Thursday, June 25, 2009

We Need to Pay Attention to North Korea

In the media frenzy over Mark Sanford, North Korea’s new hostile actions have been largely ignored. As a US destroyer tailed a North Korean ship suspected of bringing weapons to Myanmar, North Korea threatened to wipe the US off the map a few days ago. Here’s a link to a story:

Just in case, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates moved the THAAD system along with the SBX radar system.

It’s worth thinking through the implications of North Korea’s increased belligerence recently. Remember, just last year, the North Koreans destroyed the water cooling tower at the Yongbyon facility. This supposedly heralded a new era in North Korean relations with the outside world.

North Korea’s actions are making some of our Asian allies nervous. South Korea and Japan might conclude that they need to build their militaries up to safeguard against any threat from North Korea. This in turn should make China nervous—Japan and China have a tortured past—and cause it to further increase its military capabilities. The end-result of all that would be a more destabilized, volatile region.

This all comes as Kim Jong-Il has designated his third son, a 26 year old, to be his successor as ruler of North Korea. Do these actions portend a more contentious future between North Korea and the outside world under the future new ruler. Or is Kim Jong-Il making waves before he dies? Time will tell.

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