North Korea and China’s End-game
The recent alarmist rhetoric coming out of North Korea resulting in reactionary stories and hyper sensationalized headlines from both sides of the Mediaocracy is nothing short comical–a tragedy of commons for a failing and destitute nation. This though is nothing new, it is the same old song and dance from a rogue nation still clinging to a failed ideology, struggling to assert itself on the international front. It has been seen time and time again, from Kim Jong Il posturing in 2009 when the United States engaged in war games on South Korean soil, to the failed launch of the Taepodong-2 long range missile. This seems to be a recurring strategy, every time the United States and South Korea engage in joint military exercises on or near the Korean peninsula, North Korea pulls out its soapbox, dusts off the saber of Cold War euphemisms and nuclear rhetoric, and then their dear leader recedes back into the lap of “western” luxury, with a snifter of Hennessy.
While the recent announcement of North Korea’s Nuclear test in February is cause for “concern”, the rhetoric of the announcement belays the ruse. The lack of a fissile material signature congruent with an underground detonation only adds to the mystery–sometimes an earthquake is just an earthquake. The actions and “war threats” leveled by Kim Jong Un, are nothing short of Junior world leader taking his new-found power for a test drive–showing the world that he does no live in the shadow of his father–while relying on the same old playbook. This is the first real test of how the son of one of the most unstable leaders in this free world will handle a diplomatic situation, and of course the world is playing true to their cue (Language NSFW).
On the world stage North Korea has invoked the ire of the international community, with continuing escalation of nuclearization rhetoric, to finally leveling the threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the U.S. on Friday (March.8.2013), and purporting to have ICBM’s with nuclear tipped heads,(the failed Taepodong missile tests negates this claim) the UN has now taken the lead in the intricate tango that is North Korean-Global relations. The recent round of sanctions leveled by the international community were the result of a push by the United States, with bilateral negotiations with China, but the question remains, how effective will this round be. Sanctions were leveled after the 2006 and 2009 round of nuclear tests and yet here we stand today, at the brink of a war of words, something echoing Cold War era negotiations with the former Soviet Union. There is the fact that this most recent round resulted in North Korea escalating to declare that it would engage in a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” against the United States. So one has to wonder about two things: the efficacy of economic sanctions against a rogue nation which has nothing to lose, as well as China’s role in the drafting of the resolution. It is a well known fact that China is on semi-freindly relations with The Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea, “ever since Chinese fighters flooded onto the Korean peninsula to fight for their comrades in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1950;” China has been one the nations main ally’s- economically and politically. Due to this, one has to question the China’s end-game in all this, while the most recent round of sanctions effectively hinders North Korea from engaging in “normalized” trade relations with China, China’s enforcement of this round remains suspect:
….China’s trade with North Korea has steadily increased in recent years. Bilateral trade between China and North Korea reached nearly $6 billion in 2011, according to official Chinese data. Park writes that much of China’s economic interactions with North Korea are not actually prohibited by the current UN sanctions regime, as Beijing characterizes them as economic development and humanitarian activities. China’s enforcement of the UN sanctions is also unclear, says a January 2010 report (PDF) from the U.S. Congressional Research Service, which notes that Chinese exports of banned luxury goods averaged around $11 million per month in 2009.(http://www.cfr.org/china/china-north-korea-relationship/p11097)
So the big questions that should be weighing on everyone’s mind at this point are, did China provide North Korea the means to establish a working nuclear research program by hiding and reclassifying the exportation of materials and equipment under a different heading to avoid international scrutiny, is China secretly laughing at the world community while North Korea acts as its nuclear puppet in order to safeguard its economic suzerainty over the international community.
These are the questions that we should really be asking, North Korea is no Goliath that needs to be conquered.
Cold-War Iconography Isn’t Dead
The resurgence of the threat of nuclear attack from a rogue nation should come as no surprise to anyone in this day and age. Not with the United States overstretched militarily, waging a war in the Middle East that shadows the Vietnam conflict, the next logical step is to revive the Cold-War ideology and maxims, identifying an aggressor in order to invoke fear and a sense of hyper-nationalism from a country that is in the throes of an ideological crisis. With the ideological fragmentation of the Grand Old Party and the Democrats resistance towards any substantial policy promoting the common interests of the citizens outside the scope of the bourgeois elite of Wall Street, what better way to polarize a nation than the threat of nuclear war? Surely everyone remembers “Duck and Cover and the ever important “How to Spot a Communist.”
The iconography of the Cold War has seen a resurgence in recent offerings from Hollywood, from the jingoistic message in the remake of Red Dawn, to the more chilling imagery of the movie The Divide, the message is loud and clear, the nation should once again fear nuclear aggression.
Hollywood’s remake of Red Dawn is disturbing in and of itself. Aside from being a literal frame by frame adaptation of the 1984 cult classic in which the Soviet Union in consort with the Nicaraguan and Cuban military invade the USA, its main plot is the same; a communist nation invades the U.S., guerrilla warfare is waged by young American patriots and the United States prevails against evil. The only deviation made was that instead of resurrecting the old dogs of the Cold-War, the filmmakers chose to use North Korea as the primary agent of aggression, clearly an attempt to strengthen animosity and prime the pump for America to accept its “fate”
The Divide on the other hand, doesn’t identify a specific Asian country as the aggressor, but alludes to that end through the chosen language of the invaders and the method of attack; whether they want us to accept China as the agent of aggression or North Korea, the message is the same, fear the impact of a nuclear war. The movie details the destabilization of social order within the confines of a fallout bunker and Michael Biehn gives a stellar performance, but one cannot help but look at the overall message.
In this ever-growing “nuclearized” climate, is the threat of nuclear attack something we need to be concerned with, or should we be more concerned with the attempts to revive Cold-War iconography and the possibility of an American “pre-emptive strike” against North Korea if they do not de-escalate?
A permanent state of war and the strengthening of the military industrial complex has driven this nation to the brink of bankruptcy, no empire has ever comeback from this brink, they have only stepped further into the void.