|The Red Menace|
The eastern end of Dubya's axis of evil is the one without oil, and maybe that's why it's
squeaking so loudly.
The playboy of Asian politics, Kim Jong (Dear
Leader) Il, is making headlines again as North Korea keeps up the
strong rhetoric about developing nuclear weapons. The US is talking of a national
embargo to stop the failed cash-strapped nation exporting the nukes to other
But many believe that Dear Leader has very little to do with the decisions, or
the rhetoric. The smart money seems to be tipping that he is being retained as
a figurehead while the generals run the country. A brave assertion considering
that so little is known of the reclusive Stalinist state, and considering the poor
intelligence leading up to the Iraq war. But this assertion is also supported by
common sense: because no one man could be that stupid.
Having seen Iraq fall in
three weeks under the guns 'n' God policies of Dubya, one would think that that
North Korea would realize that the blackmail 'n' cheat strategies which worked
so well during the days of Bill (plausibly-deniable) Clinton's regime are
over. Why then, take a course which is likely to lead to a war which the North Korean power block cannot possibly
survive? Quite simply because North Korea is being run by a collective.
In a social
democracy, the quiet voice of reason has no chance against the cries of
'people before profits', or 'safety first'. In North Korea, the rhetorical
cries of 'Iraq proves that disarmament means invasion', will simply drown out
the quiet voice of reason. There is a kind of tragedy of the
commons where everyone wants to hold the wheel, even if the ship is
steering into an iceberg. Everyone will act in their own interest, and lead the
collective into disaster. This is simply the nature of coercive collectives.
So Dear Leader gets to pretend to be the leader of 22 million starving
people, and gets all the Western call-girls he can poke a stick at. And he gets
to watch the political machinations.
Game theorists know that one of the best strategies for winning a game of
bluff is to convince your opponent of your lack of rationality (would you
continue to play chicken against an opponent who has just thrown his steering
wheel out the window?). Unfortunately the North Korean power block is not
bluffing - the power block is genuinely crazy.
And without knowing how China would jump in the advent
of hostilities, the US would be equally crazy to act without careful
Wedged up against China, North Korea is like a zit in an inaccessible and
embarrassing place. And unlike Iraq, squeezing it is unlikely to produce oil.