I don’t know exactly how it will unfold, but I know something‘s cooking with North Korea. Perhaps it’ll be President Donald’s first test out of the gate, perhaps it will be his Cuban Missile Crisis moment–perhaps his first war–I don’t know, but I know when I read three different stories about North Korea in twenty minutes then turn on Fox to hear yet a fourth story about the same country blasting over the airwaves, that it warrants a #WTWOF–What To Watch Out For…
Below are the stories. The first three were all in today’s Wall Street Journal. The fourth is from yesterday’s Journal but it was the one I heard discussed when I turned on Fox this afternoon.
In a nutshell, these stories tell us that North Korea is very bad; that they are lighting off nukes like firecrackers; that they might attack South Korea at any moment and maybe us too; that they will take advantage of a changing of the guard in the US to test our limits; that the humanitarian thing to do–and the legal, treaty-imposed thing to do– will be to go at them with all we’ve got and show ’em who’s boss; and that South Korea could go soft so we might have to make sure they know what’s good for them–oh, and China!
I’m no fan of communists (nor fascists) nor dictators (nor demagogues), but this combo of telling us how bad North Korea is, how it’s in our interests militarily and economically to crush them, and how we have a moral obligation to do something about that awful country and do it hard–well, I can’t help but think the military-industrial complex might not be agitating for another Korean War for some reason other than the good of “We The People.”
A Dangerous Moment in Korea
Pyongyang could misjudge scandal in Seoul and transition in the U.S.
The danger is that this could be a moment when the North’s regime thinks it can take advantage. Dictator Kim Jong Un is unpredictable at the best of times. But he and his military could misinterpret the noise of democratic debate and accountability in the South as a sign of weakness. Perhaps he might use the next round of U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises scheduled for February as an excuse for an attack or land grab.
The isolated North may also mistake the U.S. political transition as an opening. In glib campaign moments this year, Donald Trump suggested that South Korea and Japan ought to be able to defend themselves and U.S. forces might come home. The President-elect has since walked that back, and in a postelection phone call with Ms. Park he confirmed that the U.S. will fulfill its treaty obligations to defend the South.
Notable & Quotable: North Korean Freedom
‘A hope placed in human hearts by God cannot be removed by Kim Jong-un.’
Former President George W. Bush, speaking Tuesday in Dallas:
North Korea also presents the greatest, sustained humanitarian challenge of our time. The whole country is a prison, run by a sadistic warden. The North Korean people have suffered decades of oppression, and famine, and violence. By controlling access to the broader world, the North Korean government has tried to make this nightmare seem normal to its victims.
Some argue that the spirit of the North Korean people has been beaten into submission so total that opposition is unthinkable. We don’t believe that here. The desire for freedom, like the dignity of the person, is universal. A hope placed in human hearts by God cannot be removed by Kim Jong-un. The regime attempts to control every mind, every tongue, every life. But the refugees with us today demonstrate that no oppressor can control the soul. The North Korean people are pleading in silence for their freedom. And the world needs to listen. And the world needs to respond.
Embattled South Korean President Park Opens Door to Leaving Office
Leader stops short of resigning in nationally televised speech, leaving her fate in hands of legislature
The U.S. relies on South Korea as an important bulwark against the threat from North Korea, which has made progress on its nuclear program. Uncertainties also surround China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy, as well as the U.S. political transition to the presidency of Donald Trump, who threatened during his campaign to dial back the U.S. security presence in Asia.
A drawn-out and disorderly transfer of power in South Korea would add further uncertainty. If Ms. Park’s ruling conservative party loses power, its hard line on North Korea would likely give way to a softer approach.
U.N. Is Poised to Tighten Sanctions on North Korea Over Nuclear Programs
Resolution aims to close loopholes and squeeze Pyongyang of revenues
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday is set to adopt a U.S.-led resolution aimed at slashing North Korea’s coal-export revenue by 60% in response to the country’s nuclear test in September, U.S. officials said….
The resolution, negotiated between U.S. and China over two months, is considered a milestone in the Security Council’s efforts to hold North Korea accountable for repeated violations of sanctions, imposed since 2006, that prohibit the country from conducting ballistic missile and nuclear activities.