The timing of this Kim Jong-Un shelling of a South Korean island intrigues me. Let's set the stage. They're on the cusp of entering these 6 party talks. So perhaps a display of force was a good idea. Remember the beloved Ronald Reagan - "Peace through Strength." Well, that analogy is a bit of a stretch.
I think Kim Jong-Un made a purposeful, strategic decision designed to improve his standing in Asia. I'd assume that most would agree with that assessment. I doubt most people think this was the act of a "crazy" man. Although, the father Jong-Il was always portrayed as a paranoid freakshow nutcase.
I think his purpose was two-fold. First, he simply wanted to solidify his power as the next dictator. What better a way to demonstrate that then to lash out at your mortal enemy? But more importantly, because let's face it, this was not the most heinous, vicious attack in the history of modern warfare. I think the body count was 2. Not to besmirch the fallen heroes, but 2 is... well, 2. Jong-Un needed to cement his authority with the military. I'm sure there's at least a few in the extensive N. Korean military apparatus that might try a coup d'etat rout. This sends a simple, straightforward message - I'm the one who's the boss. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss - Slosh.
But here's what I think this is really all about. I think Jong-Un is in the early stages of creating a new shift in the power balance. And I think he picked a good time to do it. If I were Jong-Un, when I enter the upcoming 6 party talks, I'll immediately decry the U.S. military presence in South Korea. I'll immediately call for a reasonably timed and phased withdrawal of U.S. troops on the border. I'll make the argument that my country has already been lumped in with the axis of evil (Bush's Iran, Iraq, North Korea bit). Hell, just because W is out of office doesn't mean shit. Obama hasn't spoken against the Bush doctrine. At least not that I can recall. Obama just doesn't label everyone who hates the U.S. a terrorist.
Anyway, if I'm Jong-Un, I'll commence any political bargaining from this vantage point. The U.S. is severely bogged down right now, both militarily and economically. Horrible time to further expose our exhausted military with an entirely new war front on a different continent. I'll point to the enormous American military presence throughout the world. Aside from our troops throughout EVERY country in the Middle East, when you think about it, we've got a ton of military might stationed in Asia as well. Jong-Un can just make the relatively sound case - "Hey, the Americans are all around us and they've already invaded before. Do we really want them muscling in AGAIN? I think China might go along with some carefully crafted rhetoric. Japan, Taiwan - no fucking way.
This would strengthen China's position as well. Hell, when the conflict with Islam finally begins to fade, China is likely the next enemy. Not in a traditional military sense though. Probably a sustained economic war with an occasional military skirmish. Anyway, I think Jong-Un knows what he's doing. I suspect he'll prematurely withdraw from the 6 party talks and demand the U.S. draw down its hostile presence. He'll promise to reenter future peace talks when he sees visual proof of the draw down. I think the 6 party talks will unfold under this general format, but Jong-Un will be left with greater standing, and believe it or not, more regional respect. At least that's how I'd approach this mess. Oh yeah, and call for more international economic aid for my enfeebled populace. You can never go wrong with the case for increased aid - reminds everyone that you are weak and on the defense. It's a better public relations perspective for this style of dictator - Feigning weakness even though you are surprisingly negotiating from a position of relative strength. I don't think you'll see a near-term escalation of military might. This North Korean outburst might appear sudden, but the objectives are long term. Jong-Un knows he's just starting out and has a long way to go. He really is a chip off the old block.
Now I will watch a true drama unfold. I'm going to check me out some young Palin on the Dancing with the Stars finale. Honestly, I've never seen it. No sarcasm here. I just need to see if Bristol wins, and as an esteemed surrogate for her mother flippin' mama, announces Mommy dearest's presidential candidacy for 2012. With Sarah's new book tour just getting underway, it's a win-win. Classy. Go get'em.
One final thought - I have no allegiance to North Korea or its leadership. Lately, I get the feeling there's some moron out there in cyberworld who would read this and conclude that I'm a Kim Jong Il/Un sympathizer. Maybe I'm even cahoots! You know, providing strategic advice to a member of the vaunted axis of evil. Kim Jong-Saf... I'll admit, it does have a nice ring to it.