Friday, January 30, 2009

North Korean rattle sabling, part 2450

Just when we thought things between North and South Korea couldn't get even more tense, Pyongyang said today they are ripping up all "military and political" agreements with Seoul. They claim that the South's current President, Lee Myung-bak, has "hostile intent" towards the North -- in other words, they don't like Lee's hard line and his rollback of previously unconditional aid to the North.

Among the agreements to be scrapped is the one dealing with the maritime border between the two countries, one the North has never recognized anyway and has led to several naval confrontations, most recently in 2002. And this comes after several South-owned tourist spots in the North were ordered shut down.

If this is just another attempt by the North to get bargaining power with Washington, especially with a new administration, I don't think it's going to work this time. Obama may not be a hawk like GWB but he certainly is not a dove. I'm sure he'd like to pull out the tens of thousands of US troops in the South, as well as the nuclear weapons, but as long as the North poses a danger and continues to starve its own people on purpose, they're not going anywhere.

As far as Lee goes, he's absolutely correct in his stance. You don't award dictatorships unless they make positive steps in the area of human rights and moves towards genuine democracy. And in that department, the North has no human rights and no prospect of anything coming close to a free election. Food and medical aid regularly is confiscated by the North and given to its favourite apparatchiks. And on TV, it's all Kim Jong-Il, all the time.

No one wants war, especially in Korea. (Look what's in the neighbourhood -- Japan, China, Thailand -- theoretically some of North Korea's missiles could even reach the eastern fringes of the EU which would bring NATO into play.)

But if that's what the North wants, it has way too many enemies so as to ensure its defeat and long-overdue liberation. Even Canada, one of the very few countries with diplomatic relations with the North, won't put up with the crap -- after all, we still remember the Korean War.

We need more democracies ... as a general rule, democracies -- real democracies which rule through due process and not through rockets or bullying -- don't go to war against each other.

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