(from its last pawn still standing)


I left Korea some sixty years ago, grown old, at 22, from that brief experience there. I’ve never been back.

Today, North Korea is the last Cold War pawn still standing, still being manipulated in the same moves and counter-moves of that era between China and America. And after all that passage of time, despite the fact that the Cold War has passed into history, and relations between China and America have evolved, nothing seems to have changed. China is still manipulating that pawn, creating pangs of Cold War Reflux Disease for America and its South Korean ally. 

Plainly, at this point in our mutual history, this is a ridiculous situation. A situation neither China nor the America really need or want. So why is it still going on?

In part, because, the inmates of China’s North Korean asylum have not only progressively taken over their asylum, they have also managed to acquire nuclear capabilities along the way. In the process they have morphed from just being an extreme totalitarian application of the Communist gospel, into a very avaricious and ruthless kleptocracy. One which maintains its grip on power solely for the purpose of keeping everything worth anything there, in their hands, and no one else’s. Ideology is just the means to that end.

Meanwhile, China’s commissars have evolved from their ideological perspectives into a very affluent and octopus-like oligarchy of their own, whose tentacles reach into almost every nook and cranny of their empire. The difference, of course, is the more sophisticated and silky-smooth way they’ve gone about it. The irony, of course, is that they have simply come full circle, and reverted back to the same formula so successfully applied by their former imperial ancestors over the past five thousand years.  Simply put, whereas before their kleptocrats and oligarchs wore yellow silk, today’s version wears red underwear. Other than that…nothing much has changed.

Here, in America, our own kleptos have become an oligarchic class of ever growing influence and power. Different in style, perhaps, but essentially, cut from the same cloth as their Chinese counterparts. It’s no wonder then that they get along so well, with each one vying to see which one can be quicker and slicker at cheating the other. So, this last relic of the Cold War should be a mutual embarrassment, because its unpredictability and paranoia could really gum up the works of such a game for both China and America. 

For no other reason then, it’s time to put it down as firmly and strongly as possible, because these Pyongyang morons may draw both into another useless military meat-grinder  situation. We lost too many of the best and brightest of our youths the last time, and the thought of it happening again because of some pretentious miscalculations on their part, stirs a great upwelling of anger and disgust in me.

The big question now is why China is being so mute and seemingly unengaged in this current situation? With hardly any effort it could squash its upstart pawn, now gone rogue, like a bug if it wanted to. Instead it continues to stall and equivocate about it.

The answer may be multi-facetted. That is:

  • It may not really have as much control over it as it once had, and, because China’s former commissars are now its klepto/oligarchic leadership busily making their fortunes while expanding their country’s global economic domination and power, they prefer to let that sleeping dog lie, unless and until it is absolutely necessary to put it down.
  • Its continued presence on China’s front porch, so to speak, keeps America off-balance and distracted, making that nuclear capable pawn a useful bargaining chip in whatever negotiations it might engage with it.
  • Lastly, it is a useful buffer against the economic and social dynamism of South Korea. So long as it sustains the Pyongyang mob in power, China is guaranteed that there is no possibility of a re-unified and booming Korean Republic, smack dab against its borders. That would be a much too dangerous model of a relatively open and prosperous society influencing its own internal elements of dissent. And the temptation for cross-border defections would just be too strong.

So, perhaps now is the time for us to bluntly ask China – which is more important to you, us….or them? Maybe then it will be possible to formulate an effective joint-action to permanently contain these North Korean fits of insanity.

Even so, until Peking’s oligarchs become convinced that getting rid of Pyongyang’s hierarchs will be to their financial advantage, and won’t disrupt their grip on the levers of political power….nothing will change. North Korea will remain an irritating boil on the ass of the global community, which only a violent “lancing” will ever do away with it.

But, for everyone involved, that is the very worst kind of Russian roulette game to be playing.