30 June 2008

North Korea still in the Axis of Evil

Numerous reports this week said that North Korea is no longer in the "axis of evil" because of it being apparently compliant on destroying its nuclear programme - in fact the US Administration never said this at all. It was removed from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, notwithstanding that there is not the slightest evidence that it has stopped doing so.

Of course what to do about North Korea has never been easy. A state already isolated by its own choice is difficult to isolate further with sanctions, especially when China is its lifeline and has no interest in encouraging the regime to fall and the country to collapse completely. Military action was never an option, with North Korea's 1 million strong army, aged but ample cruise and ballistic missile defences, biological and chemical weapons arsenal all able to inflict mass death and destruction on South Korea, as well as Japan. North Korea is not Iraq, although the ability of North Korea to sustain a war for more than a few months is questionable, there is little doubt that within days it could slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians in South Korea with impunity.

The great Clinton administration, admired and loved by the liberal left, did a deal with North Korea to subsidise a light water reactor and energy supplies if North Korea gave up uranium enrichment. North Korea lied (it's used to this, it does this daily to its entire population on virtually everything) and developed nuclear weapons anyway - almost laughing at the naivete of its enemies. New Zealand taxpayers were part of that dupe, paying NZ$500,000 for heavy fuel oil for North Korea- while it lied about its nuclear weapons programme. It was hardly a surprise, as there was never any incentive for North Korea to give up nuclear weapons development. Why should an evil totalitarian dictatorship surrender this enormous power potential to the rest of the world? After all, it brings attention and most importantly gives a bargaining chip second to none.

So Bush, far from saying it isn't a member of the Axis of Evil, did say according to CNN:

The United States has no illusions about the regime in Pyongyang," he said. "We remain deeply concerned about North Korea's human rights abuses, uranium enrichment activities, nuclear testing and proliferation, ballistic missile programs and the threat it continues to pose to South Korea and its neighbors.

Meanwhile according to the Sunday Times, China has ramped up its treatment of North Korean refugees to shooting them on sight. The Beijing regime is concerned that Koreans fleeing persecution may embarrass China during the Olympics so is stepping up efforts against them:

"The police are doing house-to-house checks for North Koreans in the villages and checking household registration papers much more thoroughly in the border towns... But the most effective new measure is a cash reward, which people believe can be £150 for informing on a North Korean in hiding"

They are sent back to North Korea if found, and placed in gulags to be beaten, used as slave labour or executed. This of course is far more brutal that Tibet, but you don't see many protests for North Koreans do you?

The Sunday Times also has an interesting article about the lack of clothing options available in North Korea's capital Pyongyang, derived from a Chinese report in the Chinese National Defence Journal. Central planners might admire North Korea's commitment to travel demand management, with forced spreading of working hours:

"Office starting hours are staggered between 7am and 9am to avoid the impression of a rush hour on the excellent public transport system. All employees must report half an hour before the official start of work to pledge allegiance to Kim Jong-il, the “dear leader”, and his late father, the “great leader”, Kim Il-sung. "

Sue Kedgley might admire the almost non-existence of private cars and...

"There is no advertising and the few taxis charge huge fares beyond the means of most North Koreans – twice as much as a taxi in Shanghai, for instance.... Only four colours of clothes are permitted: black, green, blue and white. The government distributes clothing fabric by rank, with an ordinary official receiving enough to tailor one new jacket a year. However, they may buy their own shoes."

The absence of capitalism, consumerism, the absence of waste - the lack of energy use. Think how gloriously environmentally friendly they are!

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