Making Sense of North Korea

Time to admit that North Korea wants a nuclear arsenal more than anything else.

The old definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. The new definition, which applies only in the case of North Korea, is: doing something different and expecting a different result.

The North Koreans have been pursuing a nuclear arsenal for a couple of decades. We have tried negotiating; we've tried cutting off negotiations; we've tried threatening them; we've tried ignoring them, and we've tried whistling "Camptown Races" while standing on our heads. Nothing has made any visible difference. Come rain or come shine, they keep pursuing a nuclear arsenal.

So it should have come as no surprise when the Pyongyang government conducted a nuclear test, the third it has done. Given the regime's record, it was not a matter of if it would light the fuse but only a matter of when.

Maybe it was significant that the explosion took place the same day as President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Maybe it was significant that it occurred before rather than after the inauguration of a new South Korean president. Maybe it was an auspicious day in the eyes of the regime's astrologers and Tarot card readers. Or maybe none of this stuff played any role whatsoever.

As for why, that question is easier. The common assumption is that North Korea is playing a high-stakes game aimed at impressing or coercing the United States, or South Korea, or Japan, or China or its own populace. But the better explanation is the simpler one. It does these things because it wants a nuclear weapon more than anything else in the world.

Why? Same reason we wanted one. Same reason the Soviet Union felt impelled to follow suit. Same reason China did likewise.

Same reason all the other existing nuclear powers insisted on getting nuclear weapons: because they have a value that is both enormous and unparalleled. They tell other countries, "You cannot eliminate us except by assuring your own destruction."

North Korea has obvious reasons to prize this guarantee. To begin with, it is small, poor, backward, short on friends and long on enemies. Those facts have always furnished excellent arguments for the security blanket offered only by the bomb.

But in this century, the incentive got sharper. In 2002, following the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush described North Korea as part of an "an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world." The other members were Iraq and Iran. The U.S. proceeded to invade Iraq to topple its government, and it called for "regime change" in Iran, as well—with some people in Washington favoring military action to bring it about.

The North Koreans had no trouble counting to three, and they didn't need a map to see who might come next. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed their fears with a secret 2003 memo, leaked to the press, endorsing regime change there, as well.

President Bill Clinton's administration coaxed the North Koreans into signing an agreement to halt their nuclear program. But they cheated on the deal, and when the Bush administration exposed the fraud, the U.S. initiated a tougher policy. That didn't work either. In 2006, Pyongyang carried out its first nuclear detonation.

When Obama took office, his secretary of state made conciliatory gestures toward North Korea. What happened? Oh, you can guess. Within months, it launched a long-range missile and carried out a second nuclear test.

The assumption among both doves and hawks is that there is some action we can take that will show the regime the error of its ways. Hawks are the latest to have their turn: An editorial in The Wall Street Journal urged the president to threaten military strikes so Pyongyang knows "it faces a choice of giving up the bomb or failing."

But that's not a credible threat. The regime has outlasted many forecasts of failure. And it can respond to any attack by using one of its nuclear weapons. But it doesn't even need that option: With a mass of artillery and rocket launchers within range of Seoul, it is fully capable of turning the capital into a "sea of fire," to use its charming phrase.

The North Koreans are staunchly resolved to build a nuclear arsenal. We may entertain fantasies that we can stop them. But they know better.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Maybe it was significant that the explosion took place the same day as President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

    The Koreans did the test on that day because they knew the world would not notice but instead be fixated on Obama's speech. Ha! I'm just yanking your chain. No one cared what was coming out Obama's pie hole. Kim figured the world wouldn't notice because everyone was watching Christopher Dorner get executed, and event people were actually interested in.

  • Loyce-Meyers||

    like Billy implied I'm taken by surprise that some one can make $6825 in four weeks on the internet. have you seen this website... http://www.ace60.com

  • Counterfly Guard||

    Norks Nuke while Porks Torch Puke?

  • Question of Auban||

    Have you hear of “Nothing left to lose”? North Korean leaders, rightly or wrongly, believe they are in that position. Maybe if we traded with them – you know, like we do with both China and Vietnam – they would not be as hostile to us.

  • Counterfly Guard||

    Don't be daft. Republicans could never go for that or they'd be booted in their primary.

    Dems could never go for that because they don't give a shit about NK peasants or promoting world peace.

  • Question of Auban||

    Oh, sorry, I forgot that the Republican Party stopped supporing capitalism long ago.

  • Counterfly Guard||

    I thought it was pretty obvious with how they voted on bailouts, TARP, ROMBAMACARE and increasing regulations on everything and its brother.

    But they'd mostly vote no because if we don't boycott the Norks, they'll invade a la Red Dawn and then your kids will be raised by Norks, and while that'd be fine with you and your Nork loving way, that shit don't fly in [insert Red state].

  • Question of Auban||

    I heard about the changes made to the Red Dawn remake and thought they were hilarious. The original Red Dawn was a great film given the geopolitical situation at the time. Any remake of it that would be set in our current period would be absurd – these are simply different time. Plus, China would be far more realistic a threat than – North Korea!?!?!?!? I think Lichtenstein would be a bigger threat than North Korea if it wanted to invade.

  • Counterfly Guard||

    Yes, I agree with all of that, except I found the fact that they changed it sad instead of hilarious. Although I understand, since I guess they make a ton of money in China. Anyway I heard it was terrible, and it looked terrible, and they should have remade it with all the original people, and instead of like a high school partisan group, they could have been from a nursing home.

    Sort of a Bubba Ho-Tep/Red Dawn mash up. With a CGI Swayze.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Although I understand, since I guess they make a ton of money in China.

    Why would the Chinese get offended by a movie depiction of them conquering their biggest geo-political rival, even if the ragtag Americans win in the end? You'd think such an escapist fantasy would draw in the crowds.

  • Adam||

    Because it showed them as the aggressors.....and not very nice....I'm guessing, since I never actually saw that version, or the one with the Democratic People's Repulic of Korea for that matter.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I seriously doubt the government would allow the crowds to have a choice. Though they did allow V For Vendetta to be shown on TV unedited last year, so they do occasionally surprise.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    The original Red Dawn was a great film given the geopolitical situation at the time.

    If I remember the original, Russians were pretty rare in the all-conquering Commie hordes. It was Cubans backed by Russians, a notion as absurd as North Koreans.

  • entropy||

    In Red Dawn, it was I think Cubans and Nicaraguans that happened to be in the rural area where the movie took place, with Russians and whatnot in other parts of the country.

  • Frank_Carbonni||

    The original was the Soviets that invaded the US, but they did have Cuban and Nicaraguan allies stationed in the US to assist with counter-insurgency.

  • Loki||

    Dems could never go for that because they don't give a shit about NK peasants or promoting world peace.

    Not to mention North Korea is the best example of their ideology in action. If we were able to get them to open up more to the rest of world, then people would see what the end result of the total state is really like. Can't have that, now can we?

  • wareagle||

    trade what with them? The Norks have been a no-hope zone for decades now, and they seem to like it that way.

  • Counterfly Guard||

    Trade for their nukes, obviously.

  • Question of Auban||

    Go back 30 years and you could have said the same about Vietnam. Once Nike Shoe company finds out they are open for business they will be making sneakers in no-time.

  • Adam||

    Interesting thought. However, South Vietnam has been under Communist control since the early-mid 70's, yet North Korea has been under much more strict Communist control since the mid-50's. I

    like your optimism, but I don't see Pyongyang giving western private companies such a wonderful privilege. Unless you're aware of some recent developments that I'm not.

  • Question of Auban||

    This is an interesting article on the topic.

    http://www.economist.com/news/.....sed-people

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Hmm, I wonder how the (unnamed) author got this information out of North Korea?

  • robc||

    The same way any information gets out of North Korea?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Not much does unless it's available by satellite or seismograph. And the author doesn't mention how he got the info about smuggled SD cards or even seem to think it's surprising he would have it.

  • Sevo||

    "The Chosun path"
    Boo! Hiss!
    But interesting article. Supposedly 25% of the food for sale in the Soviet Union just prior to collapse was black-market. The government knew it, but couldn't stop it since it would have meant starvation and food riots. Kim is 'way less concerned, but if the number is big enough, his army could suffer and that might get his attention.
    And re the bent border guards: When I visited the great wall, I asked the guide how the Mongols defeated the thing. He shrugged and said 'they bribed somebody'.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yeah, Kim il-Sung was much crazier than Ho Chi Minh or Fidel or Mao. NK is in its own category.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨but I don't see Pyongyang giving western private companies¨

    Under the Sunshine policy there were plenty of South Korean businesses doing manufacturing in Kaesong industrial zone. Hyundai (whose founder was born in the North) also had extensive operations going on there.

    Can´t really say I´m surprised nobody seems aware of this. South Korean business persons liked the cheap wages but found the work force lacking in initiative, and for a Korean, that´s saying something!

  • DJF||

    Kaesŏng Industrial Park is open for business. Get your cheap labor here. Comes with North Korean secret police to keep your workers in line.

    “”””In 2012 wages were estimated at about $160 per month, about one-fifth of the South Korean minimum wage, and about a quarter of typical Chinese wages”””

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K.....ial_Region

  • DJF||

    How about instead the US pull its troops out of South Korea and leave things to the locals.

    No more warfare welfare. If the South Koreans actually feared North Korea they would spend more then 2% GDP on defense.

  • Alex the wolf||

    Trade what?

  • ||

    Cheap labor.

  • Homple||

    "Maybe if we traded with them – you know, like we do with both China and Vietnam – they would not be as hostile to us."

    If we traded with them, what do you think they would provide us?

    You're being silly, right?

  • Adam||

    Thanks Mr. Chapman, I learned absolutely nothing new from this article.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "The North Koreans are staunchly resolved to build a nuclear arsenal. "

    Most North Koreans are staunchly resolved to find their next meal.

    This verbal nonsense of speaking of a ruling class as if it were the entire country is a massive conceptual confusion, and is particularly obscene in this Stalinist caricature.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "and is particularly obscene in this Stalinist caricature"

    Essence of Chapman, available at lesser stores and writing outlets.

  • grey||

    You're right on this, journalists should take more care to differentiate between the Government and it's enslaved people. It's a luxury journalists have that is unfortunately lost once a confict occurs - but it's a luxury they should avail themselves.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    True, but everyone knows what that means, and it would be needlessly verbose when talking about international politics if you had to always refer to "the government of _______" instead of just the country name.

  • Libertymike||

    One man's needless verbosity is another man's accurate, comprehensive, pithy, vivid and truthful accounting. The former is anti-intellectual claptrap, the latter, the opposite.

  • R C Dean||

    The former is anti-intellectual claptrap, the latter, the opposite.

    Pro-intellectual claptrap?

  • prolefeed||

    True, but everyone knows what that means

    Not really. If every mention of international affairs was accurate and said something like "a tiny handful of the ruling class of country X want to do policy Y", it would lend clarity of thought and make certain article premises seem ludicrous.

    For example, replacing "taxes" with "government theft" makes most op-eds on the topic seem out of touch with reality.

  • granite state destroyer||

    North Korea doesn't need nukes to protect against outside threats, and these nukes present no threat to Japan or South Korea. These nukes are to protect the Kims and their hangers-on from internal threats. The biggest threat to the regime's existence is that one day the Chinese will get tired of providing financial support, there will be no more money to keep the officer class happy, the internal controls break down, refugees start streaming into China and the whole place collapses like a house of cards - complete, naturally, with vicious retribution by the people against the current rulers. The nuclear weapons are the ace card the Kims now have to keep the Chinese anteing up. The Kims want the price for North Korean instability to be too high for any of the neighbors to accept, and having nukes lying around is one way to ensure that price stays high.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Correct, but it also keeps the US and others anteing up, not just China.

    Madeline Albright doesn't deliver autographed basketballs to just anyone, you know.

    Oh, and BOOOSH!

  • Almanian!||

    North Korea doesn't need nukes

    They don't "need" 30 round magazines, either, but I bet they have plenty.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    YOU DON'T NEED 30 BULLETS TO KILL A YAK.

    (or whatever the equivalent of a deer in Korea is)

  • Sevo||

    "(or whatever the equivalent of a deer in Korea is)"
    A rat. Anything larger has already been eaten.

  • Sevo||

    And do I detect a hanging participle?

  • mtrueman||

    ¨refugees start streaming into China¨

    I´m sure the Chinese are capable of sealing the border, and aren´t averse to mowing them down as they stream in anyhow. I doubt the Chinese are going to be held hostage by the North Koreans. They tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea because it is safe from US invasion. That makes it a safe buffer.

  • granite state destroyer||

    You're missing my point. The Chinese have the border sealed now. If the Chinese ever decide the Kims have to leave the stage, all they really need to do is open that border and North Korea would be history in about 24 hours. I don't think the Kims like being so dependent on Chinese goodwill. The threat of nuclear instability gives the Kims some independence.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨nuclear instability¨

    I don´t understand what you mean by nuclear instability. Every country that has acquired nuclear weapons has with them acquired a measure of stability. Think of the latest acquisitions: when was the last Arab Israeli conflict, before or after Israel acquired its nuclear weapons, same holds for Pakistan and India.

  • granite state destroyer||

    Nuclear instability is what happens if the Kims are violently deposed and no one knows who has the launch codes.

  • mtrueman||

    If North Korea were disposed, they could raze Seoul several times over without using nuclear weapons. They have conventional weapons capable of this. Is this the stability you upset by introducing nuclear weapons into the picture?

    I urge you to familiar yourself with the concept of a nuclear deterrent. I write about it briefly here:
    http://mtrueman.blogspot.mx/20.....tests.html

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Wy would American manufacturers wish to enter North Korea?

    "Ah the new 2016 Air Jordans, now with 50% more Deathcamp labor"

  • fish_remote||

    ...it's a dessert topping!

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Designed in California. Made (with bones of orphans) in North Korea.

  • Loki||

    So was this test actually successful or was it another dud? Either way, we still have way more bombs than they do.

  • mtrueman||

    But America also has more civilians than North Korea, and democracies hate to suffer civilian casualties even more than military ones.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    NK's missiles can't even reach Guam, let alone any heavily populated parts of the US.

  • mtrueman||

    There´s a substantial American embassy in Seoul you might be overlooking.

  • DJF||

    I thought the official US position was that we did not care what happens to ambassadors and diplomatic facilities

    A month later we will just say "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

  • mtrueman||

    Seems to be the official position of the commenters at Reason as well.

  • Sevo||

    Gee, in answer to this:
    "heavily populated parts of the US"
    You respond with this:
    "There´s a substantial American embassy in Seoul you might be overlooking."

    It's not my pity you're getting; it's my amazement at your stupidity.

  • mtrueman||

    I welcome your amazement.

  • Sevo||

    You welcome my amazement at your stupidity?
    Well, de nada.
    Your stupidity seems to have no bounds.

  • grey||

    Does anyone know where the peace loving anti-nuke Democrats went? I've looked in every state of the Union, I think they've been kidnapped, I have a bad feeling about what may have happened to them.

    I can't even find a new anti-war action set at Wal-Mart these days to stage fake peace loving demonstrations outside my Milinnium Falcon (which stands in for the WH).

  • ||

    They are anti-nuke! They desire peace so much, they're willing to declare war over it!

    Sadly, this is the modern Democratic narrative on war.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Asshole. I always wanted the Falcon but my mom got me the stupid GR-75 Medium Troop Transport instead. Fucking giant plastic silverfish.

  • Nuked||

    They are busy protesting nuclear plants claiming that they = nuclear bombs.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Since the North Koreans have nukes, I do not see why South Korea or Japan don't have nukes. Seriously, the NPT is "gun control" writ large enough for nations. All it leads to is cops and goons with a bunch of law-abiding victims waiting to get slaughtered in between.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    A nuclear weapons exchange has much larger external effects than a gunfight.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Relative to the scale (nation vs. an individual) guns are a good analog to nukes - they don't hurt but kill the object of the violence.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tulpa,

    A nuclear weapons exchange has much larger external effects than a gunfight.


    In terms of what? Radiation? What kind of external effects would you see if South Korea and Japan remained with NO weapons to balance the situation?

    Maybe a firefight between a perp and his female victim would have some sort of collateral damage, but asking the potential victim to take it and like it just so you have peace of mind seems arrogant.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Right, the alternative to nuclear weapons is no weapons? You're providing a starker caricature of Reasonoids' black and white thinking than I'd ever imagined.

  • Nuked||

    What is the alternative to nukes?

    Although I would rather certain nations not posses this power, it is idiotic to think that proliferation can be stopped. Technology continues to progress to make enrichment an easier and easier task making stopping all of our enemies from developing one of these a more and more futile task.

  • Sevo||

    What sort of advancing tech aids enrichment?

  • robc||

    Does reason think it is a bank or something?

  • OldMexican||

    The North Koreans had no trouble counting to three [after seeing how Iraq was invaded and Iran is being threatened], and they didn't need a map to see who might come next.


    Well, you can also add that the violent deposing of Qaddafi just after he was convinced to stop his WMD program did not help the North Korean military junta to harbor better sentiments of trust for the Americans. Stupid, they ain't.

  • Cyto||

    For those who haven't seen it yet, the Vice Guide to North Korea is must see TV. The staging that the North Korean government does for the duo from ViceTV is amazing, and extremely revealing. The place really is as nutty as advertised.

    After that, watch their guide to Liberia. Amazing, horrifying and heartbreaking. Great documentary.

  • entropy||

    Also a Vice guide about north korean labor camps in siberia.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awQDLoOnkdI

  • Cyto||

    Under the heading of "truth is stranger than fiction", the Russian police are the cool people they meet in Siberia.

  • Sevo||

    In Russia the police...
    Also notice the Russian mob gets involved.

  • Vernon||

    my neighbor's step-mother makes $64 hourly on the computer. She has been without work for seven months but last month her pay check was $17761 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site http://www.fb26.com

  • mtrueman||

    I might as well repost some thoughts on North Korea from here.

    US President has called North Korea´s latest detonation of an atomic weapon a ¨provocative act¨ and a threat.
    What Obama seems to be missing is that for a nuclear deterrent to work, the weapons have to be functioning and seen to be functioning, and the owners of the weapons have to be seen to have every intention to use them, should the occasion arise. Without these deterrence won´t work. This is true of every nation that possesses nuclear weapons, and I see no reason to expect anything different from North Korea. North Korea, in acquiring nuclear weaponry, has simply put itself on a par with the other nuclear nations. The threats and provocations from North Korea are no different from those of any of the nuclear nations that wish to maintain a credible deterrence.

  • mtrueman||

    We see much speculation in the press on how China is finally going to be forced to reign in North Korea. This has been going on for almost a decade now, and North Korea has in this time developed nuclear weapons and gained the ability to launch satellites into space. With the recent election in Japan of the most bellicose government in decades, a government that is directly provoking China herself over the issue of the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, Korea seems destined for the back burner, at least as far as China is concerned. Nevertheless, after the test, China released a statement calling for peace and stability and a denuclearized Korean peninsula. I think these sentiments might be closer to the hearts of North Korea than the USA and allies.
    We might not have noticed, but the week before this test the USA and South Korea were engaged in military exercises in the waters of the peninsula´s east coast. These exercises are routinely held and essentially they are preparing to attack North Korea. Imagine a bunch of guys parked on the street outside your home and going through a dry run on burning down your house and killing you. Most of us would react, and the North Koreans are no different. Last week they condemned the exercises and said they were open to peace talks. No response. This week nuclear tests.

  • mtrueman||

    I have to agree with both the Chinese and the North Koreans here. There should, at long last, be peace talks on the Korean peninsula. The Korean war has gone on long enough, and continuing it serves no purpose I can see. It´s a shame that Obama and the USA can´t endorse this idea.

    Posted orignally here:
    http://mtrueman.blogspot.mx/20.....tests.html

  • Sevo||

    Nice try, but in order to negotiate, both sides have to see a possibility of gain.
    Kim gets nothing. In fact, he loses for every bit of glastnost that occurs in NK. And there is one and one only NK opinion that matters; his.

  • mtrueman||

    The North Koreans (and South) would get an end of the Korean war. A formal ending. This is something that North Korea (and China) have been after for decades. The North Koreans already have a formal armistice with USA, but not South Korea.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman| 2.18.13 @ 1:24PM |#
    ..."This is something that North Korea (and China) have been after for decades."...

    What possible gain is there in that? You think Kim gives a hoot? Why would he?
    I think you're confusing propaganda for fact.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Look at the blog his name links to. Or rather, don't. It's Nork sympathizer pastiche.

  • mtrueman||

    I sympathize with North Koreans and South Koreans. That will definitely offend some people. No apologies offered.

  • mtrueman||

    What gain is there in continuing the war? Looking forward to an even larger North Korean nuclear arsenal?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman| 2.18.13 @ 2:47PM |#
    "What gain is there in continuing the war? Looking forward to an even larger North Korean nuclear arsenal?"

    You did see a question there, right? And you just ignored it and offered a non-sequitur, right?
    And you're a Nork sympathizer, right?
    And when did your brain leak out?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    And NK's desire for a formal end to the war has led them to dig invasion tunnels into the south, shell disputed islands, and attack SK vessels in their own waters. surrrrre.

  • mtrueman||

    If you think that formally ending this war is going to be easy, you don´t know Koreans, North, South, East or West. Still taking them at their word, and with Chinese and US backing, it might be possible.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman| 2.18.13 @ 2:52PM |#
    "If you think that formally ending this war is going to be easy, you don´t know Koreans, North, South, East or West..."

    And after your brain leaked out, why did they replace it with mush?
    You are pathetic.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨You are pathetic.¨

    Thanks anyway, but I´ll get along fine without your pity.

  • Sevo||

    You're mistaken; call it disgust.

  • SeamusL||

    The DPRK will fall when the population gives up the charade, just like they did in the USSR. This is also how the US will fall: when the population collectively nods to one another, and admit that government is illegitimate.

  • granite state destroyer||

    The population didn't do a damn thing in the USSR. The elites nodded to each other when they realized they'd all be better off if they could actually own things, and agreed amongst themselves how to carve things up.

  • NihilistZerO||

    ^This^

    The USSR'ers saw the end game for communism that would have made them much like DPRK. They dropped the charade for their benefit not the proles.

  • WenkDenk||

    Isnt North Korea the best Korea?

    www.AnonPlanet.da.bz

  • jasno||

    Might as well repost this from the old Nork thread...


    I have a theory that nothing is going to change in N.Korea anytime soon. N.Korea is fairly rich in resources, which are currently being underutilized by the Norks. China would be the likely destination of anything extracted. If the Koreas reunite, China now has a large industrial competitor in charge of the resources. They also have a western nation smack dab on their border.

    I think China is powerful enough diplomatically to prevent a US base anywhere closer to their border than now. Hell, I think if we saw reunification we'd be under significant pressure to leave, causing the US military to lose an 'important foothold' in the region.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I bet the Phillippines is regretting making us close our bases and GTFO of there 20 years ago.

  • Reverendcaptain||

    reading some of the comments here makes it clear that a lot of people are not well read on the history of the Korean peninsula.

    As for the article, I'm not sure I get the point. Perhaps that there should be no effort to hinder nuclear development by the north. Considering the past (again, a little awareness of history helps a lot here), I can't imagine how anybody could believe that a NK with a vibrant nuclear program could be anything but disastrous for the region and beyond.

  • mtrueman||

    I stopped reading at ¨Camptown Races.¨ Did you actually reach the end?

    This Chapman chap is a travesty. There are Korean sources that are worth reading. Korea Times (centrist) and Hankyoreh (on the left). Heck, even the Moonie press in Korea is more sober and thoughtful that CNN, Fox and the American press.

  • Sevo||

    Reverendcaptain| 2.18.13 @ 5:39PM |#
    ..."As for the article, I'm not sure I get the point"...

    You (and trueman) should learn to read. From the article:
    "The North Koreans are staunchly resolved to build a nuclear arsenal. We may entertain fantasies that we can stop them. But they know better."

    Is that better?
    Yes, trueman, the article says the US should, and perhaps can, do little about the sleazy government for which you provide apologies.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

  • natebrau||

    I disagree with the premise of this article- nuclear weapons are only useful if they're second strike weapons. Meaning, after a first wave is launched, the ability to respond is still there, and guaranteed. If you want to be attacked, you build a deployable nuclear weapon and lack second strike capability. This is why nuclear submarines are so important, as they guarantee second strike capability from anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.

    The vast, vast majority of countries in this world (the ones who signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and actually believe in it) see the real risk of having nuclear weapons as vastly exceeding the benefits they give. The number of nuclear powers is tiny compared to non-nuclear powers. Countries like the Ukraine happily gave up all their inherited nuclear weapons after the fall of the Soviet Union. South Africa gave up all their nuclear weapons after Apartheid ended.

    North Korea is a Stalinist state, and the generals who run the place are far more afraid of each other than they are of the outside world. They just need a stick to wave around and threaten so that they're placated with enough foreign aid to keep them quiet until they need more Henessey.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨the generals who run the place are far more afraid of each other than they are of the outside world¨

    So I think this is delusional and I suspect you have no idea what you are talking about. I think the leadership of North Korea is pretty much solidly united, as policies that go unchanged though leaders come and go would indicate. If anything it´s the leadership of the South that is fractious, disunited and prone to swing back and forth according to the political winds. Just this sort of disunity in the South is often shrewdly exploited by the North.

    ¨The vast, vast majority of countries in this world¨

    So Belize, Palau, Bhutan, Burkina Faso outnumber China, India and Russia 4 to 3? Methinks a visit to primary school geography might be in order.

  • Sevo||

    "I think the leadership of North Korea is pretty much solidly united, as policies that go unchanged though leaders come and go would indicate."
    Uh, yes, the leaders who were ordained by the prior dictator, so consistency it not surprising.
    -----------------------
    "If anything it´s the leadership of the South that is fractious, disunited and prone to swing back and forth according to the political winds."
    Sort of like a non-dictatorship? Is that what you're suggesting?
    -----------------------
    "Just this sort of disunity in the South is often shrewdly exploited by the North."
    Sorry, there is nothing "shrewd" about a thug dictator, even if that asshole is the third of the lot.

  • natebrau||

    Until North Korea gets to a point where they're an actual threat, meaning, have a legitimate first strike capability (weaponised warhead, delivery vehicle which is accurate enough with enough range) and before they develop a legitimate second strike capability, they can detonate as many tests as they like. The more the better, since it exhausts their limited uranium-235 and plutonium-239 production capabilities.

    However, they're now trapped. They're in a very, very risky position. If they demonstrate too much success, they will be destroyed. If they demonstrate too much failure, they will be destroyed. So they'll blather and bloviate and hope and pray that they're thought of as too tough to mess with while they climb over each other to remain the General of the dung heap.

    Prediction- expect to see some North Korean failures and duds over the next year or two as they try to defuse the situation and buy time. Expect to see them keep working on some sort of second strike system, which will probably just consist of booby-trapping the few buildings in the few cities they've got, in the faint hope that anyone will bother to invade after they're launched their first strike. Haven't you wondered why the Ryugong hotel just got a lot of building activity going on in it?

  • Sevo||

    natebrau| 2.18.13 @ 8:44PM |#
    ..."Haven't you wondered why the Ryugong hotel just got a lot of building activity going on in it?"

    No, actually I haven't.
    But you raise some very interesting points. Any cites to suggest your views of the issue are correct?

  • Garth55||

    If you think Edward`s story is something,, 5 weaks-ago my sister's best friend basically brought home $6795 putting in a sixteen hour week from their apartment and they're best friend's mom`s neighbour has been doing this for 7-months and got a cheque for more than $6795 part time at there labtop. use the information on this web-site... http://WWW.FLY38.COM

  • homme nike air max TN||

    Maybe it was an auspicious day in the eyes of the regime's astrologers and Tarot card readers. Or maybe none of this stuff played any role whatsoever.

  • ygsrf||

    Kickoff to you with the online store 2013

  • jecobjesan||

    uptil I looked at the check which was of $4584, I be certain that my brothers friend woz like they say actualy bringing home money part time from there pretty old laptop.. there moms best frend haz done this for only about 10 months and resantly took care of the dept on there home and bourt a great new Acura. I went here, www.WOW92.com

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