Wednesday, June 16, 2010

News Flash: North Korea Threatens War!


I've always thought of North Korea as the spoiled toddler of nations, throwing a loud and destructive tantrum when it doesn't get its way, and today is no exception. According to this article on CNN, the North Korean government has angrily rejected the results of an investigation that show the South Korean frigate Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo with the loss of 46 lives, and is threatening war if the United Nations takes any action against or applies any pressure to the Hermit Kingdom.

What's going to happen?

With any luck, nothing.

The US has its hands full in Iraq and Afghanistan, and doesn't want to be drawn into another costly war in Korea. South Korea doesn't want to endure the massive destruction a war would cause, or take on the burden of unifying with and having to rebuild a North Korea that's a hopeless economic and social basket case. North Korea (read "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il and his cronies) doesn't want to be crushed in a war it can't win, but doesn't want to show weakness. China doesn't want millions of impoverished, malnourished North Koreans swarming across their border in search of a decent life. Russia wouldn't mind seeing the US bogged down in Korea, but can't or won't do anything on its own to defuse the situation.

There can be no good outcome of a war in Korea. That doesn't mean it won't happen, of course ... nobody thought World War I would break out, either ... but nobody can figure out what goes on in the muddled minds of the North Korean leadership. If war comes, it will be because North Korea throws the Angry Toddler switch and lashes out at other countries for telling the truth about a country that exists only because of blackmail and petulant, bombastic threats.

It's nice to think that a US president would stand up and call North Korea for what it is: a petty kleptocracy that supports its ruling class on the backs of its starving citizens and survives only because it can make threats it's just crazy enough to carry out. It won't happen, though. We'll just keep on keeping on, enduring the periodic tantrums until the North Korean government finally implodes. And then the fun will really start as the world tries to figure out how to rebuild a nation that has been beaten down and lied to for so long that it has no idea of how to be a part of the modern world.

I'm glad I don't have to take that one on. I have enough trouble dealing with the mendacity and ineptitude of my own government.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - for a very good, very readable history of the North Korean regime, its leadership, and how its worldview developed, read David Halberstam's history of the Korean War, The Coldest Winter.



Anonymous said...


Darn good analysis of a country with which I am far too familiar. Kim Jong Il exists so Alex Trebek can post this one on the the Jeopardy board in the category despicable, immoral, ineffective, sadistic, corrupt leaders: "Korean ruler equal in cruelty to Chairman Mao"

Eminence Grise

Mike said...

Maybe we could offer 25 million for someone to kill Kim Jong Il. At least we know where he is.