Saturday, August 29, 2009

Testing the Line

Shall we question the timing?
The United Arab Emirates has seized a cargo ship earlier this month bound for Iran with a cache of banned arms from North Korea, the first such seizure since sanctions against North Korea were ramped up, diplomats and officials told The Associated Press on Friday.
The Times story doesn't bother to inform readers when the seizure took place, leaving them to wonder. Or wander on over to Drudge and read the Reuters update:
The weapons seized on Aug. 14 included rocket launchers, detonators, munitions and ammunition for rocket-propelled grenades, they said.
And what was going on August 14?

Well, a Russian-crewed cargo ship was being hijacked off the coast of Europe, for one. The hijacked ship, whose story has completely fallen off the radar, was allegedly carrying contraband under a manifest of lumber. The North Korean shipment was characterized in a similar manner:
"The cargo was deceptively labeled," said a diplomat "The cargo manifest said that the ship contained oil boring machines. But then you opened it up and you found these arms."
Interesting. And of course, in the first week of August Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang in a dramatic rescue of two misguided employees of Al Gore's TV network. Slate's Fred Kaplan mentioned this tidbit at the time:
Desmond Ball, a prominent intelligence expert at the Australian National University, has written a widely publicized paper reporting that Burma is cooperating with North Korea on an ambitious nuclear program involving extracting and enriching uranium with a goal of producing one nuclear weapon a year by 2014. The report is based on testimony of two Burmese defectors, and some Western officials find their stories credible.
Burma? Hey, that's the general direction of travel of that North Korean ship the Navy was tracking a few months ago, isn't it? Reports say it returned to port amidst a fireworks show. Meanwhile this event didn't get much press at all.

On a global scale it certainly appears the thug world is kicking sand towards a US president who comes across weaker than previous versions. Obama is smart and will not overtly kick any sand back right now (he only does that to the political opposition at home), which is perhaps prudent based on the tenuous position America finds itself in right now. But as with any school yard bully a time will come where he's probably going to be forced to show a manly hand in reply. Since that goes against his very nature (and leaves ugly comparisons to Bush/Cheney) it will be interesting to see how he pulls it off.

1 comment:

Tech said...

I wonder why this is only coming out now. You would think they would have reported this when it happened to strengthen the case against North Korea.