First from Uncle Sid...
Actually, we do give out nuclear weapons. Britain is loaded out with US Polaris A3 and our latest SLBM the Trident II D5.
A good point that I hadn't known about. IIRC, though, Britain had developed their own weapons as well (with U.S. help assuredly.) I wonder why we did that. Somehow, "we trust them," doesn't seem like too good an explanation, but perhaps it was to help them in disarmament of their own aging stockpiles. Just a guess, though.
Would NK stop at nuclear weapons in its exports? Maybe, or maybe not. .... The levels of famine in NK are revolting. ....Unfortunately, since the NK government is the one building and ultimately deploying/selling them, they're the only ones who really count.
My original point was, what source are you operating from that assures you that their intent is to sell such weaponry. If you are not concerned with their intent in acquiring the nuclear weapons, then you are concerned with their capability to be threatening. Whether or not the North Korean people value their kids' lives has much to do with their intentions, for the use of nuclear weapons traced back to NK sources would probably result in their being reduced to atomic particles. I operate here under an assumption that the government cannot: they know this, they know we can find such things out, they will not run that risk. But, the very fact that the United States government cannot rely on intention forces us to rely on capability. Why would they not feel the same?
A subpoint to this: While the government in power is the "ones who really count," the only way people can realize what ideals such as democracy and freedom mean is to win such for themselves. We can't supply our intentions upon them, we can only help with their capability to determine their own intentions.
Can you imagine what sort of blow it would be if they not only proved that they could knock down any building in the US, but also they could detonate a nuclear device on US soil? Remember, these extremists *want* the US to hate Islam, that way they can force us into a situation where we start having to attack Islamic countries so much that it finally looks like we are on a Crusade.
It would mean their extermination. I believe they know that. My point is simply that they have ends, and a remarkable pseudo-power to justify the means, but I have never read of a terrorist group wanting those means. Again, we're going off on what their capabilities could be and not their intentions.
I've read much by people with a vested interest in creating a fear in us of the ubiquitous 'them.' I have yet to be convinced that "they" want the U.S. to hate them as much as they wish the U.S. to not interfere in their affairs. If their goal is provocation to make the U.S. seem like it's on a Crusade, they're off to a fine start without WMDs. Whatever our intentions are (and yes, they are honorable,) we have now engaged in toppling over the second Islamic government - albeit one that uses Islam in a most secular fashion - because our morals are superior. So, now they can point to the fact that we have intention and capability, no matter the truth of the situation. But I come back to my point: If intention is important, show me what their intention is, not your interpretation of it.
No, it doesn't have to be used, but it does have to be demonstrated that we will use it if we are forced to when other countries do not keep up their end of the peace.
A very good point. Please don't let my brevity imply that it isn't. I wonder a little about your Versailles analogy: Isn't this again the failure to enforce what Germany was capable of over and against their stated intentions? If we (France here... the United States had no vested interest until Pearl Harbor per se) had disregarded what the understood intention was and dealt with their capability to make war and remove it, then World War II would have been a firecracker? (Or come back in the 1950s with V2 and nuclear capability....)
we are basically ensuring that the decision to oust dictators is essentially at the mercy of the dictators themselves.
Well, we are ensuring that the decision to oust dictators is essentially at the mercy of the people of that country. Wouldn't we be in a different situation if we had carried through with the support of Kurdish rebels at the end of Desert Storm? Instead, we decided that Saddam no longer had capability to be a threat, and we could let him have whatever intentions he wished. Which was more important in hindsight, his capability or intent?
As to the power of the United Nations, I think you're making my point just as well... We apparently will enforce our intentions upon any who feel differently because we have the capability to do so, subject only to the limitations that we enforce upon ourselves. That's scary. We never have the information we need as citizens to make those judgments of who to entrust that power to. But I do live with the hope that I do not see any better solution.
My point was simply that if I am evaluating what is the greatest threat to world peace, intention is an awfully thin reed to lean on. When I play chess, you can have as much intention of setting a fire under my king as you want. Just so long as I deny you that capability the game is going to be mine. Capability is more important than intention when classifying a threat. And we remain the most capable nation on the planet today.
Now, as to Tennyson's post
Actually, I was looking for information on NK's willingness to sell / give / etc. nuclear material to people who would use them (and I was thinking more of terrorists.) Your point is taken that the two nations may be working together in nuclear development. (And that's an odd thought - Marxists helping Muslim fundamentalists....) Though in researching this I came across an interesting opinion from the Cato institute that, "U.S. behavior may have inadvertently created a powerful incentive for nuclear-weapons proliferation — the last thing in the world Washington wanted to occur." The full link is here.
If intentions play out more than capability in determining threats, we have certainly given them no reason to trust our intentions. If it's capability that counts, we're still on top of that, I suppose.
Relying on "their other products," I don't find convincing as I stated earlier. There is a difference between armaments and WMDs.
The other key I see is, "if their goal is to hurt the United States as much as possible." My point exactly: Show me where their goal is to hurt the United States as much as possible. Is that really their intent? And if so, isn't it their capability to do so which is more important than that intent?
Was "every resource mobilized" against the 9/11 backers? No. We didn't exercise our full capability by a long shot. I got lost in weblinks trying to get hard numbers, and maybe I'll try later. But conventionally I'm not convinced that we've used nearly the assets that we "could have." - Let alone the whole world. If it were truly important to deny the intention of an Osama bin Laden, let's go and get him. But generally we settle for denying the capability to act.
More importantly than conventional weapons, unconventionally. If we wish to suppress the possession of nuclear weapons, how about this for a doctrine: Upon the determination of the country of origin of a nuclear device used against people, that country shall receive the same treatment. In other words, the responsibility is upon the country who developed the weapon regarding its' usage. It certainly would straighten up the intentions of nuclear developing countries... if we're worrying about intention.
I think taking some positive steps towards showing what our intentions are would be more helpful. It would rely on dropping the political grandstanding, though, and returning to the willingness to help out other nations instead of browbeating them, though. Somehow I don't see the current administration going for that.
At any rate
even if I haven't changed my mind regarding intentions vs. capabilities and where the greatest threat to world peace lies, reading your posts provided much good food for thought and stimulated a bunch of web research for me. So, thanks! (And now I'm going to go get some good bed for dreams at 2:30 AM.)