US Government supporting Kim Jong-Il

Via North Korea Economy Watch, a sadly familiar story:

Economic sanctions by the United States and other western countries is actually strengthening the Kim Jong-il’s regime, a German social worker involved with a non-government organization told reporters here this morning. Sanctions are also affecting life in other ways like the new-found emphasis on sustainable agriculture, she said.

“The leaders are using the sanctions as a justification. People believe the country is in a bad condition because of outside forces,” Karin Janz, country director in North Korea for the German NGO Welthungerhilfe, said while speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Beijing. The official media justified its actions as efforts to fortify the nation against the onslaught of foreign forces, and the people fully believed it, she said.

The sanctions have hit the North Korean agriculture and caused fears of a worsening of the food situation, Karin said. “The North Korean agriculture is highly industrialized,” she said while explaining the country’s agriculture is heavily dependent on imported farm machines and chemical fertilizers. Most of these materials came from South Korea, which has now slammed the doors.

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Sadly familiar indeed....

“The leaders are using the sanctions as a justification. People believe the country is in a bad condition because of outside forces,” Karin Janz, country director in North Korea for the German NGO Welthungerhilfe, said while speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Beijing. The official media justified its actions as efforts to fortify the nation against the onslaught of foreign forces, and the people fully believed it, she said.

Too bad you didn’t quote the rest of the article, especially where it says –

”Decades of history with North Korea have demonstrated that in the absence of sanctions, the North Korean government would collapse overnight,” Janz observed. “Alas, Germany – along with the rest of Europe, Japan, China, the NAFTA nations and much of the rest of the world – is helpless to do anything to stop these sanctions. Unlike North Korea, our national leaders lack the US’s support. The US has completely undermined them with its relentless refusal to subject us to economic sanctions. Consequently, our leaders are at the US’s mercy and must do whatever it says.”

Decades of history with North

Decades of history with North Korea have demonstrated that in the absence of sanctions, the North Korean government would collapse overnight

I do not find this credible.

Just back up a bit and think about what sort of "history" would really be needed to empirically test a counterfactual claim of the form "if A then B". If sanctions stop, then government collapses. We would typically need a lot of examples where A was followed by B in the vast majority of cases. So for "decades of history with North Korea" to give us this information, we would need to have experienced multiple collapses of the North Korean government. That hasn't happened, needless to say.

It's absurdities like the above quoted claim that discredit articles and lead them to be disregarded.

Warning: Sarcasm Chasm

Decades of history with North Korea have demonstrated that in the absence of sanctions, the North Korean government would collapse overnight

I do not find this credible.

Ya know, this is the problem with sarcasm over the internet.

1. People can’t tell when I’m being sarcastic.

2. I can’t tell if the people responding to my sarcasm don’t understand I’m being sarcastic, or are simply out-sarcasming me.

So let me tone down the snark and amp up the communication:

The premise of the post is that US-led sanctions against N. Korea are causing the people of N. Korea to rally around their leaders. I suspect this is accurate, much as I suspect the US’s entry into WWII caused Germans to rally around their leaders. But to emphasize this rallying effect, while ignoring the larger consequence of US action in undermining a regime, seems pretty misleading. So I thought I'd illustrate this point.

The idea that trade sanctions "support Kim Jong-Il" implies that Kim Jong-Il would be in a worse position in the absence of such sanctions. This strikes me a counter factual. N. Korea has been subject to varying degrees of economic sanctions over the decades with no evidence that reduced sanctions weakens the leadership's grip on power. Thus I wrote (satirically) that the article states the opposite conclusion, thereby calling attention to the absurdity of the argument.

Also, the post’s title suggests that the US supports nations by subjecting them to economic sanctions. So I wrote (again sarcastically) that the US clearly does not support its trading partners, as evidenced by the fact that it refuses to subject them to such sanctions. Further embellishing, I proceeded to say that this lack of support had driven our various trading partners to their knees. Again, the goal was to call attention to the absurdity of the argument.

Ok, I’ve got to stop now. I don’t know how you guys can write with clarity and earnestness day after day; It’s exhausting.

Gotcha. The first part of the

Gotcha. The first part of the (made-up?) quote looked like something somebody would say and I misunderstood the second part, making it out to say something less blatantly crazy than what it actually said.

Ok, I'll bite

You're just being sarcastic with me again, right?