Friday, June 2, 2017

Cat's in the Cradle

“The Hermit Kingdom” – that’s what they call North Korea. Sounds enchanting, and endearing when you think of its inhabitants who have no one but themselves to rely upon. That raw independence has spawned a siege mentality, beginning with it impetuous leader, Kim Jong Un. Many see him as 27 year old despot with a nuclear arsenal at his fingertips. America calls him “irrational”. (He must be. He defies America at every turn.)

Speaking at the United Nations this past month, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said of North Korea:  “They don’t need nuclear weapons.” They don’t? Then who does? America has over 2500 nukes. We must need them. (Do we need so many?) And, you say North Korea needs none. Who’s being irrational? 

The U.S. wants North Korea to dismantle its entire nuclear program, (composed of six to ten warheads.) We want the Korean peninsula to be nuclear free. Are we so full of ourselves that we presume the right to set the parameters of another nation’s existence?

We have nuclear weapons to deter other nations from attacking us. Russia has the same nukes. Lesser nations – France, Israel, Pakistan have nukes for the same reasons: to insure their survival in the face of nations who only respect the ability of contrary nations to hit them back. It is called “Mutual Assured Destruction” – “MAD.” That is what N. Korea wants – what America has in spades: the surety of MAD(ness).

America claims Un threatens our existence. No, he doesn’t. Un says, “If the U.S. attacks us, we will fight back.” That is a simple assurance. We, Americans, can trace such assurances back to grade school – those of us, that is, who had guts to hit the bully back. N. Korea, with its nuclear program, seeks to keep the bully at bay, like everyone else. 

N. Korea saw what happened to Iraq and Libya. Neither of those countries threatened America. America made them disarm, nonetheless. Then, we killed both of  their leaders, and left their nations in shambles. “Irrational” would be for Un to disarm in the face of American intimidation., and expect a different result.

President Trump dispatched a nuclear-powered naval strike force to the Korean peninsula, ostensibly to intimidate Un into backing down from any more nuclear, and ballistic missile tests. A day later, Un tested one of his missiles, anyway. Two weeks later, on the 28th of April, as the U. S. naval “armada” drew nearer to the Korean peninsula, Un tested another missile. 

By the way, how does one use a nuclear-powered strike force to convince another nation to de-nuclearize? Weaker peoples might fold. A determined nation will respond, “I’m gonna be like you.” If nothing else, N. Korea is determined.

It is interesting that as the United Nations Security Council convened a special session to discuss N. Korea’s ballistic missile tests, the U.S. and India, that same week, tested ballistic missiles of their own. Unbowed, Rex Tillerson stood on the floor of  the U.N. and asked that N. Korea – already the most-sanctioned nation on Earth – be hit with ever more crippling sanctions for daring to do what we do. 

By its policy toward N. Korea, it is apparent that the U.S. wants to bring that nation to its knees – perhaps to total extinction, and subsequent absorption into a unified Korea dominated by the U.S.-friendly, non-nuclear South. Many in the world might say that would be a good thing for the impoverished N. Korean people. Perhaps…

But, what if that nation views itself as 25 million people operating as a simple organism, like a colony of honeybees. This is not to belittle, but to highlight the industriousness of this feisty people who, with less outside help than any other nation on Earth, strive with dogged purpose to fulfill its destiny.

As a people, Americans reject the notion – think: humans were not meant to conform, like bees, to a single purpose. How do we know? Were all humans meant to be like Americans – slavishly staring into their iPhones, worshipping money, fame; cramming gratuitous foodstuffs down our throats until the entire nation is awash in an epidemic of obesity? Are we so much better than they?

I have had the advantage of being raised in rural Michigan of the 50’s and 60’s. A hand-pump was our sole source of water, a pot-bellied stove our sole source of heat, an outhouse at the edge of our backyard our source of relief. Times were hard. We ate regularly, but food was never in abundance. 

When I hear of the dire straits N. Koreans face, I am reminded that our family was never closer, never so assured of who we were, then when times were hardest. Perhaps the hard times the N. Koreans know – the threats, the sanctions – has only made them more united/less divided than any other nation on Earth. 

Recently, the N. Koreans celebrated the anniversary of their republic’s founding with a splendid display of pageantry. Such spectacles, along with the nation’s expansive weapons systems, tax Un’s ability to feed his own people. Come nighttime N. Korea becomes a black spot on the global map, evidence of a modern nation that cannot afford to keep the lights on. 

Such failures make N. Korea a bright target for ridicule. Yet, even the U.S. must temper its mockery with a measure of respect. Earth abounds with nations that fail to feed their own; that have little to show for their existence besides hunger, squalor, and corruption. Through the hardships visited upon the N. Korean people, a poor nation has forged itself into a an advanced and nuclear state. 

Still, America cannot resist deploying her smug pit: “They have no access to the internet!” Big deal! Neither did we. Instead, my siblings and I were raised on the complete set of “Childcraft” books – children’s literature from “Bo-Peep” to “Rapunzel”, and beyond. 
Look, let not lean with our feigned pity. Ask: “Can the N. Korean children go fishing, play baseball, go for walks in the woods?” If so, then many of them are more free than our own children – chained as they are to their fancy computers and cell phones; addicts to technology that diminishes them where consequent time spent with nature would enrich their souls. 

This is no attempt to romanticize the tribulations of the N. Korean people. They suffer; who doesn’t. I wish all the world’s children were free from hunger. That will not happen, especially with world leaders like ours who feign commiseration out of one side of their mouths, while clamoring for ever more bone-chilling child-starving sanctions out of the other side. 

Leave the N. Koreans be. (Stop trying to make everybody like your sick selves.) They want to live, that’s all. They have a right to self-determination; the right to be different. They are a unique people – they are denizens of  “The Hermit Kingdom.”

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