Our Dear Leader, that is. The other Dear Leader had more than words. I’m talking about Kim Jong il, communist dictator of the police state known as North Korea: He had a long-range, multi-stage rocket to launch through the airspace of American friend and ally, the free and democratic nation of Japan.
But don’t worry, Barack Obama is delivering soaring speeches to adoring throngs in Europe. The President spoke in the Czech Republic capitol of Prague yesterday, outlining nuclear non-proliferation goals and his hopes for full scale global disarmament.
After the speech I was doing a little research, and my mood is now piqued after spending some time on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea website. It would be funny if real human beings were not living under the oppressive control of this despotic regime. The site is a series of sycophantic odes to a psycho; an amateurish attempt at appearing credible to the outside world.
(Among the most pitiful pages were PDF documents boasting black and white photos of scooters supposedly manufactured in the DPRK; another page offered patriotic songs for download, complete with fawning children’s choruses, presumably singing the Leader’s praises).
So it is upsetting to hear Barack Obama fail to take a tailor-made opportunity to call out Kim Jong il for what he was, and denounce in the harshest possible terms not only his rocket test but the brutality of his regime generally. With the eyes of the world upon him as he spoke in an historic outdoor square behind the Iron Curtain, he could have told the large crowd of supportive Europeans how he felt about conditions in the DPRK.
Instead, he devoted less than 5% of his speech to the provocation, and said nothing about the government’s treatment of its people. He did say a “strong international response” was merited, but did not get into the substance of what that might mean.
(Although, to infer from this line, with emphasis added: “…and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons,” perhaps he is intentionally signaling that use-of-force options are still on the table).
Ultimately, the rocket test served to remind us how idealistic – and unrealistic – total disarmament is in a world where rogue regimes and bad actors exist. These guys are always going to seek bigger and better weapons, and we’re always going to need something to defend and deter.
- LA Times, Obama pledges to pursue the elimination of nuclear weapons
- Transcript: Obama speaks in Prague