2020 keeps piling it on.
It’s a hotly contested presidential election, it’s a once-in-a-century viral pandemic, it’s a once-in-a-century shutdown and economic collapse. Outside of our borders it’s Brexit and it’s the targeted killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
It’s not even May yet.
This is real life, so the diverting subplots don’t just stall while we resolve the current drama. Fresh off of news of China aggressively clamping down in Hong Kong, today brings the latest entry in the list of big world news stories that will have their own episodes in the Netflix “2020” documentary we’ll all be watching in a few years: The possible death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
It’s North Korea, so any apparent news must be taken with significant quantities of salt. But this report, coupled with other trickles of news, including reports from Japanese Media that Kim Jong-Un is in a “vegetative state,” starts leading us to conclusions.
It is impossible to know what will happen in North Korea if Kim is dead. However, the stability of an already unstable entity will be further reduced, and it is possible that whomever seizes power (update: including Kim Jong-Un if he winds up being alive and non-vegetative) will look to throw elbows on the world stage to consolidate power back home. And their elbows are nuclear tipped.
Couple this with China’s aggression in Hong Kong and the growing pressure in the United States to push back at the Chinese Communist Party for its role in the propagation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have the potential for a massive stare-down across the Pacific Ocean. It is an exceptionally challenging foreign policy landscape for President Trump to untangle.
During a massive pandemic and economic catastrophe. In an election year.
What could go wrong?