Developments in North Korea have bloggers considering the case of the Stalinist state. They also discuss Stephen Colbert's impending departure from The Daily Show and look at recent, heartening developments in the war on terror.
Going out with a bang?: On the eve of this week's U.N. conference to reassess the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, North Korea tested a new missile by launching one into the Sea of Japan, earning a sharp rebuke from Condoleezza Rice. Some American officials believe that Kim Jong-il may be preparing to test a nuclear device. Today, a South Korean official declared that the standoff between North Korea and the rest of the world had reached a "critical moment" and suggested that the time for diplomacy may have already passed.
"There is no good news in the North Korean missile test Sunday," intones retired rocker Paul Hooson at Progressive Values. On that much, almost everyone can agree. "North Korea is betting it can bring the world to its knees and sorely needed aid into its borders by way of its nuclear weapons program," writes conservative SoCalPundit Kevin D. Korenthal. "What Kim Jong Il and the rest of his maniacal government have not factored into the scenario is the loath with which the current Whitehouse views this failed Stalinist state."
At ComingAnarchy, a world-affairs group blog, Curzon endorses pre-emptive nuclear action against the inscrutable state. "This isn't Gorbachev, understanding his place in history, or Deng Xiaoping looking to the long-term future of his country," he writes. "This is not a rational geopolitical leader. Kim and his ilk will die in office or be killed trying to preserve their power because they know what will happen when their authoritarian regime crumbles."
Some bloggers examine the U.S. response to the missile test, particularly Rice's bold statement that the U.S. is fully capable of "deterring" North Korean activities. "If by this she means that we have the power to deter North Korea from proceeding with its nuclear program, I think Rice is mistaken … If Rice means that we have the power to deter North Korea from using its nuclear weapons, I think she is correct," writes John Mirengoff at conservative syndicate Power Line, guessing that the "North Korean government is focused on survival, not conquest." But Mirengoff remains agnostic on the big question, "whether we can deter the North Koreans from sharing technology with those who are interested in conquest or simply in killing Americans."
Going solo:Comedy Central announced yesterday that longtime Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert will launch his own program, The Colbert Report, lampooning cable news' outsized personalities. "[T]hough, if Mr. Colbert has his way, the announcer will pronounce it with a faux-French accent: The co-BEAR ra-PORE," reports the New York Times.
In Oklahoma, freelance journalist Chase McInerny despairs. "As a loyalist of 'The Daily Show,' it pains me to say, but I smell an impending jump of the shark," he writes at Cutting to the Chase. "[A] nightly half-hour parody of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and other blowhards … isn't likely to have much of a shelf-life, especially since those shows are in themselves parody. In the meantime, Jon Stewart will lose a terrific addition to his show."
Some fans welcome the news. "Anything that makes fun of the kings of nutjobbery is A-OK with me," cheers liberal Philadelphian Mac of Pesky'Apostrophe.At The Oh So Minty Blog, Andy, a law student and omnivorous rookie blogger, agrees. "Anyone who is funny enough to make Jon Stewart laugh on-air and have a hard time composing himself deserves his own show," he writes. Citing research that suggests Comedy Central can draw as many viewers in the wee hours as during prime time, Windy City Lefty thinks, "One thing is for sure. The new show will help me in my never-ending battle against sleep."
Terror update: The U.S. military announced Tuesday that a recovered letter, believed to be intended for Islamist militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, shows "low morale among followers and weakening support for the insurgency." Today, American, Afghan, and Pakistani officials confirmed the arrest of a man thought to be al-Qaida's No. 3 man.
"It appears that all is not well among the fanatics," writes Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters. "The fact that such criticism exists within a notoriously top-down organization speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the counterinsurgency in Iraq."
"Conservative of doubt" Andrew Sullivan is pleased by the arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libbi. "It does, I think, behoove us to acknowledge that the Bush team's war on al Qaeda has been bearing fruit," he writes. "They deserve our praise as well as criticism. And this guy looks like one of 'Team America's' under-cover actor-spies."
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