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North Korea Blows Up Chance to Dominate the News Cycle

The last Morning Jolt of the week features polling news and more Rosen, but begins with last night’s big news . . .

North Koreans Launch New Three-Stooge Rocket

I love it when “Korean Peninsula Tensions” stories turn out like this . . . and dread the day they don’t:

North Korea launched a multistage rocket Friday morning, again defying countries that want it to stop pursuing advanced weapons, but it reportedly blew up less than two minutes into flight and parts crashed in the Yellow Sea off South Korea.

The rocket took off around 7:39 a.m. local time from a new launch facility in the country’s northwest corner and flew south towards Japan’s Ryuku Islands, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

About 90 seconds into flight, roughly the time its first stage should have burned out and second stage kicked in, the rocket flared brightly and apparently exploded, according to ABC News, which cited U.S. defense officials. Parts fell into water near South Korea’s Jeju Island, South Korean media reported.

Intel bonanza, people!

So why did they do it? CNN suggests too much upside, too little downside:

The United States and its allies had been if anything unambiguous with their thoughts on the launch. So just why did Pyongyang go ahead with the launch? There is no shortage of answers or theories to that question, but many analysts who follow the country say the regime simply does not have that much to lose, and thus need not weigh much in the way of costs versus benefits going forward.

“How much more isolated can you get?” asks James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The United Nations has sanctioned North Korea many times over for its provocative acts of the past, and the country’s largest economic and political benefactor China, is unlikely to support any additional penalties at the Security Council this time. “There may be some financial sanctions that the United States and its friends can unilaterally apply, but this is already by a long way the most isolated country on Earth,” Acton said. “The truth is that our ability to inflict significant costs on North Korea is not all that large.”

The timing of the launch was not coincidental, and that too played into the North Korean calculus. For years, North Korea has been planning to mark 2012 as a year in which it would show the world it has become a great and prosperous nation. In homage to the centenary of the country’s founder Kim ill Sung, his son and successor Kim Jong-Il had ordered the launch of the satellite around the birthday of Kim Il Sung on April 15.

I would note that when we keep offering them food aid in response to tantrums, well . . . they seem to sense that we’ll always come around and capitulate sooner or later.

Zero Hedge: “North Korea is redefining the term, ‘minuteman’.”

Patrick Kronin, Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security, remarked dryly, “Next time, we should not have to rely on North Korean technical incompetence for our security.”

The endlessly irreverent Duchess Rebecca: “Imagining Kim Jong-Un sitting alone, crying, listening to ‘Rocket Man’ on repeat.”

Chris Albon: “Dear Kim, Angry Birds Space is not a rocket guidance system.”

Cuffy Meh: “CNN guy just said the people of North ‘Carolina’ are starving.”

Well, maybe the barbeque hasn’t been served yet.

John Noonan: “So nice to be an Air Force ICBM vet tonight, a stark and cheerful reminder that our missiles actually work.”

I’d just add, may we never have to demonstrate that to the world.

Andy Levy: “C’mon, NoKo, this isn’t rocket science!”

Cameron Gray: “That North Korean rocket broke up faster than Kim Kardashian and . . . fill in the blank.”


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