War with North Korea has been a possibility since the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement paused the Korean War. Thanks to the end of the Cold War and the Kim regime’s pursuit of nuclear arms, the threat of armed conflict with the North has seasonably resurfaced then died away once world leaders and the global press find something else to hyperventilate about. When the North torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, 2010 and Pyongyang nullified the Armistice in March, 2013, the likelihood of war temporarily increased. Nuclear tests have, of course, always tended to peak interest. Until armed conflict starts with North Korea, it is always a possibility. As time goes on and Pyongyang realizes advancements in its nuclear program, the threat of war grows ever more severe, but the likelihood of war remains the same until the threat is realized or disarmed.
The analysis of the Korean threat has changed little over the years, but North Korea does offer the world a glimpse into a dsytopian society where the dream of concentrating power and wealth into the hands of a power elite has been fully realized. A nightmare scenario for Americanized Peoples, who prefer opportunity over total socioeconomic security, North Korea is a place where the affluent control all aspects of life and government officials are worshiped as gods. Like the perpetual threat of globalized terrorism, and previously Communism, Pyongyang has been forced by the threat of war to dominant its territory. Wealth has been concentrated into the hands of the power elite who enjoy the privilege of that wealth. These wealthy elites have every intention of allowing just enough wealth to trickle down to sustain the hungry masses, but hard and scary times demand sacrifice by the majority.
North Korea has lived under a “war mentality” for nearly 70 years. Facing the threat of a US invasion since 1950 and lacking the ability to combat external threats, the Kim regime turned inward. Forever preparing its People for war, Pyongyang, like most war governments, feels compelled to stifle those who fail to adequately support the cause of the Korean People. The North Korean People have lived generations with government enforced sacrifice supporting the war effort, which has imbued them with a more potent version of the “scarcity mentality” and “submission mentality” shared by the pacified impoverished of the US. Because faith in the Kim regime’s ability to eventually deliver the nation from the threat of perceptual war and foster prosperity has been expected by the government to weaken with time, Pyongyang has increasingly acted as an insecure power seeking ever elusive security.
During the Cold War, a similar pattern was seen in Russia and China, as well as to a lesser extent the United States, which is best exemplified by McCarthyism. Fear of weakness and the loss of security, e.g. control, pushes the powerful to seize power in all its forms and make themselves a threat to all others. In many respects, North Korea is the future of China, if Beijing continues to concentrate power at the expense of individual freedom and opportunity. China’s government is more like a corporate board of calculating capitalists who happen to preside over a Communist nation with a massive labor force. Their greatest resource is that cheap workforce, which has few, if any, real labor rights and freedom. The Chinese have the freedom to earn money instead of the guarantee of state support, but they lack the freedom to pursue opportunity, which is becoming more of a reality in the US as well.
Where government should bolster the power of its citizens, Beijing undermines the interests of the workers to pursue the interests of the political class. If not for the tendency of socialist-based governments to justify the periodic nationalization of the private sector in the face of threats, which was observed in Venezuela with the nationalization of its General Motors plant, China would be a paradise for corporate executives. In the US, Washington also has a tendency to cater to wealthy and corporate special interests at the expense of less affluent individuals, small business, and national interests. Where the known beneficiaries of special interests driven policies in China happen to be the ruling class, things are a lot more murky in the United States. Due to some accountability, the most widespread misuse of government power is the failure to use government to protect the collective interests of the People.
The second is the redistribution of national wealth through military and other government spending, which primarily benefits the wealthy, as well as the under and regressive taxation of the US economy, which burdens those who cannot afford it and future generations with debt. Corporate welfare must, of course, be justified by calling it economic development and stimulus, but it is still the redistribution of wealth away from the majority. Like China, Russia, and North Korea, the US, as well as most other Western nations, is concentrating the power of wealth into the hands of a self-serving, abusive power elite. Terrorist attacks like those in Paris, in turn, help justify government overreach in the name of national security, which also helps bolster the military spending that further enriches wealthy industrialists. The economic and political concentration of power is less dramatic and slower than the seizure of power by a military dictatorship, but the threat is the same.
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