What are the threats posed to global security and order by Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda. What threat do these actors represent? Which should be a priority to deal with do you think should be done?
While North Korea is definitely unstable, I think the leader is more a threat to his own people than he is to the rest of the world. People there are starving because of his policies.
I don't know how to compare Iran and Al Quaeda. After the fiasco that started the current war in Iraq (based on faulty information on WMD), I don't know what to believe. We only get our information through the media and the government. Do we completely trust either to give us an unadulterated viewpoint?
Al Quaeda, or whoever fills their void, is the most dangerous because it is a multinational stateless arm. Their brand of warfare is so unconventional and rogue that it can sustain defeat after defeat without being defeated. They achieve a kind of victory by creating fear (by not striking), by striking and missing, and obviously by striking and hitting. Their ability to co-opt their smaller cells make them the greatest thorn in the side of any military or state intelligence agency.
I also agree with the above posts that (in order) Iran and North Korea are the most serious threats to global security. Iran's government has long been an irrational presence in the Middle East, and North Korea's unstable leader makes that nation one to fear. Al Quaeda still has some strength and seems desperate to launch another act of terrorism against the U.S. and/or its allies.
I think we tend to overrate and overstate the dangers posed by these two countries and al-Qaeda. North Korea has nuclear weapons, but only a few, and they are crude and small, with limited means of delivery. Kim Jong-il is a demagogue, but he's not suicidal. He knows his nation - and his power - would be destroyed with any kind of nuclear exchange, or any war at all.
Iran is even more pragmatic, despite all their tough talk and would never, in my opinion, launch on the West or on Israel. Israel is actually more likely to start a military confrontation with Iran as they have shown in the past they are ready and willing to do anything to remove threats to their safety, whether or not they are genuine.
al-Qaeda is a broken organization, with tendrils and cells remaining, but without a central leadership and with intermittent funding. They lack in training, expertise and military skill what they try to make up for in zeal, but they lose too much in the exchange. Our nation is vulnerable in any number of ways - the electrical grid, sports stadiums, the train, subway and bus systems, hydroelectric plants. There's a hundred ways they could really, truly hurt us and what do they do? Attack our military, which is superbly trained and armed, and they continue to try and attack on airplanes, which is one of the few ways in which our security has greatly improved.
The last guy tried to blow up his own underwear for Pete's sake, I mean, how afraid of these guys am I supposed to be?
I agree. Al Qaeda would be incredibly dangerous. I think a country would definitely be less likely to launch a nuclear attack out of fear of retaliation. Al Qaeda members on the other hand are spread all over the world. They could not be attacked in the same fashion a country could be attacked.
I tend to agree with Post #3, Iran is probably the most dangerous country. However Al Qaeda would be very hard to contain if they were to get their hands on WMD's.
I would agree that North Korea is not currently as big a threat as Iran is globally because North Korea is such a poor country and must depend on others in order to survive. If Kim Jong-Il decides to do something crazy with his nuclear capabilities, he has to fear retaliation from countries such as China which have helped North Korea through famines and other difficult times.
In contrast, Iran is a fairly wealthy country, and while it must depend on other countries to obtain some of the materials it needs for WMDs, it does not seem to be having a problem getting those materials even with inflammatory statements and political unrest within the country. Iran is also more centrally located than North Korea, and would, therefore, be able to affect more regions if it decided to use WMDs.
In regards to Al Qaeda, if the terrorist organization gets its hands on WMDs, I think that it would be the most dangerous globally because it is a global organization. It is not a nation; so the UN cannot sanction it or slap it with a resolution. It also has years of experience of working underground and infilitrating countries all around the world.
Unless North Korea actually tries to attack South Korea or Japan, the biggest threat here is Iran. They are in a strategically important region and they are one of the strongest powers in the region as it is. They could really disrupt production and the flow of oil to the West. North Korea is a small state near to China, which dwarfs everything else in the area.
Al Qaeda, is not a threat to the world order. In my opinion, it is more of a threat to individual people, but not to the world order.
Speaking of global security, the biggest current threats to it are from terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda is definitely one of the main terrorist groups operating currently, but there are many others operating from different parts of the world and directed against different countries of the world.
When we speak of terrorism we speak only of terrorist groups, and not of the countries of the world who directly or indirectly support and protect these terrorists. This has been one of the major causes of spread of terrorism. When it comes to identifying the responsibility of terrorism, I think we should also include the rich countries, that provide military and other aids to countries that surreptitiously divert part of such aid to terrorist activities.