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BLITZER’S BLOG: Nervous about North Korea
January 2nd, 2012
01:44 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: Nervous about North Korea

By Wolf Blitzer, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - Even while I’m here at the CNN Election Center in Atlanta getting ready for the Iowa caucuses, I’m hearing disturbing murmurings from my national security sources in Washington about North Korea.

They clearly don’t know what the new leadership in Pyongyang is going to do, but they are bracing for a possible provocation on the Korean peninsula.

The U.S. fear is that the new leader, Kim Jong Un, is going to orchestrate some risky act against South Korea to create tension. The goal would be to help consolidate his position by rallying the North Korean people around him.

Any sense of external threat from South Korea, Japan or the United States – North Korea’s three main adversaries - supposedly has a tendency to unify the North Koreans.

His father, the late Kim Jung Il, and grandfather, the late Kim Il Sung, used to do the same thing.

In 2010, just before I spent six days in North Korea, there were very dangerous incidents involving the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of a South Korean island. Tensions were at a fever pitch but eventually calmed down after former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson’s visit to Pyongyang in December of that year. I accompanied him on that trip.

Kim Jong Un is in his late 20s and is totally inexperienced and untested. He has been named the supreme commander of the million-man North Korean military. But it remains unclear whether he is really in charge or is operating under the direction of the senior military leadership.

The stakes are enormous. North Korea’s massive army is backed by a nuclear arsenal. There are nearly a million South Korean troops backed by nearly 30,000 American forces along the demilitarized zone.

That’s why the most senior U.S. national security officials are watching North Korea very carefully right now.

One final note: While watching the Iowa caucuses and the presidential campaign, think about all the Republican candidates and President Obama and ask yourself with whom you would feel most comfortable if there were a crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Follow Wolf Blitzer on Twitter: @WolfBlitzerCNN

RELATED STORY: South Korea ready for 'new era' of relations with North, president says

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soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. biuro rachunkowe opole

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    April 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  2. Steve Miller

    I think that Newton 'Nuke Them All' Gingrich possibly could be dealing best with a possible crisis on the Korean peninsula.

    But honestly, I am somewhat astonished by what is going on in North Korea. Not because there was a change in the leadership of the country, but by the fact that such a dictatorship still was in place in the 21 century.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  3. gord

    seems like the republicans are on the hunt for bigger and better war

    January 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  4. Stephen

    I'd like to see the rest of the interview with the American solider who was talking about the dangers of picking another fight in the Middle East versus bringing your troops home. He was cut off and I believe it wasn't an accident. Should we expect to see more of the same during the campaign? Will you not report The honest version of Ron Paul's and others that support his views? It has become apparent to me and many others that CNN is played like a pawn by the governing and top tier wealth interests. This isn't news anymore, it's like a fish alternative.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  5. Jody Newman

    You just happen to lose connection with Dana when interviewing the US Soldier endorsing Ron Paul. Wolf, you just happened to lose connection with Ron Paul's live speech yesterday when the crowds were going wild with applause about Ending the Federal Reserve. Wolf, how come you only ever lose connection with Ron Paul's campaign events?

    January 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  6. Jim Thomas

    All we can do is keep an eye on him and find out how stupid he is.Lets hope he does not tie in with the other jerks of the world and start something really bad.Jim Thomas Phx.Az.

    January 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    I was reading about North Korean propaganda, and they make big hay over very little–they're still calling their detention of the U.S.S. Pueblo in 1968 a great victory over imperialism. When they show Japanese people on their posters, they still look like WWII caricatures, down to the samurai swords. They're always threatening to annihilate us, wipe us out, etc., but I don't believe they would do anything serious, because they don't need to in order to keep their people in line, which is the whole point of the NK government. They even tell the people that American food aid is "tribute" we give them out of fear!

    January 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  8. steveinmass

    I would be comfortable with anyone except Obama against the Korean dilemma. He'd likely try to buy his way out of any conflict, like writing the North Koreans a Trillion dollar check. Obama has cost this country more of its wealth than all other U.S. Presidents combined. He wont't quit until we are begging the North Koreans for food.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  9. Griff

    |Kim Jong is just another kid, who never got much love passed his way, yes he is searching for guidance in his own people. But kids love to learn other teachings, providing it is honestly given!|

    January 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  10. mr. Magoooooooooo

    I don't trust the repubs because they are more likely to start ww3. They had a chance to stop the N.Koreans but wanted to go to Iraq on false terms. Bin Laden was caught under Obama and handled Libya the right way instead of Invasion when we can't afford. He brought the troops home. N.Korea has shown more then any country that we have been to war with that this needs to stop. We had knowledge that they were developing nukes, the shelling of the South Korean island and Sinking of the ship.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  11. Kevin O.

    Maybe it's news fatigue, but Wolf you're coming off a bit too "me me me".

    Are you running for "National Seer"?

    January 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  12. AhhPures

    North Korea is China's pitbull on a leash and they most likely want to keep him that way. He'll bark a lot and bite a few people but it would be a disaster for the whole region if he were to be let loose, not to mention the damage it would do to already fragile western economies, which China now relies on.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  13. joesmith

    the one who would go to congress, ( you know, adhere to the Constitution of the United States ), and ask for the necessary response; the one who will restore dignity to our Nation ,and our laws, not someone who creates a big brother approach the worlds every crises..almost sounds American doen't it..

    January 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  14. jsf12

    Qaddafi is gone because he shut down his nuclear weapons program, stopped funding international terrorism and reduced (obviously didn't eliminate) oppression of his local populace. Obama saw compromise as weakness and bombed Qaddafi's supporters until an otherwise insignificant weakling opposition was enough to overthrow him.
    What is the lesson here for any other extreme dictatorship?
    If you don't expect those events to determine the behavior of NK's new leadership, take off your leftist blinders and try considering motivation as a factor in people's actions.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  15. Liza1986

    "..... if there were a crisis on the Korean peninsula."

    The fringe candidate, Ron Paul. America will lead by minding no bodies business. That alone will be enough to pacify North Korea.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  16. blue

    It's a tough call, but I'd have to give my vote for Kim Jong Un over Gingrich.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  17. Ron San Bruno Ca

    That's a no brainer Wolf,the sitting President Barack Obama,any other would create WWIII .

    January 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Bill Duke

    I'm certainly not comfortable with the way that Obama has failed to respond adequately to the previous Korean provocations. Korea isn't going to feel intimidated by a pretty speech or another golf vacation.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  19. juanito

    my answer is if all hell broke lose am 36 years old and ready to fight to defend this country and my kids birthplace and i wasnt born here a was born in mexico but a became a citicen and a love this country are you ready? in case you are needed

    January 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  20. Griff

    "Least familiar face, Wolf Blitzer! Could he also be in the race.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  21. Liz

    Jon Huntsman for Pres!!

    January 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  22. Bodoblock

    Wolf, having gone to North Korea does not make you in any way an expert on the country. Please stop citing your visit as a means of giving you any credibility on the matter. In fact, the next time you do talk about North Korea, cite the experts. That's what a real journalist would do. You are not qualified enough yet to deliver opinion editorials on it. If you would like to actually become an expert on North Korea, I highly advise you learn the language.

    With love,

    January 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  23. Kevin

    Now we have a kid, with a "Napoleon" complex, running a rogue nation with nuclear arms.

    This could be a recipe for disaster, God help us!

    January 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  24. Mike Ayres

    Iis your comment "One final note: While watching the Iowa caucuses and the presidential campaign, think about all the Republican candidates and President Obama and ask yourself with whom you would feel most comfortable if there were a crisis on the Korean peninsula." news?

    January 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  25. slupdawg

    North Korea is too isolated. Not even China really supports them, and they really have nothing to offer them except destabilization and that's not good for business.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  26. bmull

    I'm not worried at all about North Korea. We leave them alone, they'll leave us alone. Wish the same could be said for Israel.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  27. CRG

    I think Obama or Gingrich would be my preference to best handle a crisis in Korea.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Narintip

      As an American that watches some K-dramas, I eieblve this phenom is manufactured by the govt to promote and make visible South Korea (SK)around the globe. I find it interesting in that the mentality [as I see it] is one where SK is crying out for acceptance and recognition by their international superpower peers.Reading some of their press, it always comes back to this .they have to make the world more knowledgeable about and promote their culture more because we are the best ideologue. I would be offended if not for the fact that this wave will never take hold in the US and may actually backfire depending upon our troops situation. That is a deal breaker imo .You mistreat our men and women in the services defending that nation and all bets are off for gaining inroads into the hearts and minds of Americans. I don't care how much we like kimchi or Korena bbq.South Korea is trying to gain what was lost of its image and using pop culture as leverage. It's really a flimsy premise but powerful in a way if countries are clamoring for more of their products, especially when a celeb is involved. I feel sorry for the artists that are being used but nationalism is more heightened over there it seems. The artists seem more like indentured servants than free spirits as you read how the bands are created.Oh, I am enjoying your series.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  28. alan seago

    To answer Mr. Blitzer's question: I darned sure would not be comfortable with President Obama if there were a crisis on the Korean peninsula. Admittedly he would not inflame the situation in the short run, but his unwillingness to stand firm toward our adversaries would also encourage their aggressiveness in the long run. Most of the Republican candidates are also extremely worrisome. The prospect of Michelle Bachman being President is ... scary.

    I think that the Presidential selection process has become twisted to the point that anyone of real leadership is not competitive. The only serious contenders for election are those who avoid offending any large group of voters. And that is not the way to lead.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  29. Dave

    North Koreas nuclear 'arsenal' is rather limited and untested. The only way they can accurately deliver a warhead to the South is with a taxi cab.
    You have to wonder if NK and Iran are coordinating their hostilities.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  30. capnmike

    "...think about all the Republican candidates and President Obama and ask yourself with whom you would feel most comfortable if there were a crisis on the Korean peninsula."
    Well, I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable with a gang of macho-man warmongering jerks who are of the same mindset as the last lying warmonger we had in the White House...I'd feel far more comfortable with the guy who got Bin Laden and a bunch of other terrorist types, is straightening out the messed-up economy he inherited from his predecessor, and etc. , regardless of what color his skin is.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  31. Joe Jersey

    This article is all hyperbole. Nothing is going to happen. And if it does, so what? It is Korea and it is Korea's problem not ours. This is another reason why all Amercian troops throughout the world should be returned to the US. Vote Ron Paul in 2012!

    January 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  32. Bill

    Wolf, thanks for reporting a questionable story. We all know you were in North Korea. Doesn't make you qualified to report on murmurs. I'm sure there are weekly scares. Irresponsible journalism at it's best. If you're going to report something why don't you tell us what these disturbing murmurs are?

    January 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  33. DS

    I like Bachmann but if I only cared about one issue - North Korea. I'd take Ron Paul. The US troops in South Korea are cositing us a fortune and just contribute to the regions tensions. They do no more good there than our troops did us in the Phillipines in 1941.

    Bring the troops hope from Central and East Asia from Bahrain and Persian Gulf also for that matter.

    Having said that, there is one place in Asia where we could do some good - Syria. I don't like Hillary at all, but in my opinion, she and the British and French were way more succesful in Libya than Bush was in Iraq or Afghanistan or than we are likely to be in Iran. We should work with Britain, France, Germany and maybe Russia to put pressure on the Assad regime, maybe a no fly zone. Syria is far easier to do something about than is Afghanistan or Iran. For one thing it is easily accessible from the Mediterranean by the Sixth Fleet.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  34. Steve

    If you think one little 'kid' is running that show, you've got another 'think' coming, LOL

    January 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  35. electroguy

    Im certainly not comfortable with Obama. All he does is shake his finger and say Stop That! I mean, the guy is a doormat.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  36. Gary

    Scary stuff, Perhaps Obama should let the military run the show until a republican can take over the White House. Obama scares me very much also...

    January 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  37. jiggrz

    Yeeer soooo right MacDuff...

    January 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  38. Tom

    Wolfe Blitzer was right about the Bin Laden capture before Pres. Obama announced the news so I'm a little scared.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  39. Bill Hicks

    I would definitely feel more comfortable with Ron Paul as commander in chief. He gets the most support from our troops. It's sad that more veterans die from suicide than soldiers currently die in combat. Ron Paul has said he will defend the U.S. when necessary and will follow the guidelines set by the Constitution with regard to war. Rick Santorum is openly admitting he will attack Iran and kill thousands of innocent civilians including babies. He is not pro-life. Ron Paul is pro-life.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  40. skarphace

    Just as with Iran, the only sensible thing to do is to prepare for the worst and be ready to react. A preemptive strike against either country will only serve to exacerbate the situation. The neocons will not agree, but I am a Ron Paul supporter and therefore anti-neocon.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  41. James

    I would feel better with any of the GOP candidates except Paul if there was a conflict with North Korea. President Obama has proven to be too slow in making decisions. Libya lasted too long because of his indecisiveness.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  42. Chrisnot

    If there is an incident, just send Gov Perry over there with the pistol he carries while running to shoot coyotes.Not a problem, see? His unbridled patriotism and faith will stand him in good stead. We have nothing to worry about.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  43. works4me

    President Obama... I'd feel most comfortable with him at the helm.

    January 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  44. uglysexy

    Um....Stating the Obvious here?

    January 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  45. Greg, Ontario

    What is there to think about? President Obama would start negotiation efforts as soon as possible probably dragging out the crisis for decades and costing thousands of Korean lives. The republicans would declare outright war and demand all of it's allies join in the fight killing tens of thousands of "Americans and it's allies" while hundreds of thousands Koreans died. Never mind the effect on the fragile global economy. Sometimes I think the self proclaimed greatest nation on the planet is going to be the death of the human species.

    January 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  46. jon

    After seeing Obamas response to the somali pirates, to his use of drones against terrorists , to the killing of Osama Bin Laden,I feel more comfortable with Osama ,then any Republican candidate.

    January 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  47. Sarah Moffitt

    More worried that anyone of these politicians posing to become President will say something stupid and stir up the pot of hatred towards America. They talk real tough about things, then it's our money and our men that have to clean up the mess they make.

    January 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  48. William Graham


    Compared to all of the GOP candidates, President Obama stands miles above them in wartime experience. He has led our armed forces well against a variety of enemies and has completed Bush's plan to withdraw from Iraq successfully. There is no question in my mind that I'd go with President Obama over Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachman, Huntsman and especially Ron Paul. I'm thankful we have such a great mind currently serving as our Commander in Chief.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

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