I've been watching the news today with a mixture of horror and resignation. I knew this was coming, but had hoped that somehow someone in the Echelons Above Reality had a cunning plan to somehow slip Li'l Kim a deal under the table to buy him off. I mean, this guy is somewhere out on the far end of whack, but he has repeatedly tried to get a place at the table with the U.S. He wants to hang on to his ratfuck of a country, and now he's got the lever - or at least the beginning of a lever - to blackmail his neighbors into helping him.
The South Koreans and the Chinese are on a cleft stick. They now can't afford to have Kim fail. Before this it was just the spectre of an East Germany-like economic meltdown as they tried to keep the lifeless corpse of a post-Kim dead PRNK from falling on them and killing their economy. NOW they have to sweat what will happen when the whacko in Pyongyang looks out the window and sees a company of his Special Forces coming over the wall shouting "Bang, bang, you dead mothafoka!"
The combination of Abe in the premiership and nukes in the North make Japanese rearmament a serious issue.
And I have no idea what the hell we can do.
My understanding is that our intel penetration into the North is perhaps the poorest anywhere on the planet. We have virtualy no economic leverage there (and the people with the economic levers, China and the South, have an almost diametrically opposed view of the "best" way to handle this guy) and our military options seem pretty restricted.
Do we try and bomb? Again, my understanding is that we have a VERY incomplete target set, that the North has done some serious hardening of their nuke plant system, and the potential for chemical retaliation into the South is considerable.
A land invasion, for the same reason, seems off the table. As Napoleon would have said: "Des troupes? Où veut t'il que j'en prenne?! Veut t'il que j'en fasse?!"
Containment would seem to be problematic, given the unstable nature of this regime and it's known proclivity for selling its nasty toys to nasty boys.
And I'm not sure that we could offer Kim anything he'd take at this point. Frankly, if I was him, having listend to the Decider decide that he (Kim) was the second cousin to Satan himself and the center spoke in the Axis of Evil...well, look what's happening to the OTHER two Axis powers without the benefit of a nuclear umbrella to keep the steel rain off...
So...I have no idea what the hell we can do. And what I think is sad is that I have no confidence in my national "leadership" do do anything more intelligent than I could. As my wife remarked the last time we went to a minor league hockey game:
"Jesus wept! I could be that inept and I don't expect to get paid for it!"
I have to add that regardless of the success or lack of same of this bomb test - and there seems to be some question whether it WAS a detonation or just a "fizzle" - I think the other "lesson learned" that the assorted pond scum of despots, warlords and crackpots (okay, the despots, warlords and crackpots not currently needed by the people running things in DC...) are gonna take home from this is:
Got a bomb? (or maybe got a bomb, or close enough to a bomb..?) - it's gonna be jaw-jaw, not war-war.
Don't got a bomb? Unca Dick Cheney's got a bomb of his own...with your name on it, slick.
So the difference between Mr. Bush's actions towards Iraq and his rhetoric towards North Korea has GOT to convince any prospective American target - hello, Iran? hello, Venezuela? - that getting their hands on a nuke most quick smart is the ONLY way to stay comfy cozy.
I'm not sure if I feel OK about that.