Captive To A Madman

Max Fisher rounds up reaction to the escalating tension between Pyongyang and Seoul sparked by the North's sinking of a Southern ship in March. Fred Kaplan surveys the not-so-cold war between the two countries, which have clashed at least ten times since 1999. Hitch vents:

The dirty secret here is that no neighboring power really wants the North Korean population released from its awful misery. Here are millions of stunted and unemployable people, traumatized and deformed by decades of pointless labor on the plantations of a mad despot. The South Koreans do not really want these hopeless cases on the soil of their flourishing consumer society. The Chinese, who have a Korean-speaking province that borders North Korea, are likewise unwilling to suffer the influx of desperate people that is in our future. I can't see the United States accepting them in its present mood. Kim Jong-il's junta knows this, as it knows that we are not prepared to fight him. So the deliberate mass starvation and the nuclear blackmail are two aspects of the same depraved system. (Incidentally, if that system doesn't deserve to be called evil, I don't know what does.)

Drezner proposes banning North Korea's soccer team, which is participating in its first World Cup finals in 44 years. The lameness of that sanction, and the fact that it would hurt mainly those poor souls playing footie at the pleasure of their deranged dictator, merely adds to the poignancy.

At the same time, here is an example of an unfathomable evil that the US simply cannot end, but can merely contain as best we can.

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