[FOUNTAIN]Nuke blackmail won’t workThere is a country that made money out of threatening the United States with nuclear weapons, and it is not North Korea. It is the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a fictional nation in Leonard Wimberley’s 1953 book titled “The Mouse that Roared.”
Grand Fenwick is a tiny country with a population of 4,000 in the Northern Alps. While the country’s economy used to be self-sufficient from exporting Pinot Grand Fenwick wine, it is facing an economic crisis due to population growth. The Duchy decides to declare war on the United States for having produced fake wine. The trick is that the Grand Fenwick forces will be defeated soon and the country can receive aid from the United States. An invading force equipped with medieval armor and bows lands in New York in an old, rented sailboat. But the soldiers cannot find anyone on the streets because the city is in the middle of a civil defense drill. While the soldiers wander around empty streets to find a place to surrender, they find a nuclear physicist and his Q-bomb at Columbia University and bring them back to the Duchy. With the mighty Q-bomb that can destroy the Earth on hand, powerful nations around the world now have to curry favor with the Duchy.
The novel was made into a movie in 1959. Kim Jong-il, a well-known film aficionado, might have enjoyed a sweet fantasy from the movie. American political psychology expert Dr. Gerald Post said that Mr. Kim might be confusing himself with the protagonist of “The Mouse that Roared.”
A nuclear weapon leads to a game of chicken. Just like the Q-bomb, both players will die if neither back down. That threat is not likely to work on Washington. The “balance of terror” is that two fatally poisonous snakes will not bite each other.
South Korea, however, is different. It can be a captive to terror. Brinkmanship is the signature tactic of Pyongyang. Korea is so paranoid of a war, that even before we stand on the brink, we back down in fear. Korea is bound to become a chicken. That is why Pyongyang openly claims that the lives and property of South Koreans are protected not by the nuclear umbrella of the United States but by the Military First policy of North Korea.
Even if we give them carrots, we need to carefully choose the right timing. If not, Pyongyang might misunderstand the aid as tribute paid to Grand Fenwick. Seoul must not give Pyongyang the illusion that it can obtain food and aid, through a kind of nuclear blackmail, if they enlarge their military force instead of making a soft landing of the market economy.
by Kim Jin-kook
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.