“Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages are not sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
– from “Common Sense,” by Thomas Paine
What would old Mr. Paine have to say today, I wonder, if instead of facing King George, he was dealing with North Korea? As all wise men know, to foretell the future, look at two things: the weak nature of man and the track record of those with whom you deal.
So it was in Paine’s writing of “Common Sense.” His dealings with the wretchedness that was monarchial oppression turned him into one of our most treasured and vigorous revolutionary forefathers. But if Paine had been occupied instead in the political issues of present-day America, involved in such things as Desert Storm and the noisy awakening of the Starving Giant and Looming Lies of North Korea, would his words of wisdom be any different? I doubt it … some things just don’t change.
But for those who doubt, let’s look at a few things. The desire for freedom is innate within every one of us. When America was at its genesis, barely breathing but burning with a passion for freedom, Great Britain was the most powerful country on earth. The king was undeniably “above” the common man, unimpeachable, his word law, his rule all-encompassing, his thirst for power unquenchable. He could not be reasoned with, he lied and fought at every turn, and tried to squelch our freedom fire with the greatest army that walked the land. He assumed that a king could never be defeated by peasants. His underestimation of the remarkable optimism and self-sacrifice that has come to define the United States of America was fatal. He lost; we won.
Jump forward a couple of centuries, and what has really changed? We have Kim Jong Il, son of the brutal Stalinist Kim Il Sung. Both men have a mystical make-believe background that puts them on the same level as deity, and when his father, the “Great Leader,” died in 1994, Kim Jong Il – known as “Dear One” to the beaten, brain-washed and broken people of North Korea – inherited a decimated land and a desperate populace.
But in true communist fashion, Kim cared nothing for the people, keeping himself fat and indulging every pleasure while the average Korean actually shrank statistically in size. Like King George, Kim cannot be reasoned with, he lies and fights the very people who feed him at every turn, and has tried to squelch the freedom of his own people and the rest of the world with the greatest threat to touch the land: nuclear weapons. He knows he cannot be defeated by mere peasants (especially when he lives in a land with an unarmed constituency). Unlike King George, however, he doesn’t underestimate the United States of America – he simply despises us.
And now we have a more terrifying prospect. King George allied himself with people (through quid pro quo and the old lure of filthy lucre … remember the Hessians?) who turned their wrath on the mutual enemy that is America. For more than two decades, there has been an unholy alliance back and forth between many of the Middle Eastern countries – including Iran and Iraq – and North Korea.
Just last year, when India and Pakistan were on the verge of war, there was a flurry of visits from high-ranking Pakistani leaders to North Korea, touted loudly and praised ad nauseam in the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s one and only newspaper. This year, there was the sale of 24 missiles to Egypt, whose purpose the State Department could only deduce was to use against Israel, fast friend and ally of America, but enemy to the Arab Nations and North Korea.
Then there was the naval battle this past June between North and South Korea in which people died, and the North’s recent admission to kidnapping Japanese citizens (after 30 years of vehement denials – denials which still go on and ring just as hollow when they are confronted on the issue of kidnapped South Koreans). While North Korea paid lip service last year to condemning the terrorist attack on America, it was painfully short-lived. They have continued a close kinship with many of the countries that are the sworn enemies of America, and their state-run newspaper can’t go a day without condemning America and threatening to bring it down if it does not “behave.”
North Korea does not have the advantage that King George had in having the greatest army to walk the earth, but it has something far more deadly: nothing to lose. Its people are starving, it has suffered almost as many mass defections in the past decade than in the 30 previous years combined, it continuously breaks every treaty, promise and pact it makes in exchange for aid, it is woefully backward and technologically retarded. And to add insult to injury, just beyond the 38th parallel, its brother under a free republic is thriving like no other.
So by way of reasoning, it makes sense that they would seek out others to help them defeat the enemy who has proven to the world what a miserable failure they are. Isn’t this the same reason that Iraq and Afghanistan and al-Qaida are determined to wipe the United States off the earth – because they are jealous of our success and livid over the vast evidence of their own failure? With the fall of the Soviet Union and the Western leanings of China, there is none other than the Islamic nations for this totalitarian regime to turn to now. And the ominous rumblings that have been weaving their way from the Korean Peninsula to America for the past dozen years indicate just that.
Why did we ignore these signs, these continuous indicators that there was something very wrong – not only over there, but also with our volatile enemies in the Middle East? Why do we continue to hand over billions in not only food and aid, but even the ability to build their very own nuclear reactor when they do nothing but lie, maliciously engage Republic of Korea and American Forces, torture and brutalize their own people, kidnap and abuse peoples of other nations, and create weapons of mass destruction which they share with countries even more evil and deceived and unstable than they are?
Daniel Pipes wrote an article for the Oct. 9 issue of the New York Post entitled “Korean Delusions” about continued American capitulation in which he stated it perfectly:
“What is it about democracies that at critical moments they delude themselves into thinking that they can contain their totalitarian enemies through a policy of niceness? … Key factors would seem to be:
America is not only a great land, but a good land. We are the only nation in history to take the hand of a defeated enemy and help him rebuild stronger and better than ever, thereby turning him into a friend. It is obvious that this land was shaped by men who relied heavily upon God precisely because they had been made painfully aware of the failings of man.
But it would appear that we are following one comment Paine made earlier quoted here: We are seeming to rely on time rather than reason to convert wicked enemies to our way of thinking. The problem with that is it works the other way too. How many have been easily led by our enemies’ lies and tear-jerking stories of individual suffering that is somehow laid at the feet of our guilt-ridden nation? What we don’t seem to understand is something profound that Paine said next in his famous tome:
As a long and violent abuse of power is generally the means of calling the right of it in question, (and in matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry) and as the [insert tyrant's name here] hath undertaken in his own right, to support the parliament in what he calls theirs, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpations of either.
North Korea has indeed been a long and violent abuser of power. So has Iraq … and Iran … and Afghanistan … and Pakistan, and according to Paine, this gives us the right to call it into question. We have been more than aggravated into inquiry now, and if we are not to wallow in the same evil and hypocrisy as our enemies, it is time to open our eyes and close the door to any continued support of these regimes by American dollars and politicians.
These countries have no rights to make demands of us, or refuse to cooperate when we merely want to rest assured that they are using our help for what it is intended. We support the good people, grievously oppressed, of these miserable nations, and believe they have the undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of these arrogant despots. Yet, so long as we continue to close our eyes to gross evil, believing that if we can’t see it, it can’t see us, we deserve nothing of the freedoms or privileges of which Paine speaks; such things, after all, oblige us to use a little common sense.