Tuesday, April 9, 2013

North Korea and Karma

In June 1914, a young nationalist assassinated Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, sick of the crushing hand of Austria-Hungarian imperialism. Austria-Hungary soon decided that the neaby country of Serbia should be blamed and issued an ultimatum in the form of a list of harsh demands. Serbia refused. The superpowers took sides. This led, through more follies, to World War I, which started in July 1914.

To this day, it appears that the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, acted as part of a small anarchist group. He is considered a liberator in Bosnia-Herzegovina, complete with heroic statues, plaques, and so forth.

In the aftermath of World War I, the victors, showing extreme cruelty and avarice, punished Germany so badly that the conditions were laid for the rise of a hate-mongering fascist: This led to genocide for Jews and Gypsies and World War II, when that fascist, Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland.

In the aftermath of World War II, the victors split Korea in half, forming the North and the South. The USSR controlled the North, making it communist oriented, and the USA controlled the South, making it anti-communist.

This produced extreme friction between North and South. The South massacred communist insurgences and sympathizers. The North invaded the South in 1950, backed by China. The South pushed back but China sent troops, leading to an armistice. About one million people died in this absurd butchery.

Today North Korea is infected by the hate and fear that owes its legacy to a line of war, greed and cruelty that goes back to Princip’s rogue assassination of an imperial Archbishop.

The current ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-un now threatens nuclear attack on the US, South Korea and allies such as Japan. This could easily explode into the same kind of alliance-forming that brought us World War I.

There will be a difference, however. I defer to Albert Einstein’s eloquence:

I don't know what weapons will be used in world war three, but in world war four people will use sticks and stones.

The moral of this long story of greed, empire and cruelty is simple: stop being greedy, cruel and imperial. Stop the threats and violence. If we don’t learn the lessons of history now, we may never get a chance to learn them again.

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