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8:32AM

Four Reasons North Korea Won't Stop Being a Pain in the World's Ass

This week's tests were a local propaganda success gone globally awry, and a foreign-policy expert has bad news for us: The totalitarian, war-crime-worthy Pyongyang government and its cult of personality aren't going away anytime soon -- unless, of course, Obama calls Kim Jong-Il's bluff.

Keep reading this week's Esquire column.

Reader Comments (12)

You know, it really is fun writing for Esquire.

Happy birthday (47) to me. I celebrate by writing my first movie review, suitably enough about a barely fictional run-up to war overseas.

See the August print issue.

My first paying gig as movie reviewer!
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
Happy Birthday and many more to you, Tom . .

And may you enjoy writing as much as I enjoy reading it. While at times I might disagree, without intelligent and civil discourse, none of us could arrive at a relly good understanding of what we do and where we're going . . Thanks for your views and knowledge!
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlarge
I see Huntsman's confirmation hearings won't be until the first week of June, so it seems unlikely that we are going to be working closely with China on this in the immediate time-frame (like now). I thought the Huntsman choice was inspired, but I wish it had been made several months earlier. I like the HRC choice at State, but one failing that became very apparent during the campaign is her lack of good managerial skills. Seems as though things aren't moving along at State as quickly as they ought to.
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstuart abrams
Happy Birthday! Enjoy your first half-century while you still can. Stepping into the second half is scary.

As ever, or at least since you and I were in our teens, China occupies the catbird seat regarding NorKo. One could argue that our physical leverage has been next to nil since about the same time.

With that in mind, what was the logic behind the great hue and cry for bilateral US/NorKo talks over the last several years, contra to Bush's preference for six-party talks?

As we're not likely to see the current administration push for a nuclear Japan and SoKo, I'd be interested in hearing some scenarios for reaching the preferred outcome described in the current article's item 3, paragraph 2.

Perhaps it's time for an updated version of the Kim section of your 2/1/05 article?
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Kelley
Happy Birthday Tom
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVincent Bataoel
reducing n.korea to total irrelevance, eh? like my appendix, i hope n. korea doesn't burst.... from sources outside OR within.

i wonder whats playing in the n.korean boxoffice right now....

oh yeah happy birthday. i just had mine too on tuesday (28).
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbaka no ochi no baka
Happy Birthday, it's all downhill from here :-(

In general, I agree with your article. But I think that the US role on the peninsula may move from "face cards" but is still significant. US forces provide the strategic tripwire that makes not just NK, but also China, worry about the consequences of any incursion into the South. As I recall, there was substantial opposition to withdrawing US Army forces (2ID) from Korea, but no complaints when we pulled a brigade to send to Iraq. So it's A Good Thing in my mind that US forces in Korea seem to have had the same 'bedrock stabilization' that US forces had in Europe after WWII through the fall of the Wall. Hawks and military planners are right to worry about contingencies associated with rogue actions by NK, but that doesn't mean that US influence is irrelevant. Frankly, I'm happy to have US military commitments ramp down (and accepting the risk for so doing...)

Back to the underlying metaphor: You need US cards to help fill in your hand, even if they're not face cards.
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Emery
Happy birthday, tom!

You make a compelling argument for regime-change jitters being the root of Jong-Il's actions. Given that no regime is truly unitary, I have to wonder just how much of the decision-making is being made by the other men in the bunker.
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Osborne
Happy Birthday Kid,

Here's a present for a movie buff:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEZVwQptvWw

From one who's facing the seven oh this fall don't sweat the five oh if you believe in the future.

Keep up the good work.
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGerry
Happy Birhtday!Just dont go to movie reviews only :)
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVadim
Happy B-Day & congratulations on the Esquire gig!
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterD Blair
Belated happy birthday, Tom.

Regarding NK, the question you must ask is what do Kim Jeong-il and the ruling class there benefit from making peace, and general normalcy?
June 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

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