What My Toddler and Kim Jong-Il Have In Common

By Mike BakerFormer CIA Field Operations Officer/Diligence, Co-Founder

Last night it occurred to me that Scooter, my two-year-old power-hungry son, is not unlike Kim Jong Il, North Korea's power-crazed despotic leader. I shall explain.

The thought that my wife and I are possibly raising a communist dictator came to me while relaxing in our living room following a very tasty Memorial Day cookout.


When I say relaxing, I mean sitting in a comfy chair watching my son throw various objects around the room while he laughs wildly. Scooter recently has developed quite an arm. This, according to my wife, is my fault.

From the time he could support his own neck I've been after him to play catch. Ever since I was a kid I've loved to play catch. I would play catch all damn day if someone would pay me a living wage. Only Idiot, my Jack Russell terrier, has the same obsessive attitude towards this activity.

So naturally, I've been waiting for the day when my young son could join me in a fine game of catch. Now up until recently I have to admit that Scooter hasn't shown much interest in throwing the ball. Frankly, his primary interest has been his unit, which he discovered 12 months ago and since that time became his constant companion. For 12 months the kid has essentially had the use of one hand.

But a few days ago, I think after accidentally catching a glimpse of "The View," he broke his deathgrip on the bait and tackle and started using his right hand to throw. balls, puzzle pieces, coasters, books, shoes... if he can reach it and lift it, he'll launch it. The target so far is irrelevant and the timing always a mystery; he might toss a ball at mom, a toy at the cat or a rock through the window. For him, the excitement of being able to get our attention by throwing something outweighs the concern over consequences.

Admittedly, I did nothing to discourage this behavior. You think Tiger's Dad stopped toddler Tiger from swinging a stick in the house? I see my kid throw something and I see a developing Yankee, albeit without the steroids and bloated salary.

My wife on the other hand is far more responsible and attempts to discourage his irascible behavior, often with stern looks and what Scooter and I refer to as "Mom's serious voice". While this works occasionally, more often than not he pushes the envelope and whatever missile he has in his hand is sent flying.

So last night Scooter runs in to the living room with a wiffle ball in his hand and he immediately spots Idiot sleeping in the corner. At this point, my wife deploys the serious voice and says "Scooter, do not throw anything at the dog." Scooter looks at me for verification of Mom's intent to stand up to his behavior.

Suddenly, I realize that Scooter views me like Kim Jong Il views China... outwardly disapproving but ultimately an ally. The missile will get launched, and Idiot will get hit, unless I step in and assert both authority and actual solidarity with mom. In Scooter's mind, mom is the benevolent Security Council... a United Nations that occasionally uses a serious voice but then five minutes later wipes and powders his bottom.

Unfortunately, for Idiot I decide to test my theory. I put on a semi-serious look and say quietly... "Scoot, if you throw that ball, it will make us upset and we will denounce your actions and quite possibly hold a parental council where we will talk about how to properly discipline you. Consider yourself warned."

My wife, not privy to my internal thought process and newly developed theory, was in the process of calling me a moron when we received visual confirmation of a successful wiffle ball launch. Idiot, beaned in the ass, reacted by moving to a different pillow. Given he's learning the mechanics, Scooter's throws are still relatively harmless. But as my wife points out, give him time and who knows what damage he could do.

Like Kim Jong Il, Scooter understands the dynamic between the authority figures in his world and works to pit one against the other. This is human instinct, be it toddler or despot or a combination of the two, referred to in our home as a "todpot."

The problem in dealing with North Korea is that, in reality, we have no leverage. The U.S. and our allies try to act tough and use a serious voice, and Kim meanwhile looks to China for comfort and a clean diaper. Until such time that China decides it can no tolerate North Korea's nuclear outbursts there is nothing we can do to significantly alter their behavior.

All the talk from the Obama administration about "standing up" to North Korea in the face of this latest nuclear test and multiple missile launch is the equivalent of a parent repeatedly scolding their child and yet never following up with a meaningful consequence. We've been engaged in this same pattern for years. You think tighter sanctions on a country that's already starving and at this point receives the vast majority of its fuel, food and other resources from China cares about our sanctions? What a load of crap. To be fair, this has been U.S.policy for several administrations.

When it comes to North Korea, we're in a dysfunctional marriage with China. There will be no change from Toddler Kim until China plays the role of stern parent and takes away his balls. Not to mention his other projectiles.

Just my opinion. Til' next week, stay safe.

As always we love to hear from you. Send your comments, thoughts or rambling, incoherent statements to peoplesweeklybrief@hotmail.com

Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe. Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector and has recently returned to Diligence LLC, a company he cofounded in 2000, as President. He appears frequently in the media as an expert on counterterrorism, intelligence and homeland security. Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.