Failure to orbit

The surprising thing about North Korea's missile failure Thursday wasn't its destruction, but rather the decision to tell its citizens that it had failed. That is a marked contrast to previous standard operating procedure in the thoroughly brainwashed land.

Is the decision the result of an on-going power struggle within the new regime (the announcement presumably weakens the forces behind the missile program)? Or an indication that the regime doesn't believe it can control information as tightly as it did in the past?

Either way, the most likely reaction in the near future is a rush to prove that NK isn't inept, which means the predicted nuclear test is very likely to be initiated soon. If this fails to achieve its predicted results - as past ones have - the North Korean reaction will be even more interesting.

Odds are that North Korea will remain Example A of what happens to a country when its leaders lose all touch with reality. But maybe two failures in a row will provoke some sort of miracle revelation among the elite.

The ultimate irony? By giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, the North could actually build its society to the point where it actually can master the technology to build them. Remove sanctions, feed the people, increase education - in a decade, the country could actually be semi-modern, especially given the incentives its neighbors to the north and south have to see that happen.

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