The North Korean Holocaust. Yes. Holocaust.

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Ms. Klinghoffer is senior associate scholar at the Political Science department at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East. She is also an HNN blogger. Click here for her blog.

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Did you know that the South Korean government is involved in a willful cover-up of evidence both of the true extent of the atrocities perpetrated in North Korea’s Gulag and also of any signs of internal opposition to its Stalinist government?

Well, here goes:

“There is no shortage of stories these days suggesting that the North Korean regime is coming apart at the seams. There's even talk of the "A" word - not "assassination", but rather "asylum" or "amnesty." It would free the oppressed Korean people, but it also would free Dear Leader Kim-Jong-il from the justice he has denied to his subjects.

First there were the stories of Kim Jong-il's portraits being removed from public places in Pyongyang. Then an increase in anecdotal testimony by recently escaped North Koreans suggesting a growing underground movement of dissent. Last Monday, a South Korean website operated by North Korean refugees living in Seoul, posted a link to a video purportedly smuggled out of North Korea. The video, the first half disjointed shots of a cold, desolate-looking city in what certainly looks like North Korea, seems designed to confirm to the viewer that this has not been staged in a Chinese border town, where life is more prosperous and livelier.

The videographer entered a warehouse and filmed a sign taped to the wall that said "Overthrow (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il. Comrades, let's fight ...." Later the camera moved to a picture of the Dear Leader himself, with the words "Kim Jong-il, we demand freedom and democracy ..." written in red script across his beaming face.

The South Korean authorities were quick to cast aspersions upon the film's authenticity. After all, the video seemed to be depicting some sort of organized opposition to the Dear Leader's rule, assertions his supporters in South Korea's Blue House refuse to acknowledge because they are seeking entente and eventual reunification with their misunderstood and much-maligned brethren to the North.

The risks taken by those who smuggled the video out are not hard to fathom. In the best-case scenario, to be caught filming such a defacement would mean certain death, and if the criminal were lucky, a quick death. However, defiling the image of the Dear Leader in such a way as depicted in the video, would very likely mean a slow and painful exit from this world, as a lesson to other dissidents, lest they underestimate the cost of discord.” For the rest, see Asia Times Online: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News.

I am sorry to admit that the news did not surprise me. As Korean University professor, Shin-wha Lee, has recently informed me, any mention of North Korean atrocities is politically incorrect in South Korea because it is seen as unwarranted anti-Communism. Apparently, history has taught Seoul nothing. In South Korea we are back to the good old days when the Stalinist atrocities were meticulously covered up. The Moscow trials were treated as just. Robert Conquest was dismissed as hard line anti-Communist, and Noam Chomsky airily dismissed evidence of the Cambodian genocide.

And let us not be sidetracked by all the talk about crazy/not so crazy indeed, artistic leader. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a willful all powerful tyrant (the son of a tyrant) may be the primary world concern but it cannot be expected to the primary concern of South Koreans or human rights activists. For there a Holocaust is going on in North Korea and I am not using the term lightly and neither are those you will find if you click on. "North Korea's Auschwitz" -- the inside story on the No. 14 detention center. There you will find Kim Yong-sam's report which begins thus:

We regularly use the word 'hell' to describe things in our lives. We talk about "examination hell" and we use the term "hell-way" to describe an overcrowded subway. Yet few people know that they have only to step over the truce line to discover that a real hell exists in which the only purpose is to exterminate human lives. North Korean detention camps are places where once you are taken there, not even your remains ever make it out again. (In North Korea, detention camps are called control camps.) The detention camps are places where lives are drawn out on 20-30 pieces of corn and salt per meal. They are places where people slave for 15 hours a day in mines; where guards can shoot inmates dead at their discretion, or beat or starve them; where the bodies of inmates are dragged like animals to be buried. They are places where death is a matter-of-course. It wouldn't seem so wrong if these people had been dragged off because they'd actually committed a crime. Instead, most of the crimes were things like being the child of a landowner, an expatriate from Japan or damaging a picture of Kim Il-sung. And it wasn't just the alleged perpetrator who got dragged off. Even innocent family members right up to the second and third generation, including children and babies still on the breast, have been taken to the camps and lost their lives. That's because Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung-Il's doctrine to "terminate three generations of the seed of reactionaries" is taken literally. In late March, this reporter met with Kim Yong, who escaped from the No. 14 and No. 18 detention centers, which are generally considered to be the most feared detention centers for political prisoners in North Korea, and then defected to South Korea.

In other words, just as it was more important for the Nazis to kill Jewish children than adults, so it is more important for the North Korean regime to kill the children of “reactionaries” than “reactionary” adults. This is the acknowledged ideology. Indeed, former guards admit that they so sure were they that their well-being depends of cleansing the country of such bad seed, that they felt no mercy murdering mothers and their babies. If this is not enough to send shivers down your back, read this Boston Globe article entitled "An Auschwitz in Korea" by Jeff Jacoby:

“I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber. The parents, a son, and a daughter.” The speaker is Kwon Hyuk, a former North Korean intelligence agent and a one-time administrator at Camp 22, the country’s largest concentration camp. His testimony was heard on a television documentary that aired last week on the BBC. “The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save the kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.”

Like other communist officials, Kwon was not bothered by what he saw. “I felt that they thoroughly deserved such a death. Because all of us were led to believe that all the bad things that were happening to North Korea were their fault. . . . Under the society and the regime I was in at the time, I only felt that they were the enemies. So I felt no sympathy or pity for them at all.”

Soon Ok-lee, who spent seven years in another North Korean camp, described the use of prisoners as guinea pigs for biochemical weapons.

“An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners,” she testified. “One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it, but to give it to the 50 women. I gave them out and heard a scream. . . . They were all screaming and vomiting blood. All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes, they were dead.”

Gas chambers. Poisoned food. Torture. The murder of whole families. Massive death tolls. How much more do we need to know about North Korea’s crimes before we act to stop them? How many more victims will be fed into the gas chambers before we cry out “never again!” – and mean it?

This month for the first time and following a special investigation, there was this new development: Rights of North Korean Defectors Defended as UN Declares them Refugees. Perhaps, China will no longer be able to return them to Kim’s butchers. The U.S. congress passed its own North Korean Human Rights Act:

If you think that South Korea is leading the Human Rights charge, you are sadly mistaken. The opposite is true. “Surprisingly the most vocal criticism has come not from North Korea, but from South Korea. Some members of South Korea’s ruling Uri Party were indignant, claiming that the new law would increase tensions on the Korean peninsula and damage relations between South Korea and North Korea, writes Balbina Hwang, Policy Analyst for Northeast Asia in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, .

Clearly, there is no price too high for the Seoul appeasers. They value their comfortable lives too much to risk to follow the West German example. They prefer détente to unification. It’s cheaper. The young even think of the Northern nukes as their own. So, they bury their heads in the sand and merrily go along pretending that their countrymen are not dying. One day, I am sure, they will be asked to explain their shameful behavior. All one can hope is that it will be sooner, not later.

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Nice thought Arnold, but it has been tried before and failed. If North Korea were a trustworthy democratic country, it would no more need nukes than Poland does. If the U.S. could trust North Korea not to pursue nukes, then it would not need to maintain the threat of pre-emptive attack. But as it is now: no trust, no basis for a deal (whether reached bi-laterally or otherwise).

Nuclear weapons are a global issue. The "grand bargain" of the 1960 non-proliferation treaties has failed to a large extent, for two main reasons: (1) The "existing" nuclear powers have failed to fully live up to their side of the deal (gradual disarmament, in return for which non-nuclear powers were supposed to agree not to develop them) and (2) the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Two opportunities (after the collapse of Soviet bloc, and after 9-11) for redressing these shortcomings have been blown, and now the result is that an increasing number of countries, including "rogue states" like North Korea, will get nukes. Nothing much will change, I suppose until the first big "accident".

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This extremist and HNN darling is known for her unhistorical and highly selective rants. Here a genuine problem studiously ignored: What do about North Korea.

This is an old challenge which the Bush Administration has been even more inept than the Clintonians in failing to adequately address. But, at least the Bushies are waffling around various semi-credible diversion strategies to distract attention from the most world's most foul regime going nuclear on their watch. Iraq, & now Iran, are hyped as more critical nodes of the evil axis, and troops are being pulled out of South Korea (which perhaps is supposed to fool couch potatoes in Alabama into thinking that the North has become less dangerous ?)

Klinghoffer's only evident remedy is so let the North take over the South. This would be hard for even Karl Rove to spin as "spreading freedom", so it appears (thankfully) doubtful that such an unhistorical and immoral policy adoption will be adopted in Washington anytime soon. HNN: home for those too crazy for a neo-con think tank ?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

No doubt, Edward, to brainwashed prisoners of the North Koreans,
"denial does not make" the socialist paradise there "less real and less serious" to those who "see" that paradise "as a reality".

Robert didn't say it, but I DID say that we are not in a war in Iraq at this time. And I don't mind repeating it. This is a good example of why this whole left vs right crap is becoming increasingly obsolete. Both the so-called left and so-called right are wrong about there being a “war” in Iraq so far in 2005, in any normal or objective sense of the word (as both political parties were also wrong during the Red Scare of 1919 and the Japanese roundup of 1942).

The chickenhawks won the war in Iraq by knocking over the statue, deposing Saddam, turning the country over to looters, and insulting most of the world. Since then they have been losing the peace. Death, violence, lawlessness and terror -which we have plenty of in Iraq- are not the same as war. If it were, than Bin Laden would be no different from W. Just opposite sides in a "war" between lying Moslems and lying Christians.

The "war in Iraq", like the "central front in the war on terrorism", is Orwellian gobbledygook served up by Karl Rove and his con artist trainees. I feel sorry for the families of the 1500 American dead and 4000 maimed for life, but their brothers and sons and grandnieces were not wounded or killed in order to defend America against attack, or to rid the world of WMD, or to spread freedom, and whatever the BS line of the month is, but in order to help George W (for wet-behind-the-ears) Bush run as a war president and get elected last Nov. , for the first time You don't even have to go as far as Lincoln did to appreciate that 51% of the people can be fooled some of the time.

They were fooled, and when they wake up to this, the Republican-hypocrites had better had a real good new diversion ready. Smoke and mirrors deficits-don't-matter steaming horse manure about Social Security may attract flies but it will not fly itself, except out of the white-collar corporate welfare funded Texas "rancher"'s mouth.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Whether "well-conected" or "well-connected", many "experts" advise Bush and Rice about many things. And Bush and Rice check with Karl Rove (not HNN) before deciding how to distort and twist the advice for short term political purposes.

If the South Korean President really thinks he can emulate two decades of West German government policy -keeping East Germany afloat until it could peacefully melt down- he may be in a for a rude awakening, but it is not clear that "shame" from a website no one near him has ever heard of will hasten the day of that awakening.

Chinese leaders’ “fear” of MacArthur -when the U.S. had nukes and China did not- was no hindrance to their hindering his advance. The current Bejing gang’s fears are a broader flipside of the South Korean's (apparent) hopes: that Taiwan, Tibet, etc. follow North Korea the way Czechoslovakia and Lithuania followed East Germany.

No doubt, China is the key to affecting change in Pyongyang, but the Bush bunglers seem as clueless about China as they are about rest of the world (Junior listens to a "higher" father than the one who was once ambassador in Beijing).. The most viable form of pressure against the Chinese regime would probably be economic, but that might mean lower sales for Walmart, which can't happen because all red-blooded patriotic Americans need to drive their free-range class-action SUVs to the malls and shop like crazy buying cheap Chinese-made schlock in order to support the "war" on terror, the Baghdad cakewalk, Ken Lay's tax refunds, etc.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Your remarks on North Korea and Klinghoffer's non-analysis are spot on. I do not, however, consider Empire vs Republic to be the central question which you have suggested it is.

The Bushies will shrug off charges of being hegemonic empire builders with ease. They deposed emperor Saddam, have (so far at least) kept their paws off Iraq's oil, they are trashing the solvency of the federal government, and have rammed through unsustainable yet popularly appealing reductions to taxes which most Americans aspire to have the income to be liable for. From the point of view of an Iraqi, Halliburton may seem like part of an empire, but Iraqis don't vote in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida. From the standpoint of the American electorate what Cheney-Bush&Co are constructing is neither a republic nor an empire but a kleptocracy run by con artists. As Lincoln himself observed, in one of his more "in between" moments, it is no tremendous feat to fool all the people some of the time, and some people all the time. So far it looks as though by the time their blunders fully catch up with these con artists -who are competent at their cons but not at policy making or management- their failures will be of largely historical interest.

No doubt they are looking for various distractions to deflect attention from their utter lack of accomplishment in tackling the North Korea problem. Perhaps Klinghoffer aspires to be part of that deception game. If so, this bit of South Korea bashing looks to be an unlikely entree.

It seems to me that a strong and competent diplomat, ie a Kissinger, Vance, or even a James Baker (e.g. the sort of non-myopic rats who have been busy jumping the Cheney-Bush sinking ship), would find a way to strike a deal with China so that North Korea could be blockaded from continuing to export weaponry or nuke technology. Striking a viable deal directly with Pyongyang, however, looks quite tough (much tougher than with Iran, at least 'til the neo-cons cock that one up too. Going nuclear has been the N. Korean tyrants' top goal for decades, and I doubt that they will be willing to trade their capability away at a price acceptable to the neophytes bumbling their way around D.C.'s executive branch these days.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Interesting thought, but despite my earlier hypothetical use of it, is there no Hungary anywhere near North Korea to act as an escape hatch. No free movement to a Solidarity-inspired Poland or Prague-Spring- recalling Czechslovakia either. The South Koreans would perhaps like to practice more Ostpolitik, to go with the Jackson-Vanik medicine you prescribe, but I am afraid we will have to keep our powder dry until a Gorbachev or at least a Khruschev shows up north of 38th parallel. The collapse of the Berlin Wall was a lucky fluke, but the conditions that made it possible were decades in the making. Getting the UN security council to go along with regime change in Iraq was cake compared to this.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Take a look at some of her dozens of past columns. She has more of them here than all but 3 or 4 others. This one is indeed not the worst. I think we have here a columnist in training learning her craft at glacial speed. If it had anything to do with history, I wouldn't mind seeing it once in a while. Very McCarthyistic, however, and am loath to comment further lest it encourage the scourge.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Leave aside the McCarthyism aspect. It does not apply in any direct way to this particular article, I would agree. Look at the author’s past articles on HNN carefully (it was in that context that the witch-hunting tendency to which I alluded arose) and draw your own conclusions about their ultimate purposes.

Let us focus instead on the claim by Adam Moshe above that the author, in this specific article, is making "a genuine plea based on humanitarian grounds."

With due respect to Adam, I find little evidence (in the article here) to support such an interpretation of it.

If Ms.Klinghoffer were a historian, or even a genuine student of history, she would probably come up with a better analogy than Europe’s last world war to describe the current predicament on the Korean peninsula. Cambodia, for instance. Or she would at least sketch out the most obvious qualifications to the Holocaust-North Korea comparison, in order to “remind us all of the complexity of history” (to quote from the “raison d’être” of HNN - see http://hnn.us/articles/820.html - which is often violated by the articles on it).

If Klinghoffer were a “genuine humanitarian”, she would at least try to adhere to the most glaring “lesson” provided by her chosen analogy: Genocide in Europe in the 1940s happened because too many people who should have taken action against it failed to do so. We must do better to prevent this kind of thing reoccurring. Here is the urgent five step program for dealing with North Korea....

What Klinghoffer actually does is in the article is something quite different. Taken to its logical conclusion, her “Holocaust parallel” runs along the following lines:

Early 1943. Catastrophe for Europe’s Jewry. Mounting evidence that Nazi concentration camps being used as human slaughterhouses.

Contemporary comments by Jewish refugees to Britain and U.S. leaders: What is happening is unspeakably horrible. It goes beyond the oppression and pogroms we have suffered in past centuries. The Nazis are going to great lengths to round up as many Jews as they can lay hands on across Europe and systematically ship them in cattle cars to camps, not just for labor, but for mass-murder as well. They seem bent not just on massacre but on actually wiping Europe’s Jews as a people. You must act soon and vigorously. Do something directly against this. Bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz. Even bomb the camp itself. The victims there would much rather die knowing their murderers are dying with them. At least encourage and support resistance movements and open your borders to all Jewish refugees.

Contemporary position of FDR and Churchill: We are of course concerned about the crimes of the Nazis, but cannot single out any one set of their many victims for special assistance. We will however prosecute the war with maximum effort. We intend to liberate all of Europe from the Nazis, and that will eventually benefit all victims of Hitler including Jews.

Dr. Klinghoffer of 1943: Why is the Hungarian government covering up for Hitler and the Nazis ? It is impolitic there to diverge in the slightest way from fascism and Anti-Semitism. Surprisingly some of the most vigorous support for the Nazi devastation of Central and Eastern Europe comes from Central and Eastern Europeans like these Hungarian appeasers. They bury their heads in the sand and are unwilling to face the reality that when Hitler gets done killing Poles, Russians and Ukrainians, etc., first Jews and Gypsies, and then other groups as well, that they will be next. Oh, how shameful their behavior.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

In the absence of any historians of Korea around here, it is first and foremost up to citizens of that or any country to use their best knowledge of history and current problems to redress damaging policies of their own governments. For Americans, what ought to be truly and directly shameful is that Bush Administration, while squandering our country's international credibility and turning Iraq into a mecca for terrorism, has utterly failed to get other countries (e.g. here China) to agree on even a half-way viable strategy for containing the at least equally serious threats of and in North Korea.

Tom Roy Elston - 7/26/2005

Peter, its difficult to sift through the ad hominem volume of your reply.

You make pointless derisive references to citizens of Alabama. You make vague references to the author's prior writings on the subject(give me some facts, some quotes, links, something...). Lastly you some how draw the conclusion that author is suggesting North Korean soverignty over the entire penninsula would be the most viable solution.

You might do well to take an introduction to debating course before attempting to make an intelligent response to a very factual article.

Jonas A Pell - 2/28/2005

Appeasing and accomodating are the weasel's way out. Bush is being castigated by all the old China hands for taking a stand against a menacing communist bully. This sounds just like the 1980's when the Euro leftist castigated Reagan and normalized Communist totalitarianism because they prefered short term comfort over long term freedom!

Nathaniel Brian Bates - 2/25/2005

I do take some issue with the use of the term "Holocaust", since Emperor Eraser Head (my admittedly sophomoric and childish eipthet for Kim Jong Il) is not committing specifically racial acts of mass murder.

Kim's actions are more in line with Stalinist mass murder, or else the general butchery that occurs under non-racist forms of Fascism, than any kind of Nazi or Pol Pot-ist mass murder. Hi*ler's attacks against Jews and Pol P*t's genocide against the Muslim tribes are ethnic in nature, whereas the general Communist strategy is to eliminate ideological threats, while downplaying ethnic differences. I cannot see a comparison to Hi*ler as valid.

However, I also fail to understand the appeasement of Communism that I have seen on the Left my whole life. What is the appeal here? Is it atheism, the rejection of G-d? What is it? No one can make the argument that North Korea represents workers' democracy or class equality. I cannot fathom its appeal to anyone.

I can understand the appeal of agrarian reform and populism. The Zapatistas and the younger Che may have such an appeal. However, a nakedly totalitarian State should have no appeal except to authoritarian personalities. Oh, I fogot. The "authoritarian personality" is on the Right only. Excuse me.

Kim Jong Il has inherited a regime that is brutal beyond anything in the Middle East. Israel and the Arab Nations are both heirs to the Monotheism of Abraham. North Korea, by contrast, has a regime that is evil to the core. One need not be a Neocon to appreciate that.

No, I do not believe in declaring war against North Korea. I am adamantly against it. However, minimizing the human rights abuses that occur under any evil regime is itself evil. I would equip the North Korean people to revolt, overthrow their regime, and establish a legal System modeled on the Torah (Seven Laws of Noah). That is my solution. It avoids the twin evils of war and appeasement.


Nathaniel Brian Bates - 2/25/2005

I do take some issue with the use of the term "Holocaust", since Emperor Eraser Head (my admittedly sophomoric and childish eipthet for Kim Jong Il) is not committing specifically racial acts of mass murder.

Kim's actions are more in line with Stalinist mass murder, or else the general butchery that occurs under non-racist forms of Fascism, than any kind of Nazi or Pol Pot-ist mass murder. Hi*ler's attacks against Jews and Pol P*t's genocide against the Muslim tribes are ethnic in nature, whereas the general Communist strategy is to eliminate ideological threats, while downplaying ethnic differences. I cannot see a comparison to Hi*ler as valid.

However, I also fail to understand the appeasement of Communism that I have seen on the Left my whole life. What is the appeal here? Is it atheism, the rejection of G-d? What is it? No one can make the argument that North Korea represents workers' democracy or class equality. I cannot fathom its appeal to anyone.

I can understand the appeal of agrarian reform and populism. The Zapatistas and the younger Che may have such an appeal. However, a nakedly totalitarian State should have no appeal except to authoritarian personalities. Oh, I fogot. The "authoritarian personality" is on the Right only. Excuse me.

Kim Jong Il has inherited a regime that is brutal beyond anything in the Middle East. Israel and the Arab Nations are both heirs to the Monotheism of Abraham. North Korea, by contrast, has a regime that is evil to the core. One need not be a Neocon to appreciate that.

No, I do not believe in declaring war against North Korea. I am adamantly against it. However, minimizing the human rights abuses that occur under any evil regime is itself evil. I would equip the North Korean people to revolt, overthrow their regime, and establish a legal System modeled on the Torah (Seven Laws of Noah). That is my solution. It avoids the twin evils of war and appeasement.


Charles Edward Heisler - 2/23/2005

Arnold, in rereading all your comments I notice with a degree of irony that you would never engage in ad hominem attacks!
As I extract my tongue from my cheek and gently remove the ruby slippers from your comments let me say:

As Coroner, I must Aver
I thorougly examined her
And she's not only merely dead,
She's really, most sincerely dead.

Ta, ta from Munchkin land. The shovinistic(?)SOB.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/23/2005

So you are now up to insults ad hominem, you intellectual munchkin!
When the arguments beat your slimy ass, you resort to
to personal attacks, i.e. verbal violence.
Don't your worry it didn't surpise me much that you follow on the steps of your imperial providers.

Amen, you shovinistic SOB!

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/22/2005

"But, as an unbiased observer of history, I cannot help
commenting on the brutality of American imperialism"

Two things Arnold, first, you are not "unbiased" and second you wouldn't know "imperialism" if it bit you on the ass! You are a fine sloganeer however--suggest the sign making and bumper sticker business as an occupational opportunity.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/21/2005

I don't claim to be a historian--I am incapable of whining enough about the methods of winning necessary wars to take on that mantle! My goodness we do have our little litanys of complaints don't we--damn America, we should have left the world to cope with the gentle Nazis, Japanese, and Communists!
Don't you think you should have thrown in our immoral bombing of the Germans Arnold? Did those babys die more painlessly for you?
I stand by my claim that there is an exaggeration of the deaths caused by the United States in Southeast Asia.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/21/2005

Does you "solid base" of American history embraces the white genocide against Indians, slavery, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, secret carpet bombings of Cambodian territory and mass-slaughter-from-the-air perpetrated first against North Koreans, and then against
North Vietnamese?

And you claim to be a historian?

Arnold Shcherban - 2/21/2005

And what does it prove Ms.Klinghoffer?
That you have some or many supporters of your views?
Has anyone expressed doubt that you do?
If they did, they are just ignorant cooks.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/21/2005

Sure, it makes a crucial difference whether the US
killed two million of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and
Laotions or four for the essentials of our discussion.
Mr. Heisler, your comments are really disgusting, as Mr.
Koehler objectively characterized them.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/21/2005

Nothing is unsolvable, provided the both sides really
and sincerely maintain desire to resolve the so far peaceful conflict through peaceful means only.
However, you are correct, that it doesn't look likely
to happen... on the part of the US current goverment.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/21/2005

Below you will find one constructive, though
briefly stated, idea...

The US immediately having bilateral talks with the North
Korea (that the US stubbornly refuses to have now and that the Koreans have been continiously asking for, and understandably so), giving them clear, firm, and enforcable by the international community assurance not to launch preemptive military attack/war against North Koreans, but pursue diplomatic means, provided the opposite side give the same kind of assurances to immediately stop and not engage in military nuclear programs in the future.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/21/2005

Mr. Heisler,

I bet you never saw my comments saying that the so-called
Red Chmers did not kill three or so millions of their own people or that millions did not perished over so-called Cultural Revolution perpetrated on Chinese people by their
national communists.
I was persecuted by KGB back in 70s essentially for making remarks about the brutality of the system imposed by the totalitarian communist regimes.

But, as an unbiased observer of history, I cannot help
commenting on the brutality of American imperialism
perpetrated not on its own people, but on the populace
of the Third World countries, such as North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and others, not mentioning the mass murder and terror in some coutries of the Latin
and Central America, albeit, by proxy, i.e. committed
by the US-backed regimes.

Thus, I do not argue against the FACTS of history, but
you do.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/21/2005

"I strongly doubt you fully appreciate the from, why, what, how or where all this could lead too, though I know you would protest much to the otherwise. Its a dangerous game America is playing in a world that is increasingly looking like the sunset of an age than a glorious new American 21st century."

Oh, I appreciate the "why, how or where" our foreign policy could lead to, being a student of history. A great people doing a great thing is common in my understanding of the past. I also know there have always been naysayers, timid folks that quibble with their own fears and with no reserve of faith to carry them on.
I have heard that "the sky is falling" from generations of people that see the future darkly.
As I tell my students, "We will be fine." I will leave you that simple declarative statement.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/21/2005

"Furthermore, this isn't all Vietnamese data, but a compilation of Philippine, Korean, Australian, New Zealander, Thai and ARVN combat losses from sources the author lists. Its obvious that out of a number of approximately 4 million civilian deaths the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong killed quit a considerable number themselves, along with some 2 million combat deaths during this 21 year tragedy. This isn't just all about America. It's about a savage civil war as much as a war against foreign occupation. And the holocaust slogan in the title of this page is far more apt for this conflict than current circumstances in N. Korea, which are bad enough."

You are probably unaware that "body counts" and "kill ratios" that came from the Vietnam period are often used as examples of the fallacious use of statistics, given the inherent biases and collection methods of those statistics.
Because it is not anti-war or anti-Vietnam does not make the statistics correct or acceptable. I merely note that during the entire war with the Allies and Russia, Germany lost some 10 million souls--it is hard to imagine that Vietnam lost 4 million given the battle conditions and bombing targets they were subjected to.
I doubt the figures unless you are counting the 3 million genocide victims in Cambodia that are not the result of American action but inaction.
I have "annoited" myself with a certain degree of reasonableness only Sir, but then the axes I grind do not require the kind of lubrication it takes to chop at the solid base of American history.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/19/2005

Mr. Heisler

This page that you demean is constructed by a troop who had served in the 1st Battalion of the 69th Armor, "Black Panthers," 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, II Corps - Vietnam, who served his tour of duty in 1968. This is an honor page Mr. Heisler, dedicated to & in memory of everyone who served in that unit. You won't find one anti-American or anti-war remark on the pages of that site. What you will find is a lot of the stuff that makes history and the experiences of this man and others he recollects who lived it. As the motto on the front page declares: "As the Greeks used to say, the honor of Thermopylae was not in the winning or the losing: It was being there."

Furthermore, this isn't all Vietnamese data, but a compilation of Philippine, Korean, Australian, New Zealander, Thai and ARVN combat losses from sources the author lists. Its obvious that out of a number of approximately 4 million civilian deaths the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong killed quit a considerable number themselves, along with some 2 million combat deaths during this 21 year tragedy. This isn't just all about America. It's about a savage civil war as much as a war against foreign occupation. And the holocaust slogan in the title of this page is far more apt for this conflict than current circumstances in N. Korea, which are bad enough.

Mr. Shcherban makes one very critical observation when he questions your capacity for empathy. Your response is as I expected and the kind of remark that usually comes from partisan, so-called morally self-anointed types that justify the policies of their guy or party, no matter who or what, who themselves have never served and never will. Excuse me for being disgusted.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 2/19/2005

This morning I received this message. I am withholding the name because I did not receive permission from the author to publish it.
It is amazing, but people find these little websites.

"Hello Professor:

Thank you for your powerful indictment of North Korea over its appalling human rights abuses and of South Korea's appalling moral cupidity. I cover the two Koreas for CBS News radio, and found your comment accurate. I can only add that Seoul is also guilty of an onerous hypocracy. Why? President Roh Moh-hyun fancies himself a progressive, reminding one and all that he fought against the Chun Doo-hwan dictatorship here in the 1980's, becoming anti-American in the process on the only partially valid grounds that Washington backed Chun.

The autocrat killed a few thousand people at the most -- too many, but far short of Kim Jong-il. Now Roh is leading the South's liberals in pretending away the North's Nazi-league transgressions and the Americans are clamoring for human rights. That is not the only double standard. When the right wing held power here, they justified themselves by pointing to the North Korean invasion threat, which was real. But the progressives dismissed this rationale as an alibi. Now the same progressives are averring that Pyongyang needs nuclear weapons because, well, it feels imperilled by the threat of an American invasion.

For a failed defense of the North Korean monstrosity, see Bruce Cumings, "North Korea: A Different Country." Cumings is a thinly veiled pro-North Korean scholar who makes a few points well tactically, but who somehow misses the larger, cardinal points. He is a smart man who just didn't get it somehow -- like Kim Il-sung.

Finally, you are spot on when you state that people will one day have to account for themselves. I have made that same point with Koreans and Westeners here. When unification comes, I will be able to say that I tried to tell the truth. What will these wilfully stupid South Koreans offer in their defense?

I look forward to reading more of your work.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/19/2005

Robert, there are some folks in Vietnam that are ready to help you purchase a bridge! Now that you have the figures from these people, try and find any other evidence that supports the claim--any. I would imagine you are counting amongst the slain those innocents killed by the Communists and Viet Cong and that you ascribe responsibility for each to America.
Oh yes, for many folks it is "Never a sparrow falls that it isn't the fault of my Country!" I cannot and do not share your illusion.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/19/2005

Mr. Heisler

Your absolutely wrong in using the identifier "we" in reference to the civil war. It was "they" who suffered the calumny of that conflict, and to imply that the "we" of today can make claim to the "costs" or achievements of that time is absurd. Slavery was but one of several powerful factors, such as economy & society leading to civil war. The early republic was dying and that war merely finished it off, giving birth to another American era, another kind of American republic, that in freeing some enslaved all. The origins of our world are not in 1775 or 1787, but in the aftermath of 1865, the rise of the centralized state to which all owe fealty, unintended or wanted, liked or not.

Its a solid fact, all too common in the scope of history, that peoples rarely have been able to foresee the unintended consequences of their actions. The vast majority of the American people are no more aware of the forces at play shaping our world than "they" were 145 years ago. On the one hand you recognize this and on the other refute it. Name a time that was "better" for all American's to be alive? That's easy, the first decades of the early American republic regardless of deprivation, inequality or the nature of the time. Its always better to born at the dawn of an age, emerging like a Phoenix from the ashes of preceding upheavals that killed off the old, giving way to new dreams, hopes and possibilities. Having said that I am no fool lusting for it. I full well know the vast and horrific suffering & misery entailed in such a transformational process and am in no hurry to experience it since its "we" who will do the dieing.

You cavalierly talk of sacrifice as if that's something other lesser mortals are supposed to do, like the destitute, working poor, socially & politically disadvantaged or some fool who stupidly asks for it. Have you sacrificed? Have you tossed grenades back and forth like baseballs and mixed it up muzzle to muzzle with an enemy? Do you know that it's the dead who are lucky as opposed to the living, who must endure the physical, psychological and emotional scarring that the noble minded from their high & safe perches expect others to gladly sacrifice themselves for. If you don't or haven't sir, than I ask: "Why are you here? Why aren't you there!"

Apparently you adulate & worship what America has become and champion all that America is doing throughout the world. I strongly doubt you fully appreciate the from, why, what, how or where all this could lead too, though I know you would protest much to the otherwise. Its a dangerous game America is playing in a world that is increasingly looking like the sunset of an age than a glorious new American 21st century. The chances are high that all this can go wrong with all of us winding up eye deep in hell, and if that proves to be so, than the people begging for it like neo-cons and their allies had better have the stomach for it.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/19/2005

Mr. Heisler

I beg forgiveness from all for what I have got say, but I can't believe you could ask such a stupid question!

"Give one example where American actions have cost the lives of "millions" Mr. Shcherban--one or combined."

The short answer to that sir is VIETNAM!

The following link is to a site that only lists total KIA's, WIA's, missing or captives from all the armed forces indigent, allied and enemy as well as US. How many total civilian Vietnamese north & south, Cambodian's or Laotians were slaughtered no one really knows since estimates vary widely because a great deal of it was never catalogued or reported, though researchers agree that number greatly exceeds the total of causalities due to combat action, which is a measurable figure. The Vietnamese have released figures in 1995 stating that some 4 millions of their civilian population perished, north & south, during 21 years of war. They admit these figures were deliberately falsified during the war to avoid demoralizing their population. To make such figures meaningful to Americans the US would have to suffer some 28 million dead out of 220 million during that war. Even though combat losses can be more readily verified there are gaps in the data and the totals should be viewed as minimums. Data is broken down by year, Province & Corp or AO (area of operation). I have crossed checked US data against my Pentagon issue Order of Battle for Vietnam and they are correct.


Charles Edward Heisler - 2/19/2005

Arnold, this is madness. "American bullets, shells, bombs, missles" did not invade South Korea, slaughter three million Cambodians, murder children in front of parents in Iraq, subject Afganis to archaic religious persectution, and condemn millions of South Vietnamese to live in object Communist poverty for decades and neither has any of our "Pan-American imperialist friends"!
I have no doubt, having read your response, that you are indeed "insane" in "entertaining a thought". Hoffer was correct about "True Believers". How can you post such unbelievable hate driven pap on a History board?
Give one example where American actions have cost the lives of "millions" Mr. Shcherban--one or combined.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/18/2005

Yes it would have been a very interesting thing, perhaps, "If we could first know where we are" in 1861. "We" didn't and as a result, fought a very costly war that ended, among other things, the practice of slavery. Had "we" known the cost of the Civil War to a generation of Americans--both in the North and in the South, it is unlikely the battle would have been engaged.
Good luck on your non-partisan quest for future without sacrifice in this world.
Americans in 1861 and in 2005 always question where they have been and are going and do so in every election and thus we have movement.
How is it possible to have political change without partisanship?
We cannot deliver the blessing of universal freedom to all citizens of the Republic without a strong centralized government--Lincoln and Union proved that decades ago.
Flawed tho it may be, this "corrupted republic" keeps on performing and performing more effectively every era. Name a time when it was better for all citizens in the United States than this day.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/18/2005

Mr Heisler,

Vietnamese and Cambodians and Koreans and Iraqis and Afgahnis would have been immesurably better if your Pan-American imperialist friends have not invaded, killed
(combined) millions of them, destroying the entire
regions along the way (and didn't support anti-democratic
criminal regimes, against whose reign they allegedly fight against, as long as they suited your a-la-Pan-Amerikana geopolitics).
And they would have been much better, if your allegedly noble designs for them were not implemented by all and mostly deadly means, but would have been measured to
the majority of those nations' support for those invasions.
But of course, I would be insane if just entertaining
a thought that you are capable of comparable empathy to those died killed by American bullets, shells, bombs and missiles and those who died killed by their own "Left", and consequently - capable of just critisism (not mentioning condemnation) of those invasions.

Arnold Shcherban - 2/18/2005

And what terrible deed those communists "in the entertainment business" have perpetrated on the poor American spectators, I wonder?

Robert F. Koehler - 2/18/2005

Mr. Heisler

The constitution defines the architecture of US national governance & demanded of the states as a republic, an extraordinarily corrupted republic compared to what the document founded, but a republic. Going to the polls and casting a vote a democracy it does not make, no matter how many weird or goofy ways the term is conflated such as "representative democracy." The only possible way democracy can exist within a republic is if the central authority is constrained and weak, as it was at the dawn of our republic when all power was local at the village, township & county level. Over the last several hundred years that reality has been turned inside out into the centralized, bureaucratic, regulatory state we have today that legislates, rules and enforces practically all aspects of American society, business and politics down to the township hall. Demos is practiced nowhere in the US of A today, regardless of what you and millions of other Americans think, wish or want to believe.

Never said the US is not at war.

I am sick to death of demo/repub, liberal/conservative or left vs. right partisanship and ideology. I curse & hate partisanship with all my soul. These dead idiocies are going to kill us for sure if American's don't wake up to the challenges that face us as a nation. Its this garbage that is dragging us down and blinds us to what we have become and where we are going. Another pertinent remark of Lincoln, stepping boldly up to the transformational crises of his times: "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we can better judge what to do, and how to do it." The vital key is in the first phrase of the sentence. Few American's are asking it.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/18/2005

There is absolutely no evidence that we have "lost" democracy in this country. The fact that one side of our two party system has lost the last five national elections, two presidential and three mid-terms is not evidence that the democracy is not working, it is an indication that it is functioning as designed. That the losing side does not enjoy the process is not evidence that the process is doomed.
If you refer to the alleged possible abuses of the Patriot Act, I will merely direct you to history when, in times of war, this country enacted extra-consitutional measures to protect itself. It is common, in times of dire need, to take these actions. When the conflict ends, the measures end--America had a democracy following the Civil War, WWI, WWII.
How much the current rhetoric of the Left apes the doomsday rhetoric of the John Birch Society of the 50's and, I might add, draws the same extraordinary conclusions from the same paucity of evidence. The United States is not ending, it is merely protecting it's important interests--public safety and welfare. Nothing more and nothing less. You may not believe a war is being waged but I suspect most of America does. If some deny that a "real" war is engaged the denial does not make the war less real and less serious to those who see the conflict as a reality.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/17/2005

Mr. Heisler

I have misread? Please go back and carefully re-read message # 53916 that you responded to with such gusto. I am not talking about international relations! If you truly believe in democracy than your first duty is to save it here, or to be more exact, re-establish the democracy we have lost and undo the extra-constitutional centralization that has strangled it.

You may read me or Lincoln any way you like, but its yourself who is fixated on absolutist terms, not I or Lincoln who himself was speaking holistically concerning the great conflict and its outcome between a Northern or Southern world view, where only one could triumph and the other liquidated. Our nation is on a well worn path that many others before have traveled. Some succeeded and others failed in these transformational processes and know of none that ever willfully aborted. If we can we will be the first in history to do so. For all I know it may be too late already, and if so, I suggest you toughen up and steel yourself for it.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/17/2005

You misread me entirely if marvelously--as I indicated, nothing, especially international relations, is ever "all this, or all that". It is not in the nature of human interaction and the changing nature of those interactions to allow that kind of decision making. You may be an isolationist, tho I really doubt it, but I am most certainly not an imperialist.
I do believe in the inherent goodness of the democratic process for all humans.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/17/2005

Mr. Heisler

So your an imperialist and I'm an isolationist. Its hard to imagine how our differences could be anything other than "all this, or all that." You have proven the point marvelously.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/17/2005

Mr. Clarke

Kleptocracy? Never thought of klepto as a descriptive for the US elites, but it sure does fit. So my expanded definition of America's rulers are an inferior, unfit oligarchy, pretentious and surfeited with aristocratic delusions, driven with a kleptomaniacal zeal to plunder fellow US citizens and whoever, whenever & wherever they can throughout the world. Sort of rounds out my personal view of that small percent of the top fifth. Thanks.

As for Bushites, neo-conites and whatever allies they have left, they amuse me more than concern me as they once did. I find the dual visitation of Condi & Rummy to Europe instructive for the kissy-facey and lets-make up protocols, as opposed to the "we don't need them" and "old Europe" slurs both were famous for in the past. Rummy even went so far as to denigrate himself by applying his "old" comment to himself. Condi was basking in the kudos of her gracious and moderate new-self until she slipped up on the Iranian question, which the following day she quickly corrected. Would have loved to been a fly on that wall when the s**t hit the fan over that one. Its all being billed as an exploratory and pave the way mission, for the gentler & kinder new George Bush who will be visiting there next month. I doubt that George & co are at all happy with their new persona's, choreographed by far more important and powerful personalities who are back on the scene to their chagrin.

For peace maker with N. Korea Kissinger has sort of shot himself in the foot by associating with neo-con's. Won't do. Vance, don't know. But Baker is a king maker, one among the most powerful personalities in America. Too big to send to Asia to clean up Pinocchio's mess. If anyone is sent to do the deed I would think a Carter II diplomacy would do the trick, if he can be persuaded. N. Korea may see that as an option to easing tensions, though making more than that would be a tough sell considering the issues on the table, as you noted. As for the Chinese getting their bottoms sucked up into this, fat chance. Chi-com Charley may posture & blow his whistles, but they sure as hell ain't nuts. After all, N. Korea is their wild card, why would they want to help us out? And this is the second time in 10 years we got ourselves in a jam with N. Korea. Just can't see how that can inspire confidence in co-operating with us.

No sane or reasonable person wouldn't want to help the N. Korean people, but immature or ill advised actions can lead to greater misery & suffering. N. Korea is a foreign policy issue, its not a save the whales or the sky is falling conundrum. And focusing exclusively on emotionalism makes me question the motives of the messenger too.

Edward Siegler - 2/17/2005

I applaud your effort to get those in charge in South Korea and China to change their position. I'm afraid these people are immune to such shaming but it's worth a try. Just about anything short of war or apathy is worth a try at this point.

Edward Siegler - 2/17/2005

I'm not sure what prevention you have in mind here, Peter. Truman not inviting the Soviets to declare war on Japan and then setting the 38th parallel as the line of division in Korea? MacArthur heeding his intelligence reports of massive Chinese infiltration across the Yalu in November, 1950 and digging in instead of continuing the advance and then being thrown back into the South? In any case I agree that the parallel to Eastern Europe in 1989 is far from perfect. In fact I'd say the same of most historical parallels. But I would disagree that the Jackson-Vanik powder should be kept dry. I say fire away because this sort of ammunition is about the best that I can see available, and the emergence of a North Korean reformer is not likely to happen until Kim's death at the earliest. This could easily take decades. In the meantime we little people should content ourselves with that Team America movie in which a Kim Jong Ill puppet plays the villain. Any movie with Kim Jong Ill in it is all right by me, and finding any humor at all in North Korea is an epic acomplishment. On second thought, a better idea would be to contribute to North Korean refugee relief organizations and can the laughter - which is becoming borderline criminal behavior in this country.

Edward Siegler - 2/17/2005

Mr. Koehler - have you read this congressional bill on North Korea? What makes you think that it provides a barrier to aid for these people? And do you really think war is the answer for this situation?

Edward Siegler - 2/17/2005

Thank you for that update, Ms. Klinghoffer. South Korea fears the fall of Kim's regime because the cost of reunification would be astronomical. However in light of the horrific treatment of the North Korean people by their Stalinist masters I wouldn't call this position absurd so much as disgusting. If the South Koreans don't feel obligated to save their brothers and sisters in the North, who will?

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/17/2005

Either/or reasoning when it comes to international affairs is as fallacious a position as was Lincoln's when he spoke the words--of course there is, as there always is, an inbetween.
What you are suggesting is that America withdraw from the world. Do you really?
Are we to sit on our hands and watch our economy ruined by forces that we do not wish to influence to better our citizens? Shall we subject ourselves to fair market prices on oil that we are addicted to? Are you prepared to have the institutions that rely on public funding take the hit that comes with the economic results of putting the oil producing countries in charge of our future unrestrained by our international policy?
Are you prepared to tolerate a world sujugated to tyranny and genocide while you contemplate our collective navel on the sidelines? Will all this isolationism you seek make you feel guiltless and comfortable?
The astonishing growth of democracy and the economic growth and well being experienced throughout the world since WWII is a direct result of America's involvement in world affairs. You are aware of how many millions of people that were formerly under totalitarian/authoritarian forms of governments who now enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy since the 50's are you not? Shall celebrate that or retreat from that in the name of not being "hegemonius"?
The questions are many--are the Afganistanis and Iraquis better or worse today, this day, than in 2000? Are the South Koreans better today than in 1950? Would the Vietnamese have been better if we had prevailed and defeated North Vietnam, or even protected South Vietnam?
How would the Cambodians have faired had we stayed--or at least 3 million of them?
Given your "All this or All that" philosophy, I await the verbal tap dance you are about to stage for my education and enjoyment--the performance should be amazing!

Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 2/17/2005

Many of you correctly point out that I have not offered a solution in clear enough a manner. Edward Siegler has spelled it out almost correctly. South Korea and China must stop aiding and abetting the survival of the regime. Only today I heard the BBC announce that South Korea is AFRAID that additional pressure would lead to the collapse of that brittle regime. Indeed, a well conected expert said that the South Korean president told Bush and Rice that the survival of the North Korean regime is a strategic goal of South Korea. Covering up the true nature of the regime serves that goal. I wrote the piece in hope of shaming them to change their position. China will follow. It is absurd for a country of over a billion people to fear being inundated by a few million North Koreans.

Vernon Clayson - 2/16/2005

McCarthyism? Where have you been, the more that comes out from the McCarthy era the more it seems he was right, there were communists in high government positions and in show business. And stretching the liberal's label of McCarthyism on our dealings with Korean, North and South, is a little much. Nothing would make liberals happier than our going to war against another stupid, dirty little country, and in this case, it would be a second round, double the pleasure for the Kennedyites, Reidites and the Kerryites and the Clintonites. They would scream from their rostrums that Bush was wrong again. Well, Harry Reid wouldn't scream, he would just find fault in that soporific monotone - does he think that is menacing?

Robert F. Koehler - 2/16/2005

Mr Heisler

The best way to protect "all that is important domestically and philosophically" in America is for America to come home and dump its hegemonic ambitions, alliances and meddling throughout the world.

Since 1945 the US has been on a fast escalator to becoming something that can only be described as an empire. If there is a "tipping point" anywhere in the scheme of things, its whether America will abort this path or continue on it. Our current hegemonic status is insanely unstable over a troop of vassals, clients & surrogates that we define as our "interests" on the one hand, while on the other confuse ourselves and everyone else by talk of sovereign and free states. The extreme contradictions between what the US says, as opposed to what the US does is the source for all the acrimony in snide "comments and criticisms" from various quarters. Nor do I believe in the sincerity of those making such charges since if their partisan favorites where in office they would most likely be singing another tune. Unfathomable and enormic hypocrisy is another manifestation of this absurd & unstable state, left - right, demo- repub, liberal or conservative all stand guilty & condemned as charged.

America must make up its mind one way or the other. Empire or a Republic. The way we are can't last forever and can only lead to ruin and defeat. Either we return to our roots and begin the process of dismantling that Abomination that sits on the Potomac, where it ought not, so that real democracy, liberty & freedom can once again reign as the business of this land. Or we can continue on in pursuit of another destiny with virtues, values, principles, culture and society totally alien from what the US sprang. You won't and can't have it both ways. As Lincoln once said concerning another great transformational moment in US history: "Its either all this, or all that." There ain't no in between.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/16/2005

Robert, I was not making a judgement about the correctness of the South Korean response--I know that they are and have been in the direct sights of the North Korean military and that influences everything about their posture relative to the matter. I can certainly see why they would not want to be perceived by North Korea as instigating an anti North movement.
My comments are entirely directed to those that invariably criticize everything that has been proposed and enacted by this and former American administrations to deal with this real threat.
All I see is snide comments and criticism and never an iota of information to suggest that these people have a solution to these serious problems.
I am tired of the constant allusion that everything the United States does is the wrong thing--whether in Asia or in the Middle East.
Clearly we should expect some mistakes and errors in dealing with these matters but to automatically assume that the our government is wrong is fallacious.
These people seem to live in a world where there are no consequences for not acting, for not attempting to control evil even tho there is ample evidence that there has always been an extreme danger in letting evil stand unchallenged.
It seems to me that the Left, bereft of it's own failed policies, has no alternative position when dealing with real world issues. The United Nations and alliances seem unwilling and/or incapable of protecting American interests throughout the world and to the extent that we can go it alone, we must in order to protect all that is important domestically and philosophically, especially if we believe, as we should, that freedom and democracy as viable concepts are inherently good for all peoples.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/16/2005

At this point in time, with tensions as high as they are, absolutely nothing can be accomplished short of war. And I can't think of anything more hollow than another Congressional bill of posturing and puffery, which only adds another barrier to providing any help to the people of N. Korea.

Edward Siegler - 2/16/2005

The Republican Pary = the Nazi Party. Israel's treatment of Palestinians = the Holocaust. How many times have you seen these pathetic attempts to equate the Nazis with something or someone that somebody doesn't like? Well repetition makes us numb and the fact is that when an apt comparison with the Holocaust is made we are too jaded by all the phony ones to take the real ones seriously. This is sadly the case with North Korea today. So what about solutions?

The collapse of East Germay was precipitated by an offer of free passage to the West by Hungary. This offer set off a human tidal wave of emmigration that brought the East German regime to an end. If such an offer were made to North Koreans by concerned nations today it would likely create similar consequences for Kim Jong Ill's regime. Unfortunately the nations that should care the most, such as China and South Korea, are not about to offer any such thing. However other nations could and should.

I think the best solution here is to link any deal made with North Korea to the regime's treatment of their own people. By spotlighting North Korea's horrific conditions the world would send a signal that it takes seriously the human rights disaster that has been created there. This could potentially bolster the discontent certainly felt by the North Korean people and possibly embolden them to take action. Fortunately this article tells of two important developements along these lines. First is the U.N. declaration recognizing North Korean refugees as just that - refugees. The Second is in the Congressional bill requiring that, with possible exceptions, deals with North Korea include requirments for human rights. I would have hoped for an act opening the floodgates to North Korean refugees entering the U.S., but that's obvioulsy asking too much.

It's encouraging that there has finally been some constructive action taken on North Korea. This regime is an open sore on the face of humanity. The fact that we tolerates such horror is a stain on us all. The world should come to an agreement that tyranny such as this must go the way of slavery and be banished from the earth. If and when this day comes regimes like North Korea will fall without the need for war. The first step is to link any offers of aid to agreements providing concrete improvments in human rights.

I'd like to hear any other constructive ideas that you may have on this situation.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/16/2005

Mr Heisler

That's a 1/2 million shells within a 1/2 hour, not a minute.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/16/2005

Mr. Freidman

I would be surprised if the situation weren't infinitely worse. N Korea is a closed Spartite state, militarilized right down to thumb tacks and toilet paper, with its citizens thouroughly regimented and indoctrinated beyond anything America's media barons could ever hope or dream of achieving.

I also understood your point concerning how nations provide "cover" for other despicable regimes for various foreign policy and economic reasons. Heck, the US of A is no slouch in that department either. I just don't see that as anything new or unique since nation states pursue their interests and advantage primarily for their own benefit to the exclusion of all others. Its there raison d'etre.

My point is that grandstanding exclusively upon moral outrage is next to useless when it comes to N. Korea. It may work with the Sudan, like it did with Gulf War 1 and Kosovo. It certainly won't work in the Middle East where there are no innocent parties to that regions conflicts. And it becomes an extraordinarily dangerous element within a foreign policy posture directed to a country like N. Korea, that George has backed down from whether from wisdom or forced.

N. Friedman - 2/16/2005


I read the article and understood it. My only point was that foreign countries often provide cover for their political agendas by making - and, with the connivance of a gullible press propagandizing - another country not sound as bad as it is regarding a matter of importance to the citizens of the country doing the hiding.

European countries, to note, are notorious with respect to basically hiding the bad human rights records of Middle Eastern countries. Such was the case in the 19th Century regarding the Ottoman Empire. Such is likely the case now with respect to places like (in the 1990's) Sudan in order to have smooth delivery of oil and regarding places like Saudi Arabia now for the very same reason.

I thus would not be surprised if what the article reports is true.

Robert F. Koehler - 2/16/2005

Mr. Hiesler

Well, I won't say you don't have a point about criticism of "non-academics," which I am one, but when such make bold & sweeping acclamations than they had better do their homework before they post on this site. Klinghoffer has produced an essay saturated with emotive, heart wrenching stories from beginning to end, but narry a peep about the enormous and difficult problems N. Korea represents to the region, US and the world.

Stay at homes, far from battlefields potential or real, can afford to spread their cheeks on cushioned recliners and pontificate their moralisms to the world. I would advise going real easy on S. Koreans because its their butts under some 18,000 tubes of artillery with range of fire not only beyond Seoul, but can literally turn that city into a sea of fire within minutes. They are under the guns of some of the largest artillery ever produced, the 170 mm Goksan gun, and from the DMZ alone N Korean batteries can rain down on the south an estimated 500,000 conventional & bio-chemical artillery shells a minute. Now that's what I call firepower and wouldn't blame anyone in S Korea for being circumspect on some issues with the north.

The N Koreans are no easy nut to crack because they have prepared well and diligently, transforming every square inch of their half of the peninsula into an unassailable armed fortress with power projection south and regionally. The below abstract is all over the internet and tells a far more fuller story than what Klinghoffer has produced, and is why the S. Korean president told ours to keep his loose mouth shut with his slurs concerning the "Dear Leader" of N Korea.
North Korea's War Strategy of Massive Retaliations against US Attacks

An English abstract of a paper by Han Ho Suk, Director, Center for Korean Affairs


Robert F. Koehler - 2/16/2005

Mr. Friedman

It's no mystery that N. Korea and its bosses are fairly bad people. Many world leaders have recognized N. Korea as the worst on the planet when it comes to human rights and have done so for decades. Klinghoffer doesn't report as much as she has composed a screed, casting blame left and right and excoriating everyone as accomplices & abetters to N. Korean crimes against humanity. Anyone can catalog N. Korean atrocities, but its another matter in finding & promoting the correct solutions, diplomatic or military, concerning the question of N. Korea. Klinghoffer doesn't do that.

Charles Edward Heisler - 2/16/2005

How so very typically this rant is! Full of vigorous criticisms of all past inept American efforts to free the North Koreans from the ill treatment but so very short of any suggestion as to how these people might be saved!
Why is it that the folks that think America is so corrupt cannot see beyond that misperception and recognize that real evil exists beyond Washington D.C. under Bush?
How impotent to simply criticize those that point to a real problem because they are non academics or are persistant--be an academic and show us a way to solve this horrid problem and get off the carping about those that are merely illuminating something you choose not to want to think about.

N. Friedman - 2/15/2005


I am no expert on N. Korea but, frankly, the little I know suggests it is a pretty awful place with large numbers of people starving. Moreover, it is orthodox communist. I would think anything is possible.

That the South would cover up the extent of what the North does, on the hope of not stirring up trouble, is not all that implausible. There is, you will note, much precedent on this elsewhere in the world. The western countries, in particular, has done its best, so far as I can tell, to keep the 20 year Jihadi massacres in Sudan nearly a secret. And the West, during WWII, ran stories about the Nazi attrocities against Jews on the back pages of papers.

Again, I do not know enough to judge the story here.__

Robert F. Koehler - 2/15/2005

Mr. Robbins

If I understand Mr. Clark correctly, he is not making the analogy himself, but is merely putting meat upon the bones of the analogy Klinghoffer proffered in her essay. He is framing her "unhistorical and highly selective rants." I too see his point.

Jon Robins - 2/15/2005

Well spoken- I see your point.

So if we were, to follow from your example, follow the (correct?) example of FDR and Churchill, we should be urging that our leaders load up the amphibious assault ships and start digging fallout shelters in Seoul?

Jon Robins - 2/15/2005

It's one thing to knock it for being unhistorical, poor writing. But raising McCarthyism? Please.

Despite the article's lack of coherent information, the evidence is overwhelming that North Koreans have been suffering unspeakable horrors for decades. The author makes one solid point you should take to heart- the good Noam Chomsky DID shill for the auto-genocidal maniacs in Cambodia. Don't do the same for "Dear Leader" by painting his critics as McCarthy-ites.

I'm not sure where you gather that the author wants the North to capture the South, either- I think it's safe to say that nobody outside Pyongyang has the brutal rule and destruction of South Korea's democracy by pseudo-Stalinist tyrants on their agenda.

Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/14/2005

I do not know why you have such hostility to this article. I did not find it to be one of the best I have ever read, but it was interesting and informative and seemed like a genuine plea based on humanitarian grounds. I do not agree with the implication, but do not understand your apparent anger towards the author?