Saturday 7 February 2004

A Chamber of Horrors

I've said before that "Something must be done about North Korea".

The reasons I supported, strongly supported, a war to ouster Saddam Hussien in Iraq were twofold:
  1. He was a threat to us all, inasmuch as he had been proven to be dabbling in Nuclear and Biological weapons research, had been proven to use Chemical weapons against his enemies, and had been giving aid to all manner of terrorist organisations, some of whom had training camps in Iraq. He had a record as a "loose cannon", a brutal thug who let no international law, nor custom, nor convention stand in his way. It was only a matter of time before the threat became imminent (if it wasn't already) and then actual rather than potential.
  2. He engaged in mass murder and all manner of barbarities, torture, genocide, and wholesale slaughter, while his spawn went in for retail sadism. Iraq was a Torture Chamber for many, and a Prison for all. When there's proof beyond all doubt that this occurs, such things should not be allowed to stand.
I've seen nothing post-war to change my views. Fortunately, Saddam Hussein was less far along with his Nuclear Programme than we thought, even in our most wildly optimistic forecasts. He tried to use Chemical Weapons against the Coalition, but the cupboard was bare. For which we should be profoundly grateful. But the hundreds of mass grave sites, and the hundreds of thousands of bodies buried there show that he was worse than we imagined. We should have gone in sooner.

And that brings me to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK) - North Korea.

Over on The Command Post, there's an article showing the Nazi-style horrors in the North Korean Death Camps. If anything, North Korea is worse than Iraq ever was, in every way. As I've posted before, it's straight out of 1984.

So why aren't we doing something about it? Well, there are several reasons.

Firstly, unlike Iraq, North Korea hasn't invaded anyone recently. Not for over 50 years, anyway. This means that the UN - the "coalition of the willing" 1950-style actually fought against North Korea under the UN banner - hasn't passed over a hundred resolutions against the DPRK. Anyone who doubts that the UN is still a force to be reckoned with in international affairs should take note : the US will not act Unilaterally. However... the fact that the DPRK openly admits to cheating on the inspection regime of the Non-Proliferation treaty before formally withdrawing from it is, or should be, a causus belli. The actual withdrawal is not.

Second, there's a practical problem. Seoul, a city of some 10.5 million, is within artillery range of the border. And the mountains along that border are honeycombed with tens of thousands of artillery emplacements, and garrisoned with many, many rockets and long range guns, with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of ammunition. Should war be declared, Seoul will be put under a bombardment only matched by what the Russians did to Grozny. It would not be unrealistic to talk of a million dead in the bombardment, and another million dying from indirect effects ( disease, no clean water, wounds untreated, no power ). It matters not whether Nerve Gas would be used, or even one or two Hiroshima-sized nuclear warheads.

Thirdly, another practical problem. The US is busy in Iraq right now, there's no way it could occupy North Korea, only destroy it. And that means killing the very people we're trying to save.

Fourthly, there's a problem, and an opportunity : China. The DPRK is firmly in China's back yard. There's no way that China could tolerate external intervention that leaves foreign forces on the Yalu. Last time this happened, a Chinese Horde poured over the border and beat the Foreigners back to what is basically the current border. The DPRK is kept alive - such as it is - by a stream of Oil flowing over the Yalu from China. Should China decide to cut off the supply, then the DPRK would either have to go to war, or fold within months.

But Kim Jong-Il is no Gorbachev: not for him going silently into that good night, he will rage against it, and kill as many others as he possibly can. Millions, certainly. And he's supported by a thoroughly indoctrinated Military Class, trained from early childhood in Xenophobia, Racism, and seeing the peasant masses as potential "enemies of the state", and of the God-King, Kim. Bumping him off might well lead to an even worse Catastrophe than having him alive.

Read what Anne Appelbaum has to say in the Washington Post. She ends with :
Later -- in 10 years, or in 60 -- it will surely turn out that quite a lot was known in 2004 about the camps of North Korea. It will turn out that information collected by various human rights groups, South Korean churches, oddball journalists and spies added up to a damning and largely accurate picture of an evil regime. It will also turn out that there were things that could have been done, approaches the South Korean government might have made, diplomatic channels the U.S. government might have opened, pressure the Chinese might have applied.

Historians in Asia, Europe and here will finger various institutions, just as we do now, and demand they justify their past actions. And no one will be able to understand how it was possible that we knew of the existence of the gas chambers but failed to act.
Auschwitz is happening again. People of good will let it happen, sometimes under their noses. They perhaps could be pardoned, many just didn't believe that such a thing could exist. We don't have that excuse.

So what can we do? Start by pointing your browser to the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). Because I for one don't have the power to launch a war of Liberation, and even if I had the power, even risking, let along bringing about, a war where hundreds of thousands, or even millions would die, is not something I could do. Then again, I'm neither the PM nor the President. Thank God.

(Thanks to Instapundit for the HRNK link)

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