Open Sources

And by the way, he’s a full-time envoy! Two years into the Obama Administration, just look at the empty gobbledygook his Special Envoy on human rights is telling South Korea’s nuclear negotiator:

“We’ve had very good, very serious, very thoughtful discussions,” King told reporters after talks with Wi Sung-lac, Seoul’s main nuclear envoy who oversees North Korea issues at the foreign ministry. “It’s extremely important for the United States, as we pursue our policies towards North Korea, to coordinate with the government of South Korea.”

King declined to elaborate, including whether he talked about food aid to the North. The envoy only said his trip is “part of the process that’s been going on for some time in terms of coordinating our polices on these tricky issues.”

You must be wondering what the hell that even means. Since I live in Washington, let me translate for you. It means, “We’re not going to do anything about this.” Nominally, the purpose of King’s visit was to “collect data.” But in reality, that means placating people by listening to them and nodding with feigned concern. Oh, maybe the concern isn’t completely feigned. But it’s clear enough to me that Robert King has no plan, no agenda, and no desire to make himself relevant.

Why do we even have Special Envoys in the first place? Because the Congress lost all faith in the State Department and created them, of course. Given State’s dismal record, it’s not hard to see why. But inevitably, the State Department always manages to surround the Special Envoys with minders and install them in offices under the watchful gaze of the East Asia Bureau.


How the military breaks an information blockade: But why must everything the military does require a brigade-strength unit and a budget of at least $200 million? It seems to me that cheaper technologies could do all of this, and more.


Don Kirk has a terrific piece in the Christian Science Monitor about the connections between North Korea and our great ally, Hosni Mubarak:

North Korea over the years has trained Egyptian pilots, sold missiles to Egypt, provided the technology for Egypt to fabricate its own missiles, and turned its embassy in Cairo into the hub for military sales throughout the region.

The relationship grew even while Egypt was developing close ties with the United States after the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979. Egypt was seen as a close friend of the United States even as Mubarak visited Pyongyang three times in the 1980s and a fourth time in 1990 in search of military and commercial deals.

Three questions this raises. First, would the fall of the Mubarak regime deprive Kim Jong Il of an important arms client? Second, why were we propping this guy up with aid again? Third, is Kim Jong Il cursed? Of course, you can only imagine the kind of relationship Kim Jong Il might form with an Egyptian government led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Just look at Iran.


I may fret about the Muslim Brotherhood, but one key instigator of the Egyptian uprising seems to have a pretty secular and libertine world view.


Interesting, if true: The Daily NK purports to have a photo from a man it deduces is a party official, burning portraits of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Suk. I don’t know why it couldn’t be true, but the fact that someone could film this, would film this, and could smuggle the film out would be telling about technology creep.


North Korea reminds us that it’s not quite out of the drug business. This sort of thing happened fairly regularly when Roh was President, but it wasn’t publicized much for some reason.


Oh, did I say we shot them? I was only pulling your leg about that.