Pernicious Pyong-Gang

I don’t know about you but I’ve read my fill — more than my fill — of “news” on the debt ceiling debate. Ladies and gentlemen, feel free to cheer or boo (or comment), but I refuse to write about Boehner plans I-XXIV, the rise of the debt ceiling, or any of the other pointless, diminutive, feebleminded, anticlimactic and futile plans proposed by the so-called problem solvers of the US on both sides of the isle. I’m tired of ineffective bickering, and Pelosi trying to save the world as we know it from the Republican plan (seriously, she said that.) Where are people actually getting things done?

North Korea, that’s where. With a population slightly lower than Texas, socialism, and a couple of greedy, chubby, narcissistic dictators, North Korea really knows what it means to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Take it from the experts, they’ve had decades of experience. The North Korean government forces North Korean farmers not to grow food for their family or others and instead to grow opium that gets exported to a global drug market for profit. As you’ve probably already figure out, this starves North Koreans in order to give a few high muckamuck’s some more money to count in their plush, extravagant living areas. And in order to fund their embassy but North Korean panjandrums also buy duty-free alcohol from their special stores and in turn sell it for a profit on the Pakistani black market.

Maybe a little background would help. 61 years ago the Soviet Union installed Kim Il-sung as ruler of North Korea. He invaded South Korea in an attempt to unify the peninsula under communism. Bringing in the US in what resulted in a three-year conflict settled by drawing a line on the map. (South Korea with a more of a capitalist and American ideology and North Korea with a more communist, Soviet ideology.) The “eternal president” Kim Il-sung purged opposition, fortified his control, sent thousands of political prisoners to concentration camps and replaced Marxism with “Juche” (translated as “self-reliance”) ideology which combines xenophobia, extreme nationalism and state-of-terror. He created the impression among North Koreans that he was “god” until, of course, he died in 1994. But in “god’s” place his son, Kim Jong-il, took over and is still in control today.

After the Soviet Union and China stopped supporting North Korea, they tanked and have never crawled back into economic daylight since. (Which explains their desperate, illicit attempts to fund themselves.) This is mostly due to decades and decades of economic mismanagement, inflation and the massive greed of the [in]dignitaries.

The concentration camps never disappeared either. Political prisoners are still malnourished, starved, beaten, tortured, even forced to work with hazardous chemicals, like mercury, without protection in these Asian gulags every day. You can be placed in one of these camps for doing something such as: Insubordination, playing or listening to a song by a foreign composer, trying to leave the country, the list goes on. Women, men, children, weak and strong are all placed in these camps.

Welcome to North Korea. You’re free to come in, but not to go out. Behold the power of North Korea. A prison state with endless food shortages, huge electricity problems, starvation, poverty and forced plastic eye-lid surgery for waitresses. If you would like to learn more about North Korean misfortune and mismanagement, try Kimjongilia (the flower of Kim Jong-il, an award winning documentary) or the Freedom House report.

Recently the UN, the US and South Korea have asked North Korea to end their nuclear program and allow inspectors to verify that plants are frozen in return for a resuming of the “six-nation” talks to discuss economic and other rewards. North Korea’s answer was “not positive.” (News journalists are crazy that way, why can’t they just say “negative?”) And declined to any further talks about the matter. I can’t exactly blame them, it wasn’t much of a deal. Now, if you put away your WMD toys we’ll talk about giving you a cookie. Why would I do that? One I have and can use; the other I don’t have and might not get.


Yet, at the same time North Korea is trying to get the US to finally sign a “peace treaty” over the Korean war. My question is, why would Korea want it now and not, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago? Well, let’s put the puzzle pieces together: In 1998, North Korea began giving cash and jewellery in exchange for atomic information from Pakistan. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. In 2006, they tested their first nuclear weapons. In 2007 and 2008 North Korea denuclearized and shut down a plant in return for some fuel aid and other concessions from the US (like what we are asking now.) But twice in 2009 North Korea again tested nuclear war heads and withdrew from the six-nation talks. In 2010 North Korea sunk the Cheonan, a South Korean sea vessel. Also in 2010, in response to US-South Korean military exercises, they attacked the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. And in 2011 they are once again asked to denuclearize. North Korea has also been known to export their knowledge, missiles and plants to places like Syria and Iran. Why do we trust them?

What would signing a peace treaty do anyway? For one thing, it would re-hash a lot of old antagonism — on both sides. Not to mention identify that we are on different sides right now. Signing a treaty would also eliminate the option of protecting our ally, South Korea, when (er, if) the North Koreans attacks again. And for the North Koreans it just gives them another international soap-box to stand on and bash the US with if we violate it. What’s in it for us?

Our options in this case seem to be: Convince the North Korean government to lie to us about denuclearizing for all sorts of goodies, or sign a treaty for them to smash us over the head with. How about checking the “other” box? We could try to do something about all this you know. Have we done anything? No. Of course not. As Winston Churchill once said, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing … after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” I’m beginning to think he’s right.

Unless the environment is concerned. Then we’re right on top of doing the wrong thing. Jonah Goldberg with National Review once asked the pointed question: If the North Koreans were pandas, would we let them suffer so? Would pandas ever spend so long in these gulags? Would the world just look the other way for decades as we have with the North Koreans?

Stopping Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program is rightly a priority because of the threat it poses to the U.S. and our allies. But it should also be a priority because, if we don’t, the regime may stagger on for another half-century of barbarous cruelty.

Eventually this dynasty of misery will end and North Koreans, starved, stunted, and beaten, will crawl back into the light of civilization. My hunch is that it will not be easy to meet their gaze, nor history’s. No one will be able to claim they didn’t know what was happening, and very few of us will be able to say we did anything at all to help.” –Jonah Goldberg with National Review, December 8, 2010

North Korea does not sit still. They’re a bunch of crazy dictators who want the worlds strongest weapon. And cash. It’s a place where things get done, people get killed and decisions are made. And the US can’t even balance its check book. Although, as a friend of mine would say, probably the last thing we want is an effective government… Like North Korea’s…

-Ben

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