Kim Jung Il’s Kakistocracy

June 3, 2009

[first published May 17, 2005] Kakistocracy is government by the worst, most unprincipled citizens of a state. It’s from the Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad.

Some frequent visitors may have noticed that I seem to be obsessed by Kim and his North Korea. Yes, and if you’re not, you should be also. It is the deadliest, most repressive, worst ruled of all countries, and since Kim Jung Il is the absolute dictator of the totalitarian state, he is the one to focus on, as we do on Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

I received from Colleague the three links below, to which I responded:

Read them and I say, as I wrote in my blogs, assassinate Kim as we would have a SWAT Team sniper do to a bank robber holed up with his hostages.

I can’t believe we live in the same world and at the same time with Kim, and he is allowed to continue his evil.

Colleague responded:

As I teach my international relations students, this is a legacy of Westphalia, which was a “good thing” in that it protected princes from the interventions of others — and since no one was reliably democratic, it brought some sense of order — if not justice — to the world. And I remind them that International Law privileges sovereignty, as most cases involve one country violating the sovereignty of another — of course the reasons are not important (as in the case of Nicaragua taking the US to the World Court for mining its harbors, even though there was war stuff coming into the harbors). But then I introduce the idea that democracy is emerging as a universal right and even a basic human entitlement — thereby warranting violation of sovereignty to protect humans — just like your analogy of the SWAT team and the bank robbery. The neat thing is that most of the students see no problems with this idea of humanitarian intervention for democracy. Is there hope????

The next step is to start holding accountable those who claim moral authority in international matters (especially the UN, but certainly the Euro-moralists and the church). I’m not sure HOW you hold them accountable, but a first step is plain and simple condemnation for not having done their jobs (misfeasance — improper execution of laws), and more stringent condemnation (with calls for firings and changes) for having not done their job because they were protecting their personal interests, and outright wrongdoing (malfeasance)… Unleash the lawyers!

So far, what are the solutions offered: Cozy up to Kim, provide food and material aid, meet with his henchmen one-to-one, then maybe he’ll compromise on his development of nukes. Yes, but tell me, how does this help the poor North Koreans suffering this enslavement, and that is what it is, pure and simple slavery under the worst of masters.

Links of Note

“The Hidden Gulag” (5/15/05) By Young Howard

Howard says:

Grandsons are condemned to life-long terms as slave laborers alongside their grandfathers, both equally helpless in the brutal surroundings. Prisoners are arbitrarily murdered by security guards. Women suffer from forced abortions at the hands of unlicensed doctors. Newborn babies are beaten to death. And sons and daughters are publicly executed in front of their mothers.

“Horrific conditions and suffering make it the last worst place on Earth” (5/15/05) By Jack Rendler

Rendler says:

There are 23 million people living in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and all of them – men, women and children – suffer every day under the heel of the most repressive regime on Earth. Their plight has been abandoned and ignored by most of the world for nearly 50 years. But there is now new hope and opportunity to restore their freedom and dignity. . . . First, we must accept the fact that there will be no reform in North Korea until the new leadership in China makes it happen. . . . Second, it is not productive or humane to contribute to the starvation of the North Korean people. . . . Third, we must not be distracted from our human rights objectives while Pyongyang threatens to develop nuclear weapons. . . . Fourth, we must find ways to bring outside information into North Korea. . . . Fifth, educators, students and health-care workers should be actively seeking exchange opportunities with their North Korean fellows. . . . Finally, each of us can simply communicate to our elected congressional representatives that we cannot in good conscience tolerate the suffering of so many North Korean men, women and children . . . .

“World must act” (5/15/05) The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial

The editorial says:

When Europe’s Jews were being murdered by the millions during World War II, the world paid too little attention until it was too late. When 2 million Cambodians were dying in their country’s auto-genocide in the mid to late 1970s, hardly anyone deigned to notice. When 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were being slaughtered in Rwanda in 1994, the world knew but did nothing.

A repeat of this shameful neglect must not be permitted as North Korea’s slave state brutally suppresses all dissenters, real and imagined, and millions remain at risk of starvation.

So, what can the world do?

First, the cause of human rights in North Korea should be put prominently on the international agenda. . . . Second, a more aggressive effort must be mounted to assist North Korea’s people. . . . Third, pressure must be brought on Kim Jong-Il’s government to improve its ghastly record of abusing, indeed denying, all basic human rights of its citizenry. . . . Above all, don’t let it be said that the world knew of North Korea’s horrors, and did nothing.

Strange, isn’t it? Kim’s beastly enslavement and murder of his people, and their abject pain and suffering is recognized, but no one suggests the equivalent of secretly sending in a SWAT Team sniper.

War/peace docudramas
War/democide Docudramas

Incredible! And The Horror Continues As The Threat Increases

January 8, 2009

[first published March 25, 2006] On the right, North Korea vs. South Korea at night. Also, consistent with this picture, read this from several years ago, which seems to apply today as well:

1. North Korea’s population requires about six million tons of food for each person to have a minimum diet. The regime controls all farming, all agriculture, and can only produce about four million tons. This causes a food shortfall of two million tons, or 33 percent below what is minimally required.

2. Kim has imposed rationing, and his handouts are the only way to legally obtain food. There are no independent channels of distribution, except for the black market. This means that people get food as Kim and his thugs’ desire.

3. Thus, Kim’s food distribution system is highly unequal. Food is put aside first for “patriotic rice” and “military rice.” This has resulted in Kim cutting the consumption of 700g of food a day per person by 22 percent, or to 400g a day, well below the minimum consumption of rice set by the World Food and Agricultural Organization.

4. This is not all. In this “classless” communist society, the regime has divided North Koreans into a rigid hierarchy of three classes, and fifty-one subdivisions, depending on a person’s status within the communist North Korean Workers Party and the military, their perceived faithfulness to communism, and family backgrounds. In other words, Kim uses the very food people need to live as a tool to reward and punish his subject slaves. Thus, vast numbers of people whose loyalties are questioned or may be deemed useless to the regime do not receive enough food to live long. The worst off are those people and families incarcerated in Kim’s concentration or forced labor camps. They receive the lowest food allowance of all, in spite of their being forced to work from 5 am to 8 pm.

5. There are no hospitals, doctors, or medical distribution and supply companies independent of the regime. All are nationalized. As with food, therefore, medical treatment and medicine is distributed as reward and punishment. Not surprisingly, medicine is in short supply and not available everywhere. Thus, the diseases associated with famine and malnutrition often get no medical treatment at all. Even a cold under such conditions can be mortal. And only half of the population is now inoculated for such diseases as infantile paralysis and measles.

6. Attempts on the part of the South Korea, the United Nations, and the United States, the major giver, to provide food aid have not worked well. In 2002 food aid was 62 percent under its target, but even if the target were reached , it would not substantially improve on the food available to the average Korean, because the food is not equally distributed. But it is not. The regime will not guarantee that food reaches those who need it most, it does not allow aid givers to carefully monitor who gets the food, and in some cases, it has redirected the food to its favorite classes or to the military.

7. Aside from the daily accumulation of dead, the effects on the living have been disastrous. Long-term malnutrition has affected about half the living, and caused underdevelopment in children–their growth is stunted and they are excessively thin. There is wide-scale dwarfishness and, most important from any humanitarian point of view, their brain development has been retarded. Moreover, malnutrition has fostered rickets, scurvy, nyctalopia, hepatitis, and tuberculosis, among other diseases. North Korea is one of the few countries in which population mortality rates have been increasing. The life expectancy has fallen to 66.8 years from 73.2; newborn mortality rate has increased from 14 to 22.5; and the rate for those less than five years of age has increased from 27 to 48 per thousand.

And so on.

Now, incredibly, that Stalinist dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il–that warden of the world’s worst border to border, open air concentration camp; that overseer of mass starvation of his slaves while he loads his dinner table with delicacies procured by his chiefs from around the world; that mass murderer; that drug smuggler; that multimillion dollar counterfeiter of American currency; that material supporter of terrorism and supplier of nuclear technology and devices; that possessor of nuclear weapons and the missiles that could reach Hawaii and Alaska– is continuing to work on nuclear warheads for his missiles and on a longer range missile that could reach major American cities.

Were this evil man to appear to succeed with only reasonable credibility, the world would enter a new and most dangerous time. For then, Kim’s credibility about using his nukes would be absolute, and no American president could risk San Francisco or Chicago on the assumption that Kim did not have this capability, or was bluffing. And Kim would no longer be deterred from threatening Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. with his nukes unless we….

No threat that we would turn North Korea into a moonscape could be realistic, for it would be obvious to everyone that we would not risk the loss of several million American lives (along with economic, social and political chaos) that would follow Kim’s inevitable pre-emptive attack on the American homeland.

All political calculations are based on assumptions and a calculation of the risk of being wrong versus the probability of being right. Even if we had intelligence that cast doubt on Kim’s ability to create warheads from his nukes and to develop ICBMs with sufficient accuracy to hit an American city, the horrible human cost of being wrong would have to determine our policies

What to do? Assassinate him, as I have urged (here, and here). Now. There can be no moral inhibition here. He is the world’s most evil and dangerous man. The worst threat to all humanity.

Related links

“NKorea weapons ‘could not hit US'”:

North Korea does not yet have an operational missile that could hit the continental US, a US report says. But its weapons could target South Korea and Japan, and it is working on a longer-range solid-fuel missile.

RJR: Ahh, bad headline. Hawaii and Alaska are part of the U.S.

” North Korea Touts First-Strike Capability”:

North Korea suggested Tuesday it had the ability to launch a pre-emptive attack on the United States, according to the North’s official news agency. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the North had built atomic weapons to counter the U.S. nuclear threat…. The North’s spokesman said it would be a “wise” step for the United States to cooperate on nuclear issues with North Korea in the same way it does with India.

RJR: Just wait until they APPEAR to have such a capability for the demands Kim will make.

” KOREA: We’d Rather Starve”:

North Korea says it wants to end UN food aid by the end of the year. The UN World Food Program (WFP) has provided 300,000 tons of food to North Korea this year, 90 percent of which has been delivered. South Korea has sent 500,000 tons. That keeps about a third of the population from starving to death (by providing about half a pound of grain or rice per day per person.) Harvests were better in the north this year, but the real reason for getting the WFP out is the hundred or so inspections UN personnel make each week to insure that the food goes to the people who need it. The South Korean food comes with far fewer inspections attached. China has also offered 150,000 tons of food a year, and South Korea has been generous with contributions of fertilizer. The north would rather starve than be scrutinized. These inspections bring too many North Koreans into contact with foreigners, and this leads to more North Koreans finding out about the outside world, and that North Korea is not the workers paradise, and best run country on the planet. North Korea has received some $2 billion in food aid over the last ten years. As a result, the government has not had to buy and import any food. Despite that savings, much of the food donated has been diverted to military use, or for sale in the black market. 

“N.Korean defector says disabled newborns are killed”

“The Great Famine of 2006: A Long, Hungry Winter Sets In; The World’s Last Chance to Prevent It Slips Away”

“Up-to-date news on the food situation in North Korea :

LFNKR still receives stories about starvation like those heard back in 1996 to 1997. In one case, steamed bread was reportedly stuffed with human flesh. In another case, parents exchanged children with another family to eat them.

“Australia bombs impounded N-Korean drug ship”:

Two Australian fighter jets bombed and sank an impounded North Korean cargo ship on Thursday in what Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said was a strong message to Pyongyang about its involvement in drug running.

“Lawmakers prod US on N.Korean refugee act”:

The U.S. government has failed to implement 2004 legislation aimed at promoting human rights in North Korea and giving asylum to refugees from that communist state, senior U.S. legislators said.

RJR: This is a balancing act on the part of Secretary Rice. We are trying to get international control of Kim’s nuclear weapons development, and need China and South Korea in the process, but both side with Kim in opposing our implementing the refugee act.

“U.S. finds a new way to pressure N. Korea”:

Six months after the Bush administration blacklisted a bank in Macao accused of laundering money for the North Korean government, senior administration officials said the action had proved to be far more effective than anyone had dreamed…. In interviews, several present and former administration officials said that the administration had concluded that the six-nation talks intended to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear arms were unlikely to succeed unless they were accompanied by these direct, punitive actions.

RJR: Finally, but it takes being mugged by reality to do it. This is the sorry history of middle-level State Department officials dealing with thug rulers. But it is an intrinsic problem for democratic officials, who habitually project their democratic norms onto the thugs that rule by the smoking gun.

A novel about two lovers who travel in time back to 1906 to foster the democratic peace and prevent the world wars and mass democide. Free download in pdf.

“Now, Dearest, You Are Here (A Docudrama on Moa’s China)

December 21, 2008

[first published May 23, 2005] A Docudrama About Pol Pot’s Cambodian Communist Revolution. This is from Rummel” Book 1 alternative history Never Again Series (link here). Note that while the characters are fictitious, their experience is based on known facts and refugee reports. This is unbelievable enough without having to invent any of the horror.

April of 1975 was a happy day for Tor as she waited for Nguon beneath the torn awning on the ramshackle building where they lived.

The war was now over. After successive retreats, General Lon Nol could no longer even defend Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, against the Khmer Rouge guerrillas. The Cambodian Army had declared a cease-fire and laid down its arms. Soon afterward, the government conceded defeat and opened Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge and their leader, Pol Pot. An army of 68,000 guerrillas achieved victory for a communist party of 14,000 members against an army of about 200,000 men.

Naturally petite, Tor was skinny from lack of food–a common problem in Phnom Penh at that time. Her face was still round, though–“Just,” Nguon always told her, “as I like it.” She had kept her black hair cut short to keep it out of the way as she worked in her cousin’s small restaurant. On this day, she wore an orange blouse and a beige sarong.

Nguon was teaching, but she was sure he had heard the news about the great victory. No doubt he would cancel class and join her to welcome the guerrilla soldiers. They were supposed to arrive within the hour.

Tor heard people celebrating all around her. Many intellectuals and middle-class Cambodians, disgusted with the everyday corruption of the government, were willing to try anything that brought change, even communism. Tor was no less happy. She was already thinking about bringing her own mother from the northeast, where she had been trapped by the war.

There Nguon was, all smiles as he approached her in his common black shorts. He took her hands and, looking into her eyes, said, “My dearest one. During all these years of war we prayed to Buddha for peace, and now it’s here. The world will change today. What a great moment.”

They walked to Sisowath Quay down which they expected the major force of Khmer Rouge to come on their way to the Royal palace. Many people were out on the streets, laughing, talking, all waiting. Almost every other building had white material–clothes, sheets, or towels–hung from windows or poles.

A low rumble grew into the mechanical roar of trucks. Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and looked toward the approaching noise.

Down Sisowath Quay came the Khmer Rouge. Those soldiers in the vanguard rode in trucks and vehicles of all descriptions. Behind those, squads of guerrilla soldiers walked in single file down the center of the street. They carried an assortment of weapons. No guerrilla seemed older than eighteen. All wore black, pajama-like uniforms, sandals made from strips of tires and inner tubes, and black Chinese caps. Each soldier had wound a red-checkered headscarf around his cap or neck. None of them smiled or looked at the crowds of people lining the roads.

Some of the people cheered and clapped, but most just smiled and waited to see what the victorious guerrillas would do next.

After watching for a while, Tor commented, “They are so young. How could they defeat the army?”

“Well, they did,” Nguon responded. “Let’s go back to our place. I’ve seen enough.”

Tor and Nguon ambled back to their apartment climbed the worn steps and walked down the dim, unpainted hallway to their room. Although almost too excited to eat, they thought it best to get something into their stomachs before what surely would be an evening of celebration. As they ate some reheated rice and fruit and a little leftover ham Tor had saved from the restaurant, they discussed what they would do once the city settled down.

Shots echoed out on the street as they were cleaning up. Tor and Nguon rushed over to the small window and peered out. They saw people moving past their building, their faces creased with confusion. They were looking around and glancing often over their shoulders. Waving their guns and yelling, several Khmer Rouge soldiers pointed in the direction the people were moving.

Tor gasped. “What’s going on? I thought the war was over.”

“I don’t know,” Nguon replied. “Maybe some Lon Nol soldiers don’t want it to end. I’m going out to take a look as soon as we finish here.”

But when they finished cleaning up a few minutes later, the noise from the street had increased greatly. Babies cried; car horns blared; people yelled constantly. Nguon and Tor exchanged an anxious glance. They decided to take a look outside, but when they reached the street they couldn’t believe their eyes.

A mass of people of all descriptions, packed almost shoulder-to-shoulder, moved in the direction the soldiers indicated. The crowd eddied around the spots where the guerrilla soldiers stood yelling like a stream around boulders. Here and there, a crowded car, small truck, or motor scooter crawled along in the flow of humanity. Tor glimpsed several motorbikes loaded down with possessions.

“Move, move. Get out,” the Khmer Rouge soldiers shouted, waving their rifles.

Standing on their steps, Tor looked up the road in the direction all these people were coming from, and saw a body lying on the walkway two buildings down. Another body lay a little further away. Everyone in the crowd avoided them. The bodies created little eddies of their own in the stream of people.

A black-clad soldier with a red scarf around his neck rushed up, pointed an AK-47 at them, and screeched in the high, thin rasp of a teenage boy, “You must leave this evil place. Go now!”

He couldn’t be over fifteen years old, Tor thought.

Nguon didn’t understand. “Go where? Why?”

“Go! Go! Out of the city. Now!” he screamed at them, even louder.

Tor was scared now. Her voice trembled when she asked, “But can’t we get something to take with us? It will take just a–”

Nguon grabbed her hand and jerked her off the steps. He pulled Tor down the side of the crowded road. They were jostled and pushed by people and bumped by the heavy suitcases a few people carried. A short distance down the crowded walkway, Nguon, who was tall for a Cambodian, looked back. Not seeing any soldiers nearby, he pulled Tor into an alley with him.

“What are you doing?” she asked between gulps of air. She’d begun to shake.

“Don’t say anything,” Nguon urged, putting his finger on her lips.

Still gripping her hand, he pulled her with him as he cautiously rushed down the narrow, trash-filled alley. When he came to an intersecting alley, he peeked around the corner.

“No soldiers,” he murmured, and turned the corner with Tor still in tow. Several old people milled around in the alley, asking about all the noise and what was going on. Nguon ignored them.

Within minutes they reached the rear of their building without seeing any soldiers. Obviously, the soldiers were stretched thin in trying to cover all the alleys, roads, and buildings in Phnom Penh. He guessed, however, that the soldiers would began to search these buildings soon.

A small step at a time, Nguon entered the building through the rear entrance, peering down the hallway to make sure there were no soldiers inside. He motioned for Tor to follow him, and they rushed to their room. The hallway was deserted–others had also gone out to investigate the noise in the street.

Once they were inside, Nguon allowed his own fear to show. Looking at Tor, he said quickly, “I think that kid was going to shoot us. I don’t understand it, but I think we should prepare for the worst and get away before they search the building.”

“Where are they sending us?”

“I don’t know, but hurry now, let’s pack what we might need. Pack food, of course, and blankets, clothes, and the money we’ve hidden.”

Tor walked to the corner of the room and pulled out from under a glass topped rattan table a large, battered French suitcase that had been in her family for two generations.

“No, no,” Nguon said, stopping her. “That’s too clumsy. Just two bags, one for each of us, and not too hard to carry.”

Tor fetched her wicker shopping bag from their small closet and Nguon picked up the school bag he used to carry books and papers, and they began to fill them. Just in case they lost a bag, they split the rice and fruit between them, and each took a small bottle of drinking water. They also divided between them their family heirlooms and their other few valuables. Tor kissed her old gold locket containing a photograph of her mother and father, then tucked it into the side of her bag where she wouldn’t accidentally pull it out. She also threw in a box of tissues.

Nguon looked around, stood thinking for a moment, and chided himself, “I almost forgot.” He took an old Cambodian tourist brochure from a drawer in their one cabinet, tore out the map inside, and put it in his bag.

He stepped over to the sink they had used for everything from washing dishes to their bodies, picked up an old Japanese chef’s knife and handed it to Tor. “Wrap this in some of your old clothes and hide it in the bottom of your bag,” he told her. He picked up a six-inch French carving knife, wrapped it, and deposited it in his own bag.

“Okay, let’s . . . ” Nguon trailed off as they heard more shots.

Tor rushed over to look out the window. “No, they can’t be doing this!” she exclaimed.

Here and there in the stream of people, invalids were being pushed in wheelchairs. Others staggered along on crutches. People pushed hospital beds with their loved ones still in them. Tor saw an intravenous tube stuck in the arm of one of the invalids. The tube was connected to a bottle hanging from a pole being wheeled along beside the bed by a woman who was probably a relative.

“The soldiers must also be emptying the hospitals,” Nguon said. “We can’t do anything about it. Let’s go.”

They hurried down the hallway and paused on the stairs to look both ways before plunging into the moving mass of people.

More here

Books, articles, statistics

State Socialism Exemplified — Burma

December 21, 2008

[First published July 11, 2005]While we focus on the repression of freedom in Sudan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, life can be even worse in some non-Muslim countries, such as Burma (Myanmar). The 42.7 million people in this South Asian country are 89 percent Buddhist, have a life expectancy of fifty-five years, and earn in purchasing power parity $1,200 a year. They are ruled by a socialist military regime, which allows no freedom. Life here is hellish, due to the military’s savage repression of dissent, and their barbaric response to the rebellion of nearly a dozen ethnic minorities.

For example, in the nine villages of Dweh Loh Township, northwest of Rangoon and near the Thai border, the Karen ethnic group has long been fighting for independence. During harvest time in March 2000, military forces attacked the villages, burned down homes, and destroyed or looted possessions. By sheer luck, some of the villagers managed to flee into the forest, leaving behind their rice and possessions and risking starvation— starvation made almost inevitable by the military’s burning of crops and rice storage barns. Soldiers even torched the cut scrub needed to prepare the soil for planting. Those who remained in the village who were not killed were seized for forced labor or portering, or pressed into the military. That done, the soldiers mined all approaches to the village to prevent the villagers from returning.

Soldiers kill any male suspected of being a rebel. These are not all easy deaths. Sometimes soldiers gruesomely torture the victim and prolong death to cause as much agony as possible. Women or young girls are only marginally better off—the soldiers “only” rape them. Then they march them, along with the children and the village men left alive, to work sites to build barracks, defensive works, roads, railroads, or fences, or carry bamboo and firewood. Alternatively, the soldiers force them to porter ammunition and military supplies like mules. This is the most dangerous form of forced labor and many die from it.

Even the children do not escape. Soldiers routinely make them do such arduous labor, or even soldier. Worse, the military sell the girls into prostitution in Burma or into the Thai sex market across the border, which already exploits the bodies of 40,000 Burmese girls. Worse still, the military have forced children to walk ahead of soldiers to trigger mines. No military have used human bodies to clear mines like this since World War II, when the Soviets often compelled prisoners to sweep minefields with their feet.

Even for those Burmese children not forced into labor and portering, general conditions are disastrous for their future and that of the country. Even children living outside the civil war zones are unlikely to go to school. No more than one in five get so much as four years of primary school. They are more likely to be working at some job to help their family survive. According to UN estimates, about one-third of all children six to fifteen years of age are doing so. Many children do not survive to adulthood—half of all those that die each year are children.

In the civil war zones, children and adults alike routinely live on the edge of death. For example, anyone living in the township of Dweh Loh that contained the nine villages I mentioned, had an equal chance of doing forced labor, being looted, or suffering extortion by soldiers on the one hand, or of fleeing into the forests on the other. Those living in other townships throughout this area probably escaped to the forests to barely survive there on whatever food they could grow. Were soldiers to find these refugees, they might shoot them or make them porter under threat of death.

Life was no better for those living in the Nyaunglebin District to the west, where handpicked execution squads of soldiers operated off and on in the area, searching for rebels or their supporters. If these soldiers suspected a villager of even the most minor contact with rebel forces, if a villager was even seen talking to someone suspected of being a rebel, they usually cut his throat. Sometimes the soldiers also decapitated the victim and mounted the head on a pole as a warning to others.

There are around sixty-seven different ethnic groups in Burma, each with its own language and culture, many of which have rebelled and are fighting the military government. With more or less ferocity, these rebellions have been going on since 1948, with a death toll of 200,000 or even possibly 400,000 Burmese. Both sides have also murdered outright an additional 100,000 to 200,000 Burmese. Moreover, rebellion, fighting, and brutal military pressure on the Burmese people have caused 500,000 to 1 million of them to be displaced within the country, many of whom the military have commanded to live in inhospitable forced location zones. Others have escaped relocation for bare subsistence in the forests, bereft of home or village. Still 215,000 others have fled abroad and are formally listed as refugees by international refugee organizations. An added 350,000 Burmese are without refugee status and subsist in refugee-like conditions in neighboring Thailand.

The vast majority of Burmese, however, live far away from the civil war zones and are not members of the rebelling minority ethnic groups. They have other things to fear. Burma is a military dictatorship, and this regime is willing to use its weapons on unarmed people who protest or demonstrate. When students demonstrated against the regime on July 7, 1962, soldiers shot one hundred of them to death. On August 13, 1967, soldiers similarly shot over a hundred demonstrating men and women, and even the children that accompanied them. And so on and on, from demonstration to demonstration, until the worst of them all.

On August 8, 1988, doctors, students, teachers, farmers, musicians, artists, monks, and workers took part in peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrations in all major cities. The military demanded that the demonstrators disperse, and when they would not, soldiers fired round after round into the crowds. They massacred an incredible 5,000 to 10,000 unarmed people simply trying to express their desire for democracy. Soldiers and police then arrested hundreds of those escaping this bloodbath, and tortured them in prison. Many thousands escaped to border areas, leaving their loved ones, homes, and possessions behind.

Those Burmese who stay home, avoid demonstrations, and arouse no suspicion might still be conscripted by the military for forced labor or porter duty. Socialist in mind and spirit, the military have been ambitious in building railways, roads, airports, and so on. And to do so, they simply draft civilians. For example, those who lived near the route of the 110 mile e-Tavoy railway, built by the military in southern Burma, were among the 200,000 people that soldiers forced to work on the project for fifteen days a month without pay. Then there were the 30,000 the military conscripted for the Bassein Airport extension. Those who missed this might have been among the over 920,000 the military compelled to labor on the Chaung Oo-Pakokku Railroad.

Those who do the forced labor have to sleep at the work site, guarded, and without much shelter—sometimes none. The ground is their only bed. To go to the toilet they have to get permission from a guard. Their only food is what the workers themselves can bring. And they have to be sure not to be injured, because there is seldom any medical care. They also can die, as many do, from sickness or exhaustion. If they try to escape from the work site and soldiers catch them, if they are lucky, the soldiers will only severely beat them. Just resting without permission can get them beaten and killed by guards. This happened to Pa Za Kung, a man from Vomkua village in Chin State’s Thantlang Township, doing forced labor on a road from Thantlang to Vuangtu village.

But portering is even worse than forced labor. The military make those living in war zones porter for them, but since as many as two porters are needed for each soldier to move much of their supplies and equipment, people living outside the war zones are also conscripted. Porters suffer from hunger, malnutrition, disease, and exhaustion. Rebel fire kills them, they step on mines, or soldiers shoot them because they cannot force their bodies to work any longer. Or soldiers simply abandon them with no medical care, no food, no help, no way home. All told, this is another form of slavery suffered by millions of Burmese.

Burmese generally have no rights other than to serve the military. This might have changed in 1990, when the military caved in to considerable international pressure resulting from their 1988 massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators, and held real democratic elections— and were shocked when the democratic opposition, under the leadership of 1991 Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won 82 percent of the seats in the new parliament. The military then refused to yield power, and have held Aung San Suu Kyi under virtual house arrest ever since. They also arrested and tortured thousands of her supporters and members of other political parties, and have killed or disappeared thousands more. They even arrested hundreds of those elected to parliament, some of whom died under the harsh prison conditions. Member-elect Kyaw Min, for example, died of hepatitis caused by his imprisonment.

Having learned their lesson about the power of the democratic idea, the military no longer allow political activity or criticism. There is no freedom of speech or association. In this Buddhist country, the military keep a watch on Buddhist monks and prevent their involvement in political activity. They also restrict the leaders of other religions. There can be no unions. Just having a computer modem can lead to arrest, torture, and a fifteen-year prison sentence. Having a fax machine may even mean death, as it did for the Anglo-Burmese San Suu Kyi, who was honorary Consul for the European Union. No independent courts exist, and the law is what the military command. The military monitor the movements of common citizens, search their homes at any time, and take them forcibly from their homes to be relocated, without compensation or explanation.

Nor are Burmese free to start a business or invest. Since 1962, when the military overthrew the democratic government, the military have pursued a “Burmese Way to Socialism.” This has left little room for private businesses and a free market, and companies run by the military dominate many areas of the economy, leaving as the most vigorous sector of the economy the heroin trade. This alone may account for over 50 percent of the economy.

The result is what one would expect. Among all countries, Burma has plummeted to near the bottom in economic freedom, possibly better than only communist North Korea. And the country is nearly bankrupt. However, perhaps having learned from this economic disaster, the military are now trying to liberalize their economic control and have invited foreign investment.

Link of Note

“Rice calls for pressure on Burma” (7/11/05) BBC


US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called on Thailand and other nations in South East Asia to press for change in neighboring Burma

If ever there was a case for outside intervention, it is Burma. It does not have the military capability to deter such action, as does North Korea. Nor does it have an alliance of like-minded Islamic nations to protect it, as does Sudan. It is vulnerable to outside action, but the international mindset is such that sovereignty trumps Burmese enslavement to socialism and their deaths. The best that Secretary Rice can do is ask neighboring countries to “press” Burma for change?

Say a family down the block is mistreating and molesting their children, who often appear with bruises and cuts, limping and malnourished. How about telephoning the family as pressing them to better treat their children? Crazy? Why do we treat international morality different from what within democracies. Simple. Real Politics.Policy

Who Are The Mortacracies? PARTVII—What To Do About Them

December 11, 2008

[First published May 9, 2006] In a previous post, I defined the worst group of mortacracies in the world today. For reference, I also include the list here:

Okay, what can we do about them. First, I do not suggest any democracy make war on these mortacracies, or militarily attack them unless:

They are a direct or immediate threat to the national security of a democracy, as is Iran in its development of nuclear weapons and being the home of Islamofascism.
They have invaded a democratic neighbor.
They are supporting and aiding terrorism against a democracy, as did Afghanistan under the Taliban.
They are engaged in wholesale democide, as were Rwanda and Serbia, and as is Sudan today.

But, there is much that can be done otherwise and I will divide this into what democratic governments can do, and what you and I must do first. This distinction is crucial. Democracies will not act unless their top legislative and executive leaders perceive that this is what the people really want—that there is a national will. This is one reason that the Clinton administration did nothing with regard to Rwanda, except hinder the action by others that might have dragged them into doing something. Congress and the administration well perceived that the American people had no interest in intervening to prevent the genocide, and there was no interest within the government to create—excite—such a demand. And similarly, this is why it took years for President Clinton to finally get involved in the Bosnian genocide. Photographs of the dead, pleas from the victims, and the haplessness of the UN finally generated enough media, public, and congressional outrage to propel Clinton into action.

Similarly, with the intervention of the senior President Bush in Somalia. The sympathy and concern of the public over the Somali famine, the belief that millions would starve to death, and the clear anarchy of the country leaving no authority to prevent the famine was made clear by the media. But, above all, what was most effective in arousing the public for intervention was the widely circulated, pitiful photographs of starving children with sad eyes and distended bellies.

So, what can the public do to create the political will to act against the mortacracies? This is not a new question and there is no new approach or action that must be developed. All this is activism 101, whose syllabus informs the activists fighting globalism, war, environmental degradation, global warming, global hunger, and so on. The techniques are public and on the websites of any one of these activist groups. In short, volunteer, organize, protest, demonstrate, write, phone, contribute, donate, and seek deep pockets. But, in this case, it would be to focus public outrage on the worst democidal/mortacidal states. One thing is essential, which the environmentalist and animal rights activist have sewed on their underwear—publish photos of the dead, the dying, the tortured, the crying, and especially, the babies and children.

A successful model to follow is what an aroused minority did about the detested White rule—apartheid—in South Africa. These activists demanded that universities, mutual funds, and retirement funds divest themselves of stocks of corporations doing business with South Africa. Also, they organized boycotts of these corporations and demonstrated in front of their national headquarters.

Those with websites and blogs can help immeasurably by beginning this process, and by embarrassing the major media into doing the necessary drumming. I can’t travel because of spinal arthritis, and I have bad hearing, but I will do what I can by scribbling.

Fundamentally, this is not a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Conservative, or Liberal effort, but a humanitarian one. Whichever party or ideology will listen and help should be welcome, even though it may be for their own political ends. The mortacracies are the enemy of all who subscribe to democratic freedom, and a common enemy can make for strange bedfellows.

If political leaders have their ear to the ground, what can they do? First is to recognize that action against a mortacracy can’t be done effectively by one state. Whatever is to be done must be in coordination, if not in coalition, with other democracies. And, I don’t mean through the UN, which is in the pocket of the thug regimes, and where potentially mortacratic China and unfree Russia have veto powers in the Security Council against joint action. Such coordination would work best through an “Alliance of Democracies”, which I have long called for and which is slowly being built as the “The World Movement for Democracy”, and of which slowly, inch-by-yearly-inch, NATO is becoming a potential military arm (for example, NATO has now taken over the American role in Afghanistan—on this, see the “NATO in Afghanistan

What can such an alliance, or whatever it will be called, do about the mortacracies? Many would think of economic sanctions, or a blockade. However, for the worst of the mortacracies, those most affected by such actions would be the very people the mortacracy is enslaving, not the thugs and their gangs of enforcers. The whole state is their preserve, all its money and products are theirs, and what they can’t get from other states for their table or pleasure, they can loot or expropriate from their slaves with their guns. But then, more will die or must be murdered, but these thugs seem not to care as long as they can gratify their desires.

I suggest instead that the focus be entirely on these thugs and their henchmen personally, such as through their international ostracism and isolation by:

Severance of diplomatic relations.
An international declaration that they are criminals for crimes against humanity and thus subject to arrest if they travel abroad.
A freeze of all their foreign financial accounts.
Refusing economic/food aid/medical aid unless directly for the people and tightly monitored
Treating similarly any nondemocracy providing aid or support to this mortacracy.

These are government-to-government negative actions. More important are what democratic governments , and intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations can do positively regarding those practically enslaved, and threatened with early death or murder by the worst of these mortacracies:

Provide aid, support, and encouragement to democratic movements within the state.
Provide information on nonviolent political action.
Provide aid and relocation to refugees.
Provide from abroad, and in the appropriate language, information, news, and support over TV, radio, and Internet networks to those remaining within the state.

All these actions have subtexts and nuances, and require timing and coordination among them. Whatever, the goal should be clear. It is to save lives and enrich life, and if that can be done by persuading the thugs that rule to change their deadly behavior, so much the better. The best would be to have their regimes replaced by democratic ones, but that may not be achievable in the short run without war or a military intervention. And in the case of mortacracies, we should beware of letting our desire for the best get in the way of what is good enough in the short run.

A free pdf downloadable nonfiction book emphasizing the democratic peace

Love, Fear, And Death In Mao’s China

December 10, 2008

I urge those of you who are interested in China and what it is like to live under absolute communist totalitarianism to read any one of the many Chinese memoirs now coming out. Their virtue is that they provide feeling and insight into what it was like to live day-by-day under such a system. These memoirs get away from the cold abstractions of scholarly and journalistic books on China, and their sterile analyses and statistics. To understand Mao’s China, you have to take to heart and sense its reality for the people, and these memoirs help you do so.

The latest I’ve read is Son Of The Revolution by Liang Heng and his wife Judith Shapiro. It is not as well written as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, nor as historically far reaching, since her book covers the personal history of her family over three generations. But, Liang’s memoir is more detailed in its focus on his life and that of his mother and father. Moreover, unlike Chang’s parents and Chang herself, who were high Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadre, Liang and his parents were nothing but ordinary small city dwellers. His father was a reporter for a local newspaper and his mother worked for the local police.

His parents suffered incredibly from the various attempts by the CCP to cleanse China of bad thinkers, rightists, spies, and capitalist roaders. Of most interest to me was Liang’s experience as a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. He lived in Changsha in central China, which was one of the more violent cities during this period. The Red Guards, nothing more than teenagers and even younger children, divided into enemy factions, each claiming to represent the true revolutionary spirit of Mao. Each had weapons handed out by the army or stolen from armories, including even cannon, machine guns, mortars, and so on. The Army and police were ordered to be neutral in the battles between factions, although they themselves often broke into warring groups.

Guns were everywhere, with young kids and even girls, strutting around with pistols tucked into their belts. The battle in the city was horrendous: bullets whizzing down the streets made it very dangerous for anyone to step outdoors. As happened throughout China, teachers, professors, high officials, and cadre were often beaten, tortured, and murdered as the Red Guards tried to purge the city of those whom they perceived as lacking proper support for the revolution, or who they saw as Mao’s enemies. Evidence of this could be owning a Western book, having distant relatives that escaped to Taiwan, a grandfather who had fought the communists during the civil war, a mother that let drop a criticism of the CCP, and so on.

Among the Red Guards and others involved, no matter the fighting faction, they fought for love of Mao. This is not a typo. It was for LOVE.

I have consistently pointed out how such totalitarian systems run on fear. That is well documented in this memoir. But there is something added, which was also there in Chung’s book and others, but I had not picked it up as I did here. That is love. Liang was born in 1954, just as the bloody “land Reform” campaign was completed, and before the establishment of the commune—the factorization of the peasant—and Great Leap Forward. From birth, therefore, Liang was subject to intensive and continuous daily brainwashing and the implantation of correct thought. Mao became everything: the “Red Sun,” the “Great Saving Star,” the “Great Helmsmen,” and the “Heart and Soul of China.” If I remember correctly, the second word he learned after that for his mother was Mao. The Chinese were taught that they owed everything good about their lives to him, and everything bad to the previous nationalist regime, American imperialism, rightists, or capitalist roaders. Hard as it is to believe, because of this “education” that he and other Chinese received, he loved Mao, as did Jung Chang, and as did everyone they knew. It was inconceivable to question or criticize him.

But with this love, there still was the constant fear. But not of Mao, since he was perceived, as they were taught, to have only their welfare and happiness in mind. But the fear was of the CCP cadre, of their classifying one as evil, or their accusing one of violating one of the plethora of rules that governed everyday life. The consequences could be horrendous: denial of ration tickets, being made to divorce one’s mate, being sent to the countryside, public denunciation, humiliation, lying confessions, arrest, torture, even execution. One had no protection against any of this, no media, no lawyers, no courts, and no constitution. Everyone was totally at the mercy of the communist cadre, even the cadre themselves were at the mercy of those higher up.

What a fantastic combination. Love for the man responsible for the daily horrors, while fearing the personal impact of these horrors. Of course, no one could conceive that these were Mao’s fault. It just had to be those bad people around him or lower down in the CCP.

A good review of the book by Xiaowei Zheng is here.

Links of Note

“‘20,000’ on death row worldwide”:

At least 1,770 executions took place last year in China, where a person could be sentenced and executed for non-violent crimes including tax fraud, embezzlement and drug offence….

“China’s military budget jumps 14%”:

China has said it will increase its military spending by 14.7% this year to 283.8bn yuan ($35.3bn ….)….China’s armed forces are the biggest in the world and have seen double-digit increases in military spending since the early 1990s…. Washington has several times accused China of understating its military budget. It said last year’s spend[ing] was not the $30bn stated but closer to $90bn.

“China’s role in genocide”:

At the United Nations last September, the Security Council passed Resolution 1564, threatening Sudan with oil sanctions unless it curbed the violence in Darfur. China immediately threatened to veto any move to actually impose sanctions, so the threat was rendered useless.

RJR: It has to do with Sudan’s oil.

“Feinstein insists U.S. not bound to protect Taiwan”:

In remarks certain to please visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday told a gathering of Chinese-American business and cultural leaders in San Francisco that the United States has no obligation to defend Taiwan if it provokes China into a military confrontation.”

RJR: If there is a hell for high officials that by their statements make war more likely, Feinstein is a strong candidate.

“Is the US asleep at the wheel?”:

US politicians and military officers think that Taiwan exists solely for the benefit of — or as a detriment to — US-China relations. This blissfully egocentric attitude has been the source of much confusion in cross-strait relations, and could lead Washington to make a major miscalculation jeopardizing its strategic position in the Western Pacific.

RJR: One problem is the near universal belief that Taiwan was before World War II part of China. It was not then or ever in the last century, nor did the treating ending the Japanese control of Taiwan (Formosa) give it to China. By treaty, its status is undetermined.

“Seeds of Fury”:

Protests are flaring across China’s countryside over everything from land seizures to corruption. In a nation of 900 million farmers, quelling this rising unrest may be Beijing’s greatest challenge…. By the central government’s own count, there were 87,000 “public-order disturbances” in 2005, up from 10,000 in 1994.

“Torture Exhibition:
Display of Crimes Against Conscience”
Not for the queasy.

“China’s Cultural Revolution — A Docudrama “

Who Are The Mortacracies? Part VI—The Answer

December 8, 2008

[First published May 9, 2006] I think I solved the puzzle of why my posted images always showed on the Mac and only sometimes on PCs, thus requiring me to provide alternative links. It has to do with leaving empty the height and width containers for an image, e.g., putting nothing after the equality for height= and width=. If the dimensions of an image are okay as is, these containers should be omitted. I haven’t been doing that, but will do so now.

Before providing a final list of mortacracies, there is one more term to add to those I’ve been using. As you know, I use “democide” for murder by government, and I’ve used “mortality” for the unintentional deaths resulting from the negative, life endangering effects of government policies or actions, such as corrosive top to bottom corruption, the nationalization of farmlands, the encouragement of communal violence, and the deterioration of health and education services.
The verb would be “mortalize” as in Mugabe of Zimbabwe is mortalizing his subjects by his devastating economic policies.

But, as I worked the data on mortality, I have felt these terms to be incomplete. I needed something comparable to democide, and “mortalize” does not seem right. At first I rejected “mortacide” as doubling “to kill,” but then I rechecking the definitions of “mort” in the world’s greatest authority on English, the Oxford English Dictionary. The most relevant definitions are:

1. The condition of being subject to death.
2. The loss of life on a large scale.
3. Abnormal frequency of death.

Now, adding the Latin suffix “-cide” (killer, or act of killing) to “mort” to get “mortacide,” makes the causes of death active, as though the result of policies and actions that were so life threatening that they caused large scale deaths, although unintentionally so.

Thus, I will use three terms:

Democide: murder by government.
Mortacide: death by government.
Mortacracy: A government that is committing sizable democide and mortacide.

Also, one more thing. I’ve mentioned here and in some of the previous blogs the devastating effect of corruption on the welfare of a people. Corruption plays a large role in defining mortacide, but I suspect that not many readers living in democracies have a sense for what true corruption of this kind is like. In comparison to the corruption in many thug regimes, that in democracies is as a candle to a forest fire. Perhaps the following on such corruption in Angola will help (from Martin Meredith, The Fate Of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair, p. 616):

“[T]he Economist Intelligence Unit in 2003…reported that there were thirty-nine individuals in Angola worth at least $50 million and another twenty reportedly worth at least $100 million. Six of the seven wealthiest people on its list were longtime government officials, and the seventh was a recently retired official. Overall, the combined wealth of these fifty-nine people was at least $3.95 billion. By comparison, the total gross domestic product of Angola, with a population of about 14 million, was about $10.2 billion in 2002.

“The stark contrast between the rich elite and the mass poverty of the rest of the population was nowhere more evident than in [the capital of] Luanda. Its streets were packed with the latest models of Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Land Cruisers; jet skis circled the bay; prices in air-conditioned shopping malls were equivalent to those in London. But milling around on street corners were groups of street children and mutilados [Portuguese for the mutilated] begging from the passing traffic. Half of the city’s population of 4 million had no access to clean water and survived on untreated water from the Bengo River bought by the bucketful from informal vendors. Most Angolans subsisted on less than seventy cents a day.”

So, who are the mortacracies? I have defined possible candidates in the following blogs:

“Who Are The Mortacracies? Part I”: Candidate mortacracies based on democide.
“Who Are the Mortacracies? Part II”: Candidate mortacracies based on life expectancy at birth.
“Who Are the Mortacracies? Part III”: One group of candidate mortacracies based on the average of a Human Development Index and Life Expectancy Index; another group based on my intuitive judgment of who were the mortacracies.
“Who Are the Mortacracies? Part IV”: Candidate mortacracies based on the fall in life expectancy from 1998 to 2006.
“Who Are the Mortacracies? Part V”: Candidate mortacracies based on 8 indicators of failed states.

Thus, I have 5 tables of candidate mortacracies from which to pick. To make this selection systematic and as objective as possible, I will use the frequency of occurrence of a state across the 5 groups as my criteria. Surely, if a state is listed in only one table, it would not be a good choice, although it may have the potential to be a mortacracy. I present below this group:

I eliminated the free states of Grenada, Mali, Namibia, Nauru, and Trinidad and Tobago from this list, as there were reasons for their death toll beyond the capacity and policies of their governments, such as the effects of hurricanes, deep impoverishment due to previous unfree regimes, and rampant HIV. It would be misleading to characterize such states as potential mortacracies.

Then there is the group of states that appeared in 2 tables of candidates out of the five. I show the list below:

Here also I eliminated free states—Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa—for the same reasons given above, with the exception of hurricane caused mortality.

Finally, after all this work I hope that your patience is rewarded with the final list of mortacracies that appeared in 3 or more tables of candidates. I give it below (if this does not appear or is hard to read, see:

There you have it.

This list is complete; I removed no free states. That the deadly Central African Republic appeared in all 5 tables is consistent with what we know about the country, and similarly with Chad and Sierra Leone. And we have North Korea, Burma, and Sudan on the list, as well as the bloody Congo (Kinshasa—formerly Zaire). Corrupt Angola also appears.

Although this list was arrived at systematically, it is a list that surely contains those states that would most likely be chosen by those familiar with the human cost of the world’s worst thug regimes.

So, what do we do about these mortacracies? I will try to answer this in the next blog.

Links of Note

“An Incomplete Peace: Sudan’s Never-Ending War With Itself”

“[Chad:] Fear of ‘Disappearance’ and extrajudicial execution “

“Thousands flee from [Central African Republic] violence”


“Equatorial Guinea: Further Information on Torture/Health concern/Fear for Safety”

“Mozambique: Deaths of 80 people in custody must be investigated by independent experts”

“Nigeria: Deaths rise in Lagos clashes, thousands flee”


“Congo death toll up to 3.8m”

“Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea’s gulag”

“ZIMBABWE: Death rate mounts in political violence”

“Corruption undermines relief to Angola”

Free pdf download