Now that we're using our banking system to systematically punish and isolate North Korea, a highly effective form of network warfare has been born, to little accolade. We're using an asset we've always had; it plays to our strengths, and it hurts our enemies at their weakest point with surgical precision and devastating results.
It's a game only established countries can play, and rogue regimes can't keep up or respond in kind. If the hyperventilating words of Kim Jong Il's unofficial spokesman (via Korea Liberator) are anything to go by, the North Koreans are very threatened indeed by this turn of events. They are coming extremely close to a declaration of overt war; the linked article suggests not-so-obliquely that the North Koreans are prepared to detonate nukes in the atmosphere over our major cities to trigger an EMP pulse. This is heating up extremely fast, after years of not much happening in North Korea. Their ability to carry out their threats is very much in question, but our ability to make them suffer is in no doubt-their screeching threats in response directly confirm it.
The Bush administration has them by the balls, and is squeezing-hard. This is an unheralded and underappreciated innovation in unconvential warfare-a game we are showing we can ably play. We have the world's most desirable markets, and we can coerce the financial institutions of other countries into doing our bidding.
The successes of missile defense, although significant, pale next to this kind of power. This is a powerful form of shunning: if you do not refuse North Korea's business, the entire American financial system will exclude you. Few can refuse when Uncle Sam comes a-knocking. Next on the coercion list: Russian banks. We are not yet finished escalating the pressure on North Korea, and the precedent will serve us well in containing Iran. Russia is an energy rich state, and has forms of pressure of its own that it can bring to bear; if we can make their banks do our bidding, then we are in a very good position indeed with respect to the upcoming sanction regime against Iran.
Squeeze harder, Mr. President.