North Korea’s Meth Sales to US Shows Why Sanctions are Worthless

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


meth-in-ruili-yunnan

Sanctions don’t work. They hurt ordinary people, but they do nothing to the regime. They didn’t work in Iraq. They don’t work in Iran. And they’re not just useless in North Korea, they make the problem worse.

When a president doesn’t want to do anything about a problem, he imposes sanctions. See Crimea, Russian Invasion of.

Crystal meth made in laboratories in North Korea is flooding the world’s drugs market, with shipments ferried through China to distribute across the globe.

In the U.S. police officers have intercepted batches of the highly addictive drug, that were bound for New York after being produced in Kim Jong-un’s Communist state.

In some parts of North Korea up to 50 per cent of the population are reported to be hooked. Parents even offer it to children to help them concentrate on their studies.

As one of the few commodities easily available, it is used for everything from treating colds to curbing hunger pangs during times of food shortages.

Experts say the North Korean government reportedly began producing meth in the 1990s to provide desperately-needed hard currency for the ruling elite.

Then it was exported, mostly to China, with reports of North Korean diplomats being sent abroad with their bags stuffed full with meth.

Experts estimate up to 40 per cent of North Korea’s foreign earnings now come from illegal activities.

Which is what happens when you impose sanctions. The black market takes off and causes worse problems for everyone. North Korea isn’t just a nuclear hub. It’s a meth hub.

An intelligent rule of thumb is that you either do something about a country. Or you don’t. Imposing sanctions accomplishes little except to give the regime new ways to make money.

  • Veracious_one

    Most of North Korea’s income goes to the military not to anything that would improve the lives of its starving population..

  • Walter Sieruk

    One thing is for sure. Which is the people “living” under communist tyranny North Korea are in great fear of the cruel and heinous communist dictator, Kim Jong -Un. For he greatly oppresses the freedom and human rights of the people of North Korea through his ruthless and vicous Marxist police force. As for living in fear of this hideous man does bring to mind the wisdom that Benjamin Franklin printed in POOR RICHARD’S ALMANACK. For it reads “Those who are feard are also hated.”

  • alericKong

    How awful. You’re starving for days in North Korea, you stumble upon someone you trust with your health, you’re given crystal meth and happily take it because you think it’s a great new cure.

    At least when they are amputating your arm without anaesthesia, you know it’s wrong. This is one of the most evil things I’ve ever read.

  • Dutch Renitent

    @Daniel Greenfield
    But is the easing of sanctions against Iran then not a problem?

    • ATL

      Think of sanctions like a successful military operation. In particular I am referring to WW2 German military manuals. In the manuals the German officers, who wrote them, said operations had to short sharp. They said punch don’t tickle or poke. Do not feed your reinforcement or units in piece meal.
      I think sanction work the same way. I do not know exactly where to draw the line, but let’s say this. If your embargo is decades long, then it is a failure. The enemy will have adapted. Much as a blogger at SOFREP.com said “If you have a war over 3 years, you are just training them.” (paraphrase).
      There are two ways opposite but legit ways to take on an enemy in quasi peace. One is an embargo and the other is to smother them with kindness (business contacts, social contacts, etc). These are contradictory but think of the opposite psychological techniques of “door in the face” & “foot in the door” used in negotiating.
      We could both add more to this discussion. But to not get overly long, let’s just say that 1/2 azz embargoes suck azz.

  • E Plobnista

    I’ve often disagreed with Danny, but he is 100 percent accurate here. Sanctions have never worked. At best, they’ve done absolutely no good whatsoever without doing harm either. (E.g. South Africa) At worst, they have caused war. Pearl Harbor was the result of sanctions against Japan.

    • Marcus

      So what would you have done in 1939 or 1940?
      a.) Secretly arm China?
      b.) Openly Arm China?
      c.) Openly declare war on Japan?
      d.) Let Japan gobble up china and hope 10 or 20 years hence they do not threaten the U.S.?
      After the 1895 war with China and the 1905 war with Russia, the Japanese military had victory disease.