I must confess that I was surprised to hear that the Stalinist regime in northern Korea had conducted a nuclear test (BBC), especially when it occurred to me where we are on the calendar (less than two weeks out from the Tiananmen Square anniversary). Until yesterday, I had always assumed it was the Iranian mullahcracy who would conduct a test at this time. I can only assume that the mullahs just weren't ready yet.
Whatever reasons the Stalinists had for conducting the test can and will be analyzed and debated around the world and throughout the world wide web. However, we must not forget to examine why the Chinese Communist Party allowed it to happen - and make no mistake; this sort of thing does not happen unless it was run by the CCP. For the answer to this question, we must go back to the calendar.
I write this on May 26; in roughly a week and a half, the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre will be upon us. It was the one anniversary that scared the cadres more than any other - not because it alone could threaten the regime, but because it could aid or even set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the regime's downfall in the future. This is why I assumed that the Iranian mullahcracy - the CCP's strongest ally in the Middle East - would gladly take attention away from Beijing with a nuclear test.
Instead, Kim Jong-il seized the honor, but for the cadres, the main effect is the same. This test assures Beijing that Tiananmen Square will be nowhere near the front page on June 4, 2009. In fact, the CCP will likely see more democratic leaders praise it for trying to restrain its Korean colony, while insisting no one has the right to push the regime on touchy domestic issues while it is busy with the critical task of bringing Kim Jong-il et al into line.
To get an idea how this will play out, take a look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's utterly forgettable trip to meet with CCP leaders. For years, Pelosi was one of the very few members of Congress who understood the danger the CCP posed to the world. Now, flushy with power and allies in the White House, she has fallen for the "engagement" nonsense and has gone instead - hat in hand - to talk about climate change, an issue in which the CCP can once again look "responsible" without doing anything except pull the wool over the eyes of politicians who know better.
It will be the same with Korea. Already, the regime is calling for "coolheaded and appropriate" (Voice of America) action - i.e., don't do anything to risk the Korean colony. Keep in mind, the CCP has had plenty of opportunities to solve this problem all by itself. Yet it has instead chosen to prop up Kim even as he starved his own people and threatened his neighbors (I would even say it has preserved him because he threatened his neighbors, but more on that later). We must also remember that Beijing voted for sanctions against its colony in the past - only to announce it wouldn't enforce them hours later. In short, the Chinese Communist Party has never been serious about keeping Kim Jong-il in check.
Why? The reason is simple: Kim doesn't threaten Beijing; he only threatens the United States and America's allies, which makes him immensely useful. Moreover, he is more than willing to take full blame for his actions in the world community, knowing that Beijing's backing ensures that he can survive the ever growing pile of hollow words. Thus, the CCP gets the benefit of a distracted and scared free world with none of the consequences of having a hand in the distracting and scaring. The CCP even ends up watching the democratic world beg it to fix the mess that it created.
In other words, the CCP allows Kim Jong-il to behave like this because they want him to behave like this. Until that changes, he will keep this up, to the point of actually helping terrorists acquire the weapons they need to do us grievous harm.
If we truly wish to have the Korean colony reined in, we'll have to go over their heads. We'll have to make sure Beijing suffers immediate consequences for this: things like the revocation of Permanent Normal Trade Relations, talks with Japan and South Korea about deploying domestic nuclear deterrents (Japan will likely be more receptive to that than South Korea, but the offer should be made), a permanent American naval presence in the South China Sea, and perhaps even a revival of the American defense pact with the Republic of China (currently on Taiwan). The CCP has been using North Korea to distract us for nearly two decades; we need to create and push our own distractions against them.
However, that cannot be all we do. We must also make clear that any act of nuclear terrorism against America, her interests, or her allies, will be taken as an act of war by the CCP against the United States. Whether it's al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Iranian mullahs, the Kimist regime in northern Korea, or anyone in between, nearly every terrorist state or entity has been blessed with support from the CCP. Zhongnanhai must be told in no uncertain terms that we will bear the CCP personally responsible (as opposed to China in general) for actions that any of them take against us.
Finally, we must come to terms with the painful but unavoidable truth: America and her allies will never be secure until China is free. Our enemies in the War on Terror will, if defeated, simply be replaced by other ones as quickly as the CCP get find ambitious people who hate America as much as Beijing fears her. North Korea is, in many respects, the first and last evidence we should need on this. It is time we recognize that we are fighting - and must win - the Second Cold War.