If it weren’t for the fact that North Korea might someday make good on its bluster and launch a nuclear strike against one of its neighbors or the United States, its chronic shenanigans would be downright laughable.
North Korea is a dangerous whiner. It breaks promises and calls other nations duplicitous; it insults other nations — nations that provide food and energy assistance because they don’t want innocent millions to starve — and then takes umbrage when they threaten sanctions. It operates in defiance of international norms, using its limited wealth to build weapons while allowing its people to go hungry.
In the present cycle, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has directed his key military leaders to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures” in retaliation for U.N. sanctions that Kim holds the United States responsible for.
He didn’t specify what sort of retaliation he has in mind, but the betting is that he’ll schedule another nuclear test and launch more long-range rockets. He has left no doubt about his eventual target: the United States.
But Kim, who despite his youth is both the supreme military and party leader, isn’t just angry at the United States. Kim also has expressed disdain with China, which in serving as North Korea’s largest trading partner and source of fuel, has been a better friend to North Korea than North Korea deserves.
China’s recent offense was to support the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for stricter sanctions against North Korea. The move, which enabled the resolution to pass unanimously, was unusual for China, and stemmed from North Korea’s mid-December rocket launch. Though China has long stood up for North Korea, it has increasingly done so in recent years less because it agrees with North Korea than to maintain regional stability.
Not surprisingly, the Security Council determined that North Korea’s real purpose with its December launch was to test its intercontinental ballistic missile technology — which had been prohibited.
Caught in the act, the North last week dropped any pretense that it was pursuing a peaceful missile program and told the world what the world already knew: that it was redirecting its efforts to punish the United States in retaliation for America’s many offenses against North Korea. Now, Pyongyang insists, it has no choice but to “defend its sovereignty by itself.”