It's been a hard 36 hours (or however long it's been). Two of Tom Lehrer's classic 1960s songs ("We Will All Go Together When We Go" and "Who's Next?") have been running through my head (competing with the Dona nobis pacem from Haydn's Mass in Time of War), I've been reviewing things I used to know, and wondering just how--and how badly--the Shrubbery is going to fuck up this latest crisis.
On the one hand, there is speculation in the international community that the North Korean "nuclear test" may not have been nuclear at all. I'm not sure I believe it completely, but since the people who are pushing the hypothesis know more than I do about such matters, I can't just arbitrarily dismiss it, either. If true, however, I don't think it much matters, as I pointed out yesterday in a comment on one of my earlier posts. One thing on which all analysts seem to be able to agree is that this announcement was Kim Jong Il's version of a two-year-old's "I'm going to hold my breath until I turn blue!" temper tantrum. Kim hasn't been feeling any love from the Shrubbery these days, so he did what he could to get his best
boy girl friend to pay some attention to him again.
He accomplished that goal in spades. Though I can't say as I think he's going to like the kind of attention he's about to attract--whether from Bush or from any other world leaders. Even Kim's staunchest allies have very sternly rebuked him for upsetting the local balance of terror along the Asian Rim. Bryan has a good summary up, which you should go read if you haven't already done so.
But there, too, I can't say as I particularly like the way that kaleidoscope falls into focus. South Korea, for all its positives, is not what I would consider a tremendously stable nation--even if its instability is orders of magnitude smaller than that of the World's Worst Elvis Impersonator. So I don't really like the idea of them getting into either an arms race or a nuclear pissing contest with their neighbor to the north. I don't know precisely how I feel about Japan considering bucking the provisions in its MacArthur constitution that prevent it from being a militaristic society and also from having nuclear weapons. I don't like the idea of anybody having the damn things, but if there's one country that could legitimately claim to have a right to them, it would have to be the only country in the world ever to have been bombed with them in wartime.
But I can absolutely, with no hesitation, predict the reaction of Japan's neighbors--to say nothing of her former
partners victims in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere to such news. To put it mildly, they will soil themselves. Repeatedly. And then they'll start clamoring to be allowed to buy defense technology from somebody--whether that be us or the Russians, or some other supplier. And while the world markets seem to have reacted with a "ho-hum" to the news that North Korea has openly proclaimed its membership in the Nukular Kidz Klub, I have to think the reaction to a remilitarized Japan, a nuclearized South Korea, and an Asia-wide arms race-cum-mutually assured destruction pact is not going to be as rosy as all that.
Some days, I can almost understand why people drink the Kool-Aid. Life's a lot easier when one has only to listen to all the pundits telling one to relax and not worry, better minds than one's own are working on the problem and will ensure that it all turns out for the best.
Yeah. 'Cuz their track record on that front is just sooooooo good.