The New Kim's Failure to Launch

Last night's North Korean missile launched failed, but as American Enterprise Institute (AEI) research fellow Michael Mazza explains there is much the West can learn.

"It doesn’t matter that the rocket failed--in going ahead with the launch, Jong-un demonstrated commitment to his father's "military first" policy and course for military modernization…He also demonstrated resolve in the face of widespread international approbation. This should all go over well in the insular North Korea and calm any elite concerns about unwanted change." (Full text below)

Click here for more AEI work on North Korea.

Mazza also explains why Washington’s North Korea strategy is failing in this just-published op-ed.

Michael Mazza is a senior research associate who studies defense policy in the Asia-Pacific region and security on the Korean peninsula. He can be reached at [email protected]

For help reaching any AEI scholars and for all other media requests, please contact Jesse Blumenthal at [email protected] or 202.862.4870.

Meet the new Kim, same as the old Kim


Lost in all the hubbub surrounding North Korea's missile test yesterday--don't worry, we'll get to that--was Kim Jong-un's elevation to First Chairman of the National Defense Commission. The title is newly created--the very much dead Kim Jong-il will maintain the title of Chairman for eternity, thus continuing the country's odd necrocratic system--but the role is not. Combined with his positions as First Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party (bestowed on him on Wednesday; his father remains the party’s General Secretary eternally) and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, Kim the Current now holds all three posts through which Kim the Former ruled North Korea. At least officially, the succession process is complete.

Unofficially, young Kim is likely still consolidating support from the Workers' Party and the military and working to ferret out the potentially (or actually) disloyal. Yesterday's rocket launch should at least be partially understood in this light. Kim Jong-il had long been promising that 2012 would be the year North Korea became a strong and prosperous country. Kim Jong-un had to deliver. Testing missiles and nukes (stay tuned!) is one of the few means at his disposal to demonstrate national power (as presently constituted, North Korea will never be prosperous, and its leaders know it). It doesn’t matter that the rocket failed--in going ahead with the launch, Jong-un demonstrated commitment to his father’s "military first" policy and course for military modernization (I use the term loosely). He also demonstrated resolve in the face of widespread international approbation. This should all go over well in the insular North Korea and calm any elite concerns about unwanted change.

What have the United States and its allies learned from this? To paraphrase Pete Townshend: meet the new Kim, same as the old Kim. Unfortunately, given Washington's track record over the past couple decades, there doesn’t seem to be much hope that we won’t get fooled again.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael
Mazza

What's new on AEI

To secure southern border, US must lead international effort to stabilize Central America
image The Ryan pro-work, anti-poverty plan: Thomas Aquinas 1, Ayn Rand 0
image Does SNAP support work? Yes and no
image Obama Democrats lose their big bet on health exchanges
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.