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Ron Radosh

Why is Kim-Jong Un, the new boy emperor of the “hermit kingdom,” choosing this time to rattle the sabers?

NBC News reports this morning:

North Korea put its rocket units on standby Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after repeated threats and one day after two American stealth bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in a military exercise.

What is different about Kim’s threat this time: an unnamed American official “warned that the isolated communist state is ‘not a paper tiger’ and its reaction should not be dismissed as ‘pure bluster.’”

As we all know, North Korea stands alone as a pure model totalitarian state — the remaining Communist country most resembling the Soviet Union of the ‘20s and ‘30s when Joseph Stalin attempted to erase any existing independent civil society, or Mao’s China in the age of the Cultural Revolution when that nation literally went mad in a domestic orgy of violence and destruction in the name of building revolution and smashing any semblance of “bourgeois” behavior.

“The time has come,” little Kim is quoted as saying, “to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation.” Of course, the only such situation is that created by either Kim or the North Korean generals who are testing his mettle, perhaps because they wish to control the nation themselves and are forcing him to a test which, if he does not pass, could possibly lead to a military coup. “Bonapartism,” the Bolsheviks called it in the early days of the Soviet Union — they feared if order was not restored after taking power and a civil war was underway, the military could quickly move to run the USSR on its own.

The U.S. official went on to say that although the world knows Kim is inexperienced, they do not know whether or not he has any real wisdom. Indeed, just last week a North Korean soldier at the 38th parallel separating South from North Korea threw a hand grenade at one of the soldiers patrolling the South’s side of the line of demarcation. Such a provocative act could not have been taken independently. In addition, Kim-Jong Un also threatened the South with a nuclear attack.

The government-controlled media also published an article presenting the populace with an ideological justification for the threats. “The opportunity for peacefully settling the DPRK-U.S. relations,” the paper’s propagandist Minju Joson wrote, “is no longer available as the U.S. opted for staking its fate. Consequently, there remains only the settlement of accounts by a physical means.” Ms. Joson continued:

A battle to be fought by the DPRK against the U.S. will become a war for national liberation to defend the sovereignty and dignity of the country and, at the same time, a revolutionary war to defend the human cause of independence and the justice of the international community.

The words emulate the kind of clarion call familiar to observers of revolutionary movements in their earliest phase, as they tried to rally the population and  army to pull together to save the Revolution from foreign threats. Immediately, Kim gave the order for a mass rally of tens of thousands to be held in the main square of Pyongyang a few days ago. The assembled masses yelled in union: “Rip the Puppet Masters to Death!” As the regime put its rocket launchers on standby — with missiles easily able to hit South Korea as well as other nearby nations — the United States responded with a show of force, sending two nuclear-capable stealth bombers to the region.

That act is of a different sort from what previous administrations have done. We might recall the episode when Madeleine Albright herself went to North Korea to meet Kim Jung-Il, the present leader’s deceased father, and held out the hand of friendship. The Clinton administration and other successor administrations signed quickly ignored agreements with North Korea that gave the appearance of the regime’s willingness to give up a nuclear arsenal. As usual, attempts to gain the good will of the totalitarian regime through a policy of appeasement failed to have any impact.

It is hard, looking at the boyish leader with his Mickey Mouse wannabes behind the podium with his model wife, and his carousing with Dennis Rodman who many argued inadvertently was showing the North Koreans that the United States was not so bad, to take his threats seriously.

One thing is certain. The CIA does not have any top-level covert officers among the military leadership, or indeed among the Communist Party Politburo. North Korea is a lot more closed than even Communist Cuba or modern-day state capitalist China, whose regimes are more open, and in which I suspect it is far easier to infiltrate agents or to turn apparatchiks so they work for the United States. Hence, any response to North Korean threats must be taken seriously, and the extent of the regime’s real attitudes can only be judged by evaluation of the new, more heated rhetoric emanating from the mouth of Kim-Jong Un. And don’t count on another journey by Dennis Rodman to perform some magic that will soften the new threats. I suspect that were Rodman to fly there tomorrow, he might very well find himself under arrest as an “imperialist agent.”

So as most people talked about the U.S. predicament in Syria and the Obama administration’s obvious policy failures in dealing with that growing crisis, Kim-Jong Un has seized this moment to up the ante in Asia, hoping that the U.S. will be distracted and perhaps allow him to make moves against South Korea. Let us hope that this time in Asia, the administration will act accordingly and show that its commitment to South Korea’s independence is firm.


For those who do not think North Korea is a danger, read this report at The Daily Beast by an expert on the issue. Gordon Chang explains why Kim-Jong Un’s current posturing is very different from the threats made earlier by his father.

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All Comments   (25)
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I am sure its the nork wet dream to see shiny , expensive fortifications paid for by China on one side of the border with South Korea and by the US on the other side. With plenty of hot food for the construction workers.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Declare war, denounce the armistice, warn of aggressive attacks by evil US/RoK Announce state of war exists then arrange tens of thousands to shout death to puppet masters.
Scripted with the secure knowledge that the evil enemy will NOT bomb your nation no matter what the cost, no matter what the threat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Kim-Jong Un is indeed a menace to be taken very seriously. He rules a starving nation with nuclear capabilities. I just hope our own spoiled-brat president can find the time to weigh his threat to us, and our South Korean allies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I see Max LeCompte. That makes sense, I was wondering what brought it on this time.

Amazing politicians the Chinese, they never let any opportunity go astray to either castigate-managed to scold Japan mid-earthquake, nor do they ever fail to obfuscate their wrongdoings-as at present, nor do they forgive a "betrayal" just ask Stern Hu, the imprisoned scapegoat for the admittedly racist Australia's refusal to sell Rio Tinto iron mines to Chinese interests.

But as I continually repeat on this site, thank heaven for the Chinese. They will civilise the Mid-East and Africa. They will ultimately recivilise U.S.America
too as when your country weakens which it must under its current anti-unifying and rational, pro-hysteric and fragmentational ideology, you will reunite in strength.

I do so wish though these Republicans would just hand the county to the Democrats and let them f-it-up as soon as possible so you can get back on track before the disease comes frighteningly close to terminal.

Look at Russia, even after a century of bulldust they are looking back at Russian traditionalism and decent human values. they simply ignore that pox known as the U.N whose only achieved function has been to spread misery through any country with or attempting to introduce decent human values. That includes all western nations too....but I digress :-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The only thing different would be the US reaction to the latest provocations.
Think about this.

Is it merely a coincidence that NK starts misbehaving shortly after Chinese cyber-attacks are widely exposed in the US media? Is it merely a coincidence that the latest outrages happen shortly after Japan shows some spine over the Senkakus?

Pyongyang is nothing more than a midget stalking pony, a sock puppet for Beijing. This happens because Beijing allows it to happen. And Beijing allows it to happen because rightly or wrongly, it thinks it somehow benefits.

And it never ceases to amaze me how westerners fall - again & again - for the same stupid Punch & Judy routine.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mini Kim is more than a little mad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
'Toon of the Day: The Worm's Bad Egg
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think NorK current posturing is a direct result of the US challenging China on its recent cyberactivities. Classical bait and switch: Let little Kim stomp his feet and the US media will immediately forget internet security breach(es).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Instead of looking to N.Korea, look closer to home.

What assures the election of a president but the "necessity" of "not changing horses in mid-stream" during a war? Even if not eligible because of constitutional term limitations?

Merely different style to the present questionable per Constitution eligibillity of the POTUS ? Questoin dismissed by all relevant "worthies" as unworthy of examination and answer because only disgruntled or lunatics would consider such a question and/or its relevance to the nation.

If it were to be discovered that a POTUS was not lawfully eligible for the Office THAT WOULD BE a "fundamental transformation" of the nation, given the the Constitution is the "fundamental charter " of Law of the USA.

And remember that the "fundamenatal transformation" gathered pace during the administration of JF Kennedy's Vietnam War. Also in Asia.

With the first "affirmative action" on exemption of college students from the military draft for that war. AND the monopoly Media propaganda as if the American military were bayonnetting babies for fun, and Mylai was just business as usual for that military.

Encouraging the civilian population of the US to "spit on" and barrack the returning soldiers many of whom were BY LAW required to go, while their compatriots in college sat back and did their bit with their "protects against the war". One of whom even hied as did others to foreign shores IN CASE inadvertently caught up in the draft. One of those to later beome POTUS as surrogate for the heir presumptive to Camelot. Placed himself hors de combat with Chappaquiddick which could not be kept from the public. But remained acceptable to voters of Massachusetts and the Senate as lifelong "Father of the Senate" with all inherent powers to CHANGE the laws of the USA.

And of course their finale of protest against that war with the hounding and then resignation of Richard M. Nixon trying to end that war. Because of a "cover-up" of a breakin into Watergate Offices of the DNC. WHY such a ridiculous act? WHAT DID the "plumbers" expect to find there that warranted? Perhaps Some manouevres about the Vietnam War as managed by the Democrats and friends? How Amaerica CHANGED with these manipulations and the following "Great Society" with "political correctness" and institutionalisation in law of their "affirmaative action".

Watch Obama and friends and ask WHY NOW, WHY HERE and remember that Obama's media enablers called him in addition to Messiah their New Kennedy. A "war" is Asia just the ticket?

There is after all a new, thrusting well armed and militatarised - so easy in a totalitarian nation - China whose interests is most definitely to stop any unwanted encroachements in their sphere of influence. Why now is American being even considered as the "world's policemen"?

Can America afford embroilment with its present treasury, AND the hatred and revilement of American military. Or is rhis a case of at the eve of execution ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm sorry, but it's hard to take this one seriously as a threat. For one thing, the Kaesong joint industrial zone is still open and workers are still traveling south --> north to get to jobs there. If Little Kim were to launch anything larger than another Cheonan incident, Kaesong would be shuttered. And it's all well and good to say they've put their rocket forces on alert and held a big rally and released photos of Kim "playing general," but where are the reports of troop movements? Any signs that the government has relocated from Pyongyang?

To me, this is just bluster. I think one possibility you mentioned is very likely: the military is testing Kim (recall that he had several purged (fatally, to them) recently) and he's doing all this for domestic political reasons. I suspect we'll see a climb-down soon.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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