DeM Banter: With the unrest in the world… it is amazing we lack any sort of real national strategy or prioritization to deal with it…or at least prepare for it. When drafting “Wondering Where The Lions Are” I came across this quote that has stuck in my head ever since..“Most people assume there are all sorts of ‘master plans’ being pursued throughout the US government. But, amazingly, we are still searching for a vision to replace the decades-long containment strategy that America pursued to counter the Soviet threat.” — Thomas Barnett
I really don’t want to be the conspiracy theorist, the naysayer, the freakshow…but really…what does America stand for? Issues around the globe…many are stemming from the real or perceived loss of American power and influence… we are not even saying BOO as these things occur… once again, I fear we believe we are smarter than history….
View Original / Politico / 15 Dec 2013
“The more you approach infinity,” the French novelist Gustave Flaubert wrote, “the deeper you penetrate terror.”
So it is with Kim Jong Un, already the most dangerous man in the most precarious nuclear state in the world. After the swift execution this week of his uncle-cum-regent, Jang Song Taek, he has become even more dangerous. Kim has boxed himself into a corner where it is hard to fathom a peaceful future for either his family dynasty or the country he rules.
The full implications of this bloody purge will reveal themselves over time as additional disturbing revelations seep out. But Kim’s murderous act leaves an indelible stain. Global risk is now heightened, as the slaughter at the top of Pyongyang’s pyramid locks Kim into a reign of terror, with consequences that threaten the security of the entire region.
There is little doubting Uncle Jang’s “acts of treachery.” To be sure, some of the myriad charges against Jang, listed in a remarkable North Korean news release, belong in the theater of the absurd (underselling his nephew’s stunning achievements, presumably a water park in East Pyongyang and a ski resort set to open at month’s end). But there was indeed skullduggery afoot. Clearly Jang was guilty of building his personal power, a threat to the 30-year-old Kim, whose bloodline entitles him, not the man who married his aunt, to claim the mantle of his father, the late “Dear Leader.”
The abrupt and brutal manner in which Kim dispatched his uncle highlights a disturbing degree of cruelty and erratic behavior. South Korean National Assembly Chairman of Information Seo Sang-gi said he was told that Jang and his subordinates were executed with machine guns and flamethrowers. Kim’s challengers may be silenced for now, but their ranks are undoubtedly on alert as to what must be done—a fact that can only add to the young tyrant’s paranoia.
Jang’s execution is alarming for reasons beyond what it says about Kim’s state of mind. He was not just Kim’s uncle; he was a powerful figure inside the regime, and many saw him as an advocate of gradual, Chinese-style reform. That made him a key interlocutor for Beijing, because what Chinese officials fear most about North Korea is not its nuclear weapons or its grandiose threats to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire,” but a collapse of the North Korean state that would send millions of starving refugees streaming across its border. China’s plan for a soft landing appeared to include a combination of personal cooption (Jang was reportedly deep into Chinese pockets) and hard infrastructure (investments in special economic zones and resource extraction). Now, that dream has died with Uncle Jang.
Indeed, a complete economic meltdown seems inevitable. Kim’s relentless determination to pursue nuclear weapons, coupled with his ruthless brand of authoritarianism, will deter foreign investment and accelerate North Korea’s decline. Despite hopes that his Swiss education would give him a more Western outlook, Kim has failed to follow through on any significant economic reforms. His concern for domestic enemies will ensure that yet more resources are poured into security and defense—a vicious downward spiral from which North Korea might never recover.