Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Hi! Welcome to that strange period between Christmas and New Year's during which, ideally, nothing at all gets done. Heck, I haven't blogged for a week, which is a record since September. If you came here and found nothing and went away disappointed, go drink some grog.

This holiday season, why not try a little mental journey to an exotic destination like Beirut. This article that I found on Travel & Leisure, the magazine about travel and leisure, says it's quite the scene these days. The new Tallinn, as we like to say in Kafkaville.

Or, via Matt Welch, here's British journalistic prodigee Johanni Hari's recent essay about North Korea, the Worst Place on the Face of the Planet.

If half of what they say about North Korea is true -- and I have little doubt more than half is true -- the Kim regime couldn't have been invented by even the sickest of Star Trek scriptwriters. Hari no longer advocates an invasion of North Korea like he once did, but his recent essay puts the North Korean government-engineered famine in some perspective, although it's really hard to call it "perspective" when there's nothing else in the world to compare it to.

Nearly half of this country's children are suffering from such severe hunger that their physical and mental development is being seriously retarded. This is not unfolding in Africa, but instead just a few miles from a prosperous industrial economy.

It is happening in North Korea, and you haven't seen many reports because a vast range of vested interests find it convenient for the world to forget about the North Korean people.
One small correction, however:

[A]n excessively zealous response to the worst tyranny on earth is surely better than evasion. This is, alas, the response of most "peace" activists, who - when the topic of North Korea is raised - simply change the subject. Gore Vidal was asked recently what he would do. "Don't you think that's their problem? That's not your problem and that's not my problem," he replied.
I did a bit of poking, and to be accurate, that was Gore Vidal's response when asked about the suffering Saddam Hussein had inflicted on Iraq. He was not talking about North Korea, although if you asked him about that, he'd probably say the same thing. The point still holds. Gore Vidal can relax in his Italian villa, sipping Chianti, knowing that the millions murdered by Kim Jong Il are "not his problem." Despite the fact that a lot of the world's biggest dipshits like to call Gore Vidal a pompous asshole, he really strikes me as a pompous asshole.

I did a bit of reading on Johann Hari's site. The world needs more Johann Haris. Here's a man who can say upfront that America's "foreign policy has done more harm than good in the last fifty years." (It's a contention I wouldn't be too quick to agree with, but I definitely wouldn't exactly rush to contest it either.) Yet he'll be the first to say that only the most cold-hearted, isolationist goon could say the human tragedy called North Korea is "not his problem."

Happy New Year....


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