Monday, June 01, 2009

On Missing the Signs in the North

Pandolfini's Sixth Commandment of Chess:
Rely on your own powers. If you cannot see the point of your opponent's move, assume there isn't any.

The rhetoric coming out of the DPRK and the wave after wave of provocative DPRK actions are beginning to disturb me. One used to be able count on the DPRK to issue pronouncements that were once snide, defiant and self-pitying. One could also observe the DPRK leadership gearing the provocations up or down in attempt to maximize the country's ability to extort concessions from those engaging in dialogue with it.

However, the wilder-than-usual pronuncements and the rush of missile and nuclear tests have an end-of-days insouciance to them. In my nightmares, a dying and pain-wracked Kim Jong-Il decides to go down in a blaze of chiliastic glory, hating everyone and everything and wishing only to make everyone suffer.

Would it not be ironic if all the years of trying to overturn the simplistic view of the leaders of the DPRK – that they are crazy and cannot be reasoned with -- in favor of a view of them being shrewd manipulators of situations, brilliantly maximizing the impact of their meager resources and capabilities —- that this grant of grudging respect ends up blinding us to mounting signs of serious stress in the collective behavior of the DPRK?

This government pronouncement in particular deeply troubles me. When a government descends to the level of a gross vulgarity, as the above pronouncement seems to, then one has to worry about the possibility that indeed nobody is in charge up there... which would make the examination of an autonomous Japanese preemptive strike capacity seem less of a theoretical examination and more of a possibly necessary option.

1 comment:

Jan Moren said...

It does have the feel of an internal power struggle leaking out into the open. A couple of relatives vying for power, and the military perhaps no longer content being under control of the ruling family. Things may well get more interesting before the succession is determined (or the country collapses in the process).