April 17, 2012

Prof. Lind's NPR Highlights

Government Professor Jennifer Lind took to the airwaves yesterday to promote her article in Foreign Affairs titled "Why North Korea Gets Away With It". Below are the highlights from her Op-Ed radio interview with NPR's Neal Conan, in which she offers rather astute, actionable insights into an ongoing foreign policy quandary of global importance.
  • The North Korean government censors all outside media in order to prevent citizens from ever possibly discover that they may have a better life without it. 
This conception of the North Korean people as ignorant to the point of being 'child-like' is one that North Korea seems to embrace. The jumping-up-and-down almost tantrum-like displays of grief displayed on Korean TV following KJI's death were not evidence of grown-up and mature society. In North Korean obituaries for the 'dear leader' and 'eternal president' North Korean media discussed the way KJI and KIS kept the people in a state of 'bliss, free of responsibility, as careless as children.'

Of course, a revolution cannot occur until a counter-factual to the status-quo is presented. As North Korea is basically free of the internet, outside information, and foreign trade, its people live in an Orwellian state where they lack even the vocabulary to form ideas against the government, let alone act on them.
  • Removing food aid would not help regime change. 
North Korea continues to enjoy the support of one neighbor, China, who will continue to back North Korea so long as it proves strategically useful in both buffering South Korea (and the American troops there stationed) and adding a 'wild card' element to PACOM geopolitics. Further, China doesn't want (1), in Lind's words, a "Korea-stan" that might break away its lands immediately adjacent to the Korean Peninsula, in the event of reunification, or (2), as Lind points out to me, a search for loose nukes in a reunified Korea with Chinese troops from the north brushing past US/ROK troops from the South. Even if China were to cut off aid and North Korea was left without food aid, the DPRK has already survived famines lasting decades that killed millions and could seemingly do it again without risk of government collapse.
  • North Korea is a very weak country and even though we will win a war with them, we don’t want to fight it.
Seoul, located just 30 miles from the DMZ, will be heavily damaged in the early hours of fighting. Lind argues that it will not be obliterated as once the shelling begins, the positions of the ground artillery will be discovered and immediately bombed into dust by superior South Korean air power. Still, many thousand civilians would die and I wouldn't want to be there for it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:09 PM

    I really like the second comic--hopefully China can continue to "manage" North Korea, as I'm afraid North Korea might do something drastic if China wasn't there to support/keep an eye on it.