Re North Korea, the PowerLine guys think we’re being taken to the cleaners, but we won’t end up dead

I’ve been wondering whether North Korea’s unusually heightened war rhetoric means that the missiles will really start to fly.  Over at PowerLine, Steven Hayward has a different theory, which is depressing, but less worrisome.  He thinks that Kim Jong-Un is no fool, and that he recognizes that the troika of Obama, Kerry, and Hagel is the negotiating equivalent of the Three Stooges.  He will push them around until their little spines flop over completely, and then come back with unusually excessive demands, to which they will gratefully acquiesce:

Skip past Barack Obama for a moment, and just take in the secretary of defense, and the secretary of state.  Chuck Hagel.  John Kerry.  Take a deep breath here. Put yourself in the shoes of the Norks.  These guys make the British appeasers of the 1930s look like Chuck Norris.  Think the Norks haven’t paid attention to these guys?  Add in Obama’s obvious liberal guilt and what conclusion would you reach?  Even a 28-year old Kim, educated in private schools in Switzerland but moreover schooled in the Nork blackmail drill, will draw the obvious conclusion: time to go for broke and take the U.S. to the cleaners, because its leadership right now is ripe for the plucking.  Far from being crazy, Kim Jong Un may be the most rational person around right now.

That actually makes sense.

To which Paul Mirengoff adds that the Swiss-educated Jong-Un might be trying to make reforms to the country’s economy.  This is best done if he appeases the hard-liners while getting some hard cash from the United States.

Both those scenarios make more sense than North Korea willingly destroying itself, and they make sense in terms of the team that Obama has assembled over in the Foggy Bottom, and foggy brain, neighborhood.

Only time will tell, of course.  We little people can’t influence events; we can just watch them unfold.

What does North Korea want? And should we be scared?

I haven’t yet decided whether I’m unnerved by North Korea’s saber rattling.  We’ve seen this before, starting in the 1990s, when the North Koreans figured out that, if they made the West sufficiently nervous, the West would bring offerings of food and money to the destitute totalitarian prison state, in hopes that feeding the beast would render it docile.  Things seem a little different this time, though, so maybe I’m getting more nervous.

First, North Korea has never been so open in its aggression.  If I remember past situations correctly, the North Koreans shot missiles here and there, made the usual threats against South Korea, and had the propaganda news station heighten the rhetoric a little bit, but that was it.  This time, however, North Korea has made public carefully posed photographs showing Kim Jong-un clustering with his generals as they blot nuclear missile attacks, not just at Seoul, but at specifically named American cities — Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Austin, Texas.  Specific threats tend to be more worrisome than generic Communist hate-speech.  (And I don’t mean to imply that the past threats against Seoul were meaningless.  Regardless of meaning, they were also part of North Korean ritual.)

North Korea plan to attack US mainland revealed in photographs - Telegraph - Mozilla Firefox 3292013 71051 AM.bmp North Korea plan to attack US mainland revealed in photographs - Telegraph - Mozilla Firefox 3292013 71003 AM.bmp

Second, North Korea is under new management.  Kim Jong-un is a totally unknown quantity.  Maybe he’s just using his youthful zeal to bring new optics into the stale ritual blackmail . . . but maybe not.  As ancient Rome showed, the tyrants tend to get crazier as time goes by. (Think:  Caligula.)  Maybe Jong-un, who has never known anything but the insane hot house of North Korean politics, actually thinks attacking South Korea and the United States will work to his country’s benefit.  Megalomania doesn’t breed rational thought.

Third, North Korea has the nuclear weapons this time, and they’ve given every indication that they’re crazy enough to use them.  No mutually assured destruction doctrine will hold them back.

Fourth, it’s peculiar that North Korea hasn’t made any demands yet, despite a month of threats.  And not just threats, but escalating threats.

Fifth — and this is the really scary one — this may all be a red herring as they ship nuclear arms to Iran.  I read today (and for the life of me I can’t remember where) that this may all be a shell game, with Iran keeping our focus on its ability to build nuclear weapons, while North Korea keeps our focus on its ability to use nuclear weapons.  In fact, Iran may not be building, and North Korea may not be using.  Instead, it’s quite possible that North Korea is building the weapons for Iran’s use.  And that’s a very scary thought indeed.

That’s my brain spill about North Korea and its escalating threats.  What do you guys think?

 

Statism not only controls and, ultimately, kills people, it destroys their humanity

A few months ago, I read a wonderfully written, totally depressing book called, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. In it, author Timothy Snyder graphically described the way in which, during the 1930s and 1940s, the lands to the East of Berlin and West of Moscow were turned into killing fields the likes of which had never been seen.  Although Hitler is remembered for the bloodbath he made of these lands, it was Stalin who started these state-sp0nsored killing sprees when he decided to get rid of the independent farmers in the Ukraine, as their very existence was an affront to Stalin’s plan for a Marxist takeover of the farming economy.

Ukranian children

The book goes into dreadful, tragic detail about the mass starvation that resulted from Stalin’s policies — and please understand that starvation was a goal, not a byproduct, of the policies.  When Stalin talked about getting rid of these farmers, he meant it.  With this kind of famine occurring, cannibalism became inevitable.  Thus, Stalin not only stripped these Ukrainians of life, he stripped them of their basic humanity.  Once prosperous, moral, farming communities became feral.  The phrase that stayed with me after reading Bloodlands was (and I’m quoting from memory here) that “an orphan was a child whose parents hadn’t eaten it.”

The ugliest parts of history have a dreadful habit of repeating themselves, and that is the case with North Korea, a state that is the true heir to Stalin and Mao.  Reports are surfacing of a terrible famine in North and South Hwanghae.  The famine originated with a drought, which is terrible enough for people living in a government-run economy that keeps their farming to a medieval, subsistence level.

North Korean child

North Korea’s Marxist government, though, dramatically increased the drought’s effects.  Rather than behaving as a civilized capital city governed by Judeo-Christian values, which would have meant sending relief to these suffering people, Pyongyang worsened the famine by confiscating what little food remained in Hwanghae in order to feed the military and government class in Pyongyang itself.

In addition, rather than sending some form of financial relief to the drought-stricken region, Kim Jong Un’s government has been investing its small capital heavily in nuclear tests, presumably to shore up its reputation as a true nation among nations.  The result, of course, is mass starvation and, yes, cannibalism.

At the risk of getting redundant, let me remind everyone that a state unconstrained by religious morality does not love its people.  The people exist to serve the state, and not vice versa.  The Founders, of course, understood that the only healthy relationship between individuals and the state occurs when the state is the servant, not the master:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.