Noth Korea Scare Stories

William Broad reports for The New York Times:

North Korea failed in its highly vaunted effort to fire a satellite into orbit, military and private experts said Sunday after reviewing detailed tracking data that showed the missile and payload fell into the sea. Some said the failure undercut the North Korean campaign to come across as a fearsome adversary able to hurl deadly warheads halfway around the globe.

That’s a pretty strange turn of phrase. North Korea was trying to appear fearsome via its missile launch. But the launch failed. Which certainly does undercut its effort to appear fearsome. So why the “some said” structure? In part, it’s the crappy conventions of political journalism. But in part it’s the fact that the US conservative movement has for some reason decided that it makes sense to team up with Kim Jong-Il in an effort to get people to overestimate North Korea’s strategic capabilities.

Joe Cirincione has a nice piece that puts this in the appropriate context. The DPRK is breaking the rules and should be punished, but this is much more an issue of rule-breaking than it is an objective threat.