Sen. John McCain has a CQ Guest Blog about the recent North Korean nuke test. In "Why North Korea is the Wrong Focus," I warned about next steps that won't be enough to make a difference - and unfortunately, McCain's suggestions are a good example of that dynamic at work.
The simple truth is that China will not implement or carry out the sanctions he envisions, for the reasons I discussed, unless faced with a downside large enough to both cancel their expected gains from enabling North Korea, and offer the reality of a fear greater than their fear of a North Korean refugee tsunami. McCain offers nothing of the kind. On the plus side, his post accurately diagnoses the failures of the previous policy, and correctly calls where this is probably headed.
These opening lines from this UK TELEGRAPH article speak for themselves:
Russian diplomats believe it is now "highly probable" that North Korea will officially join the nuclear club by carrying out its first underground test of an atomic device.
Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, is said to have made clear his intention to explode a device during recent talks with Russian and Chinese officials in Pyongyang.
Given the the joint international nature of North Korea's nuclear program, Iran will have an arsenal of tested nuclear missile warheads for its ballistic missile arsenal of Chinese design and North Korean construction in 30-90 days after that test.
President Bush's rhetorical gauntlet, thrown down in recent speeches, for taking military action to prevent Iran's acquisition of a nuclear arsenal has just gotten a very short time limit. Assuming Iran doesn't already have operational nukes, as some Israeli intelligence officials believe.
This is about far more than Iran. I said this previously here on Winds about the international nature of Iran's nuclear program:
The government’s assumption that an American bombing campaign, no matter how successful, will slow down Iran’s nuclear program enough to buy time for a nonsensical regime change by revolution concept (no one outside the desperate-to-believe in fairy-tales idiots in D.C. believes the U.S. intelligence community can foment a successful revolution in Iran) would be laughable if so many lives were not at stake. Iran’s nuclear program is not a NATIONAL PROGRAM. It is an INTERNATIONAL ONE. As long as North Korea serves as an invulnerable sanctuary supplying ballistic missiles and nuclear fissile material to Iran in exchange for oil, Iran will get nukes.
The insanity of the official prediction that Iran is 5-10 years away from building its own nuclear weapons is shown by what happened to the 1999 National Intelligence Estimate that Libya would not have nuclear weapons until 2015. This was changed in December 2001 to a prediction that Libya would have them in 2007, all due to the discovery of the A.Q. Khan proliferation network’s effectiveness. If Libya could have nuclear weapons next year, Iran can have them now.
Iran's nuclear break out is very much about the cancerous spread of nukes to kleptocratic tyrannies worldwide.
Our enemies are cooperating to spread nuclear weapons world wide as a counter to American power. Much of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is located in North Korea just as that of Iraq’s under Saddam Hussein was located in Libya.
If America allows Iran's successful acquisition of nuclear weapons to stop it -- like the Clinton Administration did with North Korea -- every two bit 3rd world kleptocrat will buy nukes so they can be as nasty as they want to be, to whomever they want to be.
A world of 20-30+ unstable nuclear-armed 3rd world tyrannies is less than a 15 years away, maybe as little as seven, if Iran succeeds in its goal of becoming a nuclear power.
Unless Iran's Mullah regime is removed before this comes to pass, on September 11th, 2021, we may be commemorating another ground zero in N.Y. City.
One that is not located at the WTC and that is of nuclear origin.
Text was updated to reflect a data provided by Tom Holsinger in the comments below.
[ UPDATE: Coincidentally, an article about US atrocities in the Korean War appeared today, illustrating the hard and sometimes unacceptable choices Ben talks about. ]
Occasional Kesher Talk pundit Ben:
As usual for me, a bit late; Memorial Day is already past. It takes time to put things together. For example, exactly twenty years ago, I was in Korea, and although I knew I was learning a lot, it would be years before I had an understanding of exactly what I had learned.
Korea in 1986 was an adolescent society, coming of age, rebelling against itself, finding its place in the world. It was looking forward to hosting the Olympics, Hodori the Tiger was everywhere, the Daewoo building was the tallest in Asia, Hyundai was an up and coming contender in the auto world but had yet to export to the United States, and occasionally clouds of tear gas would drift across university campuses.
Thirty years before, Korea had come through the most devastating war in its history, and that on the heels of being plundered by Japan for half a century. The nation was in ruins. And today, Korea is as sound and stable as any Democracy, it is prosperous, Korean film making is on the rise, and in terms of internet usage it is more “on line” than the United States. So I saw the “work in progress”, not exactly the midway point between despair and celebration, but near enough so that the path that linked both was still visible.
One of the things I learned about was the Korean disdain for the television series “MASH”. This rested on several complaints. First of all, since MASH was put together by educated, progressive and politically correct Americans, it was only natural that Koreans were portrayed in the series as cheap Hollywood stereotypes. They were the Pathetic Victims, Quaint Superstitious Elders, and Stony Faced Uncaring Generals. They weren’t people, they were plot devices. The Pathetic Victims were there to be saved from the war by the Caring Americans, the Quaint Superstitious Elders were to be indulged by the Sensitive Americans, and the Uncaring Generals were to be undermined by the Peace Loving Americans. Koreans knew better. They knew that the Korean war was their story, and we Americans were the subordinate characters thrown in for plot purposes.
Secondly, not once in the entire run of the series was it ever clear what the whole thing was really about. The Korean War was presented as a monstrosity without purpose, apparently a huge slaughter-fest being conducted for no other purpose than the glorification of the generals on the opposing sides. Now, in a way, this can be excused because in the 1950’s, a great many people were unaware of the true nature of Communism. But it was pretty evident in the Korea of my time, and is tragically obvious now, with South Korea school children text messaging each other on cell phones while their north Korean counterparts crawl after the ox carts hoping that they can scrounge up bits of dropped food to supplement their starvation level rations. Today, if you are Korean and starving, it is because you made the mistake of being born north of the line which the Republic of Korea, along with the US and other allies, managed to hold against the communists. If you were born south of that line- good job, you have a future without limits!
And thirdly, MASH managed to dodge entirely the real stories of that war, the Korean stories. They suffered more than we did, and faced choices far more terrible than we did. When communist forces entered Seoul, the front was collapsing and Korean leaders knew that every hour they could hold back the onslaught improved the chances that enough American forces would arrive to keep a foothold in Korea before it was overrun. Destroying the bridges of the Han Gang, the major river through Seoul, would buy that time. But the bridges were crowded with refugees fleeing the invasion. Had this been a MASH episode, the Good Doctors would surely have prevented the Uncaring Generals from demolishing the bridges, and by the end of the episode we would have learned that demolishing the bridges wasn’t even necessary. But this was reality, and it was necessary, and Korean generals, who were Very Caring, decided that for the sake of the nation, the refugees on the bridges would die.
They weren’t the first people to face this choice, it’s happened over and over -- in World War Two, Norwegian commandos sunk a ferry with Norwegian civilian passengers aboard, because they believed that the material the Germans were moving on that ferry was vital to the building of an atomic bomb. And in the 1820’s, the Greek Army supplied ammunition to the enemy they were fighting, the Turks, because they feared that an isolated Turkish force, running out of ammunition, would tear apart the Parthenon to salvage lead. When Hollywood gets on its soapbox, it tends to shy away from this kind of tragedy, where none of the protagonist’s choices can be good ones, only less bad.
So here we have half a century in Korea: thirty years before my time, a war far more horrible that most Americans understand it to be, and today, twenty years after, a time of prosperity that the survivors of that war, in the immediate shattered and bloodstained aftermath, could hardly have dreamt. Half a century, and the verdict is clear: the decisions were the right ones, the sacrifices not in vain. Part of the tragedy is that it took so long for this to be so obvious.
What will we know in fifty years about today’s war? Where will Iraq be? On the one hand, they have it a lot easier than the Koreans did- Iraq has far more infrastructure today than Korea did in 1953, and a large supply of a very marketable resource. On the other hand, Koreans have an amazing work ethic, and are not handicapped by the primitive mindset that grips most of the Middle East. But no one can say the Iraqis are ill-equipped materially. Whether they make it or not is really up to them. We cannot make them a success, any more than we “made” Hyundai a global manufacturing superstar, but we can help create the opportunity.
We can point out the way, clear the obstacles from the path, and hope they take it. And there will be then, halfway across the twenty first century, gray haired men and women with bitter memories that refuse to fade, tempered by the knowledge that the prosperous and free nation rising in Mesopotamia is one which they helped birth. Or we can abandon them, and in fifty years time, when the world is moving beyond oil, they compete with the Vietnamese for the right to make sneakers at ten cents an hour.
When I was in Korea we were very aware of the sacrifices made. There were monuments and cemeteries, and places with names in English- Gloucester Hill is one I remember- told the stories. One night we lost three men on a river crossing exercise, and so we had a taste of the pain. But we could also see for ourselves the everyday lives of the Koreans, improving each year, and we knew enough about the north to know that it really, really, was all worth it. I would like to know that Iraq is also going to be worth the cost, but reality does not indulge us with quick and easy answers- this may take another few decades. But while it may be that we fail to reach the goal- especially if we give in to voices of fear and misguided passion, and worse, those who would oppose this campaign only to promote their own political agendas– it can never be said honestly that the goal is not a noble one.
There is another point of view from which the sacrifice can never be “worth it.” Wars exact a toll in blood, and the cost is never fairly distributed. Iraq would be easier to swallow if every American family lost just .01% of a person. But people only come in whole units, and as per the three issues that MASH missed, each and every one of them we lose is 1) real and not a caricature, 2) part of a purpose, and 3) faced with very hard choices they have to make, knowing all the choices are only bad and less bad.
The choices are at every level. The General has to decide whether to take a town or not, the Private has to decide whether to peer around a corner or not. And at the end of the day, based on those choices, families are either struck hard, or not struck at all. For those that pay the cost, the knowledge that good was done can never be more than partial recompense. Hence, Memorial Day: one day a year for a nation to acknowledge that a very small subset among them has paid far more than their fair share, allowing most Americans to dodge the bill.
So says Associated Press, which says that they're throwing in the towel as far as their nuclear weapons program is concerned. If true, this is a major triumph for US diplomacy and a definite positive step.
Still, let's be sure that we trust but verify on the dismantling after what happened the last time ...
Prediction: If this in fact pans out, people who have previously argued that the North Korean diplomacy was a complete failure will now start arguing that this would have happened anyway regardless of what the US did.
UPDATE: I've gotten some mail to the effect that it's going to take a lot more than reassuring words as far as Kim Jong Il's pledges are concerned. This is why I thought I stressed verification - as part of any agreement. Joe's Dartblog also provides some helpful commentary on the situation.
This was just too classic. Reader Tom Holsinger directs us to the good folks at NK-News.NET, who've collected every piece of the Mordor-state's lunatic Stalinist ravings since December 1996 and put it online via their ST.A.L.I.N. search engine. Congrats on the Yahoo! News coverage, too.
As nifty addenda, N-K News offers the world's first Stalinist RSS feed (The New Statesman probably has too many crypto-bourgeois deviants to qualify) - and best of all, the North Korea insult generator! Here's what the man who obviously murdered every barber in his entire country had to say about Winds of Change.NET:
"You black-hearted political dwarf, we will thwart your frantic attempts to stifle us!"
"You extra-large warmonger [JK: "yeah, baby!"], your ridiculous clamour for "human rights" is nothing but a shrill cry!"
The Kos Kidz only wish they were this good. Get insulted today!
As many of you know, Winds of Change.NET isn't my only blog these days. Here are a few of the articles I've been running on DefenseIndustryDaily.com, in case you've missed them - a combination of interesting tech and a bit of "defenseology" from the military/ organizational side of the ledger:
Other Items Include:
MQ-1 Predator plans; V-RAMBO; New semiconductors; battlefield visualization; Shoulder-fired missile defenses for planes; $1.5bn NORAD upgrade; 30,000 JDAMs; Ultralight 155mm howitzers; Halliburton; Navy program way over budget; F/A-22; What's this Joint Common Missile controversy?; BAE buys M2 Bradley manufacturer for $4bn; British to privatize their aerial tanker fleet for $25bn?; Turkey's turkey of an idea; South Korea increasing defense budgets.
The construction of cellular relay stations last fall along the Chinese side of the border has allowed some North Koreans in border towns to use prepaid Chinese cellphones to call relatives and reporters in South Korea, defectors from North Korea say. And after DVD players swept northern China two years ago, entrepreneurs collected castoff videocassette recorders and peddled them in North Korea. Now tapes of South Korean soap operas are so popular that state television in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, is campaigning against South Korean hairstyles, clothing and slang, visitors and defectors have said.
"In the 1960's in the Soviet Union, it was cool to wear blue jeans and listen to rock and roll," said Andrei Lankov, a Russian exchange student in the North at Kim Il Sung University in 1985, who now teaches about North Korea at Kookmin University here in the South. "Today, it is cool for North Koreans to look and behave South Korean, as they do in the television serials. That does not bode well for the long-term survival of the regime."Perhaps North Korea's Hairstylist-in-Chief should consider adjusting his own puffy coif to match the times. When hairstyles threaten a regime, it's just a matter of time before its reign is finished.
Armed Liberal's Paging Mel Brooks... was a darkly funny look at some pretty unfunny media malfeasance and stupidity. Lots of bloggers piling on here, and deservedly so. Of all the regimes to shill for, North Korea's has a vileness that almost beggars description. Great Duranty's ghost!
Anyway, Hugh Hewitt compiles all the blogger links and leads the charge. He isn't a real blogger because he has no permalinks, just temporary ones (Hugh, buddy, fix that!). This is his best piece, noting the LA Times' stonewalling, advancing the 'South Africa test', and pointing out that the reporter has a history of writings that raise further questions about her. Ms. Demick then sends Hugh a letter, which he mercilessly fisks.
As he should. Hugh writes:
"Demick's is a wholly contrived response, one that does not answer why a front-page story carried verbatim the propaganda of the North Korean "businessman"/"official"/intelligence agent. Given that Demick found it necessary - in her March 3, 2004 article on the scientist alleging the use of chemicals on prisoners and her February 10, 2004 article on the same subject - to include disclaimers about the ability to "prove" the allegations being made, why were no such disclaimers found in yesterday's piece? (It would be useful if the Times would make Demick's articles on North Korea available free of charge for the many interested parties to review first hand.)
But there is a bigger flaw in her argument. That Demick wrote a February 12, 2004 article on chronic malnutrition in North Korea tells us nothing about her record, and that article, as detailed as it is about the effects of hunger, never assigns responsibility for the conditions in the country, and there is nothing in the last two years by Demick that can fairly be characterized as a comprehensive or even moderately comprehensive review of the human rights record of the despot."
Yup. Here's the best test:
"Read the [annual Human Rights] report and ask yourself if Ms. Demich has fairly conveyed the gist of the State Department's report."
Implied: "...or soft-pedaled it." It's a very legitimate point. Moral clarity matters, and so does credibility and judgment.
In the past, the Times' refusal to print any of the negative letters or criticisms it has received would have ended the matter, and their disgraceful shilling for the world's most evil regime would have remained a non-issue. I'm encouraged by the accountability change that's beginning to hold reporters and editors to account for behaviour like this.
Franz Liebkind: Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer.On the front page of the L.A. Times today:
Franz Liebkind: Hitler... there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in ONE afternoon! TWO coats!
Max Bialystock: That's exactly why we want to produce this play. To show the world the true Hitler, the Hitler you loved, the Hitler you knew, the Hitler with a song in his heart.
N. Korea, Without the Rancor - A businessman speaks his mind about the U.S., the 'nuclear club' and human rights issues.Now one thing to note is this:
This North Korean, an affable man in his late 50s who spent much of his career as a diplomat in Europe, has been assigned to help his communist country attract foreign investment. With the U.S. and other countries complaining about North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its human rights record, it's a difficult task, he admitted.So "businessman" might be the wrong word to use? "Government functionary?" "Diplomat?" There's a kind of complete lack of understanding of how a Stalinist government operates here that's breathtaking. You know who gets to be diplomats? You know who gets to enter into foreign trade? Hint: they aren't representatives of the private business sector. But wait, it gets better!
"There's never been a positive article about North Korea, not one," he said. "We're portrayed as monsters, inhuman, Dracula … with horns on our heads."See Mel Brooks quotes, above.
So, in an effort to clear up misunderstandings, he expounded on the North Korean view of the world in an informal conversation that began one night this week over beer as North Korean waitresses sang Celine Dion in the karaoke restaurant, and resumed the next day over coffee.
The North Korean, dressed in a cranberry-colored flannel shirt and corduroy trousers, described himself as a businessman with close ties to the government. He said he did not want to be quoted by name because his perspective was personal, not official. Because North Koreans seldom talk to U.S. media organizations, his comments offered rare insight into the view from the other side of the geopolitical divide.
And if I described myself as the king of the Space Unicorns, would the Times cite me in a headline as "your Majesty?"
You've got to read the whole farcical thing...
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous Year of the Rooster.
The round-up has four key areas of focus:
Economy and Lifestyle
History, Sport and Culture
The Word Unheard has an interesting post covering North Korean arms shipments to the hilariously-named Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines. Astuteblogger has further reports.
North Korea's utterly failed economy, appetite for cash, and willingness to sell weapons to anyone are all well known. If they are in fact arming al-Qaeda affiliates, it adds a new dimension to debates about their nuclear and missile programs.
Also on tap: South Korea cracking down on "planned defections," U.S. neocons launch offensive on Seoul, Japan gets ticked off mightily at North Korea, the times might SOON be a'changin in Pyongyang, and much, much more!