|North Korean take-out?|
They say that as soon as someone achieves greatness, their emotional development
stops. This would explain why Michael (Whacko) Jackson has an emotional age of
six - that's when he became famous. It could also help explain the irrational tantrums of Kim
(Dear Leader) Jong Il.
The 'Dear Leader' has been the heir apparent since childhood, and the
People's Paradise Democratic Republic of North Korea has been
throwing tantrums on the international stage. After making a no-nukes deal with
the Clinton administration in exchange for aid, and admitting
cheating, they have started up their nuke program again.
It's not clear what they intend to achieve from this. Starting wars is a popular diversion
strategy for threatened governments. Both democratic and dictatorial governments
start wars to draw attention away from 'destabilizing' domestic factors (like
sagging popularity). But there are no indications of a revolution in the air
for North Korea, so the behavior is a bit mysterious.
What is clear is that North Korea will try to get concessions from the US, but unlike Bill
(compromise-is-always-best) Clinton, the George (lets-not-beat-around-the) Bush
administration is prepared to meet recalcitrance with recalcitrance and force with force.
However, both sides have toned down the initially strong rhetoric. North
Korea is about to watch the US make an example of Iraq, and the US doesn't want to
take on China on the Korean
peninsula. Neither side wants a war, but neither side is prepared to lose face.
So what is the most likely outcome?
There is talk of the US is sending food to North Korea. Forget technological transfer,
forget oil, fuel or equipment -
the US will send them food. The North Korean people are virtually starving
because of the incompetent, corrupt command economy forced
upon them, and they need food donations to survive.
But North Korea has always had an incompetent, corrupt, command economy.
What's changed? Not much. Except for the death of Kim Il Sung, and the
succession of his playboy son Kim Jong Il. There was genuine affection for Kim
Il Sung among his people - much of it was misguided, and it most of it was
based on propaganda, but it was still genuinely felt by a population who had
lived through the conflict with the US, and had no access to other points of
Opponents of socialism frequently
underestimate the power of personality. Many people can be programmed into
working hard by consistent propaganda, and by a strong leader. Collectivism is
not a socialist invention - it is an instinct which can be nurtured, expressed
and exploited by
clever people. Hard work, loyalty and dedication may not overcome the
limitations of a corrupt command economy, but it can stop the population
Just as many Chinese believed in Mao Tse Tung, and worked hard in spite of
China's problems, so too many North Koreans worked hard under Kim Il Sung.
It kept them fed.
There is no such affection for Kim Jong Il. No cult of personality. No
loyalty. The people understand they have been had. They are not 'working
towards communism' to
make North Korea better. They have been conned and they know it. And as a
result, the people are starving.
And the Americans will probably feed them. Partly because they want to
avoid a war with China, but mostly because it is the final degradation of the
socialist ideology which once threatened the world - an admission that
socialism can't even feed people, and that it makes them beggars to capitalist countries.
And there is another bonus: aid to countries damages their economies -
their economies get distorted and simply shift to take advantage of the aid -
not to become self sufficient. Feeding the people will have a short term
benefit, but in the long run will simply make them grow less food, and less
able to grow food.
Less food, more dependence on the US, and America will be able to stop the food
supplies at any moment to starve the country back into submission. North
Korea's defiance in the face of this is very quaint.
It would be fun to watch the final death throes of socialism if it weren't for
having to watch the suffering of 22 million innocent people in the process.