There is a remembered time of the nineteen-sixties when we all marched to plead with those supposedly wiser than us to ban ‘The Bomb’. We were nations tired of war, sickened by the bestiality of Hiroshima, and more than a little afraid. We recall the Cuban Blockade and a blunt Russian with porcine features banging his shoe on his desk before the United Nations Assembly.
From Nikita Khrushchev to Kim Jon-Un; from October 12th 1960 to – when? October 12th, 2017?
I’m sure most of us have a personal image of Kim Jong-Un. Mine is of a fat oriental enthroned before a pool full of barracuda, stroking a white Persian cat. No matter how amusing his appearance and manners, however, we should be taking him very seriously indeed.
Prima Facie he is the stage villain, interlacing his strutted hour with dire threats signifying nothing, but behind the Shakespearian façade lies a fatal combination of ambition and delusion. You can negotiate with ambition, but you can’t reason with someone who is delusional because they have a reality that is separate from yours; nor can you control them, because that reality has a different set of rules.
Kim appears, at least, to be very intelligent. This may be because he is Queen Ant in a large heap of collective intelligence, or an attribute solely his own; personally, I suspect the former. Whichever is the case, his regime has successfully conducted a black economy for many years, fuelling his nuclear ambitions with illegal exports, laundered money and bogus ‘banks’, the proceeds from which have not only enabled him to build a substantial war machine, but kept the People’s Republic of North Korea’s elite in luxury while its subjects struggle by on incomes averaging a thousand dollars a year.
Despite sanctions, PRNK manages to trade with about eighty countries throughout the world, including such as Germany and France. The vast majority of that trade, though, is with China. Chinese oil keeps the engines of the North Korean economy turning, and Chinese banking allegedly launders the money for its nefarious projects. China is the one nation with the power to bring Kim to heel.
PRNK’s lunatic ambitions expose our saner world to a number of dangers, not least of which is nuclear proliferation. In the publicity surrounding Kim’s inspection of his nice new miniature H-bomb he took care to emphasize its capacity for mass production: North Korea’s arms trade with Syria and Iran thrives. They should make eager buyers.
So, is this it? Has the West, which has kept the lid of Pandora’s jar screwed firmly down for seventy years finally met with someone mad enough to open it? We must have expected this, surely? We must have made other plans?
Every now and again, history throws up a monster whose fame is measured by genocide. Ultimately, it was left to a combination of American presidential strength and the political checks and balances within USSR to prevent Nikita Krushchev from joining that small, exclusive club. Do such checks and balances exist today within PRNK, or is the comical figure of Kim Jong-Un destined to be next, and by far the greatest of its members?