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The face of the enemy

Wall Street Journal Online’s Claudia Rosett has a stunning article on repression in North Korea, where the prison camp state may have reached its apotheosis. The article served to remind me of the righteousness of our project here at Samizdata. I can only pray that our small efforts make a difference, somewhere down the line.

Of immediate interest is the link she draws between the utter savagery of the North Korean regime and the newly ascendant strategy of appeasement of that regime. Sadly, it appears that the Bush administration has opted for appeasement as well, after resisting such a policy for many months.

The latest hallucination of geopolitics has it that if only we can make North Korea’s Great Leader Kim Jong Il feel safe from the fate of Saddam Hussein, maybe he’ll stop testing missiles and making nuclear bombs. So the experts–whose ranks have now swelled to include, alas, even President George W. Bush–have been scrambling for ways to make Kim feel more secure.

Bad mistake. Even in the exquisitely complex realms of geopolitics, there comes a point at which right and wrong really do matter. Ensuring the safety of monsters is not only an invitation to even more trouble ahead, it is also wrong. Before Mr. Bush says another word about security for North Korea’s regime, before any more policy makers suggest any more deals to gratify Kim Jong Il’s deep appetite for his own ease and longevity, there’s a report the entire civilized world needs to read–released today by the Washington-based U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. In landmark depth and detail, this report documents the filthiest of all Kim’s backroom projects: North Korea’s vast system of political prisons, which underpin Kim’s precious security right there in his own home.

As an aside, I never cease to be amazed at the useful idiots who view corporations and the market as more of a threat to their well-being than the state. When Microsoft and Exxon order “babies tossed on the ground to die, with their mothers forced to watch. . . , or assign [grandmothers] to help in the delivery of babies who were thrown immediately into a plastic-lined box to die in bulk lots,” I will be willing to listen to these morons, but not before.

The state is not your friend.

30 comments to The face of the enemy

  • Kodiak

    R. C. Dean: When Microsoft and Exxon order “babies tossed on the ground to die, with their mothers forced to watch. . . , or assign [grandmothers] to help in the delivery of babies who were thrown immediately into a plastic-lined box to die in bulk lots,” I will be willing to listen to these morons, but not before.

    The state is not your friend.

    What an inspiration ! And what a lack of comprehensiveness with your appreciation of business contribution to Human happiness !!!

    North Korea isn’t exactly the perfect example of State activity since it isn’t a State… It’s the terminal avatar of communist-fascist dereliction led by a demented dwarf perched on platform shoes.

    Have you ever heard about Union Carbide ?

  • Daniel

    “appeasement of that regime”

    I’m sure everyone knows this already, but appeasement (or something very close to it) in this situation seems to be the only option. While there is not a sane person who thinks the world wouldn’t be a better place without KJI, there are a few million residents of Seoul and some 30,000 US troops (whose purpose it is to be sitting ducks) that might object to getting rid of him at their expense.

    I’m willing to support something like overthrowing Saddam when the costs are relatively low compared to the gain (of course this becomes more and more debatable as time goes on). Unfortunately appeasement is the best option we’ll have viz NK for the foreseeable future.

  • R. C. Dean

    Kodiak – I have no doubts that large corporations have done any number of nasty things, but they aren’t even close to playing in the state league.

    Do link us to the evidence that Union Carbide, or any other corporation, has ordered babies tossed on the ground to die, with their mothers forced to watch, or that it has assigned grandmothers to help in the delivery of babies who were thrown immediately into a plastic-lined box to die in bulk lots.

    I doubt anyone on the planet shares your opinion that North Korea is not a state. There is no reason, after all, why a state cannot be a “terminal avatar of communist-fascist dereliction led by a demented dwarf perched on platform shoes.”

  • gomtu

    “Diplomacy,” it is said, “is the art of saying ‘nice doggie’ while you reach for a rock.”

    Bush is a clever, focused guy. I do not begrudge him a few “nice doggies,” as long as that rock is forthcoming.

  • Kodiak

    R. C. Dean,

    Chances are that Union Carbide CEO didn’t throw babies on trees or that kind of barbarian folly. Nonetheless he & his staff killed hundreds of Indian babies, children, women, elderly & men with their chemical cloud.

    Who cares after all… Korporate Governanz macht frei !

    And security, health laws implemented by States are just unneeded regulations typical of a retarded Welfare-State “mentality”. Risible.

    I’ll be back with a list of corporate feats regarding Human life & happiness.

  • R. C. Dean

    Chances are that Union Carbide CEO didn’t throw babies on trees or that kind of barbarian folly.

    Well, then, he isn’t the same league as Kim Il Sung, which was precisely my point.

    And security, health laws implemented by States are just unneeded regulations typical of a retarded Welfare-State “mentality”. Risible.

    Where did that come from? What relevance does it have?

    I’ll be back with a list of corporate feats regarding Human life & happiness.

    Nonetheless he & his staff killed hundreds of Indian babies, children, women, elderly & men with their chemical cloud.

    Hundreds? What a piker. Without a body count of at least 100 million since 1918, you still aren’t playing in the big leagues with the states.

  • Kodiak

    R. C. Dean: There is no reason, after all, why a state cannot be a “terminal avatar of communist-fascist dereliction led by a demented dwarf perched on platform shoes.”

    There might be one though. I forgot to express that the word “State” usually refers to a social organisation that is freely decided & democratically run by a community of sovereign Human beings. Otherwise it is a parody of State: a repressive State, a police State, a travesty of State, a confiscated State, a pathological State, a terror State, a no-law State. True history is overflown with endless instances of premodern States which didn’t care too much about Human rights. But modern & democratic Sates share little in common with North Korea. Do you agree that Iran is “more” democratic & “less” repressive than North Korea, and still is an awful tyranny when compared to Sweden ?

    If you do, why amalgamate all forms of States to their tiniest & most retarded acceptation?

  • Kodiak

    R. C. Dean: Hundreds? What a piker. Without a body count of at least 100 million since 1918, you still aren’t playing in the big leagues with the states.

    I agree that pre-1945 tragic European history is not, at first glance, a good case for the notion of State.

    But is it State as such, or lack of it or confiscation of it, that is responsible for wars & massacres?

    When a State is hit with lack of elementary democracy & transparency, is it the State which is evil or rather its being hijacked by tyrants? The State is a tool at the service of Human beings, not the reverse.

  • R. C. Dean

    I forgot to express that the word “State” usually refers to a social organisation that is freely decided & democratically run by a community of sovereign Human beings.

    That is a rather unique and limited definition of the term, one that really gets more to legitimacy. I submit that illegitimate states are, nonetheless, states.

    I am sure that the vast majority of dictators, and their subjects, would be very surprised to learn that they are in fact, living in a stateless society.

    Do you agree that Iran is “more” democratic & “less” repressive than North Korea, and still is an awful tyranny when compared to Sweden ?

    Sure, why not?

    If you do, why amalgamate all forms of States to their tiniest & most retarded acceptation?

    I don’t. I regard them all as states. Sweden is a state, and so is North Korea. Some states are palpably evil, others less so. None of them are your friend.

  • Richard Cook

    Daniel

    Eventually you will have to make a choice. Seldom do “states” like North Korea stop at the current level needed to appease them. Do you continue to appease until they consider you a mockery and actively consider invasion because they are convinced the cost will be low? Or do you continue diplomacy while conveying the hint that there are some things worth dying for?

  • Kodiak

    Richard Cook: Or do you continue diplomacy while conveying the hint that there are some things worth dying for?

    Bushist foreign policy is conducted without diplomacy: Iraq, Palestine etc.

    What you call “diplomacy” regarding North Korea is simply an overt avowal of impotence.

    Deux poids, deux mesures.

  • Not to get dragged into the semantic argument, but I’m pretty sure that it’s Claudia Rossett, not Rosetti.

  • Rob Read

    We need 30,000 french troops in South Korea NOW to replace the Americans.

    We can’t have those imperialists taking a nuke for freedom!

    Also now the Yankees have gone, get rid of those nasty landmines! Better still disarm and show the world the power of pacifism.

    <wink>

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    R.C., if you don’t know this already, arguing with Kodiak is like talking to a wall, except walls make more sense. However, Kodiak is far more amusing than a wall. And he is very, very good at trolling. Remember, the object of people who consider themselves expert trolls is to waste your time.

  • Sometimes it seems too easy, almost mechanical to blame the poor, benighted state. It is, after all, nothing more than a concentration of power which, in theory, could be used for good as readily as ill.

    That it is so very frequently used for ill, and on so vast and terrible a scale, reflects first on the nature of human beings who lust for power and love the exercise of it. Only secondly does it follow that the concentration of power itself is too unfriendly, to use your term, Robert, to be tolerated by decent people. And though libertarians would solve the second problem at a stroke by taking sovereignty to their individual selves, the first would remain stubbornly, irreducibly present. But it couldn’t do as much harm, which I suppose is the point.

    In any case, as a blind and rabid fan of sociobiology I know that human nature is not perfectible, just adaptive. And that’s why I agree with you, Robert, and why I, too, am a libertarian.

  • Charles Copeland

    Alfred,
    Thanks for that brilliant reference to the art of trolling!

    RCD, everybody,
    What Kodiak deserves is the silent treatment, except on the rare occasion when he accidentally gets things right. On the other hand, he’s good if you want to maximise your number of comments. Sure he isn’t an invention of the Samizdata Management Board?

    Guessedworker,
    blind and rabid fan of sociobiology?
    That’s almost a contradiction in terms. Keep up the good work – the struggle continues.

  • R. C. Dean

    Thanks for the correction, Rand. I will make it in the post shortly. I don’t often correct posts after they go up, but typos and people’s names get fixed.

  • R. C. Dean

    Re: Kodiak. I am familiar with Kodiak. I converse with him for so long as he amuses me. He generally brings pretty generic pro-collectivist and/or anti-American material to the table, for us to practice on.

    Occasionally he startles, as with his assertion that North Korea is not a state, but these outbreaks of originality are generally signs of desperation, as far as I can tell.

  • Daniel

    Richard:

    The short answer to your question of when you actually decide to act is, I don’t know.

    I guess it all depends on your view of KJI. To some, he’s only concerned with control of his fiefdom and wants some sort of assurance that no one (namely the US) will decided to step in. He’ll either do this with a nuclear deterrent or a nonagression pact of some sort, plus some sort of economic aid. If this is the case, I can hardly fault people for deciding to accept this deal. Standing from afar it appears to be quite a craven attitude; the monster will continue to have the unfettered ability to do what he wishes to the tens of millions of North Koreans. But again I don’t live in Seoul nor am I cannon fodder serving on the DMZ. So it’s easy for me to say he’s simply a bad man and we have to get rid of him.

    If you’re right that he’s even crazier than he appears and will develop and sell nuclear arms to Islamofascist terror groups and states regardless of the West’s actions, then it would be absolutely irresponsible not to act at the soonest possible moment.

    Which of these is correct can never be known to a certainty, so the issue becomes how certain do you have to be before you decide on a course of action. This is, of course, a difficult if not impossible question to answer.

    I was really just trying to say that one does a great disservice to the general debate on this issue by labeling someone an appeasor and declaring an end to the conversation.

  • Reid of America

    Kodiak,

    Union Carbide was a victim of socialist agitators in Bhopal, India. The accident was due to industrial sabotage during labor negotiations with a radicalized socialist labor union.

    When corporation commit evil acts they are held accountable by courts of law. When non-democratic governments commit evil acts the only recourse is bloody revolution.

    I’d rather be ruled by big business than big government.

  • David Mercer

    Bad maintenance and neglect, combined with a fluke series of failures, combined to produce the Union Carbide horror. No one sat around boardrooms and decided “oh let’s see, need to kill a couple of thousand Indians today.”

    Anyone who puts state sponsored starvation and terror at the hands of the secret police on the same plane needs to have their head checked.

  • David E

    Reid- Can you give a link to your story about Union Carbide? That’s the first I have heard about sabotage.

    For anyone who is interested in reading more about NK, I recommend this book. It’s the story of a young man who escaped NK after spending 10 years in Yodak.

  • Anonymous

    David’

    There are numerous links to sabotage. Just websearch keywords “Bhopal + sabotage”.

    Union Carbide has always maintained that it was sabotage. There are experts who dismiss sabotage and others who back the theory.

    Another little known fact is Union Carbide owned 51%, Indian government owned 25% and the workers owned 24% of the plant.

  • cj

    I certainly don’t want to place all the evils of the world at France’s door. But I think France’s recent actions impact on the current situation with N.K., especially as viewed from an American prospective.

    You say that “even Pres. G.W. Bush [has] been scrambing for ways to make Kim feel more secure.” Furthermore, “Even in the exquisitely complex realms of geopolitics, there comes a point at which right and wrong really do matter.”

    I would submit that Iraq represented a “point” at which “right and wrong” really do matter. There were a few global political heavy-weights against US policy in this matter (one could argue that they were against UN policy [themselves] in this matter, despite having voted otherwise initially).

    My argument is, the likes of France need to be called to account for their overtly politicized stances against “right and wrong.” And I certainly won’t disagree with anyone who wishes to document that the US has been on the wrong side of “moral policy” in the past. I think it a blanket condemnation of what passes for “diplomacy” nowadays. (One could throw in Germany, Russia, the UN tolerating Libya et al as chairmen of major committees.)

    A reality is that Kim has been afforded the opportunity (and I use the active-voice deliberately) to subjugate (! this hardly does justice to his actions) his country’s population while furthering his nuclear capability because it suited the global powers that be (of all stripes) to allow it. We must ALL ask ourselves WHY (voters, politicians, media, international orgs, etc.).

    In my opinion, France’s recent activities seal it’s fate as a “player, non pariel,” and serve to illustrate what is wrong with politics per se.

    I think we learned a long time ago that evil men exist, and the methodologies they use to do so are also well known. The fact that they are allowed to continue to do so, victimizing millions in the process, is whole-scale condemnation of the petty politics our “leaders” are willing to engage in to this day.

    I see George Bush as, ever so slightly, breaking that model. That is why, at this point in time, I am going to vote to re-elect Bush, despite his domestic (and other) failures.

    Kim SHOULD NOT be a political force in the 21st. C. Arafat SHOULD NOT be a political force in the 21st C. Shame on us all. History will not view us lightly.

  • North Korea does not deserve to be a state at all. The regime MUST be destroyed. I’ll save my comments regarding the Palestinians for a later time….

  • James Stephenson

    Kodiak,

    Bush uses no Diplomacy? Can you tell me how many countries have troops in Iraq right now?

    1, 2, 10 or more?

    You tell me what you think.

    Just because he did not listen to France, Russia and Germany who all have money owed them by Saddam does not mean there was no diplomacy.

    Gah get over it. France has broken it’s agreements on the Euro, yet does not even apologize. Where’s the diplomacy.

    France has sit back and watch their former colonies in Africa kill innocents for years, where’s the diplomacy?

    Hypocrites. Bah.

  • R. C. Dean

    I certainly don’t want to place all the evils of the world at France’s door.

    Oh, go ahead. We won’t mind. ;-)

  • Sandy P.

    Touche, Mr. Dean.

    You should read the exchange between Sylvain and Kodiak at ChicagoBoyz.

  • Kodiak

    Dear inimitable Alfred: if I am a troll, then you must be a pretroll or a prototroll or a troll-to-be or a trolloplasm… One thing is sure: you’re a trolliphore. That was a compliment. You’re also a trollopath. That wasn’t.

    James Stephenson: Can you tell me how many countries have troops in Iraq right now?
    Jesuit answer: did you know that 150 countries stated the USA was behaving as a rogue State? (The remaining 40 ones being Pacific confettis or unashamed stooges or impotent dollar-beggers).

    cj: Kim SHOULD NOT be a political force in the 21st. C. Arafat SHOULD NOT be a political force in the 21st C. Shame on us all. History will not view us lightly.
    Right. Also: George II The Appointed SHOULD NOT be a political force in the 21st. C. Shame on you all. History will not view you lightly.

    Reid of America: yeah it was Karl Marx aided by Rosa Luxemburg who made the chemical cloud explode.

    R. C. Dean: thanx for that bit of psychoanalysis. How much do I owe you please?

    Charles Copeland: What Kodiak deserves is the silent treatment, except on the rare occasion when he accidentally gets things right.
    Waow! I wouldn’t like to attribute -by lack of memory- to your august personality the immensely distinctive bits of racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, Francophobia not to mention danaïdic ignorance, but I take the risk.

  • Kodiak

    cj: oops, sorry I missed this hilarious words of yours >>> I am going to vote to re-elect (!!!) Bush.

    HA HA HA !!!

    Bravo! That was great!

    Rectification, if you don’t mind: I am going to vote to ***elect*** Bush.