KIM Jong-un is a bad guy, but no Bond villain.
Yes, the world is being blackmailed. But no way is he going to actually fire this stuff at South Korea or Japan, let alone the US.
That would be suicidal, and Kim is no fanatic. He enjoys life. Just look at the guy.
Also, still young and green, he needs to prove his mettle to the tough generals around him.
What better way than to forge ahead with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) like dad and grandad before him?
He also loves playing games of brinkmanship.
North Korea has long seen the world in Tom and Jerry terms. Wiser past US Presidents were less eager to be cast as the big dumb cat.
Yes, the missile launches are coming thick and fast, each more provocative than the last.
Recently Kim threatened to lob four toward Guam, which hosts big US air bases.
Then he decided not to, for the moment. Donald Trump even thanked him for that, bizarrely.
The latest rocket flew over Japan.
Outrageous and reckless, but not a first.
His father Kim Jong-il did the same in 1998, and again in 2009.
Why? For good reasons, in their own eyes. Forget the lazy “mad dictator” clichés.
Kim knows what he’s doing.
Every move is calculated — unlike Trump’s “fire and fury” tweets.
George W Bush put North Korea on his axis of evil — then invaded Iraq, the first country so listed.
Iraq, it turned out, had no WMD. But North Korea sure as hell does.
So for all the rhetoric, this is basically about self-defence.
Overflying Japan is a typically cunning move. Nobody loves Japan much.
China and Korea (including South Korea) have never forgotten nor forgiven its brutal pre-1945 aggression.
Right-wing premier Shinzo Abe wants to revise Japan’s constitution to have bigger armed forces.
Once popular, he is now struggling over scandals involving giving plum jobs to pals.
Kim hopes his missile will weaken Abe further, though there is a risk it may backfire and rekindle support for him.
Why doesn’t China rein in Kim? It could cut off oil and other supplies.
Yet China hasn’t consistently enforced UN sanctions for a reason.
All this looks different seen from Beijing.
What’s even worse than a nuclear North Korea? A unified Korea, with US bases, right on China’s border.
Xi Jinping will never let that happen.
And given how the world is, both Xi and Vladimir Putin are enjoying seeing Trump squirm and flail.
Are we on the brink of nuclear Armageddon? Not likely.
But it would help if Trump stopped falling into Kim’s traps.
There is no military option. Forget it. Steve Bannon, Trump’s sacked strategy director, summed this up: “They got us.”
As Bannon noted, any US strike on North Korea would prompt the Korean People’s Army to retaliate by raining fire on South Korea — which America is supposed to be protecting, not endangering.
Greater Seoul, where 24 million live in high-rises, is within artillery range of the border — never mind missiles.
What’s the alternative?
It’s simple, if unpalatable.
Kim wants recognition as a nuclear power. That sticks in many craws, but it’s a fact.
Like India and Pakistan, North Korea has the bomb and the means to deliver it.
We can’t put our heads in the sand. Prevention has failed.
As Winston Churchill said, jaw-jaw is better than war-war.
Diplomacy is the only option left.
Fake macho posturing from Washington solves nothing.
The nuclear genie is out of the bottle, like it or not.
On a good day Trump has said he could talk to Kim, over a hamburger.
Time to light that barbecue. Better than lighting the nuclear touchpaper.
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