Monday, June 01, 2009

What can be done about North Korea and the Bomb?

North Korea undertook their second nuclear explosion and is firing off missiles that is more reminisce of someone trying compensate for a small dick. The UN Security Council will probably pass a resolution that by and large will do nothing. China will keep propping up the regime for both political and strategic reasons, South Korea is limited by what it wants to do and Japan will probably make the strongest moves to "punish" North Korea by beefing up missile defences.

Peter Hatcher puts forward what he thinks will make the regime pay attention to the international community. In effect it is having China, South Korea and Japan cut off cashflow to the regime. Sensible, but I am not convinced that any of those countries will do what is necessary particular as it doesn't meet their strategic aims.

Short of military action is there anything that can be done? It is a question that I've been pondering over the last week or so. Nothing leaps out as a great solution but a remembered article from years back about how information is probably the best weapon against the regime stirs.

The idea (as I remember it) was to air drop self-contained internet access devices that would provide the populace with access to the outside world that wasn't controlled by the regime. As much as the idea seems fanciful, I think a variant on it is something to consider.

In the variant, use OLPC-like laptops with windy handles for powering the device. The devices will need to include a verbal interface so that people who are illiterate can use it. The main issue is how to provide outside access? One potential way is to include a satellite access device that also acts as a wireless access point. Bearing in mind that as OLPC laptops can create mesh networks large numbers of the hubs would not be needed. Indeed, additional access could be provided by wireless connections beamed in from South Korea and naval ships.

The aim of internet access devices is to break the strangle hold on information that the regime has. That opens the door to working around the regime to provide food, water and power. In effect the internet access devices (remembering they can be used to share information and coordinate activity within North Korea as well) allows new centres of power to form and for the people to negate the advantages the regime has.

Would it work? I don't know and I don't think anyone really does. Anthropologists and psychologists can give you an estimate of potential effects it would have but until it is tried we won't know. So should it be done? I think it should be seriously be considered. At the very least it would be another potential noose to tighten around the regime's neck.

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