Fiddling While It Burns

Still here… | 26/05/2009

It’s been almost a month since I posted, so I thought I’d let anyone reading know I’m still alive.

The rocky part of the semester is almost over, within three weeks I’ll either have handed in all my assignments or failed. I’m still keen to keep up this blog, and it’s still getting a trickle of hits, so with a little more free time I might be able to go back to posting on a weekly basis.

I need some sort of incentive though. So if you’re enjoying the site, leave a comment. Don’t ask me why I want comments. It’s some sort of perverse validation.


North Korea has tested a second nuclear device. Graphic: ABC.

North Korea has conducted another underground nuclear test, this time with considerably more success.

From the ABC:

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea over its latest nuclear test.

All 15 members of the Security Council, including North Korea’s traditional allies Russia and China, have condemned the isolated regime for detonating a powerful underground nuclear explosion yesterday.

The test was followed quickly by two missile tests and a threat of another test.

Interestingly, it seems that this is more about domestic posturing and jockeying for power among generals in anticipation of Kim Jong-Il’s eventual fall from power. I love it. Combined with all the other foreign policy driven by domestic posturing (I’m thinking specifically of Bush’s speeches that made the world hate him, deepened his problems and made Alabaman hicks cheer, or Ariel Sharon kicking off the second intifada trying to score macho-points),  I’m moving closer to a theory that all actions in international relations are driven by the need to impress the terminally stupid.

(It still needs work.)

Also, since the last time I posted, the conventional military resistance of the Tamil Tigers has collapsed, and their legendary leader, Velupillai Prabakharan, has been killed.

Velupillai’s death came as a surprise to me, as I had tipped that he would have cut out weeks ago in the waves of escaping refugees. I guess he was a little too recognisable, after a few decades of terrorising South Asia.

The military defeat itself, however, was pretty much inevitable from the moment the Tigers decided to make the conflict conventional. Nationalist separatist rebels never, ever win by force of arms.

The most interesting part of the whole tragedy, however, is how the violence has rippled out through multicultural societies. Violence between ethnic Tamils and Sinhalese has broken out in Australia and around the world. Protests have turned violent, and retaliations have been particularly nasty. It’s a fascinating consequence of globalisation, this idea that there would be communities all over the world, who identify so strongly with an ethnicity or nationality that they are willing to kill each other over events thousands of kilometres away. It’s the last remnants of the poison of nationalism in the veins of a global society, like a bad hangover.



  1. America threatened Iraq supposedly because of their WMD, Iraq did everything required of them, including deliberately destroying some of their own best weapons, so then America invaded anyway. I think it quite understandable that N. Korea has tried a different tack, that of showing that they can retaliate, and fiercely. It seems to have held off the Americans so far, after all.

    Comment by Marj — 01/06/2009 @ 3:02 pm

  2. I found Andrew’s views refreshing. It was a different point of view, welcome in the current debate.

    Comment by Keith — 03/06/2009 @ 7:21 pm

  3. […] The combination of unwillingness to starve millions of North Koreans, and unwillingness to risk major regional destabilisation, such as a Korean peninsula at war (and the millions of lives a North Korean first-strike could easily cost), has meant that North Korea can offer to unload the gun when it’s in dire straits, as it did last year when it appeared to be accepting some extent of de-nuclearisation when harvests were low,  then never actually follow through, as this year when it refused access to agreed-upon observers and followed up with nuclear and missile testing.  […]

    Pingback by Playing chicken with the lives of others « Fiddling While It Burns: terrorism and national security at the end of history — 21/06/2009 @ 2:16 pm

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