Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Politics of the Unhinged

I could recap the latest news from our Scary Neighbor to the North, but most readers of this blog already know the basics of its recent activities. To the point, the ship which apparently carried weapons bound for Burma, aka Myanmar, the Kangnam 1, has done an abrupt aboutface and was just sighted returning to North Korean waters.

Now, the North is mum on exactly why, but tried to change the subject by firing off a few more missile tests--it is easy to calculate that this was a face-saving show of aggression, especially right after Kim Jong-un was appointed head of the National Defense Commission of DPRK (tacitly tapping him as next Worker's Party leader and government head).

Analysts agree that the turnabout of the Kangnam was almost certainly due to the fact that the ship was unable to find a friendly port for service and refueling, seen as proof that US efforts combined with UN sanctions had been 100% effective. No mean feat considering that the Dear Leader had called any attempt to board or search the vessel cause for war.

Score one for international diplomacy, and Obama's willingness to work within the UN to forward an agenda of democracy and sensible restraint. Or so I thought until I clicked on a link from Google News - Korea (see the sidebar), to the "Headquarters of the Conservative Underground". If you thought the conservative "underground" would be a place of truth, sensibility and moderation as a counterpoint to the inane ramblings, hate-mongering and outright lies of the above-ground conservative movement in America today, you will be sadly disappointed.

It begins with a list of "egregious acts of aggression" from the North--fair enough, no one questions that. Then it goes on to describe the US and UN actions as "milquetoast"--despite the fact that they worked! The author, James Zumwalt, says this:
Most likely, Kang Nam’s course change was tied to Myanmar’s demand the ship not enter its waters. The junta, already in the international spotlight for mistreatment of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had no interest in drawing further attention to itself by allowing Kang Nam entry, triggering diplomatic pressure for the vessel’s inspection. Accordingly, Pyongyang’s motivation for altering the ship’s course was not a voluntary act of responsible conduct but, as logic in dealing with North Korea suggests, an involuntary act prompted by Myanmar’s refusal to grant entry.

So, in other words, international pressure caused Myanmar to refuse entry to the ship, but this should not be seen as validation of international pressure. The greatest irony here is the title of the piece: "North Korea's Shocking Display of Logic". Uh-huh.

Not to pick on our fact-deprived conservative movement (okay, to pick on them), but my favorite comment below the piece is by a guy from my home state named George, from St Simons Island, a lovely coastal ecosystem with lots of rich people, who says:
Clinton and Bush tried to draw out Dear Leader into the community of nations, and sought diplomatic solutions. It didn't work. N. Korea has milked the US, Japan and S. Korea for aid, yet they still went nuclear. The Chinese don't seem to mind as long as N. Korea is still a buffer state.

Yes, you read it here first, "Bush sought diplomatic solutions" with North Korea. Well, either that or the Clinton policy verifiably prevented DPRK progress on nukes, but the Bush policy (or lack thereof) allowed the entry of the most unhinged nation on earth into the Nuclear Club. Yeah. One of those.

But let's blame Obama's milquetoast policy. Not like it worked in this case, anyway...

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