Biting the dust in Norkland?
Kim Jong-un has the whole world ticked off for playing games with dangerous toys. Apparently, he now has missiles that can reach any place in America. Since we know he has nukes, the worry is that, in order to prove what a tough guy he is, Kimmy might send us one of these bad boys. Or two. Or six.
It's a legitimate concern, since all three Kims – Grampa, Pops, and now this version – wanted to be seen as major players on the world stage. It's always been sorta hard to take them seriously as a threat when their own people were too hungry to sustain a war and their system was so dysfunctional that most of their rockets fizzled on the launch pad. All that – well, some of that – now seems to be behind them. They still can't feed themselves, though, and ultimately that will be an Achilles heel, since armies, Napoleon noted, move on their bellies.
How are we to understand this goofball boy who seems to think himself a superhero? Kim went to school in Switzerland and because of that should speak fair English, should understand Western thinking and Western styles. But the lessons must not have taken. He dresses like Mao in a bad mood and combs his hair like a clown going to a prom. When you look as silly as Kim does, it's hard to credit that this actually is a head of state.
But he has his hands around the necks of his 24 million countrymen. They are literally starving and have been for decades, such that they average six inches shorter than their genetically identical brothers across the DMZ. The North Korean guard who escaped over that DMZ weeks ago was found to have hideous parasites in his body, probably because shortages of fertilizer force northern farmers to use night soil.
It's fashionable in the West to think of Kim as an outlier among national leaders. Actually, he's the logical end product of socialism, of big, suffocating government run amok, of the corruption that inevitably sets in when a system isn't required to practice self-restraint by respecting human rights, due process, and rule of law that holds everyone, even the number-one guy, accountable.
We watch hopefully to see how Donald Trump is going to bring Kim to bay. We're learning that Trump, contrary to all the nonsense about him, is unusually smart and has an extraordinary sense of timing. Perhaps his biggest strength is that you always know where you stand with him. He is straightforward and direct. He knows how to use power and doesn't fear using it.
One does not wish war with North Korea but can't feature another way to get Kim gone and bring an end to six decades of horrific misrule by the Kim family. But it looks as though Trump may know how to go about it. He is slowly strangling the Nork regime by bringing to bear all the many economic weapons America has had all these decades, but nobody, until Trump, really knew how to use. Here we see the benefit of a businessman president. Trump understands economic power in a way few before him did. He understands partnerships. He understands motivation. Most of all, he understands credibility.
Not since Nixon has a president understood his job so thoroughly, and it's not surprising that Trump has gone about solving the Kim problem by going, as Nixon did, through China.
Don't expect Russia to be a problem. You'd never guess it from the last several presidents, but dealing with international bullies isn't really all that hard. They just have to know that you mean what you say. When you draw a red line, you have to enforce it – quickly, ruthlessly, and powerfully. Once everybody understands that you're serious, the world can settle down to more normal levels of savagery and beastliness.
...this time, let us hope, without the Kim family.