It’s tough writing about evil on such beautiful spring days, but evil doesn’t take the sunny days off.
Greg has an excellent post about the non-story of human rights abuses in North Korea and how Saddam’s human rights abuses were a non-story before the Iraq War. In fact it was such a non-story that even the New York Times doesn’t remember it being brought up. Indeed, I remember one of the most convincing arguments for the war was the human rights situation. But back to North Korea, Greg points to a saddening article by Christopher Hitchens, who visited North Korea in 2000, about the situation there. It’s a nightmare:
Concealed in that pitch-black night is an imploding state where the only things that work are the police and the armed forces. The situation is actually slightly worse than indentured servitude. The slave owner historically promises, in effect, at least to keep his slaves fed. In North Korea, this compact has been broken. It is a famine state as well as a slave state. Partly because of the end of favorable trade relations with, and subsidies from, the former USSR, but mainly because of the lunacy of its command economy, North Korea broke down in the 1990s and lost an unguessable number of people to sheer starvation. The survivors, especially the children, have been stunted and malformed. Even on a tightly controlled tour of the place—North Korea is almost as hard to visit as it is to leave—my robotic guides couldn’t prevent me from seeing people drinking from sewers and picking up individual grains of food from barren fields. (I was reduced to eating a dog, and I was a privileged “guest.”) Film shot from over the Chinese border shows whole towns ruined and abandoned, with their few factories idle and cannibalized. It seems that the mines in the north of the country have been flooded beyond repair.
I think this needs to be kept in the forefront of our minds when we’re thinking about the North Korean situation. It shouldn’t be just about whether they have nukes, and they can hit us. It shouldn’t be that they’re one of our old Commie enemies. It shouldn’t just be about possible aggression against South Korea. It should be all of these things and the fact that there is unspeakable evil occurring in that darkened state.
Greg also points to a maddening op-ed by Nick Kristof on Bush’s back-pedaling concerning the genocide in Sudan. Kristof credits Bush with doing a lot in the early days, largely because Republicans and the religious right were making noise about it. Now, he seems to have switched to softer (more diplomatic?) tactics in order to preserve what he has accomplished. I realize that the situation is delicate, but I think there’s a time when our own losses should be damned and we choose the greater good. The greater good here is saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
UPDATE: Back to North Korea, James Na discusses the continual attempts it has made to destabilize South Korea. North Korea not only brutalizes its own population but also is belligerent to its neighbors.