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This is edited from a comment I made in response to this diary that ended up becoming a response to pretty much every NK-related diary in the last few weeks. Unlike some of my previous, more emotional diaries, I tried to keep a more measured tone in this, so I hope anyone who writes back does the same. If you would rather skip my diary, I would ask you to at least check out the links included, with plenty of (non-American MSM) information to help you make your own decisions about this important issue.

First off, to those of you out there that are thinking this is all the big evil American corporate MSM trying to make another war, I invite you to try different sources for your NK info. Here's some English versions of Japanese and South Korean newspapers for starters.

http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/
http://english.chosun.com/
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/

Then by all means, feel free to draw your own conclusions afterwards.

Now, in case you're wondering what my beef is with North Korea, other than living in a country (Japan) well within range of any attack, be it nuclear weapons, regular missiles, or water balloons with "TAEPODONG" written on the side in marker, here's some background.

North Korea's concentration camps
My diary on the lone escapee
A 1-hour video featuring the head of Liberty In North Korea (LINK) and Shin
2004 Guardian article on Camp 22
Report from the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Kidnappings of South Korean and Japanese nationals
BBC report on SK couple kidnapped in 1978 to make films for KJI
Wiki page on Japanese abductions for spy-training, lots of links

Other:
Claims of medical experimentation on prisoners

I hope that after looking at those links, you at least understand that when I did things like call KJI "batshit" it wasn't just because of some kneejerk "Axis of Evil" posturing. Let's move on.

First, I say this as an American that loves my country, I feel that some people need to be reminded: This is not all about us. NK has certainly dragged us into it with their demands we treat them with the VIP treatment, but those saying "they're mad that Sotomayor stole their attention!" need to realize something - no one else in the world cares about our Supreme Court other than Americans. I can't believe anyone is trotting this out lately (please look around before you accuse me of straw men, there are several diaries on this very site claiming such).

But on the other hand, I also don't get the people who basically seem to be saying "well they can't hit America reliably yet, so who cares? Make it China's problem." Not only do I think that a rather awful way to look at allies of the United States' problems, not to mention hard to do when NK keeps dragging the US's name into things, but there are THOUSANDS of American expats in South Korea, Japan, China, etc. Myself included among them (which is why I'm so passionate about this, admittedly). If there are any fellow expats shrugging this off, I wish I had your testicular fortitude, considering how things seem to be escalating a lot more than normal this week. If thinking about that makes it easier for you to squeeze out even a little concern, that would be swell.

I am not saying "America should bomb the fuck out of them," although several people on this site, in the past, seem to have confused my hatred of Kim Jong Il's regime for the things I linked to above with me being some sort of flag-waving chickenhawk. I have never said "let's start a war," I am unfortunately more realistic than the folks on the right sporting a war-woody. I've been repeatedly screaming bloody murder about the NK situation because I want to AVOID a war here in Asia.  I hate that the main attention this seems to be getting back home (PLEASE someone prove me wrong on this, I WANT to be wrong on this) is from neocons that want to use this as an excuse to label Pres. Obama "naive" and start another fight.

America, unfortunately, has to play a part in settling this conflict, but the people making this ALL about America, like only American casualties matter, or using this as an opportunity to criticize the previous administration/past US atrocities with no apparent sympathy for the people in East Asia, frankly, make me sick.

Usually about this time I get someone asking "so what do YOU suggest?" - fair enough, but honestly? I'm not sure. I appreciate that China and Russia are coming on board, which should be a great help (and a sign that things are getting serious if even they suddenly are concerned with NK's actions) and Sec. Clinton seems to be taking a harder stance than a shrug.  I hope they can find a way to calm this down. I see the international community is coming together to take action, and I hope the ideas they come up with work.

But I wish it felt like the folks back home at least were shooting us moral support over here, if nothing else. I think that's what amazes me the most. The incredibly few people kind enough to even say "my heart goes out to the people in East Asia, and I hope this situation is resolved quickly and safely." Maybe that's childish of me, but I think turning this whole thing into an American political talking point is just as childish.

This is not an easy situation right now. Even without nukes, I'm sure everyone here would at least agree that war is not a good thing. I'm not asking you guys to send CIA ninjas to whack the Kim family, or paypal me money to build a fallout shelter under my Osaka apartment. Just to remember that there are human beings here, and even if you don't know the solution, throw a little bit of good vibes their way.

Originally posted to bonsai superstar on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:19 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  TJ (6+ / 0-)

    If the wall of text is too long, the main things I was tryig to say were:

    1. This is bigger than just America, but America can't wash its hands of this
    1. NK has done some horrible things in the past that, even if they are difficult to punish now, should at least be acknowledged and understood
    1. Being worried about crazy folks with nukes right across the way from you is a lot more stressful when your countrymen don't seem to care.

    Now I'm going to go back to work.

    •  I live in Japan as well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      humphrey, Jane Lew

      And I am very knowledgable about most of what you sited.

      At the same time I am not shitting my pants like you. Just living life, one day at a time... taken er easy for all the sinners out there.

      If the bombs start falling there is nothing you or I can do sitting here on our keyboard.

      (and I dont take this lightly, my wife is 7 months pregnant)

      Chill out, seriously you are gonna give yourself a heart attack before any bombs fall on your head.

      Judge me not by the number of my UID, but by the content of my diaries.

      by ProgressiveTokyo on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:12:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This was "pants shitting?" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citizenx

        I'm seriously asking, I thought I was pretty calm here, especially compared to some of the "!!!!!" diaries people post sometimes. Where did you get "pants shitting" from?

        And if you're very knowledgeable about what I cited, then you realize that my problem with NK isn't just this current incident. A lot of the things they've done don't seem to be very widely known in the west, and since all I have the power to do right now is call attention to those things, I try to do so.

        I respect your feelings and all and I'm not demanding you change your mind about anything, but I just don't get how I'm coming off as panicky, and I guess I want to know why for future ref more than anything - so next time I want to talk about something important to me I can write it up avoiding these kinds of apparent misunderstandings.

  •  LOL Thanks for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bonsai superstar

    Believe me, I totally sympathize with your efforts. I work on Taiwan democracy and independence issues, and getting progressives to think about East Asia -- it's like there's a mind block or something.

    Michael

    •  I wonder what it is? (0+ / 0-)

      So sadly true, and when you point it out people just either get defensive, deny it, or do like the guy below. It's strange.

      At any rate, subscribed to you, good to meet other progressives involved with/concerned with the region. If there's anything I can ever do for your cause (monetarily I'm broke ATM but willing to volunteer time when I can) I'm down.

  •  Good Article for You Guys to Read (0+ / 0-)

    Who Will Stand Up to America and Israel?
    Doublespeak on North Korea
    By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

    "Obama Calls on World to ‘Stand Up To’ North Korea" read the headline. The United States, Obama said, was determined to protect "the peace and security of the world."

    Shades of doublespeak, doublethink, 1984.

    North Korea is a small place. China alone could snuff it out in a few minutes. Yet, the president of the US thinks that nothing less than the entire world is a match for North Korea.

    We are witnessing the Washington gangsters construct yet another threat like Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, John Walker Lindh, Hamdi, Padilla, Sami Al-Arian, Hamas, Mahkmoud Ahmadinejad, and the hapless detainees demonized by the US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld as "the 700 most dangerous terrorists on the face of the earth," who were tortured for six years at Gitmo only to be quietly released. Just another mistake, sorry.

    The military/security complex that rules America, together with the Israel Lobby and the financial banksters, needs a long list of dangerous enemies to keep the taxpayers’ money flowing into its coffers.

    The Homeland Security lobby is dependent on endless threats to convince Americans that they must forego civil liberty in order to be safe and secure.

    The real question is who is going to stand up to the American and Israeli governments?

    Who is going to protect Americans’ and Israelis’ civil liberties, especially those of Israeli dissenters and Israel’s Arab citizens?

    Who is going to protect Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Lebanese, Iranians, and Syrians from Americans and Israelis?

    Not Obama, and not the right-wing brownshirts that today rule Israel.

    Obama’s notion that it takes the entire world to stand up to N. Korea is mind-boggling, but this mind-boggling idea pales in comparison to Obama’s guarantee that America will protect "the peace and security of the world."

    Is this the same America that bombed Serbia, including Chinese diplomatic offices and civilian passenger trains, and pried Kosovo loose from Serbia and gave it to a gang of Muslin drug lords, lending them NATO troops to protect their operation?

    Is this the same America that is responsible for approximately one million dead Iraqis, leaving orphans and widows everywhere and making refugees out of one-firth of the Iraqi population?

    Is this the same America that blocked the rest of the world from condemning Israel for its murderous attack on Lebanese civilians in 2006 and on Gazans most recently, the same America that has covered up for Israel’s theft of Palestine over the past 60 years, a theft that has produced four million Palestinian refugees driven by Israeli violence and terror from their homes and villages?

    Is this the same America that is conducting military exercises in former constituent parts of Russia and ringing Russia with missile bases?

    Is this the same America that has bombed Afghanistan into rubble with massive civilian casualties?

    Is this the same America that has started a horrific new war in Pakistan, a war that in its first few days has produced one million refugees?

    "The peace and security of the world"? Whose world?

    On his return from his consultation with Obama in Washington, the brownshirted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that it was Israel’s responsibility to "eliminate" the "nuclear threat" from Iran.

    What nuclear threat? The US intelligence agencies are unanimous in their conclusion that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program since 2003. The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency report that there is no sign of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

    Who is Iran bombing? How many refugees is Iran sending fleeing for their lives?

    Who is North Korea bombing?

    The two great murderous, refugee-producing countries are the US and Israel. Between them, they have murdered and dislocated millions of people who were a threat to no one.

    No countries on earth rival the US and Israel for barbaric murderous violence.

    But Obama gives assurances that the US will protect "the peace and security of the world." And the brownshirt Netanyahu assures the world that Israel will save it from the "Iranian threat."

    Where is the media?

    Why aren’t people laughing their heads off?

    Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

  •  America has a role (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bonsai superstar

    Even though the prime movers must be China and Russia, two of the few countries that have practical leverage with regards to North Korea, America does have a role that is primarily diplomatic.

    And the best way for America to conduct that is well behind the scenes.  Bush's grandstanding did not help non-proliferation, and the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson harmed the US non-proliferation efforts at an operation level.  Hopefully we have rebuilt our ability to know what trades in nuclear technology are going on.  But we won't see that until long after the fact; of necessity such activities are classified.  Nor will we see the diplomatic contacts consulting with members of the United Nations about the contents of the Security Council resolution.  The resulting resolution most likely will be weak because there are a number of countries unwilling to infringe on other countries' sovereignty lest theirs be infringed upon. (The US traditionally has not been one of these; the US approach has been more of a double standard.)  But at any rate, the conversations behind the scenes that we do not see will be more important than the text of the resolution that we do see.

    Even military contigency plans will operate quietly so as not to provoke North Korea.  What North Korea must know is that they are being watched more intensely than at any other recent time.  Quietly and by a lot of countries.

    The US is playing its appropriate role by almost publicly ignoring North Korea.  China and Russia are the ones who must do the heavy lifting because they have the most influence over North Korea.  Like you say, if they're worried, it's serious.  If they perceive it to be serious, they will act.  If they succeed, the crisis will ebb away, likely to appear later as another crisis -- so long as Kim Jung Il is alive and succession is clear.

    •  Thank you for the reply. (0+ / 0-)

      Very interesting, thought-out stuff in there.

      But I was wondering, you mentioned that America is mostly publically ignoring NK, but most of the international news sites I looked at today had stuff about Sec. Clinton and the Obama Administration criticizing North Korea on their front pages? I wonder if our media is being too casual about it or if the int'l media is building it up more.

      Or maybe it's just after having a Pres that threw around phrases like "Axis of Evil," even just saying "hey that's not nice, stop that" feels like publically ignoring by comparison. :)

      •  The press asks (0+ / 0-)

        Obama and Clinton answer, repeating the US position without much more elaboration.  As North Korea has added missile launch after missile launch, the US public statement has not been esclated.

        Domestically, the administration has not gone out and tried to whip up a war fever over this.

        Calm, measured, consultative with other countries, not trying to drive through a narrow view in the Security Council -- that is, using diplomacy as power.  Treating the issue as a non-proliferation and international law concern, but not as an imminent threat, has denied North Korea the satisfaction of making the US quake in its boots.  Returning to diplomatic-speak instead of propaganda-speak has the effect of nulling the public impact of North Korea's actions.  It denies them the psychological power of terror.  From a publicity standpoint, North Korea is indeed being ignored; it's being treated as just another news item.

        And yes, proportionality has returned to the US view of international threats.

  •  Good read bonsai superstar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bonsai superstar

    thank you.

  •  Maybe the ROKs have something to say on this? (0+ / 0-)

    After all, it is their capital and 20 million of their people who are within artillery range of the DMZ. And their countrymen who live in bondage under Kim Jong Il. This is the 12th response, and while I admit to skimming I did not see any mention of South Korea's interests.

    Hit hard, hit fast, hit often -- Adm. William Halsey

    by fulcrum on Thu May 28, 2009 at 07:17:15 AM PDT

    •  Skimming the diary or the comments? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure who you're criticizing on this (I do mention SK several times in the main diary), so I'm not really sure how to respond.

      •  Skimming both really (0+ / 0-)

        but I was more concerned with the comments. You did have links to South Korean media. I guess what I was getting at (too cryptically and probably too crankily as well) was that given the ROK are the ones literally under the gun that they should be taking the lead in how to respond. The USA really isn't in control of everything in the world, and the world would be a lot healthier if we acted accordingly.

        Hit hard, hit fast, hit often -- Adm. William Halsey

        by fulcrum on Thu May 28, 2009 at 02:09:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lots of this can be traced to Japan occupation (0+ / 0-)

    Thier is still hatred for what the Japanese did while they  occupied Korea,  South Korea still has an  hostile attitude toward Japan,North Korea is waiting for the Prime Minister of Japan ,too visit   Yusukuni Shrine,the   Chinese and South Korean will start condemning the visit, everybody will forget North Korea and start criticizing Japan

    •  It is amazing... (0+ / 0-)

      ...How someone can simultaneously demonstrate their knowledge and ignorance at the same time of an entire region.

      How does NK denouncing the truce with South Korea that ended the Korean War "trace back to the Japanese occupation"? I'm not sure what your purpose behind this comment was.

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