Thursday, December 22, 2011

Let The Appeasement Begin! NYT, North Korea Edition

The North Korean Bureau of Tourism
Just days after the demise of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, Nicholas D. Kristof gives a vivid account of his 1989 visit to North Korea, one of the last remaining International Socialist outposts that is still around.  Read the whole thing here: A New Kim. A New Chance?

The title itself is curious enough.  A reasonable person would think that now is North Korea's time for a new chance to enter the ranks of freedom, but no, Kristof is telling the United States and others that it is our new chance.

Curiouser still, Kristof visited North Korea in 1989, while South Korean self-defenses were still ramping up after the Jimmy Carter North Korean appeasement acts of 1976 - 1978.   Many do not recall that Carter unilaterally removed all nuclear weapons from South Korea and wanted to remove all US forces, other than the US Air Force, from South Korea.  He did reduce the US ground forces by 3,600 Soldiers.  Unremarkably, the attack forces on the northern side of the border did not evaporate.
President Carter's miscalculation did not result in the reunification of Korea from the North, as may have been his objective.  It did result in an ever more provocative North Korea, along with a South Korea that rearmed itself, increased military proficiency, and by 1988 the US military was spending quite a bit of time trying to keep the South Koreans from ending the standoff via a victory over the North.  Recently, former president Carter "wished Kim Jong-Un every success as he assumes his new responsibility of leadership" to the new dictator, Kim Jong-Un.

Somehow, none of this is mentioned in the NYT Op-Ed.  He did lead with an informative narrative about life in North Korea, which included:

- The Loudspeaker affixed to a wall in each home. (to pipe in propaganda whenever the state wishes)

- people with disabilities are often expelled from the capital, Pyongyang.

- During a famine, North Korean news media warned starving citizens against overeating by recounting the cautionary tale of a man who ate his fill, and then exploded. This one reminded me of a Radio Moscow short-wave broadcast in the early 1980s boasting that while Soviet citizens consumed less meat per capita than people in the West, the Soviets distributed the meat more equally among their population.

- When videos (of movies, music or religion) began to be smuggled in from China, police began to turn off the power to entire buildings. Then the police would go door to door and examine what video was stuck inside players. A smuggled tape could mean the dispatch of an entire family to a labor camp. This begs the observation that is never stated at Reason or in the New York Times, yes it is possible to have even less religious freedom than in China.

- All those North Koreans crying because of Kim Jong-il’s death? Their grief is probably sincere. He is quite correct in this and he expands on it well.

Of course, it does not take Kristof long to pull the predictable Leftist u-turn with this:
Don’t try to isolate North Korea.

The West has reacted to North Korean’s nuclear program by sanctioning and isolating the country. But isolation has mostly backfired. It’s one of the things that keeps the Kim family in power, and we’re helping enforce it.

Moreover, economic pain is not going to destroy the regime. In the mid-1990s, perhaps one million people died in famine, and the regime was unhurt.

Our failures in North Korea are manifest. In 1994, we came close to war on the Korean Peninsula, averting it with a nuclear deal that rested on false hope: The Clinton administration thought the regime would collapse before the West had to deliver civilian nuclear reactors as its part of the agreement.
Traffic Girl in traffic free DPRK
Note that everything in this passage happened long after Kristof's 1989 visit to North Korea where his vivid descriptions of a bleak life, beyond 1984 Orwellian, with robot-like school girls who recite state propaganda to strange Westerners passing through.

He blames the North Korean refusal to feed its own people on the West, when the problem was the same as with all mass starvations in the 20th and 21st centuries: The people with the guns did not let the defenseless people have any food.  In this case, it was the absolute statism of International Socialists performing a reenactment of Stalin's Ukrainian Holodomor. This time, the role of The Great Duranty is played by The Great Kristof. In both cases, appeasement only strengthened the sitting dictators and terrorized their neighbors.

The Great Kristof concludes:
There are no good solutions. But let’s take advantage of the leadership transition to try a dose of outreach. If we can inch toward diplomatic relations, trade and people-to-people exchanges, we’re not rewarding a monstrous regime. We just might be digging its grave.
How about this: Give the new leader an ultimatum for a reunification of Korea, under South Korean management.  The "Great Successor" does not have the reputation of, say Saddam Hussein's children, yet.  Un is not known for any crimes, yet.  And stop blaming the USA for crimes Socialist dictators commit inside their own borders.

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