Banishing Ideological Boggarts

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My first instinct was to agree with the boys at Catallarchy that this story about the new ironic fascination of South Korea's hipster class with the communist North was "really, really creepy and nauseating." But then I remembered the characteristically insightful maxim of Isaiah Berlin that "ridicule kills more surely than savage indignation." Certainly, it would be grotesque to lose sight of the tragic consequences of communism, or of the threat someone like Kim Jong Il still represents. But this is probably, on the whole, a healthy sign. To hate and fear an ideology is to reveal that one still regards it as powerful and threatening—and, in a sense, to feed its power and mystique. What is reviled may become more seductive to some people precisely because it is reviled. North Korean communism, it seems, has been reduced to a punchline or a party theme.

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  1. Colbert killed O’Reilly.I can’t watch O’Reilly with a straight face.

  2. As a former waiter, that would be a fantastic place to work. Get paid to be sullen and provide the bare minimum of service? Sounds good to me.

  3. I can’t watch O’Reilly with a straight face

    I can’t watch anything with a straight face.

  4. Y’know, when the Dear Leader sends his shock troops back over the DMZ, and fulfills his promise to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire,” I sincerely hope that these idiots who are rhapsodising on the wonders of a simulated North Korean experience have a chance to reflect on the error of their ways.

    That North Korea’s gov’t still holds power and is tolerated among the community of nations in the 21st century is one of the creepiest, most nauseating things I can think of offhand in the whole wide world.

    I hope that the gargoyle Kim dies at the bare hands of the “beautiful North Korean maidens” he has defiled over the years – slowly, painfully and soon. What a truly horrific example of a ‘human being.’

  5. I’m glad the South Koreans are better able to deal than Clean Hands. Imagine if the country’s stance towards the North was determined by people like him?

  6. joe, you mean millions of people no longer starving and subjugated by a totalitarian dictator? That would be horrible indeed.

  7. Yeah joe, let’s be nice to Communist dictators. We all know that approach works each and every time.

    Besides, they’re actually nice guys. They only opress their people in response to capitalist imperialism.

  8. Yes, Gringo, if South Korea were ruled by paranoids, North Korea would be a wonderland.

    That’s exactly how it works.

    “Yeah joe, let’s be nice to Communist dictators. We all know that approach works each and every time.” Since that’s the approach Reagan took throughout the 80s, bringing about the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, your attempt at sarcasm seems a bit flat.

    Some of us are more into results than dick-waving. We’re generally knows as “liberals.”

  9. BTW, the article wasn’t about “being nice to communist dictators,” but about how the South Korean public relates to the people and culture of the North.

    That confusion is why no one takes people like you seriously when you proclaim your heartfeld commmitment to liberating people from oppressive governments – because you distinguish between those people and those oppressors about as well as the marines in Haditha.

  10. joe,

    Wow, I’m sure Ronald would appreciate you defending him from his contemporary critics, who were certain that his cowboy diplomacy and acceleration of the arms race were going to start a nuclear war. “Ronald Ray-gun” ended the Cold War by being nice to the Soviets?

  11. now if north Korea invades south korea and kills a million people on live television won’t you feel like an idiot…of course they won’t so you have nothing really to worry about…unless it does happen.

    Muahahahahahah

    Some of us are more into results than dick-waving. We’re generally knows as “liberals.”

    Joe called himself a liberal…haha isn’t that a hoot…hey joe stick with progressive, us liberals don’t like statism like yours shitting up the place.

    because you distinguish between those people and those oppressors about as well as the marines in Haditha.

    and good one there joe…cuz as we all know soldiers under lefty Presidents are always better behaved.

  12. “Some of us are more into results than dick-waving. We’re generally knows as ‘liberals.'”

    Ah, yes, you hard-nosed liberals, all about “results”. What great “results” do you see forthcoming from South Korea treating all things NK as a kitschy joke, and more to the point, how will your precious liberal sensibilities have anything to do with said results?

    I’m not sure exactly what point you are trying to make. If it’s that SK’s laughing off of NK isn’t something to get overly worked up about, I guess I agree. If it is that Clean Hands is a big fat idiot for thinking that Kim deserves to die a horrible death, I can’t quite get on board.

  13. Hey joe. I actually happened to live under a Communist dictator. You might have heard of him, his name was Ceausescu.

    For 45 years my people waited to be liberated by the Americans …

    Anyway, let me tell you this – the North Koreans are unable to liberate themselves. People who’ve been under Communism as long as North Koreans have learn to love their opressors and are uncapable conceiving life without opression. And I speak from experience when I say that.

    That confusion is why no one takes people like you seriously when you proclaim your heartfeld commmitment to liberating people from oppressive governments – because you distinguish between those people and those oppressors about as well as the marines in Haditha.

    Did you hear me calling for an invasion, dickhead? The only way to liberate such a nation would a coup (possibly with Chinese backing).

    I have a question for you and your dictator-appeasing kind – are you aware of the kind of evil you help perpetuate? Do you have the vaguest idea of what life is like under such a dictatorship?

  14. What do you guys think of Team America: World Police?

    Should Parker and Stone be condemned for making right of the Dear Reader?

  15. thoreau,

    I thought he and Kerry got cut out at the last minute due to McCain-Feingold.

  16. No, because they showed him in a clearly negative light so there’s no mixed messages, which is what I’m afraid people are concerned about here.

  17. thoreau, smart assed jokes like that are responsible for the deaths of millions. Millions, who would have been free if only you went through your life in a rage.

    crimethink,

    Yes. Reagan recognizing the moment, turning his back on the dick-wavers, and implementing his own “sunshine policy” towards the Soviets is one of the great under-reported grand slams in American diplomatic history. Neither the left nor the right really wants to admit that it happened, because it doesn’t fit in with their preferred narratives, but here we are, twenty years later, with an empire brought down by arms reduction treaties, photo ops, and the type of internal reform/self-liberation that can only thrive in the sunshine. Dropping the cowbody diplomacy infuriated the anti-detente rollback fantasists, who are now sitting on the dustbin of history along with their adversaries.

  18. joe, I love how you make stuff up when the facts don’t fit your theories.

  19. “For 45 years my people waited to be liberated by the Americans …”

    And it never happened, did it?

    Tell me, what ever happened to Ceaucesceau? (Really not a very good example of people helpless to liberate themselves, if you ask me.)

    joshua, “hey joe stick with progressive, us liberals don’t like statism like yours shitting up the place.”

    verily, thine attachement to ye olde words tickleth mine funny bone. Yea, mine laughter giveth me the winds!

  20. Gringo,

    The arms reduction treaties, opposed by the hardliners, were a fact. The repeated visits to Moscow, and the photo ops, were a fact. A wise man once said something about the left and right not wanting to admit to these facts because they don’t their narratives. I think you just proved his point.

  21. joe,

    So, when Nixon, Ford, and Carter (in the beginning) indulged the Soviets with arms reduction treaties etc., were the stars just not aligned right?

  22. crimethink,

    Exactly. Reagan recognized the moment. The internal conditions in Russia, the rise of Gorbachev…the conditions simply weren’t ripe before the mid-80s.

    It’s ironic that the great rejector of containment, who so forcefully tried to make rollback work in Central America (with such bloody, useless results) would be the one to complete the final stage of the containment strategy.

  23. joe, please explain how these things CAUSED the fall of the Soviet Union.

  24. Doctor Damage wrote: “I can’t watch anything with a straight face.”

    Isn’t that supposed to be Herrick’s line?

  25. joe,

    You are such a fucking hack!

    Do you really think that photo-ops and arms reduction treaties would have had any effect on the USSR, had they not been backed up by the credible threat of force that Reagan’s renewal of the arms race presented? Thank God progressives, or liberals, or whatever the frick you people call yourselves weren’t in charge when that opportunity opened up!

  26. Joe, you are a total fucking moron.

    First of all – what happened in 1989 was not a popular uprising. It was a coup! The organisers of the coup succesfully manipulated the people and got them into the streets to take some bullets, in order to give themselves the appearance of legitimacy.

    A still unanswered question is who exactly backed the coup – the Americans or the Soviets? My money is on the Soviets.

    And second of all – any American contribution was extremely indirect. Were it not for Gorbachev’s desire to rid himself of Ceausescu, who knows what would have been ?

  27. Yes, Gorbachev and Kim Jong Il are pretty close equivalents. Clearly the same “detente” policy will work like a charm for both. As for the essential harmlessness of slave state chic, well I guess that’s inarguable. I look forward to the introduction here of “Gulag” model Lego sets.

    More seriously, its simply *not* the case that the North Korea vogue in the South is simply a way of belittling communist. The South Korean government refuses to support resolutions condemning the North’s human rights record and has basically done whatever it can not to accept defectors. Increasingly the style is to say that all “ideological” differences aren’t truly real, a fashion that was also rampant among the left during the latter decades of the Cold War. An ominous sense of moral equivalence, not confidence, is the true impetus behind the North Korea vogue.

  28. Some of us are more into results than dick-waving. We’re generally knows [sic] as “liberals.”

    So “liberal” is a euphemism for “dickless”?

  29. I’d have to agree with rd here based on most of what I’ve read about Korea. The South Korean government doesn’t take actions critical of the North, for two reasons: 1) to promote whatever reunification/reconciliation might be going on and 2) because many of the citizens of South Korea don’t think there’s anything to be critical about when it comes to the North.

  30. Hope you get an aisle seat next to a pregnant woman on a sixteen-hour flight, joe.

  31. crimethink,

    “Do you really think that photo-ops and arms reduction treaties would have had any effect on the USSR, had they not been backed up by the credible threat of force that Reagan’s renewal of the arms race presented?” No, I don’t. Nor did I ever say such. The conditions probably wouldn’t have become ripe without the previous hardnosed diplomacy, and there had to be a stick in the background to make the carrot work.

    “Thank God progressives, or liberals, or whatever the frick you people call yourselves weren’t in charge when that opportunity opened up!” Actually, the foreign policy Reagan pursued once Gorbachev took office was pretty much what Cold War liberals had been advocating all along. Which makes it all the more impressive that Reagan, who made his bones bashing liberals on Cold War issues, had the wisdom to embrace this strategy.

    Gringo, I’d say they more “allowed” the collapse of the Soviet Union, by bringing the Cold War to an end. The two were two distinct events, occuring a few years apart. By making it clear that a cessation of hostilities wouldn’t mean war or humiliation, Reagan’s second-term foreign policy made it possible for Gorbachev to implement his reforms, which ultimately led to the unraveling of the Soviet Empire. Had Reagain pursued the stance he advocated in the 70s during this period, it would have been impossible for the reforms to win agains the hardliners.

    Daniel, that’s some mighty fine conpracizing you’ve got there. Me, I think it was the Freemasons.

    rd,

    The South Koreans aren’t aiming their charm offensive at Kim. They’re aiming it mainly at the North Korean people.

  32. many of the citizens of South Korea don’t think there’s anything to be critical about when it comes to the North

    Um, are you sure about that?

    I don’t live in South Korea, but the absence of open contempt is not the same thing as approval. Sometimes treating something as laughable is just another sign of contempt. It might not be a very proportionate or appropriate way of showing contempt, but it’s hardly approval.

  33. I’ll add, crimethink, that I’m not saying the liberal sunshine policy is what would have been right all along during the Cold War – just that it was the right tool at that particular time.

  34. Yeah Joe, lecture me on Romanian history. What do I know, I only live there.

    Asshole.

  35. buh bye, son.

  36. Great logic: because you live in Romania, and I don’t, Ceaucesceau and his regime weren’t brought down by the Romanian people.

    Go ahead, lecture me on reality. What do I know, I only live there.

  37. So, a Romanian who was there tells you that Ceausescu (that’s the correct spelling, by the way) was brought down by a coup.

    An American living on the side of the world claims to know better…

    Aaah, the fun you have with morons 🙂

  38. DA,

    LOL.

    I guess, to flog this metaphor a little more, it’s a euphemism for being able to keep it in your pants.

  39. joe,

    So Bill Clinton wasn’t a liberal?

  40. joe,

    Did you even know that the on the North Korean side of the DMZ is covered in field artillery aimed at Seoul, threatening to reduce the city to ashes? This foolishness in the face fo the fact that North Korea would like nothing better than to put the entire population in chains in their plan of “reunification” is very different from recognizing the use of carrots to stave off a disaster.
    Your conflating those two actions while decrying a natural response to the insanity of the North Koreans regime is well…some things are better left unsaid.

    Not to mention, the only reason the South can live in such ignorance/stupidity of the threat they face from NKorea is that our millitary and especially our nukes are THE deterrent to Kimmy-boy and their minds can rest at ease.
    Since our troops are more and more resented by the South Korean population, the sooner we get out of South Korea the better because since the South can no longer can blame our “belligerence” for North Korea’s hositility and will have to accept the horrid reality that their brothers and sisters in the North live in worse than slavery…

    Oh, and the reason Reagan could negotiate with Gorbachev is because we destroyed the Soviet foreign policy/millitary morale by: 1. funding the mujahadeen in Afghanistan with Stinger missles (HIND ‘copters, goodbye!); 2. supporting other anti-Communist elements in Africa and the Americas; 3. prooving that we could have both a strong domestic economy while jumping up our millitary spending including the morale sapping SDI; 4. we were firm in pushing our millitary further into Europe such as the mdeium-range missles in Germany – ALL of these initiatives were decried by the American Left as belligerent stupidity, but without those elements, Gorbachev would’ve had a HUGE advantage in negotiations and we would just have another useless round of negotiating and improving the legitimacy of the Soviet state.

    Then of course Gorbachev thought stupidly that he could still run as the head of a Communist state while implementing several holes in the Communist ediface of tyranny, so Gorbachev needs to be given credit to trashing his own regime…

  41. Much as I hate to defend joe, Daniel, how do we know that you are indeed writing from Romania? Leaving aside the question of whether being in a country makes all one’s opinions about happenings in that country correct.

    My mind takes me back to all the times Jean Bart insisted that he knew all about desert warfare, having served in Desert Storm as a member of the French Army.

  42. thoreau — I’m not sure about that. I’m in fact extremely unsure about that, and in addition I can only assume that the range of opinions about the North is quite wide across South Korea.

  43. “…the only reason the South can live in such ignorance/stupidity of the threat they face from NKorea…”

    I suspect the people living in Seoul are quite a bit more aware of the threat they face than you care to give them credit for, yaphet. Assuming that people must be less informed than you if they disagree is just lazy, arrogant thinking.

    I agree, as a matter of fact, I stated earlier, that previous hard-nosed diplomacy was necessary to make Reagan’s sunshine gambit work. The only disagreement I have with your list is that you give too much credit to the peripheral conflicts in the “Third World.” Those were cheap little hobbies for the Soviets, and their cost in men and materials was a drop in the bucket. In fact, the enormous diplomatic benefits they gained from the depredations of our government and its allies made those adventures well worth their while, and probably delayed their day of reckoning by giving them some “good fight” propaganda to feed the Russian population.

    crimethink, let’s not forget Jean Gary’s Google-induced experience fighting in Chad.

  44. As long as Daniel doesn’t claim to be a military lawyer in Iraq he’s OK in my book.

  45. Why the Left hates libertarians part XXIV: Libertarians don’t like dictators

    Find me a dictator the Left hates, and I’ll find you a communist dictator he overthrew/fought.

  46. I’m too lazy to go back and look, but someone asked me what I expected the result of the sunshine policy to be.

    I don’t expect anything. These things are always a crapshoot.

    Which is why the certainty that such an initiative couldn’t possibly bear fruit, and can only be a sign of decadence and stupidity, is so fallacious. Particularly since it’s worked before, in the greatest fight against the most powerful communist tyranny that ever existed.

  47. I never realized nitrogenous compounds could induce boredom.

  48. Whoa! I’m off the friggin’ charts in here!

  49. Now, after more than half a decade of rapprochement, the North is all the rage, in a retro-kitschy fashion, and North Koreans are seen not as threatening aggressors, but as country bumpkin cousins, needing an introduction to big- city life…
    North Korea, meanwhile, has remained frozen in time, a repository – at least to someone with a sharp nose for marketing – of an unchanged Korea.
    “North Korea is retro,” said Jong Su Ban, 42, a North Korean defector who plans to open a North Korean restaurant, Ok Ru Ok, in Seoul soon. “It reminds South Koreans of the 1950s and 1960s, before South Korea industrialized. They see handmade crafts that are not sophisticated, and they think, ‘It’s like us before we developed.'”

    Lest the point of the post be forgotten…

    It’s like Happy Days, Grease, bomb shelters, “duck and cover” videos, and Andy Griffith all rolled into one!

    Never underestimate the power of kitsch. And fascination with the unknown.

  50. opps should say

    in joe’s description it is like some preternatural spiritual communist force manifested itself within every soul in the land to crush the tryanny of thier opressors.

  51. woo hoo, this is the “let’s shove a thorny branch up Joe’s ass” board, not that he doesn’t occasionally deserve it. I have nothing of substance to add, I just wanted to have a little fun while Joe is the focal point of the circle jerk. I’m sure my turn is coming.

  52. I guess I do have one small addition about what caused the fall of the USSR. I think it was the pursuit of “star wars” by the US. The Soviets believed that we would pull it off. The USSR was bankrupt at that point and they simply could no longer afford to play at the table. Their only viable option was to quit.

    By star wars I mean more than just the “Strategic Defence Iniative”. I also include America’s successful development of stealth technology, and smart weapons. We kicked the Soviet’s asses with technology.

  53. Joe,

    Take my advice, go post on the Democratic Underground for a week or so and let things cool down here. These guys are gonna rip your balls off and roast them over an open fire. There is nothing more vicious than a bunch of libertarians with a treed, nanny-state liberal out on a thin limb.

    Your friend,

    Wayne

  54. One final comment:

    I lived in South Korea in 1972 and 1973. I was a shock trooper in the US Army enforcing the foreign policy of the US. The old guys in SK liked us soldiers. They actually appreciated the fact that the US saved their bacon in ’53. The current generation has no direct memory of that war though, so now they just want to hug the North Koreans, and they resent the US. Oh well, times change.

  55. Leaving the Joe bashing aside, did anyone catch this line from the article:
    North Korea is retro, said Jong Su Ban, 42, a North Korean defector who plans to open a North Korean restaurant, Ok Ru Ok, in Seoul soon.

    What is more capitalistic than a North Korean opening a trendy restaurant featuring his freedom deprived homeland? I’m pretty sure several former East Germans have opened up theme restaurants about the land of the Trabants and Erich Honecker. When the end comes for the DPRK, I’m sure that we’re going to see a lot of these Stalinist nostalgia places opening in P’Yong Yang. I’m hoping that they let tourists spend a night in “Dear Leader’s” palaces like they did with Ceau?escu’s hunting lodge.

    As for Romania and the supposed people’s revolution: You do know that Ceausescu was replaced by another Communist who continued to rule for six years, right?

  56. NK resaurant?

    “I’ll have the roast duck.”

    “That choice is incorrect.”

  57. An American living on the side of the world claims to know better…

    Daniel, statist’s can’t help themselves.

  58. Daniel, how do we know that you are indeed writing from Romania?

    Besides the fact that he’s posted repeatedly about being Ru(ro)manian for a long period of time?

    Unless you think that the whole thing was a set up so that one day he could pull this argument off with an appeal to authority.

  59. joe,
    “I suspect the people living in Seoul are quite a bit more aware of the threat they face than you care to give them credit for, yaphet. Assuming that people must be less informed than you if they disagree is just lazy, arrogant thinking.”

    No, it’s not. Polls consistently show that the mass majority of the younger generation of Southies resent the US being there even though we are the major stick preventing the North from “reunifying” them.
    Not only that, thier whole kitsch thing is like creating a Hogan’s Heroes-type program for the Holocaust, I mean hey! it’s only kitsch so your pain and suffering from famine, cannibalism, mass family disappearances, and other horrors are just only the wild and wackiness of the Great Leader.

    Kitsch, like Hogan’s Heroes and the trendy bars in the South can only come when the evil you face is dead, discredited, and destroyed, otherwise whenever someone legitimatley confronts that evil people will just say you’re crying wolf…

    Added to the fact that major South politicians play into this little game for thier own benefit, help sustain the Jong-Il regime, and make almost NO effort to realistically fight for deomcracy/human rights in the North is very frustrating so I cannot understand why we even keep troops there since they seem to be so flippant about the North…

    “I agree, as a matter of fact, I stated earlier, that previous hard-nosed diplomacy was necessary to make Reagan’s sunshine gambit work. The only disagreement I have with your list is that you give too much credit to the peripheral conflicts in the “Third World.” Those were cheap little hobbies for the Soviets, and their cost in men and materials was a drop in the bucket. In fact, the enormous diplomatic benefits they gained from the depredations of our government and its allies made those adventures well worth their while, and probably delayed their day of reckoning by giving them some “good fight” propaganda to feed the Russian population.”

    Sorry about repeating you words from earlier, I tend to take an hour for writing my lengthy tomes and so missed your reply that you were okay with Reagan’s “hard-nosed policies”:/
    But as for our interventionism propping up the USSR, nope. By the time of the Reagan, the debacle of the Soviets in the Afghanistanian conflict caused the populace to no longer even beleived anything the government was saying since the Politoburo denied all those 1000’s of boys had died and were gaining “a huge victory”
    The major effect of our intervention was that it weakened the morale of the Soviet elite. In the 70’s the USSR had multiple foreign policy victories with successful Communist/3rd-World-Soviet-Friendly revolutions in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, which in turn helped create part of the late 70’s “malaise” and made Brezhnev look successful.
    Reagan turned that around by stopping and reversing the major initiatives in many of the those regions and with the combined successes of our massive war-machine spending, booming economy, and a president who was commited to stop the Soviet tide demoralized their elite when they saw that their population was getting more and more disheartened and that they couldn’t even compete with the West either economically or millitarily.

    However, it is a very reasonabe arguement that our interventions into Asia (the mujuhadeen of Afghanistan) and the Americas were precisly some of the actions that later helped create the Taliban and Hugo Chavez, but as for our actions “helping” the people in the USSR I can definitly say they cared more about how many of their sons died in Afghanistan than about some bunch of foreignors half-way across the world.

    Here’s another thing, you say are okay with Reagan’s “hard-nosed” policies now, but what does that do to the credibility of the whole liberal view that Reagan was a stumbling retard who was going to send us to the hell of WWIII?
    I guess joe is obliquely telling us that Ronald Reagan really wasn’t that bad as liberals usually said…

  60. Just to add another thing, it’s good to see that the Northerners are made of sterner stuff than I am in that they can even make light of their living hell.

    I just think that it is incredibly sorrowful that the population only cares about the North and their people as some sort of exotic way-back land rather than a place where their estranged families are suffering from the hands of a ruthless dictator…

  61. Ammonium — is there a complete compendium somewhere I can read on the subject? Is there a companion volume detailing why the right hates libertarians? (These would be interesting works, in that they would both basically explain how each side views the role of government and what freedoms are acceptable in society. In that sense I suppose there’s plenty to read already…)

  62. Is there a companion volume detailing why the right hates libertarians?

    It’s a little pricey, but worth reading.

  63. Well done, Rich Ard.

  64. I once got drunk in a bar in Cambridge, MA (I think), called The People’s Republic. The walls were painted red and had hammers and sickles on them, and there were busts of Lenin and so forth. One of the few things I remember about the night is musing about what the reaction would be if I were to open up a bar called The Third Reich. I’m guessing not so good.

  65. joshua, “in joe’s description it is like some preternatural spiritual communist force manifested itself within every soul in the land to crush the tryanny of thier opressors.” OK. Just as long as you’re not making up silly strawmen or anything.

    yaphet, a little math here:

    “Polls consistently show that the mass majority of the younger generation of Southies resent the US being there even though we are the major stick preventing the North from “reunifying” them.” does not equal “…the South [living] in such ignorance/stupidity of the threat they face from NKorea…”

    Once again, though I doubt it will sink in: not every difference of opinion with your ideology stems from other people being stupid and ignorant. It’s even possible, in some theoretical sense, that people living in South Korea know more about Korean politics than you do, not less.

    As far as the role of peripheral interventions, I distinguish between Afghanistan, in which our efforts were actually targetted against the Soviet military and poltical regime, versus, say, Guatemala, in which out efforts were targetted against a bunch of rebels in the jungle receiving a pittance from Cuba, and against the Guatemalan people themselves. The former was a defeat for the Soviets and played a major role in their collapse. The latter was “no skin off their nose.”

  66. A lot of my relatives still live in South Korea, and my parents were born during the Korean war and from my perspective wayne and yaphet’s perspectives are largely correct.

    The generation that lived through the war and had direct experience with the North Korean regime is generally strongly pro-American and supports attempts to limit/remove the regime.

    The younger generation shares many of the largely negative American views that have percolated around the world the last few decades. Their views of North Korea, are driven largely by an absence of real experience with the regime and by a strong sense of anti-Americanism.

    As for me, if we could somehow insure that North Korea would not use a nuclear weapon or level Seoul, I would strongly be in favor of any attempt to remove the regime. As for the million people who might be killed in such an action, that would be a true tragedy.

    But is it any less of a tragedy than the millions/tens of millions that the North Korean regime has killed/starved/tortured in the preceeding decades.

  67. You see, yaphet, the difference is between “containment” and “rollback.” The theory behind containment goes back to the 40s, and states that our efforts will go to preventing the spread of communism, and confining the Soviet Empire within its boundaries, because it will eventually have to reform of its own accord or fall, owing to its internal failures.

    Rollback theory, on the other hand, was based on pushing back at the peripheries, making the Soviet Empire smaller and smaller, until we had such an overwhelming supriority that we could defeat it. Though a rightist ideology, it gave communism a lot more credit (and human beings a lot less), assuming that holding a population in slavery could result in a robust, sustainable society.

    In reality, the collapse of the Soviet Union happened as the “container” said it would not the “rollbackers.” The Soviet Empire didn’t start falling in Havana and Hanoi – it fell from the inside out, with the major blows being struck in Red Square, in Berlin, and in Gdansk. And not by James Bonds, but by the people of those countries themselves, and even by the Kremlin itself under Gorbachev. Today, the heart of the Soviet Empire is capitalist, while the peripheries that were supposed to be rolled up first according to the rollbackers, like Cuba, Vietnam, and Burma, remain red. And it happened with far less blood than anyone dared hope, and oceans less than if the rollbackers had had their way.

    Sure, we could have invaded Cuba and started a war with the Warsaw Pact over the missiles, as the rollbackers of the day were saying. We were stronger, and hey, only a monster wouldn’t want to liberate the communist world by force of arms, right? Well, we didn’t. And we won anyway, and managed not to kill a billion people in the process. And now, from the safety of your computer on the other side of the Pacific, you’re going to hurl invective at the South Koreans for not adopting the policy we so wisely rejected for ourselves, a policy which would very likely end up with Seoul being flattened in the way New York never was? Forget about it.

  68. “A people do not bring down regimes…a speficic group of people do”

    Sadly, joshua, this was the attitude of the people who got us into the Iraq war. How’s that working out for you?

    yaphet, “Then of course Gorbachev thought stupidly that he could still run as the head of a Communist state while implementing several holes in the Communist ediface of tyranny…” Actually, Gorbachev pushed through reforms ceding legislative power to an elected Congress of People’s deputies specifically because he was aware that the economic and social liberalization he was seeking required a more responsibe, representative government.

    “Here’s another thing, you say are okay with Reagan’s “hard-nosed” policies now, but what does that do to the credibility of the whole liberal view that Reagan was a stumbling retard who was going to send us to the hell of WWIII?
    I guess joe is obliquely telling us that Ronald Reagan really wasn’t that bad as liberals usually said…” Sigh. Someday it’s going to be possible to discuss events in the second half of the 20th century without partisans dragging the dicussion down into a Baby Boomer foodfight.

    We were right in 1968! No, WE were! No, US!

  69. How does:

    Gorbachev pushed through reforms ceding legislative power to an elected Congress of People’s deputies specifically because he was aware that the economic and social liberalization he was seeking required a more responsibe, representative government.

    differ substantively from:

    Gorbachev thought stupidly that he could still run as the head of a Communist state while implementing several holes in the Communist ediface of tyranny

    ?

  70. “Gorbachev thought stupidly that he could still run as the head of a Communist state while implementing several holes in the Communist ediface of tyranny.”

    It’s not that unthinkable… China’s communist party has implemented tons of reforms since then and still has pretty firm control over the country.

  71. fyodor,

    He recognized that “a Communist state” couldn’t achieve the reforms and growth that he wanted, and worked to change it into a different kind of state.

    Postmodern Sleaze, Gorbachev’s reforms went well beyong the economic sector, and those within the economic sector went well beyond allowing state actors, or semi-private actors controlled by the state, to respond to market forces.

  72. I have a question for yaphet kotto (Reagan turned that around by stopping and reversing the major initiatives in many of the those regions and with the combined successes of our massive war-machine spending, booming economy, and a president who was commited to stop the Soviet tide) and crimethink (Thank God progressives, or liberals, or whatever the frick you people call yourselves weren’t in charge when that opportunity opened up!).

    What do the arms buildup, the development of stealth weapons, and support for the Afghan mujahadeen have in common?

  73. I once got drunk in a bar in Cambridge, MA (I think), called The People’s Republic. The walls were painted red and had hammers and sickles on them, and there were busts of Lenin and so forth. One of the few things I remember about the night is musing about what the reaction would be if I were to open up a bar called The Third Reich. I’m guessing not so good.

    The People’s Republic is meant to be ironic, thumbing their nose at the right-wingers who like to call Cambridge “The People’s Republic of Cambridge.” If liberals insisted on calling, say, Dallas,TX “The Texas Reich” or something than maybe you could get away with an ironic Nazi bar in Dallas. Lord knows there are enough Confederacy themed bars that aren’t ironic.

  74. Not to sound to stupid, but where was “rollback” ever put into effect?

  75. JC,

    Latin America, mostly. Funding the Contras, for example.

    Although you are correct that there wasn’t much actually done to further the project. Reagan was limited by a Democratic Congress, and only had a couple years in office before Gorby came to power and the opportunity to complete containment was born.

    fyodor, I largely agree. He was a CP partisan. At the same time, he was also a believer in Parliamentarianism. I don’t imagine he wanted the Communist Party to lose power any more than Grover Norquist wants the Republicans to lose power.

  76. joe,
    I thought funding groups to prevent communist take over or to harass communists in power was containment.

    Rollback would be sending forces into a country to remove communism? I think we may have tried this in North Korea but I’m not sure.

  77. JC,

    Nicaragua already had a communist government. We created, often using foreign mercenaries, a military force to remove that govenrment from power.

    But my point is not that there was a great deal of rollback carried out. My point is that Reagan believed in rollback and wanted to carry it out. He was the figurehead of a hardline faction, mostly Republican but including some Democrats who became the neoconservatives of today, that wanted to go beyond containment and actively pursue conflict with the Soviet Union to weaken it and shrink its empire. These people waged ideological warfare against the detente crowd, and many of them were furious when Reagan betrayed the movement by going to Iceland and Moscow, by signing the arms reduction treaties, and by generally casting off the pursuit of brinkmanship in exchange for a sort of adversarial comity.

  78. Give up?

    The answer to the question “What do the arms buildup, the development of stealth weapons, and support for the Afghan mujahadeen have in common?” is…

    They were all initiated the Carter/Mondale administration, and endorsed by the Democratic Congress.

    People “just know” that Reagan reversed Jimmy Carter’s shameful policy of weakness and appeasement, just as they “just know” that Winston Churchill’s government declared war on the Nazis.

  79. Joe, the warmonger.

  80. The People’s Republic is meant to be ironic, thumbing their nose at the right-wingers who like to call Cambridge “The People’s Republic of Cambridge.”

    Aha, that went totally over my head. I sensed the irony, but it never occurred to me that it was meant to taunt the rubes.

    Incidentally, I seem to remember the bar giving out free champagne at midnight (this was on New Year’s). If that’s communism, sign me up!

  81. Rich — The right agrees on economics with libertarianism a lot more than the left does (aside, of course, from farm subsidies, corporate welfare, protectionism, and an ever-expanding government). The right’s disagreement with libertarianism is mostly non-economic, coming in the form of other personal freedoms like drug use. So I’m not sure what your response was supposed to mean.

  82. i really can’t belive how hard joe is going at this…I mean lets defend the people who make North Korea look cute…personally i am pissed that they made North Korea look cute but didn’t figure out how to make money off of it.

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