It is always the ‘rogue state’ that is the threat to the world order – Iraq here, North Korea there. And in that ‘rogue state’ it is always the dictator who commands the entire monstrosity. Mockery is the guise with Kim Jong-un as it was with Saddam Hussein. These men have no taste: Saddam with his garish disco mustache and anachronistic military uniform and Kim with his New Wave haircut and his strangely out of proportion laughter. Threats are made to emanate from them – they itch to attack and are only held back by the democratic role of the United States, who sanctions the countries till they starve or patrols their waters with massive war ships to intimidate them into surrender. But the United States is not a threat. It is merely there to ensure that the real threats – Iraq then, North Korea now – are kept in check.
The author, in other words, is always the Eastern Despot.
Amnesia is the mode of thought in the United States. Cluelessness about its belligerent history is now general. It would sound strange to ask why the North Koreans feel such palpable threat from the United States. Odd to raise the fact that it was the United States that brutally bombed North Korea in the 1950s, targeting its towns and cities as well as farms and dams. The data is inescapable. The United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on North Korea. This includes 32,557 tons of napalm – essentially a chemical weapon. As a comparison, it is fitting to see that in all of the Pacific sector of World War II, the United States dropped a mere 503,000 tons of bombs. The United States, in other words, dropped more bombs on North Korea during the ill-named ‘limited war’ than it dropped during the entire engagement against Japan during World War II. Three million Koreans died in that war, the majority in the North.
North Korea has never attacked the United States.
The idea that the Bad is always bad and that the Good is always good resurfaces with predictable regularity. The ‘rogue states’ are always bad. That is self-evident. When they ‘kill their own people,’ then it is worse. That has been the standard with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. What makes him worse, say the pundits in the US media and political class, is that he ‘kills his own people.’ The chemical attack south of Idlib is the latest example of his mendacity. Investigations are irrelevant. It was evident to the media and to the political class in the West that only Assad could have authorized such an attack. This was a scenario that did not need explanations. A chain of associations was enough: chemical attack, children, and Assad. No more detail was necessary.
It was more complex when the ‘rebels’ bombed a convoy leaving the besieged towns of al-Foua and Kfraya, outside Aleppo, killing at least 126 people – including about 80 children. It was not Assad who did this attack, but the ‘rebels’ which makes outrage suddenly unavailable. There was no outrage, indeed, when US aircraft killed 30 civilians on Monday in a bombing run on the village of al-Bukamal near Deir az-Zor in eastern Syria. Three homes were flattened by the US aircraft and civilians – including children – from six families were killed. There was no hue and cry, no denunciations in the United Nations Security Council, no hashtag, no media campaign for the United States to take action against the perpetrators. Ivanka Trump did not rush to her father with pictures of the dead children, awakening in him a conscience few knew existed. In at least one of the cases, the United States was the one that did the killing. Silence met these tragedies.