The Vietnam War is over.
As horrible as the Vietnam War was, it is over. It ended unconditionally when the US pulled out and the communists defeated the remaining opposition. Don’t get me wrong. The Vietnam War had a horrible conclusion. The communists won and the US lost. But what has happened since? Has Vietnam become an outpost of tyranny? Is it part of the axis of Evil? Do we see the Vietnamese Army parading through Ho Chi Minh City as a reminder to the world of their power? Do we hear Vietnamese politicians ranting to the press about how evil the United States is? No, as a matter of fact the relations between the US and Vietnam appear to be pretty good. The relations were good enough for then President Clinton to visit the country in 200. The people received him as if he was a rock star.
Lets contrast that with the Koreas. The war has never officially ended. Both sides are still heavily armed over fifty years after signing the armistice that ended the fighting. The North is believed (known) to be developing nuclear weapons with recent news suggesting that the North might be ready to test a nuclear weapon as early as this June.
The world is kept out of North Korea and the North Koreans are kept prisoner inside their country and starved to death. The North Koreans constantly threaten the south, they threaten the Japanese, and they threaten the United States. They even kicked out the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, the organization that oversees nations nuclear activities to ensure that they are for peaceful purposes only. Today North Korea is a humanitarian disaster and a loose cannon with great potential to cause even more suffering outside its borders.
I believe that this is mainly due to the artificial “conclusion” of the war. The North did not get what they wanted (the north started the war by attacking the south.) The south ended up with a hostile neighbor that attacked them in the past and continues to send spies into the south to this day. The North has admitted to kidnapping Japanese Citizens and is well known to be a state sponsor of the drug trade. They have sold every type of weapons system that they have ever developed to other nations and there is no reason to think that they would not also sell the bomb once they manage to build one.
North Korea is the perfect example of a criminal state.
Now take a look at what happened at the end of World War Two. Germany’s leader committed suicide and from the ruins of the country came an unconditional surrender. It was so unconditional that the country ended up split into two pieces because the victors could not agree on what to do with the defeated country. That was something they probably didn’t see coming (I’m sure they didn’t expect to lose either.) Today, Germany is once again united and is a first world country with a first world economy. Germany is part of the European Union and NATO. They currently have troops in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Also surrendering unconditionally (other than the one condition of the continuance of the Imperial throne) was Japan. Japan was occupied by the US and British until 1952. During the occupation, the country was completely rebuilt, right down to the constitution, which General MacArthur ordered his staff to write. Today Japan is a leading first-world country with the same unchanged constitution handed to them by the US. Japan currently has security forces (they have no formal military) in Iraq. Both Japan and Germany are good friends of the United States.
The first Iraq war is another example of where unconditional surrender would have been helpful. Saddam Hussein ‘surrendered’ conditionally to end the first Iraq War. He managed to stay in power as well as draft the conditions for the oil-for-food program, which enabled him to skim a fortune by sanctions busting as well as demanding kickbacks in return for oil vouchers. This conditional surrender brought about years of sanctions against the Iraqi people.
Saddam’s abuse of the system was known while the sanctions were in effect; remember all the palaces he was building during the time. How on earth could he get all the supplies to build all those palaces? The inspectors knew about them because they wanted to search them. (but I digress) Anyway the problems with the end of the first gulf War were mostly solved with the second Gulf War, or as some say, Act III of the first war. Sure things are not totally under control, but they are better than the press would leave you to believe. Rebuilding a country takes time; after all, we need to break down a country to its basic form in order to rebuild it. We occupied Japan for seven years while it undergoes rebuilding.
There has been no conclusion to the hostilities between the United States and Iran. This started when the Ayatollah Khomeini became the new leader of Iran and had his followers take control of the US embassy in Tehran, taking hostage the occupants and essentially declaring war on the US. In addition he called on followers around the word to attack the US.
The Embassy hostage crisis was in 1979 and went on for over a year as a state-sponsored kidnapping as well as complete disregard for international law and diplomatic immunity. To this day the two countries have not re-established diplomatic relations. The US accuses Iran of harboring some Al Qaeda terrorist leaders. Iran has gone as far as admit that they have one as a guest of the state. Then there is the whole nuclear enrichment issue that the European Union is trying to negotiate a solution with the end result a non-nuclear Iran. So far every time the European negotiators thing they are near an agreement, the Iranian Government comes out spouting how they will never give up their right to enrich uranium and as recently as this week said that they would restart enriching operations (for peaceful purposes of course.)
The Iran situation is one that still has some distance to travel before we reach a conclusion. Once situation involves the military, the other option involves the people of Iran changing their government.
Unconditional surrender goes against the ideals of the United Nations. Armed conflict is seen as a failure of diplomacy and there is a bit of truth to that. Then again, some dictators do not negotiate in good faith because they believe that there is no possibility of military action or even consequences for acting in bad-faith. In those cases, perhaps the best solution is to give the country a good ass whooping. This would not necessarily be the case if all of the first world nations acted as one to discipline countries like Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe among others, but too often country interests override taking a stand against bad countries. Just as the EU is desperate to seal a deal with Iran over nuclear enrichment, EU companies are rushing into Iran chasing lucrative business deals. Already French President Chirac has suggested that a complete ban on enrichment might not be necessary. It is concessions like this that allow rouge activities to advance past a point of peaceful resolution.
A return to the ideals of unconditional surrender might bring about some real changes. Just tell the other side that they can do whatever they want in their own country as long as they do nothing to threaten other countries. If for some reason they do differently, than the global community (Us, UK, etc…) will come in there and push the country’s restart button.
But they were not invaded until after the terrorists that they were hosting in their country decided that they did not like the fact that we were living our lives and letting our women live their lives outside of Sharia Law and attacked us. Even then the US attacked only after the Taliban refused to meet US demands to hand over the terrorists. The end result was that the leaders went into unconditional retreat, leaving nobody behind to surrender.