COMMENTARY | The Associated Press discusses the ongoing public relations blitz by North Korea's new dictator, Kim Jong Un, in the wake of the country's failed long-range rocket launch. The failure of the launch, planned as part of a tour de force to show the nation's military muscle during the 100th anniversary year of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung, raises concerns the nation will conduct a third test.
North Korea's provocative actions have eroded any diplomatic goodwill built up when it agreed to 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid in exchange for ending its nuclear weapons program. A nuclear test would provoke the ire of the U.S. and other members of the U.N. Security Council, but will anything happen?
North Korea tested nuclear weapons in 2006 and 2009, and has gotten away with it despite warnings from the U.S. and other nations. Jennifer Lind at CNN discusses why she believes the economically depressed dictatorship gets away with it: Despite imminent victory, nobody wants the bruises. North Korea's huge military, though largely equipped with obsolete weaponry and lacking basic resources, is large enough to inflict damage before crumbling before a modernized onslaught.
Iran, meanwhile, is being watched closely as it undoubtedly watches the international reaction to North Korea's saber rattling. Fareed Zakaria, a prominent CNN analyst, waxes eloquent on why oil-exporter Iran can be successfully negotiated with to end its nuclear ambitions. Zakaria claims Republicans must relax their hawkish views and accept concessions and relaxations of tensions in incremental fashion. Zakaria is evidently impressed by coy concessions of the dangers of nuclear weapons by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called the possession of such weapons a "grave sin."
Iran and North Korea are masters of the diplomatic flip-flop and artists of ambiguity. They are similar to a 1930s veteran of both tactics: Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Like France and Britain appeasing Hitler in 1938 at Munich, is the West being irrationally optimistic that diplomacy can continue to contain ambitious saber rattlers.