North Korea’s Swan Song

North Korea’s recent underground nuclear test on Monday seems to be their swan song. It has to be. The repressive Communist regime doesn’t have much time left in their existence and they know it. Kim Jong-Il’s hold on power is slipping and so they pull off stunts like this to try and extend their existence as long as possible.

I say this because it makes no sense for the North Koreans to launch their second nuclear test in three years other than to ease their way into legitimacy. Becoming a nuclear power puts you into a very exclusive club. And with that membership comes respect. Nations will not necessarily respect your leadership or what you stand for, but they will definitely respect your technological ability to wipe a country off the face of the map. It makes you legitimate. And military legitimacy is what Kim Jong-Il is seeking at this moment.

North Korea’s government continues to hold its firm grasp on power only because they have successfully kept their people afraid of outside influences. Marxism’s suspicion of bourgeois elitism makes the entire global capitalist world seem like one giant threat to North Korea’s existence.

Everybody is out to get them, as Kim would like his people to think. Those vicious Americans, Japan: its mortal enemy, their unfortunate anti-proletariat South Korean brethren, and even China, a Communist nation in name only. Kim justifies spending more money on military and nuclear might than food, education, and infrastructure because what is the point of any of those things after the Americans obliterate them from the face of the planet?

Bush used tough language against the North Koreans after an unsuccessful nuclear test in 2006 and a long range missile test in 2007. Last April a supposed satellite launch was conducted in order to test the young Obama administration’s foreign policy savvy. The language used by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been less harsh but stern nevertheless.

News has just come in that North Korea has launched an additional three missiles off their east coast on Tuesday, May 26. Japan has now talked about preparing for a pre-emptive attack against North Korea, despite a clause in their constitution prohibiting offensive military action. When a nation starts to prepare for a war that they are not allowed to conduct, that is when you know things are getting serious. As world leaders scramble to come up with a response to these disturbing developments, it is becoming evident that the global community will not stand idly by any longer.

North Korea owns more than 200 Nodong missiles that have the capability to strike either Japan or South Korea. The Japanese and the Americans fear Kim will use these missiles to transport a nuclear warhead someday. Though their ability to make a working nuclear missile is in doubt, there is obviously enough fear within U.S. intelligence to develop an anti-missile defense system in Japan with the purpose of shooting down any incoming aerial attack.

Which brings up the obvious question: why would North Korea pull such a stunt? A nuclear North Korea can only result in one thing: war. No matter how occupied the U.S. is in the Middle East, any kind of military action short of a full-out invasion is definitely on the table. And if a full-out invasion were to happen, one can assume it would consist of a coalition of nations other than the United States. A nuclear North Korea will not be tolerated by the global community.

Naval blockades, economic sanctions, and condemnation from the outside world is not enough to convince Kim to halt his nuclear proliferation program. He kicked out United Nations weapons inspectors and has made no effort to draw down anytime soon. The only logical explanation to explain Kim’s actions is that he wants to start a war.

Excuse me? He wants to start a war? How crazy is that? Who in their right mind would want the global community to start a war against you? I am no psychologist, but I think I know what is going through Kim Jong-Il’s insane mind. Just bear with me.

Kim knows his grip on power will not last forever. His own health is in question and no strong successor seems ready to take up his mantle. Communism as a system died out in 1991 and China is becoming more and more capitalistic. China will soon become one of the world’s largest economic powers, if they are not there already. Russia, one of North Korea’s strongest allies, has turned their back on them. The Kremlin wants to strengthen their hold on global power, so allying themselves with a poverty-stricken Communist nation would not be the way to do that.

Speaking of poverty, North Korea has one of the worst standards of living in the world. As I mentioned before, they spend more money on military and defense spending than anything else. The international community has to give them food in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis. How can you expect to protect your people when you can’t even adequately feed them?

A coup hasn’t happened yet because Kim has convinced the people that the current government is needed to protect them from dangerous outsiders. But I think people are seeing that the only thing that’s endangering North Korea’s national security is Kim Jong-Il, not the U.S., Japan, South Korea, or Europe. His reckless actions are making his enemies more likely to attack them than anything else.

That said, it makes sense that Kim would want an invasion, even if it’s small like a naval attack or an air strike, because it would convince his people that the current government is needed to protect the motherland. If Kim were to either successfully drive out a foreign invading force or survive an attack intact (similar to what Hezbollah achieved after Israel’s bombardment of them in the summer of 2006), it would strengthen their hold on power and further keep his people dependent on him. Kim is yet to show what his military can do. He needs a chance to prove to people that all his military spending is justified. A foreign invasion would do just the trick.

If the international community continues to take no action and North Korea’s economy continues to sink further into the toilet, the people will lose their confidence in the government and demand that something else take its place. Wait, a militaristic government’s reckless actions resulting in the people wanting change? Sounds familiar.

Thus explains why I believe this recent nuclear experiment is North Korea’s swan song. North Korea as we know it is coming to an end. Kim’s repressive regime will take either one of two directions: it will implode internally, resulting in a coup or an abdication of power, or a foreign invasion will come in and create a “regime change” similar to what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Either way, this small Communist country’s days are now numbered. And Kim knows it.

I predict North Korea will change governments, open up to the global community, and even consider reuniting with the South (though that is a very distant dream) within 15 to 20 years. Maybe that day will come even sooner. What happens as a result of this recent feat will determine what the future of Northeast Asia will look like. In other words, the Obama administration can single handedly affect what happens to the Korean peninsula in the next decade. Hillary Clinton should pick her battles wisely.

And so should Kim. If wants to prepare for a war, he should literally prepare for a war. Any additional nuclear proliferation in his country will not go on deaf ears. The United States may not have found weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq, but they will definitely find some in Kim’s lap if he does anything else foolish.

And knowing his track record, that is not hard to imagine.

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