Enabled by China, North Korea is still a bully with impunity

Enabled by China, North Korea is still a bully with impunity
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North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un long ago internalized his dictatorship-founding grandfather’s embrace of randy Austin Powers’ enthusiasm for the “consequences-free 60s.” If it feels good — or consolidates your dictatorial regime, baby — do it. No one will call you on it.

The October 2017 allegations against Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein were noteworthy not only for inspiring the “Me Too” movement of women sexually harassed or assaulted by men who held power over them, but for the number of perps who significantly acknowledged publicly their abusive actions. Critical mass manifested itself with stunning speed, adding new mugs to the rogues’ gallery nearly daily. Whether Me Too proves enduring in curtailing sexual bullying remains to be seen, but it is opportune the message resonate against bullies in all arenas.

Individuals are bullied at the micro level, one by one; peoples and nations at the macro level. Kim Jong Un has exacerbated the day-to-day humiliation inflicted upon helpless victims since Kim Il-Sung established his dictatorship in 1948 with Soviet backing. His son and Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong-Il, had learned well that nuclear weapons were essential for the regime’s survival.


Kim Jong Un honored his father by promptly proving he was a model student in the fundamentals of Dynastic Dictatorship 101. A ruthless police state alone is inadequate to suppress the people; regime perpetuation requires projection of intimidation abroad — nuclear bullying — to hammer home the message of invulnerability to latent internal dissent. If other nations, even economic and military powers, cannot stand up to North Korean bullying, what hope do its powerless, starving citizens have?


The North Korean regime’s inhumanity against its own people is perverse, as is any pain gratuitously inflicted upon the weak and innocent. Hunger bullying is a weapon in the North, systematic, not simply a natural outcome of state-run economies.

Projection of the specter of a nuclear attack against South Korea, Japan, Guam or the United States renders obsolete the Hermit Kingdom label. It has a quaint ring to it, but the regime’s international outreach by launching missiles over Japan is a stark threat to lives, peace and international trade. With each new provocation, the stakes rise, but not the consequences. Bullies who stopped tormenting without their come-uppance graze unmolested with unicorns.

Critical to Me Too’s traction was immediate support from seemingly all quarters, socially and politically, within the U.S. Meanwhile, conventional wisdom points first to China as the unloaded silver bullet to stand up to North Korea. That’s like asking a cancer not to spread and then hoping for the best.

Current Chinese leader Xi Jinping was crowned with Mao Zedong- and Deng Xiaoping-like power during the 19th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) congress in October 2017 as well as another five-year term. Mao still holds the unofficial record as history’s greatest mass murderer, and Deng garnered CCP kudos as ultimately responsible for the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

Xi and Kim are both communists and dictators. However, except for the façade of a political-economic ideology that must be defended at any cost, it is their common status as dictators that defines them. As long as the human spirit longs for freedom — or strives to survive with some semblance of dignity — dictators are always skating on thin ice, and they know it.

Xi and his regime believe they benefit from the stress that the umpteenth North Korean missile crisis imposes on the U.S. militarily and politically. Although Russia ceded primacy in mentoring North Korea after the USSR dissolved, Russian president Vladimir Putin is unmotivated to assist. Much is said to diminish the potential impact of leveraging North Korea’s trade dependence on China to rein in the regime. Certainly China can end this threat by working with the U.S., South Korea and Japan. And certainly China will not.

Former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee was arrested in mid-January for allegedly spying for Beijing. Lee would be only the tip of yet another iceberg, most still unidentified and all immune to warming waters. Few in proper American circles want to be heard calling China an enemy of the U.S.; that sounds unsophisticated as well as insulting to the bullies in Beijing.

With North Korea appearing to run Olympic rings around South Korean President Moon Jae-in through meaningless time-buying gestures, we are reminded the U.S. has to assume we’re fundamentally on our own in standing up to the nuke bully against whom there is no widespread condemnation, only vague laments. Meanwhile, President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE has broken from recent tradition by not pandering, yet he is criticized as the one inciting tensions. Enabler China will cheer on the regime at its 70th anniversary commemoration in September. Bullies don’t call out bullies; they need each other.

Craig Osth served in the CIA as a case officer, to include seven chief of station positions in five regions of the world. His first novel, Preemptive Retribution, will be available in 2018.