Thursday, June 19, 2014

two takes on Sue Mi Terry

Sue Mi Terry is a former CIA analyst and frequent columnist who recently wrote "Let North Korea Collapse," an article that has garnered a lot of attention in recent days. Many are praising Terry's argument that the cost of reunification, while burdensome, won't be insurmountable, but there are naysayers.

Two takes on Ms. Terry will illustrate the contrasting opinions surrounding her insights. The first comes from John Lee at the blog The Korean Foreigner, in a post that skeptically rehashes Terry's article's title by adding a sly question mark: "Let North Korea Collapse?" The second, more favorable, perspective comes from my go-to reference on all things North Korean, Joshua Stanton and his blog One Free Korea: "Sue Mi Terry in the New York Times: Let North Korea Collapse."

As you might guess, I'm more inclined to agree with Joshua, but Lee brings up legitimate points that deserve consideration. Some of those points are addressed, and indirectly rebutted, on Joshua's blog.



John said...

Like you, I found Joshua's take much more realistic. Lee just seems to argue about failed policies of the past (it's all Bush's fault, doncha know?)that have little relevance to the situation in Korea. Both ignore the elephant in the room which is of course China. Korea will never be reunified unless China deems reunification as being in its best interest. I can't imagine any scenario where China would want to compete with the economic powerhouse of a reunified Korea.

Charles said...

I probably lack the ability to understand all the nuance and subtlety of the political situation... but I've always kind of thought that the best policy would be to just let them fall.

King Baeksu said...

More Neocon Nonsense from the NYT. No wonder Mr. Stanton approves.

When will these people ever learn?

In any case, you know you're reading pure propaganda when the writer, a "former CIA analyst," fails to connect these two gigantic dots:

"Even China, a putative ally of the Kim regime, would benefit from its fall: Beijing would no longer have to supply the North with fuel, food and other goods, and pay the diplomatic cost of supporting a pariah state."

"North Korea has vast deposits of coal, uranium, magnesite and rare-earth metals — together reportedly valued at $6 trillion — which it cannot currently exploit. Technology from the South could unlock these resources, boosting the economy of the entire peninsula."

Umm, hello? WTF do you think China is up to in the North these days, anyway? And why does the author think it would be in China's interest to be suddenly cut off from those trillions of dollars worth of coal, minerals and other natural resources? That's the whole point, duh!

Finally, this howler:

"Goldman Sachs predicted in 2009 that if the Korean Peninsula were reunified, within 30 to 40 years it could overtake France, Germany and even Japan in terms of G.D.P., and become 'the Germany of Asia.'"

Anyone who has spent time in both countries knows that the last thing Korea will ever be is the "Germany of Asia," given how disorganized and inefficient Korea's workforce is, generally speaking. Germans are driven by ideas, Koreans by feelings. The comparison is absurd, especially when China will be surpassing America's GDP within a few short years. Given that China's economy is already eight times larger than that of South Korea, which is in turn just a third the size of Japan's, the most that a united Korea could ever hope to be is the "Italy or Spain of Asia."

Now go cash your check from Goldman Sucks, Ms. Terry, and give the rest of us a break.

King Baeksu said...

My response to Sue Mi Terry's article would be the exact opposite: "Let South Korea Collapse."

To begin, USFK should be completely withdrawn from the Korean Peninsula. The US needs to get its own house in order first, and why should US taxpayers have to subsidize the security of fat-cat US corporations and ungrateful nationalistic Koreans, anyway?

Once the US left, South Korea would either be forced to offer enough concessions to the North that a united Korean federation of some sort could be formed, or the North would simply invade and take over the South whole-hog. However, the North would be unable to manage such a large population and would be corrupted by South Korea's vast wealth, and its own extremist ideology would quickly be diluted and neutralized.

In effect, what I am proposing is exactly what should have happened in 1950: The US should never have gotten involved in the Korean War in the first place. Kim Il-sung would have controlled the entire peninsula for a few decades, but as we have seen in China and Vietnam, the most likely scenario would have been the evolution and transition towards a kind of state-capitalist economic structure with a soft form of so-called "communism" in name only.

In other words, the Korean Peninsula would have been quickly united and would still be so today. But, of course, that would not have been to the benefit of the US military-industrial complex and assorted other interested parties in the West, and thus it was never allowed to happen.

John said...

The mind reels.

Extending KB's "logic", we should never have intervened in WWII. After all, for better or worse the peninsula was unified under the Japanese. And once Hitler had finished the job of eradicating the Jews, Roma, and homosexuals Europe would have been a virtual paradise!

Freedom is never worth the price of defending, until of course you lose it. North Koreans are starving? Let them eat cake!

King Baeksu said...

The mind reels at the 37,000 Americans who died in the Korean War, as well as at least a million more Koreans, Chinese and other nationalities. And let's not forget that we basically carpet-bombed the entire North to ashes and dust.

Yet despite all that, the Korean Peninsula remains divided to this day. I still maintain that in terms of savings lives and realizing reunification of the Korean people, allowing the North to take over the South would have been the wiser and more humane course of action.

Of course, I also argued that we never should have invaded Iraq in 2003, and people called me a "freedom-hating" and "unpatriotic" fool at the time as well. A decade on, Iraq is at the edge of imploding and breaking up into several different countries even as we speak.

How many lives have been lost in the name of "freedom" and "democracy" in the post-WWII era of American Empire? Countless millions, with many, many more still to go.