Looking for an Answer

Vaclav Havel says it's "time to act on North Korea" in today's Washington Post.

Now is the time for the democratic countries of the world -- the European Union, the United States, Japan, South Korea -- to take a common position. They must make it clear that they will not offer concessions to a totalitarian dictator. They must state that respect for basic human rights is an integral part of any future discussions with Pyongyang. Decisiveness, perseverance and negotiations from a position of strength are the only things that Kim Jong Il and those like him understand.

Even though progress has been made in the last few decades in fighting the very idea of viable communist states, Kim holds totalitarian power in North Korea. As Havel states, hundreds of thousands are believed to be held in state prisons under inhumane conditions.

Here is an open question for everyone -

Suppose a person living in America takes umbrage at the gross rights violations occurring in North Korea. What can he do to try to change those conditions?

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Uhh... boycott North Korean

Uhh... boycott North Korean consumer goods?

Well, if it could be done, a

Well, if it could be done, a 'mercenary' army should be outfit to make war on North Korea to liberate its people.

Of course that would cost a lot in material, manpower, and lives (both soldier and civilian), depending in large part to how closely said private army could approximate US military capability; with deaths being inversely proportional to the degree of similarity.

Of course, since military organization is monopolized by states (or, contrariwise, military organizations generally ARE states, and will naturally claim territorial monopolies), this option is out the window.

Simply killing Special-K wouldn't do. It's the system. NK is a marxist monarchy complete with its own nobility, mandarins, etc, who have great stakes in maintaining the system. The only answer is war.

So given that there isn't a private option on the table, the option remaining is war, using either an inferior state military or the top of the line state military (the US). The US' military is busy and not really available for the task (unless the task is remote destruction, conventional or nuclear, of North Korea, in which case it could be done), so that limits the choices down even further. The only military in the area with the manpower to take and 'pacify' NK, and the ability to project it as far as NK, is China. I don't think the Chinese are going to invade NK any time soon.

And given that war sucks the big one, it doesn't appear that there is much we could do that isn't either forbidden by state monopoly force or otherwise sucks and/or is useless/causes more damage to the people of NK.

Fund insurgents? Hire

Fund insurgents?

Hire assassins?

Start a "Buy Off Kim" fund? Maybe he would abdicate for $1BN and an island.

Wouldn't any initiation of

Wouldn't any initiation of force towards another nation be...immoral? I'm not sure how someone could advocate, lets call it paleo-libertarian values, and still think that it would be right to do something like that.
A free-market guerrilla campaign would be more effective. Air drops of Big Macs, Levis, and Viagra would probably go a long way to informing the general populace of the benefits of a free market, which would create dissent, which would be violently repressed, which would create dissent, etc.
Just seems like every time anyone has used coercion to "liberate" a people or a nation, it really just changes who the tyrant is.

I'm not paleolibertarian,

I'm not paleolibertarian, paleoconservative, or paleoanything. I was (and am) of the classical liberal tradition.

I hardly think the NAP, such as it is, applies at all to NK, and to the extent that it does, NK is "initiating force" against their people and so we would have, if not a positive duty, a moral green light to kick the shit out of the NK oppressors.

But I don't think the NAP is a very useful moral precept beyond very basic issues. Months of exposure to Micha's mind control beams excellent posts have left me much more consequentialist.

And furthermore, such an

And furthermore, such an indirect "guerilla" campaign seems to be more of the same "sanctions" rationale we had in Iraq and other places- that is, make life so miserable for the oppressed people that they naturally rise up and free themselves from tyranny and the state withers away and everyone's happy- er...

The long and the short of it is such a plan is immoral because it makes us complicit in the state's oppression. Anything designed to create a backlash against the people is just as bad as if the oppressors decided to first lash the people.

The starving folk of NK are not pawns for disinterested "paleos" or "neocons" or "liberals" to play with, they're the fricken victims. The only moral course of action is to end the regimes that enslave their people. Which is why the war in Iraq on Saddam was (in my mind) infinitely preferable to the war ON Iraq's-citizens-hoping-they'll-rise-up-against-Saddam-because-we-made-them-so-miserably-impoverished.

Mark, Uhh? boycott North


Uhh? boycott North Korean consumer goods?

Would that help the oppressed, or merely help Kim? I see a boycott as the voluntary counterpart to economic sanctions, and usually, those only strengthen the tyrants hold on power while the rest suffer even more.

Sorry, Jonathan. The Uhh...

Sorry, Jonathan. The Uhh... was an indicator that I was at an immediate loss to come up with a serious strategy. (I've never seen a North Korean consumer good!) For example, I could respond to Brian's comment on Chris's idea above by saying:

Uhh... Would a Viagra air drop encourage the people to naturally rise up?

More seriously (but rushed), the four boxes thread has lead me to consider that ammo boxes are only good for a final line of defense, not for encouraging change. The only alternatives I seem to be left with are 1) improving the state of freedom in my current abode (where I can use the first three boxes and maybe even a round or two from the fourth), and 2) allowing more exposure of people outside my current abode to our soapbox rantings, through liberal immigration, trade, and communication policies.

One day, I'd like to explore this further. Postings like yours egg me on.

Brian, Good point about the

Good point about the classical liberal values, I was struggling for the right language to represent the ideology that I suspect is held by most who frequent this site. I shouldn't let the term be co-opted, but I am afraid that I have.
Anyway, regarding consequentialism, it seems that even with a clear-cut moral imperative to liberate an oppressed people, there is simply no mechanism that works to achieve it. The US has tried it time and time again. In the Phillipines we installed Marcos, in El Salvador we installed the Sandanistas and then the Contras, in Panama we installed Noriega, etc ad nauseum - all in the name of "liberation", which is all too often a code for imperialism. The jury is still out on Iraq, but I know where my money is.
What it comes down to is installing one State in place of another. While the oppression may be different, it is still oppression. Seems like the only way to freedom is to find it yourself. Someone can show you the direction, but the burden of making the trip rests on those who seek the destination, if you follow that tortured metaphor. Things seem to mean more to people when they have earned it, rather than had it handed to them.

In terms of

In terms of cost-effectiveness, I think our best bet is to (a) convince people living in North Korea that they could live much better lives elsewhere and (b) make exit as easy and cheap as possible. Relatively open borders, liberal refugee policies, charitable funding to help new immigrants find a job and a place to live, propaganda campaigns, guerilla radio, etc.

For some reason, I'm

For some reason, I'm reminded of the first twenty minutes of the original Matrix movie...

I agree with Micha, and

I agree with Micha, and would extend that to Cuba, and really all other dictatorships/hellholes in the world. Rather than try and prop up the international state system (via keeping miserable people within a border and hoping the'll rebel), we should encourage "exit" as much as possible.

It seems that this policy, along with the robust containment regime, was most responsible for undermining the Eastern Bloc (with liberal refugee policies, free radio, propaganda). We were most successful in areas where we let western civ/american culture do its work.

Even if refugee programs are objectionable due to the problem of being swamped by economic refugees looking for welfare, surely specific programs for NK and Cuba (for example) can be made. We certainl7y should have an "Operation: Lifeboat" for Cuba, rescuing anyone who can float far enough away from shore. What would Castro do if we announced that US ships would be patrolling the limit of Cuban waters looking to rescue anyone who could make it that far?

More importantly, what would the *cubans* do...

But a more targeted undermining of the NK state would be in order (along with the resources to support the inevitable refugees).

How about helping North

How about helping North Koreans vote with their feet? Is there an organization that helps smuggle people out of North Korea?