Sunday, October 08, 2006

North Korea's nuclear test

Apparently, North Korea just tested a nuclear bomb. This fact came to my attention less than a minute ago, and I feel the need to record my thoughts at this historic event. It seems to me that the reactions to events like these are more significant than the events themselves. For instance, 9/11 and its response. So at this point, the thing that frightens me the most is an increase in the power of the Republican Party. If the American public reacts to this event by increasing their support for George Bush, we will face increased support for a belligerent, unintelligent leader. This is the same leader that (1) fucked up negotiations for preventing the occurrence of this very event and (2) probably increased North Korea's desire to have a bomb by his use of threatening rhetoric. Let's hope this support doesn't materialize. Any other thoughts? I'm feeling much less whimsical than I was when I wrote the previous post.

UPDATE:
Here's the best article I could find. I'm going to bed before I have to stay up all night reading about this.
Here's an article on North Korea's threatening rhetoric. Not looking good.

12 Comments:

Blogger Austin 5-000 said...

Let me just say that the reason I worry about the election, etc. is that it will have a direct impact on the outcome of this situation. Obivously the US is going to have a huge say in whether a bunch of Koreans, Japanese, or Americans get nuked by N. Korea. I don't think we should trust Bush to speak for us in this matter, given his performance so far. Not that any of us can do anything about it... also, constitutionally speaking he will be able to do whatever he wants no matter what, so I guess we're going to have to trust him.
Next question, then: What is Bush going to do?
I have no idea if an aggressive approach would gain any traction in this issue, but will the president and his advisors believe that? What does a nuclear North Korea mean for Iran, Iraq, etc?

10:55 PM  
Blogger Austin 5-000 said...

One possible, long-term outcome: NK keeps the bomb, but is deterred by our weapons. This is my prediction, unless we fuck it up somehow.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

I am awake and noticing this as it develops too. I must say that it's quite frightening, and also just so damn frustrating because as you say, we mucked up the prevention of just such an event a long time ago.

I've always thought that this column by Fred Kaplan is one of the best on the situation:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0405.kaplan.html

Basically, Clinton was right. Since NK is "hermetically sealed," as Kaplan says, Kim has no reason whatsoever to listen to anything other than answers to his direct demands. Clinton via Jimmy Carter set up an incentives package, but of course Bush & co looked upon this as "recognizing" and "legitimating" evil. The problem is, if you dismiss all your enemies as evil and refuse to talk to them, you're going to end up with a big-ass nuclear bomb in your face. The irony is that in the past few days, the headlines have been that NK might call off their test if only the "US would talk to them." This seems to be what they desire every time. Is it extortion? You bet. But goddamn, it's a *nuclear warfare-free* extortion. But as you'll remember, all the US' UN ambassadors and undersecretaries of state were saying things like "We will not live with a nuclear North Korea" this past week. I don't know which came first, our threats or North Korea's request for dialogue, but it sure doesn't matter now.

If you know the political mindset, the Republicans are now thinking what the best plan of action is that will get voters off their backs about the Foley scandal and restore confidence in foreign diplomacy. I don't think the answer is a military strike. The problem is, Bush has been so confrontational that any sort of bargaining will look like backpedaling. He's in a tight spot.

On the upside of things, this could be the straw that breaks China's back over NK. They've already been meeting with Japan and increasing their diplomatic ties (you'll remember that these people fucking hate each other, at least on a rabble-rousing level).

As for the Iran question, again I think Kaplan has the right idea. He has repeatedly said that since Iran's nuclear program is still in its initial stages, we should allow them to enrich uranium (which they don't seem willing to let go of) but cap their enrichment at 5% and monitor the hell out of it. I think more refusal on our part will just lead to another situation like this. The people in DC have got to realize that their damned morality doesn't matter in international diplomacy, because if you don't offer *anything* to an enemy they're sure not going to offer you anything back. Why does no one seem to understand this? Do we really think we can threaten Iran, NK, Syria, et al while losing a war? (Do we think that if we win the war, all the sudden our enemies will be afraid again? This is laughable; also, anyone with two eyes can see that Iraq isn't going where we want it.)

On a side note, I feel particularly weird being on the West Coast right now...a little too close for comfort!

12:02 AM  
Blogger curry king said...

Get ready for some 180's from the Bush administration. He is supposed to go on the air in a few minutes actually. In the wake of poor approval ratings because of the botched war in Iraq, I imagine Mr. Bush wants America to think he is a more composed, less reckless president than he actually is. And I'm sure the Republicans will come out and try to be the party of national security and missile defense whereas (note election in 4 weeks) but in reality, it was their ignorance that framed the current situation. But because a military option is just not plausible, Bush must advocate a diplomatic solution with Kim Jong Il and North Korea. What he doesn't want the American public to know is that we can fully blame him and the Republican party for failing to contain this threat.

From what I understand, there was no plutonium enriched by NK under Clinton, but after failed talks under Bush II, North Korea began an enrichment program enough for 6-10 bombs. It's clear that Bush allowed this to get out of hand because of his undue focus on the Iraq war in the past three years and his failure to engage in worthwhile diplomacy with NK beforehand. Like Austin 5000, I seriously hope this doesn't justify four more years of Republican rule and recklessness and I hope the public doesn't buy into their rhetoric on this issue. Iraqi tunnel vision is a beautiful thing Georgie boy.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Robot said...

Look, while Bush might have failed in preventing NK from getting the bomb, I'm not sure why everyone's first reaction is "blame Bush" (except as a nice way of ensuring, as I too desire, that his approval ratings don't go up). For God's sake, there's more than one country in this world, and everyone knows that Japan, China, and South Korea have done far too little as well to prevent such an outcome. The issue is this: NK is one of the most fucked up places (fucked up ruler, fucked up ideology, fucked up and starving masses) in the world. I'm not convinced that a) things could have been done to stop their uranium enrichment, and b) that anyone was actually willing to do wat it takes to stop their uranium enrichment, because as everyone has been noting, worse than a nuclear NK is a collapsed NK, with millions upon millions of refugees into China, and the rest left up to South Korea to take care of. As Kaplan also notes in his latest Slate piece (which is also quite excellent), China is well aware, in addition, that 30,000 less American troops on the NK-SK border means likley 30,000 more troops protecting Taiwan. I'm just not too quick to jump on the bash-Bush bandwagon at the moment. What I am going to do is see what the hell everyone else is going to do, now that the shit has hit the fan.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Robot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Robot, while your call for a more generous view is a fair first step, I don't see how one can look at all the evidence and conclude that the US doesn't shoulder much of the burden here. You're right, we're not ultimately responsible for NK's crazy dictator, but it's also clear that it has been US talks and US deals that have kept him at bay thus far. This past week NK has said nothing but "this is because of America" or "we want to talk to America." They haven't said a thing about Japan or South Korea, who are the ones directly threatened by NK but can't give them what they want. Now, this of course could be empty rhetoric and there's no telling whether we could ever have given them what they wanted, but we haven't even tried. For years. So I think it makes sense to draw some of the conclusions we have here.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Scantron said...

The other thing to remember is that there's a perfectly cogent conservative argument that arrives at the same criticism of Bush but from the opposite direction: namely, that he should have struck militarily a long time ago, rather than doing nothing. Both critiques are about action. One comes from the "sticks and carrots" philosophy of diplomacy. The other is from the "speak softly but carry a big stick" school. Bush's plan, which has been "speak real loud but don't do nothin'," is a failure by both standards.

That's what interesting about checking out conservative magazienes and blogs right now, because all are frustrated at Bush (who isn't frustrated about a nuclear bomb going off?) for not sticking to the Bush Doctrine. Where are those principles now?, they ask. Of course there's also a lot of obligatory Clinton-blaming, but no matter how tenuous that deal was, you can safely say that in 2000, there were caps on NK's fuel rods, in 2002 there weren't, and in 2006 they've set off a bomb. That sure doesn't *look* like Clinton's fault.

11:26 AM  
Blogger d'Mardree said...

Look, whether you want to blame Bush, Clinton, China or Japan, one thing seems clear and we all learned it from Team America: Kim Jong-il is "ronery".

I don't mean to belittle the severity of this significant event, but I can't help but appreciate Kim's solo from the movie in a whole new light. The idea that the source of the metaphorical North Korea's nastiness is its loneliness seems pretty relevent to the current situation.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Speaking of Team America, it's kind of funny (but in a good way) that we're nothing like that these days. I guess back then we'd launched the Iraq War so we were the tough kids on the block, but we sure haven't been there "to save the motherfuckin' day, yeah!" for a while. Unless, like, dropping unexploded clusterbomb ordnance on Lebanese kids is a "fuck yeah" moment or something, and besides, then it was only indirectly.

Also, now that Kim has the bomb, will he sell it to Derkaderkastan?

2:52 AM  
Blogger The Sheriff said...

Yayyy! All this means is Jesus is coming back soon! Yayy!

4:22 AM  
Blogger FISHSTIX said...

I don't think they actually tested a nuclear bomb.

I spoke about this with Professor Evans and he agrees with me. When India and Pakistan tested the bomb they both videotaped the episode and beamed it across the globe.

The seismic readings were below 1kiliton. No nuclear radiation was detected. It is my suspicion that these guys just packed 500 tons of TNT underneath a mountain and blew it up.

Kim Jon Il is a master of showmanship(he has the worlds largest dvd collection)and is obsessed with hollywood. This is exactly the kind of man who would fake a nuclear test and trick the whole world. It brings him pleasure.

8:55 PM  

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