Jeffrey T. Kuhner: Another Korean war?

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Jeffrey T. Kuhner is president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank.]

North Korea threatens to engulf the Korean Peninsula in an all-out war. Pyongyang's recent test of a nuclear bomb poses a serious threat to international security and regional stability.

Dictator Kim Jong-il continues to thumb his nose at global leaders, especially President Obama. The ailing strongman has denuded Mr. Obama on the world stage, revealing his soft-power strategy to be ineffective and reckless.

Washington's emphasis on diplomacy was supposed to facilitate rogue states into increased cooperation. Instead, it has only emboldened the likes of North Korea (and Iran) to press ahead with their nuclear-weapons programs. Mr. Obama's "open hand" has been met with Mr. Kim's iron fist - one that has smashed Uncle Sam in the face.

The hermit Stalinist regime is not only unstable and repressive, but also dangerous. Pyongyang has formed an anti-American axis with Tehran and Damascus. It is involved in narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting and the smuggling of illicit weapons. Last year alone, North Korean state-run companies sold more than $1.5 billion in arms to unsavory autocracies such as Iran, Syria, Myanmar and Egypt.

North Korea is a brutal police state characterized by one-party rule and totalitarian social control. Political corruption is rampant. Leninist economic planning is fused with jingoistic militarism. The result has been a failed nation - a starving, miserable population; a landscape blotted with slave-labor camps; and a country in which electricity and running water are luxuries for the privileged few.

Pyongyang is also one of the leading nuclear proliferators. U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials say North Korea has supplied Iran's mullahs with key missile components. During Mr. Kim's first nuclear-bomb test in 2006, Iranian technicians were present as observers. In 2007, North Korean scientists built Syria's clandestine nuclear reactor before it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. By successfully detonating a nuclear device, Mr. Kim has sent a powerful message: He is ready to sell weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as well as vital missile technology to jihadists and terrorist-sponsoring regimes.

Desperate to prop up the Obama administration, the liberal mainstream media have downplayed the North Korean menace. They present Mr. Kim as an erratic, spoiled child who seeks some international attention. Rather, the opposite is true: He is a sadistic and deadly serious tyrant whose test was an advertisement for his modernized arsenal of death. Call it North Korea 2.0...

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