Kim Jong Il Tests A Nuke

The story:

North Korea’s annnouncement that it has conducted a nuclear test drew worldwide condemnation today, with China and Russia expressing anger in unusually strong terms and the United States warning Pyongynang that it was defying the will of the international community.

The White House called for immediate United Nations action and the Security Council was preparing to meet to discuss a response.

China had mounted one of its most extensive diplomatic efforts in years to find a negotiated solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis and to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula.

In the face of a major failure, the Chinese expressed their anger bluntly, saying the test was “flagrant and brazen.”

Commentary:

Former intelligence officer AJ (again)
Gregory Djerejian
Selig Harrison at Newsweek
[Update] Arms Control Wonk – was the test a dud?

Much to chew on. Like most I hope that this doesn’t drive Japan and South Korea to nuke up as well, but absent any credible support from the US (of late with little to no deployable troops) that seems practically inevitable. Such a move could wreck decades of East Asian stability, which has come as much as any other single reason from a demilitarized Japan, whose neighbors have a long memory when it comes to wartime depredations. Bear in mind that unlike Japan Germany apologized for its role in WWII and has done a fairly thorough job of cleaning its spiritual house. Japan’s neighbors at least do not feel that it has done anything of the sort.

At this point, taking into account that the options we would like to have do not exist, I would suggest that our best option would be to find out what North Korea wants in return for inspectors going in, finding and disarming its nuclear stockpile. If that means some form of diplomatic recognition, well, isolation clearly has not done much good. If we can share a bed with Uzbekistan, despotic state ruled by a crazy torturing dictator, then the principled case for shunning Kim Jong Il strikes me as fairly weak.

For now I won’t get into what this means for domestic politics, at least until the major players have had a chance to react. But less than a month from a crucial election it seems like a foregone conclusion that North Korea’s test will become a massive radioactive football. Sad and probably counterproductive to world security, but certain as water flows downhill.

***Update***

For a preview of the shape that the political discussion will take, see this post by Josh Marshall. By disparaging the finger-pointing I hardly mean to imply that Marshall’s point is in any way wrong, and god knows the other folks will work feverishly to lay all this on the lap of Clinton so Marshall is hardly the first, worst or only offender. In fact he is probably right on the money.

Oh what the hell. Elections are a month away and government is essentially shut down anyway. Should I stand in the storm and curse the rain? I suppose not. Go to town.






25 replies
  1. 1
    guyermo says:

    well, it’s certainly a good thing that we stopped Iraq from sharing it’s advanced nuclear technology with Al Qaeda.

    And even better that we refused to negotiate with North Korea 1 on 1 even though they were begging.

    But at least Free Republic helped me realize that it’s all Bill Clinton’s fault.

  2. 2
    Punchy says:

    Most obvious Republican talking points:

    #1–Clinton allowed NK to get the bomb, so a vote for a Democrat is a vote for Kim Jong Il, and all the other terrorists throughout the world.

    #2–Now, on the brink of a new war, is not the time to change our govt. In fact, we think it justifies a new Patriot Act III, giving Bush all the power over everything always…to insure…ya know…national security and stuff…

  3. 3
    docg says:

    I am SURE the Democrats bribed North Korea to hold back on this test until the election season began. Bastards.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    ThymeZone says:

    I, too, agree with what Greenwald said.

    Iraq is a metaphor for the collossal failure of American foreign policy under Bush.

    And by collossal, of course, I mean “f**ked up beyond your wildest imagination.”

  6. 6

    You know, I’m certainly sympathetic to the notion of not giving bad guys credibility by engaging with them one on one. I was of the opinion that Arafat was one such individual.

    But if you spend years not getting anywhere, at some point an adult has to realize that maybe it’s worth trying.

    Diplomacy is oftentimes made from bluffs. We claim one thing, when we’re really hoping for something else. So I don’t usually take what diplomats are saying at face value. And I’d probably have more faith in our present US diplomats, if that is what they were doing.

    But I’m convinced now that they simply don’t have a clue about how to actually argue diplomatically. They think diplomacy is politics, and it is not quite the same.

  7. 7
    DougJ says:

    Has anyone looked at possible ties between George Soros and North Korea? The timing here seems awfully suspicious. And if Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats knew this was going to happen months ago, why didn’t they try to stop it? Once again they’ve put politics ahead of national security.

  8. 8

    Djerejian’s point that the administration views this as a Clarifying Moment is frightening.

  9. 9
    chopper says:

    Clinton allowed NK to get the bomb

    exactly. despite the fact that it happened on bush’s watch, and that bush’s administration didn’t really care enough to deal seriously with the issue, this is obviously clinton’s failure.

  10. 10
    DougJ says:

    I think this is working out perfectly. It’s the flypaper strategy — better for them to test their nuclear weapons in the mountains of North Korea than in the streets of our cities.

  11. 11
    Pharniel says:

    trouble is pptz, i can imagine alot worse.
    damn you sci-fi and roleplaying for showing me whole vistas of far more fucked up….and then for being able to see how bush can get there with just a short drive

  12. 12
    ThymeZone says:

    They think diplomacy is politics, and it is not quite the same.

    Well, you are right. And it is not even remotely close to being the same thing.

    Diplomacy is personal and intimate. Politics is rhetorical.

    Politics is about saying things that “resonate” with people you can’t see, who are drinking coffee in their trucks on the way to work.

    Diplomacy is about talking personally to another guy who rides around in limousines, has his meals prepared for him, has a court of attendants, has his clothes laid out in the morning, and probably has a huge ego just like you do.

  13. 13

    For a preview of the shape that the political discussion will take, see this post by Josh Marshall. By disparaging the finger-pointing I hardly mean to imply that Marshall’s point is in any way wrong, and god knows the other folks will work feverishly to lay all this on the lap of Clinton so Marshall is hardly the first, worst or only offender. In fact he is probably right on the money.

    Oh what the hell. Elections are a month away and government is essentially shut down anyway. Should I stand in the storm and curse the rain? I suppose not. Go to town.

    Tim,

    I would actually argue that your “reasonable” approach is the reason why Democrats lose elections.

    When was the last time you heard a Republican worrying about politicizing foreign policy? Ok, let me clarify that… when was the last time you heard a Republican saying that when he wasn’t talking about a democrat?

    Dick Cheney is running around claiming if you vote for Democrats, we’re all gonna die.

    So you want to advocate a Joe Lieberman “Well, maybe the Republicans are right, and we’re all gonna die?” approach to this issue?

  14. 14
    Richard 23 says:

    Apparently Bush wants the UN to respond immediately. I thought we hated the UN. Maybe Ambassador Bolton will be able to motivate them with his UN floor destruction plan.

  15. 15
    ThymeZone says:

    So you want to advocate a Joe Lieberman “Well, maybe the Republicans are right, and we’re all gonna die?” approach to this issue?

    You mean, the Lieberman “We criticize the adminstration that says if you elect Democrats, you’ll die … at our peril. Follow my lead, and kiss them on the cheek” approach?

    The Lieberman “Iraq is central to the war on terror” approach?

  16. 16

    You mean, the Lieberman “We criticize the adminstration that says if you elect Democrats, you’ll die … at our peril. Follow my lead, and kiss them on the cheek” approach?

    Right, because if we politicize fuckups we’re going to look weak compared to the asshats who politicize their own failures.

    And I’m like… HUH!?

    First Read today says that this Nuke thing is good for Bush because it turns the dbeate back to security. That’s the pundit class there, out of touch with reality.

  17. 17
    Punchy says:

    Apparently Bush wants the UN to respond immediately. I thought we hated the UN.

    This had me stunned. The very institution conservatives RAIL on, the one they mock, the one whose effectiveness they question at every turn, BECOMES the one that Bush wants to lead the charge against NK.

    The hypocrisy…the gall…the two-faced-ness of this is flooring. “We hate you until we need you”….like what an abusive husband does to his frightened wife. How the UN puts up with this, I have no idea.

  18. 18

    Clinton allowed NK to get the bomb

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    That’s my new favorite Bushbot nostalgia quote. It’s even better than “Don’t forget Poland!” which could still probably be worked into this conversation rather effectively.

    Has anyone looked at possible ties between George Soros and North Korea? The timing here seems awfully suspicious. And if Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats knew this was going to happen months ago, why didn’t they try to stop it? Once again they’ve put politics ahead of national security.

    I just want to know if Kim Jong Il is, or has ever been, a Scoutmaster. That would tie it all together nicely. When I see photos like this, I have little doubt that North Korean children are exposed to the menaces of homosexual Scoutmasters not unlike Kim Jong Il, Clinton, and Mark Foley.

    Apparently Bush wants the UN to respond immediately. I thought we hated the UN. Maybe Ambassador Bolton will be able to motivate them with his UN floor destruction plan.

    Better to fight them over there, in the UN, than on the streets of our own cities.

  19. 19
    Steve says:

    I would laugh really hard if this nuclear test turns out to have been a big hoax. I mean, I do think North Korea is an evil regime, but they seem to be evil in such a cartoony, Dr. Evil sense. If they tried to fool the world with an easily-debunked fake nuclear test, that would truly be the icing on the cake.

  20. 20
    Pb says:

    “We hate you until we need you”….like what an abusive husband does to his frightened wife.

    That’s probably exactly why Bush picked John Bolton for the job–he’s perfect for it.

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    I mean, I do think North Korea is an evil regime, but they seem to be evil in such a cartoony, Dr. Evil sense.

    Ha. Iran Iraq the gay lobby North Korea is the greatest threat the United States has ever faced.

  22. 22

    I would laugh really hard if this nuclear test turns out to have been a big hoax.

    My first thought was they shoved 5,000 tons of C4 down a mine shaft and detonated it.

    I would not be surprised to learn that is what happened.

  23. 23
    DougJ says:

    My first thought was they shoved 5,000 tons of C4 down a mine shaft and detonated it.

    Frankly, that’s just the sort of thing George Soros and the people at C.R.E.W. would think of.

  24. 24

    Kevin Drum has more

    Apparently there are conflicting reports on the size of this. South Korea is saying it was at most 1 kiloton.

    More investigation appears necessary… evidence of radiation and what not.

  25. 25
    Andrew says:

    My first thought was they shoved 5,000 tons of C4 down a mine shaft and detonated it.

    I would not be surprised to learn that is what happened.

    The biggest conventional bomb I have ever heard of is Divine Strake: an 700 ton ANFO test detonationb with about a 600 ton equivalent yield that will blow up a lot of sand.

    1,400,000 pounds of poop and diesel.

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