The two minute fusillade on the murky, ill defined, watery boundary separating North and South Korea in the Yellow Sea this past week, gave much needed cheer to the hard line Pyongyang watchers. The South Korean navy fired a mere 50 rounds, hitting the North Korea vessel which 'strayed' across the boundary line, killing one man. Swifty North Korea threatened Biblical punishment in return, but not defined.
What emboldened the 'regime change' North Korean watchers, was the feeling that this incident would torpedo US president Barack Obama's plans to send special envoy and chief US negotiator with the North, Stephen Bosworth, to the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] before the end of 2009, to initiate or at least to prepare the ground for direct talks.
Much to the chagrin of these North Korea hands, who endow Kim Jong il with magical powers to delay any final collapse of his regime, thereby sweeping away with a thud an 'axis of evil state' once and for all, secretary of state Hillary Clinton calmly seemed unruffled by the naval confrontation, and simply restated that the US will proceed as scheduled to meet DPRK officials in Pyongyang in the next 8 weeks.
In reading the articles of say Andrei Lankov or Donald Kirk or listening to the pronouncements of Victor Jha, Kim Jong il is a reincarnation of the Scandanian mischief maker Loki, or a successor to Sax Rohmer inscrutable, elusive Dr. Fu Man chu, or is a Svengali of immense powers to fool clever [read liberal or right wing realist] minds, looking to engage in talks or opening channels with Pyongyang.
Reading this school's writings, reveals a comic book quality--simplistic and ingenuous and cut thin on the manipulation of the facts, one one hand, and on the other, a tone deafness or a colour blindness to shades of meaning and subtle and not so subtle twists and turns in the spiral of the game of diplomacy. It reminds one of George Orwell's mantra in his much read 'Animal Farm', 'two feet, good; four feet, bad'. For we find the sun at noon without a shadow of doubt, only the searing oneness of the sun's brightness.
Like it or not, the Obama administration is pressing ahead on the matter of North Korea, and bringing it back to the bargaining table in Beijing, too.
Saying this, will not still the voices opposing any dealings with the DPRK. A sure sign of this, is found in the shrill, nay hysteric tones of the articles and the talks, and the mud slinging sliming the reputations and the judgments of centrists and conservatives who are looking to more contacts with Pyongyang.
What the regime changers seem to ignore, is the growing trend within America's business community who are multiplying missions of inquiry to the DPRK, with an eye on dealings with this mineral rich country. And Pyongyang encourages this. It has allowed a private Korean American to build a 'private', yes, not a DPRK controlled, technical and scientific university in Pyongyang proper. And the mighty financial house of Goldman Sachs, has issued a glowing analysis of the economic might of an eventual reunited Korea.
So, as the saying goes, follow the money! And the monied interests look to the DPRK, albeit in exploratory tours. This the regime changers ignore, and to the collapse of their own dreams of sugarplums and good fairies and the choir of angels.