July 11, 2006

Rorschach Missiles

Failed tests of ICBMs from the DPRK are a Rorschach test: responses reveal more about the beholder than the inkblot....

Tokyo, newly proud and reenergized by a recently recovered economy, has arrived at a remarkable transition. Japan is ready to shake off its constitutionally mandated postwar pacifism, with defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga claiming that a preemptive strike could be justified "within the constitutional right of self-defense." A baldly offensive threat of violence from Korea has awoken the old Samaurai.

In Washington, defense chief Rumsfeld is no longer so bold. Instead the politically battered Bush administration has tasked Rice's state department with the job of avoiding more foreign policy disasters. Talk of the Axis of Evil has been replaced by diplomatic envoys in China. Bush seems to have learned the thanklessness of being the world's only superpower. Perhaps China will step up to the plate and take responsibility for part of the planet.

Beijing is showing its true character: extreme conservatism in favor of stability at any cost. Chinese leadership finds itself in the position of an Enron CEO that has put off an accounting problem a little bit too long - even as the fragile supports holding up the North Korean regime are crumbling, even as the world wakes up to the disaster that is the DPRK, there seems to be no alternative but to try to put off the problem still further. China prefers to maintan the status quo in the face of seething corruption. This tells us more about the future of China than Korea.

And the South Koreans look at the Rorshach Missiles and Nuclear Bombs and see their children's future. What kind of neighbor will they have in 50 years when Kim Jong Il is long gone? An ostracised, isolated, violently chaotic Somalia? Instead the South wants a kind of German-style unification that the North is unprepared for today. So Seoul has been patiently working on economic cooperation to try to educate their cousins in the North about the lost lessons of capitalism and governance. In the South it is obvious that sanctions would be a move in the wrong direction.

While the rest of the world fears violence, fears change, and fears responsibility, the South Koreans are willing to risk it all to bet on a brighter future. We should all be so wise.

Posted by David at July 11, 2006 06:19 PM

You know that the biggest fear of South Koreans is reunification with the North and the economic depression it will bring, not so much nuclear war?

W made a huge mistake playing hardball with DPRK. Things were going ok till that point. After doing an about face on Clinton and Kim Dae Jung's Sunshine Policy, that really brought on all this weird posturing by the North. Ah, it makes me super angry to think of it.

Posted by: mapgirl at July 13, 2006 06:21 AM
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