North Korea – A Vestige of the Cold War
25 years after the end of the cold war, we are looking at an interesting throwback situation in the current August 2017 crisis in North Korea. Western attempts to garner some understanding with the Hermit Kingdom have been pretty long suffering and patient. North Korea has been invited into cooperative endeavors many times, with the west showing good faith in dollars and diplomacy, but it has always ended up in another spitting contest. So far, all that has been spit is a bunch of words.
Proxy Wars Armed and Polarized the World
But there is a history that gives a thinking person a bit of a pity perhaps for the North Koreans. Both the North and the South are products of the proxy warfare that went on between the US and the Communist nations of bygone days. The ideology of socialism against capitalist democracy was a titanic struggle that lasted nearly 50 years and succeeded in arming every corner of this planet to its teeth, and that includes Hydrogen Bombs in enough abundance to blow us all to smithereens 30 times over.
No one can look back at that time and claim that it was a sane, rational, or responsible era in human history, and the shadow of annihilation still looms over us should someone get an itchy trigger finger. But some of that pressure is lessened now. Why?
Real Communism Was never Really Tried
There are a number of ways to approach an analysis of that question, but one way is to point to the failure of communism as an ideology and as a system of governance. I don’t know really how fair it is to say that actually, since what failed was not really communism as its intellectual founders would have recognized it, but rather, a totalitarian Stalinism that threw all reason and wisdom to the wind. Who knows if some form of extreme socialism could manage a society well or not, if there was some way to restrain the leaders in a similar way that government is checked and balanced in the west. We may never know.
Eastern Block Identity Crisis
But one thing is certain for now, that both Russia and China have moved away from the radical left stance more toward a center. China has done so economically, and Russia both economically and politically as well.
Even so, neither of these states has made any real commitments to a western ideology, other than to acquiesce on the economic side out of sheer necessity. And we don’t really know what they stand for at all now. Is it possible that they have not re-identified themselves fundamentally either? How could a Chinese and Russian identity crisis affect the situation with North Korea?
Bad Parents of a Bad Child
Well, North Korea is a puppet state of the Eastern Block communist ideology. It has been held largely in suspended animation as a hard core regime, even though its progenitors have faded very much away from that harsh stance. Could it be that China likes to keep North Korea retarded in that way? Could the Russians and Chinese be irresponsible in maintaining in North Korea a mini hard core Stalinist regime when they themselves were not able to sustain such a state in macro-form in their own lands?
An interesting way to perhaps illustrate the situation would be to think of the USA as a kind of good parent to South Korea. America clothed her and fed her, and educated her well. As South Korea grew, the US gave her more and more autonomy as any good parent would, until South Korea matured and took on a life quite independent of the US, although still maintaining a close relationship like any parent and child would do.
North Korea, on the other hand, had very bad parents in China and Russia. They we not fed nor clothed well, they were not educated well, and the parents kept up a neurotic dominance and control over her, never allowing her to grow up an function as a mature state on her own.
A Path Back To Relevance Through the United Nations
North Korea is not really an issue for the USA, regardless of all the bluster and banter. North Korea amounts to little more than a pimple on the butt of the massive western power. So a better question in the equation would involve imagining how a resolution of the Chinese / Russian identity crisis would impact the North Korean problem. If China decided to take a more active role in UN Security Council concerns and became a real player in an empowerd world government, might Russia also come along in that way too. Both of them together could contribute to making the Security Council into a real influence in the world after all these years of playing inhibitors to the global government arm of the UN.
If China and Russia took more purchase in that way, they could better impose their will on other nations, which seems to be the only thing they want to do. They don’t seem to have a guiding ideology other than that. At the same time they exerted real influence through the Security Council, they might even begin to re-define themselves in positive ways that would very likely impact North Korea.
But I am looking at this from a backward direction. Perhaps it is the North Korean situation that might prompt China to do the self psychology that is clearly long over due. And America seems bound and determined to get China to go ahead and lie down on the couch.