I’ll put this here.
The US is peeved because the North Koreans approached a US plane recklessly in international waters. The US is concerned because North Korea is breaking international conventions by pursuing a missile plan, and openly restarting nuclear facilities.
The US wants to find a diplomatic solution to this. Possibly involving UN or IAEA intervention. But there are no plans for a military approach. So use international law to work for us.
The US is also peeved because Iraq violates international laws passed in 1991. They break the no-fly zone and mess with US planes enforcing UN resolution in the southern no-fly zone. The US is concerned with Iraq flaunting weapons inspectors and pursuing chemical and biological weapons programs. We have no evidence of Iraqi nuclear programs AFAIK.
The US wants to find a military solution for this. With or without the UN and the IAEA. With or without the rest of the world. We don’t think that international law will work this time.
What are the substantive differences between the two? South Korea? Has North Korea already acheived deterrence by imminently having nukes? AFAIK, they will only be able to produce enough fissile material by the summer. Why don’t we intervene, strongly, now, in North Korea, which is somewhere where we would be far more likely to get support from the rest of the world.
I can see substantive differences besides the knee-jerk cries of petroleum. We want to create an island of stability in the Middle East, we want to catalyze a change for the better. But the chance of this happening every day gets slimmer. Our support wanes, public support will only continue to wane during a long occupation, there is tremendous factional difficulties to overcome, and Turkey will be occupying the north of Iraq, possibly crushing the only semblance of democracy and opposition currently in Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan). Sometimes even the strongest boy on the block has to pick their fights wisely, and with each day that passes, this looks like one to pass on.