North Korea’s “Dear Leader” peeing his pants

I hate to sound like the characteristic triumphal American, but this article in The Economist nicely sums up the way that victory in Iraq has changed Kim Jong Il’s tune. This guy is pretty much Dr. Evil on crack, and a far worse dictator than Saddam Hussein ever thought of being, but he’s not stupid. He had been saying that Iraq’s example proved the North Korea needed military might to resist the US; now he seems to realize that his many statues might not be safe if the US decided to turn up the heat under his starving population.

Having previously insisted on one-on-one talks with the U.S., he’s now happy to talk with anyone and everyone– including his neighbors, whom Washington wisely insists must be part of any deal. Bush came really close to setting off a serious conflict with his bellicose talk that left Kim with little room to save face. But now that it’s apparent to him and everyone else that it’s saving his ass that he should worry about, the outlook for a halt on NK’s dangerous nuclear program looks much better.