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M K Bhadrakumar |

According to US officials, North Korea’s ICBMs are capable of hitting any part of the United States. These North Koreans are an incredible lot, isn’t it? With all the sanctions in the world tying them down, they still managed to make ICBMs.

I am reminded of the father of a childhood friend, a rich man from central Travancore who owned vast estates and tea gardens in the high ranges, who was summoned by the college principal to complain that his ward was a blessed nuisance. The principal showed him a tiny contraption which could create ruckus like nobody’s business during lectures. Whereupon, the slightly inebriated estate owner examined the tiny thing making such irritating noise, and with an eye on his son, told the principal, ‘Father, I didn’t know my son is so clever.’

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We know so little of North Koreans. Yesterday Fox News reported that North Korea has no power shortage. Eureka! But, my point is something else. Only the Americans seem to be in a flap.

There is some natural justice, after all, that the North Koreans are making the Americans realize how it is to live in the valley of death. The amazing part is that the world couldn’t care less if North Koreans now have ICBMs and can lob an atom bomb or two at California or Seattle. In fact, there is a total virtual blackout in the Chinese and Russian press. The indifference is stunning — yet, understandable.

This must be a classic case of schadenfreude. Most of our lifetime, we lived in abject fear of Americans. They could suddenly swoop down in their bombers and drop on us napalm bombs, Daisy Cutter, Pineapple, Walleye, Rockeye, what have you. Remember Flaming Dart and Rolling Thunder, the carpet bombing missions over North Vietnam between 1965 and 1968? The total tonnage of ordnance dropped approximately tripled the totals for World War II.

There is some natural justice, after all, that the North Koreans are making the Americans realize how it is to live in the valley of death. The amazing part is that the world couldn’t care less if North Koreans now have ICBMs and can lob an atom bomb or two at California or Seattle. In fact, there is a total virtual blackout in the Chinese and Russian press. The indifference is stunning — yet, understandable.

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The Trump administration is hopping mad at China. Trump’s latest tweets say:

“We view as groundless attempts undertaken by the US… to shift responsibility to Russia and China, almost blaming Moscow and Beijing for indulging the missile and nuclear ambitions of (Pyongyang),” Russian Foreign Ministry said on July 31. “It was the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China that developed a joint road map that rules out any use of force or a threat to use force and envisages a comprehensive solution to all problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the nuclear problem, through political and diplomatic methods.” And the statement urged all sides to “immediately” resume dialogue.

But there is stony silence in Beijing. When Trump tweeted, President Xi Jinping took off for remote Inner Mongolia to inspect PLA troops. Equally, US State Secretary Rex Tillerson called China and Russia “the principal economic enablers” of North Korea because of their trade ties. (China-North Korea trade registered 37% increase last year.) The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed Tillerson’s charge.

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“We view as groundless attempts undertaken by the US… to shift responsibility to Russia and China, almost blaming Moscow and Beijing for indulging the missile and nuclear ambitions of (Pyongyang),” Russian Foreign Ministry said on July 31. “It was the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China that developed a joint road map that rules out any use of force or a threat to use force and envisages a comprehensive solution to all problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the nuclear problem, through political and diplomatic methods.” And the statement urged all sides to “immediately” resume dialogue.

It seems to me that Moscow and Beijing have taken a coordinated stance. They decided to take time out and leave it to the US to get reconciled to the irreversible reality that North Korea is a nuclear power and that Pyongyang’s missile tests and the nuclear program cannot be stopped because they are a means of survival for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Chinese Ambassador to the UN in New York Liu Jieyi said Washington and Pyongyang hold “the primary responsibility” for the escalating tensions, as well as for efforts to cool tensions. “No matter how capable China is, China’s efforts will not yield practical results because it depends on the two principal parties,” Liu recalled that both Washington and Pyongyang have ignored calls by the UN Security Council to de-escalate tensions and relaunch six-party negotiations as proposed by Beijing and Moscow. Liu added that implementation of Security Council resolutions is also being hampered by unilateral sanctions and “preconditions put to starting the dialogue” with Pyongyang.

It seems to me that Moscow and Beijing have taken a coordinated stance. They decided to take time out and leave it to the US to get reconciled to the irreversible reality that North Korea is a nuclear power and that Pyongyang’s missile tests and the nuclear program cannot be stopped because they are a means of survival for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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The US no longer has a military option. The good part is that responsible people have begun acknowledging this. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that the cost of the military strike could be “a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes.” General Michael Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency admitted to the CNN that it is about time everyone accepts that North Korea is a nuclear power.

M. K. Bhadrakumar has served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings as India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes extensively in Indian newspapers, Asia Times and the “Indian Punchline”. This piece was first published in Indian Punchline. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

M. K. Bhadrakumar has served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings as India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes extensively in Indian newspapers, Asia Times and the “Indian Punchline”.

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