New Deal

Maass, Peter
December 2003
New Republic;12/22/2003, Vol. 229 Issue 25, p16
The article comments on United States relations between China and North Korea. The felling of Kim Jong Il's dictatorship in the North may ultimately depend less on North Koreans, who are quite possibly the most repressed people on earth, than on foreign governments that could, if they wished, destabilize his regime. The South Korean government is now not only reluctant to displease its Northern counterpart; it doesn't want anyone else to do so, either. The North Korean regime operates a network of prison and labor camps, with several hundred thousand incarcerated. Inmates are starved and, quite often, executed. In late October, an advocacy group called the U.S. Committee for Human Rights, in North Korea released a report that included satellite images of the camps. The report is devastating, showing massive gulags spread over large swaths of territory and using testimony from North Korean refugees to highlight gruesome abuses at the camps. In the past decade, several billion dollars of aid and investment from the United States, South Korea, and Japan have been funneled into North Korea, but this has not led to improvements in the political or economic situation. One of the reasons North Korea has a nuclear program is because it believes the weapons ensure it will not be attacked by the United States. The Clinton administration was not nearly as hawkish as this White House, yet, even then, Kim hedged his bets. Now, with an administration that has invaded two countries since September 11, 2001, and has put North Korea in the "axis of evil," Kim has far greater reason to feel threatened. The Chinese bolster Kim because he is preferable to what they perceive as the alternatives--an implosion of his regime that could lead to chaos, a horde of refugees, and/or the unification of Korea under a pro-U.S. government led by South Koreans. Wooing China as an ally against Kim's regime is now being talked about in influential conservative circles.


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