Some quick thoughts on the rocket launch:
- Surprise! Certainly caught everyone off guard. This especially after an official announcement possibly extending the launch window. Is this a case of Pyongyang simply buying time or disjointed government?
- Si, su puede! This time around, the North Koreans have told their own people that it was a success. But really, did they have any choice on the matter? First, with a million cell phones now in circulation, keeping mum about a rocket launch at all would have been disastrous. Second, after announcing publicly that the April launch was a failure, coming out a second time empty-handed would have severely shaken public confidence in the endeavour. But how about those who do have access to the outside world? If it was a failure, couldn’t they spread the news over those cell phones you talk about? Sure – but as long as the regime gets to frame the issue first by calling it the “second successful satellite launch,” then does it really matter? Those who have tried hard to prove a negative (ie. there is no North Korean satellite) will find it hard pressed to combat the regime on this one.
- The “strongman’s daughter” eh? Sounds familiar… The DPRK, by winning the battle internally, may have lost the war externally. A successful “satellite” launch may be a way to consolidate Kim Jong Un’s reign, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone naive enough to truly believe that North Korea’s intentions were entirely scientific in nature – except perhaps Lee Jung Hee and her ilk. And boy, how mad is Moon Jae In at Kim Jong Un right now? How can the South Korean public not react negatively to something like this? Unless of course, the North Koreans actually want Park Geun Hye and the conservatives back in office. If Pyongyang actually does want hardliners back in charge, that’s bad news.
- Yes, it was for peaceful purposes. Really. Pyongyang’s insistence on this rocket programme has put them in a Catch-22. If the rocket launch fails, they are criticized – rightly so – for spending hundreds of millions dollars on a luxury when the World Food Programme is going about hat in hand to the international community trying to feed North Korea. If the rocket launch is successful, this plays into the North Korea alarmist camp, which will undoubtedly exaggerate the DPRK’s ballistic missile capabilities. But whose fault is this? By and large, it is Pyongyang’s. Compare and contrast the DPRK’s rocket programme with South Korea’s, or even India’s. The main difference there is that these two countries have convinced the world that what they are doing is for peaceful purposes (despite the fact that India, for the most part, has every sneaky intention as the DPRK does when it comes to their rocket programme). North Korea has not.
- Jong Un… I am your father. At such cost, both in treasure and reputation, one has to wonder why two launches in the same year. My guess: the dying wishes of a former leader go a long, long way. Especially if the dying leader is your father.
- Can we just talk about those weapons of mass destruction in my backyard? What saddens me most about all this is that regardless of whether this rocket launch is successful or not, the missiles and nukes constantly prove to be North Korea’s greatest strategic asset. Why? The regime’s most significant Achilles heel is undoubtedly its human rights record: no other topic causes North Korean diplomats to go as ballistic (every pun intended) as mention of the political prison camps. As long as we’re all talking about missiles and nukes, we are definitely not talking about the 150,000 – 200,000 inmates who are rotting away in the North Korean gulag. They remain North Korea’s greatest weapons of mass distraction.
- Understanding North Korea’s next satellite launch, by Tad Farrell (CanKor.ca)
- U.S. condemns N. Korea’s long-range rocket launch (cbsnews.com)
- North Korea Launches Rocket, Defying Likely Sanctions (nytimes.com)