world. Europe, America, and Japan have enough combined military and economic clout to essentially rid the world of an outdated, outmoded, and fundamentally flawed form of government: the dictatorship.

The fact that we don't just force them out of business, but recognize them (to the ludicrous point that we give them a seat on an international democratic body like the UN, while the nations themselves do not practice democracy) baffles me. Well, it doesn't exactly baffle me. I understand where the impulse comes from. It's a liberal ethos that views all people (including criminals and despots) as fundamentally good, but who just haven't been treated well. They are victims, you see, and it is the fault of some oppressive influence (either the US at the global level, or a society for the criminal) that they are acting this way.

This is a very flowery, feel-good view of humanity, but I'd argue it's pretty far removed from reality. Sometimes people are just shitty, and you need to lock them up and throw away the key. And sometimes people who rule entire nations are just fundamentally selfish and drunk with power and simply do not deserve to be left in power because their actions so negatively affect the quality of life of the people in that nation (or surrounding nations).

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