Tuesday, March 8th 2016
“The North Korean regime depends upon isolation from the outside world to maintain its grip and pursue its international objectives. The regime is deadly afraid of what it terms 'ideological and cultural poisoning': that is, of foreign media, international information, cultural exchanges, and the like. We should be saying: Bring on the 'poisoning'! The more contact that enslaved population has with the outside world, the better.” So concluded Nicholas Eberstadt – who holds the Henry Wendt Chair at the American Enterprise Institute -- in an article, “Wishful Thinking Has Prevented Effective Threat Reduction in North Korea,” published in the February 29, 2016 issue of National Review. Here are the portions of his essay that focus on North Korea’s ideology and ways to weaken it.
- Our policy is a failure because our public and our leaders do not understand our adversary and his intentions.
- The trouble, rather, is that even our top foreign-policy experts and our most sophisticated diplomatists are perforce creatures of their own cultural heritage and intellectual environment. We Americans are, so to speak, children of the Enlightenment, steeped in the precepts of our highly globalized era. Which is to say: We have absolutely no common point of reference with the worldview or moral compass or first premises of the closed-society decision-makers who control the North Korean state. Americans’ first instincts are to misunderstand practically everything that the North Korean state is really about.
- . . . what exactly is [North Korea’s] ideology? Along with its notorious variant of emperor worship, “Juche thought” also extols an essentially messianic — and unapologetically racialist — vision of history: one in which the long-abused Korean people finally assume their rightful place in the universe by standing up against the foreign races that have long oppressed them, at last reuniting the entire Korean peninsula under an independent socialist state (i.e., the DPRK).
- Although highly redacted in broadcasts aimed at foreign ears, this call for reunification of the minjok (race) and for retribution against the enemy races or powers (starting with America and Japan) constantly reverberates within North Korea, sounded by the regime’s highest authorities.
- . . . seeing the DPRK for what it is, rather than what we would like it to be, should oblige us to recognize a highly unpleasant truth. The real, existing North Korean leadership (as opposed to the imaginary version some Westerners would like to negotiate with) will never willingly give up its nuclear option. Never. Acquiescing in denuclearization would be tantamount to abandoning the sacred mission of Korean unification — which is to say, disavowing the DPRK’s raison d’être.
- The North Korean regime depends upon isolation from the outside world to maintain its grip and pursue its international objectives. The regime is deadly afraid of what it terms “ideological and cultural poisoning”: that is, of foreign media, international information, cultural exchanges, and the like. We should be saying: Bring on the “poisoning”! The more contact that enslaved population has with the outside world, the better.
- We should even consider technical training abroad for North Koreans in accounting, law, economics, and other disciplines — because someday, in a better future, that nation will need a cadre of Western-style technocrats to help it rejoin the world.