The North Korean enigma

Call me simple, but I am confused about why, or even whether, North Korea will denuclearize.

As we all know, North Korea is a dictatorship.  Worse yet, it is an inconceivably brutal dictatorship in the mold of Stalin.  Such a system can survive only as long as it crushes any and every hint of dissent within its borders.  Moreover, that kind of tyranny must be tightly organized, with a potentate at its center, surrounded by a ring of accomplices.

It is these accomplices whom the dictator must be wary of.  He must keep them constantly pitted against each other, lest they pit themselves against him.  It is a delicate balance.  The ministers and generals must be kept in terror of Kim Jong-un but not in panic.  Panic leads to desperation, and if the evil ones who are closest to power feel that they are about to lose their safe positions, they will turn whatever weapons they have against the tyrant.

So far, the Kim dynasty has remained in power for decades, with ruthlessness, bluster, and military might.  If Kim stumbles in any of these three legs of his throne, then he is a dead man, as well he knows.  His minions are every bit the sociopathic murderers he is.  That is their value to Kim, and that is also the danger he faces from them.  He faces it every minute of every day.  He never forgets that.

Therein lies the enigma.  Consider the following.

After having made such a dramatic show of nuclear saber-rattling, Kim cannot simply walk away.  He would be seen for the fraud he is, the paper tiger, the bombastic fool.  He would lose at least a large measure of his image of power.  He has too many enemies inside North Korea to concede any weakness.  Some of his closest thugs will feel betrayed if he yields to any threat, even the very real threat of losing a cataclysmic war.  They will, in panic, cling to any straw rather than face the hordes of victimized peasants eager for vengeance.  They know that once the general population of North Korea senses weakness at the top, it will strike.

Kim's only hope is that somehow the United States, South Korea, or China will keep him in power inside North Korea, where he can continue to plunder and torment the nation's people.  Surely, Kim knows that such an arrangement can be only temporary.  How long will the U.S. tolerate a mass-murdering dictator once his power begins to unravel?  Can we supply him with the implements of torture, in order to retain the imprisonment of the North Korean people?

I don't know.  Perhaps there is some bizarre scheme that would do just that.

Call me simple, but I am confused about why, or even whether, North Korea will denuclearize.

As we all know, North Korea is a dictatorship.  Worse yet, it is an inconceivably brutal dictatorship in the mold of Stalin.  Such a system can survive only as long as it crushes any and every hint of dissent within its borders.  Moreover, that kind of tyranny must be tightly organized, with a potentate at its center, surrounded by a ring of accomplices.

It is these accomplices whom the dictator must be wary of.  He must keep them constantly pitted against each other, lest they pit themselves against him.  It is a delicate balance.  The ministers and generals must be kept in terror of Kim Jong-un but not in panic.  Panic leads to desperation, and if the evil ones who are closest to power feel that they are about to lose their safe positions, they will turn whatever weapons they have against the tyrant.

So far, the Kim dynasty has remained in power for decades, with ruthlessness, bluster, and military might.  If Kim stumbles in any of these three legs of his throne, then he is a dead man, as well he knows.  His minions are every bit the sociopathic murderers he is.  That is their value to Kim, and that is also the danger he faces from them.  He faces it every minute of every day.  He never forgets that.

Therein lies the enigma.  Consider the following.

After having made such a dramatic show of nuclear saber-rattling, Kim cannot simply walk away.  He would be seen for the fraud he is, the paper tiger, the bombastic fool.  He would lose at least a large measure of his image of power.  He has too many enemies inside North Korea to concede any weakness.  Some of his closest thugs will feel betrayed if he yields to any threat, even the very real threat of losing a cataclysmic war.  They will, in panic, cling to any straw rather than face the hordes of victimized peasants eager for vengeance.  They know that once the general population of North Korea senses weakness at the top, it will strike.

Kim's only hope is that somehow the United States, South Korea, or China will keep him in power inside North Korea, where he can continue to plunder and torment the nation's people.  Surely, Kim knows that such an arrangement can be only temporary.  How long will the U.S. tolerate a mass-murdering dictator once his power begins to unravel?  Can we supply him with the implements of torture, in order to retain the imprisonment of the North Korean people?

I don't know.  Perhaps there is some bizarre scheme that would do just that.