Skip

w00t
December 29, 2004 5:41 AM   Subscribe


 
Bad news. What happens to the nukes?
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:44 AM on December 29, 2004


Thanks for the interesting link, P_G.

I read everything about North Korea I can get my hands on with morbid fascination. IIRC, the last major news item about NK was the vanishing portraits of Kim Jong Il from public places. Maybe this was just a ploy to test who's loyal and who isn't, in preparation for the Big Purge.

Also, the incident involving Kim's eldest son being detained in Japan some years ago was quite interesting. I never quite understood why the Japanese didn't hold him for longer and use him as leverage to get some concessions. Instead, he was whisked out of the country like a hot potatoe in what seemed to be less than 24 hours.
posted by sour cream at 5:54 AM on December 29, 2004


I've read that since his favorite consort passed away, Kim Jong Il has been crazier in the head than usual. Nothing would surprise me.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:06 AM on December 29, 2004


QuickTime
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:06 AM on December 29, 2004


Ryugyong madness!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:09 AM on December 29, 2004


I hope that Kim, in a fit of girlish pique, doesn't decide to see if his nukes really can reach Los Angeles.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:20 AM on December 29, 2004


This is fascinating to no end. And if it happens? Further confirmation that John Kerry's rants about NK and the President were hogwash.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:30 AM on December 29, 2004


I never quite understood why the Japanese didn't hold him for longer and use him as leverage to get some concessions.

Very public executions of kidnapped Japanese nationals were probably a worry. A civilized nation couldn't turn around and execute Kim's son in retaliation, so the leverage they had was minimal, maybe?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:33 AM on December 29, 2004


And if it happens? Further confirmation that John Kerry's rants about NK and the President were hogwash.

Kim Jong-Il being deposed? Or nukes reaching Los Angeles? Either way it seems to point to more instability and another failure of neocon foreign policy.
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:43 AM on December 29, 2004


Forget about the nukes. What's going to happen to their orbital solar death ray?

In all seriousness, it's difficult to see what's going to happen. If Kim Jong-Il is deposed, it will probably be by some kind of military junta, IMHO. The question is, what kind of policy will the new leaders pursue? The worst situation would actually be if no one takes over, and the situation devolves into anarchy.
posted by unreason at 6:50 AM on December 29, 2004


The worst situation would actually be if no one takes over, and the situation devolves into anarchy.

I doubt that's worse than the status quo. From what I've read.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:53 AM on December 29, 2004


Very public executions of kidnapped Japanese nationals were probably a worry. A civilized nation couldn't turn around and execute Kim's son in retaliation, so the leverage they had was minimal, maybe?

No need to get uncivil like this. I was more thinking along the lines of merely *threatening* to put him on trial, preferably with lots of TV cameras, thus causing a big diplomatic hubba and a major loss of face in a culture where these things really matter (according to the article, it looks like Kim Jong-Nam was practically disowned for the stupidity/loss of face of being caught by the Japanese). The fact that he was kicked out of the country immediately indicates that the Japanese didn't even try to use the situation for their advantage, e.g. to get the North-Koreans to release the Japanese nationals who have been held hostage there for decades. Although it is of course impossible to know what's really going on behind the scenes...
posted by sour cream at 7:02 AM on December 29, 2004


No need to get uncivil like this.

I deeply apologize and assure you I meant no insult to you at all. I'm a little bewildered as to what was uncivil about my response actually. I was merely offering a suggestion as to why holding Kim's son wasn't really a position of strong leverage.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:14 AM on December 29, 2004


I think you just jingled his rock bell.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:23 AM on December 29, 2004


PinkStainlessTail: I don't thing sour cream was accusing you of being uncivil. I think s/he was merely implying that Japan didn't need to get all uncivil and shit.
posted by NoMich at 7:31 AM on December 29, 2004


PST: Sorry for being so ambiguous. You said that execution isn't really an option, so there is not much leverage. I wanted to say: no need to be so drastic (execution), since there are a number of more subtle options that the Japanese had at their disposal.
posted by sour cream at 7:37 AM on December 29, 2004


Oh I see. Silly me.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:43 AM on December 29, 2004


It's been awhile since he's posted to his blog as well.
posted by manicroom at 8:06 AM on December 29, 2004


Frankly, if this horrid place has survived this long, there seems no reason why it can't continue indefinitely. NK makes the Soviet Union look like a paradise.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:13 AM on December 29, 2004


Alex -- you mean the neocon foreign policy of the 1990s?
posted by esquire at 9:11 AM on December 29, 2004


NK makes the Soviet Union look like a paradise.

I see and hear statements like this a lot. Have many of you ever been to either place, or are you basing your opinions on these countries entirely on what you see in the media (including in this case novels and movies)?

The various flavors of kneejerkers are invited to guess again: I am not trying to start a flame war, I am not defending tyrannical regimes, I am not getting at some point concerning U.S. electoral politics, and this has nothing to do with whether Elvis really died or hitched a ride with space aliens. I'm merely asking what seems to me a simple, obvious question: on what information are you basing your opinions about these countries?
posted by davy at 9:25 AM on December 29, 2004


Wathcing video from 60 Minutes depicting children scrounging around in the dirt for bugs to eat was a good start for me.
posted by manicroom at 9:38 AM on December 29, 2004


I think that any rational person can read reports of the famine in North Korea, and analyses that detail the ways in which it is a product of policy as much as natural disaster and come to the conclusion that North Korea's government is behaving criminally, on the grand scale, toward its citizens.

I do not have to experience every single thing in the world in person to come to a conclusion about it; a review and assessment of a variety of first-hand reports from reputable sources seems to me an intelligent way to arrive at opinions on world events.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:45 AM on December 29, 2004


And I would say that the following US Presidential administrations have handled the North Korea situation poorly:

George W. Bush; William Jefferson Clinton; George H. W. Bush; Ronald Wilson Reagan; James Earl Carter; Gerald R. Ford; Richard M. Nixon; Lyndon Baines Johnson; John Fitzgerald Kennedy; and Dwight David Eisenhower.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:48 AM on December 29, 2004


My grand Sino-Korean conspiracy theory ...

China positions itself to "solve" the NK problem in some way. They get rid of Kim Jong Il, install a pro-development (but under China's wing), and make overtures of reunification to South Koreak.

The result could be a subtle and profound shift in influence in that region. China essentially gets North Korea (whose gonna challenge them, after all its better than the current regime), and they get increased economic and political influence in South Korea.
posted by forforf at 10:05 AM on December 29, 2004


And I would say that the following US Presidential administrations have handled the North Korea situation poorly:

Okay, how should the North Korea situation be handled, then? I'm genuinely curious. What hasn't been tried? Diplomacy? Invasion? Assassination? Sanctions? An embargo? Rack up deficits and build up nuclear arsenals until the weaker economy collapses? Telemarketing? Loud music? Threatening letters?
posted by fandango_matt at 10:12 AM on December 29, 2004


I think that any rational person can read reports of the famine in North Korea, and analyses that detail the ways in which it is a product of policy as much as natural disaster and come to the conclusion that North Korea's government is behaving criminally, on the grand scale, toward its citizens.

Yes, but the exact same thing is true of the USSR in the '30s, during Stalin's vicious collectivization drive. Which killed a lot more people than the NK regime, because there were a lot more people to kill. So whether you rate one as somehow eviller than the other, davy's question is a good one (though the "have you been there?" part is a red herring).
posted by languagehat at 10:21 AM on December 29, 2004


I took davy's question not as "how can you tell which is worse than the other?" but as "how can you tell if either are bad without being there personally?"

And I certainly agree that Stalin's government behaved criminally, on the grand scale, toward its citizens, even though I wasn't there, either.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:23 AM on December 29, 2004


davy: I grew up in the Soviet Union and I've read a lot about North Korea. Believe you me, the vast majority of locales do not compare. While the post-Stalin USSR was depressing and oppressive, it was nowhere near the horror that endures in NK, which resembles a perpetual 1937 in USSR except it's far, far worse economically.
posted by azazello at 10:26 AM on December 29, 2004


Well, I lean toward the line of thought that suggests that the best way to combat the North Korean regime is to negotiate sternly with the regime while simultaneously airlifting food and goods directly to the populace, as all accounts suggest that nearly all foreign aid is diverted by the ruling elite.

I also think that the US and other interested governments should create significant reward structures and economic opportunities for defectors from the regime; that will have an influence on 'hearts and minds' within North Korea.

I think that the US should lean on South Korea to modify its policy of appeasement, while providing them with the military support they need to feel confident with a stronger stance toward the North.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:33 AM on December 29, 2004


Airlift food directly? The planes would be shot down and/or the food confiscated and destroyed--that's stunningly naive.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2004


It seems to me that the unspoken truth is this - the very reason we could attack Saddam but not Kim is that Saddam DIDN'T pose a threat and Kim DOES.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:42 AM on December 29, 2004


Or, worst case scenario--I'll believe Saddam didn't have WMDs after we defang Syria and Lebanon--we attacked Saddam BEFORE he had them operational.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:51 AM on December 29, 2004


ParisParamus, the airlifts would be part of the process that began with the "stern negotiation". The "stern negotiation" would have to include China and the US as a key partner, and one of the things that would be "sternly negotiated" would be safe passage for airlifts, with clearly-spelled-out negative consequences should anything untoward occur.

Of course, surprise airlifts of goodies would be deeply stupid. I'm suggesting a comprehensive platform of dealing with the regime while simultaneously alleviating individual suffering.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:02 AM on December 29, 2004


davy's question is a good one (though the "have you been there?" part is a red herring).

Thank you LH. What by the way would have been a prettier color of herring, so to speak? Just leaving the part about direct experience out?

I realize not everybody can go see every country they see reports on on TV news (I ain't been anywhere but Canada as a kid and Mexico more recently), but still for macroscopic events nothing beats direct experience. Everything second- or third-hand boils down to "who can you trust to tell you the truth in a not-totally-slanted way"; I have to read news reports from four or five different countries -- especially contries that don't like each other -- before I feel like I've figured out anything like a real fact about the recent U.S. conquest of Falluja, e.g. (That's something I'd rather read about by the way, I'll stay embedded here where it safe.) And I can only do these "in-depth investigations" (heh) because I don't want much of a Real Life.

As for videos showing kids eating bugs, for $10 and a borrowed camera I can do that in the back alley; it'd be very emotionally impacting, especially if my ominously-entoned voice-over doesn't mention promising to take Johnny and Susie to the mall for lunch afterward. Who remembers that "American al Qaeda" video that generated so much editorializing and blather, that the "star" maintained was a "spoof" after he was arrested in (if memory serves) an East Coast college town?

I'm not going to argue about this: if somebody is convinced s/he's an expert on North Korea after seeing a TV show on PBS I don't see how I could, and those people who have better access to better information than I can get from spending the day poking around on the Web are invited to share such with me (what's not Top Secret; I fear the PATRIOT Act enough already).

I'm tired of seeing stuff like "we should invade country X [and kill umpteen dozen American soldiers, let alone "enemy" draftees or civilians] because I saw Y on MSNBC." That makes me every bit as queasy as news reports on the evil horrors of the Kim Jong-Il regime. And as for talk about "getting food in there", that gets us treated to stories illustrating that "it won't do any good -- we'll have to invade and make them be Free first."

Anyway. Sidhedevil, please show us your "comprehensive platform of dealing with the regime while simultaneously alleviating individual suffering," beginning with defining your terms, and including a full bibliography and a small sample of the documents you utilized in making your platform so comprehensive? Perhaps that won't make me queasier; perhaps it'll even lessen my current queasiness. I'll give it a thorough perusal in any case.
posted by davy at 11:35 AM on December 29, 2004


So, Davy, I'm guessing you wouldn't be too interested in this bridge I got for sale either. Oh well...

If Mike Wallace isn't good enough for you, then who, may I ask, would be?

As far as our policy has been, I think all Bush has really done has been to accelerate the waiting game that has been going on for years. Did anyone see this regime lasting much longer? The wisdom in this administration's refusal to placate remains to be seen.
posted by manicroom at 11:47 AM on December 29, 2004


I'm hardly convinced that I'm an "expert" on North Korea. However, I do have the ability to read and assess the work of people whom I believe to be experts on North Korea.

This article, I thought, explored the dramatic failures of current US policy in thoughtful detail, as did this one. This article offers another perspective on the folly of waiting for a hypothetical "regime collapse" to address the North Korean situation.

Some other articles I have found helpful are this one, this one, this one, and this one. The Asahi Shimbun offers some interesting English-language pieces by Japanese commentators, like this one. I've read some good things in L'Humanite on the situation, but they don't have Web archives.

This article makes a better-informed case than mine for a platform of stiffer negotiations with the Kim regime, involving China and Japan as key players, and stepping up direct aid to North Korean citizens.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:17 PM on December 29, 2004


I also heard a fascinating talk by Charles Pritchard in which he discussed the ideas he developed further in this piece.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on December 29, 2004


Who remembers that "American al Qaeda" video that generated so much editorializing and blather, that the "star" maintained was a "spoof" after he was arrested in (if memory serves) an East Coast college town?

I literally have no idea what you are talking about here. If you're referring to Adam Gadahn, who is believed to be the man referred to as "Azzam the American" in a video released in October of 2004, he has not been arrested.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:28 PM on December 29, 2004


By the way, languagehat, I'm surprised you didn't catch this repetition of the "Crazy Kim Jong-Il" bit. A simple "treads-only" "since day one" search of "searched.mefi" for "north korea" gave 62 results; somehow "kim jong-il" OTOH got only 3. I'm of course not arguing that any of these are double posts, or that if they are they should or should not be Allowed; I'm just wondering how closely you're paying attention. I'm also pretty sure that MeFi will see a lot more traffic about North Korea and its zany dictator in the months to come, and that many of the links will point directly to the New York Times.

Is there such a thing as WarFurorFilter? If you want to enforce a guideline against pro-war propaganda I won't oppose that too strenuously, seeing that we get enough of that from other sources.
posted by davy at 12:34 PM on December 29, 2004


davy, again I have literally no idea of what you're talking about. Where is there any "pro-war propaganda" on this thread?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:42 PM on December 29, 2004


Well sidehevil, it seems ya got me there; it wasn't even on the East Coast. Thank you very much. Now that I've been resupplied with his name I got 5,890 results from Google, including on the first page of results an essay allegedly by him ; a quick search of news.google.com turned up only seven hits, not counting those omitted for being very similar. But anyway, this particular "white Muslim" is not the point of this thread.

On preview, I see a bunch of links you've just provided on North Korea. I promise to peruse them later. As for "pro-war propaganda on this thread", you mean you don't see it? What do you think the point of all those news articles about how horrible life is in North Korea because of its corrupt Communist regime and its zany WMD-waving dictator IS? Recall 2002's surfeit of news reports and media blather about dangerous Saddam, his evil Ba'ath Party regime, and lo the poor oppressed Iraqis -- where did THAT lead? (Please tell me you're joking here.)
posted by davy at 12:57 PM on December 29, 2004


sidehevil

I hate it when I don't catch typos like that there. Criminy. C'mon self, it's Sidhedevil. S-i-d-h-e-d-e-v-i-l.

How is it pronounced?
posted by davy at 1:03 PM on December 29, 2004


What do you think the point of all those news articles about how horrible life is in North Korea because of its corrupt Communist regime and its zany WMD-waving dictator IS?

Um, to report on the news? What would you like the media to do? Lie and say that North Korea is a wonderful, happy place? Refuse to say anything at all? The fact that media articles on Iraq came before invasion doesn't mean that any negative article is warmongering. I've seen negative articles on Zimbabwe, and there's certainly no plan to invade them. Sometimes, the news is just that: news about what's going on. Which, in North Korea, happens to be bad stuff.
posted by unreason at 1:09 PM on December 29, 2004


"sidhe" + devil.

I think there are lots of reasons other than "pro-war propaganda" why people would express concern about how terrible life is in North Korea, and how dangerous its current regime and its nuclear ambitions are.

Nor do I think that any rational human being would think that there is any doubt that life in North Korea is terrible, and that its current regime and nuclear ambitions are dangerous to neighboring countries and, indeed, the rest of the world.

People might, for example, want to argue for an improved foreign policy toward the current North Korean regime as well as stepped-up humanitarian aid to individual North Korean citizens.

You seem to be suggesting that reports on the crisis in North Korea are somehow part of a Great Big Propaganda Machine and likely false. You offer as a comparison what you believed was a falsified news report about the "American al-Qaeda"--in fact, the reports weren't falsified at all, you just completely misremembered them as some kind of scam that had been exposed.

There is a big difference between pointing out that there are significant human tragedies happening in countries around the world and suggesting that industrialized nations should attempt to exert diplomatic and economic pressure to stop them, and being a "pro-war propagandist".

I think war should always be a measure of last resort, which is why I have opposed the Iraq war from jump. However, I think the US and other nations should take responsible actions (which do not, in my mind, include war or military action of any kind at this time) to curb the Kim regime and try to provide more food, shelter, and basic necessities for the North Korean people.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on December 29, 2004


> > What do you think the point of all those news articles about how horrible life is in North >>Korea because of its corrupt Communist regime and its zany WMD-waving dictator IS?

> Um, to report on the news?

As it turns out today is brakes-for-girlfriend day, and I still don't have left-wrist brace to match this one. Will somebody else please pick this one up?
posted by davy at 1:20 PM on December 29, 2004


Interesting link and thread

*writes sourcream's name on hit list*

PinkStainlessTail may soon rival Paris Paramus insofar as a capacity for ''online brain farts look at me I am lonely mental toenail clippings'' trollery is concerned.
posted by y2karl at 1:39 PM on December 29, 2004


Nor do I think that any rational human being would think that there is any doubt that life in North Korea is terrible, and that its current regime and nuclear ambitions are dangerous to neighboring countries and, indeed, the rest of the world.

Interesting. Something else I must commend to somebody else, all this "any rational human being" stuff. To me it usually sounds like "... and anyone who disagrees with me is a stupid loony"; propaganda-talk, sophisticated "duck-speak", not intellectual discussion. (See Orwell, Foucault and Chomsky, for starters.)

Soon now I expect someone from the Peanut Gallery will chime in with "So you SUPPORT Kim Il-Jong starving all those poor North Koreans to death! What an asshole!" [sigh]
posted by davy at 1:40 PM on December 29, 2004


Ah, the ''You are pro-Saddam'' meme in its newest mutation.
posted by y2karl at 1:48 PM on December 29, 2004


davy, no one is saying that you're pro North Korea. What they're saying is that you're looking for a conspiracy where there isn't one.

Fact: The news likes to report bad things.

Fact: Really bad things are happening in North Korea. Witnesses from the UN, the EU, and numerous private citizens with no logical reason to lie have reported massive starvation and severe repression.

Fact: The media is therefore reporting said bad things.

Now, using Occam's razor, which is more logical: that the reports of starvation, etc. are true, or that thousands of people from every country across the globe have conspired to lie in order give the US reason to invade a country with no oil, natural resources, or strategic value of any kind?
posted by unreason at 1:56 PM on December 29, 2004


davy, you're a stupid loony if you think that people aren't really starving to death in North Korea.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:02 PM on December 29, 2004


Was that direct enough for you?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:03 PM on December 29, 2004


Of course, if it weren't for the internal killfile, the king of a capacity for ''online brain farts look at me I am lonely mental toenail clippings'' trollery would be wrenched from the needy claws of PaarisParamus by davy. In the Rene Girardian sense, he is the self-obsessed smartypants ideal victim du jour. As dimbulb as I find him, I think he is being unfairly being demonized here.
posted by y2karl at 2:14 PM on December 29, 2004


Not to get involved with the actual discussion, I just wanted to say that the quicktime video Pretty_Generic posted was awesome.
posted by daHIFI at 2:17 PM on December 29, 2004


y2karl, I am not trying to demonize anyone. I am trying to understand what point davy is trying to make. I am not getting it, and would appreciate enlightenment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:18 PM on December 29, 2004


Okay, how should the North Korea situation be handled, then? I'm genuinely curious. What hasn't been tried? Diplomacy? Invasion? Assassination? Sanctions? An embargo? Rack up deficits and build up nuclear arsenals until the weaker economy collapses? Telemarketing? Loud music? Threatening letters?

How about we don't let ABB sell nuclear reactors to NK and then build them?

Did you know that Donald Rumsfeld was on the board of directors of ABB when light water reactor purchases were approved?

Maybe if (recent) administrations and staff on administrations weren't so fucking eager to turn a profit from arms sales, we wouldn't find nuclear weapons pointed back at us a few years later.

Just maybe.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:22 PM on December 29, 2004


Maybe, just maybe, all of NK's nuclear technology dates back to the Soviet Union? Hello? Calling Ignorance, please respond...
posted by ParisParamus at 2:33 PM on December 29, 2004


There is a kind of credulousness that often poses as skepticism: people contend that they can't believe any of the information that comes to them through any mainstream sources, so they wind up with a head full of bits and pieces of crazy unsubstantiated rumors.

I am trying not to make any personal judgment about davy, but the fact that he has, in this thread, said, in effect, "How do you know people are starving in North Korea?" and "The 'American al-Qaeda' guy was arrested and said the video he made was just a spoof" suggests to me that he might, himself, be someone who is prone to that very type of credulousness.

And, if we're quoting my posthumous boyfriend George Orwell, I think we should also look at his preface to Animal Farm:

What is disquieting is that where the USSR and its policies are concerned one cannot expect intelligent criticism or even, in many cases, plain honesty from Liberal writers and journalists who are under no direct pressure to falsify their opinions. Stalin is sacrosanct and certain aspects of his policy must not be seriously discussed. This rule has been almost universally observed since 1941, but it had operated, to a greater extent than is sometimes realized, for ten years earlier than that. Throughout that time, criticism of the Soviet régime from the left could only obtain a hearing with difficulty. There was a huge output of anti-Russian literature, but nearly all of it was from the Conservative angle and manifestly dishonest, out of date and actuated by sordid motives. On the other side there was an equally huge and almost equally dishonest stream of pro-Russian propaganda, and what amounted to a boycott on anyone who tried to discuss all-important questions in a grown-up manner. You could, indeed, publish anti-Russian books, but to do so was to make sure of being ignored or misrepresented by nearly the whole of the highbrow press. Both publicly and privately you were warned that it was 'not done'. What you said might possibly be true, but it was 'inopportune' and 'played into the hands of' this or that reactionary interest.

So, with Orwell, I will say that whether or not my concerns about the Kim regime and the situation in North Korea "play into the hands" of any "reactionary interest", I will continue to state them as clearly as I can.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:33 PM on December 29, 2004




It's clear that not all of North Korea's nuclear technology is Soviet in origin. Pakistan and Egypt are known to have supplied them with nuclear and weapons technology and materiels.

And the ABB/Rumsfeld connection has been spelled out by that crazy left-wing rag, Fortune magazine, ParisParamus.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:39 PM on December 29, 2004


Pakistan and Egypt may have helped, but the Soviets supplied the....critical mass.

Yes, of course, it's mostly Rumsfeld's fault....it's SO obvious.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:50 PM on December 29, 2004


Note that I am not denying that North Koreans are starving, nor am I saying that Kim Jong-Il is a Good Guy. I'm just saying "Remember where such talk got us last time."

You know, last time we got treated to lots of horror stories, when a lot of intelligent, caring people took their cue and insisted "Something must be done!" Many of those stopped short of pushing war, but changed their minds when they heard that Colin Powell gave a big world- reported UN speech about how Saddam gave all those anthrax missiles to Bin Laden. (What was that about "crazy unsubstantiated rumors"?)

By the way, Sidhedevil, I've refrained from insulting you or belittling your intelligence. I'd appeciate the same.
posted by davy at 2:50 PM on December 29, 2004


PS: that was a Clinton Administration deal to de-nuke NK. And, aren't light water reactors the kind that don't allow refinement of weapons-grade materials?

We should just bomb the place and get it over with. Before they get us. Or Japan. Or South Korea.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:53 PM on December 29, 2004


Such talk, the last time, lead us to a great and noble war of liberation. Unfortunately, NK would not be so doable.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:54 PM on December 29, 2004


davy, I'm talking about your posts on this thread, not your intelligence, personal hygiene, or anything else. I have not been able to figure out what point you are trying to make on this thread. Hence my attempts to try to figure out why you are saying what you are saying.

I agree that there might well be people in the world who want to use the terrible situation in North Korea as propaganda for some nefarious war effort.

However, that does not, nor should it, I believe, stop people of good will from commenting on the terrible situation in North Korea and/or pressuring their governments to do something constructive about it.

What, davy, do you think about what I have just said?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:56 PM on December 29, 2004


And, ParisParamus, you're a stupid loony if you believe this:

Pakistan and Egypt may have helped, but the Soviets supplied the....critical mass.

as regards the nuclear weapons and/or materiel currently held by the North Korean government.

And nobody was saying this:

Yes, of course, it's mostly Rumsfeld's fault....it's SO obvious.

but the fact is that ABB built two light-water reactors in North Korea during the time Rumsfeld was on its Board of Directors, and a fellow member of that board has said that Rumsfeld lobbied intensively for approval of the deal.

This was, as I say, reported by Fortune magazine, which is hardly an anti-Bush administration publication.

Now, are the ABB plants alone the cause of North Korea's current nuclear capability? No. But they are one factor in it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:01 PM on December 29, 2004


And davy, you most certainly did not "refrain from insulting" me or "belittling" my "intelligence"--I refer you to your comment, supra:

if somebody is convinced s/he's an expert on North Korea after seeing a TV show on PBS

which attempted to mock me and dismiss my opinion and the research I have done on this topic based on my providing a link to a short and well-written piece on a PBS website.

I've got some facts, and some opinions. You've got some opinions, and haven't offered any facts to back them up. Whatever, dude.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:05 PM on December 29, 2004


Yes, of course, it's mostly Rumsfeld's fault....it's SO obvious.

It seems ironic he shakes hands with Saddam in what led to several profitable arms deals, and then awhile later leads a war against him.

Then Rumsfeld plays a critical role in selling nuclear reactors to NK, which gives them the enrichment and transmutation technology to make fissile material that gets pointed at the western US coast.

Do these facts not get you past your sarcasm?
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:06 PM on December 29, 2004


No. NK had enrichment capabilities BEFORE Rumsfeld ("BR"). Light water reactors are more difficult to use than the heavy water ones NK had for many years.

PS: being on the board of a company doesn't make you the company's Almighty. Especially on the board of a European company (their boards tend to be more collegial).

So, with the Clinton Admin's blessing, reactors were sold, or given to NK. Rumsfeld was on the board of one of the bidders for the contract. That doesn't make him any more of an angel, but it really isn't that horrible a thing under the circumstances

Tangent: there's a good piece in today's NY Sun. It recommends that, rather than give relief Tsunami relief monies to the UN, such monies go to such companies as HALIBURTON--who will actually get the relief delivered effectively.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:15 PM on December 29, 2004


AlexReynolds. Answer: no.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:16 PM on December 29, 2004


Okay, PP, I hate when people give lengthy quotes, but a look at this (from the Fortune piece) makes it clear you can't pin this all on the Clinton administration--the Bush administration has been playing nuclear Santa also:

By 1998 a debate was raging in Washington about the initiative, and the delays were infuriating Pyongyang. Inspectors could no longer verify North Korea’s nuclear material inventory. Still, at some point in 1998, ABB received its formal “invitation to bid,” says Murray. Where was Rumsfeld? That year he chaired a blue-ribbon panel commissioned by Congress to examine classified data on ballistic missile threats. The commission concluded that North Korea could strike the U.S. within five years. (Weeks after the report was released, it fired a three-stage rocket over Japan.) The Rumsfeld Commission also concluded that North Korea was maintaining a nuclear weapons program — a subtle swipe at the reactor deal, which was supposed to prevent such a program. Rumsfeld’s resume in the report did not mention that he was an ABB director.

In his final days in office, Clinton had been preparing a bold deal in which North Korea would give up its missile and nuclear programs in return for aid and normalized relations. But President Bush was skeptical of Pyongyang’s intentions and called for a policy review in March 2001. Two months later the DOE, after consulting with Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, renewed the authorization to send nuclear technology to North Korea. Groundbreaking ceremonies attended by Westinghouse and North Korean officials were held Sept. 14, 2001 — three days after the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.

The Bush administration still hasn’t abandoned the project. Representative Edward Markey and other Congressmen have been sending letters to Bush and Rumsfeld, asking them to pull the plug on the reactors, which Markey calls “nuclear bomb factories.” Nevertheless, a concrete-pouring ceremony was held last August, and Westinghouse sponsored a training course for the North Koreans that concluded in October — shortly before Pyongyang confessed to having a secret uranium program, kicked inspectors out, and said it would start making plutonium. The Bush administration has suspended further transfers of nuclear technology, but in January it authorized $3.5 million to keep the project going.


[Boldface mine.]
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:19 PM on December 29, 2004


At least Donald Rumsfeld has overseen a modernization and assertiveness of the US Military that makes NK a little more scared; a little less likely to think it can bullshit the US into more aid. And-thank God we don't have to look to John Kerry to manage the NK nightmare.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:21 PM on December 29, 2004


But North Korea has, in fact, gotten more aid--and specifically more aid to build nuclear reactors on Rumsfeld's watch, PP.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:22 PM on December 29, 2004


I know it hurts when the reality and the Koolaid react with each other, PP, but the fact is that your precious Rumsfeld and your precious Bush have been sending nuclear reactors and money to build nuclear reactors to North Korea, even though both Republican and Democratic legislators have begged them not to.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:24 PM on December 29, 2004


OK, Sidhedevil, maybe both Clinton and Bush are wusses. So lets write to the White House and urge the President to be more hard-line on NK (sorry, can't spell the capital city of that place...)
posted by ParisParamus at 3:25 PM on December 29, 2004


See above. I do write to my legislators and the WH about these issues, and have done so during every administration since the Reagan administration.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:28 PM on December 29, 2004


Chris Morris in the Independent, on Peter Arnett's "Live From the Battlefield:

Arnett's life began 26 years after he was born, when he found himself swimming the Mekong river to wire out news of the coup in Laos. The unimportance of everything up to that point is clear from the brevity of its documentation (nearly half his life in the first tenth of the book) and the schizophrenia of his writing style. Early years are charted in a stilted prose full of tautologies and misplaced gravitas. Imagine the act of patting your dog described in the style of 'From Our Own Correspondent'.
----------------
What does the book add to our image of Peter Arnett - the man with the face of a leatherback turtle and the brain of a pit bull on steroids? While it mostly rips along like a strafing A-3 jet, it is overhung with a whiff of sadness. A picture emerges of a man with a hole in his life that is filled by war. He is a paradigm for his trade. A man who will surely die strapped to the body of a missile shouting 'blast me into battle - I want to smell the news'.

posted by Sticherbeast at 4:00 PM on December 29, 2004


FUCK. WRONG THREAD.

I apologize.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:01 PM on December 29, 2004


What thread did you mean to post that in?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:10 PM on December 29, 2004


somehow "kim jong-il" OTOH got only 3

Quite possibly because inserting a hyphen between the (almost) standard two syllable Korean given names is far from standard practice, although some still do it.

As far as this nuclear reactor silliness goes, a little knowledge is clearly a dangerous thing. Here's an executive summary. One of the main tenets of the 1994 Agreed Framework between America and the DPRK was that the DPRK would halt construction of heavy water reactors (which, it was rightly worried, could be more easily used to create bomb-quality materials) and in return, America would construct light water reactors (for electricity, and harder to use to make bombs) and provide heavy fuel oil.

Both the Clinton (while, note, somewhere upwards of 2 million people were starving to death in the late 90's in a country with only 19 million total) and Bush administrations reneged on this agreement (although the Bushites put the nail in the coffin), and this, in combination with other Bush policies (or stunning lack thereof, to be more accurate) with regard to the DPRK explains why we are where we are, and have been for the past several years.

Also, it must be said that the politicians, chaebol oligarchs and the man on the street here in South Korea (or the ones I talk to, mostly) want nothing less than reunification. They are aware that it would deal a blow to the ROK economy from which it would take years to recover. And sentimental as Koreans are, economic considerations trump all, every time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:37 PM on December 29, 2004


davey and Sidhedevil:
There is very little chance of an Iraq-style invasion. North Korea has a standing army of at least 1 million and a fair amount of kit. This is the most up to date info I can find. In short, it would be a blood bath.
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 4:46 PM on December 29, 2004


>>if somebody is convinced s/he's an expert on North Korea after seeing a TV show on PBS

>which attempted to mock me and dismiss my opinion and the research I have done on this >topic based on my providing a to a short and well-written piece on a PBS website.

No, sidhedevil, I wasn't mocking or even referring to YOU, and I haven't had time to get to your posts' links. (Them damn brakes better have needed new rotors, and I'm tempted to jack the damn car up once it's dry enough out to make sure those he said he put on, without prior authorization, are in fact new.) And it turns out I misremembered that too: it was not PBS but "60 Minutes."

Oh and stavros, dropping the hyphen got two more hits, for a grand total, so far, of 5.
posted by davy at 4:52 PM on December 29, 2004


stavros, what do you mean "the Clinton and Bush administrations reneged on the agreement"? Construction actually did begin on the light-water plants in 1998, but was suspended in December 2003, right? It seems like both administrations have blown hot and cold on the light-water projects.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:58 PM on December 29, 2004


And sidhedevil, from like 6 o'clock my time (EST) till after 7:30 I was wading through slush, on a bus, wading through slush again, watching The Drew Carey Show in the mechanics' waiting room, and then irritating my girlfriend who thinks I take too long to pick out "just a few things really" in the supermarket -- and dammit I forgot to buy milk which was why I'd wanted to go in the first place. Now I want my frozen pizza and Stroh's, so it'll be a while before I can start dodging your brilliant points. (Note: She is a vegetarian teetotaler, and is in no way responsible for my dietary choices, either.)
posted by davy at 5:07 PM on December 29, 2004


And yet, davy, you keep finding time to post confused ramblings and/or non sequiturs. Neat!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:09 PM on December 29, 2004


I mean that they reneged on both the spirit and the letter of the agreement, Sidhedevil. Can't be clearer than that.

Oh and stavros, dropping the hyphen got two more hits, for a grand total, so far, of 5.

Well, I'm not sure what your point is, or why we're talking about it, but searching for the fragment 'jong' -- unlikely to result in much but the name Kim Jong Il -- brings back 10 pages of hits from this site.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 PM on December 29, 2004


davy, you don't seriously think the only alternative to being there yourself is watching tv shows, do you?

stav: "want nothing less than reunification" was mighty confusing. I finally figured out you meant they didn't at all want reunification, but my first reading was "won't settle for anything less than," so my brain hurt. But that executive summary was very useful, so I forgive you.
posted by languagehat at 5:24 PM on December 29, 2004


Sorry, lh. Little worse for wear, today, me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:29 PM on December 29, 2004


Thanks, hat--you clarified what I found confusing.

stavros, I'm no fan of the Bush administration or the Clinton administration, but I don't see their actions as "reneging"--money has been spent and construction started on the light-water plants, and construction has been suspended when the North Koreans have violated the terms of the agreements. That's a little more complicated than "reneging" to me.

Should the US et al. have continued pouring money into the light-water plants and taken no notice of the North Korean government's violations of the terms on which the light-water project was being offered?
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2004


Sidhedevil : I wrote a piece on this subject at my site about 2 years ago. If my facts were incorrect, I welcome any corrections you might offer.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:40 PM on December 29, 2004


And yet, davy, you keep finding time to post confused ramblings and/or non sequiturs. Neat!

You mean you, your data and/or your arguments should be as easy to dispose of?
posted by davy at 5:41 PM on December 29, 2004


davy, you don't seriously think the only alternative to being there yourself is watching tv shows, do you?

Not the only one, but for most Americans the easiest.
posted by davy at 5:44 PM on December 29, 2004


stavros, as far as I can gather, there actually was some progress on the light-water project between 1998 and 2002: the KEDO consortium approved a contractor, began a training program, prepared a site, broke ground, and began construction of at least one of the plants. Yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:05 PM on December 29, 2004


I mean, I take your point that the original Agreed Framework stated that the plants would be operational by 2003, but when in the history of the world has a major international construction project ever actually been completed on schedule?

Other than that, I don't have any quibbles with your facts; we just differ in our opinions, it seems to me, about why things have fallen out the way they have.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:08 PM on December 29, 2004


Well, Sidhedevil, your second link says "On Wednesday, August 7, 2002, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) will mark an important milestone in the construction of the Light-Water Reactor (LWR) project at the construction site in Kumho District, South Hamgyong Province, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). A ceremony will be held to commemorate the pouring of first concrete for the foundations of the main power plant buildings."

That doesn't, I don't think, contradict my assertion that nothing (although perhaps it might have been more accurate to have said nothing of substance) had been done before mid-2002.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:08 PM on December 29, 2004


searching for the fragment 'jong' -- unlikely to result in much but the name Kim Jong Il -- brings back 10 pages of hits from this site [Google].

Thank you Stavros, you just helped make one of my points for me: there's been a lot of news/media blather about North Korea in the past couple years, very little of it high praise, and it's generated a lot of talk among Americans (who I think still predominate on the Net), as shown by all the posts and discussions here on MetaFilter.

That's happened recently about Iraq too. And we've seen where all the "news" and associated blather about THAT "monstrous evil" led, haven't we.

And don't forget the raped Belgian nuns!

To quote Pete Seeger, "When will we ever learn?"
posted by davy at 6:25 PM on December 29, 2004


"Raped Belgian nuns."

Note that I'm not agreeing with or endorsing her, but she's got her history down.
posted by davy at 6:31 PM on December 29, 2004


Having worked for an institution that was building a building much much smaller than a nuclear reactor, I think of all the work that has to be done before the pouring of the first foundation as quite significant, actually.

Your dick is in, so to speak, long before the foundation is poured, and generally between one third and one half of a project's total construction budget has been spent.

It may well not have been "enough" but it's hard to for me to agree that it was "nothing of substance", stavros.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:33 PM on December 29, 2004


OK, fair enough. I disagree, given the context of lack of apparent good will in not fulfilling other parts of the Agreed Framework as well, but c'est la vie.

Thank you Stavros, you just helped make one of my points for me

My pleasure, squire. *doffs cap*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:37 PM on December 29, 2004


And more than 1.25 billion dollars has been spent so far on the fuel oil and the light-water construction, yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:39 PM on December 29, 2004


I do agree with you, stavros, that the Agreed Framework has been bollixed up badly by all parties. I just thought that your portrayal of it as unilateral "reneging" wasn't accurate.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:40 PM on December 29, 2004


Your dick is in, so to speak, long before the foundation is poured

That sounds dreadful and potentially painful. "Keep that cement away from me! (Where'd I leave my LifeAlert, dammit?)"
posted by davy at 6:42 PM on December 29, 2004


Your dick is in, so to speak, long before the foundation is poured

(Insert your own Cheney/Halliburton joke here)
posted by fandango_matt at 6:53 PM on December 29, 2004


Off-topic aside: after seeing people complain about my formatting, and then having to read MeFi in Internet Explorer for a few minutes, I thought maybe setting my display font at 16-point Times New Roman might've had something to do with that. Now it's down to 14 points; we'll see if it helps.

I like "creative" formatting, and I don't like long solid blocks of type or filling up the Blogosphere with nothing but one-line quips.
posted by davy at 8:27 PM on December 29, 2004


Sidhedevil: "There is a kind of credulousness that often poses as skepticism: people contend that they can't believe any of the information that comes to them through any mainstream sources, so they wind up with a head full of bits and pieces of crazy unsubstantiated rumors."

Wow--mind if I get that printed on a T-shirt? It is the best thing I have read on Metafilter in ages.
posted by LarryC at 7:40 AM on December 30, 2004


Oo, go ahead, and thanks for the praise. I would needlepoint it on a pillow if it weren't for this damned carpal tunnel syndrome!
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:13 AM on December 30, 2004


« Older 2004 Year in Pictures   |   Bittersweet Bears Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post