Kim Jong-Il Dead.

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Postby Storyteller » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:43 am

UtgardLoki wrote:Clashes with "every hard fact"? And who decides which facts are "hard" and which are "soft"? My feeling is that people gemerally choose those "facts" that fit their own preconceptions and prejudices.

For starters, there's one hard fact known to all; North Korea is the kind of country from which one escapes, as opposed to emigrating. The kind of country, that is, which feels the need to keep their people home by force because it doesn't trust them to choose to stay under Dear Leader and his Party's wing in any significant numbers.

Then there's other facts. North Korea admitted the famine in 1995 when it made official request for humanitarian assistance. For an intensely xenophobic government like NK to swallow it pride and request food aid from its main rivals- the US and South Korea- is not an easy thing. It is possible that they are exaggerating the continuing food shortage in order to profit from foreign assistance, but there's other evidence, like the degree of preoccupation with agricultural production in the North Korean government's public speeches and the reports of widespread conscription of city residents to the aid of rice farmers (as well as the increasing phenomenon of urban agriculture- city people living on the outskirts who turn to farming the nearby land plots for subsistence.

Much like Iran is constantly claimed by her enemies to be "building the bomb", when the "facts" point to such programmes having been halted in 2003. Yet that doesn't fit with the drum-beaters of war. :)

Which facts point to those programmes having been halted?

(At least you're not denying that they existed. "Halted" means there was something to be halted; when it comes to you, I call that progress.)
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:55 am

Excuse me, but I think that what happened here is that the data for North Korea and South Korea were confused.

This is the actual UN data:
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/ ... health.htm

People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Men: 66
Life Expectancy at Birth: Women: 72
Infant Mortality (out of 1000): 32
Mortality Under 5 Yrs (out of 1000): 25

Republic of Korea (South)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Men: 77
Life Expectancy at Birth: Women: 84
Infant Mortality (out of 1000): 5
Mortality Under 5 Yrs (out of 1000): 4

United States (for comparison)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Men: 76
Life Expectancy at Birth: Women: 81
Infant Mortality (out of 1000): 8
Mortality Under 5 Yrs (out of 1000): 6

Because demographic data is a statistical estimate, Infant Mortality drags down Life Expectancy at Birth. If you looked at data for Life Expectancy at 5 years, it would probably be higher for all three countries.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:59 am

Storyteller wrote:
UtgardLoki wrote:Clashes with "every hard fact"? And who decides which facts are "hard" and which are "soft"? My feeling is that people gemerally choose those "facts" that fit their own preconceptions and prejudices.

For starters, there's one hard fact known to all; North Korea is the kind of country from which one escapes, as opposed to emigrating. The kind of country, that is, which feels the need to keep their people home by force because it doesn't trust them to choose to stay under Dear Leader and his Party's wing in any significant numbers.

Then there's other facts. North Korea admitted the famine in 1995 when it made official request for humanitarian assistance. For an intensely xenophobic government like NK to swallow it pride and request food aid from its main rivals- the US and South Korea- is not an easy thing. It is possible that they are exaggerating the continuing food shortage in order to profit from foreign assistance, but there's other evidence, like the degree of preoccupation with agricultural production in the North Korean government's public speeches and the reports of widespread conscription of city residents to the aid of rice farmers (as well as the increasing phenomenon of urban agriculture- city people living on the outskirts who turn to farming the nearby land plots for subsistence.
Yes, the floods of 1995 were a disaster, wiping out the crops, but also destroying the grain reserves, which were stored underground. Coupled with the fact that North Korea's "partners" had disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, NK was in desperate straits. Between 5% and 25% of the population perished as a consequence of the resulting famine. After such a catastrophe, it is little surprise that the national leaders should be so preoccupied with food shortages. Yet none of this alters the fact that the UN use the figures given for life expectancy. It is fine to dispute these facts, but my guess is that much of this disputation is politically motivated. Again! :D

Storyteller wrote:
Much like Iran is constantly claimed by her enemies to be "building the bomb", when the "facts" point to such programmes having been halted in 2003. Yet that doesn't fit with the drum-beaters of war. :)

Which facts point to those programmes having been halted?

(At least you're not denying that they existed. "Halted" means there was something to be halted; when it comes to you, I call that progress.)
Yes, there was some limited theoretical exploration, but nothing really to write home about. Certainly nothing to provoke the breathless, febrile portents of doom masquerading as "intelligence" that is habitually proffered by the anti-Iranian propagandists. There are quite a few of them about! :D
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:03 am

Jnyusa wrote:Excuse me, but I think that what happened here is that the data for North Korea and South Korea were confused.

This is the actual UN data:
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/ ... health.htm

People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Men: 66
Life Expectancy at Birth: Women: 72
Infant Mortality (out of 1000): 32
Mortality Under 5 Yrs (out of 1000): 25

Republic of Korea (South)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Men: 77
Life Expectancy at Birth: Women: 84
Infant Mortality (out of 1000): 5
Mortality Under 5 Yrs (out of 1000): 4

United States (for comparison)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Men: 76
Life Expectancy at Birth: Women: 81
Infant Mortality (out of 1000): 8
Mortality Under 5 Yrs (out of 1000): 6

Because demographic data is a statistical estimate, Infant Mortality drags down Life Expectancy at Birth. If you looked at data for Life Expectancy at 5 years, it would probably be higher for all three countries.
One just can't trust the BBC! :D

What is interesting is how those statistics provided show how much infant mortality skews the figures. Higher infant mortality results in the dragging down of at birth life expectancy, and because NK has the highest infant mortality rate, at birth life expectancy is proportionately affected greater (decreased) than both SK and the USA. Thank you for those figures, Jnyusa. :)
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Postby Storyteller » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:43 am

UtgardLoki wrote:Yes, the floods of 1995 were a disaster, wiping out the crops, but also destroying the grain reserves, which were stored underground. Coupled with the fact that North Korea's "partners" had disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, NK was in desperate straits. Between 5% and 25% of the population perished as a consequence of the resulting famine. After such a catastrophe, it is little surprise that the national leaders should be so preoccupied with food shortages. Yet none of this alters the fact that the UN use the figures given for life expectancy. It is fine to dispute these facts, but my guess is that much of this disputation is politically motivated. Again! :D

I think you've just made a full circle, from claiming that life is good in North Korea to claiming that life is bad but it doesn't mean anything :roll:

It occurs to me that your conclusions precede rather than follow your reasoning.

Storyteller wrote:
Much like Iran is constantly claimed by her enemies to be "building the bomb", when the "facts" point to such programmes having been halted in 2003. Yet that doesn't fit with the drum-beaters of war. :)

Which facts point to those programmes having been halted?

(At least you're not denying that they existed. "Halted" means there was something to be halted; when it comes to you, I call that progress.)
Yes, there was some limited theoretical exploration, but nothing really to write home about. Certainly nothing to provoke the breathless, febrile portents of doom masquerading as "intelligence" that is habitually proffered by the anti-Iranian propagandists. There are quite a few of them about! :D

That's fascinating info. What rank did you say you hold in the Revolutionary Guards, and what were your sources?
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Postby vison » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:49 am

That kind of infant mortality rate does a lot more than drag down at birth life expectancy. It reveals a great deal about the state of affairs in that country.

32 deaths in 1,000 births is a horrible number. It speaks of very poor maternal nutrition and the lack of proper prenatal care.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:50 am

Storyteller wrote:
UtgardLoki wrote:Yes, the floods of 1995 were a disaster, wiping out the crops, but also destroying the grain reserves, which were stored underground. Coupled with the fact that North Korea's "partners" had disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, NK was in desperate straits. Between 5% and 25% of the population perished as a consequence of the resulting famine. After such a catastrophe, it is little surprise that the national leaders should be so preoccupied with food shortages. Yet none of this alters the fact that the UN use the figures given for life expectancy. It is fine to dispute these facts, but my guess is that much of this disputation is politically motivated. Again! :D

I think you've just made a full circle, from claiming that life is good in North Korea to claiming that life is bad but it doesn't mean anything :roll:

It occurs to me that your conclusions precede rather than follow your reasoning.
I haven't claimed anything. :D However, what I will state is my opinion, that there is an agenda in vilifying NK, much as there is an agenda in vilifying Iran, as there was an agenda vilifying Iraq. Propaganda is used in the furtherance of that agenda. Is that particularly contentious?

Storyteller wrote:
Storyteller wrote:
Much like Iran is constantly claimed by her enemies to be "building the bomb", when the "facts" point to such programmes having been halted in 2003. Yet that doesn't fit with the drum-beaters of war. :)

Which facts point to those programmes having been halted?

(At least you're not denying that they existed. "Halted" means there was something to be halted; when it comes to you, I call that progress.)
Yes, there was some limited theoretical exploration, but nothing really to write home about. Certainly nothing to provoke the breathless, febrile portents of doom masquerading as "intelligence" that is habitually proffered by the anti-Iranian propagandists. There are quite a few of them about! :D

That's fascinating info. What rank did you say you hold in the Revolutionary Guards, and what were your sources?
That's between Mark Regev and I! :lol:
vison wrote:That kind of infant mortality rate does a lot more than drag down at birth life expectancy. It reveals a great deal about the state of affairs in that country.

32 deaths in 1,000 births is a horrible number. It speaks of very poor maternal nutrition and the lack of proper prenatal care.
Yes, it is quite terrible. North Korea is still struggling to come to terms with the 1995 floods that were apocolyptic in scale.
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:58 am

UtgardLoki wrote:What is interesting is how those statistics provided show how much infant mortality skews the figures.


Yes, one has to be careful with demographic data.

Also, infant mortality doesn't tell you a whole lot without fertility rates. Non-industrialized countries, or the rural sectors of newly emerging industrial nations, often have both high fertility and high infant mortality rates. If sepsis is a common cause of maternal death, which is again often the case in non-industrialized countries or their rural sectors , this will also drag life expectancy down and infant mortality up. And if there is a major disaster event like the flood that afflicted N. Korea, this may affect statistics for an entire generation. It is the infants who perish first in such events, usually from dehydration (they get diarrhea from contaminated water and dehydrate). Dehydration is actually the major cause of infant mortality in parts of India, and it may be true for North Korea in general as well. Getting potable water sources into rural areas is one of the most severe development challenges that a lot of these countries face.
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Postby vison » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:01 am

UtgardLoki, I am at a loss to understand why you keep harping on those floods as if they are the root cause of present food shortages in North Korea. They are but one factor, and that was 16 years ago, nearly a generation.

16 years is 16 crops.

The average infant mortality since 1995 is 36.93 deaths per 1,000, according to a report I just read. For the years between 1995 - 2000, it was 54.92. It has dropped significantly since then, to 28.47 for 2000 to 2005, and to 27.39 for 2005 to 2010. It is still a very high number, especially compared to the number for South Korea.

It is all fine and dandy to express a different point of view, but to see what appears to be a defense of a vile and tyrannical system just, you know, boggles the mind. I tend to believe what I hear from people who risked their lives (and their families' lives) to escape that place.

Perhaps you aren't old enough to remember when people were shot trying to escape from the workers' paradise of East Germany. That regime was as nothing, compared to North Korea.
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:06 am

vison wrote:32 deaths in 1,000 births is a horrible number. It speaks of very poor maternal nutrition and the lack of proper prenatal care.


Yes, that's very high. But for comparison, in Bangladesh during the famine infant mortality was 122 in 1000. That's probably the highest I've ever seen, and yet ... and yet ... still lower than the infant mortality in United States orphanage care through the 1950s. Believe it or not, infants between 0 and nine months whose mothers died and whose fathers would not assume care of them had mortality rates of 200 out of 1000 here in the US.

In N. Korea it's probably not due to maternal nutrition but rather, as I said above, sepsis causing maternal death and the subsequent death of the infant, or dehydration due to a lack of sufficiently clean potable water. Beyond a certain age a child can recover from diarrhea but for infants in poor countries it is overwhelmingly fatal.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:13 am

vison wrote:UtgardLoki, I am at a loss to understand why you keep harping on those floods as if they are the root cause of present food shortages in North Korea. They are but one factor, and that was 16 years ago, nearly a generation.

16 years is 16 crops.
It is not quite as simple as that, unfortunately. A vicious cycle happened, in which firstly, the crops and food reserves were destroyed, and what followed was that the capacity to plant anew was seriously impeded. Those supplies that would have been used for next season planting were, instead, used to combat the immediacy of famine. Famines on the scale experienced by NK are not so easily overcome. The floods destroyed the infrastructure of NK. The effects were of "biblical" proportions. To give an idea of just how severe this catastrophe was, 100cm of rain fell in less than twelve hours. So, yes, the effects still resonate.

vison wrote:The average infant mortality since 1995 is 36.93 deaths per 1,000, according to a report I just read. For the years between 1995 - 2000, it was 54.92. It has dropped significantly since then, to 28.47 for 2000 to 2005, and to 27.39 for 2005 to 2010. It is still a very high number, especially compared to the number for South Korea.
So in the immediate aftermath of this catastrophe, infant mortality was at this phenomenally high level. The cause? The flood.

vison wrote:It is all fine and dandy to express a different point of view, but to see what appears to be a defense of a vile and tyrannical system just, you know, boggles the mind. I tend to believe what I hear from people who risked their lives (and their families' lives) to escape that place.

Perhaps you aren't old enough to remember when people were shot trying to escape from the workers' paradise of East Germany. That regime was as nothing, compared to North Korea.
And now there is "ostalgia"! :D
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Postby Storyteller » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:28 am

UtgardLoki wrote:
Storyteller wrote:
UtgardLoki wrote:Yes, the floods of 1995 were a disaster, wiping out the crops, but also destroying the grain reserves, which were stored underground. Coupled with the fact that North Korea's "partners" had disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, NK was in desperate straits. Between 5% and 25% of the population perished as a consequence of the resulting famine. After such a catastrophe, it is little surprise that the national leaders should be so preoccupied with food shortages. Yet none of this alters the fact that the UN use the figures given for life expectancy. It is fine to dispute these facts, but my guess is that much of this disputation is politically motivated. Again! :D

I think you've just made a full circle, from claiming that life is good in North Korea to claiming that life is bad but it doesn't mean anything :roll:

It occurs to me that your conclusions precede rather than follow your reasoning.
I haven't claimed anything. :D However, what I will state is my opinion, that there is an agenda in vilifying NK, much as there is an agenda in vilifying Iran, as there was an agenda vilifying Iraq. Propaganda is used in the furtherance of that agenda. Is that particularly contentious?

If you're not claiming anything, then it's not contentious. It's putting up smokescreen to obscure the Dear Leader from criticism and to misdirect the discussion.

Storyteller wrote:
Yes, there was some limited theoretical exploration, but nothing really to write home about. Certainly nothing to provoke the breathless, febrile portents of doom masquerading as "intelligence" that is habitually proffered by the anti-Iranian propagandists. There are quite a few of them about! :D

That's fascinating info. What rank did you say you hold in the Revolutionary Guards, and what were your sources?
That's between Mark Regev and I! :lol:

Your sexual relationships interest me very little. The source of your claims about "limited theoretical exploration" (and this time, you're definitely claiming), would be interesting to see, however.

Yes, it is quite terrible. North Korea is still struggling to come to terms with the 1995 floods that were apocolyptic in scale.

Which is a proof of their independence and self-sufficiency, I suppose.
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Postby vison » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:39 am

16 years is 16 crops. As a farmer (and I am) I am pretty sure that after 16 years things ought to be back to "normal".

There was no reason for North Korea to eat all its seedstock, beyond the insane determination of the Dear Leader not to admit that they needed help. He did not go hungry.

As long as there are apologists for beasts like him, and his miserable offspring, they will continue to devour their own.

One day, it will change. And I for one hope that the body of the Dear Leader (whichever brute it is) is put into the streets for the dogs to eat.

Except the dogs of North Korea are pretty scarce.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:50 am

vison wrote:16 years is 16 crops. As a farmer (and I am) I am pretty sure that after 16 years things ought to be back to "normal".

There was no reason for North Korea to eat all its seedstock, beyond the insane determination of the Dear Leader not to admit that they needed help. He did not go hungry.
But as has been asserted by others, the "Dear Leader" did admit help was needed.
Again, I don't think you quite appreciate the severity of the floods, and the structural damage caused. From wikipedia
The threats from famine were compounded by severe damage to health systems and water, sanitation, and energy distribution systems. The DPKR lost an estimated 85% of hydroelectric capacity from damage caused by the floods, along with coal mines, supplies and transport facilities, reducing the ability for the country to produce its own energy. [26] UN officials reported a complex set of problems, commenting that the power shortage problem of 1995-1997

was not due to a shortage of oil as only two of two dozen power stations were dependent on heavy fuel oil for power generation… and these were supplied by KEDO (the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization)…. About 70% of power generated in the DPKR came from hydropower sources, and the serious winter-spring droughts of 1996 and 1997 (and a breakdown on one of the Yalu River’s large hydro turbines) created major shortages throughout the country at that time, severely cutting back railway transportation (which was almost entirely dependent on electric power), which in turn resulted in coal supply shortages to the coal-fueled power stations which supplied the remaining 20% of power in the country. [27]

With breakdowns in the energy sector, and contamination of water sources due to the failure of sanitation facilites, the health care system was unable to cope with the situation. Inadequate inputs and power failure combined with outdated training and knowledge about health care techniques and procedures led to a health care crisis that added to the overall devastation. According to a 1997 UNICEF delegation,

hospitals were clean but wards were devoid of even the most rudimentary supplies and equipment; sphygmomanometers, thermometers, scales, kidney dishes, spatulas and IV giving sets etc. The mission saw numerous patients being treated with home made beer bottle IV sets, clearly unsterile. There was an absence of ORS (oral rehydration solution) and even the most basic drugs such as analgesics and antibiotics. [28]

With almost the entire infrastructure in some sort of disrepair, the famine escalated to crisis levels.
I honestly think you fail to grasp the immensity of the devastation. :|
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Postby vison » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:56 am

I grasp the devastation. And I repeat: that was 16 years ago.

Inadequate inputs and power failure combined with outdated training and knowledge about health care techniques and procedures led to a health care crisis that added to the overall devastation.


That, and other such facts, show that the floods made things a lot worse, but were not the sole cause of the mess that is North Korea.

The place was a horror show before that, and nothing has changed.
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Postby RoseMorninStar » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:28 pm

If North Korea is such a wonderful place.. one would think they would not have to go to such lengths to keep people from leaving the country. An attempt to leave the country results in death. If North Korea were such a Utopia.. wouldn't people be begging to get in?

Many North Koreans own a mobile phone but they are not allowed to call or receive international calls. Most North Koreans have never even heard of the Internet, but the "Dear Leader" has said he enjoys "surfing the net". All radios & TV's are modified and randomly inspected so that they only receive Government broadcast channels. Citizens must have special government permission to purchase a TV or radio. Etc.. etc..

None of which has anything to do with a flood 16 years ago, but the countries only issues are not food/flood related.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:21 pm

RoseMorninStar wrote:If North Korea is such a wonderful place.. one would think they would not have to go to such lengths to keep people from leaving the country. An attempt to leave the country results in death. If North Korea were such a Utopia.. wouldn't people be begging to get in?
Wonderful? Utopia? I don't think anybody has made such claims. I certainly haven't. But neither would I subscribe to the simplistic "evil empire" designation. That is an all too familiar propaganda exercise, reeking of Bush/Cheney brimstone.

RoseMorninStar wrote:Many North Koreans own a mobile phone but they are not allowed to call or receive international calls. Most North Koreans have never even heard of the Internet, but the "Dear Leader" has said he enjoys "surfing the net". All radios & TV's are modified and randomly inspected so that they only receive Government broadcast channels. Citizens must have special government permission to purchase a TV or radio. Etc.. etc..

None of which has anything to do with a flood 16 years ago, but the countries only issues are not food/flood related.
No, there are many issues, but this dismissal of the effects of the 1995-97 flood induced famine and collapse of NK infrastructure is, I feel, founded on political opportunism. It is somewhat illustrative to compare New Orleans six years after Katrina, with North Korea after the flood. The most advanced nation in the world has been unable to engineer anything approaching recovery for New Orleans, yet a whole country that was devastated on a scale that makes Katrina look like a pinprick is expected to have made some miraculous recovery. To reiterate, North Korea was close to eradication as a viable country by natural disaster, and at a time when support it could have relied on (the Soviet Union and "satellites") had disappeared. It really was the "perfect storm".
North Korea has a bunker mentality, but it is not paranoid. There really are forces (remember the "Axis of Evil"?) that wish its destruction.
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That statement is positively surreal! :lol:
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Postby Arvegil » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:03 pm

UtgardLoki wrote:Wonderful? Utopia? I don't think anybody has made such claims. I certainly haven't. But neither would I subscribe to the simplistic "evil empire" designation. That is an all too familiar propaganda exercise, reeking of Bush/Cheney brimstone.



And Bush and Cheney, not unlike a broken clock, could be right twice a day. Your attempt to make excuses for anything that salutes a red flag is noted, and, in its own pathetic way, is quite poignant. However, the Dead Leader was Hennessey's favorite client while his population starved. Perhaps he needed all that $1,000.00 per bottle cognac to take the edge off those hard days of designing flood control projects.

Oh, and the "pleasure brigades" of high school age girls was just his attempt to teach them useful skills...
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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:16 am

UtgardLoki wrote:Wonderful? Utopia? I don't think anybody has made such claims. I certainly haven't. But neither would I subscribe to the simplistic "evil empire" designation. That is an all too familiar propaganda exercise, reeking of Bush/Cheney brimstone.


Allow me to defend the point that UgardLoki is trying to make, which is NOT the same thing as defending Kim Jong Il.

Men like Kim Jong Il are a disaster for their own people and they are a problem for our own government ... (having nukes and being crazy) ... but they pose a different sort of problem for us as well, as citizens of the west, in that their self-evident malignancy becomes the justification for every imaginable belligerency by our own government and allies. That belligerency has nothing to do with human rights or democracy, but leaders like Kim Jong Il make it seem reasonable and compassionate by comparison.

Our opposition to North Korea has nothing to do with starvation or massacres or teenage prostitution; it has to do with containing China. When Syngman Rhee ruled South Korea and when Chiang Kai-Shek invaded Taiwan, and they corrupted elections and massacred dissidents in the tens of thousands and cooperated with the triads to finance their operations and so on, we had no problem with that.

It is also true that in the spookier realms of our own government we pursue policies that push men like Kim Jong Il toward more extreme positions because it serves a propaganda purpose. vison, you mentioned East Germany, which is a good example of the way that crises are invisibly manufactured by our own government to justify massive tax dollars being diverted to causes that enrich certain of our own corrupt power structures. There is no question that life under that regime was horrible, but also no question that the US provoked the building of the wall by its secret operations to overthrow that government. We wanted that wall even more than the East German government did, because it served our purposes even more than it served theirs. By "our" purposes I mean the objectives of factions within our own government.

The challenge for us, as dumb-cluck citizens with only half the story at our disposal, being systematically propagandized pretty much all the time ... the challenge for us when we talk about a 'better world' is to comprehend why that kind of regime is able to take root in certain places and not others. I do think there is a cultural component to this. It has to do with culture and history and self-perception and fear. Most people in the world, I think, perceive themselves as having to choose among the lesser of many evils, and the challenge is for us is to understand why they perceive that choice to be the lesser evil (at first, anyway), and then secondarily how we contribute to its devolution into complete tyranny from which escape is impossible.

It IS better to live today in South Korea than in North Korea. It is better to live in Taiwan than in the PRC. I believe so, if individual well-being and self-determination are the measure of "better." But it was not good to live in Korea or China during their pre-communist years, nor in the years following their communist revolutions even if one lived in the non-commie alternative.

There was a subsequent evolution away from some source culture that gave rise to both kinds of government, that gave rise to their antecedent and then its antitheses, and that subsequent evolution can be analyzed. Why was South Korea able to break the yoke and North Korea not? Why did it take half a century for the native Taiwanese to be able to reclaim their political identity?

These are the interesting questions, in my opinion, and I don't think the answer is at all obvious or facile.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:21 am

Jnyusa wrote:Our opposition to North Korea has nothing to do with starvation or massacres or teenage prostitution; it has to do with containing China . . .
. . . It is also true that in the spookier realms of our own government we pursue policies that push men like Kim Jong Il toward more extreme positions because it serves a propaganda purpose.
Further to this, it was no coincidence that the Sunshine policy implemented by South Korea in 2000 CE, resulting in a thaw in relations between North and South Korea, was to all intents and purposes scuppered by Washington. George Bush's designation of North Korea as a constituent of his "Axis of Evil" had the apparently intended consequence of the North cutting off diplomacy with the South (which hosted upwards of 25,000 US troops). North Korea is far too useful as it stands for rapprochement to be allowed to occur.
Humans are complex. We tend to exaggerate our own positives whilst being overly critical of others' characters. The same is true of nations. In truth, we are never as "good" as we claim, and others are never as "bad" as we suppose. And this flight from reality is compounded by propaganda.
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Postby Arvegil » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:48 am

Jnyusa wrote:Allow me to defend the point that UgardLoki is trying to make, which is NOT the same thing as defending Kim Jong Il.

Men like Kim Jong Il are a disaster for their own people and they are a problem for our own government ... (having nukes and being crazy) ... but they pose a different sort of problem for us as well, as citizens of the west, in that their self-evident malignancy becomes the justification for every imaginable belligerency by our own government and allies. That belligerency has nothing to do with human rights or democracy, but leaders like Kim Jong Il make it seem reasonable and compassionate by comparison.

Our opposition to North Korea has nothing to do with starvation or massacres or teenage prostitution; it has to do with containing China. When Syngman Rhee ruled South Korea and when Chiang Kai-Shek invaded Taiwan, and they corrupted elections and massacred dissidents in the tens of thousands and cooperated with the triads to finance their operations and so on, we had no problem with that.

It is also true that in the spookier realms of our own government we pursue policies that push men like Kim Jong Il toward more extreme positions because it serves a propaganda purpose. vison, you mentioned East Germany, which is a good example of the way that crises are invisibly manufactured by our own government to justify massive tax dollars being diverted to causes that enrich certain of our own corrupt power structures. There is no question that life under that regime was horrible, but also no question that the US provoked the building of the wall by its secret operations to overthrow that government. We wanted that wall even more than the East German government did, because it served our purposes even more than it served theirs. By "our" purposes I mean the objectives of factions within our own government.

The challenge for us, as dumb-cluck citizens with only half the story at our disposal, being systematically propagandized pretty much all the time ... the challenge for us when we talk about a 'better world' is to comprehend why that kind of regime is able to take root in certain places and not others. I do think there is a cultural component to this. It has to do with culture and history and self-perception and fear. Most people in the world, I think, perceive themselves as having to choose among the lesser of many evils, and the challenge is for us is to understand why they perceive that choice to be the lesser evil (at first, anyway), and then secondarily how we contribute to its devolution into complete tyranny from which escape is impossible.

It IS better to live today in South Korea than in North Korea. It is better to live in Taiwan than in the PRC. I believe so, if individual well-being and self-determination are the measure of "better." But it was not good to live in Korea or China during their pre-communist years, nor in the years following their communist revolutions even if one lived in the non-commie alternative.

There was a subsequent evolution away from some source culture that gave rise to both kinds of government, that gave rise to their antecedent and then its antitheses, and that subsequent evolution can be analyzed. Why was South Korea able to break the yoke and North Korea not? Why did it take half a century for the native Taiwanese to be able to reclaim their political identity?

These are the interesting questions, in my opinion, and I don't think the answer is at all obvious or facile.


While factually accurate, I suggest that you are also mixing two issues that might be best separated. I fully agree that, especially during the Cold War, the realpolitik that the USA engaged in (and sometimes continues to engage in) meant that the USA supported (and supports) some very nasty people. The conflict in foreign policy between idealism and power pragmatism has existed since the earliest days of the Republic, and is probably impossible to avoid.

How to deal with crazy people with guns like Lil' Kim can be a thorny issue, regardless of whether one takes an idealistic or pragmatic approach. The idealist (who isn't seeing the world through some bizarre filter) sees a monster to his own people. The pragmatist sees a lunatic with WMD's. While I do agree that bad actions by another party does not justify an irresponsible and intellectually dishonest response (see, generally, Iraq), I suggest that UgardLoki is, in his own way, being just as intellectually dishonest as those he claims to oppose (and demonizes himself). Note how the Dead Leader wasn't bad, he was just a victim of circumstances. He wasn't insular and paranoid, everyone really was out to get him. In essence, he is acting like a "Opposite World" version of those equally strident and self-righteous clods who try to sell the Fox News party line. And, I propose to you, acknowledging the flaws and imperfections of the USA's past actions does not mean accepting the whitewashing of a madman's actions and ignoring painfully thin excuses for his failures, which is exactly what UgardLoki is attempting.

I recall, during my university days, there was a group called the Spartacist League. They were the only apologists for North Korea to be found. Their "newspaper" made the rantings of Glenn Beck seem like Socrates by comparison.
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Postby vison » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:43 am

Arvegil wrote:The conflict in foreign policy between idealism and power pragmatism has existed since the earliest days of the Republic, and is probably impossible to avoid.


Idealism? I doubt that it's ever been much idealism. Maybe a tiny bit of idealism stirred into a huge cauldron of power pragmatism.

Jnyusa's post is, as usual, an excellent post. So is Arvegil's.

And, I can see quite well what UtgardLoki might have been trying to do. Maybe he wasn't being an apologist for a monster, maybe he wasn't implying that without natural disasters and scheming enemies Kim Jong Il wouldn't have been what he was. . . . Thinking it over? Nope. Kim Jong Il was what he was because he was made to be that way.

And one assumes his sons are the same. Why wouldn't they be?

Whatever we outside North Korea do or don't do, the people of North Korea have to get rid of the brute by themselves. It will happen. Somewhere in the gang of thugs surrounding this creature there will be someone else who wants the job and who may actually think the people deserve better. The cracks will widen, and the foundations will crumble. The population will eventually get so desperate and/or angry they will rise up.

Information doesn't travel at the speed of a galloping horse or an army truck any more.
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Postby Storyteller » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:08 pm

Jnyusa wrote:
UtgardLoki wrote:Wonderful? Utopia? I don't think anybody has made such claims. I certainly haven't. But neither would I subscribe to the simplistic "evil empire" designation. That is an all too familiar propaganda exercise, reeking of Bush/Cheney brimstone.


Allow me to defend the point that UgardLoki is trying to make, which is NOT the same thing as defending Kim Jong Il.

Can't be done.

It is also true that in the spookier realms of our own government we pursue policies that push men like Kim Jong Il toward more extreme positions because it serves a propaganda purpose. vison, you mentioned East Germany, which is a good example of the way that crises are invisibly manufactured by our own government to justify massive tax dollars being diverted to causes that enrich certain of our own corrupt power structures. There is no question that life under that regime was horrible, but also no question that the US provoked the building of the wall by its secret operations to overthrow that government.

What the...?

I question it. I very much question it and I absolutely expect you to name the secret US operations that provoked the building of the Berlin wall. Because last I checked, it was built because a full 20% of East Germany's entire population fled to West Berlin, and I can't for the life of me recall any secret American operation or a number thereof which could be considered a contributing factor of any seriousness compared to that one fact.

Sure, American government did and does its share of scheming, but for God's sake, must you lose perspective so completely?
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Postby vison » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:56 pm

I have this sad certainty that Jnyusa is spot on. It doesn't really change anything, the East German regime was terrible, but let us not be naive fools and imagine that the US was really eager to see "freedom" take over in the holds of their greatest enemy.

When the time, came, okay. But there was work to be done first. :)
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Postby basil » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:06 pm

Most sorry to interrupt the pounding out of weighty issues with this, but please, please, since the US has an excess of politicians and NK has but few, let Rick Perry give it a shot as Dear Leader of NK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... gaffe.html

b
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Postby Storyteller » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:07 pm

vison wrote: the East German regime was terrible, but let us not be naive fools and imagine that the US was really eager to see "freedom" take over in the holds of their greatest enemy.

False dilemma that misses six armies of elephants in the room.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Postby vison » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:23 pm

Storyteller wrote:
vison wrote: the East German regime was terrible, but let us not be naive fools and imagine that the US was really eager to see "freedom" take over in the holds of their greatest enemy.

False dilemma that misses six armies of elephants in the room.


There's no dilemma.

There's real politik.
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Postby vison » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:24 pm

basil wrote:Most sorry to interrupt the pounding out of weighty issues with this, but please, please, since the US has an excess of politicians and NK has but few, let Rick Perry give it a shot as Dear Leader of NK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... gaffe.html

b


One doesn't know whether to laff or cry.

It doesn't matter, really. Those who think he's a fool will continue to think so and those who admire him don't give a rat's patootie if he messed up on the name of some foreigner.
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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:34 pm

Arvegil wrote:While factually accurate, I suggest that you are also mixing two issues that might be best separated.


Actually I'm trying to separate two issues that seemed to me to be inappropriately smushed together. :)

The one issue is the malignancy of Kim Jong Il's regime, which I think is indisputable.

The other is the tendency of some pundits (and some posters) to make use of such despots to defend other things that are both unrelated and indefensible.

While I do agree that bad actions by another party does not justify an irresponsible and intellectually dishonest response (see, generally, Iraq), I suggest that UgardLoki is, in his own way, being just as intellectually dishonest as those he claims to oppose (and demonizes himself). Note how the Dead Leader wasn't bad, he was just a victim of circumstances. He wasn't insular and paranoid, everyone really was out to get him.


I did not read UtgardLoki to be saying this. I read Storyteller to be reconstructing UtgardLoki this way, which is somewhat my objection to the course the conversation was taking.

Did North Korea have devastating floods? Yes, they did. Kim Jong Il did not make the rain fall. Is it his fault that 16 years later there has been so little recovery? Yes, it probably is. Is it also true that N. Korea would be better off if those floods had not happened, with or without Kim Jong Il? Yes, that probably is also true.

And, I propose to you, acknowledging the flaws and imperfections of the USA's past actions does not mean accepting the whitewashing of a madman's actions and ignoring painfully thin excuses for his failures ...


I am in complete agreement with this. My point was not to equate the abuses of our government to those of Kim Jong Il's government, but only to clarify what I thought UL to be saying before he was reconstructed.

The BBC reported bad data and UL took it at face value. That happens. If those indeed had been accurate data for North Korea, it would have been perfectly plausible to question the reality of the situation there.

When data look hinky, people without an ax to grind try to track down the right data. That is what I tried to do. I submit that posters are also pushed to more extreme positions when the words "dear leader" are stuffed into their mouths if they don't lockstep to the correct apocalyptic vision.

Tomorrow I may find myself in violent disagreement with UL, but in this thread I merely try to separate between the data and the propaganda.

vison wrote:The population will eventually get so desperate and/or angry they will rise up.


Yes, this is what happens eventually.

I still think it is more interesting, though, to investigate why that initial option was so attractive in the first place, and to whom people turn for alliance when they finally make their break with the status quo. The Arab Spring, for example ... very difficult to predict whether the outcome of this will be liberation or even greater tyranny than before, just tyranny of a different kind.

Storyteller wrote: ... and I absolutely expect you to name the secret US operations that provoked the building of the Berlin wall.


Oh, just give me a minute and I'll put it in a box for you.

 
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Postby Storyteller » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:51 pm

Jnyusa wrote:Oh, just give me a minute and I'll put it in a box for you.

 

Please do. Otherwise I'll start thinking there's a pattern to it. You making a claim, me checking it out and finding it false, you retreating into sarcasm...
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