Kim Jong Il is dead.

More to follow – AP link here. [Update: Times story here. You know, they write these months or years in advance, and then just update a bit when that final bit of news is confirmed . . . ]

With regards to North Korea, it’s one of the most messed-up places in the world. Makes the crap we are dealing with in America petty by comparison. Although, many people joke about how the North Korean dictator sought to create a personality cult around him, as a do-no-wrong guy, how many high-level corporate types in America are really just one or two removed from “glorious leader” or “peerless lord of all”?

I think the new [Pyongyang, PRK] generation inevitably tries to cut a deal with the West, for some kind of safe passage or sanctuary outside of that country. It’s not clear how useful North Korea is going to be, to China, as an antagonizer of Japan as the years go on.

What would be great for American taxpayers is if there were one less reason to have that built-up military presence in the North Pacific. I know the Obama Administration has really been emphasizing Pacific ties lately, but who is to say that a lot of that sticking close to our allies can’t be done on the cheap? Why do we have to keep paying so much to “project our force into the region”, and meanwhile it’s really just to keep China’s shipping lanes open for China to build up its economy, often at our expense. Never mind our dysfunctional relations with Japan on those Pan-Asia issues.

The Cold War is long over. We waste money on a Cold War structure in the North Pacific–and that includes the handful of Japan-side expats warmingly referred to at this site as the “Pacific Elite”.

Good riddance that another dictator is gone, and let’s hope the new one there is a soft shoe for a jackboot. Twenty eleven is turnout out to be a year when a number of dictators go by one way or another.