Anorak News | Enemy No. 1

Enemy No. 1

by | 10th, October 2006

“THE moment that shook the world,” says the Times front-page headline, and we shudder.

And then the feeling passes. The paper’s picture of a shadowy finger pointing to a magenta line on a piece of graph paper is not all that impressive, nor is it shocking.

This wavy line is not evidence of an earthquake, of the type that killed over 70,000 people in Pakistan in 2005. Neither is it a graph showing the seismic changes brought on by Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq. It is a graph showing what happened when North Korea exploded a nuclear device under ground.

And this will not do. The paper hears world leaders react with outrage to North Korea’s emergence as the world’s ninth nuclear power.

“World powers ponder North Korea sanctions,” announces the Telegraph. And like the Times it too has a graph, albeit minus a finger and in less-than-interesting black and white.

It tells of “frenzied diplomatic activity”. And speaks of a draft UN resolution that “calls for a ban on all trade in military and luxury goods with the communist state”.

That will hurt it. No designer clothes and pomade for leader number one’s bouffant hair-do. And no imported military muscle. Not that the North Korea needs it: it’s got the bomb.

But the UN must be seen to be doing something. And while we wait for North Korea to be brought to its knees by sanctions (have sanctions ever toppled a despotic leader like Kim Jong-Il?), the Guardian wonders.

The paper’s Dan Plesch says: “The background to North Korea’s test is that, since the end of the cold war, the nuclear states have tried to impose a double standard, hanging on to nuclear weapons for themselves and their friends while denying them to others.

“Like alcoholics condemning teenage drinking, the nuclear powers have made the spread of nuclear weapons the terror of our age, distracting attention from their own behaviour.”

Hang on. Wasn’t terrorism the terror of our age. And aren’t we supposed to be less worried about countries getting the bomb than Muslim extremists?

At least North Korea has a face. And might it be that there is something comforting in this arms race?

It would, of course, be better to have no nuclear bombs capable of wiping out human life many times over. But if a country has it, surely that’s better than a Muslim fundamentalist having a dirty bomb in his holdall?

Indeed, the poster of a North Korean Taepodong I missile, reproduced in the Times, and the North Korean’s “ferocious Cold War rhetoric” harks back to a time when there was no Osama bin Laden, no war on terror and no stateless enemy.

There’s something of the 1950s comic book in the picture. The enemy has a very real face and a fixed location.

Should we take some comfort in that – albeit a cold comfort..?

Posted: 10th, October 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink