Must-Reads in the WSJ and Boston Globe–Remember When North Korea Was Worse Than Iraq?

James Taranto, my favorite blogger, writes “Best of the Web” on the Wall Street Journal’s online op-ed page. Today, he brilliantly played back the words of the North-Korea-is-worse-than-Iraq crowd of a year ago, in the context of the new gas chamber revelations (it starts about two-thirds of the way down the column). As you may recall, one of the arguments proferred against the war in Iraq was that North Korea was worse. One has to question what this has to do with whether invading Iraq made sense or not. After all, I can count the number of serious advocates of direct military action against North Korea on the fingers of The Fugitive’s right hand; one may indeed be worse, but that doesn’t mean both problems are best solved the same way.

The better question is, what happened to all the urgency about North Korea after the Third Infantry hitched its tow cable to that hollow bronze likeness of Saddam’s neck? The silence of this same crowd today tells us volumes about their insincerity about North Korea. To them, North Korea was nothing more than a logically flawed excuse to do nothing in Iraq (they never actually offered a solution for North Korea, either). Where do we stand today? The Bush administration is stalling until November, not wanting another crisis to deal with now. As Taranto points out, Kerry advocates more of the same process of negotiation and appeasement that got us into the present mess in the first place. Nobody on either side is talking about the urgent humanitarian crisis. Whose interests, after all, does it serve to talk about that? North Koreans don’t vote, after all. Still, I believe that Bush really “loathes” Kim Jong-Il, like he said in Bush at War, and that there’s just a chance that he’ll deal with him if he’s elected. I can’t say that about any of the Dems still running.

The greatest irony of all is the composition of the coalition building against Kim Jong-Il–classic liberals and hard-line neocons. What other issue could build a friendship between Chris Beaumont and someone like myself, considering that we agree on almost nothing else? Above all, it is those who put principle over expediency and self-interest on both extremes of the political spectrum who are telling it like it is on North Korea. Don’t believe me? Exhibit A, on the neocons, is Taranto and the WSJ (and Claudia Rosett, and Anne Applebaum, and the Hudson Institute . . . ). I now present Exhibit B–this astonishing must-read editorial from the Boston Globe today, which sits neatly on top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with its liberal Museum of Tolerance of South Park fame, and yes, Ted Kennedy, giving this issue the attention it deserves. Those who don’t care about North Korea generally follow the moral equivalency/relativist line of thought (Kerry, Dean, The Brookings Institute–may Allah inflict a thousand floggings upon them) or the self-interested/isolationist line of thought (The Entire State Department Except John Bolton, Kissinger, Bush the Elder).

I’ve been e-mailing Taranto a lot lately, and he’s printed my name a few times, including yesterday. In my e-mail yesterday, I sent him several links on the gas chamber story, but he chose today to discuss it. Still, I’d like to take some credit for getting him thinking about this issue (a thousand pardons for the plug; hope it illustrates how us ordinary folk can influence the mighty!).

Continue Reading

Must-Reads in the WSJ and Boston Globe–Remember When North Korea Was Worse Than Iraq?

James Taranto, my favorite blogger, writes “Best of the Web” on the Wall Street Journal’s online op-ed page. Today, he brilliantly played back the words of the North-Korea-is-worse-than-Iraq crowd of a year ago, in the context of the new gas chamber revelations (it starts about two-thirds of the way down the column). As you may recall, one of the arguments proferred against the war in Iraq was that North Korea was worse. One has to question what this has to do with whether invading Iraq made sense or not. After all, I can count the number of serious advocates of direct military action against North Korea on the fingers of The Fugitive’s right hand; one may indeed be worse, but that doesn’t mean both problems are best solved the same way.

The better question is, what happened to all the urgency about North Korea after the Third Infantry hitched its tow cable to that hollow bronze likeness of Saddam’s neck? The silence of this same crowd today tells us volumes about their insincerity about North Korea. To them, North Korea was nothing more than a logically flawed excuse to do nothing in Iraq (they never actually offered a solution for North Korea, either). Where do we stand today? The Bush administration is stalling until November, not wanting another crisis to deal with now. As Taranto points out, Kerry advocates more of the same process of negotiation and appeasement that got us into the present mess in the first place. Nobody on either side is talking about the urgent humanitarian crisis. Whose interests, after all, does it serve to talk about that? North Koreans don’t vote, after all. Still, I believe that Bush really “loathes” Kim Jong-Il, like he said in Bush at War, and that there’s just a chance that he’ll deal with him if he’s elected. I can’t say that about any of the Dems still running.

The greatest irony of all is the composition of the coalition building against Kim Jong-Il–classic liberals and hard-line neocons. What other issue could build a friendship between Chris Beaumont and someone like myself, considering that we agree on almost nothing else? Above all, it is those who put principle over expediency and self-interest on both extremes of the political spectrum who are telling it like it is on North Korea. Don’t believe me? Exhibit A, on the neocons, is Taranto and the WSJ (and Claudia Rosett, and Anne Applebaum, and the Hudson Institute . . . ). I now present Exhibit B–this astonishing must-read editorial from the Boston Globe today, which sits neatly on top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with its liberal Museum of Tolerance of South Park fame, and yes, Ted Kennedy, giving this issue the attention it deserves. Those who don’t care about North Korea generally follow the moral equivalency/relativist line of thought (Kerry, Dean, The Brookings Institute–may Allah inflict a thousand floggings upon them) or the self-interested/isolationist line of thought (The Entire State Department Except John Bolton, Kissinger, Bush the Elder).

I’ve been e-mailing Taranto a lot lately, and he’s printed my name a few times, including yesterday. In my e-mail yesterday, I sent him several links on the gas chamber story, but he chose today to discuss it. Still, I’d like to take some credit for getting him thinking about this issue (a thousand pardons for the plug; hope it illustrates how us ordinary folk can influence the mighty!).

Continue Reading

An Open Letter to the U.N. on the Gas Chambers: A U.N. that Fails to Act Has Lost Its Reason for Being

Dear Sir or Madam,

Permit me to be blunt. A growing majority of the people of my country, the United States of America, believes that the United Nations has no values, no standards, no decisiveness, and a soft, cowardly paralysis in the face of every crisis that rightfully demands action. Preventing another Holocaust was the reason the U.N. was created, but nearly sixty years later, the U.N. lacks the will to act against crimes of comparable horror and scale. As you know, a significant portion of the U.N.’s funds come from the U.S. government, which by law reflects the changing priorities of the American people.

The situation in North Korea today is an excellent illustration of U.N. cowardice and inaction; it calls the justifications for the U.N.’s existence into question. Three days ago, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to
the Secretary General and directed his attention to press reports in the BBC and The Observer (UK) that North Korea places entire families in gas chambers, forces them to strip naked, and gasses them to death in the course of “scientific experiments.” It also informed you of North Korea’s use of poisoned food to inflict hideous, painful deaths on scores of female prisoners. The Wiesenthal Center asked the Secretary General to fully investigate of these allegations. The Yad Vashem Memorial has since joined in these calls. A thorough search of your Web site reveals that the U.N. has had absolutely no reaction to this urgent request.

Recently, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released a report stating that 200,000 North Koreans are kept in horrific conditions in concentration camps, where many of them are executed, deprived of adequate food and medical care, and forced to perform slave labor. Tens of thousands of them die each year. Press reports and testimony in the U.S. Congress tell us that North Korean concentration camp guards routinely murder babies born to female prisoners, by lethal injection, by stomping on their necks, or by leaving them outside to die of exposure. Amnesty International has recently added new light to he “famine” in North Korea, which has killed up to three million people in the last decade. A new Amnesty report accuses the North Korean government of using food as a weapon against those whose political loyalty it distrusts by selectively denying them food rations. A genocide is happening today, and the U.N. dithers. Dithering is a choice the U.N. may make; opposing the funding of this dithering is a choice that you can expect increasing numbers of Americans to make in response.

This fall, as I ponder the question of which candidates I will support, I will carefully consider how the U.N. responds to these latest reports. As the candidates discuss the competing and urgent wartime priorities for U.S. taxpayer funding, I will strain to understand how the U.N. has earned a share. I will try again to discern an effective U.N. response to ANY the great humanitarian disasters of the last decade–Iraq, Rwanda, the rule of Saddam Hussein and its 300,000 victims, North Korea, or the suffering and exploitation of hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees hiding in China and denied their rights under international law there. On only one of these issues–Iraq–was it possible to discern that the United Nations had a position. That position, regrettably, was to oppose any effective action against a regime that had defied eighteen of its resolutions. Today, the U.N. timidly averts its eyes from what may well be a new Asian Auschwitz. It cannot even summon the courage to speak empty but sympathetic words for those who may be breathing their last painful gasps on cold, bloody cement floors, beside the bodies of their murdered children.

Shame on the United Nations. I will strongly urge my elected representatives to give your cowardly organization the nothing it has justly earned.

Continue Reading

An Open Letter to the U.N. on the Gas Chambers: A U.N. that Fails to Act Has Lost Its Reason for Being

Dear Sir or Madam,

Permit me to be blunt. A growing majority of the people of my country, the United States of America, believes that the United Nations has no values, no standards, no decisiveness, and a soft, cowardly paralysis in the face of every crisis that rightfully demands action. Preventing another Holocaust was the reason the U.N. was created, but nearly sixty years later, the U.N. lacks the will to act against crimes of comparable horror and scale. As you know, a significant portion of the U.N.’s funds come from the U.S. government, which by law reflects the changing priorities of the American people.

The situation in North Korea today is an excellent illustration of U.N. cowardice and inaction; it calls the justifications for the U.N.’s existence into question. Three days ago, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to
the Secretary General and directed his attention to press reports in the BBC and The Observer (UK) that North Korea places entire families in gas chambers, forces them to strip naked, and gasses them to death in the course of “scientific experiments.” It also informed you of North Korea’s use of poisoned food to inflict hideous, painful deaths on scores of female prisoners. The Wiesenthal Center asked the Secretary General to fully investigate of these allegations. The Yad Vashem Memorial has since joined in these calls. A thorough search of your Web site reveals that the U.N. has had absolutely no reaction to this urgent request.

Recently, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released a report stating that 200,000 North Koreans are kept in horrific conditions in concentration camps, where many of them are executed, deprived of adequate food and medical care, and forced to perform slave labor. Tens of thousands of them die each year. Press reports and testimony in the U.S. Congress tell us that North Korean concentration camp guards routinely murder babies born to female prisoners, by lethal injection, by stomping on their necks, or by leaving them outside to die of exposure. Amnesty International has recently added new light to he “famine” in North Korea, which has killed up to three million people in the last decade. A new Amnesty report accuses the North Korean government of using food as a weapon against those whose political loyalty it distrusts by selectively denying them food rations. A genocide is happening today, and the U.N. dithers. Dithering is a choice the U.N. may make; opposing the funding of this dithering is a choice that you can expect increasing numbers of Americans to make in response.

This fall, as I ponder the question of which candidates I will support, I will carefully consider how the U.N. responds to these latest reports. As the candidates discuss the competing and urgent wartime priorities for U.S. taxpayer funding, I will strain to understand how the U.N. has earned a share. I will try again to discern an effective U.N. response to ANY the great humanitarian disasters of the last decade–Iraq, Rwanda, the rule of Saddam Hussein and its 300,000 victims, North Korea, or the suffering and exploitation of hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees hiding in China and denied their rights under international law there. On only one of these issues–Iraq–was it possible to discern that the United Nations had a position. That position, regrettably, was to oppose any effective action against a regime that had defied eighteen of its resolutions. Today, the U.N. timidly averts its eyes from what may well be a new Asian Auschwitz. It cannot even summon the courage to speak empty but sympathetic words for those who may be breathing their last painful gasps on cold, bloody cement floors, beside the bodies of their murdered children.

Shame on the United Nations. I will strongly urge my elected representatives to give your cowardly organization the nothing it has justly earned.

Continue Reading

Gas Chambers, Denial, and Deja Vu

Anne Appelbaum gets it exactly right in today’s WP. Whether the allegations are true or not, they are extremely serious, and are backed by enough credible evidence for them to be a major news story. If there are doubts about the truth of these reports, then let the North Koreans resolve them immediately by letting human rights organizations have full and open access to Camp 22. Barring that, the allegations gain additional credibility.

Of course, it is not news that North Korea practices unlimited cruelty in its concentration camps. The sadder surprise is the fact that the media and the chattering classes are still spilling more ink over Guantanamo than Camp 22. You may feel that three nutritious meals a day, sanitary living conditions, the free exercise of the religion of your choice, and modern health care constitute oppressive conditions without the presence of Mark Gerregos handing out business cards. You cannot make the case that those relatively soft conditions, endured by a dangerous few, are more newsworthy than a Holocaust Now, endured (at least until the last breath) by millions.

Shame on South Korea for immediately questioning the story without asking North Korea to do anything to disprove it. Is there no depth to which Roh and his appeasers will NOT stoop to sell their souls to evil? Similiarly, kudos to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Yad Vashem for demanding that the U.N. fully investigate. Of course, asking the U.N. to make a moral judgment or draw and obvious conclusion asks a lot.

Incidentally, I also highly recommend Anne Appelbaum’s recent book, Gulag: A History.

Continue Reading

Gas Chambers, Denial, and Deja Vu

Anne Appelbaum gets it exactly right in today’s WP. Whether the allegations are true or not, they are extremely serious, and are backed by enough credible evidence for them to be a major news story. If there are doubts about the truth of these reports, then let the North Koreans resolve them immediately by letting human rights organizations have full and open access to Camp 22. Barring that, the allegations gain additional credibility.

Of course, it is not news that North Korea practices unlimited cruelty in its concentration camps. The sadder surprise is the fact that the media and the chattering classes are still spilling more ink over Guantanamo than Camp 22. You may feel that three nutritious meals a day, sanitary living conditions, the free exercise of the religion of your choice, and modern health care constitute oppressive conditions without the presence of Mark Gerregos handing out business cards. You cannot make the case that those relatively soft conditions, endured by a dangerous few, are more newsworthy than a Holocaust Now, endured (at least until the last breath) by millions.

Shame on South Korea for immediately questioning the story without asking North Korea to do anything to disprove it. Is there no depth to which Roh and his appeasers will NOT stoop to sell their souls to evil? Similiarly, kudos to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Yad Vashem for demanding that the U.N. fully investigate. Of course, asking the U.N. to make a moral judgment or draw and obvious conclusion asks a lot.

Incidentally, I also highly recommend Anne Appelbaum’s recent book, Gulag: A History.

Continue Reading

. . . And the Walter Duranty Award Goes To . . .

There is no limit to the harm that the stupidity of U.N.-think causes,* and if you doubt me, then check out this story, and this one. That’s right–three international “aid workers” have published a guide to fine dining in Pyongyang. As we never would have doubted, those with money and power can eat very well in Pyongyang, even as millions are going hungry elsewhere in this small country. Here, as elsewhere, size does matter, because these international aid workers, if they were any better than wide-eyed tourists making a career and industry out of other people’s hunger, could cater those delicacies to the starving in a few hours.

If you don’t get the Walter Duranty reference, click here.

* U.N.-think–The belief, based in intellectually lazy presumptions of moral equivalence, that all systems of government are inherently equal and legitimate, regardless of the absence of consent of the governed or their welfare under said system.

Continue Reading

A Loser Explains How We Lost South Korea

A few days ago, I missed this editorial in the Korea Herald, a left-leaning rag from Seoul, written by former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea (Bush-41 era) Donald Gregg. The editorial mourns the demise of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. It is an astonishing admission from the same diplomatic quarter that had denied for so long that the alliance was even running a high temperature. Of course, the Kremlin is probably still insisting that Brezhnev and Stalin have nasty colds, but I digress. The editorial goes on to place the blame for that condition on President Bush (the new one). To admit illness, of course, suggests actions like treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of recurrences. That requires people to make decisions.

Mr. Gregg�s editorial (I strongly recommend you read the whole thing, because it�s jammed with great research and useful facts) is a perfect example of what�s wrong with the American diplomatic establishment. Ambassador Gregg has a very impressive command of the facts surrounding both Koreas’ hatred of America; he is clearly very intelligent. The only thing that impresses me more is his ability to avoid the obvious conclusions to which those facts lead. His intelligence notwithstanding, he lacks the spine and judgment to follow the facts to their logical conclusions.

Gregg makes a compelling case that: (1) South Korea’s people and government have become deeply anti-American; (2) their views of North Korea are unrealistically trusting and naive; and (3) these unrealistic views developed when the Clinton Administration was doing its best to appease the murderers in Pyongyang and keeping dutifully mum about their death camps and violations of past agreements. Amb. Gregg’s conclusion? We should have done much more of the same, in spite of where it got us.

In so doing, he places himself squarely in the �Yes, but� camp, among those who react to every report about North Korea�s systematic starvation of its own people, the growing threats from its WMDs, its million-man army poised in an offensive position just above Seoul, and its serial mendacity in violating every international agreement with a reflexive �Yes, but . . . .� To men like Donald Gregg and the Seoul academics among whom he has grown so cozy, there is simply no crime the North Koreans can commit that is too hellish, no lie they can tell that is too bold, and no provocation so dangerous that they do not instantly strain to excuse it, justify it, or place the responsibility for it on one of its victims. Here is my favorite example:

“In 1998, after North Korea surprised us by firing a multi-stage rocket, a report by Donald
Rumsfeld on missile threats to the United States made North Koreas the poster child for
national missile defense. A foundation of hostility between the Republican Party and North
Korea had been laid.”

Wha?? That’s right. Amb. Gregg blames Donald Rumsfeld for creating a “foundation of hostility” after Kim Jong-Il launched a missile over Japan–Amb. Gregg conveniently leaves the “over Japan” part out. Thus, faced with a direct threat to nuke Tokyo, Donald Rumsfeld is to blame for suggesting we plan to defend against it. The fact of the demonstrated threat from a regime with an impeccable record of disregard for human life is somehow missing from Amb. Gregg’s analysis. He begins to sound like the long-suffering and ever-forgiving wife of an abusive husband, who applies pancake makeup to cover her black eyes and tells the neighbors–and the cops–how the husband’s abuse is his strange way of showing his love and partly her own fault. What provocation would it take for Mr. Gregg to finally decide that Kim Jong-Il must move out of the trailer? Answer: a good therapist.

Finally, Amb. Gregg admits that he knew what any soldier in Korea could clearly see�that our P.R. situation was an accelerating disaster during the Clinton Administration, just after his tenure in Seoul. He admits that he never once visited a South Korean university campus. I wish he had, as I did during my years in Korea. Had he done so, and had he bothered to learn some Korean (and I suppose he has by now), he could have seen the radical pro-North Korean and America-hating banners that festoon them, and how they have come to resemble the anarcho-syndicalist communes described in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Even the police don�t dare enter them. Mr. Gregg offers that he was not allowed to go for security reasons, which is hard to believe, even from one so obviously missing the chutzpah gene as Amb. Gregg. What if he had gone? He might have learned something alarming and important. He might also have started a riot, which would have at least awakened Washington from its pollyanish slumber and its failure to see how reliable old South Korea was falling under the sway of agitprop from the world�s most repressive state–a goofy John Birch conspiracy theory proven eerily true.

The duty of an ambassador includes finding and reporting important facts, including disturbing ones. But bureaucrats being what they are, Mr. Gregg got where he is by learning to prevent the revelation of problems on his own watch. Weaklings like Donald Gregg will always be chum for sharks like Kim Jong-Il. They congenitally ignore unpleasant facts, shrink from challenges, and assess all risks associated with action as prohibitive. Meanwhile, Kim Il-Sung’s minions were hard at work a few subway stops away, educating the next generation of South Korean journalists and politicians.

Thanks for your input, Ambassador Gregg. If only we had heard it when there was still time.

Continue Reading

. . . And the Walter Duranty Award Goes To . . .

There is no limit to the harm that the stupidity of U.N.-think causes,* and if you doubt me, then check out this story, and this one. That’s right–three international “aid workers” have published a guide to fine dining in Pyongyang. As we never would have doubted, those with money and power can eat very well in Pyongyang, even as millions are going hungry elsewhere in this small country. Here, as elsewhere, size does matter, because these international aid workers, if they were any better than wide-eyed tourists making a career and industry out of other people’s hunger, could cater those delicacies to the starving in a few hours.

If you don’t get the Walter Duranty reference, click here.

* U.N.-think–The belief, based in intellectually lazy presumptions of moral equivalence, that all systems of government are inherently equal and legitimate, regardless of the absence of consent of the governed or their welfare under said system.

Continue Reading

A Loser Explains How We Lost South Korea

A few days ago, I missed this editorial in the Korea Herald, a left-leaning rag from Seoul, written by former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea (Bush-41 era) Donald Gregg. The editorial mourns the demise of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. It is an astonishing admission from the same diplomatic quarter that had denied for so long that the alliance was even running a high temperature. Of course, the Kremlin is probably still insisting that Brezhnev and Stalin have nasty colds, but I digress. The editorial goes on to place the blame for that condition on President Bush (the new one). To admit illness, of course, suggests actions like treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of recurrences. That requires people to make decisions.

Mr. Gregg�s editorial (I strongly recommend you read the whole thing, because it�s jammed with great research and useful facts) is a perfect example of what�s wrong with the American diplomatic establishment. Ambassador Gregg has a very impressive command of the facts surrounding both Koreas’ hatred of America; he is clearly very intelligent. The only thing that impresses me more is his ability to avoid the obvious conclusions to which those facts lead. His intelligence notwithstanding, he lacks the spine and judgment to follow the facts to their logical conclusions.

Gregg makes a compelling case that: (1) South Korea’s people and government have become deeply anti-American; (2) their views of North Korea are unrealistically trusting and naive; and (3) these unrealistic views developed when the Clinton Administration was doing its best to appease the murderers in Pyongyang and keeping dutifully mum about their death camps and violations of past agreements. Amb. Gregg’s conclusion? We should have done much more of the same, in spite of where it got us.

In so doing, he places himself squarely in the �Yes, but� camp, among those who react to every report about North Korea�s systematic starvation of its own people, the growing threats from its WMDs, its million-man army poised in an offensive position just above Seoul, and its serial mendacity in violating every international agreement with a reflexive �Yes, but . . . .� To men like Donald Gregg and the Seoul academics among whom he has grown so cozy, there is simply no crime the North Koreans can commit that is too hellish, no lie they can tell that is too bold, and no provocation so dangerous that they do not instantly strain to excuse it, justify it, or place the responsibility for it on one of its victims. Here is my favorite example:

“In 1998, after North Korea surprised us by firing a multi-stage rocket, a report by Donald
Rumsfeld on missile threats to the United States made North Koreas the poster child for
national missile defense. A foundation of hostility between the Republican Party and North
Korea had been laid.”

Wha?? That’s right. Amb. Gregg blames Donald Rumsfeld for creating a “foundation of hostility” after Kim Jong-Il launched a missile over Japan–Amb. Gregg conveniently leaves the “over Japan” part out. Thus, faced with a direct threat to nuke Tokyo, Donald Rumsfeld is to blame for suggesting we plan to defend against it. The fact of the demonstrated threat from a regime with an impeccable record of disregard for human life is somehow missing from Amb. Gregg’s analysis. He begins to sound like the long-suffering and ever-forgiving wife of an abusive husband, who applies pancake makeup to cover her black eyes and tells the neighbors–and the cops–how the husband’s abuse is his strange way of showing his love and partly her own fault. What provocation would it take for Mr. Gregg to finally decide that Kim Jong-Il must move out of the trailer? Answer: a good therapist.

Finally, Amb. Gregg admits that he knew what any soldier in Korea could clearly see�that our P.R. situation was an accelerating disaster during the Clinton Administration, just after his tenure in Seoul. He admits that he never once visited a South Korean university campus. I wish he had, as I did during my years in Korea. Had he done so, and had he bothered to learn some Korean (and I suppose he has by now), he could have seen the radical pro-North Korean and America-hating banners that festoon them, and how they have come to resemble the anarcho-syndicalist communes described in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Even the police don�t dare enter them. Mr. Gregg offers that he was not allowed to go for security reasons, which is hard to believe, even from one so obviously missing the chutzpah gene as Amb. Gregg. What if he had gone? He might have learned something alarming and important. He might also have started a riot, which would have at least awakened Washington from its pollyanish slumber and its failure to see how reliable old South Korea was falling under the sway of agitprop from the world�s most repressive state–a goofy John Birch conspiracy theory proven eerily true.

The duty of an ambassador includes finding and reporting important facts, including disturbing ones. But bureaucrats being what they are, Mr. Gregg got where he is by learning to prevent the revelation of problems on his own watch. Weaklings like Donald Gregg will always be chum for sharks like Kim Jong-Il. They congenitally ignore unpleasant facts, shrink from challenges, and assess all risks associated with action as prohibitive. Meanwhile, Kim Il-Sung’s minions were hard at work a few subway stops away, educating the next generation of South Korean journalists and politicians.

Thanks for your input, Ambassador Gregg. If only we had heard it when there was still time.

Continue Reading

A Sickening Scene

What can I add to something like this? After the glorious day when Kim Jong-Il kicks away his miserable little existence at the end of a hangman’s rope, we will have video of indescribable horrors. Without video, you can’t get media attention; raw facts and numbers don’t seem to matter. Thus, to a shallow mind, countries that let the press run free (Israel) look worse than places like China or North Korea.

In Afghanistan, when the Russians were deliberately targeting civilians and killing two million of them, they had a fat bounty on any journalists killed or captured. One can see that North Korea learned from the best.

Continue Reading

A Sickening Scene

What can I add to something like this? After the glorious day when Kim Jong-Il kicks away his miserable little existence at the end of a hangman’s rope, we will have video of indescribable horrors. Without video, you can’t get media attention; raw facts and numbers don’t seem to matter. Thus, to a shallow mind, countries that let the press run free (Israel) look worse than places like China or North Korea.

In Afghanistan, when the Russians were deliberately targeting civilians and killing two million of them, they had a fat bounty on any journalists killed or captured. One can see that North Korea learned from the best.

Continue Reading

OK, He’s Gone! Pack Everything Up!

Kudos to Instapundit for making the apt comparison between Walter Duranty, the NYT reporter who got a Nobel Prize for his rosy–and completely false–reporting on the (lack of) famine in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and flood of ink from the Washington Post’s Glen Kessler on North Korea recently. Kessler was led by the nose to a North Korean Potem-K-Mart and reported on the bounty of vibrancy of the commerce there. Kessler must have missed this report from Amnesty International; otherwise, he might have wondered how things are outside Pyongyang, where, despite apparent mass-starvation, the government has kept out all foreigners, especially those distributing food aid. The story revealed little suspicion that the market tour was a mendacious little dog-and-pony show, designed to show that economic pressure against Pyongyang would never work. Kessler dutifully filled his story with money quotes from the now-dismissed Undersecretary for Appeasement, Jack Pritchard, like this gem:

“Pritchard said the visit indicated that change is occurring in one of the world’s most closed societies, even during a crisis over its nuclear ambitions, and that North Korea is far from economic collapse. . . . ‘Time is not on the U.S. side.'”

The real problems with this story are (1) the WP Post printed it four different times; (2) it doesn’t say much about about the food situation for anyone except those Kim Jong-Il trusts and who keep him in power–ie., the people who are allowed to live in Pyongyang; and (3) it’s based on a false premise–the idea that Kim Jong-Il can stay in power without outside help. In fact, better reporting elsewhere gives us a pretty good breakdown of where the regime gets its money.

Continue Reading

OK, He’s Gone! Pack Everything Up!

Kudos to Instapundit for making the apt comparison between Walter Duranty, the NYT reporter who got a Nobel Prize for his rosy–and completely false–reporting on the (lack of) famine in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and flood of ink from the Washington Post’s Glen Kessler on North Korea recently. Kessler was led by the nose to a North Korean Potem-K-Mart and reported on the bounty of vibrancy of the commerce there. Kessler must have missed this report from Amnesty International; otherwise, he might have wondered how things are outside Pyongyang, where, despite apparent mass-starvation, the government has kept out all foreigners, especially those distributing food aid. The story revealed little suspicion that the market tour was a mendacious little dog-and-pony show, designed to show that economic pressure against Pyongyang would never work. Kessler dutifully filled his story with money quotes from the now-dismissed Undersecretary for Appeasement, Jack Pritchard, like this gem:

“Pritchard said the visit indicated that change is occurring in one of the world’s most closed societies, even during a crisis over its nuclear ambitions, and that North Korea is far from economic collapse. . . . ‘Time is not on the U.S. side.'”

The real problems with this story are (1) the WP Post printed it four different times; (2) it doesn’t say much about about the food situation for anyone except those Kim Jong-Il trusts and who keep him in power–ie., the people who are allowed to live in Pyongyang; and (3) it’s based on a false premise–the idea that Kim Jong-Il can stay in power without outside help. In fact, better reporting elsewhere gives us a pretty good breakdown of where the regime gets its money.

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OK, He’s Gone! Pack Everything Up!

Kudos to Instapundit for making the apt comparison between Walter Duranty, the NYT reporter who got a Nobel Prize for his rosy–and completely false–reporting on the (lack of) famine in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and flood of ink from the Washington Post’s Glen Kessler on North Korea recently. Kessler was led by the nose to a North Korean Potem-K-Mart and reported on the bounty of vibrancy of the commerce there. Kessler must have missed this report from Amnesty International; otherwise, he might have wondered how things are outside Pyongyang, where, despite apparent mass-starvation, the government has kept out all foreigners, especially those distributing food aid. The story revealed little suspicion that the market tour was a mendacious little dog-and-pony show, designed to show that economic pressure against Pyongyang would never work. Kessler dutifully filled his story with money quotes from the now-dismissed Undersecretary for Appeasement, Jack Pritchard, like this gem:

“Pritchard said the visit indicated that change is occurring in one of the world’s most closed societies, even during a crisis over its nuclear ambitions, and that North Korea is far from economic collapse. . . . ‘Time is not on the U.S. side.'”

The real problems with this story are (1) the WP Post printed it four different times; (2) it doesn’t say much about about the food situation for anyone except those Kim Jong-Il trusts and who keep him in power–ie., the people who are allowed to live in Pyongyang; and (3) it’s based on a false premise–the idea that Kim Jong-Il can stay in power without outside help. In fact, better reporting elsewhere gives us a pretty good breakdown of where the regime gets its money.

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There Must Be a Better Way

Advocates of getting tough on North Korea over food aid are getting their way. Donations are down, and the World Food Program is cutting back the list of those who will be fed this year. The problem, of course, is that the food wasn’t going to the hungry; most of it probably went to help Kim Jong-Il reward those who keep him in power. Still, some must have found its way to those who needed it, even if only through the black market. The decision is agonizing. Aid or no aid, this winter, many North Koreans will expend what little energy they have hacking away at the frozen earth to bury people they love.

All of which brings us to the bitter truth–Kim Jong-Il probably wants a few thousand (or million) more “surplus” people to die this winter–that is, those in the classes deemed politically “wavering” or “hostile.” Why, then, must we recognize the North Korean government’s right to decide who eats and who starves? Why must we accept the classic U.N.-think that invests all rights in governments, no matter how illegitimate, no matter how lacking in the consent of the governed or compassion for their suffering?

The question then becomes how to save lives without starting a war. Chris at FreeNorthKorea.net correctly notes that feeding people without the permission of the government means you need an airlift. No one is under any illusion that you can save many people without the heavy-lift capacity of an air force. Could this be done without provoking a war? Put differently, the question is whether Kim Jong-Il, knowing that war means the loss of his pleasure squad, his fine brandy, and his collection of Daffy Duck cartoons, would see a humanitarian airdrop as a causus belli. I venture that he would not. What he lacks in compassion for those who would die in a war, he makes up for in cold, rational selfishness. War is not in his personal interest unless it poses a direct and immediate threat to his personal lifestyle.

Of course, no government has decided to carry out such an airlift, and none of the countries within easy range of North Korea has the chutzpah to lend us an airfield. Doug Shin and Norbert Vollertsen have tried using balloons to carry a few radios, but they are well aware that they are mostly delivering media attention. Another quixotic idea that Doug Shin has discussed–and which I believe could actually work on a limited basis–would be using simple, inexpensive, GPS-guided UAVs to carry substantial amounts of humanitarian supplies to specific destinations. Other organizations, like Helping Hands Korea, smuggle small amounts of food into North Korea from China.

It is a tragedy that North Korea’s heartlessness has forced us to this point. But it’s inexcusable that we have no plan to help the North Korean people in spite of this.

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