Pressure mounts in N Korea
The unexpected death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has brought fresh attention to that country’s uncertain future.
In the short run, observers have speculated that the North Korean leadership might initiate a military provocation to bolster new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s credibility. Farther off in the future lie a number of other possibilities, including further nuclear tests, an internal power struggle or perhaps even an economic and political collapse.
The regime in Pyongyang is as anachronistic as it is tragic. An entire nation has been shut off from the rest of the world, its population ruthlessly brainwashed to worship a senseless political dynasty that is driving the country ever further into poverty and isolation. And now power has been hastily transferred to an untested 20-something with no meaningful leadership experience.
Such a situation is fundamentally untenable. It is has become increasingly difficult for any society, much less an entire country, to isolate itself from the rest of the world. The process of globalization — the ever-increasing interconnection of national economies, cultures and societies — has lead to higher living standards and greater political freedom the world over, and those who are forcibly excluded from this process have sooner or later found a way to be included.
There are many ways this can happen. Perhaps the two most prominent ways are through popular uprisings and through the implosion of failing regimes, which simply collapse under the weight of their own ineptitude and backwardness. The Arab Spring is an example of the former, while the former Soviet Union is an example of the latter.
If history is any guide, it will only be a matter of time before North Korea is opened up to the outside world. However, exactly how this will happen is anyone’s guess.
Let us all hope that North Korea’s integration into the international community, when it does finally happen, is as peaceful and orderly as possible. If the arrogance, shortsightedness and recklessness of the late Kim Jong-il are any indication of his son’s pretensions, leaders of the free world have little reason to be optimistic.
KMT is a joke
I must agree that the timing was poor for the release of news that the US was considering Taiwan for its visa waiver program (“Waiver shows US support for Ma: KMT,” Dec. 24, page 1). The move only means that the US has said that Taiwan has finally met all the requirements to be considered for this program — it is not because President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is such a good leader.
The process began when former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in office; it is not something that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) started. As a foreigner living in this country for more than 10 years and having watched the powers-to-be struggling here on a daily basis, I know that anything completed by the KMT was also blocked by the KMT when the opposition party was in power. You name it, they blocked it with their numbers. The purchase of military weapons comes to mind, for example.
Now the KMT wants to claim the credit for something that was started by the Democratic Progressive Party. I for one would not sell the upgraded F16s to the current government for fear that they would later be found with the Chinese flag stenciled on the side of them.