But it's worse, in our SWNIDish opinion, for China.
- China used to be the only nuclear power in east Asia. Now there are two. Soon there will almost certainly be more, as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea will have to consider getting bombs in response.
- North Korea is the exclusive ally of China. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are loyal friends of the United States, not to mention shining examples of the benefits of capitalist democracy.
- These developments will drastically alter the balance of power on the Pacific Rim against China for the foreseeable future, while in the long run strengthening the position of the democracies, led by the US.
- If the Chinese try to shut down Kim and his boys (and any sanctions against the North Koreans will be as effective as China wants them to be), they'll have massive hordes of North Korean refugees in China. Worse for China, if North Korea collapses and is reunified with South Korea, the Chinese will face a stronger regional rival without a real ally in the region. So there's not much that they can do to change things.
With all the sobering and frightening reality of nuclear proliferation, it's worth remembering that even nutcases like Kim have never had the nerve to risk nuclear retaliation. So while we'd prefer that he didn't have access to the technology, it can't, as Baroness Thatcher observed, be uninvented. He's got it, but that's worse for some governments than it is for the United States.
So what can the Chinese do? We wonder whether it lies within their grasp to foment a coup d'etat in Pyongyang, overthrow the nutcase Kim, and install a domesticated, pro-Chinese regime that will renounce nukes in exchange for a mutual defense pact with China.
Could this be why they put Jack Bauer on that freighter?