NOT-VERY-FAMOUS LAST WORDS:
Most observers now rate the 100,000-man South Korean army as the best of its size in Asia. Its fast-moving columns have mopped up all but a few of the Communist guerrilla bands. And no one now believes that the Russian-trained North Korean army could pull off a quick, successful invasion of the South without heavy reinforcements. [Time, June 5, 1950]
MAD SHEEP DISEASE UPDATES: In a fine example of the unrealized expectations of government-funded media, KBS draws a strained comparison between the Mad Cow protests, which are largely based on distortions, on pro-democracy protests in the 1980′s. I don’t agree with censoring irresponsible and inaccurate media outlets, but I just as strenuously disagree with subsidizing them. But of course, that’s only the beginning of the problem:
Other illogical propaganda slogans include the allegation that of about 5 million American patients with Alzheimer’s disease, 250,000-650,000, or 5-13 percent, are presumed to have been infected with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE. A spoof Korean movie title “Many Holes in Your Brain” has also been successful in linking Alzheimer’s disease with mad cow disease.
Sensitive children and students have responded to the slogan, “You can die if you eat 0.01g of American beef” — referring to the scrapie prion protein (PrPsc), the substance that causes BSE. Others say even vegetarians can die from cosmetics or instant noodle soup containing beef byproducts. Although these products have nothing to do with mad cow disease, the allegations are effective in exaggerating a vague sense of danger. [Chosun Ilbo]
So what do we do about the fact that distortions own the public debate and truth can’t get in a word edgewise? The answer: nothing. It’s called national Darwinism. A free, prosperous society that becomes anarchic and ungovernable upon contact with urban legends will not long remain so. The inevitable consequences of South Korea’s voluntary secession from reason do not implicate America’s vital interests unless we have troops there.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, PT 1: From then-ACLU Director Roger Baldwin after a 1947 visit to Korea, these prophetic words:
The small intellectual elite that runs Korean politics tends to be either Communist or reactionary. “In Korea,” said Baldwin, “the middle of the road is conspicuous by its absence. We were unable to find a democratic center.” One result is continuous political violence. Korean politicians are hardly safe in their homes. [Time]
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, PT. 2: South Korean Communists “spread rumors that the U.S. authorities had confiscated all rice for shipment to Japan and the U.S.”
A VICIOUS ANTI-CHINESE POGROM in Korea in 1931 killed hundreds of Chinese.
A CHARITABLE VIEW OF THE RUSSIAN OCCUPATION of North Korea, circa October 1945: “Their attitude toward civilians is: ‘Give us what we want and keep the hell out of our way.’ They brought fine weapons but few supplies, and they are living off the country. That probably stimulates the impression of widespread looting.”
BUSH GOES TO THE G-8 and seeks to calm down our “upset” Japanese allies with words that now seem strikingly insincere:
As a condition for sending aid and improving relations with the impoverished North, Japan long has pushed for the resolution of the issue of the abductions.
Bush recalled a White House meeting a few years ago with Sakie Yokota, the mother of a 13-year-old Japanese girl kidnapped by North Koreans agents on her way home from school in 1977. “As a father of little girls, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my daughter just disappear,” Bush said at the news conference. “So, Mr. Prime Minister, as I told you on the phone when I talked to you and in the past, the United States will not abandon you on this issue.” [AP]
HAS AL QAEDA BEEN DRIVEN from its last urban redoubt in Mosul? My gut tells me that this much-discussed report from the Times of London is a bit ahead of itself — “being driven from” would probably be more accurate, as many cadres have no doubt gone to ground. This doesn’t mean that the trends in the wars against both al Qaeda and Sadr aren’t highly positive; it just means that the best indicator to watch isn’t usually a short-term decline in attacks or casualties, it’s weapons cache seizures.