North Korea’s murderous regime is in crisis. After a debilitating stroke, Kim Jong Il is maneuvering to anoint one of his sons the next “Dear Leader” – but the fitness of Kim Junior for the job is open to question, not least in the minds of powerful regime insiders.
Part of the transition program entailed a closure of private markets. This wrecked the country’s already feeble economy and led to violent protests, forcing Kim into a rare public retreat. The man in charge of the closure plan was shot – this being the solution to most problems in North Korea.
If the execution meant to encourage the others, it worked. A North Korean fighter recently crashed in southern China, and according to the WaPo, the pilot – who apparently died in the accident – may have been trying to defect. Regime rats are bailing out on the Kim family.
The end of the Kim dynasty is something to anticipate with pleasure. Even by the lofty standards of Asian communism, the man is a bloody-minded abomination. The same was true of his father, and no doubt will be true of his son. Their disappearance will make the air less foul and mark the liberation of 24 million captive human beings.
So I am astounded to read the following in a WaPo analytical piece on the succession to Kim Junior:
Some American officials have become so concerned that North Korea would be more belligerent under Kim Jong Eun that they privately express hopes that his father will remain in power.
Going by the track record of the last two decades, it would be hard for the North Koreans to become more belligerent than they have been under Kim Jong Il. But assume it’s possible: why should degrees of belligerence weigh so heavily on those “American officials” that they endorse a moral monster’s continued grip on power? What kind of bargain would that be – what do the Korean people, the US, or the world gain in return?
FDR is supposed to have said of the loathsome Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, “I know he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Kim Jong Il makes Trujillo look like Mother Teresa, and he isn’t even ours. In fact, if we take him at his word, he’s our enemy.
Kim gets by with help from his allies in the Chinese communist mafia: the Maoist formula is that the two regimes are “as close as lips and teeth.” But he’s a free rider on Chinese fears of chaos at the border, as he is on the world’s fear of nuclear war. Kim’s sole interest is Kim and family.
For American officials to share the same interest seems – to put it mildly – perverse.
The real story in the WaPo report is that some deep thinkers in the US foreign policy bureaucracy hope in private that Kim “will remain in power.” If professional journalists were the watchdogs on government they pretend to be, the names of these functionaries would be revealed. Then they could argue their case before the court of public opinion, instead of hiding in the shadows of anonymity, whispering to newspaper scribblers, as if ashamed.
Of course, the professional journalist responsible for the WaPo piece is Chico Harlan, last seen wrestling with his prose to describe each of the 103 defeats of the 2009 Washington Nationals. No doubt this offered Harlan invaluable experience in covering failed, chaotic regimes – less so in questioning the moral and political sanity of those who embrace, for whatever reason, the world’s most repulsive ruler.