Wednesday, May 05, 2010

North Korea and Israel have a lot in common

Dan Feffer writes in the Huffington Post: North Korea and Israel have a lot in common.

Neither is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and both employ their nuclear weapons in elaborate games of peek-a-boo with the international community. Israel and North Korea are equally paranoid about outsiders conspiring to destroy their states, and this paranoia isn't without some justification. Partly as a result of these suspicions, both countries engage in reckless and destabilizing foreign policies. In recent years, Israel has launched preemptive strikes and invaded other countries, while North Korea has abducted foreign citizens and blown up South Korean targets (including, possibly, a South Korean ship in late March in the Yellow Sea).

And they're both exceptions in their regions: Israel is a Jewish state in an Arab region; North Korea is an old-style feudal dictatorship in an Asian region marked by relative prosperity and political openness. But the two countries often behave as if they are exceptions to all other rules as well. For instance, they both share an antipathy toward human rights organizations that attempt to hold them to international standards.

Beijing tolerated Pyongyang's out-there behavior because both countries were part of a larger communist bloc. North Korea has become like one of those embarrassing relatives who keeps getting thrown in jail and refuses to go into rehab.

So, too, have U.S. and Israeli interests begun to diverge. Important actors in the U.S. political scene will still support Israel regardless of its behavior.

Just as China would not likely abandon North Korea, the United States isn't about to sever relations with Israel any time soon. Rogue allies are allies first, rogues second.

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