Monday, December 19, 2011

An Il Wind from North Korea

To the President whispered the Queen,
As the Dictator passed from the scene:
"The foe that we know
Is preferred to the foe
that we don't, If you see what I mean."

The death of North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il incited mass displays of hysterical grieving in that country. Reactions among the global political and military elite tended more toward anxious calculation, as each country tries to figure out what the passing of the torch to Kim Jong Un, the late dictator's youngest son, will mean for them. China, in particular, would like to sustain its neighbor's government, both to avoid a flood of North Korean refugees in the event of that state's collapse, as well as to act as a buffer against South Korea, Japan and the US. The latter three are hoping, first and foremost, that "a 27-year-old running a repressive regime with nuclear weapons" (in the words of a US defense official) does not do anything rash.

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