Friday, October 18, 2002

ZoNotes: Doing the Cowboy Cumbia

Peace, Peace In My Imagination
There are declared nuclear powers, such as the P5 of the Security Council, India, and Pakistan. Then there are the undeclared nuclear powers, who keep their deterrence under a veil of ambiguity -- like Israel, which never detonated a weapon as part of a public test. Then there are the aspirant nuclear powers -- Iran, Iraq, maybe even Brazil if Luiz Inacio Lula follows through with his statements that the Non-Proliferatiion Treaty (NPT) is a rich man's monopoly. And then there's North Korea -- the world's first exposed nuclear power.

I wish I could give you a solid picture of what the stability of the North Korean "government" is, but the regime headed by Kim Jong Il is a paranoid, xenophobic autocracy whose closest resemblence was Stalin's Soviet Union. The Chinese communist system is almost free in comparison to the North Korean structure.

The Administration seems compelled to pursue a diplomatic strategy to eliminate the arsenal.The problem is that a third-party actor -- say, Japan -- is closer to the threat of North Korea's most advanced ballistic missiles. The Japanese have foresworn offensive weaponry in the 50+ years since the end of World War II. Plus, with the memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prevalent, it would be quite a sea change in how Tokyo configures defense policy.

However, with a pretty capable preexisting technological base in everything from sensors to delivery vehicles, the Japanese could manufacture their own nuclear deterrent rather quickly. "Nuking up" like that presents many obstacles to American latitude in the region. Plus, the 1994 negotiations that the U.S. completed now seems to have only brought this entire North Korean nuclear posture to a head. If you're a defense official in Japan, and you look at the map, it's your cities that are in danger. Any N. Korean strike probably won't hit American bases in Asia -- they might try to terrorize Nippon itself.

And some of the sophisticates complained when N. Korea was placed on the Axis of Evil. By the way, for the historically curious in the ZoNotes readership, guess who were the primary figures in the 1994 "framework" that gave the lie to the concept that N. Korea was freezing its nuclear program? Dean Robert Gallucci, the Dean of my very own Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and former President Jimmy Carter, recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. Munich happens because we let it.

"You can always tell a Texan, but not much." -- Anonymous

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

ZoNotes: Hello Again

Saturday evening's festivities in celebration of Jerry Harper's birthday in Kingstowne were a blast. Many thanks to him for inviting me to the shindig and goings on. I was especially heartened by the vivacious enthusiasm of the mariachis that arrived and ended up performing for the next 4 hours.

The Sniper Chase
The Pentagon's decision to help on the sniper investigation is an interesting revelation, as it provides law enforcement with a previously unavailable surveillance capability in the form of satellite recon and fixed-wing aircraft and gives the local police an additional layer of intelligence about potential suspects. The level of fear has upped with every attack, and the sniper has become more ambitious with his target selection. Monday's strike against cancer survivor Linda Gail Franklin was a particularly cruel assault.

The conditions of the chase still favor the attacker or attackers. The law enforcement community in the last week has demonstrated a capacity to throw up a thicket of personnel on the major thoroughfares that comprise the highway system in the DC area. However, the attacker/attackers' logistical footprint is so small, and relatively compact, that the sniper can still pass through the dragnet.

Buffy Recap: The Reach of the Slayer
Last night's episode demonstrated our heroine's strength and it also showed that there are some contingencies beyond her control. Buffy successfully helped a distressed teen from the demon cult only to "lose" her when she was overcome by her irregular heartbeat.

Over the long summer, creator Joss Whedon promised a return to the beginning, taking Buffy back to the rambunctious smackdown of the first couple of seasons. Essentially, we're getting that, but the show's writing team, headed by Marti Noxon, has retained the show's timeline continuity and changed the perspective. Instead of being 15-17, Buffy and many of the core characters are in their 20s. Dawn, Buffy's sister, is the youngest member of the cast. Whereas Buffy lived teen angst in the first 3 seasons of the show, she has to counsel it in the latest chapter of the series, serving as a counselor at Sunnydale High. The girl who knows of her oncoming death isn't a goth-death-depression strawgirl. In the show's crucial middle act, she laments her coming fate and expresses her desire for all the things people want -- love, life, and tranquility.

The first couple of episodes of Season 7 are still tying up the residuals of Season 6, but the humor is more visible and the enemies at this juncture not impossible to overcome.

I really like the direction Season 7 is going.

"It's not the situation. It is your reaction to the situation." -- Bob Conklin