Whenever we see the kind of tough talk coming from North Korea, at least one of my friends notes how we should turn the rogue state into a parking lot and be done with it. It's hard to disagree, because what we have here is a regime that enslaves and starves its people. But in reality, the parking lot option would hurt those we claim to care about.
A second option was offered up by another friend recently. Between bites of steak at one of our favorite restaurants, he said something like this: "Let them kill themselves. They're already doing it, anyway."
As an example he noted the country's inability to supply such basics as power. He pointed to satellite images easily found on Google Images showing a nation in almost complete darkness compared to their neighbors, who are lit up like Christmas trees in the night-time images.
In the end, my friend may be right.
The North Koreans have few resources and could use international help. Yet they insist on the war rhetoric. The latest coming from the country's still young and still new leader, Kim Jong Un, is that a state of war exists and the 1953 Armistice ending the Korean conflict is null and void. The U.S. and South Korea are showing a lot of military might in response, conducting high-profile drills.
I don't think we'll see military action because the U.S. and its allies see what most of us see: The North Koreans are all bluster, no action. They don't have the necessary tools to act out with.
I may be proven wrong. If so, my friends who advocate the parking lot option will get their wish.
But at this rate, the more likely outcome is the usual: North Korea will pull back on the tough talk and all will go back to normal. Then something will happen a few months later to cause more shouting.
North Korea reminds me of a kid in elementary school who always used to pump his fist and threaten to beat people up. Most kids in the schoolyard ignored him and occasionally he got knocked on his behind by a bigger kid. He was small and frail, and I think he made the threats to look stronger than he was.
Indeed, the toughest talk is almost always the most hollow.