STAFF EDITORIAL | The US should help diffuse tensions, but not attempt to take control with military force

With tensions rising in the Korean Peninsula, the United States needs to consider its commitment to the countries and help calm the tensions without the use of military force.

Since the March 26 attack on the South Korean ship Cheonan, the North Korean government has amped up its strong rhetoric against South Korea, even threatening the use of nuclear weapons. Recently, small arms fire and missile attacks opened up across the Demilitarized Zone, and diplomatic talks have been sporadic and futile.

The United States, a long-time ally of South Korea, has condemned the communist nation’s actions. The Obama administration has continued conducting military exercises in conjunction with Japan and South Korea as a demonstration of their commitment, also entreating The People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s lone ally, to denounce their belligerent actions.

The problem is, while there are many nations pooling their efforts to resolve this conflict, the tyrannical regime of Kim Jong Il has taken the world closer to nuclear war than it has been since the Cold War.

The American government, who supported the Republic of Korea when the communist North separated, has counted South Korea as a staunch ally and vestige of democracy in an otherwise turbulent area.

With the possibility of war becoming more plausible with each attack from the North and the growing probability that the American military would be engaged in conflict, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to defend democracy against tyranny and despotism. America must keep in mind the reasons why it became involved originally, and what that involvement would produce in the event of a war.

North Korea regularly brandishes its nuclear weapons for international aid. While they might not have the range to reach America, the North Korean military keeps South Korean and Japan in fear of annihilation. We cannot sit back and let an unchecked nation wield a weapon that could forever change our world.

North Korea is a prison country. For all the strong rhetoric Americans heard against the despotism of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Kim’s malevolence is a blight against human rights worldwide.

The dictatorship starves its own people, holding them hostage for U.N. relief. The country’s infrastructure is in shambles. The people are kept from leaving the country and the media is completely controlled by the government. The North Korean people are kept subservient by government ‘‘education’’ and prison camps, while they are told their “dear leader” Kim protects them from the encroaching western nations.

The North Korean government makes decisions in the interest of self-preservation.

If they feel too threatened, or if political unrest rises during the transition from Kim to heir-apparent Kim Jong Un, they would act with no regard whatsoever to their own people.

And yet, somehow, we weigh the importance of liberating the people of North Korea against a desire not to be drawn into another conflict.

The United States is particularly susceptible to war weariness. With the ability to see the actions of its military, even when appalling, the American people quickly turn against a war, and a ‘‘popular war,’’ as the military action in Afghanistan was once labeled, quickly becomes unpopular if it is either not quickly resolved or not a unanimous victory.

The American people have to understand that involvement in the Korean Peninsula would be neither quick nor easy, but would be a return to the commitment of rooting out evil and defending freedom. They would need to understand that involvement would be much more humanitarian than military-based. With an unstable government, like North Korea’s, the problem would not be so much to deal with an organized military as it would be to deal with millions of starving refugees fleeing a recently destabilized country.

The threat of war is nothing new to either Korea. Calls for military-led reunification from the North seem to come as often as the North Korean government wants more U.N. relief. Every time the world thinks war might break out after an unprecedented attack on South Korea, the North is punished with some sanction that does little, or at best, simply makes the lives of the Korean people more difficult.

The Obama administration has continued backing South Korea in their rhetoric against the North, but it might not suffice to talk a big game this time. While America cannot act as a lone cowboy against the world’s evils, it needs to consider its pledge to South Korea and offer limited military assistance if hostilities continue in the region.