Over the weekend, North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb. The test, Michael Harris writes, brought universal condemnation:
Britain’s foreign minister, Boris Johnson, slammed Kim Jong-un for his “reckless” action.
India “deplored” the nuclear test, which it claimed had “gone against the objective of the de-nuclearlization of the Korean Peninsula.”
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the North Korean test with what he described as “the utmost vigour,” a lawless act that the UN Security Council should deal with expeditiously. He forgets that when France was blowing up paradise in the South Pacific with its nuclear tests, Charles de Gaulle had this to say by way of justification: “We are compelled to acquire the most powerful weapons of the age.”
And therein lies the problem. The nations condemning North Korea already possess nuclear weapons. They have no intention of giving them up. And there are recent lessons about what happens to countries that do give up their nukes:
Compare that [Kim's nuclear program] to the route chosen by Col. Muammar Gaddafi — to give up his weapons of mass destruction program to avoid the fate of Saddam Hussein. Instead, Gaddafi’s regime crumbled, and he ended up on the wrong end of a bayonet. Kim was 19 years old when that happened but I’m betting he remembers it like yesterday.
The reason Kim is pursuing nuclear weapons is that he has seen that they are the ultimate sanctuary for anyone who possesses them. India, Pakistan, and Israel all obtained nuclear weapons despite the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which came into force in 190 nations in 1970. Those countries have faced no consequences for that. Instead, they took their place in the hierarchy of powerful nations of the world not to be trifled with.
So far, that insight seems to have alluded our present generation of Western leaders.