Daily Archives: November 23, 2010
Doubtless you’ve seen the headlines about North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island near the coast of North Korea, killing two South Korean Marines.
The usual claims have been made, denunciations issued and sabers rattled. But this is another in a long line of serious incidents that the North has been willing to provoke. The reasons however, remain speculative. Why is NoKo sinking South Korean ships and killing South Korean Marines?
Well let’s turn to the experts, shall we? One says it has to do with food and, most likely starvation within North Korea:
One of the analysts who linked the North’s action to food aid was Choi Jin-wook, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for National Unification, a research institute in Seoul. “It’s a sign of North Korea’s increasing frustration,” said.
“Washington has turned a deaf ear to Pyongyang and North Korea is saying, ‘Look here. We’re still alive. We can cause trouble. You can’t ignore us.’ ”
Mr. Choi said North Korea had become frustrated over the Obama administration’s refusal to remove a broad range of sanctions against the regime for its continuing nuclear efforts.
“They see that they can’t pressure Washington,” he said, “so they’ve taken South Korea hostage again.”
“They’re in a desperate situation and they want food immediately, not next year,” he said.
It is indeed true that there have been sanctions which have limited the food supplies that could be shipped in, and they’ve had another bad harvest. But is that the only reason?
Don’t forget, it was just a week ago or so that we learned they had significantly upgraded their nuclear capabilities with what a visiting US professor described as an astonishingly modern facility for processing nuclear material.
Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said in an interview that he had been “stunned” by the sophistication of the new plant, where he saw “hundreds and hundreds” of centrifuges that had just been installed in a recently gutted building and operated from what he called “an ultra-modern control room.”
So, is it just about food? Or is it, as others have claimed, an incident generated for internal political reasons? As we’ve heard recently, Kim Jong Il has promoted his third son, Kim Jong-un, to 4 star general – a move seen as a precursor to handing over power to him at some future point. Jong-un is a young man with little experience. Therefore, say some experts, this was about burnishing credentials as well as consolidating power:
NORTH KOREA has burnished the leadership credentials of its 26-year-old dictator-in-waiting with a deadly artillery attack on South Korean territory, causing its neighbour to return fire and scramble F-16 fighters.
Two South Korean marines died, and at least 12 were wounded. There were reports of civilian injuries and houses were set ablaze as scores of shells fell on Yeonpyeong island.
A North Korea expert at Beijing’s Central Party School, Zhang Liangui, told the Herald that Kim Jong-un was deliberately destabilising the environment in order to mobilise the military and consolidate his power.
If that’s the case, it becomes a much more complicated and serious incident. North Korean tantrums and the provocations that mark them are not unusual and normally signal their willingness to negotiate something for something. That, for instance, would the the case if food were the predominant problem. But if we’re in the middle of a power shift, and given the existence of a previously unknown, ultra-modern nuclear weapons facility, is it more dangerous than that?
While the previous incident involving the sinking of a South Korean military ship took many more lives than today, it had some “plausible deniability” attached to it, something the North Koreans took advantage of to deny any involvement. But not today. This incident is an act of provocation and belligerence. I’m of the opinion there’s a lot more going on here than food.
It will be interesting to see how the administration handles this incident. And let’s pass that START treaty – that’ll take care of the nuke threat, won’t it? /sarc
It’s simply that they think they’re head and shoulder’s smarter than the average voter and – the “and” is critical – know what is best for them. Now certainly there are likely those on the right that feel that way too, but I’m talking about a whole movement on the left. Progressives are of the opinion, especially given their dedication to nanny-state measures, that we simply are unable to take care of ourselves. That belief, driven by their activism translates into a further belief of inferior intellect among the masses. Think about it – if you truly believe that most everyone else can’t make the proper decisions for themselves and it takes the wise progressive and a benevolent government to guide them through their life and ensure they’re looked after, are you going to actually try to argue that those people are as bright as you are?
Of course not. In fact, you may consider them to be stupid. And, if you’re really arrogant, you might let the mask slip and blurt it out every now and then as did University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin in an interview about the midterm election results (Byron York reports):
Franklin was responding to a question from Bill Lueders, news editor of Isthmus, a weekly alternative newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. In an account published Thursday (H/T Ann Althouse), Lueders says he asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who’ll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."
"Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point," Lueders writes. "’I'm not endorsing the American voter,’ he answered. ‘They’re pretty damn stupid.’"
Lueders writes that he responded, "Thank you, professor. That’s the answer I was looking for." The rest of Lueders’ account explains that smart voters support things like high-speed rail and higher taxes for the rich, while dumb voters support "an obvious phony like [Republican senator-elect] Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold."
It’s instructive to note that Franklin blurted out the truth as he conceived it and Lueders got an apparent affirmation of his belief on the matter. And note how Franklin has also adopted the subtle but evident principle that the money of the rich doesn’t really belong to them. Words like “giveaways” give the clue.
Shocking? Hardly. In fact pretty main-stream for progressives. Think back about how the progressives among us tried to label the Tea Party. In fact, that’s still going on as witnessed in this exchange between progressive Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and David Gergen and Peter Hart in the wake of the midterm election results:
Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that they’re just crazy. If somebody is able to bridge the gap with those voters, it seems to me they will have to be a little bit crazy too. That’s part of the Tea Party’s litmus test: "How far will you go?"
Gergen: I flatly reject the idea that Tea Partiers are crazy. They had some eccentric candidates, there’s no question about that. But I think they represent a broad swath of the American electorate that elites dismiss to their peril.
Hart: I agree with David. When two out of five people who voted last night say they consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, we make a huge mistake to suggest that they are some sort of small fringe group and do not represent anybody else.
Taibbi: I’m not saying that they’re small or a fringe group.
Gergen: You just think they’re all crazy.
Taibbi: I do.
Gergen: So you’re arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?
Taibbi: I interview these people. They’re not basing their positions on the facts — they’re completely uninterested in the facts. They’re voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that’s enough for them.
Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?
Taibbi: I’m not saying they’re beneath serious conversation. I’m saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.
Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.
Booman at the BooMan Tribune says of the exchange:
What’s ironic is that Gergen is dismissing the Tea Partiers by taking them seriously. People like Matt Taibbi take them much more seriously, as they should, but they don’t ascribe any merit to their views. They take them seriously because they are .going to do grave damage to the nation.
I have no idea what he means by his first sentence, however it is irrelevant whether or not Matt Taibbi ascribes any “merit” their views, their views are the views, as David Gergen points out, of “40% of those who voted”. So you can throw all the pissy little elitist hissy fits you want, call Tea Partiers every name in the book, but that fact remains true and is obviously incredibly relevant to the electoral future. And the progressive answer to that truth isn’t to attempt to engage and persuade, it’s to call them crazy and dismiss them.
That is arrogance. That is elitism. It’s also not very smart. But, at the moment, that is the progressive movement in a nutshell. Naturally they’re unable to see that, as demonstrated by Booman as he concludes his post (and joins the new progressive narrative I pointed too the other day):
The GOP may not want to help the economy while a Democrat is in the White House, but they don’t know how to help the economy regardless. We saw this during Bush’s two terms in office. And when Bush finally faced reality and took the obvious steps to save the economy, the Republicans went Full Metal Teabagger in response.
David Gergen thinks it is elitist to dismiss the threat presented by this rise in Know-Nothing foolish ideology. What he forgets is that our government will no longer work starting in January. If elites like Gergen are good for anything, they should be good at protecting our institutions. They didn’t. And now we have a really big problem.
Those two paragraphs are a case study in progressive elitism and filled with enough logical fallacies for a semester’s worth of work in a logic class, not to mention classic projection. But you have to hope this incredible cluelessness continues if you’re at all interested in returning fiscal sanity to this country. As long as the Taibbis, Boomans, Franklins and Lueders of the progressive world believe that everyone who votes for the other side is “crazy” and/or “stupid”, they’ll make no attempt to engage and persuade. And that leaves a pretty open field for their opposition.
You’d think, as smart as they claim to be, they’d have picked up on how, well, stupid that approach is in electoral politics. They used that approach frequently and vocally prior to the midterms and 60 seats plus went to the opposition. A smart person would analyze that outcome and modify their approach. But not progressives. Those smart guys are doubling down instead.
But remember you’re the dumb one.