Noko Nuko

Noko Nuko
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Of all the absurd, pointless political offices in existence today, few can match the sheer dark comedy of the South Korean Ministry of Unification. Every year, South Korean citizens shill out some ungodly amount of tax dollars (someday, maybe even a special unification tax) to this painfully optimistic bureaucracy, which busies itself planning for the magical day when the Korean peninsula is peacefully reunited under a single (which is to say, the Southern) government.

The department’s existence reflects a certain deeply ingrained, ethnocentric naivete that’s all-too-prevalent in some corners of South Korean society, namely that a Korean is a Korean is a Korean, and therefore the so-called sovereign republic of North Korea (which has been independent from the South nearly as long as India has been independent from England) is really just a flash in the pan that can probably be absorbed without too much trouble.

Near as I can tell, the Unification Department’s most meaningful achievement to date was getting the North and South Korean flag-bearers to hold hands during the opening ceremonies of the 2004 summer Olympics. Most of the time they just keep their eyes peeled for any sign that the Northern government is planning to rain hell’s holy fire upon them, as on Monday, when the South Korean Unification Minister announced he had seen “indications” that the Kim Jong Un regime was planning its fourth test detonation of a nuclear weapon.

North Korea has been considerably more provocative and unhinged than usual lately, with the government’s rhetoric — hardly restrained at the best of times — escalating into what any normal person would consider an out-and-out prelude to war. On March 11, they proclaimed the 1953 Korean War-ending ceasefire with the South “invalid.” A couple weeks later, they downgraded relations further and announced the beginning of a formal “state of war” with the South. A few days after that, they warned that “merciless” nuclear attacks against the United States could come any day.

But of course when it comes to dealing with North Korea, you’re supposed to turn off the normal part of your brain — just as they have. And indeed, those equipped with North Korean-to-Human dictionaries have repeatedly cautioned that what we’re hearing right now is basically just a long, drawn-out, symbolic overreaction to the events of last winter, when the North launched a satellite and was slapped with sanctions, then detonated a nuclear weapon and was slapped with some more.

Similar cycles of provocation and scolding have occurred in the past without ever pushing the North to quite such apocalyptic language, however, leading most analysts to figure the key variable in this unprecedented pageant of muscle-flexing must be Kim Jong Un himself. Having only assumed power in December of 2011, such thinking posits that the 20-something Kim III must be uniquely eager to prove he can sable-rattle as good as his dad and grandpa, if not better. A recent psychological profile of the man commissioned by US intelligence paints a picture of an insecure, needy tyrant desperate to validate his authority in the context of the smotheringly high expectations raised by state propaganda, and fears being undermined by his vastly more experienced old-guard apparatchiks and generals. So provoking a phony crisis is a good way to get everyone to fall in line.

The only danger is that Kim’s critics within the regime might be right; if he is too young and dopey for prime time, he may not even know how to provoke properly, and might bumble into some stupid act that crosses the line — literally.

A small attack against South Korea or the United States — say, a single non-nuclear missile strike against a purely military target — could seem minor and symbolic from the North Korean perspective, but provoke a massive US-South Korean Combined Forces response. And that, worry NoKo experts Keir Lieber and Daryl Press in a provocative recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine, would almost certainly start a nuclear war, since the second the Combined Forces make any sort of move against Pyongyang, the Northerners have every incentive in the world to use nuke strikes to frighten off further attacks. Keir and Daryl point out this was actually the strategy favoured by American defence planners during the period of the Cold War when the Soviet missile gap was at its largest: strike first to scare, not necessarily to win.

Or try to talk things out beforehand, so no striking is necessary. Though Obama is unlikely to take Pat Buchanan’s advice and “pick up the phone, call North Korea and talk directly to Kim,” much has been made of his administration’s recent overtures to China — the People’s Republic being one of the few nations that keeps the Dear Leader on speed-dial.

The Chinese have seen geopolitical value in the survival of an independent North Korean regime since the Maoist era, but as a country that shares America’s desire for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, recent reporting suggests even their patience is wearing thin. How exactly they may assert that impatience remains to be seen; personally I’m fond of the scheme, flouted by some, where the Chinese secure regime change in the North by promising a safe exile for the Kim family — on the assumption that guaranteeing the Kims’ long-term personal survival (screw their subjects, screw the country) is what this whole spat is basically about.

But no one really knows for sure. In fact, if there’s one consistent theme of North Korean diplomacy, it’s not knowing much about anything.

We don’t know when the North is going to make its next belligerent move, or what form (another nuke test? a troop movement?) said move will take. We don’t know how many nukes they have, or if they’ve perfected a missile-based delivery system. We don’t know how far these theoretical missiles might reach, and we don’t know what target’s in their sights. We don’t know what their leaders are thinking, or what motives govern their actions. We don’t know if they want peace, or are willing to risk war.

Just about the only thing we do know, in fact, is that it’s going to be another slow year at the Unification Department.




^ 36 Comments...

  1. EBounding

    Jong-un reminds me of Pokey.

  2. J.J. McCullough

    Man, I could do so much with that analogy.

  3. Colin Minich

    And the spikes then would be…?

    Or PK powers?

  4. Colin Minich

    Ah ha….Earthbound/Mother reference. Nice one.

  5. Xavier Er Paoyung

    Sounds like you feel whitney Houston's beat?

  6. Homer

    I doubt China will directly intervene. It goes against their long standing doctrine of non-interference. Anything that could lead to a re-unification seems similarly unlikely — even if only for the fact that this could lead to a country where US troops are stationed and that shares a border with China.

    If I was the Chinese, I’d pay Kim off but keep him in office.

  7. Kento

    Of course it's a very short border in a geographically inconvenient place, but to be pedantic, I will point out that Afghanistan shares a border with China.

  8. Xavier Er Paoyung

    Of course trampling over anothers rite to be sovereign is not a reason for all this way out non-sense!

  9. Colin Minich

    I've seen the plethora of commentary from the hawks and doves on North Korea, from those who advocate preemption and others who idiotically think the US is being the bully here (because history is apparently inconvenient to study with some forms of leftists or pacifists), and what's hilarious is that I've seen no actually good answer to North Korea.

    And that's funny but also tragic. North Korea is the enigma of the world's worst disasters caused by humanity. It's a shame to see you mock the Unification Ministry because to me it'd be just like mocking the German Unification Ministry in 1970 or something, the only difference being the USSR. Koreans throughout history have labored to etch their own individual identity and independence from the Manchu, Chinese, and especially Japanese, from King Sejong's development of Hangul to the independence celebrations post-WW2. The quest to have ethnic unity once again I think is similar to the Germans of the Cold War, separated by fate.

    North Korea's provocations, as you've accurately pointed out, are indeed the work of an insecure little porker who has to prove something to his people to whom he imprisons in gulags, starves, or genuinely misinforms. The best thing about this though, is that now the US will no longer think it's wise to negotiate. We tried that with Clinton. They got belligerent. South Korea tried the Sunshine Policy. It was a monumental failure and a supreme example of how naively liberal politics DO NOT work with a despot. China has to put the big boy pants on now too. The best thing to do is simply see the threats as they are, be ready, and show the North that the US is going to help out Seoul and not take any crap.

  10. Xavier Er Paoyung

    These negative assertions are definitely being misconstrued and since so, then how does one not and do mean not worry about such? History is just a sad tail in which it is repeatedly said no one learns from.So venturing into the new era makes for what?

  11. Colin Minich

    Speak English and stop sounding like a North Korean apologist.

  12. @Cristiona

    You can't really compare German reunification with Korean reunification. There is a wide gulf of difference between where East German was and where North Korea currently is. the least of which is the duration of the separation.

    Even if the Kim dynasty were to collapse tomorrow, it would take generations before Korea would be able to start reunifying, and probably many more before you could say it was complete. It's almost impossible to understate how screwed up North Korea is.

    That's probably part of why nobody can come up with a good answer to the North. Sadly, I don't think one actually exists.

  13. Jake_Ackers

    That's what I trying to say before Guest down there completely twisted what I said. The plan should be to offer NK a trade. Give up nukes for free trade. If they do it good (would of been more likely during the 90s, now not so much). If they don't, which they most likely won't anyway, then have an entire smuggling network setup by the South Korean and it's Allies to undermine the NK regime. The people will see that there is a better world. Both from products and ideas. In addition to the fact there will be a growing middle class in NK. It will take generations but something has to be done.

    At least it sets something up within NK to start to destabilize the regime. Maybe then the NK might be willing to give up if not the nukes but at least stop oppressing their people in exchange for free trade. Even if the regime stays a dictatorial mess, at least with trade the people won't be suffering as much. And there is always the hope it becomes at least a China. The current leader studied in Switzerland. He has been bringing people from the outside to help upgrade NK's tech. Now what it is for, I don't know.

    I think Kim just wants to be given an out by the world stage. Let him get some internal glory and legitimacy by making it look like he got the other side to give up something. He gets his legitimacy, cements his rule for however long and keeps the military happy for the time being. And the rest of us get what we all want. A NK that has opened up even a little.

  14. David

    I think you might come to regret your last line, sir. All the Pyongyang-watchers are trying to avoid saying it, but when authoritarian regimes combust, they implode rapidly.

    This has all the ingredients of that taking place.

  15. Jake_Ackers

    True. Potentially. Problem is no one is willing to hit the final nail on the coffin. So if not done right this could just drag on but if we undermine the regime from the outside through a very directed effort, it could at least become a China. Problem is under the current method, its too small. At least with a global effort it wouldn't take as long. When the US got its ducks in a row, China was able to pen up rather quickly in some ways.

  16. @tominkorea

    JJ, the Korean on the rocket looks a little… wrong. ;)

  17. Jake_Ackers

    All the Asian politicians are hawks and new in power. NK generals are suicidal and the NK leader is also new in power. The US has a ton on it's plate. Normally this would of blown over but this all together is the problem.

    Again this is a greater problem. NK won't do anything if they get at least something out of this. Main issue is this though, the US has no foreign policy and we don't treat SK as an equal. It goes back to my "mature statesman" position and "overseer" foreign policy. US should of taken a step back and "asked" South Korea to deal with this (of course with US oversight). It would of then been viewed as a Korean problem, removed the US as a scapegoat. As well as have the dual benefit of making China and Japan put out of this issue for the time being.

    Moreover, the US could of told South Korea it was willing to commit along with South Korea to free trade or resume regular trade (short of weapons and nuclear material) with North Korea. As long as NK gave up it's nukes. After all Russia opened up and China as well as the result of free trade. The Brazilian military regime fell because its middle class was growing back in the 80s.

    NK can't simply implode. It's military is too big. It has nukes. And it's well… mental (the whole cult personality). NK cannot overnight merge with SK. The ruling family would have to act like the Japanese emperor does. And I doubt SK would want to give them any power even if it is figurative. NK first needs to move past the whole cult of personality era much like Russia did with after Lenin and Stalin. And by cult of personality I mean the whole worshiping of the leader.

  18. Colin Minich

    Ok I'm sorry but I cannot and will not agree with the notion that the US is shutting Seoul out of the diplomacy. You're missing the notion that North Korea is specifically trying to address the US and force the US to the negotiating table. It purposely wants to leave South Korea out because it wants the biggest bang for its buck, try to *chuckle* force the US forces out of the Korean peninsula and never threaten them again.

    "US should of taken a step back and "asked" South Korea to deal with this (of course with US oversight). It would of then been viewed as a Korean problem, removed the US as a scapegoat."

    Do you remember the Sunshine Policy? South Korea tried to take the reins and offer the carrots to North Korea. What happened? The US alliance was strained and North Korea said thank you by conducting its first nuclear test. No, the US has a stake in this and a foreign policy with the Koreas. China only wants the status quo and refuses to put the big boy pants on.

    "As long as NK gave up it's nukes. After all Russia opened up and China as well as the result of free trade. The Brazilian military regime fell because its middle class was growing back in the 80s."

    No, no, and no. Mother of milk North Korea is the pariah amongst nation-states. Russia opened up because it had to as a superpower. China threw its agrarian communist worship to become hyper-state-capitalist. North Korea is bound to a despotic family regime built upon the failed policies of Juche (self-reliance) and Songun (military first). They are nowhere near the level of rational actor that you'd think Brazil or Russia would be.

    Why must people assume North Korea is some sort of victim? It's shrewd. It knows exactly what it is trying to do, even if that little porker is wet behind the ears. And North Koreans can't get past the worship of the leader. They've been BRAINWASHED SINCE THE 1950s TO BELIEVE THE KIMS ARE DEMIGODS. You cannot undo this so easily especially when today's North Korean children are in gulags over crimes their grandparents "committed." North Korea will eventually have to just give it up and either the Kim regime will face tribunal crimes or the Chinese will have to offer sanctuary. I mean even WikiLeaks revealed the Chinese acknowledging the inevitability of Korean unity, which will be just as joyous as German unity.

  19. Jake_Ackers

    You misunderstand. I'm not saying US is shutting out Seoul. Nor am I saying Seoul should take over the diplomatic talks. What I am saying is US should "guide" SK on the diplomatic stage on this. Make SK appear as the voice but just guide them onto what to do. I know NK just wants stuff from the US. That is why SK should at least appear to be the voice.

    I agree with your last two points. Same I was making. However, that is NK needs to be undermined. Even if NK doesn't agree to disarm it's nukes. Which eventually I will do something on it at least. But nevertheless, NK needs to be undermined from a economic perspective. Sell to NK even with a black market. That way you have a base that can help the unification process. NK and SK won't outright merge unless NK is treated as second class citizens. NK like I said and you agreed, are mental. The merger won't happen over night because imagine the NK citizens voting.

    NK is what a population of 24mil. Majority are adults as the kids are starving to death. SK couldn't even unite under one candidate under it's first free election to remove it's former dictator and his lackey. If the NK population becomes one voting block, they could heavily dominate pan-Korean politics. In addition to the simple fact that China lies about their ages during the Olympics. They same could happen with NK. Imagine a ton of NKs who are under 18 ordered to lie and say they are 18 post unification. That is at least a few hundred thousand if not 1 or 2 million.

    I referred to the Brazilian example because the Brazilian regime negotiated themselves out of power. NK would have to do the same. No one will put them on trial unless they want an armed revolt. So NK leaders especially the family will have to being even sanctuary. Forget just a normal negotiation of non prosecution. The new SK leaders prosecuted former leaders SK so I doubt NK leaders would be guaranteed safety in a Pan-Korean era.

    The Kims would have to order the people to take part in the new country. Even then they still would be one massive voting block. You need to setup an internal division with NK first. Either through free trade or smuggling into North Korea. A country that is forced to engage in global trade has to grow. Growth stops the mental monopoly. Hard to compare because Russia and China under Stalin and Mao weren't as mental as NK is nor is it as small. Nazi Germany lost legitimacy when it lost the war. Vietnam maybe would be an example? But still not as mental towards one leader. Either way unification will be a process that can only be thought of, for the sake of SK democratic safety, after one or two generations have died off in NK. AFTER the expansion of smuggling or free trade. You need a base of people in NK that will be able to question the regime in a Pan-Korean Era.

    Will NK unification happen? Yes but not as quickly as Germany, nor overnight. It will take decades in order to setup an mental infrastructure in NK, The best I can see if NK leaders giving up and asking SK and it allies for help. And then we have a behind the scenes power struggle in NK with Pro-China versus Pro-SK/West leaders. Or NK going the way of China and growing itself out of communism slowly. Then it would merge with SK.

    The NK regime will fall, physically. But mentally will be another story. The transition is the problem from a post-NK era to a Pan-Korean one.

  20. Guest

    North Korea doesn't give a rip about the diplomatic stage. The only care is that Kim Jong-Un remains in place, and that's why they're not about to give up their nukes. Remember how Iraq was invaded, and the justifications used for that? Anything ranging from how awful he was to a large number of his people to the weapons of mass destruction thing. Well, North Korea is basically a confirmed version of all the rumors and a grotesque exaggeration of both real and the rumored abuses. Why haven't they been attacked?

    Before, it was Chinese support. Now it's unclear exactly why China would support North Korea (they have very strong economic links with USA and South Korea along with others who would undoubtedly join in the war, so there's no real reason to join up with the sinking ship that is North Korea if it were to come to war), but North Korea actually has nuclear weapons.

    The thing about those weapons is that they now cause nations that might otherwise take advantage of the retraction of Chinese support to worry about whether or not it is worth it. They have had this power for a while over South Korea, what with their ability to carbonize large tracts of Seoul with their artillery shells, but now they have missiles that could theoretically carry warheads to US soil. With time, their range and power only increases; with it, the hesitance to attack North Korea and disestablish the Kim family.

    Giving that up won't do any good. Look at Libya, which gave up its own weapons program. Where is Gaddafi now? Not a good way to die, was it? Foreign powers were eager to jump his regime while it was having a tussle with the rebels and then it was the end of him. It didn't matter in the end that he'd complied more or less with the demands to cut down and eliminate weapons of mass destruction… in fact, it hastened his doom.

    Anyway, you seem rather ignorant of a number of facts about North Korea. One, it's not quite so isolated as you seem to think. There are still plenty of relatives living outside who slip word of happenings into North Korea, there are still people who come back and forth from China with goods from the outside world, there are radios illegally altered to recieve information from elsewhere and so on. The nation's greatest support from the time of the Arduous March is the informal economy, without which many more would have starved; the country is already filled up with black markets.

    The idea that you think North Korea would participate in some sort of pan-Korea election is laughable and only serves to show that you really have no clue what you're talking about.

    It was during the time of the famine in the 90s that many became disillusioned with their government. Say what you will, but you would do well to keep in mind that the North Korean people are not a feeble-minded mass of people who accept the propaganda without thinking. They were once relatively well-off; the 'Korean Miracle' was once a term that applied to the North, not the South. What has happened was that the country slid backwards and imploded, and it doesn't take a genius to tell that some bad leadership was at fault. There were certainly whispers of Kim Jong-il's incompetence floating around, especially since the start of the Arduous March was more or less around the beginning of his rule.

    The thing is, the security system of North Korea is intense and draconic, it's not a thing that can easily be faced off against. There is a singular lack of freedoms in North Korea even relative to just about any horrible dictatorship that you can bring up that makes it extremely difficult to even consider the prospect of a revolt, regardless of the people's feelings about the regime. The entire family is at risk if one person does such things.

    The leadership is not posed to begin attempting to plan an exit strategy. North Korea has been through yet worse abuses than it suffers through today in the harsh times of the 90s, and still the dictatorship emerged strong. It survived these increases of smuggling and black markets, and didn't care. The regime has survived mass starvation and restriction from the entire world.

    If you're going to talk about what should be done, you should study far, far more on the issue. I'm not as knowledgeable as I would like myself, and I fear I'm not good enough with words to properly make my points, but some of the stuff I'm seeing in this post is simply painful. I encourage you to look up some of the accounts of life in North Korea from a defector-turned-journalist in South Korea, here's a list of translated articles:
    http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2008/02/translated

  21. Jake_Ackers

    You completely twisted what I said. That entire post or most of it was in reference to a POST NORTH KOREAN ERA. Moreover, I was referring to Colin Munich's point about unification. That unification will not come easy. Because of several points I outlined due to pre, during and post unification problems. Even if the regime did some how fall , there would be massive roadblocks to the mental unification of many North Koreans. You would still have millions loyal to the Kim Family.

    North Korea would only give up nukes or the more likely one, reduce it in exchange for money, food or right before the regime is about to fall. And that is even if they do which it seems highly unlikely. I agree, the reason they are even in power is because of their nuclear capacity. And since I know they wouldn't give them up, in exchange for an open trade agreement. Which leads to my other point about smuggling. You have to smuggle in goods for the people, especially those who do not like the NK regime.

    The smuggling that is done to NK is from people. Not from an organized effort by foreign gov'ts to undermine the entire regime. If it was a directed effort it would have a tenfold affect on the regime.

    The Pan-Korean election would be after the regime fell not during. Even after unification an election wouldn't be feasible was my point due to some of the points I outlined. I was referring to Colin Munich's point about unification. I was saying unification wouldn't be that easy even if both sides were willing. And I was just pointing out the problems with unification pre-unification, during-unification and post-unification.

    My revolt point was also in a post-North Korean era. Any attempts to punish NK's leaders would result in a revolt of many NKs. That was in response to Colin's point about the Kim family facing tribunal crimes. Leaders in Japan revolted even though the Emperor told them to stand down after the Japanese lost the war. So in a post-NK era you can expect the same. That would be one roadblock pre,during and post unification.

    And I never said the regime would stand down anytime soon. I was saying that the eventually would have to negotiate itself out of power or implode some how. As all regimes eventually do. But that is decades and generations away. Not now, not tomorrow. You said, the regime "survived mass starvation and restriction from the entire world. " That is my exact point. The regime will not come down because the country is doing horrible. The regime has to be taken down by outside forces by undermining the regime. Iran is not going to fall because of US sanctions. Cuba didn't fall because of US sanctions. North Korea is even less likely to fall because of US sanctions. The people starve not their leaders. Thus the people need to be helped by outside forces that help spread the message that there is a better way. That setups a narrative. It setups hope. It setups a way to undermine the ideological hold the NK government has on many. Also when a country's economy grows like China's and Brazil's during the 80s the regime in power eventually has to open up in order to maintain power. And have a more so peaceful opening like China is having and Brazil had.

    Again, not everyone is brainwashed but many are brainwashed. My point was that even if unification really started some how, there would be massive roadblocks that would stop the people from unifying mentally and massive roadblocks to unification overall. Colin is just a bit more optimistic about unification than I am, I thought. Why as a result I was point out even if unification happened there would be other problems, other than the obvious problems to unification in the first place.

    Everything I was talking about in my previous post was indirect response to Colin's unification point. You keep thinking I am saying these things can or need to happen. Rather I was saying those things would be impossible even after some how in some miracle way, unification happened. Which in itself was near impossible in the here and now. I even said in my previous post that for any of that to happen it would take decades and generations. That would take a directed effort by the world community. And I was just pointing out the problems with unification, pre-unification, during-unification and post-unification. Colin and I were having one conversation. You are thinking him and I are having another. I hope you understand what I was referring to are the problems and the pitfalls before, during and in a post-unification era.

  22. Trenacker

    Is free (or free-er) trade a true palliative to dictatorship, or merely a break on the extent to which "closed" societies can be closed?

    I've rarely heard it said that peristroika and glasnost caused the Soviet collapse; rather, those were symptoms of the failure of command economics. I suppose it would be fair to counter that the USSR's economic woes may have had a lot to do with its failure to operate effectively in a global economy, but it is also possible to name a number of closed, or at least authoritarian, states that have enjoyed extended boom times: Iraq, Iran, South Africa, and China all spring to mind.

    South Africa collapsed only after being subject to the most effective sanctions regime in modern history. Iraq's decline can be traced directly to Saddam Hussein's decision to make war on newly Islamist Iran — a dismal venture that left him so far in debt, he decided to launch another ill-fated war. Yet even then, his regime persisted for more than a decade afterward, and was brought down partly by the exogenous phenomenon of international terrorism — or, more precisely, the Bush Administration's free-wheeling response thereto. The Shah's Iran did experience tremendous dislocation because of economic opening, yes, but a close analysis of the specific series of events leading to regime collapse in that situation leaves open many significant questions about what role his cancer and internal problems in the Carter Administration played in the descent to popular revolution. China remains essentially authoritarian.

    In (Northern) Sudan, the Khartoum regime depends on the free market to generate the wealth that enables its survival as a kind of grand mafia. There has been no real opening there.

    Ironically, the case of South Africa, in which the white settler minority's will to continue with the bloody business of repression was sapped by both an intensification of the internal struggle and total economic blacklisting, suggests that it takes both internal and external pressures to bring about change. That may be what you are getting at.

  23. Jake_Ackers

    You got it with your last sentence. The external pressure just forces internal pressure. So it's not free trade that does it. It is the results of free or freer trade that does.

    Plus South Africa was completely isolated. China has opened up. Countries like Iran and North Korea get money, weapons and food (to the leaders) by countries like Russia and China (more so China). Whether through trade or just giving it.

    China is authoritarian but it's way better than Cuba or North Korea. Kissinger got the Russians to conceded to some freedom of press. Add the Coca-Cola/Vodak diplomacy. Smuggling of US goods into Russia. That built an internal pressure. Then you got Reagan pretty much bankrupting Russia through "peace through strength." And everything else.

    It's not just one nail in a coffin. It's several. Free trade or freer trade or smuggling with North Korea just starts the ball rolling. It doesn't smash it. There isn't a one size fits all. The leaders aren't starving. If anything, we can at least smuggling things into to help the people that live on what 1000 calories or so a day in North Korea.

  24. Trenacker

    I'm skeptical it's so deterministic. Look at Sudan, moving forward and back in fits and starts. If anything, trade strengthens the authoritarian regime; hard times sap its legitimacy and raise the risk of something else — either another oligarchy, or else an opening for democracy.

    South Africa is an outlier — and was arguably possibly only because Soviet arms prevailed in Angola and Namibia, creating the basis for a negotiated peace that then ironically eliminated any pretext for Western support of the minority government.

    I agree that freedom appears to have created space for democratic forces in China, potentially creating some basis for a dismantling of the Communist regime in time. I disagree that free trade always has that effect. I'm not even sure that it played a major role in Russia's demise, except insofar as Russia couldn't effectively participate in it because of the limitations of its own economy.

  25. Jake_Ackers

    True but I'm not saying in all regimes. But look at Cuba. Embargo failed. North Korea I just doubt that an embargo even works on the gov't as the people are starving and the higher up gov't officials are fine.

    Moreover, Sudan still had relations with China even it was placed in an embargo by the US. It's not just trade in general, it's the right kind. China sells all kinds of things that enable dictatorships to stay in power. It's trade but doesn't make it good trade (for the people). Again it varies from country to country. But with NK I definitely believe that smuggling, free trade or freer trade would benefit the country. The NK won't fall down due to an embargo simply because there are always enough countries willing to sell things to the regime that enable them to stay in power.

    Then why not sell or smuggle things that enable the people to break free or freer from the Kim family grip? Even if its being freer as in actually being able to eat. I'm not even talking about war making goods. I'm just saying that the plan in respects to NK needs to be a long long long term pressure from outside and inside. Whether it be political pressure or economic pressure that helps the country open up. Embargos just seem to have failed, when referencing NK.

  26. Xavier Er Paoyung

    The US always seems to ween its way into the escalation or at least retreat in a dignified manner. Its a shame though most of tragedies dont come to light,and since on the world stage is this, then?

  27. Xavier Er Paoyung

    That just sounds so sadistic,I mean the oriental population has its ups and downs,wether there political arena is a mat to our ring,then to what is one to say to the just of all this proliferation of military might? I for one can see that they do have turmoil like any other aspiring country with aims to bolster their markets reach and make their economy gruesome for the struggle of bulges in the right tenacity,for if thats what wielding military mite might resound to those of us Americans who peer from our shores in hopes it really is just a meteorite in the sky and not some mad deranged dictator unleashing the power of finger and annihilating the population of the US with a ballistic missle. And the ends of that, are to what good,for Obama has haltingly been admit about some transparent presidency,yet critically how is one to formulate an opinion over such?I for one didn't vote for him in either races,but he somehow managed to win the hearts of the voters.I know some rites make for,but to it,so it is in America!

  28. Xavier Er Paoyung

    I guess with all the things said and taken into perspective, the only thing that comes to mind is how to ram that Q down to the tummy,so I guess I'll stand to the side on Korean Politics in my ignorance!

  29. Xavier Er Paoyung

    In response to self,well if taking office and the oath of non-maleficence,then I guess everything is not rosy in that sense,for if then to what does one take the two comments at face value and relate them to the arena?

  30. Jake_Ackers

    There is one lesson to be learned from all this. NK back in the 90s started to build nuclear power plants for "peaceful purposes." The world stage tries to negotiate and fails. Fast forward to early 00s and they have nukes. Doesn't this sound a little familiar to a current situation?