Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kim Jong-un North Korea Plans Kim Succession

During Barack Obama's election campaign, Hillary Clinton famously demanded to know whether he was ready to take a 2am emergency call. Yesterday, that call came.

North Korea's ailing leader, Kim Jong-il, woke the new U.S. President with a Nagasakisized nuclear test. And at 2.18am, President Obama issued a condemnation of the dictator's 'reckless' act.

Whether the North Korean tyrant will lose any sleep over Obama's reaction is doubtful. Antagonising world leaders and cocking a snook at America in particular has been his regime's stock-in-trade for decades. But there is method in Kim Jong-il's apparent madness.

Kim Jong-il

Ailing dictator: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il's is making way for a successor

Looking gaunt, walking with a limp and not speaking at his last public appearance in April, the Korean dictator is preparing to make way for a successor.

Like his father before him, Kim has ruled over a poverty-stricken and secretive state which has outlived many lesser tyrannies. (It is an odd fact that the nastier the regime, the longer its lifespan often turns out to be.)


And Kim sees nuclear weapons as a way to guarantee his family's future. Other states acquire atomic bombs to protect their territory from invaders.

The North Korean regime sees the bomb as the guarantor of its rule over a long- suffering people. He is so megalomaniacal that he would be prepared to destroy his own nation before he was overthrown.

North Korea has evolved a perverted kind of dynastic Communism, which survived the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991. The founder of the dynasty and 'Great Leader', Kim Il Sung, passed on the communist crown to his son, Kim Jong-il, in 1994.

Now as his own mortality is evident, Kim Jong il is planning to anoint his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as North Korea's next beloved ruler.

The fact that 25-year-old Kim Jong-un was educated - under a false name - abroad, at an international school in Switzerland, is no sign that things will improve.

'Kim Jong-il sees nuclear weapons as a way to guarantee his family's future'

Optimists point out that he is supposed to like Western pop music and films, and to enjoy expensive consumer toys - but all this is irrelevant. The same was said about his father, when he was being groomed to succeed the Great Leader.

Sadly, inside North Korea's ruling elite the boss and his loyal enforcers are allowed to enjoy capitalist pleasures, but nothing ever changes for their beleaguered people.

They have to suffer a perpetual state of communist austerity. The men in charge are like so many modern- day Neros. And having a Nero for a neighbour is no joke, neither for South Korea, Japan nor China.

Long before he inherited the crown, Kim Jong-il's obsession with South Korean movies led him to entice the country's film stars and directors north. Those who wouldn't come willingly were kidnapped.

The fact is that Kim Jong-il uses the forbidden fruit of the West to display and confirm his superiority over his own people, while at the same time laughing in the face of the West itself.

It is a very volatile situation, and he needs a successor who can master it as he has done, someone who is prepared to suppress his own people while at the same time playing nuclear poker with the Americans and their neighbours.

Three wives and several mistresses have borne Kim Jong-il an unknown number of children. At least three sons have jockeyed for the succession. But he has chosen his youngest, which is a dangerous source of family friction.

A defector's account of a meeting between the original Great Leader Kim Il Sung and his generals in 1993 gives a chilling idea of the way such choices are made.

Kim Il Sung asked them what would happen if America attacked North Korea. Every officer replied sycophantically that under his leadership they would defeat the Americans. Then the Great Leader shocked them.

'What if we lose to the Americans?' he asked. The generals were stupefied by the question.

Only Kim Jong-il spoke. 'I will be sure to destroy the earth. What good is the earth without North Korea?'

For the Great Leader, that was the right answer - and Kim Jong-il was duly confirmed as his successor.


Indeed, what Israel calls the 'Samson Option' is this nuclear family's last card. Frankly, the family knows that it would not last long if decades of pent-up hatred could be released among ordinary North Koreans.

They remember how their allies in Romania, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, were shot on Christmas Day, 1989. For them, it would be better to bring the sky crashing down on everybody than suffer such an inglorious fate.

'All we can do is hope that China manages to diffuse the situation before this Korean family drama reaches a truly explosive climax'

Yesterday morning's nuclear test, plus the simultaneous test-firing of missiles, was a double wake-up call. It shocked America and her allies, South Korea and Japan. But it also made clear that China's capital, Beijing, could be within range.

China has been a reliable buttress for North Korea for decades. Mao saved the Great Leader Kim Il Sung in 1950 by sending hundreds of thousands of 'volunteers' to stave off the American army during the Korean War.

China carried on propping up Kim Il Sung and then his son.

But now China's patience with its troublesome neighbour is wearing thin. Well aware of the hysterically dangerous selfadoration of the North Koreans' ruling family, China has until now avoided openly criticising them.

But that may be changing. Yesterday, Beijing condemned Pyongyang's acts and complained about being 'ignored'.

If any external power has agents at the heart of the secretive North Korean power structure, it is China. Forget the CIA, MI6, even the KGB. China's agents are the only ones the Kims really fear.


The Americans, South Koreans and Japanese have concentrated on Kim's bomb as a threat to us. But the latest nuclear test could also be a warning to China's leaders not to poke their noses into the Kim family's affairs as the succession in Pyongyang is sorted out.

The North Korean family wants to secure its grip on power for ever with plutoniumplated handles. But will its nuclear gambit push Beijing into activating its agents there?

Indeed, a Chinese-sponsored coup to topple North Korea's nuclear family is the best hope for us all - unless it prompts this crazy ruling dynasty to detonate its own country and take all of us with it.

Behind closed doors in Pyongyang's surreal world of Communism and karaoke, a power struggle is going on. And family quarrels often come to blows.

All we can do is hope that China manages to diffuse the situation before this Korean family drama reaches a truly explosive climax.

By Jonathan Thatcher

SEOUL, May 26 (Reuters) - Hidden from even the North Korean public, the youngest son of iron ruler Kim Jong-il has for months been the focus of discussions about who might next lead the impoverished state.

Speculation over who will succeed to the world's first communist dynasty has grown after reports that Kim, who took over from his father and the country's founder in the mid-1990s, suffered a stroke last year.

Many analysts believe the North's internationally condemned nuclear test on Monday was partly aimed at boosting the 67-year-old leader's standing at home to give him more leverage in anointing an heir -- believed to be his third son, Kim Jong-un.

There is no confirmed photograph of the adult Kim Jong-un and his age is unclear. He was born either in 1983 or early 1984.

There is a question too over whether his late mother, a Japanese-born professional dancer called Ko Yong-hui, was Kim Jong-il's official wife or mistress -- an issue that might weigh on his legitimacy to replace his father.

Even by intensely secretive North Korean standards, remarkably little is known about the son, whose youth is also a potential problem in a society that adheres closely to the importance of seniority.

Kim Jong-il was very publicly named heir by his father, Kim Il-sung, but he has studiously avoided repeating the process.

None of his three sons are mentioned in state media, much of whose efforts are focused on eulogising the current leader and his father who died in 1994 and is now North Korea's eternal president.

Kim Jong-un is thought to be Swiss-educated and able to speak English and German.

In a book on his time as chef to the ruling household, Kenji Fujimori said that of the three sons, the youngest Kim most resembles his father.

He is also reported to have a ruthless streak and the strongest leadership skills of the three. And, perhaps more importantly, he is thought to be his father's favourite.

Park Syung-je, a Seoul-based analyst with the Asia Strategy Institute, said he believed Kim junior had the backing of Jang Song-taek, effectively the country's number 2 leader.

Kim Jong-il in April promoted Jang, his brother-in-law, to the powerful National Defence Commission, which many analysts took to be an attempt to establish a mechanism for the eventual transfer of power, with Jang as kingmaker.

In a report on Monday, the Wall Street Journal said Washington had concluded Kim had initiated a political transition in which Jang and the younger Kim were emerging as major players in a new power structure.

South Korean media have speculated that Kim Jong-un may also suffer diabetes, something that is thought to have long plagued his father.

WASHINGTON -- The Barack Obama administration has concluded that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, still recovering from an August stroke, has initiated a political transition inside his reclusive state in which his brother-in-law and third son are emerging as key players in a newly assertive power structure.

[Kim Jong Il photo] Reuters

Kim Jong Il visits a North Korean air force unit in a picture released Friday by state media.

This political shift in Pyongyang, senior U.S. officials say, has contributed to North Korea practicing an increasingly aggressive foreign policy. North Korea withdrew from diplomacy aimed at ending its nuclear-weapons program shortly after Mr. Kim's believed stroke. And on April 5, the nation test-fired a three-stage rocket, underlining concerns that North Korea is trying to develop a ballistic missile that can carry nuclear warheads.

Leading U.S. officials are now publicly voicing their belief that Pyongyang will conduct its second nuclear test in the coming months.

U.S. officials say Washington hasn't faced such uncertainty in North Korea in 15 years, when Kim Jong Il succeeded his father following a fatal heart attack. But even then, Washington at least had a clear sense of the transition line as Kim Il Sung had clearly anointed his son. Today, say current and former U.S. officials, the exact succession line remains unclear and Pyongyang appears to be reverting to a hard line on national security issues as the North Korean elite jockeys for power.

"We don't know if it's a new leadership right now, but they're clearly looking at contingencies," said a top U.S. official working on North Korea. "It complicates how they view the world."

The Obama administration has been focused on the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan since taking office, as well as Iran's continued efforts to develop nuclear technologies. But the uncertainties about Pyongyang's political transition, U.S. officials say, are emerging as a key concern.

So far, the Obama administration has responded cautiously to North Korea's moves on the nuclear issue and its test-launch last month of a multi-stage rocket, in part, because of concerns about Pyongyang's political instability. Senior U.S. officials stress that they remain open to holding bilateral talks with North Korea. But they are also developing mechanisms to further undercut North Korea's economy, and particularly its weapons trade, if Mr. Kim doesn't come back to the negotiating table.

"It's very clear that the North Koreans want to pick a fight," said Gary Samore, President Obama's coordinator for weapons of mass destruction policy, this month. "They want to kill the six-party talks" focused on Pyongyang's nuclear program.


A shot thought to be of his son, Kim Jong Un, at the age of 11.A shot thought to be of his son, Kim Jong Un, at the age of 11.

U.S. officials have been closely watching the unfolding drama in North Korea since Mr. Kim became sick last August, while also acknowledging their limited access to information about the secretive country. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly discussed the uncertainty about Mr. Kim's grip on power for the first time during a visit to Asia in February.

A big sign of change in North Korea came last month when Jang Seong Taek, the husband of Kim Jong Il's younger sister, took a position on North Korea's National Defense Commission.

The National Defense Commission, which Kim Jong Il chairs, is North Korea's most powerful institutional body and combines leaders from the military and the Korean Workers' Party. Now, Mr. Jang is seen as positioned to potentially take power himself if Mr. Kim's health fades in the near-term. Longer term, he could guide one of Mr. Kim's three sons to a position of supreme leadership. U.S. and South Korea officials increasingly describe Mr. Jang as a "regent" entrusted by Kim Jong Il to safeguard his family's interests.

"Clearly he played a major role over the course of the last year or so during the health issue," said a senior U.S. defense official monitoring North Korea. "Kim Jong Il has never wanted someone to come to the fore previously."

Mr. Jang's growing power has surprised many North Korea analysts due to the up-and-down nature of his career. Mr. Jang met Kim Jong Il's sister, Kim Kyung Hee, at a Pyongyang university in the late 1960s but was subsequently banished to Moscow by North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. The elder Kim apparently opposed Mr. Jang's union with his daughter before consenting in 1972.

But since Kim Jong Il's return to public life after his stroke, Mr. Jang has repeatedly been seen standing at the dictator's side in photos and videos distributed by state media.

Mr. Jang's appearance "is a signal from Kim Jong Il that he has a plan for succession," said Dennis Wilder, who served as President George W. Bush's top Asia advisor until this January. "Kim needs a regent to guide the process."

North Korean state media formally announced Mr. Jang's appointment. Pyongyang has denied Mr. Kim has experienced any health problems and said North Korea has been the victim of Western propaganda.

U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials also increasingly believe Kim Jong Il's third son, Kim Jong Un, is emerging as a possible successor to his father. South Korean and Japanese media have widely reported the younger Kim has also been named to the National Defense Commission, though U.S. officials stress they have not confirmed this.

Still, U.S. officials said they increasingly view Kim Jong Un as an important player in North Korea's power equation. The 26-year-old has emerged as a stronger contender than either of his brothers. Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Il's eldest son, was widely discredited in 2001 when he was detained in Japan for traveling on a forged Dominican Republic passport in a bid to visit Tokyo Disneyland. The middle son, Kim Young Chol, has been described as frail and unlikely to possess the stature to lead.

Kim Jong Il seems to view Kim Jong Un as the most like him in views and values, said the senior U.S. defense official. The younger son's mother, Ko Yong Hee, who died in a 2004 car crash, is also believed to be Kim Jong Il's favorite of his three wives.

Kim Jong Un fascinates North Korea analysts as he studied at an international school in Bern, Switzerland and is reported to be a fan of Western pop stars.

Pyongyang's political transition has led North Korea to tighten its grip within the secretive nation, say U.S. officials. North Korean authorities detained and are trying two U.S. journalists on spy charges.

U.S. officials say they've maintained some low-level communication with North Korean diplomats through Pyongyang's United Nations mission in New York. But Mr. Obama's chief envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, has been rebuffed in his efforts to visit Pyongyang. And even diplomats from traditional North Korea allies, such as Russia, haven't been granted meetings with senior North Koreans in recent months.

U.S. and South Korean officials said it's possible North Korea may never agree to return to the international diplomatic process. One South Korean official said that if Pyongyang tests another missile, "the reaction would be strong enough to send lessons to the North."

The third and youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been increasingly visible on official occasions and masterminded some of the country’s major publicity events, such as a recent fireworks extravaganza, in an apparent bid to burnish his image as a successor, sources said Monday.

Kim Jong-un, who is believed to have been tapped in January as the isolated state’s next leader, has been seen making efforts to elevate his reputation by organizing the April 15 fireworks show and initiating an economic reconstruction drive, called the “150-day campaign,” sources privy to North Korean internal affairs said on condition of anonymity.

Kim Jong-il was designated as successor by his father and the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, in 1974, when he was 32. After his father’s death in 1994, Kim took the helm in the first-ever hereditary power transfer in a communist state.

Kim Jong-un, believed to be either 25 or 26 years old, had never appeared in North Korean media reports. He was born to Kim’s third wife, Ko Yong-hi, an actress who died of cancer in 2004. He has an older brother, Jong-chol, and a stepbrother, the leader’s eldest son, Jong-nam.

Despite his absence in state media, Jong-un accompanies his father on all his public visits and is stepping up “revolutionary activities to assist and support the supreme leader,” one of the sources said.

Trying to emulate his father, Jong-un initiated the 150-day campaign, a nationwide movement to rebuild the country’s struggling economy by maximizing its labor force during the period, the sources said.

The labor campaign, which started to appear in North Korean media reports this month, is a copy of the “70-day campaign” his father launched to rev up production during a global oil price crisis in 1974, they said.

Jong-un was also behind the unusually massive fireworks show the country held to mark the 97th birthday of Kim Il Sung and celebrate the North’s April 5 rocket launch, they said.

Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea expert at the nongovernmental Sejong Institute, said Jong-un, with no major post yet in the Workers’ Party, appears to be attempting impressive feats ahead of his official nomination. He has little if any power base, unlike his father who had built his name even before his father’s designation by holding important party posts and purging factional members.

“Kim Jong-il played a role in uniting the party around his father by discovering factional activities and purging pertinent officials,” Cheong said. “But in the case of Jong-un, he is believed to be holding no important post yet and has yet to have tangible public feats such as his father had when he was named as successor.”

Sources earlier said that Jong-un has been appointed to a low-level post called “instructor” in the National Defense Commission, the highest military decision-making body. The instructor post, however, is too low to be seen as a sign of his succession, Cheong said.

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