Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Demonstration Effect Cuts Both Ways

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the international community's decisive action against Libya will convince Kim Jong Il that the choices he has made over the last 30 years have been vindicated.

No, there is little doubt that if Colonel Qadhafi had gone further, jumped higher, lied more, worn slightly higher shoes, slightly less ridiculous clothes and flown just a little lower under the international radar for a few years longer, he too could be sitting pretty in his Tripoli palace atop a small pile of nuclear bombs of highly suspect reliability and almost certainly complete undeliverability but that would, as night surely follows day, have stopped his now practically inevitable fall from power.

Yes, Kim will amble to his little book of political lessons well learned, pick it up in his good hand and, as Reudiger Frank notes in his piece for 38 North, write the name of the presumably soon to be jobless Colonel Muammar Al Qadhafi next to Mikhail Gorbachev and Saddam Hussein on his list of leaders who tried to play with the west, and ended up getting burned bad.

It requires little imaginative power to see what conclusions will be drawn in Pyongyang. If there was anybody left at all in the elite who would dare try to persuade his leaders to sit down with the West and find a way to denuclearize, he will now be silent. Those who thought that the economic price of the military-first policy was too high will stand corrected. Not yielding an inch on the nuclear question will continue to be the key paradigm of North Korea’s foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

Indeed so. Or, to put it another way;

Hey, remember when Bush Administration officials tried to convince Kim Jong Il that he could get the same denuclearization deal Bush gave Qadhafi?

Yeah, the last couple of days might explain why Kim didn’t think it was such a great idea.

But must we continue to look at it this way? Such activities get us nowhere; they frustrate. Instead, how about this;

News of the recent attack on Libya by a coalition of countries is spreading in the jangmadang thanks to traders coming in from China, leading North Korean people doing business there to wonder whether, if they were to rise up and make enough noise, the international community might come to their aid. As a result, sources report that a number of groups have begun to consider ways to launch protests in big regional cities...

You get the idea, and yes of course I made it up. It is a distant aim, too, but let us be clear; we know exactly how to get this information to those people who need to hear it, because we've been talking it over since at least March 26th, 2010, when North Korea put a torpedo through a South Korean naval corvette and killed 46 conscript sailors.

So let's not remember the first anniversary of the Cheonan in silence, then. How about making a little bit more noise of our own?

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