Daily Archives: April 12, 2013

The Iron Lady, the leader who had no time for diplomatic niceties, who was not afraid to stand up for the truth, who would not back down on the global stage. But the starry-eyed supporters of Margaret Thatcher who have filled the opinion pages over the past week are themselves besotted with a vision of Britain in the world that is both deeply anachronistic and dangerous. Nowhere is the folly of this view more apparent than in Thatcher’s attitude towards Europe, a view that was less a throwback to Winston Churchill than to her 19th-century predecessors. Like them, Thatcher saw the European continent as a stage for balance-of-power politics, with Britain holding the balance. In the 21st century, however, that view is likely to leave Britain outside global power circles altogether. 

For the first time since the North Koreans began their rhetorical climb toward the summit of Mount Apocalypse, they have taken a step back – and it is an important one. It appears that Pyongyang’s closure of the Kaesong industrial complex, the only co-operative commercial link between the two Koreas, is temporary. That is good news, if not a huge surprise. It reassures us that the regime still cares about cash flow and the jobs of the more than 50,000 North Koreans who work there – and that there is still some distance between Pyongyang’s words and deeds.

But the lessons we have learnt in recent weeks suggest that this war of nerves is not over. We have learnt for example that Kim Jong-eun, or whoever is really driving this crisis, has the nerve, and perhaps the poor judgment, to deliberately sail his country into uncharted troubled waters. Pyongyang has torn up its armistice with Seoul and threatened “thermonuclear war”, dashing early hopes that generational change in North Korea’s leadership might bring something new to a country that badly needs it.