Monday, November 05, 2007

Thaw Before the Storm

Our Fertile Crescent’s little war just gotten hotter, with an increase in rhetoric on one side and the other.

In order to get some context to the looming fight, let us pause for a minute. If we accept that our troubles are mostly an issue of “Syrian Succession”, maybe we ought to pause and read a page from Kim Junior’s book; he has been making conciliatory signs of late, even allowing the hated Americans to
dismantle their prized reactors… A question comes to mind; did the Koreans get close to the Syrians only to “sell” them?

He has little choice; with his economy faltering, Junior has bet heavily on the bomb. So the fizzle of his pet project may have weakened his hand.

The Coming Thaw
There are signs of a coming “thaw” between the two countries.

In South Korea, areas close to the DMZ are now experiencing a real estate boom, as an increasing number of people are now “moving in” areas that were once considered unsafe.
In the north, it is more subtle; workers in the new “maquiladoras” as still strictly segregated, but the Chinese border is far less porous. For all the posturing and fence building, the need of consumer goods remains, and peddlers are allowed to go across the frozen Yalu, in addition to the “friendship” bridge… With those comes a relatively brisk trade in South Korean pop DVD’s that penetrate deep into the country.

The north is not as isolated as it seems; the internet may not be there, but more traditional means trade can still be as efficient. Combine this with human ingenuity and curiosity, and you see many reasons why the North Korean regime, even if it lasts for eternity, will not last for a second more.
The Looming Frost

Then again, it is hard to get past the Pompadour and into Junior’s mind,; this could all be mere manoeuvrings by a leader still struggling to succeed his father. In due course, all this new construction could serve as additional “leverage”; like Seoul, they are within easy reach of the North’s paraphernalia.

Then again, time is in short supply, and Junior’s clock be running a wee bit faster, thanks to all those Cognacs and heavy meals. As he consolidates his power, he can do little but continue on the traditional cult adoration of his late father. He can add some cult of his own, but he can only be a lesser god; the modern trend for “consolidation” pushes for monotheistic pantheons. Platform shoes and Pompadours can only go so far… aside from the fact that they are not so trendy anymore. Then again, so are dictatorships, but that does not stop Stalin-impersonators.

His own successor may be even less god-like, and may even face a harder succession; alongside the DVD’s are a few bibles. The paradise they promise may not be verifiable, but no one came back to complain; the absence of Communist paradise, on the other hand, is far more tangible.

Already, the inner circle around Junior has been thinning of late, as a few clans fell in disgrace or were sidelined. So Junior has little other option but give some slack and vie for time, for now.
Lessons to Other Juniors

It is worth noting that the progress of medicine and hygiene, by increasing life expectancy, made life all the easier for all of us. But it has not made it easy for dynasties; as current monarchs live longer, the princes-in-waiting have to linger in the wings for ever longer. In England, the troubles of Prince Charles may have much to do with this wait, as he chafes at the bit, the poor monarch-in-waiting distracts himself with side issues, and can only watch his son and successor reach the eligible age…
I would not be surprised if the Brits did not decide to skip a king…

The Koreans have less choice in the matter, and may still have to endure Junior for a while, unless Cognac does not bequeath the same benefits as wine… Either way, Junior’s dynasty is facing diminishing returns, as in our neighbouring monarchies; no sooner would one successor have consolidated his reign that it will be time for him to exit the stage, and let the next one in.
Thank God for the slow pace of medical progress; Even if old dictators do not die, they can still fade away.

The entire matter should give pause to our local variety; ever since 2000, the Syrian succession has not been going too well. The decline that started in 2005 appears to have precipitated thanks to Bashar’s accumulation of ill-timed mistakes.

The latest summitry was a case in point; for all the talk of Moallem’s "refusal to attend", Syria was actually excluded from the summit’s discussions on Lebanon. To add insult to injury, representatives of other countries asked Moallem to come back and attend the meeting… But only after it had already finished.
So, what will Assad-Junior read into this?
Will he "bend" like Kim-Junior, to try and come back later?
Or will he let the exuberance (and inexperience) of his "youth" get the better of him?

This “survival of the fittest” thing is a tough game…

…Any “Evolution”, however, is not guaranteed...

1 comment:

Solomon2 said...

"Fury said to a mouse..."