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NightWatch 20110621


For the Night of 21 June 2011

South Korea-North Korea: Government sources said that South Korea will separate its demand that North Korea apologize for the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking of the corvette ChonAn from denuclearization talks, adding that it should have made this distinction from the outset. South Korea will not insist that the North makes all preliminary steps on denuclearization during inter-Korean talks.

Comment: The statement above signifies a change in strategy that placates the North and the US in return for no reciprocal concession by North Korea, the malefactor… for nothing. North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapons as long as the Kim family is in charge. That is the lesson of the past 20 years of denuclearization initiatives. Kim would be overthrown in a military coup, were he ever to give up the North's nuclear weapons.

China-South Korea-North Korea: A South Korean news service reported that China supports the succession of North Korean leader Kim Chong-Il by his son, Kim Jong un. China's Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu visited Pyongyang in February and reported that the succession was proceeding smoothly and that Jong Un had gained support, especially from the military. Jong Un has considerable support from the military and there will not be any instability in the succession, according to Meng, who discussed the democratic protests in the Middle East with his hosts in Pyongyang, the officials said.

Comment: Minister Meng's statements are best understood as what China hopes will occur, instead of what is likely. China wants stability in North Korea and in northeastern China. The leadership apparently think that saying so often enough will help make it so. 

The greatest near term danger in North Korea is violent internal instability resulting from military rejection of Kim Jong un. The best recent evidence is the regime's de-emphasis of Jong un as the young general and his ties to the military, both of which are completely phony, and its recent stress on the importance of the Workers' Party - also phony.

The kid was raised in Switzerland, hardly a communist state. However, credentials as a good communist are easier to manufacture than non-existent examples of military leadership. A serious internal crisis over leadership is unavoidable, but will be delayed until after Kim Chong-il's physical and mental health decline.

Meanwhile, the regime remains concerned that North Korea is vulnerable to unrest by cell-phone activists as in the Middle East.  If so, that would mean the children of the political elite are discontented because they are the only people who can afford cell phones or are permitted to have them. The regime's concern is justified.

Syria: For the record. President Bashar al-Asad issued a legislative decree granting a general pardon for crimes committed before 20 June.

Comment: This is the second general amnesty in a month. The jails are full and it is too expensive for the state to feed and house inmates who do not work.

Palestinian Authority-Israel: Hamas political bureau deputy director, Moussa Abu Marzouq, said 21 June that Hamas aims to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem without recognizing Israel.

Marzouq also said that Hamas has goals of reorganizing the Palestine Liberation Organization platform, hierarchy and institutions and of consolidating joint resistance under the joint leadership of all the factions. There should be no negotiations between Israel and Palestinian factions as long as Israel does not recognize a Palestinian state, Marzouq said.

Comment: Marzouq's comments are clever because they suggest that If Israel recognizes a Palestinian state, Palestine would reciprocate. In fact, Marzouq makes two promises: that a Palestinian state would be established on the basis of no recognition of Israel; and that if Israel recognized a Palestinian state the Palestinians would be willing to talk with Israel.

The primary premise governs the secondary condition. In other words, a Palestinian state would not recognize Israel, even if Israel recognized a Palestinian state. The conditions contain no symmetry and present no grounds for peace.

End of NightWatch for 21 June.

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