I've suspected it for a long time but this week's Wikileaks revelations would appear to confirm it: China isn't really all that bothered about North Korea. Having been seduced long ago by the whiff of capitalism, the days when Chinese leaders were willing to send their sons to die in defence of the DPRK are long gone.
You would think then, with Pyongyang friendless and bankrupt, that the international community would not be willing to tolerate irrational murderous acts such as the slaughter of 46 South Korean sailors on March 26th in a North Korean torpedo attack and last week's artillery bombardment of Yeonpyeong island that left two ROK marines and two civilians dead. The response though from State Department spokesperson Mark Toner was that there would be no "willy nilly" response from the United States to these provocations. Willy nilly. I'm sure those words struck fear into the hearts of the North Korean leadership.
The rationale behind the north's reckless actions remains unclear. There are those that believe it is designed in some way to build up the military reputation of Kim Jong-un. Others, such as the former US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, are of the opinion that the northern military generals are now acting independently of the country's leadership (which if true could be an even more frightening prospect than that which we have been faced with). Whatever the reason, North Korea is becoming increasingly aggressive and the more the democratic world chooses to turn the other cheek the more hostile they will become in future. As I said here last month, we cannot wish North Korea out of existence, we cannot negotiate it out of existence at six party talks and we sure as hell cannot appease it out of existence. The question is just how long the democratic world will permit an isolated, companionless mafia state to make fools of them. I hope we get our answer soon. The 'willy nilly' doctrine is well past its sell by date.
Meanwhile, and to end on a slightly more positive note, the BBC has obtained footage that may just show us images of the bravest human being on the planet. Click here for a smuggled video recording taken inside the DPRK showing a lone North Korean woman standing up to one of Kim Jong-il's police goons. Sister, I salute you!