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Stalinist North Korea - one of Communist China's oldest and most loyal allies - is a danger to its own people, its fellow Koreans in the democratic South, and the rest of the world. This was established long before Tuesday’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile test launch became the prototype incident of Projectile Dysfunction (third item). However, when it comes to the Stalinist regime, many in the corridors of power in the democratic world are focusing on negotiation and/or limited military action. The reality is neither of these options, however practical they may appear, can succeed, for they include leaving the Stalinist regime in place. Instead, the people of northern Korea must be liberated from this regime, and given the chance to take their country back.
Prior to the failed test launch, the Stalinist regime held the world's attention with an admission to having nuclear weapons and violating numerous agreements, including the 1994 Agreed Framework, in which they pledged not to develop them. The way the Stalinist regime treated the 1994 Agreement - reaping the benefits for years while refusing to hold up its end of the bargain - should have been enough to establish that Kim Jong-il et al could not be bribed, cajoled, or threatened into decent behavior. That the agreement was in fact a promise to stop breaking non-nuclear pledges in 1985 and 1987 should have reinforced this realization.
If that wasn't enough, the actions of the Kim Jong-il regime towards its neighbors' citizens have been well outside civilized behavior. Japan has lost at least 12 citizens to Stalinist kidnappers (according to Pyongyang, eight of those lost have died, although they have refused to provide any evidence of this) and democratic South Korea has lost hundreds to abductions by the North.
Even that outrage has paled in comparison to the Stalinists' inhuman treatment of the Koreans trapped under their control. The regime has received millions of dollars worth of international food aid despite its aggressive, militaristic policies. What few have noticed is how the Stalinists have used that food aid, along with whatever scarce home grown food there is, as political weapons to silence their opponents, literally (fifth item, ninth item). Supporters of the regime is well fed; opponents starve. Millions have died as a result.
Of course, starvation is not the only form of repression in northern Korea. The more conventional methods of brutal repression - torture, imprisonment, etc. - are also very much in force. Hundreds of political prisoners have died from chemical weapons testing (second item).
All of this is enough to brand the Stalinists a threat to East Asia and a criminal regime lacking in basic human decency. However, the regime has also been a threat to the world at large through its support for terrorism. Pyongyang has an extensive arms export industry, and its clients include the leading terrorist states on the planet: Khomeinist Iran, Ba’athist Syria, and Saddam Hussein while he was in power. In fact, Saddam had paid $10 million for a Stalinist missile assembly line before he was toppled (the Stalinists balked on delivering it due to fears of reprisals from the United States).
The regime has even conducted acts of terror itself. In addition to the aforementioned kidnappings, the Stalinists have assassinated South Korean cabinet members and the wife of a South Korean President (her husband was the target). They also exploded a South Korean airliner in mid-air in 1987, killing over 100 passengers.
This is not a regime with which one negotiates; it is a regime one removes.
Would the liberation of northern Korea require military force? It’s possible, but not likely. There is a small, but growing, anti-Stalinist movement in northern Korea. It is also well known that the regime only survives because of support from Communist China. Of course, the Communists will not accede to the loss of their satellite regime and de facto colony. However, the Soviets were not willing to give up Eastern Europe either; they were forced to do so after the democratic world stepped up the first Cold War in the 1980s. Sadly, many in the democratic world do not even recognize the existence of the cold war Communist China is fighting against it. Unless we are prepared to fight and win the Second Cold War, neither China nor northern Korea will be free.
The people of southern Korea value their freedom, but they also yearn for their country to become whole again. The Stalinist regime in northern Korea and its Communist Chinese benefactors stand in their way. The only solution to the Korean crisis is a Korea that is free, democratic, and whole. Policies with this goal in mind will be handsomely rewarded by history and a grateful Korean people. Policies less ambitious will only lead to failure, recriminations, and the needless loss of blood and treasure.