You want the Global Zero fail in a box? Read [Viewpoint] The North’s nuclear card
After North Korea was devastated in the Korean War, it revived its economy in a relatively short period of time. A planned economy, a system in which the government controls all aspects of industry, was the best way to achieve such rapid growth. The North Korean economy was once praised by western economists, but it couldn’t overcome the innate limitations of the socialist system. As their economic plans failed to attain the goals several times in the 1970s, North Korea lost its momentum. By the end of the 1980s, it was at the threshold of system collapse after the fall of communism in the Soviet bloc. The North Korean leadership of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il chose nuclear armament as a last resort to defend its system. It was a challenging objective, but if successfully attained, not even the United States or Japan would dare to bring down North Korea.
In fact, the nuclear card proved to be more useful than Pyongyang originally thought.
The lesson: nuclear weapons can be a powerful deterrent force for good (protecting rule of law, capitalism, Western-style democracy) or for ill (protecting arbitrary laws, non-market economies, communism). However, the article’s conclusion, that “the nuclear card seems to be the cause – and result – of North Korea’s failure to adapt to the changing times” is certainly arguable; after all, how different is today’s North Korea from China in its pre-state sponsored capitalism configuration?
Instead it seems that North Korea’s fatal problem has been their non-functional command and control economy, an illiterate and ill-cared for society, and few natural resources. These seem to be more of a problem than North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.