Syria is up to its neck in dirt

I have increasingly less doubt that Israel’s raid into Syria was intended to knock out some sort of three way nuclear transaction involving Syria, North Korea and Iran.  This is especially true given the absence of huffing and puffing from anyone, including Syria, about what Israel did.  Syria wants to keep the event low profile, because it was violating every international law known to man.  And heads of state around the world are once again breathing a sigh of relief that Israel stepped in and did the world’s dirty work for them (just as Israel did in 1981 in Iraq).

But if you had any doubt about Syria’s complicity in the worst type of WMDs, get a load of this story about a little industrial accident in Syria during the summer:

Additional proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the development and deployment of weapons of mass destruction was revealed Monday in a Jane’s Magazine report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas and VX gas.

The factory was created for the purpose of adapting ballistic missiles to carry chemical payloads, Jane’s claimed.

Although reports of the accident were circulated at the time, no details were released by the Syrian government, nor was the Iranian connection revealed.

SANA – Syrian news agency — at the time cited an official information source which stated that “an explosion ripped through an explosives depot in Aleppo, northern Syria, due to the high temperature that … set off the high explosives materials. 15 soldiers were martyred and 50 were wounded. Most of the wounded were treated from their minor wounds caused by the shattered glass and left the hospital.” The source The source added that ” the explosion was not the result of sabotage.”

In a startling non-sequitur, the very next paragraph in the above quoted story, which comes from IsraelInsider, reveals that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is insane:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had only praise Monday for Syrian President Bashar Assad Monday. “I have a lot of respect for the Syrian leader and for Syrian policy. They have internal problems, but we have no reason to rule out dialogue with Syria.”

What’s Hebrew for “impeachment”?

Who’s got the bomb?

If you want to learn a little bit more about North Korea, which seems to have something at least approximating real nuclear bombs, check out all the information Laer has gathered on the subject. I’m still feeling green around the gills and emotionally horrible from reading it. This is a truly terrible society.

A more sanguine view of the N. Korea fizzle

Thomas Lifson writes a remarkably sanguine article in which he posits that the recent fizzle-pop out of N. Korea was not a show of strength, but a last ditch effort to keep the N. Korean army in line:

Any dictator who can allow a million or two of his 20 million countrymen to die of starvation, rather than open up his country to allow the adequate provision of proffered aid, must be pretty well invulnerable. Death by starvation is visible, prolonged, painful, and heart-wrenching for the survivors. Anyone dominant enough to compel mass acceptance of starvation must have an iron grip on the reins of power.

Or so one might assume.

Thus most foreign observers consider Kim Jong-il to be acting to achieve foreign policy goals of some sort by provocatively launching missiles and detonating nuclear devices. Perhaps he is demonstrating to terrorist state customers that he has salable goods? Or perhaps he is seeking unilateral talks with the United States? Or perhaps he is just aid-seeking or even anticipating another deal like he got with Bill Clinton, in which the United States will supply billions of dollars in aid in return for promises he doesn’t intend to honor.

But an alternative theory of power in North Korea suggests that Kim is in fact desperate, and is acting to quiet a threatened rebellion by the only group which matters when it comes to domestic power: the North Korean military. His unsuccessful missile launches, his nuclear test which was probably a “fizzle”, and his number two man, Kim Yong-nam’s bizarre threat to to take “physical steps” against the United States, all might all be part of an effort to persuade potential rebels among the military that he is still vigorously accomplishing the goal of making North Korea a mighty state, a major factor in the world able to command the attention, and intimidate even the United States.

Because he’s a good writer and thinker, Lifson provides a lot of support for this premise.  You can read it all here.

What’s the Japanese word for cajones?

Whatever the word is, it’s nice to see the Japanese showing some in the current North Korean crisis:

Over Chinese and Russian objections, Japan introduced a draft Security Council resolution Friday that would impose sanctions on North Korea for its series of rocket test-launches and also order a halt to its development of ballistic missiles.

Backed by the United States, Britain and France, the resolution condemns the series of missile launches that the North conducted Wednesday after both its enemies and allies around the world warned it not to.

By putting forth the resolution, Japan risked a showdown with China and Russia, which have said they oppose sanctions or even passing a legally binding resolution on the issue. They want a more mild council statement that would chastize the North for the launches, and go no further.

“If this resolution is put to a vote, definitely there will be no unity in the Security Council,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said. He refused to say, however, if China would use its veto to sink the resolution or abstain.

Japan’s Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said he wanted a vote on the draft Saturday if possible, yet he and other diplomats said negotiations continued on the resolution.

The sudden growth of Japanese backbone isn’t entirely surprising.  The Russians and the Chinese needn’t worry about the N. Koreans going after them.  Indeed, the Chinese have always had the ability to rein in N. Korea, which is their more extreme satellite, and have chosen not to do so.  The Japanese, however, are a sitting duck for N. Korean military “exercises.”  Fortunately, they haven’t lapsed into the incoherent fear that characterizes S. Korea, which is even higher up on the duck scale.

I’m a play it safe kind of person myself.  And certainly, when dealing with reasonable people, it is equally reasonable not to escalate matters when a dispute arises.  However, when dealing with bullies, one has to be very careful to strike the right tone.  On the one hand, one doesn’t want to meet insanity with insanity.  On the other hand, Hitler and Stalin (and let’s add in Pol Pot and the Sudanese for good measure) repeatedly demonstrated that, when it comes to murderous dictatorships, if you show even the smallest lack of resolve, they will eat you, brutally.

One very creepy country

If you’ve ever wondered what the reductio ad absurdum of socialism is, I think North Korea must be the answer.  Certainly the many pictures that Russia’s top web designer took during a recent trip there make it seem like the closest thing the real world has to Orwell’s imagined 1984.  This picture and its caption, from a country that is nominally in the 21st Century (and sophisticated enough to launch rockets), really struck me:

“They still havent figured out how to make flat glass withtout bubbles, the only exception are the windows in the hotel or large vitrines.”
Hat tip:  Power Line