It might be hard to wrap your brain around it, but North Korea has “domestic consumption”. Unlike western and developed states, though, the consumers are party hacks and military bureaucrats. According to John Park, these two groups of consumers are fueling a contest for supremacy and complicating the pariah state’s relations with China.
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Contra Richard Engel – not hard to be, I’ll admit – Jeffrey Lewis thinks, that food aid is a ridiculous explanation for why the North Korean military bureaucracy would launch a missile.
What if the DPRK concluded that celebrating Kim Il Sung’s birthday with a space launch was the best chance to celebrate juche, while simultaneously making efforts to reduce the political costs associated with such an act. In other words, what if the space launch wasn’t a bargaining chip, but Kim Gye Gwan’s primary strategic objective?
It is possible that Pyongyang engaged in this entire process in the first place largely to avoid the sort international reaction that, in retrospect, seems unavoidable. That might explain why, having gotten this close, the North Koreans decided to call and see if Obama was bluffing. What would they have to lose?
I can’t assert with any confidence that this is what happened, but nor do I find any basis on which to exclude the possibility.
Could it be this clear – the North Koreans, already planning to launch a missile, sanctions and all else be damned, and the world just got hoodwinked? If so, what a demonstration, that prejudices are more misleading than evidence.