Friday, March 29, 2013

The Continuing Adventures of Li'l Kim

Things are definitely heating up on the Korean peninsula. North Korea has recently declared the 1953 armistice invalid, not that they ever paid much attention to its provisions anyway. And now, in response to a joint training exercise held by the U.S. and South Korea, they've released their master plan for bringing the United States to its knees. Their target list: Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Austin.

... say what? Austin?

Mind you, the odds of a North Korean missile reaching Austin, Texas are the same as the number of Rs in "Fat Chance", but still. The targeting order raises several very important questions. Who drew up this target list? What was he smoking? And did he bring enough to share?

While it's almost definitely true that Mr. Kim is nuttier than a short ton of Almond Joy, we do have to remember Tip O'Neill's famous dictum that all politics is local before we can make heads or tails of what the Crazy Hermit Kingdom is up to. It's important to keep in mind that Mr. Kim is still very new in the saddle, and doesn't yet have a really secure power base, if he's truly in charge to begin with. We don't actually know if he's wielding actual executive authority, or if he's some general's convenient figurehead. And this may be an effort to manufacture an external enemy to rally the people around his (mis)rule. While all this is true -- and this article is well worth a read for more insights -- it's also important to think over this rather startling target list.

I can kind of understand hitting Washington, although that won't actually degrade our command and control ability all that much. I'm not denigrating the usefulness of our political class (much), it's just that all the important command and control functions have fully-functional duplicates stood up somewhere else, just in case of such an emergency. And it kind of makes sense that Hawaii, as Pacific fleet HQ, is on the list. But Austin? I mean, it's the capital of Texas and all, but there's nothing in Austin that will paralyze the nation if we lost it. It doesn't even make bad sense. Granted, Austin was on the Soviet strike list, back in the day; but the Soviets were throwing 10,000 warheads in our general direction. With that many buckets of sunshine coming our way, Austin was bound to catch one. This list bespeaks a military command structure with no tangible basis in reality.

The truly scary thing here is that we're dealing with an entire government that matches the clinical definition for paranoid schizophrenia. And how in the world do you negotiate with someone like that?

We could negotiate with the Soviets, because at the end of the day, we both lived in the same objectively recognizable Universe. The same holds with the Chinese today. And with the Cubans, although they're not exactly high up on our priority list just right now. But, North Korea?

When we ask for talks with Mr. Kim, we may as well ask for the King of the Potato People to mediate.

The best thing we can hope for at this point is that Mr. Kim can consolidate his hold on power without provoking open war. But there's damned little margin for error. If the reins slip from Mr. Kim's pudgy fingers...

There's no way that ends well.

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