WASHINGTON – If you were hoping New Year’s Day 2016 would bode well for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, well, maybe things will look better tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.
On the first day of the New Year for every other country on Earth but his own, which uses its own calendar, North Korean President Kim Jong Un announced he was ready for war if “outsiders” provoke it.
In his fourth address to the nation since taking power in 2011, Kim spoke of the need to increase the “political and military might” of his country “in every way,” according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
“The year 2015 was a year of gigantic struggle recorded with significant events and eye-opening successes and a year of victory and glory that strikingly demonstrated the dignity and might of socialist Korea,” Kim said in the 30-minute televised speech. “We will continue to work patiently to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional stability. But if invasive outsiders and provocateurs touch us even slightly, we will not be forgiving in the least and sternly answer with a merciless, holy war of justice.”
Such remarks aren’t unusual. In an October speech marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling communist Workers’ Party, Kim said he was prepared to wage war against the United States if necessary.
Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic of Iran a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards announced the country has so many missiles they don’t know where to hide them all.
“We lack enough space in our stockpiles to house our missiles,” said Gen. Hossein Salami, the Guards’ deputy, in response to a U.S. threat to re-impose sanctions. “Hundreds of long tunnels are full of missiles ready to fly to protect your integrity, independence and freedom,” he told worshippers in Tehran, promising to never “stop developing our defense deterrent.”
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani denounced the U.S. moves Thursday as “hostile and illegal interventions” that must be met with a response.
He ordered the military to intensify its missile development and take whatever steps necessary to start new programs if they would better serve Iran’s defense.
A United Nations panel last month said the two missile tests breached previous resolutions aimed at stopping the Islamic republic from developing projectiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Barack Obama’s much-ballyhooed nuclear deal is due to come into effect on “Implementation Day”, expected later this month, or soon after, when UN monitors sign off that Iran has applied major curbs to its atomic nuclear program.
And then, in Turkey, the executive branch of the government sought to downplay comments Friday by President Tayyip Erdogan about the efficiency of the system of governance in Adolf Hitler’s Germany.
Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia whether an executive presidency was possible in Turkey while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, Erdogan said: “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.
“There are later examples in various other countries,” he told reporters.
Erdogan wants to change the Turkish constitution to turn the ceremonial role of president into that of a chief executive, a Turkish version of the system in the United States, France or Russia.
“Erdogan’s ‘Hitler’s Germany’ metaphor has been distorted by some news sources and has been used in the opposite sense,” the presidency said in a statement.
Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men will have to wait at least another day.