By Ifeanyi Igwe
Considering the sort of positive media coverage earned by Kim Jong un, on a platter of gold, during the beginning of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea courtesy of his sister Kim Yo Jong, who was referred positively with some good coinages by Western media, his grip on power since the demise of his father in 2011, a rapid advancement in his missiles and nuclear programs as well as his economic breakthroughs despite harsh international sanction, evidenced by the high rise buildings in Pyongyang combine to prove his rationality as suggested months ago by Yong Suk Lee; the Deputy Assistant Director of CIA’s newly created Korean Mission Centre.
Donald Trump and some members of his team do not believe as such; he had tweeted that Kim is a ‘madman’ who enslave his people and is bent on attracting ‘fire and fury’ to the Korean peninsula. In Trump’s thinking, Kim seem to perhaps lack proper knowledge of the consequences of his nuclear and missile developments or that Kim intends to commit deliberate suicide by continuing his quest to complete a programme which is counter to United Nations resolutions and the security concerns of the United States and therefore must be taught a lesson.
“Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be treated like never before” Trump twittered. “The scorch of our planet are a small group of rogue regimes” he added, in the debut address at the United Nations General Assembly; he anointed the North Koreans as the main subject of his distaste, humming off the countries ugly human right antecedents, pursuit of nuclear weapons, resistance to pressures and missile developments which conspire to pose threat to world peace. “The US has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” Trump threatened.
Indeed, Sen. John McCain once referred to Kim as “this crazy, fat kid that’s running North Korea”. This was on the heels of a statement attributed to the United States ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley that “we are not dealing with a rational person” in Kim Jong un.
Responses from the North were profound. Its foreign minister proposed that a plan to detonate a hydrogen bomb was in the offing. Kim himself in a rare personal address to Trump called him a ‘dotard’ whose temperament is a disqualification enough from the office of a world leader. Is there anything irrational about that?
If he is irrational, how has he been able to cling to power all these years despite perhaps been surrounded by senior military officers who by a whim could plan his overthrow? How could he be irrational when despite the sanctions levied on him by the international community he was able to skate steady flow of cash into the country? Is there anything irrational about that? He has been able to even play the unpredictable game with the West on account of his surprise moves each and at all moments in time. Apart from those feats as a man of just 35, he obviously had a western education background; been a former student of Linfield Steinholzil in Koniz, Switzerland. Even Trump had to acknowledge that he was a “pretty smart cooki”.
If he is irrational, how has he been able to cling to power all these years despite perhaps been surrounded by senior military officers who by a whim could plan his overthrow? How could he be irrational when despite the sanctions levied on him by the international community he was able to skate steady flow of cash into the country? Is there anything irrational about that?
“He was acting very diplomatically and professional” said Spavor, who accompanied Dennis Rodman, the legendary basketball star to North Korea. “He felt old beyond his years, he could be serious at times and funny at times but no means did he seem weird or odd” he told the press as reported by Washington post Anna Fifield.
The book, The 48 Laws of power admonishes power seekers to remain unpredictable in order to create the wrong impression in the mind of their enemies. Machiavelli proposed that making ones enemy feel you are irrational or mad could play into one’s advantage. As it will keep them in the dark as to the plan one will hatch; Kim might be a client of those strategies.
Moreover, the Olympic game grab show was orchestrated by the Kim himself. First he announced his readiness to send a delegate to the South to seek modalities on how to field a team for the winter games in Pyeongchang; that concessional move culminated in the birth of a single Korean team that was defeated by the country of his education; Switzerland 8-0. It did not end there, he showed more of his rationality by sending a woman of the family and high ranking member of the ruling Kim dynasty and his sister to the games, there to meet the Vice president eye to eye intently to elicit a response from the Yankees which could serve its propaganda machinery. The entire plan played out as planned by the so called “irrational fat kid”.
He received the best of media coverage by western media powerhouses such as CNN, BBC, Daily Mail, Telegraph etcetera. In fact a statement like “North Korean Ivanka” was among the myriad of coinages invented by the media to extol the North Koreans. It played into Kim strategy and that is why US intelligence analysts strongly hold that Kim acts rational despite his penchant for purging through brutal means his perceived enemies.
They believe that his strategy is a US unconditional withdrawal from the South; hence the threat to the US on the New Year and an Olive branch to the South. He intends to put a wage between US and the South. Obviously owing a stake in the nuclear cloud to deter and get a more favourable concession from the US in any event of diplomacy. So is that irrationality?
“Kim wants what all authoritarian rulers want…to rule for a very long time and die peacefully in his own bed” Lee observed.
Ifeanyi Igwe is a freelance journalist, who harbours a special interest in international politics. He has written articles for international magazines and newspapers to that effect. He is a graduate of mass communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in Enugu State.