Will the real China please stand up and declare its intentions?
The evening-news YV programs lately have been speculating all week that North Korea wants to start a war with South Korea. The mere threat of this possibility has the State Department antsy and the rest of the world looking on in worry.
North Korea's government is regarded as being so unpredictable that anything is possible. It could go on and remain an international pest or something worse. At a time when this is the big foreign story, expect the media to focus on it.
And what about all-powerful China in this confusion? The networks hint that the United States government — though in the nicest and most dignified possible way, naturally — is publicly all but begging China to interceded on our behalf and prevent North Korea from starting an all-out war.
It's good for the TV news, bad for the United States. China's unwillingness makes the State Department and the White House look a little weak in all of this. If we can't persuade China, our ally, to help us, how can we expect anything reassuring from a foreign government that already hates us?
Granted, even China may curiously ponder the international predicament and come away shaking its head at the crazy scene that is unfolding — and the kooky person with his finger on the hot button. Even China may be baffled at the question: How do you reason with a man who is a few bricks shy of a load?
Remember, this is the same "head of state" who entertained Dennis Rodman a few weeks ago because he admired Rodman's rebounding ability with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and got a kick out of Rodman's outlandish behavior. In America, it became clear pretty quickly that Rodman would do or say anything to keep himself in the headlines but the "leader" of North Korea remains enthralled by him — two decades after the fact.
This story is just starting to get really interesting. North Korea seems to be enjoying its ability to make global headlines by its utterly boorish behavior. China holds many of the cards in the deck right now, as the U.S. counts on its friendship to resolve a thorny problem. And the Obama administration has to adopt a wait-and-see posture on the unpredictable North Koreans.
Oh, and meanwhile, Dennis Rodman waits for the word that he has been named as our ambassador to North Korea. Hmmm. Yes, that would spark a lot of headlines, eh?
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution. Click here to order a copy. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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