The North Korea Syndrome

Recalling a left-wing hero’s reversal of history.

When not assassinating relatives such his estranged half-brother Kim Jong-Nam, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un has been launching missiles that fly perilously closer to U.S. allies such as Japan, and few doubt that the ultimate target is the American mainland. In response, as the Washington Times reported, the Trump administration seeks to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in South Korea by the end of 2017.

This move has “angered not only North Korea but also China and Russia, which see the system’s powerful radars as a security threat.” THAAD is purely defensive but its deployment is described as “controversial.” So is the history of conflict in the region, too important to be left to an American KGB collaborator the establishment media still passes off as an independent journalist.

With aid from American Stalinist spies such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Stalin gained the technology to build nuclear weapons. The USSR exploded its first atomic bomb on August 29, 1949 and the blast encouraged Stalin to mount a surge in his expansionist plans. He urged his North Korean ally Kim Il-Sung to attack South Korea, an ally of the United States, and on July 25, 1950, the Communist forces invaded.

According to The Hidden History of the Korean War, it was South Korea that invaded North Korea. That was the official Soviet position, and no surprise from author I.F. Stone. As John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev explain in Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Stone was in fact a Soviet agent who took money from the KGB. He made a career of recycling Communist propaganda but “by the time he died in 1989, I.F. Stone had been installed in the pantheon of left-wing heroes as a symbol of rectitude and a teller of truth to power.” At no time did Stone fit that description, least of all on Korea.

As the National Interest recalled, “In November 1950, China and the United States went to war. Thirty-six thousand Americans died, along with upwards of a quarter million Chinese, and half a million or more Koreans. If the United States was deeply surprised to find itself at war with the People’s Republic of China, a country that hadn’t even existed the year before, it was even more surprised to find itself losing that war. The opening Chinese offensive, launched from deep within North Korea, took U.S. forces by complete operational surprise.”

U.S. forces fought bravely in battles such as Pork Chop Hill. As U.S. Army private Angelo Palermo of the 17th Infantry recalled “The Chinese were on their loudspeakers telling us to surrender. If we did not, they said we were all going to die.”

U.S. forces beat them back, and the conflict ended with a ceasefire in July of 1953. In effect, the war never ended and under the Stalinist Kim Il-Sung North Korea became the most repressive Communist state in the world, with the possible exception of Enver Hoxha’s Albania. North Korea was also dynastic, with Kim Il-Sung giving way to son Kim Jong-Il, and now to Kim Il-Sung’s grandson Kim Jong-Un. Conditions remain the same as under the old bosses.

“North Korea’s labor camps have now existed twice as long as the Soviet Gulag and about twelve times longer than the Nazi concentration camps.” That is former Washington Post East Asia bureau chief Blaine Harden, in his 2014 Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.

In this remarkable account, the regime uses the camps to eliminate the seed of “class enemies” and duly works them to death. Before he escaped, Shin Dong-hyuk was forced to watch his mother executed by hanging and his older brother killed by a three-man firing squad. In camp schools Shin saw teachers beating students to death for no apparent reason, and students were forced to work as slaves.

The North Korean regime maintains the labor camps do not exist, and in Camp 14, Shin Dong-hyuk was taught that South Korea had invaded the North with backing of the United States. That was the line of I.F. Stone in The Hidden History of the Korean War, still in print and still praised by journalists of the left.  

North Korea, meanwhile, never gets the condemnation it deserves from bodies such as the United Nations. The United States and its allies need not take seriously those who can’t tell the difference between imperfect democracies and a Stalinist regime of fathomless depravity. On the other hand, the United States must take seriously the regime’s surge in missile deployment. Deployment of THAAD is a good idea but it could stand some diplomatic reinforcement.

The Trump administration recently agreed with the longstanding “one China” policy that regards Taiwan as China’s wayward province. The president should include North Korea as part of the one-China policy. China does nothing to restrain North Korea and China is angered by a purely defensive missile system.

Trump’s plan to deploy THAAD also angered Russia, which according to establishment media legend is Trump’s key ally, responsible for his election victory. According to this line, Russia should be applauding President Trump’s defensive missile deployment.

One of the first actions of Trump’s predecessor, the 44th president, was to cancel missile defense for U.S. allies Poland and the Czech republic, which even the New York Times called a “security reversal.” In similar style, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s famous re-set gave the Russians virtually everything they wanted, including the most highly intrusive inspection program the United States had ever accepted.

“We want to ensure that every question that the Russian military or Russian government asks is answered,” Secretary Clinton said after meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Clinton also touted “deep cooperation between our countries.”

Those who see Russia as a player for the Trump team might invoke the I.F. Stone rule. What one reads in the old-line establishment media might be the exact opposite of the truth.