Monday, March 31, 2014

North Korea simmers on the back burner

The focus has been on Ukraine and Russia, on Iran, on Syria, but what about North Korea.  That country and its unpredictable young leader may be the biggest threat to stability on the planet.  The country continues its tests of ballistic missile technology, most recently on Wednesday.  A North Korean government statement last week said it "would not rule out a new form of nuclear test".   A major uranium enrichment program continues.

The hope had been that China would restrain its ally.  Reports suggest that China's influence is waning, whether because China is not trying or North Korea is not listening.  If focus on further development of, as North Korea says, "diversified and miniaturized" nuclear devices is what they claim, and these could either be transported physically or mounted on one of their developing intercontinental ballistic missiles, this is truly troubling.

The leadership background is worse.  In such an entitled leadership family the risk of megalomania developing as generations advance is more than possible.  Kim ll-sung, "Eternal President of the Republic", was absolute in his dictatorship, almost all inward looking.  His son Kim Jong-il could have taken the absolutism and isolation further, but his love of film, sex, pornography, drugs,and alcohol basically neutered him, all bluster but not seriously dangerous, easily managed by China to their whim.  The young Kim Jung-un is not so easily contained.  Despite his supposed Swiss education at some point and his youthful persona, the Dennis Rodman admiring and director of an assassination of experienced senior leaders, this chubby cheeked neophyte does not seem stable.  He could do anything.  It is entirely possible that he could do something really stupid.

From this perspective he would most likely attack some peripheral part of Japan rather than South Korea if he felt overly pressured.  Then again it may be an armed takeover of some adjacent island populated by South Koreans and, Putin style, would be "claimed" as being rightfully North Korean.

Kim Jung-un will not react to grain for concessions proposals and he will not allow any inspections of consequence of his nuclear arsenal.  His focus is not on the suffering of the majority of North Korean citizens as his growing megalomania does not allow that way of thinking to germinate.  This is an urgent issue, swept out of the news by other events and with no immediate press coverage to require focus by Obama or Kerry, or China.  Who leads who?

The situation in North Korea needs attention and one could suggest diplomatic confrontation now, not later.  More depth in the State Department is needed.  More intensity in the Executive branch is needed.  This situation is not going away, and gets more dangerous as it is allowed to proceed in the "I hope this goes away" mode that the West has adopted.


Post a Comment

<< Home