Jeffrey Miller

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Category: News (page 1 of 10)

“Ground Control to Major Tom….”

nasa-oddityThis is awesome.

Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield has the perfect crowning touch for his time in the International Space Station: his incredible rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

Bowie would be proud of this rendition and Commander, we’re all proud of you down here on Earth and what you have done to make science and space so interesting.

Well done, Commander and welcome back to Earth.

Nothing new under the son

Norks

Now it looks as though North Korea is going to go ahead and re-start its nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

There’s a good article in The Christian Science Monitor about this latest news to come out of the North and whether or not the international community should be worried about it. Yes, we should be worried about it, but like so much of the rhetoric the North has been using, the fact that they are telling the international community is still part of their game plan. It’s their way of scaring the world into action with their high-stakes blackmail.

In one sense, Korea watchers say, the new regime is simply rehashing and upping the volume of an ideology and a language that the North and the Kim family have used for many years to remain in power and keep people unified by the threat of an enemy.

This is what I have been saying all along. This has been North Korea’s modus operandi since 1965 when they started down the road again (after they had rebuilt their industrial base which had been destroyed during the Korean War) to reunify the peninsula with every means possible. Military provocations along the DMZ, raids, murder in the JSA, sea battles, underground tunnels, terrorist acts, nuclear and missile threats–these have all been used to perpetuate their regime and to threaten the international community into action.

There really is a method to their madness.

There’s a method to their madness

NorksOkay, so it’s been a little intense here on the Korean peninsula for the past month with all the angry rhetoric and threats North Korea has been making, but after having lived here for the past twenty-three years, this is nothing unusual.

Yes, there bellicose rhetoric has alarmed a lot of people, but here in Daejeon (about an hour south of Seoul by Korea’s high-speed express train, KTX) and for the rest of South Korea it’s been business as usual the past few weeks. This is not to say that we’ve become complacent. It’s just that we have been down this road many, many times before.

You see, there’s a method to their madness.

On one hand, Kim Jong Un needs to let folks know he’s the one in charge and is capable of controlling the military to make the folks at home know that he’s up to the challenge like his father and grandfather. At the same time, there might be some internal maneuvering by some party members who feel Kim can’t control the control his own country. So, he can’t back down from the threats he’s making. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is his way of cleaning house.

North Korea has resorted to this kind of saber rattling blackmail in the past to get the United States and South Korea to come back to the negotiating table or to give them aid. In this regard, North Korea is the school bully, grabbing a kid by their shirt and threatening to beat them up if the kid doesn’t give him money the next day.

This will all pass in the next few weeks. Sure, this high stakes game of chicken is making a lot of people nervous, but cooler, saner heads will prevail, and all this will soon pass.

North Korea threatens nuclear strike on US

NorksSo much for Dennis Rodman’s basketball diplomacy.

North Korea on Thursday vowed to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States, amplifying its threatening rhetoric hours ahead of a vote by U.N. diplomats on whether to level new sanctions against Pyongyang for its recent nuclear test.

An unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said the North will exercise its right for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the headquarters of the aggressors” because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against the North.

You can read the rest of the story here. I hate to tell you, “I told you so,” but after Rodman’s TV appearance on ABC after he returned to the States, I blogged that in a few days North Korea would be back to their saber rattling, take this you Imperialist Dogs selves again. I’m telling you folks, there’s a method to their madness. There is a pattern. Besides, maybe Kim Jong-un thought Rodman was a little over-the-top on ABC.

About this method to their madness. They’ve pulled this same stunt whenever there’s a new sheriff in town, in this case a new president in the South. They’re just seeing what Park Guen-hye will do, whether or not she will flinch. It’s there SOP. A scary SOP to say the least, but one that has had a historical precedence. Additionally The Great Successor needs to validate his leadership. Unlike his grandfather, he doesn’t have any military experience. This is his way of proving that he’s a force to be reckoned with.

After all, as Dennis Rodman told the world, “he’s an awesome guy.”

Dennis Rodman in North Korea: The story that won’t go away

Rodman 2Dennis Rodman’s no elder statesman like former president Jimmy Carter or our ace in the hole/clutch diplomat Bill Richardson, but you wouldn’t think so with yet another story about his visit to North Korea and an appearance on ABC’s This Week.

It’s the story that won’t go away and for Rodman, he hasn’t enjoyed this much press and attention since Michael, Scottie, and others went for their three-peat in 1998.

North Korea’s young leader has riled the U.S. with recent nuclear tests, but Kim Jong Un doesn’t really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, according to ersatz diplomat Dennis Rodman, the ex-NBA star just back from an improbable visit to the reclusive communist country.

Here’s the rest of the story.

Enjoy it while you can, Dennis. The next time North Korea threatens South Korea or the US (and they will, you can count on it) you will be old news. Try getting a spot on Letterman or Leno then to talk about your trip to North Korea.

Mr. Rodman, this way to debriefing

Rodman 2Probably not according to a news story via ABC:

Basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman may be the only American to have hugged, drank and laughed with North Korea’s bad boy Kim Jong Un, but the U.S. State Department said today it has no plans to debrief Rodman for any personal intel on the man who says he is targeting the U.S. with his nuclear arsenal.

Read the rest of the story here, but what I find interesting about this article is the mention of the Coca Cola can, something I pointed out the other day. Those kinds of Coke cans are how Coke is sold in South Korea, which probably means that it came via the black market. What’s also interesting is that the placement of the can allows us to see the English. As Arsenio Hall used to do on his show, “Things that make you go hmm….”

Well, now we can get back to normalcy here. This month US and South Korean forces will be having a joint military exercise, and as Pyongyang said last month, if this military exercise goes as planned, the US forces will face miserable destruction. What will Pyongyang do next?

One more note about Rodman’s visit to North Korea. Today, I went to get a pizza, and the manager of the Dominoes Pizza asked me what I thought about Rodman’s visit. I told him that I thought it was pretty strange and he agreed. A lot of people in the South, he told me, are treating it is amusing and a little bizarre.

Rodman: Kim Jong-un’s an awesome guy

Rodman 2One thing about Dennis Rodman, he never disappoints. Even when it comes to calling Kim Jong-un an “awesome guy.”

Ending his unexpected round of basketball diplomacy in North Korea on Friday, ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman called leader Kim Jong Un an “awesome guy” and said his father and grandfather were “great leaders.”

Rodman, the highest-profile American to meet Kim since he inherited power from father Kim Jong Il in 2011, watched a basketball game with the authoritarian leader Thursday and later drank and dined on sushi with him.

At Pyongyang’s Sunan airport on his way to Beijing, Rodman said it was “amazing” that the North Koreans were “so honest.” He added that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder, “were great leaders.”

“He’s proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him,” Rodman said of Kim Jong Un. “Guess what, I love him. The guy’s really awesome.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

Once again, you just can’t make this stuff up.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Rodman 2Court side in Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un sharing a laugh together.

As my friend and fellow author, Alex Keto so eloquently pointed out, “folks, you can’t make this stuff up.”

Please note the careful placement of the Coca Cola can. Either Rodman brought his own Coke or you can get it in Pyongyang. Coca Imperialism for the new generation?

Check out the Korean woman staring at Dennis. She doesn’t seem to be too amazed. She’s probably a Lakers’ fan.

Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang: Basketball Diplomacy

RodmanWell, if ping-pong worked with the Chinese, maybe Dennis Rodman, a.k.a. The Worm, and basketball might have the same effect on the Norks.

Very interesting article in The Diplomat about Rodman’s visit to North Korea that even has Marcus Noland finding something in the visit to get excited about:

“I am all for it,” Dr. Marcus Noland, senior fellow and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told The Diplomat. “No one has anything to lose on this one, so why not? If Kim Jong-un is half the 1990s NBA fan he is cracked up to be, Dennis Rodman could have more impact on US-DPRK relations than say John Kerry. And look better in a dress.”

We’ll have to take that tongue-in-cheek, but all I’ve got to say is what to hell.

Go get ’em Worm!

Redeployment of Tactical Nukes on the Korean Peninsula?

This is the kind of news that’s going to raise some eyebrows. A lot of eyebrows.

If folks in Korea were concerned about Mad Cow disease earlier this month when they took to the streets, I wonder how people are going to react to this news.

Seoul officials and experts cautioned against the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula proposed by some in the United States, which they fear could refuel an atomic arms race in Northeast Asia.

The US House Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to the fiscal 2013 national defense authorization bill that calls for the re-introduction of the sensitive weapons to South Korea, according to the diplomacy publication Foreign Policy.

While the South Korean government is not openly criticizing the idea, concerned ministries say that Seoul remains fundamentally in favor of denuclearization of the peninsula and that such developments will bring little security benefits for Seoul.

Read the rest of the article here.

In the East Asian Politics class I am co-teaching this semester, the authors of our textbook talk about the notion of a critical juncture. I’m not really sure if this qualifies as a critical juncture, but it definitely is going to get people talking about it. And how is Pyongyang going to respond to this?

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