Rocket Redo

I'm your rocket man!

On 25 March—from a position safely outside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea—US President Barack Obama warned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) against taking any “provocative” measures.

It was a meaningless warning of empty rhetoric. For years this regime has drawn attention to itself in order to gain benefits, much as a horrid little child would by throwing a tantrum until mommy gives in and provides more treats. That is approximately the level of sophistication the US and other nations have demonstrated in dealing with North Korea, a socialist dictatorship featuring the usual famine and prison camps for detractors and special privileges for ruling elites.

In Father’s Footsteps

 The rogue state has tried launching missiles before and has conducted nuclear tests despite warnings and threats from the US and other countries. It engaged in negotiated Six-Party Talks including Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and the US, committing to more peaceful activity in exchange for fuel and food aid. That was under the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il, who died last December. The new boss, Kim’s son Kim Jong-un, needs to prove himself a worthy heir.

Less than 30 days after Obama’s stern admonition, DPRK announced it was launching yet another long-range missile, which it attempted on 13 April. The big rocket blew up and crashed into the Yellow Sea shortly after launching, just as previous tests under the purview of the “Dear Leader” had similarly failed. This did not deter the celebrations which followed.

More Rockets

The nascent leader and “First Secretary” celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, by reading a long, boring speech before an assembled crowd. There followed the usual military parades with more big rockets in evidence. This led to speculation that more launches and perhaps more nuclear testing may be forthcoming.

More Talks

It is likely that more “talks” will take place, perhaps the much-vaunted series of Six-Party Talks will be resumed. Last time they accomplished little more than seat North Korea at the table as an equal, yet another treat for the strident socialist dictatorship.

The United Nations has already “strongly condemned” the latest rocket launch. Ouch. There will be a lot of diplomatic manoeuvring and empty threats over perhaps a number of months. In the end the North Korean regime will likely remain, having promised to behave itself in exchange for continued aid. China will obstruct any serious moves to curtail North Korea because it prefers to keep a buffer against South Korea, where the US has a continuing military presence.

 Winners and Losers

The winners will again be the elite in this insignificant dictatorship in northeast Asia. The losers will be the population outside Pyongyang and in the gulag-style prisons who will continue to starve while the establishment in the capital carries on.

©Copyright 2012 Edward Podritske

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