The North Korean Appeasement Routine May Not Work This Time

Many believe that the recent troublemaking by North Korea is a repeat of that country’s tried-and-true pattern of threats and military muscle-flexing followed by appeasement in the form of food and energy aid by the free world.

This time, however, there’s a key difference: North Korea has a new leader. He’s young and inexperienced, and probably hotheaded and cocky, without the learning that comes with years of governing. And there’s probably no elder around to give him wise counsel, because in North Korea all power is in the single leader. It is presumed by North Koreans that he is all-knowing, and there’s likely no one whose rank and status are close enough to his to be in a position to give him that counseling. Perhaps if a cooler head tried that, he’d be purged or shot.

Now we, and especially South Korea, should start to worry. North Korea announced that it’s tearing up the armistice between it and South Korea. It’s done that before, but not with a brand new inexperienced leader. Last Saturday it announced it had formally entered a “state of war” with South Korea, and that and “all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol.”

That was talk, but now there’s action. There are reports of a big jump in activity at North Korean missile sites.

This is serious. A wrong move by either side could turn into a hot war. The way Kim Jong Un has been acting, that even may be what he wants. After all, a long-held goal of the North is reunification with the South. Under Communist rule.

Given that there’s probably no one within the North Korean government with the rank or stature to counsel Kim Jong Un with the right advice, China needs to send emissaries there to do so. And/or Russia. And if the Obama administration isn’t already urging China and Russia to use their clout with the North Korean leader to help defuse this situation, then it most certainly should start doing so.

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