Talking Points for 6 April

north-korea1North Korea’s rocket didn’t quite hit the outer reaches of space, but it has certainly made everyone sit up and take notice: one place remains firmly outside the current world order.

Is the world powerless when it comes to North Korea? Is it worth worrying about?

Here are some of the comments we’ve received:

Regrettably it seems western nations are not much concerned about North Korea’s threat as east Asian countries are.
North Korea is a terrorist country that HAS mass destruction weapons

Murakami Takenori Tokyo

If Obama has the right to build missiles in Eastern Europe, then North Korea has the right to build and test missiles, too.

Hai Wong, NYC

The world reaction to North Korea’s provocation will be to do what it always does when tyrants provoke: speak loudly and carry a small stick.

Gary, Japan


Obama wants a nuclear free worldbut is this realistic or even desirable?
Would we take him more seriously if the US (along with China) actually ratified the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty?

And hasn’t North Korea proved that membership of the nuclear club makes the world take you seriously? Does owning nukes mean talking is preferred to military attack?


_45632838__mg_0869Slumdogs and Millionaires.. .the BBC looks at the darker side of glittering Dubai and the fate of the South Asian migrant workers who built it. Recession is hitting hard, forcing many home.

What is it like to be a migrant worker forced to scratch out a living in the shadow of such wealth? We’d like to hear your stories and experiences…

20 Responses to “Talking Points for 6 April”

  1. 1 Jack Hughes
    April 6, 2009 at 10:39

    “Today the Cold War has disappeared but …”

    O needs a history lesson. The US won the cold war – the old USSR lost.

    He also needs to discover that Austrians do not speak Austrian

    “There’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian …”


    (Scroll down to near the bottom)

  2. 2 VictorK
    April 6, 2009 at 10:57

    North Korea is a threat to its neighbours. They need to worry about it and – if they have the nerve – to act. Nobody else (like our own professional meddler, Gordon Brown) should trouble themselves about it.

    Revealing Guardian piece about migrant workers. They couched the issue in purely economic terms (expat remittances, financial hardship, unemployment). The themes that would have applied (with extra helpings of moral indignation) if we’d been talking about foreign workers in a Western country were completely absent: human rights, employment & union rights, voting rights, the right to become a citizen, the ‘right’ of permanent immigration & settlement, the rights of children of migrants born in places like Dubai, etc. Or, to be precise, the theme would have been the complete absence of any of these rights. It seems these concerns are specially reserved for opportunities to lambast Western states (the US, Italy & Switzerland are favourite targets). It will be interesting to see how the BBC addresses this, and to know why the internal management of any particular Gulf state is any business of foreign broadcasters and their audience.

  3. 3 Dinesh
    April 6, 2009 at 12:08

    It’s so nice to hear Obama say – Nuclear free world. It is so nice to hear Obama say honestly – this will not be accomplished in his life time. But who will start – Will US start. Believe it or not – US started it all. Obama is always speaking in the basic language people like to hear – but how long can a common US citizen continue buying these non-achievable words. He wants re establish the lost glory of US – but he need deep pockets to buy a listener.

    North Korea is progressing at its own will defying the world order. Soon Iran will follow while Taliban & Al Quaida are also growing fast to terrorize the common man. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism and blackmailing. All are defying the world order. The west has learnt a lesson from past 8 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Low intensity war will never end. Terrorist in the form of nations / groups will always rise and fall at the cost of innocent lives. God bless this world and generations to come.

  4. 4 Ansu Tangar
    April 6, 2009 at 12:13

    I believe Russia and China are peace loving and law abidding nations, so why do they abstained from the UN Security council decision to purnish N/Korea for testing the billistic missil? N/Korea as a member of the UN Security councile, knownfully the rules and regulations Governning this councile operations, defared one of its rules and want to go with inpunitive,I say know and I fully support the United State in collaboration with its allies to punish N/Korea orderwise Iran will do same and…….what will come of that?

    Ansu Tangar in Monrovia

  5. 5 Jim Newman
    April 6, 2009 at 12:24

    Hello again
    I don’t think N. Korea is a danger to world peace nuclear or not. Contrary to the USA and it’s allies who are a proven danger to world peace. The war on terror is just an excuse to bully other countries and plunder their resources. The one country that is always branding other countries as terrorist is the only country that won’t sign up to a definition of terrorism. I wonder why.
    About Obama’s wish for a nuclear free world, I think that’s just a pipe dream because the corporations that control Obama make more profit out of war and the threat of war than peace.
    In fact it’s just the same old story with the same old opressors and the same old victims. Things will change but their not about to change yet.

  6. 6 VictorK
    April 6, 2009 at 13:57

    Obama sometimes comes across as a skilled reader of a teleprompter but little else besides, striking empty postures on issues he seems not to have fully grasped.

    He threatens N. Korea but no one expects the US to act against a country with the capacity and will to defend itself militarily. He’s committed himself to impossible & foolish ‘nation-building’ objectives in Afghanistan, and is keen that as many NATO countries as possible should share with the Americans the same humiliating prospect of being defeated by ill-equipped but determined and patriotic Afghan fighters. Europe doesn’t advise American governments to abolish the country’s borders and let in however many Mexicans want to come north; but Obama has just followed Bush in telling the EU that it should admit as a member a non-European and Muslim country, Turkey, as if it were any more of his business than it was Bush’s. He doesn’t know what to do about the economy apart from make soothing speeches & throwing money at the problem.

    Is he up to the job?

  7. 7 Steve
    April 6, 2009 at 13:57

    @ Jim

    North Korea has a habit of attacking its southern neighbor, but you can choose to ignore that if you want to.

  8. 8 Lei, Cambridge
    April 6, 2009 at 14:27

    Suggestion for a future debate: The impact of computer/online games. Including problems with addiction, social isolation, impact on physical health, as well as possible benefits of playing.

    My cousin is at an Ivy League university, but his gaming addiction is causing him to fail. I wish I knew more about the topic.

  9. 9 viola
    April 6, 2009 at 16:47

    The world is powerless against North Korea because the world chooses to believe there is no threat and because nobody wants the United Nations to be able to enforce its resolutions anyway. Only the North Korean powers know their intentions and whether this is a threat. Therein lies the problem. Of course, they did invade South Korea back in the fifties…. Wonder if past actions are a predictor of future actions on the level of nations? I reckon we’re about to find out.

    Wonder if the atomic weapons program and the missile program can be viewed as the equivalent of someone sneaking up on an unsuspecting victim. Does saying your aims are peaceful make it so?

    Another thing to consider: Historically, nations and peoples have either invested in improving their people’s lives through internal adjustments (investing in infrastructure and encouraging good farmers, etc) or by militarily taking wealth (stealing) from other nations.

    So I would ask if North Korea has chosen to invest in military power at the expense of its own economy and what the likely outcome of that will be. The Soviet Union did that and finally collapsed because of it. Dare I suggest that the United States is threatened by that same scenario from its efforts to police the world for its own and its allies’ benefit?

  10. 10 Jim Newman
    April 6, 2009 at 17:24

    Hello again
    To Steve. I wasn’t ignoring it I was ignorant of it. It’s strange, I would have thought a bad habit like that would hit the headlines everytime it occurred. And as the USA is still occupying S. Korea or you would probably say protecting it such a bad habit would be extremely dangerous.
    Instead of using the word ‘attack’ I should probably use ‘agression’.
    Anyway whatever it is I mean when a country bombs hell out of another country, occupies it and then calls it’s force a peacekeeping force.
    There are many ways of skinning a cat.

  11. 11 Jennifer
    April 6, 2009 at 19:17

    I find this entertaining…so much for….how did Hillary Clinton put it, North Korea doing the right thing and not launching…haha They are not going to listen to our prezident. We’ll get what we deserve because of who we elected. Add the stupid notion of having no nuclear weapons at all and we are really living in a total state of denial. Is it about making the job easier? I think so.

  12. 12 Dennis Junior
    April 6, 2009 at 21:59

    Re: North Korea

    Is the world powerless when it comes to North Korea? (Pretty much the world is powerless)

    Is it worth worrying about? (Yes)
    Obama wants a nuclear free world – but is this realistic or even desirable? It is not in the reality sphere….

    Would we take him more seriously if the US (along with China) actually ratified the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty? (Yes)
    Does owning nukes mean talking is preferred to military attack? (Yes)

    -Dennis Junior

  13. April 7, 2009 at 01:53

    I may be flamed by Obama supporters for this. But I’ll risk it.

    We need to be concerned about both North Korea and Obama. We want a missle system in Europe. And yet, we’re telling Iran and North Korea they have no right to missles of their own.

    You may hate this. But both of these countries are sovereign states who have the right to defend themselves. The U.S. govt. says that these countries sponsor terrorism. Yet, we have terrorists in the States (Bush, Cheney and other neocons who admitted to torture.Which is a war crime under intl. law).

    What do we do next?

  14. 14 Roberto
    April 7, 2009 at 10:13

    RE “” Is the world powerless when it comes to North Korea? “”

    ———– Of course not. “The world” kept NKorea effectively neutered for nigh on 60 yrs, the world being primarily the western economic globalists.

    It’s just that the western economic model is in a freefall meltdown state down to the structural failure of voters and the leaders of democracies to regulate the fraudulent elements of the economy. The Chinese are using NKorea as a proxy villain state in their ascension to fill in the power vacuum.

    Not exactly a secret, heck, the WWE built a mini empire using the panto villain heel battling the hero. All conquests, wars, ect need a panto villain heel to mobilize the masses against.

    If there is to be any peaceful future here, North and South Korea has to produce the leadership that will enable genuine social and political reconciliation within the current operating parameters of the global community. Otherwise, it’s just the status quo standoff, war, truce, shaky peace cycles replayed endlessly over the ages.

  15. 15 Mike
    April 7, 2009 at 12:37

    Well Jim Newman, if you need to brush up on North Korean aggression simply google ” List of border incidents involving North Korea ” and you can read pages and pages of them. Perhaps you can study up on the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. What the heck, why not dig into the history of the Korean Airlines Bombing . Might as well look into North Korean state-sponsored weapons smuggling, money laundering, and wide scale counterfeiting. Plenty for you to read.
    Your…. what if ?? Could have, should have ? If only ? Say it ain’t so ! does not reflect the reality of North Korea , just as your characterization of the US as occupying South Korea is a bit much. Jim…do some more reading and insist that North Korea abandon its long rang missle technology.

  16. 16 Jim Newman
    April 7, 2009 at 17:56

    Hello again
    And hello Mike. I think I’m out of my depth here and I conceed the field.
    But I still think that the USA and it’s allies are the main threat to world peace.

  17. 17 Mike
    April 7, 2009 at 20:06

    That a big statement Jim. World peace just doesn’t happen by itself, just as the rule of law and peace doesn’t rule your city streets without the full time attention of civil society and the muscle of your police department. The trick to lowering the profile of the Allies is for more countries to become involved in enforcing policies that promote peace. The North Korea problem could have been solved long ago if China found it in its best interest. North Korea was created and nurtured by China. Obviously China likes to keep the Allies Bogged down in a 50 year standoff that forestalls unification of the Korean Peninsula . Time for China to take seriously its responsibility to promote peace.

  18. 18 richard
    April 7, 2009 at 20:24

    North Korea, China’s barking dog, likes to act up and get attention, not for itself but to boost the esteem of China as its protector. A little brat with a bully for a friend.
    Dipolmats huddle as if this was all very important and spin this as some event of note.
    The Japanese should have shot it down when it crossed their air space and that would have been that and the results would have been no different, a bunch of diplomats huffing and puffing and ensuring their jobs are in tact. This is all very bad theater that unfortunately we all have bought tickets to watch.
    Japan…where is the samuari spirit….I guess they have all become accountants.

  19. 19 Marge
    April 8, 2009 at 02:37

    Should we worry that North Korea has Nuclear Weapons? You bet! With a madman at the helm, a finger hovering over a button that could destroy most of us. Yes, he wouldn’t stop because his signature was on a bit of paper. He is a crazy man! We should all be very afraid.

  20. 20 Jim Newman
    April 13, 2009 at 21:32

    Hello again
    And hello again Mike. I think you wrote something that we could both agree on and that is that more countries should get involved in policies that promote peace. Why not try to create a world governement where all countries and all peoples were treated equaly no vetoes and no lobbying. The League of Nations was the first try – it failed. The United Nations was a second try – it also failed. Maybe the next try will be successful or the next try after that. I think we should keep on trying, we owe it to ourselves.
    And Mike just another thing. What you said about North Korea being created by the Chinese differs a bit from what I read in Wikepedia.
    And to WHYS. I think this blog is really good. I’ve learnt a lot from reading other people’s comments both as far as facts are concerned and as far as ideas and people are concerned.

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