Not an original observation here, but it is interesting how certain countries are on our shit list forever for “humiliating” the United States, while others did the same and are not. Cuba and Iran are still there, for what amount to repelling an illegal foreign invasion and for a bog-standard hostage crisis that was peacefully resolved, respectively, many decades ago. Yeah, I suppose there’s more to each than just that but frankly, it’s all just so weak. Vietnam isn’t on our shit list anymore even though they actually did humiliate us in a war (though it’s probably more accurate to say that we humiliated ourselves by getting involved in the first place). The world’s superpower got absolutely rocked by a small (though not that small–over 90 million people) country, and yet we made up and now enjoy good, universally uncontroversial relations with them. Why, it’s almost as though closing yourself off from Western influences and markets just leads to implacable hatred by the United States government, based on some trumped-up pretext! Vietnam is “Communist” but they’re perfectly happy to be a cog in the worldwide capitalist machine, just like China.

If Kim Jong Un really wanted to avoid ever getting invaded or bombed, if that actually is the thing he wants more than anything else, then he could accomplish it without spending any money on nukes. Actually, he could make a lot of money instead: he could just follow the example of Vietnam and China and accept Western investment, start churning out cheaply made clothes or shoes or whatever. That’s it. That would do it. Seems crazy until you realize that similar totalistic rhetoric was employed about China by conservatives like Ronald Reagan, up until the point where China under Deng Xiaoping opened it up for business. It’s not like we’d actually demand any political changes from Kim. We never do! It’s not as though market capitalism would be a threat to his reign, any more than it is to Vietnam’s or China’s Communists. Corporations are more than happy to outsource the rough stuff to authoritarian governments, and if opening those markets has really led to more Western-oriented attitudes much more inclined to liberal ideas, it’s not obvious. And it’s not as though the political class would care about peoples’ concerns over buying “Made in North Korea” slave labor T-shirts. Even liberal humanitarian Barack Obama was cool with slave labor in global trade. Maybe American consumers wouldn’t buy North Korean slave labor shirts, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Seems like a much easier way to get what he wants. What, he’s dedicated to Marxism? As many books on North Korea (including this one) have noted, North Korea has a highly regimented, caste-based society. Nope, no real Marxism there. I’m kind of amazed Kim didn’t think of this, actually, though he obviously must have considered it. The real question is why he rejected this option.

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