People can’t quite figure out Kim Jung Un. They couldn’t quite figure out the last Kim either – or the one before that. The North Koreans have a cyclical pattern or making loud threats against the US and South Korean until they get paid and then they recline until the next time they’ve driven their society into another ditch.
Each new crisis results in two diametrically opposed opinions. One goes that the North Koreans are bluffing once more and suggests we should just ask them how it will cost this time to make them pipe down. Guy Somerset posts an article in Takimag that represents this school of thought. He holds King Jung Un in contempt from his opening paragraph.
The world is filled with tough guys who say they are going to smash your face in but never throw a punch. Whether it’s a barroom blowhard or Asia’s Big Bluffer, few things irritate me more than a jackass who is long on words and short on action.
The other school of thought makes the case that this time is different. Patrick J. Buchanon, also in Takimag, tells us why this time is different.
Unfortunately, the troubles presented by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un seem unlikely to run into a ditch before they reach us. For Kim has crawled out on a limb. He has threatened to attack U.S. forces in Korea and bases in Asia, even U.S. cities. He has declared the truce that ended the Korean War dead and that “a state of war” exists with the South. All ties to the South have been cut.
Historical precedent argues in Somerset’s favor. North Korea habitually stirs trouble to belabor the United States and wring out concessions. They assume that the Americans are a lot more concerned with getting the problem out of the newspapers than they are with proving anything. Food or money changes hands, the Koreans recede back into their ruined Land of Morder where The Shadow Lies.
Yet Buchanon isn’t without his reasons to believe the current situation is worse than prior ones. Kim Jung Un has done this early in his despotic reign. He has risked his prestige and perhaps his hold on power. If he reminds too many people of Brave Sir Robin from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, he risks being undermined and deposed. He has also had to make louder and more obnoxious threats in order to get Barack Obama’s attention. He may feel disrespected and become more likely to act out of anger.
So how does one reconcile this? What would be a good straddle given that the two likelihoods are virtually opposite? President Obama should have different parts of government prepare for different eventualities. There are three ways to handle a Kim Eruption from N. Korea. We can surprise attack them. We can buy them off or we can ridicule them while standing ready in case they actually get crazy enough to try something.
Option 1 would have worked last week, but not now. Option 2 is what we’ve done, and it boomerangs. Every couple of years we have the same problem again. Option three may well do the job. Here is how the US should pull it off.
The US should blow Kim off. Call him The Rocket Queen the next time he fires one of his missiles. Show him utter contempt in public.
Meanwhile, the US Army and the ROK get everything ready- just in case. After three weeks, North Korea will not be able to keep their entire country on Triple-Secret High Alert. They will have to dial it back.
When the North Koreans cross the point where the entire staring contest costs them more than they can afford, we then offer them an inexpensive way to save face and walk away. Kim Jung Un, assuming he is a rational man, will then walk. After that, we can begin negotiating with the South Koreans to take our soldiers off the Korean Peninsula and avoiding this mess in the future. This stupid and dangerous game has gone on long enough.