On the new AmConMag blog Post-Right (which you should really read), Jack Ross writes:
I’d like to offer a theory about Kim Jong Il’s behavior – that he’s clumsily trying to imitate the shrewd moves of Ahmadinejad…Kim, by imprisoning these two women and conducting new missile tests, is aping Ahmadinejad’s tactics at provoking the U.S., but with no real strategy.
I can buy the idea that Kim is aping Mahmoud tactically. But I don’t buy that this is without strategy.
The strategy it seems to me is clear: get out from under Chinese little brother status and talk directly with the US.
Or as China Hand has it: (read the whole thing)
At the heart of North Korea’s seemingly reckless behavior is a strong desire to assert an independent economic and geopolitical role for itself in North Asia…North Korea wants improved relations with the United States, and to engage in a controlled opening of its econom0y and society. In return, Pyongyang is offering itself to Washington as a counterweight to Beijing in North Asia.
It’s hard to know what Ahmadinejad’s intentions are strategically. There are certainly many parties within the Iranian regime who want to use some threatening gestures and rhetoric to finally be payed attention to–some, including The Revolutionary Guard, who are/were probably using Ahmadinejad to those ends. I’m not sure Ahmadinejad is in that camp–as I tend to think he is more a nutcase.
Kim Jong Il is an insane blood-stained tyrant but not a stupid one. At least in terms of protecting his own power and trying to get what he wants. What KJI wants is a path to be recognized as a regional power and be brought back in to the great power club in a manner that doesn’t threaten his authoritarian grip on power. In that sense he strikes me more like the clerical oligarchy of Iran than Ahmadinejad.