We have the means to free North Korea – Kim Jong Un’s starving, gulag-filled nuclear-armed kingdom – from their 1930s time warp. We can do so based on our experience triggering change in communist China, Vietnam and just recently, Cuba. And we can execute the mission peacefully … despite the recent childish boast that “My nuclear button is bigger than yours.”
Yet, while we’re skilled at resolving DAS – Dictator Anxiety Syndrome – we have learned that toppling tyrants is one thing, rebuilding a democracy, another. Anyone who witnessed Obama’s heralded “Arab Spring” debacle, as that administration cheered on what looked like budding democracy in Tunisia, recalls that it turned malignant, toppling nearby leaders and ushering in ISIS-smitten mullahs and other despots with corrosive anti-democratic views. So, our record is spotty. Some countries do poorly without ruthless leaders and in a political vacuum quickly veer into the hands of new tyrants or religious despots.