SMOLDERING GLASS

Occasionally I have thoughts that qualify me as a terrible person, yet usually I am wise enough not to put them in writing. Today is not one of those times.

Just to remind veteran readers and inform new ones, there is no one more stridently opposed to American militarism than I am. With the possible exception of that old hippie lady at your farmer's market who sells bell peppers as a cover for her massive marijuana grow operation and who only wears things emblazoned with the peace sign. I have about two years' worth of posts pre-, during, and post-Iraq War about what a monumentally bad idea the whole endeavor was, and I like defense spending as much as the average Cardinal likes getting phone calls from attorneys representing a former altar boy from the 1970s.

That said, can we just blow up North Korea already? Please? I know. I know I'm a terrible person. If it makes it any better, I have no overarching political, strategic, or ideological motivation. They're really annoying and I just want them to go away.

For the past 15 years (since the nation recovered just enough from its 1994 famine to entertain pretensions of a nuclear program) the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and other nations have devoted billions of dollars, man-hours, and intellectual resources to the saber-rattling of a country so backward that Mongolians make fun of their infrastructure. It would be something to take quite seriously from a country that is not a living punchline – Russia, for example. It is not something that is worth taking seriously from a country whose vaunted military boasts the very latest in domestically-produced knockoffs of 1950s Soviet military technology. It's as if a child dressed up as an adult, walked into a board meeting, and started barking out orders. You'd do little more than giggle at this; how annoyed would you be if everyone else in the room decided to take the toddler seriously?

Nuclear weapons or not, that analogy holds. They don't even have enough fuel to get their Korean War-era MiG-19s off the ground. Why would anyone take them seriously? Can somebody please just say, "OK, let's go!" the next time they threaten war? It will be over in about 12 hours. Really. Not a Rumsfeld 12 hours. The U.S., South Korea, Japan, or any number of other nations could turn that entire backward, malnourished, fuel-starved piss hole of a country into a flat field of smoldering glass in less than a day.

If they are a legitimate threat, end it. If they're not, let's stop wasting time and money in the DMZ pretending that some sort of military balance exists between one of the world's largest, fastest-growing industrialized economies and country that doesn't have electricity.

I don't hate you, North Korea. I'm just bored with you. You're not even an entertaining version. You're like a mosquito – not significant enough to present any actual danger, but just consequential enough to be consistently annoying. Neighboring countries have to be pretty sick of playing this game by now, wherein every time the Great Leader needs to solidify his power base the world's militaries have to respond to the tune of a few billion dollars. Petulant children are only cute for a minute or two.

And that is me being a terrible person.

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69 Responses to “SMOLDERING GLASS”

  1. Tim H. Says:

    The downside I see is the sons of bitches who most need blowing up have the best bomb shelters.

  2. tveb Says:

    I read this like a stand up piece (as was obviously intended); but yep to to your last line. You know, there are like, people etc. who live in North Korea….

  3. Sally's Dad Says:

    North Korea is to the rest of the world what the Angus T Jones is to Two and a Half Men. His stitch was fun to watch when he was a young boy but now that he has grown-up he's just annoying.

  4. argleblargle Says:

    "That said, can we just blow up North Korea already? Please? I know. I know I'm a terrible person. If it makes it any better, I have no overarching political, strategic, or ideological motivation. They're really annoying and I just want them to go away."
    I think everyone who follows the news has this same thought occasionally. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, for three reasons.

    1) Even if their leaders are assholes, the regular north korean people haven't done anything wrong. If they disobey orders, they're put to death, along with their whole family. They don't deserve to be bombed to death.

    2) Their military tech might be pathetic, but they've still got an awful lot of artillery tubes pointed at South Korea. And they've made it pretty clear that they're ready and willing to use them if they're invaded. It doesn't take advanced technology to lob a bomb at an apartment complex. They also have a very large special forces program trained to infiltrate South Korea in the event of a war and wreak havoc.

    3) "You break it, you buy it." Any country that invades North Korea will suddenly find itself having to take care of about 45 million destitute peasants. Even South Korea doesn't want to deal with that problem.

  5. Alvin B. Says:

    Really, the only reason is CHINA.

    China still counts N. Korea as an ally and nobody is quite sure what they'll do if they ended up with a pile of radioactive slag on their doorstep.

  6. Xynzee Says:

    NK reminds me of this obnoxious punk of a freshman I was in HS with. He had mouth like no other, and constantly popped off. He also had an older brother built like a council dunny with a nasty temper.

    The day his brother joined the navy, he found himself pantsed and taped to the flagpole.

    It would seem that even the big brother has finally had enough this time around.

    I was always surprised that NK was apart of Shrub's "Axis of Evil".

  7. camasblues Says:

    Recently I read some awful article about how there have been incidents of cannibalism in NK, they are so starved. Kim Jong Un is a plump lil'porker. My thought is, KJU should make the ultimate sacrifice and hop in a stewpot for the good of his people.

  8. J. Dryden Says:

    Might I suggest, as a compromise, that we swap "nuke 'em" for "let's let the CIA do what it used to do better than anyone–go in, liquidate the assholes in charge, and install assholes the U.S. can do business with." (Fuck you, Castro–you're the exception to the rule.) Only this time, we deviate from the playbook just enough that we don't install a bloodthirsty lunatic to replace the one we just killed. Look, surely there can't be only one Corey Aquino in the world…

  9. Shifty Eyed Hispanic Guy Says:

    On the other hand, if they started it, I, as Imaginary President, would have no trouble leaving the smoldering remains of North Korea after two weeks and saying to China: "You deal with it. Or don't. We've had enough foreign occupation and nation building for a generation."

  10. eau Says:

    @xynzee: "Built like a council dunny". Haven't heard that one for a while. Classic.

  11. Sean Says:

    I feel the same way about NK, and as a socialist, I find their doublethink regarding my political philosophies doubly insulting. I say bomb 'em flat.

  12. Arslan Says:

    The reason why "North" and "South" Korea exists is because of US intervention in their political system, which delayed a referendum on unification just long enough for a lot of leftists political leaders in the south to "disappear." That and the US occupation regime suppressed the local soviets(councils) that Koreans had set up in their sector. (But only the USSR used military force to set up friendly regimes! Right)

    Syngman Rhee was a corrupt leader(MacArthur himself said as much) who ran his mouth about unifying Korea by force before he had any armored units or modern airplanes.

    Bottom line is, you can't judge DPRK without the historical context it grew up in, which was largely influenced by the United States. To ignore these facts is to have a colonial mindset, which many "anti-war liberals" still have.

  13. Arslan Says:

    "I find their doublethink regarding my political philosophies doubly insulting. I say bomb 'em flat."

    Gee Sean, what kind of "socialist" advocates genocide for such reasons? Are you sure you don't have the word "national" in front of it?

  14. Noskilz Says:

    I suspect it's as much about the mess an untidy flameout of North Korea would cause – there's a lot of northern South Korea within reach of even obsolete soviet-era weaponry, and while the outcome is a forgone conclusion, the cost of the clean-up is would still be something South Korea probably isn't that eager to take on.

    It didn't take the West Germans long to start grousing about fixing East Germany, and I don't think North Korea is anything resembling the condition of the pre-unification East Germany. Adding significant property damage and casualties to the total probably won't make that a more pleasant process.

    Maybe a post-Nork unification can happen without being a horrendous mess – it would be nice – but for the time being it looks like North Korea has found that sweet spot where it's just more trouble than it's worth for any of the major players to take any real interest in punching its ticket.

  15. wetcasements Says:

    As a South Korean resident, this is true: "Their military tech might be pathetic, but they've still got an awful lot of artillery tubes pointed at South Korea. And they've made it pretty clear that they're ready and willing to use them if they're invaded. It doesn't take advanced technology to lob a bomb at an apartment complex."

    South Korean/US forces could neutralize North Korea's problem, no doubt, but the question is how many tens of thousands of Seoulites would die from conventional artillery and _possibly_ a nuke. So there's that.

    "China still counts N. Korea as an ally and nobody is quite sure what they'll do if they ended up with a pile of radioactive slag on their doorstep."

    OK, but China's support is vastly over-stated by Western media. The leaders in China can't stand the North Korean regime but they don't have many good options. Stop giving them rice? Well, then your number of illegal North Koreans sneaking into China (which is already quite high) increases. A better analogy is that NK is China's annoying, elderly, alcoholic uncle.

    So it's not like China is an ally, but consider their interest — they sure as hell don't want to border a unified, US-backed Korea with all the drone- and satellite-power we can muster.

    What also doesn't get talk about, in spite of the fact that 90% of South Koreans will go on and on about the need for "unification," is that the powers that be in Seoul don't want a scenario that made East-West Germany look like a cakewalk. Billions of dollars will be required to rehabilitate North Korea, and lots of South Koreans really don't want a vast quantity of cheap labor to pour over the border overnight.

    So, that status quo sucks but all things considered it's quite likely better than the most likely outcomes of a war.

  16. Arslan Says:

    If you're familiar with the KPA's strategy(a decent start: http://www.amazon.com/The-Armed-Forces-North-Korea/dp/1860644864), you will see that at the outbreak of hostilities, they intend to quickly close the distance between them and their opponents, thus nullifying the effect of the US/ROK's standoff weaponry and air support. It's a strategy that's as old as Stalingrad; it was also used in Vietnam with some success. As old as their military technology may be, they do have the largest special forces organization in the world, plus for years they manage to build tunnels under the DMZ, many of which are suspected yet never found.

    An attack on the DPRK would be a knock-down drag out slog which would stretch the US military to the breaking point. Look how we've got guys killing themselves in Afghanistan; now how's it going to be when they have to deal with highly trained KPA special forces soldiers popping out of the ground and they can't just call in the drones or Apaches?

  17. Talisker Says:

    As others have been pointing out, NK has an awful lot of artillery pointed at Seoul, maybe a functioning nuke or two, and definitely 25 million backward and impoverished citizens who will become the responsibility of any successful conqueror.

    A better analogy is a small child who walks into a boardroom with a loaded pistol. On one level he is ridiculous, but you still talk to him very gently and carefully unless he puts the gun down.

    The sad thing is that for NK to "put the gun down" would require a radical change of government, which is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. Their system is utterly insane but appears relatively stable.

  18. duquesne_pdx Says:

    In the mid 80s, I was fortunate enough to live in Tokyo for a few years. This led to several visits to Seoul. Bombings by NK special forces operatives there were not uncommon at the time. It was an article of faith that the only real thing keeping the US/South Korean forces out of NK was the threat of those artillery tubes filled with chemical weapons munitions and that in the event of a war, the average life expectancy in Seoul was approximately 30 seconds.

    Of course, back then, Dear Leader wasn't a victim of his own epistemic bubble. He knew he couldn't back his talk. I'm not so sure about the current Dear Leader. I'm rather afraid that he believes all of the bullshit propaganda that he was brought up with. The insularity of the NK noise machine makes the republicans look like the most open and broadminded group ever to have lived.

  19. Bosh Says:

    Well the reason there's "North" and "South" Korea is that the Russians hand picked the entire Northern government (for the first few years of its existence North Korea was run by the Soviet Embassy, see Andrei Lankov's excellent research into the old Soviet archives). Later on the North Koreans were able to play off the Chinese and the Russians but early North Korean was a complete Russian colony.

    As for Rhee Syngman he was pretty awful. Corrupt, getting senile by the end, cowardly (taped a radio address telling people not to flee Seoul and then broadcast it while he was fleeing Seoul) and incompetent. At least later South Korea had a quasi-fascist thug who was at least smart and not (personally) corrupt which was a big step up. Still, it took til 1965 for South Korea to surpass North Korea in per capita GDP thanks to Rhee being an idiot (and Seoul being flattened in the war). He also killed off lots of opposition (political prisoners were often shot before the North Koreans could show up and liberate jails).

    But, Arslan, how the hell does that change that North Korea is a Stalinist shithole? No matter what a shithead Rhee Syngman is that doesn't make North Korea any more or less Stalinist. At least South Korea got better and it was never anywhere near as closely controlled by America as North Korea was by the Soviets in the late 40's.

  20. Talisker Says:

    A few other points:
    1) Older South Koreans, many of them in positions of power, grew up during or immediately after the Korean War. For good reason, they are very cautious about war. They know exactly what a bombed-out city looks like.
    2) Japan is the very last country which will run the risk of a nuclear attack, for obvious reasons.
    3) It's very easy for Ed to say "nuclear weapons aside", when NK lacks the means to drop them on an American city. Imagine Seattle or San Francisco was about to become "smoldering glass". This is the position of the South Koreans and Japanese. Hell, some faction in NK might try to nuke Beijing or Vladivostok out of general insanity.

    @ J Dryden: If it was that easy, the CIA would have done it decades ago. NK is a giant black hole from which no information escapes. What are the relationships between important leaders and factions? Who could plausibly take over if they poison Kim Jong-un's morning tea? For that matter, who prepares Kim's breakfast, and might they be willing to slip him some poison? No one outside NK has the slightest idea.

  21. Talisker Says:

    @Bosh: Yes, exactly. 60 years on from the Korean War, the NK leadership surely bear some responsibility for the state of their country. I mean, just how long do we have to wait? Does the US government get a pass because it is still traumatised by the colonial oppression of the British?

    For comparison, Cuba has been historically f***ed over by the USA as well, and under military and economic siege for a similar length of time to NK. But for all his many faults, Castro did not starve his own people in order to fund a nuclear weapons program.

  22. Major Kong Says:

    I've seen the OPPLANs for a Korean conflict. It ain't pretty.

    The Pentagon estimates a six month conflict with 50,000 US casualties. South Korean civilian casualties in the millions. Seoul destroyed by DPRK artillery in the first hours.

    You really don't want to go there.

  23. BruceFromOhio Says:

    NK is batshit crazy. That leadership has to bang the war drum to keep the status quo. NK is going to stay the course. China is going to scramble madly to keep millions of NK refugees from flooding north across the border should NK destabilize for any reason. This renders the most influential player effectively powerless to change the status quo, just as interfering with NK internals will require taking on feeding the citizens. China is going to stay the course. SK will respond if attacked, but otherwise is also stuck – the olive branch has been extended many times, to no avail. SK has the most to lose immediately, and perhaps forever, if NK's batshittiness exceeds its restraint. SK leadership isn't going to rattle the cage. As Major Kong notes, any foreign power is going to avoid the place like the plague, there's no benefit to go on the offensive. So the US and Japan are also sidelined.

    That leaves NK to do pretty much as it pleases, not because it is a threat, but because any outside action requires lots and lots of clean up. Only two events will likely change the status quo: NK fires on Seoul or commits some other overtly aggressive action, and its game on, or some black swan event takes NK back to 1994, such as plague or famine.

    Until then WYSIWYG.

  24. Jimcat Says:

    Arslan, holy crap. Are you applying for a PR job with Kim Jong Un?

    But seriously, I'm glad there's one person still willing to defend communism. You're the mirror image of BB in GA and just as amusing.

  25. Strangepork Says:

    Arslan, pulling out the Godwin for the win. It was a tight race for Most Humorless Dildo in This Thread, but willfully construing a two sentence throwaway blog comment to be a Statement of Personal Principles/Murderous Intent so that you could backflip into calling that commenter a Nazi, that's why you're a champ.

  26. c u n d gulag Says:

    Sure, killing the North Koreans might be looked at as putting them out of their/our misery.
    But some of them would surely crawl through the wreckage, since, if you can survive 60+ years living with god-damned lunatics as leaders, you're probably pretty god-damned tough.

    The problem is, that neither South Korea, nor China, wants to deal with the survivors – or they'd be all for us, or anyone, as a matter of fact, flattening the damn place.

    The North Koreans make the East Germans look like a nation of well-fed Thurston Howell III's and Lovey's, in comparison.

    Besides, how can we nuke a nation whose late leader shot 38 under par, when he played golf for the first time?
    http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2004/ea_nkorea_06_16.html

  27. Talisker Says:

    Getting back to my "small child with a gun" analogy… consider the scene in Full Metal Jacket in which Private Pyle, visibly deranged and armed with a loaded M16, is confronted by Gunnery Sgt Hartman.

    Ed's frustration is analagous to Hartman losing his cool and screaming, "What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts?" This did not end well for the Sergeant.

    Similarly, we can all be glad that Ed is not in charge of NK relations at the State Department.

  28. Talisker Says:

    @Strangepork: Yup.

    In case there was any doubt, I'm well aware Ed was joking. But discussion of North Korea has a tendency to become kind of serious.

  29. sluggo Says:

    Ed,

    You ever see the movie Red Dawn? It works in reverse as well, for example, Afghanistan.

    I don't want ever see people that have had sixty years of anti-American propaganda go all in 'Wolverines!!!' on us. It may be a shithole, but it is their shithole.

  30. Gardner Says:

    Ya'll are taking this way too serious.

  31. Well,mostly Says:

    Boom goes London….comes to mind reading this. In the face of unending irritation from twerps with troops, a little Randy Newman Political Science helps. I really liked the Mongolian reference, Ed. Classic.

  32. Ed Says:

    (Entire studio audience, collectively)

    "THAT'S OUR ARSLAN!"

    (Applause)

  33. Trapclap Says:

    Obviously, Ed's post is in jest, but backchair generals drag this crap out every time NK does something provocative (ie, biannually). It's worth addressing.

    1. You do not go from bombing -> Yay SK is now democratically united Korea!
    I fucking hate agreeing with Rumsfeld, but War is indeed rather messy. When you enter a conflict unprovoked, you own every consequence of it – including the fates of the millions barely subsisting in NK's fire-lit shacks. Nobody wants that baggage – nobody.

    2. NK has been ramping it's people up for War with the West for -decades-. Some of you grew up during the soviet era – imagine if every mention of SU was followed by, 'The ones that will invade us TOMORROW.' And everyone around you believed the talking heads because the ones that didn't got to go to a labor camp where they smashed rocks until they died. Your kids are also forced to grow up in this environment

    So yeah, they're totes going to welcome us with open arms. Totes. If you believe that sentence, please look up Stockholm Syndrome and then get off the internet.

    3. Because Vietnam. If only we'd had air superiority and loose morals during the Vietnam War, we'd of won the shit out of that conflict! Which means that now we have those properties we can totally beat the snot out the weak ass country whose only advantage includes the millions of utterly devoted followers of a quasi-religious regime.

    I hate to say it, but the status quo is the only easy way out of this one that doesn't involve dropping a nuke. And China would be totally fine with us feeling comfortable dropping nukes nearby.

    The only other way out of this would be for China to be like, 'You know what? Fuck you, North Korea. I don't care what the US does.' This assumes that NK will react rationally and say, 'Wait, take me back, I'll be less crazy this time, I promise!' The only thing we know about NK's government is that it's utterly irrational. Maybe it'll accept food and be quiet for 6 months. Maybe it'll do a few nuke tests, just for funsies. That we don't know what they might do makes attacking NK among the dumbest things any modern administration of any country could do. On top of all the other reasons.

  34. SamInMpls Says:

    Ed,

    I have some sympathy for your position but I can't advocate wiping them out when they produce gold like this: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/03/north-korea-video/

    Besides, there a better ways to troll Pyongyang than regime change. Let's put DARPA to work making a hologram so massive that it covers the night sky. We could even charge people $5 a second to project whatever the hell they want to the North Korean people. I think they deserve to see Western culture and technology at work, up to and including those two girls and their one cup.

  35. Random Internet Person Says:

    As a vet, I totally sympathize with your viewpoint about the massive throbbing hard on we have for this military in this country. That being said, I remember being stationed in South Korea from 2002 to 2003 and when you get you receive a threat debrief.

    I'm not sure how accurate their numbers are, or if you can really trust the information given its source. But I remember being instructed in this brief that NK artillery is pointed at and capable of reaching Seoul, which is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. I remember them saying that within the first hour of any conflict that broke out that there would be over a million casualties in Seoul alone. That and they also have one of the largest standing Army's in the world. The loss of life should any serious conflict break out would be devastating.

  36. SeaTea Says:

    I'm totally with you except that the populace shouldn't have to suffer for the sins of their ridiculous leadership. I'm sure that secretly most North Koreans would rather Kim Un fuck off and die. Surely they bear some responsibility for not rising up and putting his head on a pike, but they've been brainwashed to an extent it's difficult for us to comprehend for generations. It's hard to know how to solve that problem in a way that doesn't punish the innocent.

  37. ladiesbane Says:

    I feel about Ahmadinejad the same sort of way I feel about Kim Jr. — what bad news for the countries led by trolling egomaniacs. Bombing isn't the answer, but those fools have to GO.

  38. 한국의 친구 Says:

    Ed,

    Why do you ignite the fuse of war? Juche Korea with the might of Songun is unbeatable. The single minded unity of the people, the party and the army is more powerful than atomic weapons.

  39. Rosalux Says:

    @camasblues

    I like your modest proposal. But allow me to "flesh" it out…

    It being the case that there is rampant starvation and malnourishment across the entire country of North Korea, and it also being the case that KJU is a little porker man-boy who would contribute to a fine stew, I propose that America's official policy stance towards North Korea should be that KJU sacrifice his plump little body for the nourishment of his people, just as the North Korean people have sacrificed themselves to the insanest delusions of his family for decades.

  40. Arslan Says:

    Yeah folks, I'm the crazy one here for pulling out these historical facts and suggesting that people look at the DPRK in this crazy thing called "historical context" instead of just going along with the typical "Wow that state's wacky, let's bomb them" attitude that several people displayed here.

    "But, Arslan, how the hell does that change that North Korea is a Stalinist shithole? No matter what a shithead Rhee Syngman is that doesn't make North Korea any more or less Stalinist."

    Well the original "Stalinist shithole", the one where Stalin lived, achieved far greater economic gains than the DPRK has in the last twenty or so years so that comparison's pretty weak. Furthermore DPRK officially abandoned Marxism decades ago in favor of their homegrown "theory" of Juche. Being a Marxist, I reject Juche, but unlike Sean, I don't think this justifies advocating the US "bombing them flat."

    It's also interesting how people who consider themselves too politically savvy for the mainstream media so readily buy into the "LOOK THAT LEADER IS A CRAZY MADMAN" trope. George W. Bush was not "mad," yet he directly killed more people than Ahmadinejad. As much of an asshole as Ahmadinejad can be, Bush is a mass murderer, and Ahmadinejad isn't.

  41. Talisker Says:

    @Trapclap:

    The only thing we know about NK's government is that it's utterly irrational.

    Actually, that's an interesting question. Are they irrational? Or are they rational people at the apex of an irrational system?

    Imagine you are a high-ranking NK general. You are ruthless and ambitious, but otherwise sane. You have an unfiltered internet connection and reasonably accurate information about the outside world. You recognise NK is viewed with a combination of pity and fear, as one might a vicious and starving dog, or Private Pyle with his M16.

    Suppose you would like to change this situation. What's in it for you? Your colleagues might kill you as a traitor. Even if you could start reforms, the whole system might come crashing down very quickly; then, you would probably be put up against a wall and shot. Better to hold onto your position of comfort and authority by supporting the status quo.

    I certainly wouldn't rule out authentic craziness in the NK government, but even if they are sane, it would take a lot of courage to try and stop riding the tiger.

    As a semi-serious suggestion, the USA could discreetly offer NK leaders a comfortable retirement if they step down voluntarily. Help us, and you get $10 million and a new life on a tropical island. Oppose us, and you just might get a bullet in the head. ISTR that some of Saddam Hussein's generals agreed to a similar deal before the Iraq war.

    Unfortunately I think NK may be too far gone for this to work. Unlike Iraq they can deter a US military attack, and their society may just be too closed and paranoid for even the senior leadership to take such an offer seriously.

  42. The Pale Scot Says:

    "I'm sure that secretly most North Koreans would rather Kim Un fuck off and die"

    That would depend on the population's being able to discuss and figure out reality for themselves. I'm not sure that is happening. Starving people might try to leave, but that doesn't mean their sure things are better someplace else. The government has been able to implement a level indoctrination the Nazis , the Soviets and Mao could only dream of. Google NK and racism, the articles and the book "http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933633913?ie=UTF8&tag=fopo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1933633913" show that the N.Korean society has an incredibly racist view of everyone but themselves and the Chinese (maybe).

    "But according to the country's propaganda, the pure-bloodedness and homogeneity of the Korean race make the North's army a uniquely tight-knit and formidable fighting force. This way of thinking reflects an official ideology that many outsiders misperceive as communist but in reality belongs on the far right and not the far left of the ideological spectrum. No, I'm not referring to the pseudo-doctrine of North Korean "Juche" thought, a mishmash of humanist bromides (such as "man is the master of all things") that has never had the slightest effect on policymaking. I'm referring to the ideology that the Juche smokescreen is meant to hide from the outside world: a paranoid nationalism that has informed the regime's actions since the late 1940s."

    ability to have political conversations among themselve

  43. The Pale Scot Says:

    Sorry, link didn't work, the book is "The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters"

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933633913?ie=UTF8&tag=fopo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1933633913

    Climate change is going to be the thing that pops the balloon, there is going to be a core of delusional nuclear armed racists left in charge.

  44. Arslan Says:

    The ethnocentrism of Juche is one of the main reasons I'm opposed to that ideology. But the readiness of some people to assume that I'm supporting DPRK just because I point out some historical facts to provide a context is eerily similar to my experiences in the movement against the war in Iraq.

    In those days, a common argument was, "It doesn't matter whether we find weapons of mass destruction or not because Saddam Hussein is an insane dictator who MURDERED HIS OWN PEOPLE!" Well yes,Hussein certainly was a despot who definitely killed people who live in Iraq(I say that because many of the people he killed would have objected to the claim that they were "his"). But when we look at the context of those crimes and where the US fit into the picture, we could get a very good reason to question the wisdom of Bush's regime change. And of course when you would point those things out, you would inevitably be labeled a supporter or apologist for the Baathist regime.

    The short version could be presented thus: However fucked up DPRK may be, the last thing that will unfuck it is US military intervention.

  45. Major Kong Says:

    First off, Ahmadinejad is not the dictator of Iran. The real power in Iran is the Guardian Council, headed by the Ayatollah Khameni, who has the title "Supreme Leader".

    The office of President in Iran doesn't carry nearly the same power as a US President. Ahmadinejad is not commander-in-chief of the Iranian military, for example.

    When the somewhat reformist Khatami was President, all we heard was "It doesn't matter, the mad mullahs really run the country".

    Suddenly a guy we don't like gets elected and he's an all-powerful dictator.

  46. mothra Says:

    For that matter, who prepares Kim's breakfast, and might they be willing to slip him some poison? No one outside NK has the slightest idea.

    Dunno about that–Dennis Rodman did just visit and spend a lot of quality time with his new BFF. Maybe Rodman could be our new inside operator. Shit, with the fascination Kim has with basetball, maybe we could just send all our great roundball stars over to shock and awe. Then Ben Affleck could make a movie about it and it could win the Oscar…

    But on the serious side, is there no chance of undermining the information lockdown on NK and getting the public some actual information they could use? It's a long game, but maybe the only one that might work.

  47. The Pale Scot Says:

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch,

    "North Korea confirmed Wednesday that it had shredded the 60-year-old armistice ending the Korean War, and warned that the next step was an act of “merciless” military retaliation against its enemies."

  48. anadromy Says:

    They are quite annoying. But as someone else pointed out, this is definitely another case (a la Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, just about every country in Central America, Cuba, etc, etc) of Cold War chickens roosting all up in Uncle Sam's beard. Unfortunately, this particular chicken comes with a million plus fanatical (ie: brainwashed) troops, huge stockpiles of weaponry, and nuclear weapons. Oh yeah, and it's a short drive away from a massive population center (Seoul). A war with these fuckers would almost certainly make our recent adventures in the Middle East look like a game of touch football. Bloodshed on a scale not seen since WWII. So … yeah. That's why we don't just "blow them up already."

  49. Nick Says:

    Gardner Says:
    March 13th, 2013 at 9:08 am
    Ya'll are taking this way too serious.

  50. bb in GA Says:

    @jimcat

    glad to amuse.

    I learn a lot from Arslan.

    //bb

  51. Desargues Says:

    Forget North Korea, I know it bugs you, but fuck it. When will you tell us again about a topless Bay Buchanan doing cartwheels on the stage, Ed? I miss that. My life's pretty dull right now, I could use a bout of uncontrollable laughter. Kim Dong Dick or whatshisname just won't do it, for me.

    C'mon. Bring back topless Bay Buchanan. Open up that can of crazy on us.

  52. Major Kong Says:

    What most worries me about North Korea is that one day they may just think:

    "Hey, we're all going to starve anyway, might as well go for it."

  53. Brian Says:

    @Arslan, not to be a troll. But you brought up Nazis in your second comment. And that comment wasn't even about the post, North Korea, or the U.S. You were suggesting that another person commenting on the thread was a Nazi.

    As an internet vigilante, I am required to inform you that you have clearly violated all internet comment thread etiquette by being the first to bring up Nazis. You have proven Godwin's law as @StrangePork indicated.

    Therefore, whatever else you have to say on the matter is moot, and you should stop commenting on this thread immediately. Or you may suffer potentially life altering karmic damage.

  54. Pat Says:

    Yeah, count me among those confused how Ed could get through a post wondering why we don't just take out North Korea without mentioning the word "China." Adding to that, there's a number of people one plausibly could blame for the bother North Korea poses to its own people and its neighbors (the royal family principled socialist leadership passed down hereditarily, the generals, possibly some Chinese interests). Those will not be the people primarily affected by a war.

  55. Mal Rootkit Says:

    SeaTea said: "…the populace shouldn't have to suffer
    for the sins of their ridiculous leadership."
    I agree with this & hope it applies to me as well.

  56. Monkey Business Says:

    Let China deal with it. If they want to wear the global big boy pants, let them deal with North Korea. Consider it their Superpower SATs. If they manage to disarm North Korea without resorting to turning 25 million people into ash and Seoul is still standing, they pass.

  57. Cms Says:

    I think it was Lewis Black that commented on all those black and white images of NK. He said that the place is so backward that nothing there is in color.

  58. Tim H. Says:

    The norks might feel compelled to act before exposure to their relatively liberal ally renders the masses unreliable. Hope this can be worked out without the extinction of the Korean peninsula.

  59. Cromartie Says:

    If I may ask. Is there any oil in them thar hills? Because if there is, well, that changes the conversation entirely.

  60. Arslan Says:

    @Brian, Maybe you should have tried reading the comment I was responding to(and my response was intended to be somewhat sarcastic). Sean claimed to be a socialist upset with the DPRK's ideology, hence the need to "bomb them flat," a position which would be considered highly suspect by most socialists.

  61. Sean Says:

    Uhh, Arslan? It's called being tongue-in-cheek, much as Ed's post was. And as for socialists, there are many kinds. I am one of those whose opinion is that Stalinist regimes like NK have taken a beautiful philosophy and turned it into something ugly.

  62. Arslan Says:

    I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek as well. And I know enough about socialism to understand why "Stalinism", for the DPRK, would be a massive improvement.

  63. Sean Says:

    Okie-dokey, Smokie :)

  64. Desargues Says:

    Mitt Romney saying 'fistula' 12 times, dammit! Stop changing the topic!

  65. Barry Says:

    J Dryden: "Might I suggest, as a compromise, that we swap "nuke 'em" for "let's let the CIA do what it used to do better than anyone–go in, liquidate the assholes in charge, and install assholes the U.S. can do business with." (Fuck you, Castro–you're the exception to the rule.) Only this time, we deviate from the playbook just enough that we don't install a bloodthirsty lunatic to replace the one we just killed. Look, surely there can't be only one Corey Aquino in the world…"

    From my casual reading, the US is only good at installing a-holes who were already in charge of the military and itching to take over (i.e., guys who were one small step from doing it themselves).

  66. Bitter Scribe Says:

    I highly recommend "Nothing to Envy" by Barbara Demick to anyone who's interested in North Korea. Based on interviews with defectors, it vividly illustrates not only how intolerable life is there for the average citizen, but also how they buy into all the regime's bullshit, which is surprisingly easy to do when you have no other sources of news.

    One of the protagonists is a 50-something woman who watched her husband, her son and her mother-in-law literally starve to death before her eyes during the famine, and she still thought Kim Jong Il was a great guy! Her daughter just about had to kidnap her to get her safely across the border.

  67. Brian Says:

    @Arslan, I read all the comments. I recognized the comment you were responding to as a response to the article in general.

    The article in general is in itself supposed to be outrageous, and thus the response.

    However, as internet law states, "Unless the intent is to end the thread any equivocation of a post, commenter, or otherwise non-Nazi to Nazis terminates said thread."

    So, even with the caveat that you were equivocating @Sean's socialism with Nazism in jest, the thread should have terminated.

  68. Zebbidie Says:

    Sorry Brian. Godwin's law only states that as a thread grows longer, the probability that someone will compare someone else to the Nazis approaches one. It makes no statement about winning (or losing ) the thread.

    "Unless the intent is to end the thread any equivocation of a post, commenter, or otherwise non-Nazi to Nazis terminates said thread."

    This is just a made rule up by internet wankers for the purposes of the internet wankers. You know the people who think picking up on a typo counts as a winning thrust. Don't be one of those people.

  69. Phoenician in a time of Romans Says:

    I think what it's going to come down is having to give the leaders of the NK a bargain:

    i, Transition of their country into peaceful development and reunion with China and the US kicking in the billions needed to bring that shithole up to SK standards, with said leaders offered villas on the French Riveria, a billion dollars in Swiss bank accounts, and blowjobs every night from the boy, girl or both of their choice

    OR

    ii, The sure and certain knowledge that in a war, each and every one of them will be hunted down and executed personally.