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North Korea, with its obese leader and its starving masses, may have crossed a line

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 03, 2013.

One of the irritating things about being the most powerful nation is that the US has to sit and take a certain amount of abuse from thugs and incompetents because those sorts gain stature by the image of standing up to Goliath. It also allows them to use us as a threat to their people to excuse scarcity and incompetence. There are many variations, of course, but neither Castro not Chavez nor Saddam nor any of the strutting thugs in Africa has proven as annoying or dangerous as North Korea. Many people don't remember that while the Korean War ended on the field, it never actually ended in fact, and we've been in a cease fire for sixty years.

The late Christopher Hitchens wrote scathingly about what is, actually, a nation officially ruled by a corpse, assisted by another more recent corpse, and now personified by a morbidly obese unknown quantity who, like his grandfather and father, enjoys being lionized by the military and developing nuclear weapons and posing as the mighty alpha male he clearly is not, as they were not. Under the rule of this family, North Koreans became, on average, six inches shorter than the South Koreans. They cannot farm efficiently nor do they have much to trade and they have inflicted a huge chronic program of starvation on their people. They are also total racists, whose views on other people make our own white supremacists look enlightened.

It is true and irrelevant that the US has worked against them developing trade as we did with Cuba. But, North Korea shares its only land border with China, long its supporter and enabler. While China has to enjoy the irritant factor North Korea provides the US, it has become a developing society facing bravely into the wind in some areas and becoming rich while North Korea is its rotting appendix. South Korea and China have much in common today regarding trade and policies but neither has, really, anything in common with the feudal Hermit Kingdom, as the North is sometimes called in an attempt to civilize its image.

Last week, North Korea announced that it has dissolved the armistice agreement and this week began shutting down the few interactions it had with the South, including the phone line set up to offset misunderstandings. In the past, the world would grimace and listen to the bombastic fictions screamed by the North, and eventually donated food the North would kindly accept in exchange for thus and so. It was easier to do so than to squash it like a bug, which all indications suggest would be a reasonable and deserved response. But they didn't do that because of China, which supported the North during the war with armies on the ground.

But Cho en Lai and Mao are long gone, and China is rising to what it should have been for centuries: a powerful, competent, civilized power not terribly warlike, although they are slowly building a Navy and not reducing their military by much. The same could be said of Russia and ourselves, as it's all in the spin as to what's an increase and what's a replacement.

Of the three nations in the Axis of Evil, only North Korea was ever an actual and current threat with all sorts of weapons including proto-nuclear, and whose government is arguably insane and killing swaths of their own people by starvation while their current executive is obese. Even if they cannot hit the US, they most certainly could flatten large areas of their southern neighbor and the dead toll would be horrific. In short, North Korea meets all the criteria presented about Saddam and Iraq. But we did nothing. I'm not so sure this can continue.

There is no way out for North Korea. They are totally dependent upon international support, but cannot admit it. They tell their people that the delivered food is the tribute the world pays to their current Dear Leader, and that they are the best off of anyone on the planet. That used to work, doubt it still does given even restricted access to the Internet and interaction with the South.

When some get upset over Iran making a nuke, I suspect North Korea is the nation absolutely nobody wants to be nuclear, absent the religious nuts hoping for world's end. This week, North Korea announced it is again starting up its nuclear program big time. In the past it could be bought off. Already inundated by fleeing and starving North Koreans, China may well be the nation most motivated to squash the Hermit Kingdom. It would be nice if they did.