North Korea Awards Highest Civilian Honor to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

You know how hard I’ve worked for the coveted Human Scum Award for the last seven years, and I’ve yet to receive so much as a nomination:

Ros-Lehtinen, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, called for taking “strong counteraction” and relisting the DPRK as a “sponsor of terrorism,” while terming it a “rogue regime”. This is intolerable as it is malignant vituperation against the dignified DPRK and its system. Ros, man representing the U.S. conservative hard-liners, is human scum as he earned ill-fame as an anti-communist fanatic. He is a political illiterate ignorant of the background against which the nuclear issue cropped up on the Korean Peninsula and the processes to settle it. It is natural to hear such rubbish from him. What should not go unnoticed, however, is that he let loose vituperation against the DPRK soon after he became chairman of the House International Relations Committee. It is quite clear that he would escalate the anti-DPRK campaign in Congress and political arena. [KCNA]

More here, from the Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon.

My sincere congratulations to the brigandish gentle lady from Florida. After you have a giggle at the fact that North Korea’s official news service doesn’t even know (or can’t correctly translate) the gender of one of Congress’s soon-to-be most powerful members, consider the depth of North Korea’s willful ignorance about Earth, and what this suggests about its risk-assessment skills. Occam’s Razor tells us that there’s no need to resort to complex explanations when simple ones will do. Yes, there may be some merit to the speculation about the cognitive effects of Kim Jong Il’s stroke, but consider the possibility that the North Koreans have been behaving like ignorant, bloody-minded assholes because that’s just what they are.

This isn’t to say that they’re crazy or irrational. I don’t believe they’re either of those things. I actually think the Kim family is a collection of malignant narcissists-slash-sociopaths. But reason isn’t just about the presence of viruses, it’s also a function of the input data and the processor speed. One can be subjectively rational and objectively irrational. And if you believe, as I do, that extortion was one of the reasons for North Korea’s recent attacks on the South, it has misjudged. The same KCNA piece reports that “Senator John McCain said that he would make new Congress commencing its work next year immediately relist the DPRK as a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ and apply financial and other sanctions against it.” I wouldn’t normally afford KCNA a strong presumption of accuracy, but I have it on good first-hand authority that Ros-Lehtinen will place the same objectives high on her list of priorities. And if Lee Myung Bak does what I think he’ll soon have to do and closes Kaesong, the effect will have been exactly the opposite of North Korea’s likely objectives.

Also from Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, we learn who the new Republican subcommittee chairs will be:

(WASHINGTON) ““ U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the incoming Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today announced the Vice Chairman and the Subcommittee Chairmen for the Committee in the 112th Congress. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:


“The oversight and investigations component of this Committee will be robust, and I will be establishing mechanisms for Americans to blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse in State Department and Foreign Aid operations by welcoming anonymous tips. I will also be establishing a mechanism for the American people to be directly involved in Committee hearings.

“Congressman Rohrabacher, who has experience with this Committee’s past investigation of corruption in the United Nations Oil for Food program, will be leading our Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He also participated in investigations into foreign-owned banks under U.S. contact which violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, Cuba, and Libya.

“I am proud to lead this team which will protect and advance America’s interests and values, and not apologize for doing so.

The Vice Chairman and Subcommittee Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the 112th Congress are as follows (Subcommittee Chairmen listed alphabetically by Subcommittee name):

U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (CA), Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (NJ), Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights
U.S. Rep. Donald A. Manzullo (IL), Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (IN), Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (OH), Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
U.S. Rep. Edward R. Royce (CA), Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (FL), Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

A few random observations here. First, I think Royce would have made a great subcommittee chair for Asia and the Pacific. He’s extremely knowledgeable about and engaged on North Korea issues, including human rights issues, proliferation, and money laundering (his highly capable staffer, Young Kim, undoubtedly deserves much credit for this). That said, he’ll be great for the position for which he’s been chosen.

Manzullo, by contrast, hasn’t been vocal about Korea, in or out of the committee room. In the hearings I attended, he had relatively little to say. Maybe this is a matter of his style. We’ll have to see how he does. In Congress, there are members who are dedicated to the issues, while others are mostly concerned about bringing investment into their districts. I’ll just have to watch and see what hearings and witnesses we get on Manzullo’s watch. Before the Democratic takeover in 2006, the Republican subcommittee chair was Jim Leach of Iowa, a decent and fair-minded man with a deep and sincere interest in human rights in the North, but not a conservative on issues of policy or diplomacy.

Dana Rohrabacher, on the other hand, is far from a quiet presence in any hearing. I left one hearing wondering if he shaves with a blowtorch. Going after U.N. profligacy and stupidity will be a good role for him. By stupidity, I refer to the likes of Margaret Chan, whose next gaffe of that sort won’t go unchallenged by Dana Rohrabacher. You could say that Dana Rohrabacher is more conservative than I am on these issues. For example, I recall him being opposed to food aid to North Korea. I’m supportive in principle, but only if the aid is monitored and subject to nutritional surveys of recipients, and since the current North Korean regime will never agree to that, the issue is probably moot for the foreseeable future.

It’s going to be an interesting hearing season next year. It’s too bad that I so seldom have time to attend them anymore.