Feature

Crying out for a little attention.

The week's news at a glance.

North Korea

Brendan Taylor
Asia Times (China)

North Korea is like a sour-faced, “neglected child,” said Brendan Taylor in the Hong Kong Asia Times. When it doesn’t get the attention it craves, it acts out, because being yelled at is better than being ignored. That’s why Washington needs to take North Korea’s latest provocation—short-range missile tests—seriously. Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s Stalinist dictator, wants the six-country talks on his nuclear program to start back up. During those talks last fall, Kim promised in theory to halt his weapons programs in exchange for “desperately needed economic and energy assistance,” including a light-water nuclear reactor. But just days afterward, the U.S. seemed to regret having made the agreement, and the talks screeched “to a startling halt.” Now Kim is using the only means he has to get Bush to listen to him: aggressive military maneuvers. If Washington fails to respond to a smallish provocation, Pyongyang will surely offer a larger taunt, and then a yet larger one. Such a game could, however unintentionally, “spiral into a conflict of epochal magnitude.” When a nuclear country is “crying out for attention,” we ignore its cries at our peril.

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