Four must-reads on North Korea

December 20, 2011

Busy day today, but I wanted to share with you four articles on the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation, aka “North Korea,” and its uncertain future. Each has something worth your attention:

Writing from Tokyo, the New York Times’ Martin Fackler interview Korea “experts” (as if anyone can be a true expert on what goes on in a closed, paranoid land) whose general consensus is that the new dictator, twenty-something Kim Jong-Un, and the factions surrounding him will likely see a period of consolidation and reduced tension with the US, as the country sorts out its leadership and deals with crushing internal problems:

Masao Okonogi, a specialist on North Korea at Keio University in Tokyo, said that during the new leader’s first few years, North Korea would most likely avoid confrontation with the United States and its allies, like South Korea.

That was the route taken by Kim Jong-il after his father’s death, said Mr. Okonogi, and he seemed to hold out an olive branch by observing a 1994 deal negotiated by his father to freeze construction of two reactors suspected of use in North Korea’s covert atomic weapons program. North Korea eventually suspended the deal in 2003, three years before testing its first nuclear weapon.

“Look for Kim Jong-un to make some offer, like to restart the six-party talks,” Mr. Okonogi said, referring to stalled multilateral negotiations on dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons. “He’ll need to reduce tensions with the United States in order to buy time.”

Some analysts said the new leader would probably use this time to try to fulfill his father’s promise to turn North Korea into a “strong and prosperous” country by 2012. To do that, he must revive a moribund economy that ranks near the bottom of the world in many measures, including per capita gross domestic product of $1,800 per year, versus $30,000 in technologically advanced South Korea. The North’s unwillingness to forsake the centrally planned economic system, its severe isolation and its utter reliance on food and fuel handouts from China and international aid groups have perpetuated or deepened the crisis.

That would be wonderful, presuming the North Korean leadership was rational and motivated by national self-interest. But, if US intelligence is right, the new Kim on the block may be even more deranged than his father:

“It’s been only about a year and three months since Kim Jong Eun was officially tapped, so it would be very difficult for him to effectively seize power within the old guard in the party as well as the military,” said Yoo Dong-ryul, a researcher at the Police Science Institute in South Korea. “I think whether Kim Jong Eun succeeds will ultimately depend on the role by Jang Song Thaek.”

The portrait of Kim Jong Eun that emerges in his U.S. profile is that of a young man who, despite years of education in the West, is steeped in his father’s cult of personality and may be even more mercurial and merciless, officials said.

A senior U.S. official said intelligence analysts believe, for instance, that Kim Jung Eun “tortured small animals” when he was a youth. “He has a violent streak and that’s worrisome,” a senior U.S. official said, summing up the U.S. assessments.

Great. Just what we need: a potential serial killer in charge of nuclear weapons.

One of the great questions is what China will do. As revealed in the Wikileaks cables, China regards North Korea as a pain in the rice bowl and rather an embarrassment, particularly for a nation trying to establish itself as as global superpower. (Kind of like a gangster trying to be “respectable” and not wanting to be seen with his crazy friend from the old neighborhood.) There have even been preliminary feelers about the conditions under which China would accept Korean reunification. My own opinion is that China would like to see a stable, less embarrassing North Korea survive, if for nothing else than the prestige hit it would take from an ally falling apart. Failing that, reunification with the South would be acceptable — provided it did not mean American troops on or near the Yalu river border. In that case, China would want to see some sort of disengagement of the currently tight relationship between Washington and Seoul.

But there’s another possibility: a North Korean descent into chaos that leaves outside powers no choice but to intervene. Back at the NYT, Victor Cha wonders if North Korea won’t wind up as China’s newest province:

The allies’ best move, then, is to wait and see what China does. Among China’s core foreign-policy principles is the maintenance of a divided Korean Peninsula, and so Beijing’s statements about preserving continuity of North Korea’s leadership should come as no surprise. Since 2008 it has drawn closer to the regime, publicly defending its leaders and investing heavily in the mineral mines on the Chinese-North Korean border.

But even as Beijing sticks close to its little Communist brother, there are intense debates within its leadership about whether the North is a strategic liability. It was one thing to back a hermetic but stable regime under Kim Jong-il; it will be harder to underwrite an untested leadership. For Xi Jinping, expected to become China’s president over the next year, the first major foreign policy decision will be whether to shed North Korea or effectively adopt it as a province.

In other words, China may feel it has no choice other than to quietly take North Korea over.

Like Mr. Cha, former American Ambassador to the UN John Bolton sees great danger in a North Korea that slips into instability or outright chaos, to the point that US and South Korean forces might themselves have to intervene on a moment’s notice to secure the nukes:

While an authoritarian DPRK state, armed with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, is a threat regionally and globally, a fractured DPRK, leaderless and perhaps descending into civil war, is an even greater threat. The prospect of conflict among various military and other security forces, which like the Kim family also have everything on the line, is real. Control over the weapons of mass destruction and other key assets (missile launch sites and storage facilities, communications facilities, the loyalty of major military formations such as the artillery, and armor massed near the borders) will be essential.

Moreover, North Korea’s civilians are not, despite decades of effort by Pyongyang, totally ignorant about conditions outside the hermetic state. Already desperately impoverished and hungry, they may well decide at the first signs of regime collapse, or even before, that their moment is at hand. Aided by South Korean activists, they could begin moving north toward the Yalu River border with China or south to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has divided North from South since the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement.

South Korean authorities, together with the nearly 30,000 U.S. forces there, have long prepared for the contingency of massive refugee flows toward the DMZ. They also have plans for entering North Korea in force on extremely short notice, to prevent massive instability, to secure the nuclear weapons, and to control the DMZ.

The last thing we need is for the North’s destructive weapons (or other elements of its nuclear program) to be used during internal conflict, or auctioned off to foreign states or terrorists by military factions desperate for hard currency to continue their struggle or flee the country. But while we believe that large stocks of chemical and biological weapons are located near the DMZ, we have very little knowledge of where the nuclear weapons actually are. If South Korean and U.S. forces have to enter the North, time will be short, the dangers high, and the odds long.

Bolton is highly critical of what he sees as almost nonexistent efforts by the Obama administration to get clear information from Beijing and coordinate with them over a possible Korean crisis. If Cha is right and China decides it needs to “put North Korea under new management,” and if those efforts fail and the US and South Korea decide they have to intervene, the potential for an accidental clash that reignites the Korean War gets white-hot.

Which makes me feel so good about having Team Smart Power in charge.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


President Obama should learn from President Myung-bak

January 21, 2011

Yes, Obama used deadly force against Somali pirates, too, but it’s the attitude of the South Korean president he needs to emulate:

In a daring high-seas rescue, South Korean navy commandos today stormed a freighter that’s been held hostage for a week in the Arabian Sea, killing eight Somali pirates and freeing 21 crew members.

Five other pirates were captured. The ship’s captain was shot in the stomach by the pirates, but he’s expected to survive, South Korea said.

“Our special forces stormed the hijacked Samho Jewelry earlier today and freed all hostages,” Colonel Lee Bung-woo, a spokesman for South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, told The Guardian and other reporters in Seoul. “During the operation, our forces killed some Somali pirates, and all of the hostages were confirmed alive.”

South Korea’s president went on national TV to laud the commandos’ success and warn any pirates against trying to hijack ships in the future.

“We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future,” President Lee Myung-bak said.

And that is how a national leader stands up for his country. Barack Obama’s diffidence is all too palpable, even when he does the right thing.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: Bandit King backs down

December 20, 2010

He's just ronery

I’ve written before that North Korea can be reasonably described as a mountain bandit state, a kingdom of bullies that extorts what it needs to survive from its neighbors by threatening to do something violent, no matter how crazy it looks. And they keep doing it because it works. Time and again since the accession of North Korean mutant psycho-dwarf dictator Kim Jong-Il, North Korea has threatened war and devastation. Then, afraid North Korea might really start a huge conflagration (and most everyone admits that a renewed war on the Korean peninsula would be a bloodbath), concerned nations rush into give Kim everything he wants while pretending to be firm with him, in return for promises not to do whatever it was again. North Korea then breaks these promises, gets more stuff it can’t produce on its own, and the whole farcical ballet starts again. Rinse and repeat.

The thing to remember about bullies and bandits is that they rely on you being afraid of them. Call their bluff, and they often back down. The current case in point being North Korea’s threat to “retaliate” if South Korea carried through with a live-fire exercise on Yeonpyeong island, a recent target of a North Korean artillery barrage. Instead of backing down, the South Koreans flipped a large finger toward the North and went ahead with the exercise.

Guess who backed down?

NORTH Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il offered up a major last-minute nuclear concession and was forced last night to turn the other cheek.

This came after the South refused to cancel a live-fire artillery drill near their maritime border.

The North Korean Supreme Military Command said last night it would not retaliate for the South’s 90-minute artillery exercise, saying it was not worthy of a response.

Despite the nuclear inspections breakthrough offered to US envoy Bill Richardson in Pyongyang, the South launched the drill at 2.30pm (4.30pm AEDT) – on Yeonpyeong Island – the scene of North Korea’s deadly artillery attack last month – in spite of threats of retaliation and even nuclear war from the North.

South Korean fighter jets armed with guided missiles streaked through the air above Yeonpyeong and warships cruised the area to silence any response from the North as the test shelling began.

The North last night called the drills a “reckless military provocation” but said it was holding its fire because Seoul had changed its firing zones.

The official Korean Central News Agency statement suggested that the North viewed yesterday’s drills differently from the ones last month because South Korean shells landed farther south of the North’s shores.

Given that the North claims the waters far to the south of the island, at face value their retreat is vindication of the resolve of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Pyongyang had apparently offered before the live-fire exercise to allow nuclear inspections to resume — in return for cash. Thus they were starting the bandit-ballet again. Only, this time, South Korea called them on it. Good for Seoul and President Lee Myung-Bak. Let’s hope this heralds the start of a new, fear-free, and tougher line toward North Korea and its bandit king, Kim Jong-Il.

via Roy Medcalf

UPDATE 12/22/2010: At Pajamas Media, Claudia Rosett thinks this is all part of the same charade, too, and that Kimm has hung out his Christmas stocking for Obama to fill.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Want to make Kim Jong-Il soil himself?

November 30, 2010

I can't trust anyone these days!

Just whisper in his ears the magic words, “China is willing to sell you out.” From the The Guardian:

China’s moves to distance itself from Kim are revealed in the latest tranche of leaked US embassy cables published by the Guardian and four international newspapers. Tonight, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said the US “deeply regrets” the release of the material by WikiLeaks. They were an “attack on the international community”, she said. “It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems,” she told reporters at the state department.

The leaked North Korea dispatches detail how:

  • South Korea’s vice-foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
  • China’s vice-foreign minister told US officials that Pyongyang was behaving like a “spoiled child” to get Washington’s attention in April 2009 by carrying out missile tests.
  • A Chinese ambassador warned that North Korean nuclear activity was “a threat to the whole world’s security”.
  • Chinese officials assessed that it could cope with an influx of 300,000 North Koreans in the event of serious instability, according to a representative of an international agency, but might need to use the military to seal the border.

In highly sensitive discussions in February this year, the-then South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, told a US ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, that younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regarded North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and would not risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula, according to a secret cable to Washington.

China has also said that it would not intervene militarily in the event of a North Korean collapse, and that a unified Korea ruled from Seoul could remain a US ally as long as American troops did not cross north of the DMZ; China sees its interests in trade with the US, South Korea, and Japan, not in propping up an increasingly unstable client that doesn’t even serve anymore as a useful buffer.

That, my friends, is the core of a deal that would have cynical power-players like Metternich and Kissinger drooling with anticipation. The only reason North Korea survives is through the shipment of cheap fuel and food across the Yalu river border. If China were to decide that its interests were better served by a reunified and stable Korean trading partner, even if a US ally, then all it has to do is turn off the drip-feed and… Bye-bye bandit kingdom.

While Kim Jong Il is desperately trying to secure the succession for his son, Kim Jong Un, one can see this playing out like the East German collapse and German reunification in 1989-90: the old regime dies off, the new rulers haven’t the skill or will (or both) to maintain control of a failing state, and the regime collapses of exhaustion to be absorbed by its democratic cousin.

The question is what will Kim Jong Il and his military do. As the cables hint, they were probably the only ones among the concerned powers (the US, China, South Korea, and Japan) who had no inkling of China’s real feelings.  Will this knowledge lead Kim to moderate his behavior or the military to remove him, so China doesn’t pull the plug? Will they keep pushing the limits under the assumption that China, in the end, won’t cut them loose? Or, as Allahpundit fears, will they decide to go out in a blaze of glory?

My own guess is that Kim will try to make nice with Beijing and not do anything more provocative than he already has and mollifying them with vague promises of reform, while continuing to secure the throne for his son. Then, when Dear Leader passes on, a transitional regime –with or without Kim Jong Un– will oversee an East German-style endgame.

At least, that’s what I hope. This still has every chance of blowing up in all our faces, mostly due to the unpredictability of those running the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a state.

POSTSCRIPT: Regarding the Wikileaks release, I have three observations

  1. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange needs to meet a bad end, soon. He is harming my country in a time of war; he shouldn’t have gotten this far.
  2. The real fallout of these documents isn’t what they reveal (and much of that validates the Right’s views), but that we look like such idiots when it comes to security that few will be willing to talk confidentially with us for quite a long time.
  3. While the security weaknesses revealed in this scandal reach back at least several years, the response to the Wikileaks revelations has shown the Obama administration as weak and incompetent — and a danger to our national security.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Giving thanks for the lone defender of freedom

November 28, 2010

John Yoo, a Korean immigrant to the United States, has written a brief meditation for Thanksgiving on what America’s willingness to stand up to tyranny has meant, occasioned by the North Korean attack on Yeonpyeong Island. An excerpt:

Wars in both Korea and Vietnam sent important signals to the Soviet Union and China that the United States would continue to resist communist expansion forcefully.  While Korea was a stalemate, and Vietnam a defeat, communism did not spread in Asia and America’s defense allowed nations such as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, at first, and now others like Indonesia and Maylasia to rise out of poverty.   This all may have served the interests of the United States, but it should not be forgotten that the United States sent its men and women to fight and die on foreign lands so that people they never knew might live a more prosperous, peaceful life.

In the midst of our internal squabbles, the words of an immigrant serve to remind us of the unique role we’ve played in preserving human liberty.


Tell me again why we give the UN any money?

July 12, 2010

Just when you think that body couldn’t be any more useless and corrupt, they do something like this:

UN Fails to Condemn North Korea for Killing Over 40 South Korean Sailors

When the results of the international investigation into the sinking of the South Korean ship the Cheonan were released in May, the U.S. State Department was adamant that it believed North Korea was responsible — and that the country would have to face some actual punishment for killing 46 innocent South Korea sailors.

“I think it is important to send a clear message to North Korea that provocative actions have consequences,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said May 21 while visiting her Japanese counterpart in Tokyo.

Fast forward to today, when the United Nations released a presidential statement which not only does not specify any consequences for the Kim Jong Il regime, but doesn’t even conclude that North Korea was responsible for the attack in the first place.

The statement acknowledges that the South Korean investigation, which included broad international participation, blamed North Korea, and then “takes note of the responses from other relevant parties, including from the DPRK, which has stated that it had nothing to do with the incident.”

“Therefore, the Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan,” the statement reads.

Isn’t diplomacy-speak wonderful? Not only does the UN issue the weakest form of statement, the “presidential statement,” but it can’t even name the party behind the attack. I bet the families of those 40 dead sailors feel oh-so-comforted, knowing Turtle Bay has their backs.

As Daniel Halper asks,

“…how long did it take for the UN to issue a condemnation of Israel’s action against pro-terrorist flotilla members?”

A perfectly legal action, bear in mind, as opposed to North Korea’s act of war.

Tell me again, does the United Nations do any good, and is there any reason for us to remain a part of it?

Really, just try to convince me. I love fantasy stories.

(via Jeff Emanuel)


What’s “gird your loins” in Korean?

April 22, 2010

I haven’t written about the sinking last month of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan, because, while it looked and smelled like something North Korea would do to provoke an incident and grab the world’s attention, the South Korean and US militaries were being very cautious. Besides, I just couldn’t imagine that even Kim Jong-Il, dictator of the world’s largest prison camp, could be this crazy.

I may have been wrong:

South Korean ship sunk by crack squad of ‘human torpedoes’

A South Korean warship was destroyed by an elite North Korean suicide squad of ‘human torpedoes’ on the express orders of the regime’s leader, Kim Jong-il, according to military intelligence reports.

The attack on the 1,220-ton Cheonan, which sank on March 26 with the loss of 46 of its 104 crew, was carried out in retaliation for a skirmish between warships of the two nations’ navies in November of last year, South Korea claims.

The South Korean government has refused to comment officially on the reports but Defence Minister Kim Tae Young told a parliamentary session that the military believed that the sinking was a deliberate act by North Korea.

Officials in military intelligence say they warned the government earlier this year that North Korea was preparing a suicide-squad submarine attack on a South Korean ship.

“Military intelligence made the report to the Blue House [the presidential office] and to the Defence Ministry immediately after the sinking of the Cheonan that it was clearly the work of North Korea’s military,” a military source said.

According to the article, this may have been a suicide mission launched by commandos in specially modified midget submarines, rather than from a leftover naval mine from the Korean War. The explosion clearly took place outside the vessel’s hull.

Whether it was an attack by a normal torpedo or the human kind, this puts both Seoul and Washington in a very difficult situation. Lee Myung Bak, the South Korean president, was elected on a platform that included getting tough with North Korea and ending the accomodationist policies of his predecessor. Now that it’s clear that one of his country’s naval ships was sunk and sailors killed in an act of war, he can’t do nothing for fear of appearing craven and pusillanimous, something sure to weaken him at home and encourage a psychotic predator like L’il Kim. Yet, striking back too hard risks full-scale war; South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is near the border and very exposed to the thousands of artillery pieces the North has placed there.

For President Obama, this could turn into a nightmare. Already under heavy (and deserved) criticism for a weak foreign policy of appeasement, pressuring our allies in Seoul to overlook this, or worse, equivocate in our support of Seoul, would invite a furious political assault. Yet a reopening of the Korean War would be a huge expense on top of all the debt he’s accumulated already, not to mention the strain it would put on the military both from likely heavy casualties and from being stretched thin already.

(And, don’t forget: much of the Obama debt is funded by China, North Korea’s patron. This is a good example of how massive foreign debt limits our actions and makes us vulnerable.)

So, what to do? Contra the analysts quoted in the article, President Bak almost has to retaliate, but he cannot go overboard. My guess would be some sort of forward mobilization near the DMZ as a sign of resolve toward the North and the eventual sinking of a North Korean vessel in a tit-for-tat response. Economic punishment is possible, too, but the loss of life aboard the ship makes it difficult to present that to the South Korean public as sufficient.

The other question is why would Kim do something so mad, so rife with potentially disastrous consequences? The Telegraph article speculates that this was payback for an earlier skirmish in which a North Korean boat was sunk, but there’s another possibility: there are signs of growing unrest in North Korean, and Pyongyang’s grip may be slipping. Could it be that Kim ordered this to scare his population into obedience by the threat of war with the “hated imperialist aggressors?” Or maybe he’s just ronery?

Who knows what goes on in that warped little man’s mind?

LINKS: More from Hot Air and the Times.

POSTSCRIPT: To answer the question in the subject line, Joe Biden’s warning to “gird your loins” renders in Korean as, according to Google Translate, Jolong saengsig!


The Hermit King steps out

December 24, 2009

Interesting. Long a minor actor in geopolitics, South Korea is preparing to play a larger role in global security matters:

More than 56 years after the end of the Korean War ushered in a long period of relative military isolation, South Korea is finally taking steps towards a regional security role commensurate with the country’s advanced economy. But South Korea’s rise as a military power is complicated by its domestic politics — and a belligerent North Korea.

Despite a technologically advanced military and a Gross Domestic Product that, at just shy of $1 trillion, makes it the world’s 15th-wealthiest country, the Republic of Korea has rarely deployed troops outside its borders. In 1999, Seoul sent 400 soldiers to boost a U.N. force trying to stabilize East Timor when that country broke away from neighboring Indonesia. The Timor deployment was South Korea’s first overseas military operation. South Korean troops had fought alongside the U.S. in Vietnam.

South Korean medics and engineers subsequently joined the U.S.-led coalitions in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003. The Afghan mission was curtailed after the Taliban kidnapped a South Korean church group in Afghanistan and murdered two of its 23 members. The extremists released the surviving captives when Seoul promised to stick to a planned withdrawal by the end of 2007. The Iraqi mission ended peacefully in 2008. That year, Seoul also sent a warship to patrol Somali waters for pirates.

But South Korea’s planned second deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 will mark its true debut as a regional military power. In response to U.S. President Barak Obama’s call for a bigger international coalition in Afghanistan, Seoul has pledged a Provincial Reconstruction Team and a powerful infantry force to accompany it, for a total of around 500 troops.

The author argues that the PRT is merely a political cover for the deployment of combat troops, meant to keep South Korea’s rather pacifist Left from putting up too strong an opposition. But the move seems not to be engendering  much resistance in South Korea, regardless, as there seems to be public sentiment for the nation pulling more of its own weight after decades of being protected from Mordor North Korea. South Korea has gone so far as to commission three small aircraft carriers. Once fitted with aircraft, this will give Seoul a power-projection capability few Asian nations have.

In my opinion, this is can be an unalloyed good for the world: a stable democracy with a powerful economy should shoulder some of the burden of protecting constitutional government and freedom of the seas in a dangerous world. (While recognizing the political difficulties for Tokyo are much, much greater, I’d love to see Japan do something similar.) The United States should be mentoring South Korea in this, just as, under George W. Bush, we agreed to promote democratic India as a potential global power.  The time is now to strengthen old alliances and build new ones among democratic, capitalist powers facing the twin threats of jihadism and the rise of Russian and Chinese aggressive nationalism and geopolitical ambition.

Sadly, we are lead by exactly the wrong president.

(via Real Clear World)


L’il Kim wants attention

March 8, 2009

North Korea claims it is planning to launch a communications satellite for "peaceful purposes." The nations most concerned with North Korean intentions, South Korea, Japan, and the United States, believe this is a cover for another test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. They have good reason for their suspicions: not only has North Korea violated it’s treaty commitments and developed atomic weapons (though the test was pathetic), it has also fired missiles "over the heads" of Japan and may even have aimed for the region around Hawaii.

Given that the possibility of a delusional hill bandit such as Kim Jong Il having both nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is an unpleasant prospect at best, some American figures have suggested destroying North Korea’s missile test site. This is an action I once favored, but now oppose, because the possible North Korea response could devastate the South Korean capital, Seoul, with artillery fire. Japan, meanwhile, is considering deploying its own missile interceptor ships to the waters between the Home Islands and the Korean peninsula.

But, so far, the world’s reaction has been restrained, hoping that Kim will get bored or distracted by his country’s burgeoning cartoon industry (insert jokes as needed). Not yet, however, as Kim has decided the world still isn’t paying enough attention, and thus comes the predictable North Korean threat of war:

North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch and what other countries suspect may be a missile test-firing would result in a counterstrike against the countries trying to stop it.

"We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army as saying.

If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out "a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the countries, it said.

"Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war," it added.

And war would mean the utter destruction of that prison camp he calls a country, an idea that I think even Kim understands.

This would be the perfect occasion for playing a YouTube clip of Kim singing "I’m so Ronery" in Team America: World Police, but it’s been pulled for copyright issues. (Killjoys. Phbbbttt ) So, you’ll just have to make do with a picture of Dear Leader:

barack obama capitol

Ooops! Wrong "Dear Leader." Doh

Let’s try that again…

KimJong

That’s better. Big Grin

(hat tip: Reader Lance)

 


Monday links

November 26, 2007

Too much to do to provide a full post today, but I wanted to link to some stories of interest, leading off with the (nonexistent) plot to attack Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The Washington Times first broke the story:

Fort Huachuca, the nation’s largest intelligence-training center, changed security measures in May after being warned that Islamist terrorists, with the aid of Mexican drug cartels, were planning an attack on the facility.

Fort officials changed security measures after sources warned that possibly 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists were to be smuggled into the U.S. through underground tunnels with high-powered weapons to attack the Arizona Army base, according to multiple confidential law enforcement documents obtained by The Washington Times.

"A portion of the operatives were in the United States, with the remainder not yet in the United States," according to one of the documents, an FBI advisory that was distributed to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, Customs and Border Protection and the Justice Department, among several other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. "The Afghanis and Iraqis shaved their beards so as not to appear to be Middle Easterners."

According to the FBI advisory, each Middle Easterner paid Mexican drug lords $20,000 "or the equivalent in weapons" for the cartel’s assistance in smuggling them and their weapons through tunnels along the border into the U.S. The weapons would be sent through tunnels that supposedly ended in Arizona and New Mexico, but the Islamist terrorists would be smuggled through Laredo, Texas, and reclaim the weapons later.

A number of the Afghans and Iraqis are already in a safe house in Texas, the FBI advisory said.

Pretty serious stuff: believable and predictable, something like what people (including me) concerned with border security have been warning of since 9/11. Trouble is, it was a false alarm:

A plot by dozens of foreign terrorists who purportedly planned to attack Fort Huachuca with rocket propelled grenades and mines has proved unfounded, an FBI spokesman said Monday.

Ooops. While this is embarrassing for the Times (and those border-hawk bloggers who started shrieking at the first news), it doesn’t change the possibility that something like this could one day happen, nor does it change the fact that our porous borders are a major weakness. Al Qaeda and Hizbullah (the latter at least being a proxy for Iran) are in Latin America, and only a fool would think they won’t try to exploit the border’s weakness to attack us.

The plot against Fort Huachuca was a false alarm, but it was not a Chicken Little moment.

(More at Captain’s Quarters, LGF, Power Line, and Hot Air.)

Meanwhile, I want to say, with deepest respect for the Anglican Church, that the Archbishop of Canterbury is an ignorant fool. Victor Davis Hanson explains why.

What is it about left-leaning Western intellectual elites that makes them hate their own civilization so much that they act as if they believe it should apologize for everything it’s ever done and go out of existence?

To quote French intellectual Jean Francois Revel: A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.

The Archbishop often acts like it isn’t even worth defending.

(More at Blue Crab Boulevard here and here. Melanie Phillips asks "With defenders of western civilisation like this, who needs enemies?" Indeed.)

Finally, is the prison-camp regime in North Korea about to collapse? It’s been predicted before and hasn’t happened, and, frankly, our intelligence agencies have pretty miserable records when it comes to prognostication (they missed the fall of the Soviet Union, for example), so I’ll believe it when I see it. But, there are some tell-tale signs that the regime of Psychopath for Life Dear Leader may be planning for life after the fall. When dictators and thugs start squirreling money away, you know they’re worried. And if rumors of American and South Korean troop movements are true, then the West may be taking it seriously this time, too.

(More at Blue Crab Boulevard.)


Korean publisher pulls anti-Semitic book

March 17, 2007

Back in February, I wrote about a shockingly anti-American and anti-Semitic book from a well-known South Korean publisher. Today I’m happy to report that the publisher has pulled the book.

A South Korean publisher agreed Thursday to withdraw a best-selling children’s book from stores after meeting with a prominent anti-Semitism watchdog group that accused the author of spreading messages echoing Nazi propaganda.

The series of comic books, titled "Meon Nara, Yiwoot Nara," or "Far Countries, Near Countries" and authored by visual arts professor Rhie Won-bok, purports to teach children about the world and has sold more than 10 million copies since the first volume was published in 1987.

One of three books on the US published in 2004 contains a chapter claiming Jews were the driving force for the hatred that led to the Sept. 11 attacks, that they exert control over all US media and also prevent Korean-Americans from succeeding in the United States.

Some might scream that this is censorship: far from it. The publisher was not prevented from publishing the book and could have continued publishing it, but instead pulled it in response to justified criticism from concerned groups. This is how open societies are supposed to work.

(hat tip: Little Green Footballs)

 


Korean anti-Semitism

February 17, 2007

Anti-Semitism isn’t just a European or Islamic phenomenon: East Asia has its fair share, too, with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion enjoying widespread popularity in Japan.

The latest example comes from South Korea. Joe Mondello has posted and translated pages from the Korean comic book series Monnara Iunnara, which begins as anti-US propaganda, but quickly descends into vicious Jew-hatred. That reminded me of something I read years ago about the bizarre popularity of Nazi-themed bars in South Korea.

It’s a strange world in which we live, and often not in a good way.

(hat tip: Little Green Footballs)

 

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“Dear Leader” or “Dummkopf?” You decide.

July 10, 2006

I’ve said for a long time that one thing neither China nor North Korea should ever, ever do is make Japan feel insecure, thus pushing her to rearm. Well, it looks like the delusional nitwits who run North Korea, lead by Bozo-in-Chief the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il, may be close to doing just that: Japan considers strike against North Korea.

TOKYO (AP)
- Japan said Monday it was considering whether a pre-emptive strike on
the North’s missile bases would violate its constitution, signaling a
hardening stance ahead of a possible U.N. Security Council vote on
Tokyo’s proposal for sanctions against the regime.

Japan was
badly rattled by North Korea’s missile tests last week and several
government officials openly discussed whether the country ought to take
steps to better defend itself, including setting up the legal framework
to allow Tokyo to launch a pre-emptive strike against Northern missile
sites.

"If we
accept that there is no other option to prevent an attack … there is
the view that attacking the launch base of the guided missiles is
within the constitutional right of self-defense. We need to deepen
discussion," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

Did you hear that sound? Those were the first rumblings of a tectonic shift in Northeast Asia power politics. As the article points out, Japan doesn’t have the capability to launch a first strike. Yet. But, if North Korea and China keep trying to intimidate, harass, and bully Japan, they will learn how fast Japan can rearm itself.

This has implications beyond these three countries. The United States has been encouraging Japan to take a more assertive role in world affairs (in line with its economic clout) for years. Under Prime Minister Koizumi’s government, they’ve found a receptive audience. South Korea, which has a bitter history of brutal Japanese rule in recent memory, would rather things stay nice and quiet so they can keep making money while occasionally giving bribes aid to their psycho brothers to the north and hoping against hope the North Korean collapse doesn’t come yet. Russia, which has a budding anti-US entente with China, does not want to see a militarily powerful American ally on its southeast coast. One which still wants back territory Russia stole from it in 1945, when it was the Soviet Union.

There must be quite a few foreign leaders who want to ring Kim’s neck just now.

Tigerhawk has more.


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