World still here: Official
Well, I've returned to civilisation and the world is still here.* It hasn't been blown away in a puff of nuclear smoke in my absence by a crazed man in a polyester suit, or a crazed man bearing more than a passing resemblance to a gorilla for that matter.
In the meantime, Counterpunch has produced a couple of interesting articles about the situation vis-a-vis North Korea, nuclear weapons etc. First was John Feffer's article, which offers some excellent analysis and background as well as healthy scepticism about many of the recent reported 'developments' both on the nuclear front and on North Korea's possible internal instability. Unfortunately, he falls into the good old-fashioned liberal position of offering some (rather modest) policy recommendations to the Bush administration, which is particularly amusing and unrealistic when you consider the nature of that government. But he does have some good points as well, eg:
With a quiescent public at home, regional allies pushing in different directions, and war off the agenda, the Bush administration is likely to choose the middle way of diplomatic stasis coupled with covert and nongovernmental destabilization. This "muddling through" approach is truly faith-based, for it relies on faith in the so-far-elusive collapse of North Korea.The muddling through thing really does seem to summarise the Bush administration attitude to the DPRK. It might be somewhat better than outright aggression, but it does have the potential for an 'accidental outbreak' of hostilities, especially if, as Feffer believes, various covert operations are being pursued in the background. He also makes the important point in his conclusion that the US administration should not get too starry-eyed about the North Korean people being ready to welcome anything the neocons get up to. As we've seen with Iraq, hating a despot is one thing, loving US intervention is quite another.
Gregory Elich has produced an even more in depth piece for Counterpunch. He gives a detailed historical assessment of what exactly North Korea's nuclear deterrent is. It's a complex business, but worth reading if you're into that sort of technical stuff. Anyway, to cut a long story short, his conclusion is that the DPRK's February 10 announcement was a bluff and it is not able to produce nuclear weapons. What a shame, I thought it might have been the birth of another 'proletarian bomb' like those wielded for peaceful ends by the former USSR and China...
* Not that I'm implying that Wales is uncivilised... far from it. Just a turn of phrase, you know.