The test was a success because it was conducted
Those who point out that the long-range Taepodong-2 missile failed because it dropped into the sea less than a minute after it was launched miss the entire point of North Korea’s missile tests. And those who believe that it lacks compact nuclear warheads that can be fitted onto its missiles overlook reports that indicate that Pakistan transferred shrink-wrapped warheads to North Korea in return for missile technology.
Kim Jong Il has reminded the United States that he remains capable of (and inclined to) destabilising East Asia and for that reason must be indulged. America is thus confronted with a challenge— to punish him and retain its international credibility or to indulge him at the risk of weakening it. China’s situation is more complex. It benefits from North Korea’s continued relevance as the paw that torments the United States in East Asia, but it loses its credibility as an interlocutor with any influence over Pyongyang. Japan is likely to wring its hands and perhaps end up with the more hawkish candidate to succeed Prime Minister Koizumi. And South Koreans have little choice but to live with it.
What’s that again about the most dangerous place in the world?