Calling a Rogue a Rogue
Image Credit: John Pavelka

Calling a Rogue a Rogue


For years, the threat of instability in North Korea and Pakistan has haunted US foreign policy, challenging the United States to develop an effective plan for confronting and reforming these unstable regimes. 

Yet success has been elusive. 

To date, the United States has approached its policy to these two high-risk countries separately. And, ostensibly, they do appear to be two very separate problems—North Korea has nothing to do with fomenting radical Islamic terrorism, and there’s no aging and unpredictable dictator like Kim Jong-il to deal with in Pakistan.

Yet what if we were to rethink our approach to these two countries with a new mindset—one in which Pakistan and North Korea are actually more alike than they are different?

Of course, to appreciate how similar these two countries are, it’s important first to concede their differences. For a start, even a casual observer would note the contrast between desolate North Korea and a Pakistan that resembles many other poor yet developing countries, with their signs of modernity such as affluent shops and restaurants and a cadre of English-educated, Western-oriented elites. From the level of regime control in each state to the amount of public openness and civic dialogue, North Korea and Pakistan are worlds apart. Unlike North Korea, Pakistan has no totalitarian or revisionist ambitions. And even though they are tense—and could be become more so in light of the killing of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan—diplomatic relations do at least exist between Washington and Islamabad.

But beneath the obvious differences between the two, there are some uncanny similarities.

First, both countries have rogue nuclear programmes developed outside agreed international frameworks, and both have in the past sold weapons technology to other sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria. And, despite the United States’ best efforts to control their nuclear ambitions, both countries continue to develop their technology, building new reactors and testing weapons.

Second, both societies define themselves in negative terms. Pakistan is Pakistan because it is not India; North Korea is North Korea because it isn’t South Korea. Their rivals are richer and, in many ways, have moved on past the internecine conflict that separated the nations in the first place—they are now concerned with more pressing issues like economic growth. Yet both South Korea and India serve as foils for North Korea and Pakistan’s aggressive foreign policy, militarization, and domestic propaganda campaigns, and they legitimately fear that their neighbour could rashly resort to force at any moment.

Third, both North Korea and Pakistan are intensely militarized nations. In fact, they are ‘military first’ societies (a term that Pyongyang explicitly embraces) where, despite all of the uncertainties and instabilities that the countries face, the armed forces remain stern, nationalistic, and stable.

John L. Yoon
May 12, 2011 at 14:44

North Korea and Pakistan are both “poor” countries for a reason.

The North Koreans have a “Songun” or Military First policy which basically means the Military get first dibs on any US or SK aid that comes into North Korea. How very caring and considerate of the leadership is towards the well being of their own people. Of course when China sends them train loads of aid, the trains unfortunately get into “incidental crashes” and North Korea is sadly unable to return them to China. Let’s not forget the concentration cam..I mean “Reeducation camps” where the glorious leader bestows his radiant love towards hundreds of thousands of his subjects by guiding and enlightening them onto the proper path of Juche (Self-sufficient) Socialism. By the way, even if North Korea had a perfect harvest, it wouldn’t be able to feed itself even then.

Pakistan is a nation which has thousands of tanks, millions of soldiers, hundreds of nuclear missiles and state of the art cruise missiles when millions live in extreme poverty with little help from their government. The government is corrupt, bloated with excess and in perpetual power struggles against the military and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). They have engaged in war after war with India, growing weaker and weaker with every single defeat and their schemes have backfired on them, the Taliban that they nurtured in infancy has cut off the hand that fed it as a adult. They have been engaging in a dangerous game by appeasing the Pakistani masses, maintaining complex links with militants and siding up to the American giant for their annual $4 Billion check. Now this ticking time bomb has exploded early in their faces of the incompetent government, the corrupt and bloated military and the sly and devious ISI. I hope that in the upcoming years all three are going to get their just and well deserved awards preferably from the Pakistani people themselves.

As time passes it will political suicide for China if they continue supporting these “innocent”, “defenseless”, and “poor” nations. Antagonizing India is never a good thing when you’re right next to them and antagonizing South Korea is always somehow linked to America.

Arnab M
May 9, 2011 at 16:25

No matter how much is said and written about Pakistan being a rogue state, or even if it shows every sign of being a perfect axis of evil, US state policy might not change at all to correct Pakistan in a lot of issues. Name it drug trafficking, terror exporting, nuclear prolification, indirect dictatorship or being an evil neighbors. Its US policy to let Pakistanis be a problem to India and elsewhere. India is the biggest defense arms buyer in the world. If Pakistan becomes a good peace loving nation, it will not be in American interest. Billions will be lost and America will loose a major business opportunity if the world becomes a better place to live.

John Chan
May 9, 2011 at 00:44

China as a developing nation is doing its best to help feeding two poor nations for the peace and stability of the world, but such action is labelled by Leonard R as a ‘rogue state.’ Meanwhile USA and its western partners’ killing, bombing and assassination in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan are praised by Leonard R as the defender of democracy and human rights as well as saviour of the world.

Indeed we have learnt the whole new meaning of ‘rogue state’ as well as how to “looking at it (the US and its westerner partners’ predicatory brutality) objectively and honestly.” from Leonard R’s comment.

John Chan
May 9, 2011 at 00:07

@Dady, are you sure you have not left out India and Israel?

May 8, 2011 at 13:08

@Leonard Nice to see someone who can look at problem objectively. If puppet states are spreading turmoil,terror and what not then its the puppeteer who needs to be kicked where it hurts. Removing the root of trouble is essential and it can be achieved easily with increased tariff on imports with provision for punitive tax on countries with inflexible exchange rates to the extent determined [b]by[/b] at an meeting of trade representatives of Chamber of commerce. That will totally derail Chinese economy and take away the surplus funds that is promoting these misadventures.

Leonard R.
May 7, 2011 at 16:49

North Korea is a vassal state of China. The PRC feeds it, arms it and uses it as a midget stalking pony against America. If NK is a rogue state – so is its benefactor.

Pakistan too is in China’s orbit and will be increasingly an important ally of China. In fact, one chest-thumping PRC official has already put the US on notice,

“Pakistan is our Israel,”.

Very well. Let them have their ‘Israel’ and all that goes with it.

The author of this article avoids the issue of what nation enables these two ‘rogue’ states? Looking at it objectively and honestly, either China is a rogue state itself — or the phrase ‘rogue state’ has no meaning.

May 7, 2011 at 13:02

World needs to stop the terrorist heavens like Pakistan ASAP or more Osama will rise. First of all we should remove all nuclear weapons of Pakistan. It can be done easily by embargoing them till they collapse. Then after removal of their nukes, an full scale military drive shall be launched to purge any and all terrorist spots.

May 7, 2011 at 12:56

Pakistan’s support of terrorist is an fact know and I find it very disturbing that N.Korea is being compared with a vile terrorist nation . N.Korea has never used those petty tactics. When N.Korea needs something it says out loud, when it is angry it directly confronts it instead of using cowardly tactics of Pakistan.
To Aporva Shah: Kindly stop comparing N.Korea with Pak. N.Korea has some standards and follows honorable tactics.

May 7, 2011 at 12:02

If this sort of reporting and analysis continues, sooner or later, we will have WWIII. Maybe that is for the better, since the West always gets a kick out of great wars that boost their economies.

May 7, 2011 at 06:31

The only reasonable similarities in my opinion is that Pakistan-India are a bigger version of North vs. South Korea, except the two nations field massive armies, large nuclear forces, and both situations have China and United States involved to some degree.

Also, it’s futile to compare Pakistan to North Korea, unless you have some ulterior motive to justify further intervention into their sovereign affairs to limit their influence or prevent their ability to upsurp the present order.

Why don’t you do something about it rather than writing articles. Anybody can write articles saying how bad North Korea is, it’s easier said than done.

May 6, 2011 at 22:16

But that is precisely the point. Apoorva Shah may give lip-service to the discredited doctrine of Neo-conservativism but he is disingenuously trying to bait those idiots at AEI into embracing India as Israel and Pakistan as Palestine.

May 6, 2011 at 14:19

I find this author’s analysis intriguing, but the intention behind it to be unsettling. Why would the author introduce to American policy makers the idea that Pakistan is similar to North Korea, that simialr policies enaced against North Korea will somehow be effective also against Pakistan? To me, the answer is simply that the author wants to isolate Pakistan beyond what is necessary, to burn the remaining bridges between Washington and Islamabad that Pakistan is not will to lose.

This is incorrect. Pakistan does not practice deception out of choice, but because it is plagued by ideological and selfish individuals within its power structure who destabilize Pakistan’s relations with foreign partners for their own reasons. It is wrong to subject the entire ruling structure of the country, which incudes some of the only pro-Western groups left, to the same kind of ostracism which North Korea’s elite faces. This will diminish the prospects for peace while strengthening those within Western power structures who clamour for further belligerence against the beleagured nation.

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