The North Korean regime is suicidal, and seems intent on taking others with it. Perhaps lots of others.
Despite a previous lull, and despite alleged entreaties and sanctions from its patron, China – which said it would intervene after heavy pressure and maybe even some scare tactics from the Trump administration – North Korea fired off another ballistic missile on Tuesday.
It came perilously close to Japan, landing in its territorial waters – prompting an emergency cabinet meeting in Tokyo and of the U.N. Security Council.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been joked about for years by American comedians, laughed off as a goofball who has hung around eccentric former American basketball player Dennis Rodman – and even derided dismissively as “Rocket Man” by President Trump.
But each new missile launch or nuclear test makes this less of a joke, and the missile firing on Tuesday (American time) was more ominous than the last one in mid-September – coming so close to Japan and so long after the last launch.
Clearly, ominously, everything the U.S. has tried for several decades – including sanctions, bribery and blunt Trumpian threats – has failed to stop Pyongyang’s march toward regional warfare.
These people. Are. Insane.
In the 21st century, you would think nation-states would be mature and secure enough – or at the very least that the survival instinct would kick in enough – to stop threatening peaceful neighbors, not to mention the most powerful nation on Earth.
What is it going to take to end this alarming game of chicken, which threatens the lives of millions of innocent souls in the region and endangers the stability of Asia and the world economy? When will China put its considerable foot down? Does the American consumer have to cut China off without a cent before China does the same with North Korea?
How does this end well?
Consider, too, the humanitarian mess that is unfolding under the opaque North Korean canopy, the extent of which we can only guess at.
Several North Korean boats have washed up on Japan’s shoreline – the last one with eight partially skeletonized bodies – indicating either possible desperate defections, or heavy government pressure on North Koreans to alleviate food shortages by fishing on less-than-seaworthy boats.
And recently a North Korean soldier drew four bullet wounds from his comrades in a desperate bloody run for South Korea. Surgeries on the defector, named Oh, included one for what authorities said were 10-inch-long parasitic worms.
The ghastly parasites “tell a story of the humanitarian and health crisis gripping North Korea even as it expends significant resources in its effort to become a global nuclear power,” writes Cleve R. Wootson Jr. in The Washington Post – who notes that members of the military “typically have a higher ranking on the food-rationing list” than other North Koreans.
“In a 2014 study,” Wootson writes, “South Korean doctors checked a sample of 17 female defectors from North Korea and found seven of them infected with parasitic worms, according to the BBC.”
“North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is starving his people to pay for nuclear weapons,” Newsweek wrote in March.
Kim’s people must live with the food woes; it’s the rest of the world that is being asked to live with the weapons.