, Newburyport, MA


April 17, 2013

A madman at the helm


As our intelligence sources report the preparation of missiles at North Korean launch sites, Kim’s rhetoric grows more heated by the day. The latest North Korean pronouncement Friday declares that nuclear war is “inevitable” and that Tokyo will be “consumed in nuclear flames.”

Perhaps this is all just noise to get for North Korea what Kim Jong Un wants. But just what he wants is difficult to determine.

Is Kim hoping his threats will yield an end to economic sanctions and increased food aid to his starving country? Or is his act aimed at an internal audience — an attempt by an untested young man to show he is as “tough” as his father and grandfather?

Either way, the United States has little choice but to prepare for the worst.

Nowhere on Earth is the contrast between free-market democracy and totalitarian communism more stark than at the border between the two Koreas. Satellite photos taken at night show South Korea gleaming with electric vitality; the North is as dark as a grave.

Surely Kim understands that the United States has a vital interest in the continued freedom of South Korea. And just as surely, he must understand our patience with his antics cannot last indefinitely.

China has long been North Korea’s chief patron and likely has little interest in Kim Jong Un’s sideshow.

Our best chance for long-term influence in North Korea may be through Beijing.

We have serious philosophical differences with the Chinese government. But at least there we are dealing with rational people.

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