The North Korean Headache

by on July 29th, 2005

It is clear – North Korea is delusional. Apparently, it has dreams of taking the place of the Soviet Union simply by opposing the West. The delusion is manifest in their imagination of themselves to be of any significant importance in the world (economically, politically or culturally), as the Soviet Union certainly was.

Attempting to deal with North Korea is like attempting to perform a root canal on yourself (the latter may actually be more pleasant). By comparison, the Soviet Union then, and Russia now, is a refreshing bastion of reason and humility.

But is N. Korea’s position and behavior really as absurd as it seems? Well, yes. But, it may also be understood by referring to your Intro to Psych textbook from freshman year…

Yesterday, N. Korea officially rejected the 2004 U.S. proposal, offering aid and security guarantees in exchange for dismantlement of N. Korea’s nuclear program. All this during the 6-party talks, which are looking a lot like that awful scene in a supermarket – where the incompetent parents are powerless in the face of a child’s temper tantrum. The child knows full well that if he continues to scream long enough, he’ll get that ice cream he’s not supposed to have. He knows, because it worked last week.

… Or last decade, in N. Korea’s case. Lets remember that Bill Clinton sent Jimmy Carter to meet with Kim Jong-Il. Carter returned victorious with Kim’s signature on a piece of paper. For that signature, and without any demand for verification, we handed over hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, food, oil and a nuclear reactor. In 1998, the Administration declared that N. Korea ceased its active ballistic missile program. One week after the statement, N. Korea launched a missile over Japan that landed off the coast of Alaska.

Now, N. Korea says it has thus far avoided building up a nuclear arsenal, but that it would begin do so if the standoff with the United States was not resolved to its liking (Stephanie Hoo, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, July 28).

What kind of ice cream would you like this time, Mr. Kim?

John McDonald