The Problem with Crazy

is that you never know what crazy will do.

“Our revolutionary armed forces … will regard” South Korea’s participation “in the PSI as a declaration of war …” the North’s official news agency said.

Pyongyang also announced it was no longer bound by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.

I just want to be ruvved.

I just want to be ruvved.

Thus begins another round of North Korea going “Look at what WE did!!! Hooray Korea!!!” and the requisite follow up of “Booo Korea!!! You’re bad people, and we condemn you!!!” coming from the United Nations and other diplomatic communities.

Of course, this is usually followed by the requisite “Decrawation of wahhh!!” by the Exalted Leader, and we all nod our heads and go about our business, after throwing a few more sanctions at them, of course.

It’s the proper thing to do.

The problem is, they don’t work. They didn’t work with Saddam, they won’t work with Kim Jong Il.

Why? Because the only way sanctions work is if the leader of the country actually gives a crap about his people. You make it hard for things that people need to get into the country, the emperor leader will be the only one who gets them. Exhibit A –

South Korea - North Korea's Night Light

South Korea - North Korea's Night Light

Of course, there’s the hope that the people will rise up against the tyrant, but when the only people who are getting food are the soldiers working for the dictator, there’s little incentive to rebel.

So, we’ll continue our worldwide denouncements. The issue becomes when the Exalted One decides he’s had enough. That’s why a nuclear Saddam was scary. Not discounting the threat of nuclear weaponry being sold to people who REALLY shouldn’t have it, but it doesn’t take an army to fire a nuclear missile. The North Korean Army could be full of holes, underfed and with no servicable weapons, who knows. All it takes is for Kim Jong Il to wake up in one of his moods, get twitchy, and all hell breaks loose.

All because he couldn’t get a new iPod or something silly.

That’s why everyone is walking on egg shells with this situation.

The crazy guy on the corner asking for change is one thing. When the crazy guy has a gun it’s a whole new ball of wax.

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5 Responses to The Problem with Crazy

  1. Niall says:

    I don’t think Kim Jong Il is as crazy as you seem to think. The DPRK kept its agreements made under the Clinton administration, after all. It was when Bush came into office and immediately branded North Korea as part of the “axis of evil” that KJL decided to back out of the deals he had previously been keeping.

    We forget that North Korea is deeply paranoid about a US invasion. Whenver this paranoia is activated, North Korea feels obliged to prove its might. Also, until the Obama adminstration, the US has refused to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea, one with non-aggression clauses protecting (?) North Korea from a US attack. This seems like a reasonable desire, and one that would cost the US little.

    So, crazy as they seem, the North Koreans are responding to real issues, and have asked for assurances and discussions that the US is happy to provide to far more dangerous regimes, like Pakistan.

    I’m not naive about how difficult it might be to defuse this situation, but it can be done I believe, and without a lot of the inflammatory swagger that created the problems in the first place.

    People also forget that China does not want the DPRK to have nuclear weapons, and has roundly and openly condemned the recent nuclear test. Why? Because China’s deepest nightmare is Japan with its own nuclear weapons. And China knows that North Korea’s nuclear program could very well provide Japan with the justification it needs to acquire them.

    So, yeah, it’s a hot mess. But it can be cooled down if we stay cool.

  2. Anders says:

    The situation we are in now, where NK has declared that it isn’t bound by the 1953 treaty, which is very serious, might have been avoided had we shot down the missile they sent last month. We didn’t and it showed to them we want to avoid conflict at all costs. This has caused North Korea to make an enormous mis-calculation and put 30 000 US soldiers in South Korea at great risk.

  3. virgil xenophon says:

    Slightly OT, but if ever any evidence was needed
    to prove the old saying that “a picture is worth 10,000 words” that photo is it. Says it all, really.

  4. Ron Snyder says:

    Niall, talk is cheap. What is China actually doing to stop NK from developing nukes? Nothing that I have been able to find.

    Short of military action, only China can do something about NK. Do some research and find out how much oil and food NK gets from China.

  5. Niall says:

    Ron –

    I’m starting from the assumption that China has two chief foreign policy goals. The first is reunification with Taiwan. The second is to prevent Japan from acquiring its own nuclear weapons. Don’t just take my word for that. Here is an excerpt from an interview in Der Spiegel with Sun Zhe, a leading foreign policy analyst for the Chinese government:

    “SPIEGEL: Will China do anything to antagonize the North Koreans?

    Sun: More than anything, Beijing wants to prevent Japan from using the situation in North Korea as an excuse for becoming a nuclear power itself.”

    Read the whole interview, it’s very revealing.,1518,627954,00.html

    It paints a picture of a China that doesn’t want to put too much pressure on NK for fear of seeming to be doing the US’s bidding, yet is terrified of a collapse of the NK regime, which would lead to millions of Korean refugees flooding into China. Yet again is terrified that Japan will use NK’s nuclear weapons as a justification for developing its own.

    In other words, the Chinese government is divided internally, overly cautious, and uncertain how to proceed.

    Very much like the US government on this issue.

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