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June 11, 2002

What Is it Good For?

If war isn't the answer, you're not asking the right questions.

I was walking through campus today, on the way to my office, and stopped off at the Campus YMCA to grab a cup of coffee. Chalked on the ground in front of the Y was the message "War is not the answer". It didn't bother me much at the time - chalk graffiti litters the sidewalk all year long advertising this rally or that. What brought it back to mind was this story in the New York Times.

Mr. Fautre said that over the last 18 months, he and his volunteers had interviewed 35 recent escapees from North Korean camps.

Of the 35, he said, 31 said they had witnessed babies killed by abandonment or being smothered with plastic sheets. Two defectors later described burying dead babies, and two said they were mothers who saw their newborns put to death.

"This is a systematic procedure carried out by guards, and the people in charge of the prisons ó these are not isolated cases," Mr. Fautre said in a telephone interview. "The pattern is to identify women who are pregnant, so the camp authorities can get rid of the babies through forced abortion, torture or very hard labor. If they give birth to a baby alive, the general policy is to let the baby die or to help the baby die with a plastic sheet."

Here is an issue that you would think it would be hard to find disagreement on. The vast majority of inmates in a North Korean prison are bound to be political prisoners, the women in those prisons who happen to be pregnant are forced to have an abortion, and if they do manage to give birth, their children are taken away from them and murdered.

"Lee Soon Ok, who worked as an accountant for six years at Kaechon political prison, recalled in an interview that she twice saw prison doctors kill newborn babies, sometimes by stepping on their necks."

There's also the racism.

"The guards would scream at us: `You are carrying Chinese sperm, from foreign countries. We Koreans are one people, how dare you bring this foreign sperm here,' " Miss Lee, the vocational student, recalled. "Most of the fathers were Chinese."

A good number of the fathers are Chinese because for years rural Chinese farmers have been buying wives from North Korea. Others cross the border seeking food, because all they can get on the other side is boiled grass. China forcibly repatriates all North Koreans they catch under a treaty Beijing signed with that country, and the usual fate of the returnee is jail time.

"One man whose job it is to drive such people to the border commented: "Yes, the girls cry; of course they cry. I heard that if they have to send a girl back, she might be tortured. Some of them are so frightened that it is as though they are in shock. All the way to the border, 60 kilometers, they stare ahead saying nothing."

It is hard to find disagreement about what to do in North Korea. Itís hard to find agreement. In fact, itís damn near impossible to find anyone who has anything to say about North Korea. Surely Amnesty International has something to say? Nope. Apparently they're too busy investigating the United Kingdom. Green Party? Zilch. Well, how about the right? Surely the Nuremberg Files have something to say about forced Commie abortions? Nothing. Too busy setting up web cams outside health clinics. No word on how they plan on differentiating those who need pap smears from those whom they want to put a bounty on. Operation Rescue? Nope. Thereís a letter blaming the 9/11 attacks on abortions, but no explanation of, if abortion causes God to kill innocents, why frigging North Korea isnít a glazed area under a shallow sea. I suspect that Operation Rescueís God really doesnít give a ratís ass about little non-white babies, pre-born or not. 700 club? Nada.

We should be bombing Pyongyang just on general principles. Violence can and does solve things, just ask the Carthaginians. (thanks, Mr. Heinlen) General principles should have had us bombing Afghanistan the hour after we first saw a woman executed in Kabulís soccer stadium. Had we bombed then, when the Northern Alliance was still under the command of its most puissant leader, Osama might have had so much on his plate that he wouldnít have had time to plan the attacks on the World Trade Center, or the USS Cole, for that matter. Forget nation building, just get rid of the government. A starving North Korea, heading into the winter with no government, power or communications, with disease rampant and unexploded butterfly bombs scattered over the countryside is a North Korea that is better off than it is now.

Unfortunately, just because we should be bombing the dear leader doesnít mean that weíre going to. If we have a focus right now, itís on Iraq, and since Saddam is perceived as more of a threat to us than Kim Jong IL, the national interest dictates that we take him out first. His people are hardly better off than the North Koreans, so some good will be done. In any case, it doesnít appear that we have the political will in Washington to open a front in Korea. Hell, Iím not sure George has the political will to open a front in Iraq.

If we canít or wonít bomb the North Korean government into submission, what to do? If you want to collapse an autocratic, corrupt communist regime, consider East Germany, which collapsed in a matter of days after Hungary relaxed the border controls that prevented East Germans from crossing over to the West. North Koreans are already voting with their feet, risking the wrath of two communist regimes to gain access to the grounds of western embassies. It would be nice if we could convince China to open up its border with North Korea, but thatís unlikely to happen. China would consider the collapse of a communist regime on it doorstep an embarrassment, even if it wouldnít lift a finger to help. Besides, China already has too many citizens. But there is a country that shares a border with North Korea, a friend of the US, one that could use extra citizens and could probably be swayed to open up its border. Russia.

Itís not a large border, but it is near a city, Khasan, with a railroad line good enough for Kim Jong IL, so refugees could be moved elsewhere fairly quickly. Itís at the other end of the country from where most of the North Korean military is, so shifting forces to prevent a mass exodus would open up opportunities in the South. It would also expose troops of doubtful loyalty to attack, had we the will. Drumming up tensions along the south at the same time would probably prevent any movement, and Lord knows President Bush is good at that. Who pays for it? The US if necessary, but we wonít have to. Like West Germany in the cold war, South Korea considers North Korean as citizens, and is honor bound to take care of them. Russia might not want the extra citizens, after all, so thereís a built-in guarantee that someone will take the Korean huddled masses.

After all, we canít just sit here and let this happen, can we? Pat? Susan?

Posted by Bigwig at June 11, 2002 12:28 AM | TrackBack
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