WHAT BETTER SYMBOL could there be of the complete intellectual and moral collapse of Bush’s North Korea policy than this? (Hat tip to a friend.)
THE KOREAN CHURCH COALITION, which I think has to be the single most dynamic activist organization promoting human rights in North Korea today, has amassed a very impressive list of supportive letters from politicians of both parties. I’ve posted some quotes below the fold. The obvious question is whether those are more than mere words. After the let-down of the Bush administration — which followed a lot of hypocritical lip service — it’s clear that this movement needs the capacity to hold fickle politicians accountable.
RIP, ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN. I found some of his later writings unsavory, but the impact of his writing on the Soviet system is undeniable. I never had the time to plod through the entire “Gulag Archipelago,” but reading “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” had a strong impact on me when I read it during my high school years.
HMMM. “Two men rammed a truck into a clutch of jogging policemen and tossed explosives, killing 16 officers Monday, state media said, in an attack in a restive province of western China just days before the Beijing Olympics, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.” Assuming this report is accurate, it describes the sort of tragedy that doesn’t have to happen when people have democratic outlets for their aspirations. I’m afraid China is many more such tragedies away from being the kind of place where people have ways to express their grievances that don’t involve gunfire or explosives.
MCCAIN PULLS AHEAD by a statistically insignificant margin, according to Rasmussen, for the first time since Obama clinched the nomination. I don’t think there’s much predictive significance in a poll this early unless one candidate is way ahead of the other. What I think it does say is that Obama’s popularity in Europe doesn’t translate well here. I suspect that others — who question Europe’s benevolence toward America, as I do — may see it as a negative.
THERE’S NO PLEASING SOME PEOPLE:
In response to President Bush’s meeting with prominent Chinese dissidents at the White House, Beijing on Thursday sharply condemned Washington for interfering in China’s domestic affairs and accused American legislators of politicizing the Olympics. [N.Y. Times]
I can hardly imagine how Bush could get away with doing or saying less about how the Olympics has brought out the worst in China. He’s still attending the opening ceremony and offering only token words about Tibet, Darfur, North Korean refugees, Burma, or Zimbabwe. You’d think that if China is still finding the depth of his kowtow insufficient, he might as well just not go there at all (Hat tip to a reader). Meanwhile, Barack Obama is taking heat for buying ads during the Olympics. I’d be disappointed if McCain is doing the same.
Quotes from letters to the Korean Church Coalition:
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi: “I commend the Korean Church Coalition for giving a voice to the thousands of North Korean refugees facing injustices and inhumane conditions in North Korea, China and other parts of the world. I support your efforts to end the sufferings endured by the refugees through non violent means.
Arizona Senator John McCain: “The plight of the North Korean refugees is a travesty that must be addressed. No one should be forced to live in an environment of persecution, fear, and famine.
Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson: “I believe that repression of religious freedom and basic human rights anywhere is a detrimental to the advancement of human rights everywhere. I look forward to working with the Foreign Relations committee to ensure that individuals around the world are free to practice religion as they choose and are guaranteed their basic human rights.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama: “The desperation of North Korean Refugees is an injustice that must be addressed. They should not be forcibly returned into persecution; they should have the protection to which asylum seekers and refugees are entitled under international law.
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback: “North Korean Refugees continue to be hunted down and repatriated, while Americans and Chinese have been jailed for continuously risking their lives to help them. Now is the time for China to reach out to these people, without a voice, without hope, and without the chance to live a life of freedom.
Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski: I was proud to join my colleagues in the United States Senate, and to support the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. ” “The issue of human rights is a basic one and cannot be compromised.
Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin: North Korean refugees continue to suffer unspeakable hardships and deprivations. As the co chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I am committed to protecting the human rights of all individuals. I firmly believe the United States must exercise strong international leadership to protect the fundamental human rights of North Korean refugees. The United States has a moral obligation to help those individuals facing persecution and injustice in their homeland reach freedom and safety.
Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman: “And tragically, we know that those fortunate North Korean refugees, who manage to escape the prison represented by their country too often face new abuses beyond North Korea’s brokers-including the threat of forcible return and even greater persecution.
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez: The Let My People Go campaign of the Korean Church Coalition is one of the many initiatives that are linking China’s poor humanitarian record around the world with the 2008 Beijing Olympics in order to pressure Chinese Government to make important changes in international and domestic policy. “The outcry against the transgressions is building. We must not let it die down, not when the flame itself goes out this summer at the end of the games, and not until human rights violations come to an end. “We must ensure that North Koreans who flee an oppressive government can safely be resettled in China, and elsewhere around the globe, so that they can live in freedom and with the dignity they deserve.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander: “I commend you on your devotion to assisting your fellow Koreans, and I send my best wishes for a successful conference.