North Korea Archives

Friday (well, Monday) Link Wrap-up

Being on a business trip for a week makes it hard to keep up with blogging. And being on the US west coast helps with the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around Eastern time.

On with the links.

Obama is invoking Reagan a lot these days, trying to promote his agenda. But as Steven Hayward notes, Obama takes Reagan’s words out of the context of the politics and the times in which they were spoken.

Just prior to Reagan, Jimmy Carter worked with the dictatorship of North Korea to send food in return for not pursuing  nukes. In light of the recent (failed) N. Korea missile launch, you have to wonder why we thought it was a good idea to strike bargains with megalomaniacs.

The Hillary Rosen remarks, condemning Anne Romney for being a stay-at-home mom tipped the hand of the Democrats as to what they really think of women who make that choice. (Because, as with everything else from the Left, it’s not about the principle so much as it is the politics). On the Right, some were suggesting that we don’t need to worry about this because it means stooping to their level to respond to "Rosen-gate". But Ben Howe points out that, yes, this issue is worth our time and effort to respond to.

Irony Alert: For the third year in a row, Democrats punt on the budget, while at the same time accusing the Paul Ryan budget of being irresponsible.

Abortion as religion, with Planned Parenthood writing the prayer book.

    Is Margaret Chan the Next Michael Moore?

    Moore made some money making the movie "Sicko", which extolled the virtues of the Cuban health care system, such as it is.  Margaret Chan might be trying to do the same for the North Korean one.

    GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korea’s health system would be the envy of many developing countries because of the abundance of medical staff that it has available, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

    WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, speaking a day after returning from a 2-1/2 day visit to the reclusive country, said malnutrition was a problem in North Korea but she had not seen any obvious signs of it in the capital Pyongyang.

    No, nothing to see here, as long as you look where we say you can, and only in the "obvious" places.  But it gets better.

    North Korea — which does not allow its citizens to leave the country — has no shortage of doctors and nurses, in contrast to other developing countries where skilled healthcare workers often emigrate, she said.

    This allows North Korea to provide comprehensive healthcare, with one "household doctor" looking after every 130 families, said the head of the United Nations health agency, praising North Korea’s immunization coverage and mother and child care.

    "They have something which most other developing countries would envy," Chan told a news conference, noting that her visit was a rare sign of the communist state’s willingness to cooperate with outside agencies.

    See?  All we really need to do is seal the borders, and we’d have the best healthcare in the world!  We could solve the illegal immigration and health care issues with one stone.  Then we’d be the envy of the developing world, and be complimented during the rare times we talked to anyone on the outside.  (Hey, that solves our "lost our standing in the world" problem, too!)

    Chan spent most of her brief visit in Pyongyang, and she said that from what she had seen there most people had the same height and weight as Asians in other countries, while there were no signs of the obesity emerging in some parts of Asia.

    But she said conditions could be different in the countryside.

    News reports said earlier this year that North Koreans were starving to death and unrest was growing as last year’s currency revaluation caused prices to soar.

    And that’s how you solve the obesity problem; centrally control the economy to invoke food shortages and starve your people!  It just seems so simple.  (And I gotta’ wonder if Jonathan Lynn, the Reuters news service writer, had a grin on his face as he deadpanned that last paragraph.)

    Chan, who described her visit as "technical and professional" — in other words avoiding politics — said the North Korean government’s readiness to work with international agencies, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was encouraging.

    The Global Fund requires countries it works with to provide sound data, account for resources contributed and allow access by officials, she noted.

    "I can confirm that at least in the area of health the government is receptive to engagement with international partners," she said.

    Which, when translated, means, "They’re ready for their bailout."

    Kim Jong Il (who is a man) has eliminated obesity, stopped illegal immigration, is complimented by world organizations, and has held on to his country’s doctors.  Margaret, you need to emphasize this in your documentary.  I smell Oscar!

    Some may argue that South Korea, the wealthier southern capitalist neighbor, is doing better economically, but you know something, Margaret; I bet they have fat kids there.

      Can Diplomacy Fail?

      The answer is "Yes", but when it does, this is not necessarily a failure of those trying to prevent conflict.  At times, this is simply a result of the motivations of the belligerent. 

      In response to my post on the blog "Stones Cry Out" about the delusions of negotiating with Iran, commenter Dan Trabue responded with why negotiation and pressure should be able to convince Iran not to go nuclear, and if it didn’t then it was a failing on our part.  If we go to war, it is an admission of failure on our part "that we’ve failed to outsmart this particular unreasonable leader."

      I disagree.  Let’s look at some major cases.

      Saddam Hussein had been negotiated with for decades.  Not even the first Gulf War was enough to keep him back.  Iraq regularly fired at coalition planes enforcing the No-Fly zone after the liberation of Kuwait (a country, by the way, that we liberated even though they had been a close ally of the Soviets and were extremely anti-Israel).  The UN and most Western governments (and in the US, both Democrats and Republicans) believed that Hussein was hiding WMDs.  He hindered UN weapons inspectors.  The threat of war from the US didn’t even move him.  This was a madman bent on both personal power and funding anti-Semitism.  There was nothing to give him that would take away those desires. 

      Let’s go back a little further…

      Read the rest of this entry

        So Take Away Their Toys

        Headline: Clinton likens North Korea to unruly children

        Well, except for the nuclear bomb stuff.  But yeah, otherwise they’re just like ‘em.

          How Nuclear Disarmament Should Be Done

          Surprisingly (to me) but welcome is the news that North Korea is shutting down its plutonium processor. Wasn’t this supposed to be impossible with a president that talked tough to enemies rather than appeasing them with food and money? And wasn’t this what the Carter administration was supposed to have accomplished?

          Washington’s chief negotiator on North Korea outlined a dramatic programme of rapprochement with America’s long-time Stalinist foe yesterday after international inspectors verified that it had closed its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

          Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed a North Korean statement that the reactor, which processed the plutonium for the country’s nuclear weapons test last October, had been shut down.

          In response, Christopher Hill, American assistant secretary of state, said talks to sign a formal peace treaty between the two countries, which ended the 1950-53 Korean War only with an armistice, could begin next year.

          America would also consider removing North Korea from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism”.

          “We’ll see when we can complete that because we’ll see how far the North Koreans are prepared to move on denuclearisation,” he told reporters in South Korea, where he held talks.

          For perspective, Saddam Hussein did not do this when given the chance.

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            Venezuela’s Brain Drain

            Actually, this is right on cue. One of the “canaries in the coal mine” for totalitarianism is the fleeing of those with means and education.

            For the past eight years, rich Venezuelans have been trickling out of the country, spooked by the socialist bluster of their populist President, Hugo Chávez. But since being inaugurated for his third term in January, Mr Chávez’s talk has begun turning into substance, with an evermore radical series of moves to transform Venezuela into the world’s first “21st-century socialist state”. Now the super-rich are being joined by middle-class professionals and, increasingly, families.

            At the US Embassy, citizenship claims and visa enquiries have doubled since January. A Canadian job fair, with a capacity of 500, was swamped by a crowd of 1,500. Every morning snaking queues form outside the embassies of Australia, Spain and Portugal to inquire about emigration there.

            My expectation is that this will increase as more things like closing RCTV happen.

            Hat tip: The Anchoress

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              How I Learned to Love (the Iranian) Bomb

              Are you comfortable with the idea of Iran with a nuclear bomb? Hope you’re getting really comfy. All the stern UN resolutions and severely worded reports have done precisely nothing.

              Iran will be able to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb and there is little that can be done to prevent it, an internal European Union document has concluded.

              In an admission of the international community’s failure to hold back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the document – compiled by the staff of Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief – says the atomic programme has been delayed only by technical limitations rather than diplomatic pressure. “Attempts to engage the Iranian administration in a negotiating process have not so far succeeded,” it states.

              Imagine that; trying to negotiate with radicals has failed. Who would’ve thought? The result has been that indeed Iran is going to have nuclear materials.

              The downbeat conclusions of the “reflection paper” – seen by the Financial Times – are certain to be seized on by advocates of military action, who fear that Iran will be able to produce enough fissile material for a bomb over the next two to three years. Tehran insists its purposes are purely peaceful.

              “At some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons programme,” says the paper, dated February 7 and circulated to the EU’s 27 national governments ahead of a foreign ministers meeting yesterday.

              “In practice…the Iranians have pursued their programme at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency.

              “The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone.”

              If those sanctions had been in place earlier and would’ve been stronger, then maybe–maybe–they would have had more effect. But everyone’s afraid of making the mullahs mad at us. “If we push too hard, it may increase tensions and drive them away from us.” Well guess what; they’re going their own way anyway, and all the UN resolutions you can muster won’t change that.

              Not to mention that it’s hard to imagine sanctions working when our “allies” like France and Russia were enriching Saddam during the Oil-for-Food program. With friends like these….

              The admission is a blow to hopes that a deal with Iran can be reached and comes at a sensitive time, when tensions between the US and Tehran are rising. Its implication that sanctions will prove ineffective will also be unwelcome to EU diplomats. Only yesterday the bloc agreed on how to apply United Nations sanctions on Tehran, overcoming a dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar.

              So the diplomatic elite will dither and produce more reports and redundant findings that confirm, once again, that you can’t negotiate in good faith with radicals. In the meantime, some say that the military option should be completely off the table, which I’m sure Tehran is very comforted to hear.

              What the solution is at this point, I have no idea. I do know, however, that the world, in recent decades, has looked down at the US for its solutions but always lays the world’s problems at the feet of the US and scolds us for not doing more long after the world has failed to really do anything. What has Europe really done about the Iran problem? What has the UN done about the North Korean problem? Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. When will the world wake up to the fact that negotiating with dictators and radicals is an insane proposition, for everyone?

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                Will Sanctions Work…This Time?

                Will sanctions really work this time? Unlike those in Iraq, in which our “allies” made deals under the table, it looks like even China is going along with the UN resolution against North Korea; not just in word but, so far, in deed. That was one of the big questions before the vote; would China go along. The big question after the vote is whether or not this is a smokescreen; playing nice here and there to mask backroom deals.

                Another big question is whether or not the sanctions will have the desired effect on North Korea. Both questions will require that we be vigilante in making sure they are fully in force, and also not kid ourselves that they just need more time when it becomes apparent they’re not working.

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                  Codependency on the World Stage

                  Chuck Asay gives us “A Brief History of North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program”.

                  Giving foreign aid to countries because we’re afraid of what they’ll do with a nuke doesn’t curtail proliferation, it promotes it. Rogue states get what they need to prop up the dictator, and thus the lives of its citizens are made to be anything from miserable to fatal for the coming years. In the meantime, said rogue state still continues to work on obtaining nukes. There’s never any penalty to be paid, other than a nasty-gram from the UN, so there’s no real reason to live up to the agreement.

                  This is textbook codependency. We’re enabling the very actions we’re hoping to prevent. And when we try to cut off the free ride, others accuse us of being cold-hearted. The world is acting like the wife of an alcoholic man. And neither situation is healthy for the parties involved.

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