I was pondering the rather silly reports I saw this morning about American officials downplaying apparent efforts by Kim Jong-il to rebuild his nuclear power plant (BBC and Washington Times). In effect, the Washington crew is saying the Korean regime's actions are just a ruse to get itself of the U.S. State Department's terrorist list.
That seemed gallingly naive at first (after all, Japan and South Korea think differently). However, upon further review (yep, it's football season again!), the Bush Administration may actually have a point. This is a Communist regime we're seeing here, and elaborate shows are their specialty. Moreover, the regime has plenty of reason to engage in this sort of bluster, namely to make sure none of the locals complain about starving to death (Christian Science Monitor).
In fact, whether this is a just a ruse or a genuine move to renuclearize, the Stalinists in northern Korea are simply taking a page from Communist China's playbook: when you run out of bread, double the circuses!
To see what I mean, let's take a look at the Chinese Communist Party's interactions with the rest of the world today. We have industrial espionage (United Press International), undue influence in Taiwan (Taipei Times) and Canada (Epoch Times), overseas intimidation in New York (Epoch Times), and racketeering (Epoch Times).
That's a fairly busy week for the CCP!
It leads one to ask, why? What is causing them to lean on democratic governments and electorates to be silent, while trying to rob them blind at the same time?
Much like their Korean colony, the cadres are reacting to problems at home, which have seen no letting up since the Olympics left town.
Australian doctors cracking down on recipients of organs from Communist China - meaning they remain well aware of the regime's policy to extract organs from executed prisoners, including political prisoners and especially Falun Gong practitioners (Between Heaven and Earth).
Meanwhile, and far more importantly to the cadres, they have had to come clean about the substandard school buildings that killed over 90,000 in last spring's Sichuan earthquake (BBC). This takes all of the propaganda gains the Communists scored from earthquake sympathy and turns it into an acidic and poisonous liability - just as students are returning to school (Epoch Times).
It's no wonder that the cadres demanded Skype shut down its discussion rooms (Epoch Times). They can't have the people they imprison know what is going on. Better to make them think the cadres are "protecting Chinese honor" with the various antics aimed at the free world.
Indeed, the Korean colony and the "home office" look quite similar.
Yet northern Korea is considered a basket case, while Communist China is praised as new power astride the globe. Why?
For starters, northern Korea is not very big. Even with the overarching "minders" sent by the Stalinists, it's fairly easy to get the lay of the entire landscape, and to see that whatever propaganda silliness goes on in the capital doesn't translate well in the countryside - leading to quick imprisonment, torture, or worse.
By contrast, Communist China is and remains huge (many of its rural provinces are larger than the entire Korean peninsula), and as in other large nations, it's very easy to just take the easy way out and assume the big cities are what's important. In India, that means the political elites in New Delhi who vie for power must rely on the much larger middle-class and lower-classes, about whom the elites are just ignorant enough to lead to wild election swings and major "upsets." In Russia, the creeping Putinism in Moscow and St. Petersburg is condemned, but the gratitude to Putin for restoring order in the myriad rural hamlets from Belarus to the Bering Sea is ignored (this is not meant as an endorsement of Putinism, just a partial explanation of its staying power). In the United States, the stark divide over Governor Sarah Palin spelt out this paradigm in bold font.
While Communist China is clearly under a brutal dictatorship, beneath that is the same urban-rural divide. In fact, given the CCP's obsession with brainwashing city residents, nearly all of the anger, frustration, and righteous opposition to the regime can be found outside the major cities, where it is both harder for MSM journalists to reach and less appealing for said MSM scribes to visit.
How widespread is the rural anger at the CCP? When will it be unleashed and channeled to topple the regime? No one really knows, least of all the Communists themselves. So they will continue to repress political freedom and resort to nationalistic policies in order to defuse and confuse.
It's more obvious with Pyongyang than with Beijing, but both are deploying weapons of mass distraction in their fight for survival.