Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NORTH KOREA

North Korea is at it again. This time it appears they are threatening to launch a missile that has enough range to strike the California coast. NK launched a missile in 1998 that flew over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. Since NK has been working to develop nuclear weapons, there is more concern than usual. The missile is 115 feet long, weighs 65 tons, and is a multi-stage missile.

No one is exactly sure what North Korea is doing, though. Some think the missile is more suited to civilian use, as opposed to military. I’m not sure you can make a clear distinction these days. Evidently, the launch of the missile was detected by surveillance rather than an announcement. Only after complaints by several countries did North Korea say anything about the launch.

The United States, Japan and Australia have cautioned NK not to launch the missile. This was supported by France (further indication of better relations between the U.S. and France), which called for a firm and just international response. By which I assume he does not mean nuke them until they glow. Kofi Annan actually took time off from his nefarious duties at the U.N. to make a vague statement to the effect that everybody was worried about NK’s actions.

China, which often acts like a big brother to the unruly, and slightly insane, NK government, was unable to get any information out of little brother about its intentions.

NK signed a missile testing moratorium agreement in 1999 and renewed it in 2002. They are now saying that expired in 2003 and they are not bound by it. It is so hard to get a good contract with a crazy dictator, isn’t it?

The Director of NK’s Foreign Ministry now says “this is a matter of national sovereignty and no one has the right to criticize it.” Actually, Lee, we all have the right to criticize it. It is only in repressive dictatorships like yours where people do not have the right to criticize it. So, consider yourself criticized.

That felt good.

Also, I might add that more powerful countries usually have the right to criticize smaller, less powerful countries, a right that comes with might.

The United States is acting to protect itself, as it should. The Pentagon activated its ground based missile interceptor system. It also dispatched two Navy warships near NK to detect the launch and trigger the interceptor missiles. Our missiles are located in Alaska and California. If the missile comes this way, it will be a good test of our defenses. There are 11 missiles devoted to this defense, so there are 11 chances to shoot down the NK missile.

My guess is this is another of the frequent, if not annual, blackmail attempts by their dictator to get more food and other relief aid sent to NK, which cannot feed itself because of its repressive policies and obsession with spending on its military. Literally millions of North Koreans survive on international food aid because the government is too incompetent to feed them. NK also gets technology and trade benefits to behave. It is known to be engaged in counterfeiting and money laundering. It is in effect a criminal enterprise operating as a government, for the benefit of its dictator and his buddies, and to the misery of its people.

Here are several observations. First, a rogue state can still hold the world hostage if the leader is willing to play brinkmanship and the rest of the world does not want to do what it takes to hold it responsible for its actions. Iran has learned this from NK. Second, the U.N. continues to be useless. Third, China does not want to join the rest of the world in resisting this madman, but uses NK as a buffer from the West. Fourth, the U.S. and France are working together again, if quietly. Fifth, we should pray that God would bring some relief to the poor citizens of North Korea.
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