North Korea tests nuclear weapon

Military Parade, Pyongyang 

In an important Sense, there is no ‘Third World’ in respect of weaponry, only a ‘First World’… Even the possession of nuclear weaponry is not confined to the economically advanced states. ” Antony Giddens, 1990 

The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.” -Pyongyang, Oct 9, 2006

See BBC, Bloomberg, MSNBC, NYTimes, Guardian, Independent.

Also, a very insightful article on the Washington Monthly by Fred Kaplan on How the Bush Administration let North Korea get nukes and his subsequent analysis of the crisis on Slate.

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2 responses to “North Korea tests nuclear weapon

  1. Much as I dislike Giddens (and since you know that, you may well have deliberately included a quotation from him) I agree with his sentiment. There are some weird examples from recent history which suggest, though, that being in the military first division is not enough: the USSR was focussed on military supremacy during the Cold War. Technologically, they scored a number of very significant victories (some of which, incidentally, amazed the Americans – such as the discovery that the latest generation Soviet fighter planes used valve technology rather than transistors, which would have made them far more resilient in a nuclear war than the US equivalents whose electronics would likely have fried from electro-magnetic pulse). This supremacy was not enough to sustain the USSR and, eventually, the pathetic shape of its civilian economy collapsed underneath the weight of military investment. Which made the military unsustainable. You have only to remember the disaster of the Kursk to realise how ultimately fragile is a military system built up on a weak civilian society. That’s before recalling such military theorists as the American Civil War general (I forget his name but can find a reference if you want it) who said, to paraphrase, that there comes a point in every war where railways become more important than armies.

    This thinking assumes, of course, that your enemy is not insane. Or, perhaps, to take one example, that they really do believe it would be “better to be dead than Red”. While not losing sight of the longer-term unsustainability of military-led societies, such thinking is a helpful reminder that, in some instances, military regimes do not have to survive into the long-term in order to cause huge suffering in the short. Economists tell us that Nazi Germany was economically unsustainable, but we don’t know exactly how many tens of millions died around the world as a result of its short-term efficiencies.

    So much for the ramble, what do we *do*? You could do worse than go to the RSA on 18 October to hear General Sir Rupert Smith…

  2. I’m an idiot. I meant: “This thinking assumes, of course, that your enemy is not insane. Or, perhaps, to take one example, that they really do NOT believe it would be “better to be dead than Red”.”

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