North Korea

North Korea continues to bait the rest of the world with its program to launch missiles with no offcial notification of other nations, and with no regard for its neighbor Japan, which has been overflown contrary to international law. That Japanese cabinet secretary Abe has publicly spoken of examining the Japanese constitution's prohibition against the use of military force to see if it precludes a pre—emptive strike on the missile launching pad is already giving chills to other Asian neighbors, still haunted by the history of Japanese aggression. If nothing else, a significant line has been crossed in Japanese politics.

China, though it may be enjoying American and Japanese discomfort, cannot be pleased. The threat of Japan responding by resolving to make nuclear weapons must be a major worry now. Once the decision is made, it would be a matter of a few months for Japan to build its own weapons, as plutonium stocks already exist, and Japanese technological capabilities are justly renowned.

There are many critics of President Bush's handling of the matter, with some on the left urging a return to the appeasement policies of the Clinton administration, and some on the right urging tough action now. Jonathan Strong of The Strong Conservative defends President Bush's handling of the affair against some who wish a more belligerent policy, and lays out outlines of a plan for the Bush administration to handle North Korea.

There are no good solutions. Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which has buried many of its fortifications, and which has provided priority funding and materiel to its military while the rest of the nation starves.

My own suspicion is that Kim is conducting the tests to retaliate against moves against his sophisticated counterfeiting operation and its bank in Macau. Estimates are that up to one hundred million dollars a year has been generated by these operations, which flowed directly into personal funds, probably used to buy support from key military officials.

Any policy must reckon with the insecurity Kim must feel about his hold on power. Evidence of unrest within his government has popped up from time to time. Like all brutal tyrants, Kim knows that regardless of propaganda, he is not beloved, and those who serve him would turn on him in an instrant, once the opportunity arises.

Cornered animals are most dangerous. And also most subject to being disabled or captured. North Korea remains unpredictable.

Thomas Lifson   7 11 06

North Korea continues to bait the rest of the world with its program to launch missiles with no offcial notification of other nations, and with no regard for its neighbor Japan, which has been overflown contrary to international law. That Japanese cabinet secretary Abe has publicly spoken of examining the Japanese constitution's prohibition against the use of military force to see if it precludes a pre—emptive strike on the missile launching pad is already giving chills to other Asian neighbors, still haunted by the history of Japanese aggression. If nothing else, a significant line has been crossed in Japanese politics.

China, though it may be enjoying American and Japanese discomfort, cannot be pleased. The threat of Japan responding by resolving to make nuclear weapons must be a major worry now. Once the decision is made, it would be a matter of a few months for Japan to build its own weapons, as plutonium stocks already exist, and Japanese technological capabilities are justly renowned.

There are many critics of President Bush's handling of the matter, with some on the left urging a return to the appeasement policies of the Clinton administration, and some on the right urging tough action now. Jonathan Strong of The Strong Conservative defends President Bush's handling of the affair against some who wish a more belligerent policy, and lays out outlines of a plan for the Bush administration to handle North Korea.

There are no good solutions. Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which has buried many of its fortifications, and which has provided priority funding and materiel to its military while the rest of the nation starves.

My own suspicion is that Kim is conducting the tests to retaliate against moves against his sophisticated counterfeiting operation and its bank in Macau. Estimates are that up to one hundred million dollars a year has been generated by these operations, which flowed directly into personal funds, probably used to buy support from key military officials.

Any policy must reckon with the insecurity Kim must feel about his hold on power. Evidence of unrest within his government has popped up from time to time. Like all brutal tyrants, Kim knows that regardless of propaganda, he is not beloved, and those who serve him would turn on him in an instrant, once the opportunity arises.

Cornered animals are most dangerous. And also most subject to being disabled or captured. North Korea remains unpredictable.

Thomas Lifson   7 11 06