A crazy fat kid and his nu­clear toys

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - BY WES­LEY PRUDEN Wes­ley Pruden is edi­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

Kim Jong-un may be “a crazy fat kid” with a goofy hair­cut, but he is do­ing what his fa­ther and his grand­fa­ther never could. With nu­clear weapons to play with, he fright­ens the West enough to make it start think­ing about do­ing some­thing about the most dan­ger­ous crazy fat kid on earth.

By some re­li­able in­tel­li­gence es­ti­mates North Korea now has eight nu­clear weapons, but no way to de­liver them far­ther than the Sea of Ja­pan, but they’re work­ing on it. They have to get the size of the bomb down to man­age­able weight and girth be­fore an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal mis­sile could reach the Cal­i­for­nia coast with it.

What seemed ab­surd only a few years ago is thought to be soon in the crazy fat kid’s box of toys. The fail­ure of the early missiles was easy to mock, like the pur­ple prose of the pro­pa­ganda artists in Py­ongyang. But Kim and his sci­en­tists, be­lieved to be work­ing with the help of Iran and the nu­clear-weapons pro­gram saved by Barack Obama, are mov­ing steadily to full mem­ber­ship in the club of na­tions with “the bomb.”

Kim has the family DNA and the bru­tal Marx­ist am­bi­tions of his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, but lit­tle of their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ra­tio­nal. A re­cent de­fec­tor from North Korea, Thae Young Ho, the deputy North Korean am­bas­sador to Lon­don, says “Kim Jong-un is a man who will do any­thing be­yond the nor­mal imag­i­na­tion.” He or­dered an un­cle and his half-brother “ter­mi­nated with ex­treme prej­u­dice”

— as in, dead — be­cause he reck­oned them threats to his own life. He knows that when the regime goes, he goes with it. That’s the way it works in a satrap like North Korea. Ter­ror is the con­stant companion to the dic­ta­tor who lives by the whip and the gun.

Kim lives a life of sump­tu­ous ease in Py­ongyang, sur­rounded by syco­phants and the plea­sures of the ta­ble, adding to his girth with a rich diet of im­ported gro­ceries while mil­lions of his coun­try­men live close to star­va­tion. He is par­tic­u­larly vain for a fat man, and Sen. John McCain’s re­cent de­scrip­tion of him as “a crazy fat kid” stirred him to rage.

Mr. McCain had told an in­ter­viewer at MSNBC, the ca­ble-TV chan­nel, that “the crazy fat kid run­ning North Korea is far worse than some of history’s worst dic­ta­tors. He’s not ra­tio­nal. We’re not deal­ing with some­one like Joseph Stalin, who had a cer­tain ra­tio­nal­ity to his bar­bar­ity.”

The Korean Cen­tral News Agency, the mouth­piece of the Kim regime, ac­cused Mr. McCain of “hurt­ing the dig­nity of the coun­try and the supreme lead­er­ship of the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Republic of Korea,” i.e., North Korea. When Sen. Ted Cruz joined other con­ser­va­tives to file leg­is­la­tion to put North Korea on the list of state spon­sors of ter­ror­ism again, he was de­nounced as a dig­nity-dam­ager, too, and promised all man­ner of pun­ish­ment.

The sen­a­tors, said the news agency, “will have to bit­terly ex­pe­ri­ence the dis­as­trous con­se­quences to be en­tailed by their reck­less tongue-lash­ing and then any re­gret for it will come too late. The rev­o­lu­tion­ary forces of [North Korea] with its nu­clear force as its pivot will ful­fill its sa­cred mis­sion of de­vot­edly de­fend­ing its supreme lead­er­ship rep­re­sent­ing the des­tiny and life of its peo­ple by deal­ing with mer­ci­less sledge­ham­mer blows at those dar­ing to hurt the dig­nity of the supreme lead­er­ship.”

All that mer­ci­less work with a sledge­ham­mer seems a lit­tle waste­ful of re­sources to pun­ish two mere sen­a­tors, wor­thy as those gents may be (but the ex­am­ple of sledge­ham­mer rhetoric might be in­struc­tive to the pun­dits in the West who have done their darnedest to take down Don­ald Trump and still haven’t man­aged to put their rhetoric in the killer shade of pur­ple).

Nev­er­the­less, a gen­uine threat lies be­neath the en­ter­tain­ing blus­ter and brag­gado­cio. Adm. Scott Swift, the com­man­der of the U.S. Pa­cific Fleet, tells NBC News that Amer­i­can of­fi­cials are par­tic­u­larly wary of Kim Jong-un’s lat­est threats to hit an Amer­i­can city with a nu­clear bomb.

“They have the nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity,” the ad­mi­ral says. “They’ve demon­strated that. Where they’re go­ing with the minia­tur­iza­tion of that, whether they can ac­tu­ally weaponize a mis­sile, that’s what’s driv­ing the cur­rent con­cern.”

Pres­i­dent Trump told Lon­don’s Fi­nan­cial Times on Mon­day that “some­thing has to be done about North Korea.” Sec­re­tary of De­fense James Mat­tis, once called “Mad Dog Mat­tis,” says North Korea “has got to be stopped.” Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son says a mil­i­tary re­sponse is “on the ta­ble.”

Pres­i­dent Trump en­ter­tains Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping this week at Mar-A-Lago, and he’ll have a lot to tell him. But if Pres­i­dent Xi can’t make Kim be­have, some­body else will have to do it, and soon. Scary to think about. It’s even scarier to think about not do­ing any­thing.


Kim Jong-un

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