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Welcome to the club....

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday May 30, 2009 11:44 PM

... Though not the inner circle, of course. That's reserved for nations which have actually used nuclear weapons for mass-destruction purposes. So far, it's a circle with one member.

North Korea has tested its second nuclear weapon -- a huge improvement on the first, apparently. Number Two seems to have had about a tenth of the power of the bomb that dear old Harry Truman dropped over the paper houses of Hiroshima. Number One, by contrast, barely registered on the seismographs.

International response has been quite indignant, for the most part, though the esteemed Islamic Republic of Iran dryly commented that it was an "internal matter." Israel didn't agree. Israel felt that the NoKo nuclear test was a threat to Israel's "region" -- which makes one wonder, not for the first time, just how big Israel thinks its "region" is.

Many of my lefty comrades have stated their views on this development. The usual pattern is to begin with an observation about how bad nuclear weapons are. From there, the argument develops along predictable lines:

Of course -- they say -- North Korea had the "right" to develop nukes. National sovereignty, and all that. And of course it's hypocritical for the US or any other nuclear power to give the North Koreans a hard time about it.

But -- and here's the money shot -- it was nevertheless "provocative" and "stupid" for the North Koreans to do this. Sometimes the argument is insultingly reinforced with a reference to Cuba: those cool Caribbean socialist stalwarts never felt that they had to soil their hands with anything as wicked as a nuclear weapon.

Now I personally believe that the only good reason to develop a nuclear weapon is to counter the threat that an opponent with a nuclear weapon could otherwise hold over your head. By this standard, it was bad for the US to develop the first nuclear weapons; bad for India to do the same in its "region"; bad for Israel -- and good for the USSR, and China, and Pakistan, and if Iran gets one or ten or twenty, good for Iran. And would have been good for Cuba -- if they had felt it necessary, or been able to accomplish it.

As for North Korea: they narrowly escaped getting nuked fifty-odd years ago -- the US military noticed, in the nick of time, that the prevailing winds blow from the north in that part of the world.

The same outfit that would have loved to nuke the NoKo's back in the 50's still maintains a considerable presence in South Korea -- and by all accounts, nuclear weapons are very much part of the picture. It would be amazing if they weren't, considering how many of them the US has manufactured between Harry the Incinerator's time and ours. So maybe the NoKo's have reason to feel that there's something to worry about.

The Cubans, too, had their worries back in the day. I'd be willing to bet that they would have loved to get a nuke or two or ten -- but I suspect the Soviets didn't let 'em. This is sheer speculation, of course.

But just think -- how wonderful would that have been? Those Miami emigres -- their heads would have exploded with near-nuclear force, and seismographs around the world would have picked up the tremors.

Comments (26)

«The Cubans, too, had their worries back in the day. I'd be willing to bet that they would have loved to get a nuke or two or ten -- but I suspect the Soviets didn't let 'em.»

If you are referring to the Turkish missile crisis, the deployment of soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba was a purely defensive strategic move by the soviets, and Cuba was not involved at all except providing a location.

The only reason the soviet deployed some in Cuba is that the USA had deployed a set of first strike nuclear weapons and missiles in Turkey, with a very short flight time to their targets.

The strategic doctrine of MAD required that the soviets do exactly the same, and Cuba was their only nearest possibility to the USA.

The Turkish missile crisis was a purely USA-URSS matter and got resolved only when the USA agreed to remove their nuclear missiles from Turkey if Cuba withdrew theirs from Cuba.

It was never about Cuba having nuclear weapons (they never even gave a minuscule hint they wanted some). It was entirely about the soviets defending against a very aggressive first strike move by the USA.


All very true, but I wasn't thinking about the so-called "missile crisis" at all -- I was wondering whether the Cubans would have liked to have nukes of their own. Sheer speculation. Probably never on the cards at all -- half NoKo's size, and the relationship with the Sovs sent their development off in a different direction.


My first reaction is that this is a non-story, as Georgia was a non-story a year ago. There is no threat here, but it's convenient that the sense of an unstable world is regularly revived in the minds of the public.

My second thought is, wait a minute, what am I saying -- that the US calmly watches over the global chess board, spinning as it wishes any events that occur? Isn't it rather that the US doesn't know WTF is going on in 9/10ths of the globe and is constantly playing catch-up?

Well, no, that's too comforting -- the bumbling giant view. What's really going on here, in the grand game of regional power, capital's decline, global overburden? Is it tragedy, or farce? Or Armegeddon?

Son of Uncle Sam:

For a guy that refers to himself as the great leader and rules over 24 million sick, brain washed people that need food and medical care, you got to admit.....he's got his priorities straight. Jim Jones had cool aid, Kimbo has a new Sunshine Policy. If he releases pictures of himself next to or.... riding a nuke like a cowboy ....he's ok in my book

Have to agree with Son on this one. NoKo is indeed a dungeon. Its people would benefit greatly if NoKo simply surrendered and joined SoKo, which I've seen with my own eyes and is very livable, civilized, and much more democratic than our dear old USA. And the lack of NoKo would be another big albatross off the left's cervical structures. Cuba is a paradise compared to NoKo.

As to the nuke, it shouldn't be the right of any nation to possess nukes at this late date. After the prior task of pointing out that criminals don't get to run the justice system, the left out to be casting plagues on all the fission/fusion bomb powers. Defending NoKo on almost anything is a mistake.


The core of
The kimbot outfit
Fakes like a blow fish
... Mass starvation?
Come on if it isn't real
It would be fabricated

a top shelf Hard. Currency cow

the whole noko nuke
mojo foco..
Pure Shamonomics

Its a shake down not a count down

".and We could sell this fissile shit uncle S ...
and to the wrong cut of
a-symetricals to ..eh?"

Hce has a handle here
Another reciprocal sham
That serves as a nice whetstone for uncle's interventionist's
axe of evil

I note another global isolate
ft zion's
In the middle of a a Run too

A Promise land wide
Civil anti farsi missile
huff bluff and scuff drill

Back to the kims
As a stop uncle move
Deploying missiles with fissile heads

First Strikes me
As bad theatre

Politics of the personal:
The present Kim strikes me as a
elton john /bill clinton type
Lost in translation to new speak
Not a mad hatter
Stalin by any means


israel doesn't have nukes because it's afraid of a nuke attack. but i don't think dear leader's got serious military strategic concerns. i think he's in it for the status, like a certain particularly large country on the other side of china from him.



Nukes in irresponsible hands would
prolly prove to be on balance
"a . Good "
for the progess of the human condition
Unfortunately outside the secret agent genre
It hasn't happened
... YET
Cue doctor evil laff


btw i'm not but if i were the government of china, support for korean reunification would be conditional on chinese reunification.


The zionics have nukes because they can

Btw castro on nukes
Recall the series of cia/kgb fabricated Exchanges
betwixt mr c
and that plump nebus faced. Late blooming humanitarian nicky. The k
Mat- jack's
Career changing
'62 october fest


If I were
a one guy pantagruel like
Decide it all
do it all
chicom politbueau
-and I'm availible btw-

I'd wear the noko
Inner circle
on my head
to party plenums


Michael Dawson - I agree with most of what you said, but I don't necessarily agree with you about NoKo joining SoKo. It would almost inevitably be a repeat of FRG annexing GDR. I realize that one could argue that even that would be better than what they have now, but why should that be the only option for them? Also, public opinion polls regarding the economy coming out of SoKo have been getting more and more negative all the time. I don't necessarily disagree that SoKo is much more democratic, civilized and livable than say the U.S. (that's not saying much at all), but in light of the scandal surrounding the recently departed former president, it's hard to say transparency reigns there. I understand the ha joon chang take on SoKo economic development and think there is much to pay attention to there, but that doesn't mean they will work to lift up their northerly cousin, given the chance...

Anyway, more broadly speaking, I worry about the impact that such testing has on the environment in general and thus remain staunchly opposed to it...

Dermie, my pal, I agree that the environment is the ultimate concern.

Meanwhile, what's not to like about EG joining WG? It's gone quite well, from all the sources I've tracked, despite the obvious difficulties. Now, the EG's have the vote for the first time since Weimar, if nothing else.

Meanwhile, I've been to the Korean DMZ and seen the cardboard Potemkins on the North side. And it's simply not legit to deny the reports that NoKos have had to eat bugs and grass to survive. Stalinism has never been anything but a disaster. Fuck NoKo's petty-ass oligarchs, those bunch of prickheads (sexual organ reference intended).

Derm, I also had the chance to visit East Berlin in 1987. It was eye-opening. The city was dead, absolutely dead. A true mausoleum.

So, Perry Anderson notwithstanding, one wonders why the EGs aren't voting Communist.

The answer is obvious. Being a Soviet satellite was indeed a form of servitude.

Every minute we spend denying or excusing that is a minute we've wasted from talking about the horrendous nature of our own system...

"Welcome", huh? Huh.

What was Gilda's line from that old SNL sketch...? Oh, yeah:
"It's not a gang, it's a club!"


Michael Dawson:

SoKo, which I've seen with my own eyes and is very livable, civilized, and much more democratic than our dear old USA…


I understand the ha joon chang take on SoKo economic development and think there is much to pay attention to there


I agree with MD that at this late stage that there’s no sense in making excuses for the N Korean regime – other than to note that the US has steadfastly refused to sign a non-aggression pact with N Korea and to wheedle the right-wingers in S Korea to go along with it. But of course the rationale for that is obvious, divide and rule in E Asia is all that’s keeping the US’ waning global dominance hanging by a thread. And I agree with dermokrat that while Korean reunification may sound good in theory, in reality it would amount to the wholesale colonization of the former N Korea by the chaebol (under a paternalistic patriotic guise) and tremendous social dislocation. Much better to establish little islands of foreign investment and trade gradually (gawd, I can’t believe that an anarcho-commie like myself is doling out such retrograde advice!). In fact Chinese (largely Chinese Korean) enterprises have been doing this for years, with some marginal “success”… and so too were S Korean concerns, until Mr. Retro Cold War 2MB assumed the Blue House saddle in early 2008. N Korea is actually not the state-controlled monolith that the US bourgeois press makes it out to be, there’s actually a chaotic and cutthroat market and barter economy below the top layers of the (mostly military) commanding heights.

As for the S Korean developmental state, yes it did launch mighty GDP growth with some positive social indicator spin-offs, but that sucker was being dismantled well before the 1997-1998 IMF crisis… in fact no less an authority than Chang Ha-Joon himself has argued that it was early-mid 1990’s financial market liberalization and industrial policy rollback that set S Korea up for the crisis. Now, who were the political architects of this liberalization and rollback? Why, it was the establishment wing of the 1980’s democracy movement, who associated the developmental state with authoritarian cliques of unelected bureaucrats and big conglomerates.

Whatever one’s assessment of the nature of the developmental state and the forces behind its diminution, it would be absurd to claim that S Korea today is a social democratic variant of managed capitalism. Involuntary part timers comprise a bigger share of the labor force than in any of the OECD countries. Meanwhile, full time employees still log longer work weeks than in any of the OECD countries. And in part because the fertility rate is dropping like a lead balloon, small- and medium-sized businesses, squeezed by Chinese competition, rely more and more heavily on (largely S Asian and SE Asian) guest workers… who have absolutely zippo rights.

As for the “very livable and civilized” tenor of everyday life, well what can I say… in my estimation S Korea offers just another theme on uber-consumer capitalism, albeit on a different cultural and historical template. Really, now, what can you say when 50% of young women have had double-fold eyelid surgery, or a nose job, or both? Or when the number of golf courses and SUV’s per capita give the US a run for its money (adjusted for S Korean scale and density, of course). S Korea easily outdoes the US when it comes to schlocky and gross-out reality shows and game shows, and way outdoes the US when it comes to being involuntarily subjected to such programs, thanks to the ubiquity of plasma TV’s in every public place and commercial venue. Or what about the utterly fierce status competition for the name-brand university degree, for the high-rise apartment address in Gangnam, etc.? Sometimes I think US leftist critics of consumer capitalism really betray their American provincialism when they assert or imply that somehow US consumer capitalism is uniquely offensive or qualitatively worse than anywhere else.


"Every minute we spend denying or excusing that is a minute we've wasted from talking about the horrendous nature of our own system"
i agree

for us in search of the trail to gosplan 2.0
the stalinoid iron octopus retains a treasure in
not next times

oddly md
a goodly part of what you missed
in ole ost berlin
....commercial huckster glamdishments
the externalities of a purchase
or nite of purchaese

imagine a nation
of motor vehicle offices
union hlodges and post offices

encouraging a purchase is much like mating
in the long run it makes our transactioneers
spend on "happy" "bright"
making the whole sick crew
on staff
do their "emotional work"
as the b schoolers call it

give me '84 dismal any time

the scotch tastes better and the tramps look sexier

once one adjusts the libido finds its smaller less conspicious delights
including the delight of plain escape
into a sot's sweet slumber


"i worry about the impact that such testing has on the environment in general "

i'll bet its miniscule


bluesniffer expressed more clearly what i was trying to get at, and i certainly have nothing to add to what he/she wrote above (especially since i am no expert on SoKo or NoKo, or really anything for that matter).

i would like to state for the record that i have no love for the north korean regime and make no brief for it. for what it's worth i wholeheartedly condemn the regime and desire for its speedy disintegration. that said, i think it should not go the path of shock therapy and forced, rapid integration into the world capitalist system a la eastern europe (for a clear, no nonsense description of the transition in the latter, check out this terrific article in NLR by Peter Gowan).

ditto the DDR, btw. the annexation has led to the virtual depopulation of that part of the country and created a substantial demographic disparity between men and women in most cities there. in some ways east germany represents a repeat of weimar in that it is now extremely polarized politically between communist and nazi revanchists. colonization is an apt term in so far as potentially profitable and serviceable east german state firms were bought up at fire sale prices by west german companies and closed down, as to eliminate competition, thus fueling unemployment. at the same time east german workers also provided west german capital a useful wedge for dislodging the gains of the FRG welfare state and unions.

one of the reasons the ddr suffered so much under the soviets was because the u.s. forced the division of the country. the soviets pressed for a united germany so as to receive reparations for the damage to the soviet union during the war, but u.s. companies with holdings and investments in west germany obviously pressured the u.s. government to nix that idea (also american planners realized that all the german communist symps happened to live in the east anyway). therefore, the poor little ddr was forced to bear the brunt of those reparations and did so after the u.s. army managed to loot of most of its assets (for an excellent summary of these events along w/copious documentation, see Jacques Pauwels' the myth of the good war chapter 21). so it's rather amazing that the DDR was able to manage any development after WWII at all. lastly, victor grossman, who i'm sure any reader of mrzine is familiar with, did not find living in communist east germany to be life in hell. he always refers to the unification as the "annexation". i suggest pacing his memoir crossing the river...


nice comment blues

(gawd, I can’t believe that an anarcho-commie like myself is doling out such retrograde advice!)
i agree with your retrograde advice
and suggest the development model
requires suppression of organized "pluralism"

the open for business society leads to
korea '97 as you nicely point out

but embrace the reality it ilpies
clio is speaking to us here

as to pinko's into
side walk super stuff
like suggesting better "retrograde " paths

like me
u lack party discipline comrade
some org bureau to shut you up

oh wait
you be anarcho
then i guess you lack for nothing

and your disgust
with masss commercial society
makes u ....a one brain sublation
waiting on clio's next big move

join the club

retrograde compared to what ???

By saying SoKo is a decent place with more democracy than we Amis have, I certainly don't mean to imply that I think it's anywhere near being a society I accept as is. Far from it. Indeed, who could possibly miss the fact that first post-war land reform and then a long, terrible struggle against capitalist-military dictatorships have made the place as livable as it is? That's plus economic planning, which is a very good example to remember and extend for the 21st century.

But why not be honest about Stalinism? It was a failure. In the case of NoKo, it's very deeply harming the entire population. SoKo is simply a better system, flawed as it is.

Clio would be much more vigorous and free without the NoKo hemorrhoid.


"why not be honest about Stalinism? "

oddly enough...i am after a few high balls

"It was a failure. "

i haven't yet unearthed
what is to be done about that failure

next time the tiller is siezed


"In the case of NoKo,
it's very deeply harming the entire population."

meliorism would indeed tilt us toward
an unconditional noko soko moige

maybe its better to be a burkean fan
in retreats


even if
one must certainly be
a dantonian fan in advances

i know new jerusalem is up there ahead
some where ...and it don't have
commodity type laborers

not exactly a road map

and i haven't a clue how many
intermediate stages
we shit heads need to get there
let alone how many we'll
end up going thru

thru them we'll go
or so sez my brain since 1974

as to
what particular
post rev
national model
the next stage might produce ..

who the fuck knows

even if its at a cusp

we still "lived"
the last 30 years in restoration times

post party but also pre party

my my

not a very broad comment this
eh father ??

popular mask slips from fools face


"...a terrible struggle against capitalist-military dictatorships ... made the place as livable as it is "

could the miracle development path
soko went thru prior to the emergence
of the "parliamentary system " of today
occur under any other more pluralized
more civilized super structure ??
without being
more trans nat open
more foreign finance open ??

most of the other "confucian" cultures
taiwan vietnam china hong kong singapore say no --in their varied ways ---

then there is japan of course

japan as an alternative fast track ??
with whole period civil liberty
and n party politics


but that equates the fresh start japan 0f 46
with the soko of 54

fair ???


this terrific article
is it behind a toll gate ??
seems to be
at least to my
ancien regime
grizzled eyes


op - i'll forward the pdf to the SMBIVA e-mail...


thanx derm

much in there to chew

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