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The Rosett Report

Syria vs. North Korea: The Calculus of Mass Atrocities

September 10th, 2013 - 1:52 pm

Obviously, this is not hypothetical. I’m talking about North Korea, where the totalitarian Kim dynasty ought to qualify for a world prize in crossing red lines and violating all civilized norms. Just this spring, following its most successful long-range missile test and in tandem with its latest nuclear test, Kim Jong Un’s regime was threatening nuclear strikes on Washington, South Korea, and U.S. bases in the Far East.

As for monstrous abuse of human beings, including children: just this month — while all eyes were on Syria — the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, which tracks North Korea’s gulag by trying to tally witness accounts with satellite photos, released a report on changes in these prison camps. The report includes an account of the disappearance since 2010 of tens of thousands of prisoners held in a prison camp known as Camp No. 22.

These were people “severely deprived of their liberties and subjected to a lifetime of forced labor under extraordinarily inhuman conditions.” These were not people the Pyongyang regime was likely to release from the gulag. HRNK cites a report from Radio Free Asia that “following a food shortage,” the prisoner population “dwindled rapidly from 30,000 to 3,000.”

What happened to all those people?

The HRNK report concludes: “If even remotely accurate, this is an atrocity requiring much closer investigation.”

If a likely case of starving to death tens of thousands of forced laborers — effectively, the horribly abused slaves of the North Korean state — does not sound colorful enough to grab the world’s attention, what about the accounts over the years of North Korea conducting chemical and biological weapons experiments on its own people?

Here’s a 2004 BBC report on the gas chambers of North Korea, by this account tested on the families of political prisoners.

Here’s a report from 2009 on North Korea testing chemical and biological weapons on handicapped children.

Yes, confirming these accounts is a tall order. But in the grand corridors of the global powers, who has really been trying?

The point is not that atrocities in Syria don’t matter. They do. Syria is part of a highly dangerous network of tyrannies and terrorists, and it would be a terrible mistake to send the message that chemical weapons may with impunity be wielded in this mix, or anywhere.

But it appears that in the current calculus, some atrocities are more equal than others.

Far more dangerous than Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons are Iran’s global terror network and hegemonic ambitions, coupled with its advancing program for building nuclear bombs. Add to that both North Korea’s WMD projects and accompanying shopping catalogue, and the inference that other rogue states might reasonably draw from the North Korean example is: if you create a credible threat that you are willing to slaughter your democratic neighbors wholesale, and build nuclear weapons to back it up, the U.S. will avert its gaze and content itself with rounds of sanctions punctuated by bribes of appeasement.

As the furor of the U.S. political debate has just richly highlighted, Americans are puzzled over the national security priorities of this presidency.

Why was Qaddafi’s threat to slaughter rebels in Libya treated as so much more urgent that the visible carnage for more than two years in Syria?

In deciding which atrocities might warrant military intervention and which do not, what are the guiding principles of this administration? What is the calculus, not just for Syria, not solely for choosing which atrocities to call out and which to ignore, but for defending American interests in an increasingly dangerous world?

This is what the president needs to explain.

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The heart of man is evil; who can know it? When mankind is stripped of his civility and moral compass you get Islam and other things like Hitler's Germany and North Korea. For our leadership to even contemplate joining the evil in Syria is too horrible to contemplate.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's good that you are asking the questions that few others seem to ask, but I think you also know the answers. The calculus is the same for foreign policy as domestic -- Obama and his administration are only concerned with his personal political appearance and popularity. All actions and 'policy' decisions are about Obama. This time it didn't work out the way they had planned; he went off script, preening for the cameras, and set into motion the events that exposed weakness and vanity that most people who see through him already knew.
Of course there's no logic or justification for drawing a red line in Syria while ignoring Korea and Iran, in the same way it's inexplicable to define chemical weapons as off limits in Syria, while sanctioning the use of conventional weapons that have killed over 100,000. The Obama Doctrine: "Insuring civil wars remain civil, wherever they are." Or: "Keeping wars chemical free", in little countries that nobody likes and can't cause me much trouble". Somehow the instrument of human destruction is what's important to him.
But loss of life isn't the point; it's always about appearances and scoring political points. Drawing a red line with Korea or Iran would require an actual costly conflict and a long term commitment with an opponent who might fight back, and do so unpredictably. Syria isn't either. You can park your ships 200 miles offshore, fling a few missiles at 8am to demonstrate "you mean business", and still catch 9 holes before dinner. Mission accomplished - the mission being to look like you give a damn and to show you're a tuff guy.
He just didn't expect that his own party would not be impressed with his show of force, which most agree makes him look weaker, and as you pointed out so well, a self serving hypocrite.

46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
McCain wanted to have sleep over with Syrian kidnappers 09/09/2013

http://dailycaller.com/2013/09/09/mccain-wanted-to-have-sleepover-with-syrian-kidnappers/
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the head of the Great Satan who was hated and feared deflated into a puny wussy clueless bobbing head who bows to dictators, snoops and tax-audits his opponents, it's prudent for the Great Satan to lay low and stop playing the role of side-kick to prop up Putin, a thug who murders his opponents.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leaving no Rosett-a-stone unturned, what might crack the dilemma of North Korea? Other than cloning there a million Rodmans, that is.

If your point is to acknowledge and condemn Nork atrocities then fine, but there seems not to be anything we can do about those atrocities.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...and for the average guy in Topeka, the whole thing by now probably makes about as much sense as the federal budget." WTF? i suspect that the "average guy in Topeka" has a lot more on the ball than, say, an english major from Yale or Columbia.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note to jlw and Harmless: My apologies for what was clearly clumsy phrasing. I was aiming to insult the federal budget, not the guy from Topeka.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
so much for that english degrees, huh?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
...those...
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, and not just a bad choice of words: the Fed budget doesn't make sense, neither does the current farce. Ms. R is wrong here.

We all know many roads lead to Iran and N Korea. The question is why our hapless state dep't still whimpers repeatedly at the thought of grasping the nettle, as it has for nearly two decades. (For once, something that isn't all Pres. Cardboard's doing.)

Endless spiralling in a sea of 'nuance' -- my ass -- gets you nowhere. Iran nearly has or nearly may have a few not-so-fancy nukes, and NK weaponry is based on the legendary splashers, the Dong and Long Dong. Then there's Pakistan, unaccountably forgotten in all this....

And what have we got to answer them with? -- more military and economic options than the world has ever seen, that's all. Yet from the cringing tone, you'd think we're left with a dab of perfume and a silly grin.
.
The urge to waffle will kill us all if it doesn't stop.
Assad can hand over half a dozen rusty old cans of Yuban filled with goat piss and O will preen and declare victory.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
And what about a regime that, reportedly, did this last week to a group of performers one of whom was (reportedly) a love rival of little Kim's wife.

Pretty egregious slaughter, if true.

http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2013/08/meet-new-boss-same-as-old-boss-nork.html



46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Libs couldn't care less about atrocities. They only care about power.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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