Photo: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
Amid all of the concerns regarding North Korea’s rocket, Ian Bremmer has written a timely op-ed piece for the Financial Times.Bremmer, one of the world’s most respected geopolitical risk experts warns that we should be much more concerned about North Korea than we are of Iran or the rest of the Middle East.
We don’t know.
We literally don’t know.
From his op-ed:
The father knew the son would need help and he positioned his brother-in-law and the regime’s previous number two, Jang Sung-taek, to act as regent. Mr Jang is believed to have strong personal ties with senior officials of the Korean People’s Army, guarantor of North Korea’s baseline security. Also among Mr Kim’s “guardians” are army chief of staff Ri Yong-ho and Kim Jong-il’s sister Kim Kyong-hui. What is the true balance of power among these people? Outsiders have no reliable way of knowing.
That’s why, for the next few weeks, we should worry more about North Korea than about Iran. Compared with North Korea’s government, Iran’s theocracy is an open book. Bluster among players in the controversy over Iran’s nuclear programme has market watchers on edge, but the near-term risk of trouble here is over-rated. Americans and Europeans have little appetite for another Middle East conflict that’s sure to pressure oil prices and imperil their delicate economic recoveries. Israel is talking tough, but that’s at least in part to ensure maximum compliance with the next wave of soon-to-be-rolled-out sanctions. Iran has little interest in starting a war it can’t win. Real trouble will probably wait.
But apparent preparations for a North Korean rocket launch over the strong objections of the US and North Korea’s nearest neighbours remind us that Pyongyang remains uniquely unpredictable. South Korea and Japan have threatened to shoot the rocket down, but having made clear its intention to press forward, North Korea’s new government is in no position to cancel plans and lose face.
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