During the cold war era, conversations with a Fairbanks friend centered around two issues: communism and its threat to the US and guns to fight invaders. Years later after we learned details of the economic conditions in the Soviet Union, I asked him why he thought communism posed a threat to anyone—the Soviets couldn’t even supply shoes for their troops.
The recent North Korean missile and nuclear tests remind me of those long ago conversations. Today, the fear is the same. I feel it in the news stories and in politicians, who immediately ask from more defense money. And the accompanying logic is the same--it simply doesn’t compute.
Do people really think North Korean missiles will strike the US? What if they did, then what? Will there be boat loads of troops ready to invade our shores? What would be the ultimate goal of such strikes?
Stories from North Koreans who have escaped that oppressive society tell of extreme food shortages and deplorable economic conditions. Their warped view of the rest of the world is dominated by fear perpetrated through constant propaganda of the evils of anything that isn’t North Korean. There is a near black-out of information on the realities of life across the planet.
What North Korea needs won’t come from a missile strike on US soil and certainly not one on Alaska. They need food. Alaska has a few weeks’ supply at best. But South Korea, now that is a different story.
South Korea has what the north needs—food and nearly everything else. More over they have an open, productive society that is the best propaganda to counter North Korea’s fear mongering. Simple exposure to life anywhere else will quickly dispel North Korean citizens’ fears and open their eyes to reality. Who said, “The truth shall make them free.”
Our struggle to rebuild our economy isn’t helped by a cold war-era mentality with its outdated views of military hardware. The US already has incredibly sophisticated defense systems. But if that was the answer for today’s conflicts, then why are we still in Iraq and Afghanistan?
What is needed for 21st century defense has nothing to do with anything metallic or explosive. A simple review of history shows endless conflicts over resources. This is particularly pertinent today. It IS true that history repeats itself for those who ignore the past.
The best defense system for this century, and none too soon, has to do with clean and sufficient water and food, a realization of the finite nature of the earth’s ability to supply gas for cars, and quick action to develop an energy plan, including one for Alaska, whose first option does not include searching for ways to produce and use more non-renewable resources.