This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

And Do Exactly What, Now?

"[North Korea] is caught in a time warp which [originated] in the armistice of 1953, designed to put a temporary halt to a war that claimed up to 3 million lives. Sixty years later ... we now find ourselves on the edge of a nuclear winter."
"...Miscalculation, rather than design, is capable of triggering a "Sarajevo" moment, and with more than a million troops under arms and some 8,000 artillery pieces located within range of half the South's [South Korea] population, this is not a moment for sending the wrong signals."
Lord David Alton, North Korea expert, Great Britain

"It is not unreasonable to assume that mass grave sites in existence today will still be there years from now."
"As we have seen in many other post-conflict settings around the world, people will want to know what happened to family members, and an accurate historical record will need to be created as part of the process of recovery, particularly on a scale such as that in North Korea."
Sarah A. Son, Transitional Justice Working Group, Seoul, South Korea
In this Saturday, April 15, 2017 photo, in what military experts say appears to be a North Korean KN-08 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB) is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, the country's late founder and grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un
What military experts say appears to be a North Korean KN-08 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile under development by North Korea  Credit:  Wong Maye-E/AP

North Korean defectors have brought evidence to the outside world of widespread human rights violations occurring in their country of birth of a shocking dimension. United Nations investigators determined that extrajudicial executions of political prisoners take place routinely. A United Nations commission of enquiry validated the existence of prison camps, of systematic torture, of summary executions and other state-sponsored atrocities committed against any who dare protest against their government and leader.

"They hanged people in crowded places like markets and left the bodies there for hours to instill fear among the people", stated Oh Se Hyek, a North Korean defector from Hamgyong-budko, a northeastern province of North Korea on the border with China which represents the area in the North that has expressed a majority of the estimated 30,000 North Korean defectors living as refugees in South Korea. The Security Council of the UN had been urged to refer North Korea's leadership to the International Criminal Court for prosecution of crimes against humanity.

All of which is moot. The oppression of the North Koreans by their Dear Leader Kim Jong Un, their imprisonment, torture and deaths for which the international community hopes to be able to prosecute him, may, if ill fortune has its way, be but a relatively slight figure in contrast to what could eventuate if Kim continues his provocative and dangerously volatile challenges to the West. A mis-step, an ill-judged or poorly-thought-out response to an ultimate provocation could spell a regional, even global conflagration.

North Korea is isolated, but in league with other outlier countries like Syria and Iran. Kim has been pleased to flout nuclear treaties, to sell weapons to terrorists (no constraints there, since it is in essence, a terrorist state), to helpfully aid Syria's Bashar al Assad in his chemical weapons attacks on his civilian population, and delights in enraging the West through not only testing nuclear weapons as his scientists succeed in improving their formulae with the aim of miniaturizing and producing more powerful bombs, and the long-range ballistic missiles to carry them over the Pacific, but also engaging in cyberwarfare.
Kim Jong-un on board 'Submarine No 748' during a visit to the east coast North Korean Navy Unit 167 in a photo released in June 2014
Kim Jong-un on board 'Submarine No 748' during a visit to the east coast North Korean Navy Unit 167 in a photo released in June 2014     Credit: EPA/Rodong Sinmun
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a deliberately isolated state denying entry to outsiders, whose people have absorbed a religious mysticism that plays right into Kim Jong Un's strategy to keep them isolated and unaware of the outside world, unable to compare the conditions they live under to those of other countries, even their neighbour, South Korea. They may be suffering hardships and privation, but their belief is that they are required to suffer in preparation for "paradise on earth". 

In a sense, submitting themselves to a divine destiny of sacrifice now for reward later, bearing some degree of resemblance to the fanatical Islamist concept of martyrdom in their preferred "cult of death", whereby jihad instructs them to kill non-believers to achieve Islamic warrior status and martyrdom to enable them to be welcomed in paradise by nubile virgins.

Should North Korea's divine leader order the combined thrust of an ICBM and nuclear warhead as he threatens, the response would be immediate. Not only would Pyongyang and its population be vulnerable to return fire, but so too would be the population of Seoul. The death toll and the overall carnage would be formidable and horribly final.

Kim Jong Un doesn't appear to be averse to slaughter and the wholesale commission of atrocities, for not even members of his extended family are immune to his barbaric disdain for human life. He ordered his uncle-by-marriage to be killed, a man who had tutored and supported him, and did the same for his half-brother in a planned assassination in a foreign setting by operatives armed with a deadly chemical.

North Korea has an immense military; one million people under arms on active duty, no funds spared for that, even while his population occasionally suffers food shortages and in some years a catastrophic famine strikes, killing countless numbers of civilian unfortunates. Now, once again, the United Nations has issued a warning that flood and drought have diminished North Korean food crops and the nation will soon be on the verge of starvation.
Mt. Paektu, North Korea. April 2013. A man plowing his field to get ready to plant with his two cows using an old wooden plow
North Korea's crop production has been hit in recent years by both drought and flooding  Getty Images

China, North Korea's sponsor, finding the North's position as buffer between the Western allies in Asia and itself invaluable, would be distressed to see a situational change with the two Koreas reuniting under South Korea's system of democratic governance. And nor does Beijing relish the prospect of a deposed Kim leading to a mass influx of North Korean refugees flooding into China. American urging for Beijing to convince Kim to stand down from his belligerence has not succeeded. Hongxiang Industrial Development of China continues to forward aluminum oxide to the North to support its nuclear weapons agenda.
An underwater test-firing of a strategic submarine ballistic missile in an undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 24, 2016. KCNA/Reuters

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