Monday, October 09, 2006
NUK nuke skepticism
NK is a pile of independent mini fiefdoms run by local power apparatchiks. As James Fallows writes in a must-read piece, NK is likely following the standard Seven Stages of Collapse:
Phase One: resource depletion;
Phase Two: the failure to maintain infrastructure around the country because of resource depletion;
Phase Three: the rise of independent fiefs informally controlled by local party apparatchiks or warlords, along with widespread corruption to circumvent a failing central government;
Phase Four: the attempted suppression of these fiefs by the KFR once it feels that they have become powerful enough;
Phase Five: active resistance against the central government;
Phase Six: the fracture of the regime; and
Phase Seven: the formation of new national leadership.
North Korea probably reached Phase Four in the mid-1990s, but was saved by subsidies from China and South Korea, as well as by famine aid from the United States. It has now gone back to Phase Three.
The whole government there exists for one reason: to maintain the power and lifestyle of their <0.0001 % elite. Jong Il is a classic buffoon - he's the Zaphod Beeblebrox figure, the guy who wields ostensible power to draw attention away from those who really do.
The only reason that NK gets the bribes is because Seaoul is a hostage. And 20+ million semi-starved peasants who become Somebody's Else's Problem should the regime fail.
And it amazes me that people think that a nation that looks like a prehistoric wasteland from space at night can actually maintain the infrastructure required for nuclear weapons. Anyone with a glimmer of understanding about what it takes to manufacture a working weapon should be incredibly skeptical.
What do we do, then? Perhaps surprisingly to some of you, I think there wasn't much else we could do. So I don't fault the Bush Administration for yesterday's events. We need to stop giving the NK its bribes, and ride out the ensuing collapse. But we need to be frank about the fact that the collapse is coming and put into place some preparation for it, something that the present Administration is probably not going to do given its preoccupation with other messes ofits own making.
So we have to wait until new leadership in 2008 and hope that NK's feeble society can still keep itself somewhat together for another decade while we get ready for the biggest humanitarian crisis in Asia that looms on the horizon.
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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.