North Korea coolly covers exhaustion from efforts to get a seat at the adults’ table
Diplomacy by missile test, Kim Jong-un’s repeated firing of varied and sundry projectiles into the Sea of Japan not only looks bad—and childish—for him and North Korea, it marks a new low in how nations communicate, or attempt to communicate, with each other.
No longer can heads of state meet quietly, without fanfare, and work out (at least some of) their differences. Now, you practically have to wage war to get to the bargaining table. If this isn’t a backwards and upside-down way of doing things, I don’t know what is. If war is inevitable, most of the negotiations should happen before the first shot is fired.
Also curious, U.S. officials, including the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, continue to refer to North Korea as an “antagonistic state actor.” Without defending Kim, how antagonistic can a party be who seeks a seat at the table with the U.S. and China? On some level, at least, Pyongyang wants to cooperate with the two superpowers, else why would it expend so much time and energy on getting an audience. Kim may be pathologically narcissistic, but would he go to such lengths only to appear as an equal to Trump and Xi in the eyes of the North Korean people?
Let’s remember why the dismissive “semantics” argument can no longer hold water: Politicians, and nearly everyone else in government mince words so finely, that it would be irresponsible for U.S. citizens not to parse every important incoming and outgoing word.
And what does saber rattling do for the poor of the posturing nations, but remove ever more resources from their neighborhoods and pantries, like the infamous “demonic, destructive suction tube” derided by Dr. Martin Luther King. It seems only days ago that North Koreans starved to death on the blighted streets of Pyongyang, Hamgyong, and Kaesong—and only minutes since Kim warned the people that they might be returning to the days of “chewing on the roots of plants.”
In America, more than ever, the dirt poor are manipulated into grotesquely admiring the super-rich, in a strange and warped rendering of Stockholm Syndrome. One of the saddest and most precise commentaries on our nation came from the great John Steinbeck, when he observed that “the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
So, everyone puts whatever the current version of Camelot top of mind, and living paycheck to paycheck suddenly doesn’t seems so stressful. Because, “What paycheck?” To some degree, it’s the same in North Korea. Both governments then focus on ever larger golden rattles for their big-baby monarchs to shake.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, compares and contrasts the size and power of the everyday American with those of the corporations and governments. The latter two often work closely and symbiotically. What about the private citizen?