Jeffrey LewisReader Comments in the NY Times

Congratulations Rick, you made the New York Times!

In the New York Times Magazine, Bill Broad playfully detailed how North Korea’s rocket launch was used in the policy debate over missile defense.

For a witty opening, he linked to a quote by reader “Rick” — posted on the blog — who noted:

Pacific plankton will forever live in fear of the mighty reach of Kim Jong Il, now that millions have perished in one mighty splash.

This is the second time this post has gotten a little mainstream media love. Rachel Maddow actually showed a graphic of the post on MSNBC (at 5:18):

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  1. Vic (History)

    You, sir, have arrived!

  2. Yossi, Jerusalem

    Scratch the surface of American progressives and you’ll find the school bully, ever ready to inflate his fragile ego at the expanse of the less fortunate. NK should be nursed back to world society not mocked and provoked to produce more pride tantrums. Those who enjoy these scenes can hardly call themselves civilized.

  3. FSB

    “The U.S. track record for the successful interception of ballistic missiles is not much better than North Korea’s track record for launching ballistic missiles,”

    ‘Nuf said.

  4. Allen Thomson (History)

    > NK should be nursed back to world society…

    Agreed that would be good, but, well, how to do that? Fuel and food aid? Cultural exchanges? Just leave them alone to work out their own destiny?

    Make, please, a recommendation for what the world outside NK should do next.

  5. Tom (History)

    “Make, please, a recommendation for what the world outside NK should do next.”

    Given how much of a dent reunification put in West Germany’s economy I would suspect that a real prospect for North Korea reuniting with South Korea would actually give the South Korean leadership the hives.

    Reunification at this stage of the game either by choice or by collapse could quite literally kill South Korea both economically and socially.

  6. Yossi

    Allen T, thanks.

    I’ll try to sketch a few ideas about nursing NK back to civilization. There are no references to save time. If some point looks un-substantiated tell me and I’ll try to fix it.

    * It seems the diplomatic ups and downs are caused by the US playing for absolute dominance, i.e. condition NK to surrender to unfavorable mid-play rule changes and arbitrary demands. Whenever NK agreed to something it was taken as a sign of weakness and the US demanded something new. This is like a replay of the Iraq bullying scenario but NK is too proud to surrender and US military can’t extend itself for another war hence the stalemate.

    * US administration should declare it has no intention to invade NK and have no ideological objections to its regime, it just wants to defend its allies against NK attack and cares for NK people economic situation. This will eliminate the justification for the NK over-militarization which damages the economy and supports a suppressive regime.

    * Three decades ago NK switched from communism to nationalism with a little free enterprising but retained the suppressive party mechanisms. An easy way to NK hearts could be explicit appreciation of their maintaining national honor (Juche), its associated integrity and the aim to improve the world. This will help them admit and be aware of the ideological shift they had made.

    * It’s a common opinion that NK proliferates not for ideological reasons but for cash and maybe to have some friends. Most NK people live on the threshold of famine and the regime must provide food and fuel to survive. Proliferation also finances the ballistic/nuclear program considered an essential deterrent against invasion.

    The main issue shouldn’t be proliferation, this is just a result of deep structural problems. One problem is NK economy that gets it into a vicious circle of crises and trying to get aid by all means (including selling arms) and the second is the excessive authoritarianism.

    It’s clear the regime should be modified (not changed) for its citizens sake. The best way to start is pouring unconditional aid and even forcing it (e.g. parachuting chemical fertilizer, grains, vegetable oil and gasoline in the periphery). The Leader will have difficulty stopping the people from eating swiss chocolate and it will undermine his authority better than neocon antics.

    The next stage could be subsidized oil import from the Persian Gulf in the framework of a large scale multi-national investment plan. New electricity power plants, coal mine development and a credit banking system seems to be needed urgently. It’s reasonable to aim for an imitation of Taiwan development.

    This is a “firm compassion with respect” approach, no power plays and shifting focus from proliferation to its causes, the failed economy and limited freedom. It’s somewhat like treating a child whose addiction to junk food endangers his health. I doubt that dumbly aggressive US can do this but maybe the time has come for a re-vitalized UN with authority shifting from the Security Council to a bicameral General Assembly.

  7. J House (History)

    Can’t we all get back to the deadly serious business of DPRK nuclear and missile proliferation and their stated announcement to continue to increase their stockpile?
    I’m beginning to wonder why ACW seems to be more forgiving with this than the previous admin.