We are stymied about what to do about North Korea. They have been testing long-range missiles and exploding nuclear weapons. They have detained and "convicted” two American journalists and sentenced them to 12 years of hard labor. And they are threatening to nuke anyone who lays a hand on them.
The Obama administration, like the Bush and Clinton administrations before them, is frustrated about how to proceed. Hillary Clinton is saying that we might interdict ships entering and leaving North Korean ports to see if they are carrying nuclear weapons components or missiles. We are attempting to put pressure on China, North Korea's foremost protector, to get tough with them. Maybe cut off their oil supply. And of course we are trying to get the UN to issue more (meaningless) proclamations.
All the while, pundits and government officials are wondering what's going on there to so harden their line. Most speculate this is all because of plans for an anticipated change in leadership. Kim Jong-il is 69 years old and appears to be in poor health because of a recent stroke. To assure that his younger son will succeed him, they speculate, that Kim has to demonstrate to the military elites, who in many ways run the country, that he is in tough and still in charge. Thus all the militant and threatening action and bluster.
Pulling off this succession plan will not be easy even for the Maximum Leader. There are forces within the military who would prefer someone else, and there is even concern that Kim’s older son, who prefers to hang out in Monte Carlo more than Pyongyang, may be plotting to keep his brother off the presidential throne.
Thinking about this young son, who is only in his twenties (no one knows for certain), I have been wondering what kind of leader he might make because there are some examples of improved behavior when sons take over for retiring, deceased, or out-of-office fathers. OK, some examples. Not all. Not George W. Bush, I'll grant you that. But we are beginning to see moderation in Syria where Bashar al-Assad took over from his father, Hafez al-Assad, when he died suddenly in 2000. He seems more accommodating to the west. Maybe because he studied opthomology in London and married a Brit.
Little is known about Kim Jong-un, beyond reports that he was secretly schooled in Switzerland under an assumed name, posing as the son of a driver in the nearby North Korean Embassy, and that he liked to ski on Switzerland’s fabled slopes. And that he is a big fan of Michael Jordan.
So there’s the opening. His love for Michael Jordon. A Chicago Bull, recall? The greatest basketball player of all time, right? And where is Barack Obama from? Chicago, no? And what sport does he love the most? Basketball, yes?
I assume you’re catching my drift.
So here’s the scenario: Kim Jong-un manages not to get pushed aside by his big brother; daddy Kim Jong-il manages to live long enough and detonates enough A bombs and launches enough missiles to satisfy the military so that they trust and fear him and his family; young Kim Jong-un takes over the presidency; and a week later Obama names Michael Jordan special envoy to North Korea. He goes over to Pyongyang and presents his credentials to new president Kim Jong-un along with an autographed basketball, a Michael Jordan jersey, and his rookie chewing gum card.
The rest is history. This is an easy one. Remember, the door to a rapprochement with Red China was opened as the result of the appearance there of the American ping-pong team. Can you imagine Michael Jordan dribbling around the presidential palace playing one-on-one with Kim Jong-un? It brings tears to me eyes.