Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Did You Say Military-first Was Dead?

Anyone who thought that the dismissal of V. Mar Lee Young Ho on Sunday meant the end of the Military-first Policy and imminent launching of “reform and opening” ought to be feeling pretty silly by now. First Gen. Hyon Yong Chol made rank and then, just 24-hours later, Gen. Kim Jong Eun parachuted in over almost every other officer’s head (everyone alive, at least) to become Mar. Kim Jong Eun.

Prof. Leonid Petrov apparently thinks “Mr. Youngman is panicking,” and is hoping to buy himself some authority with the latest move. Frankly I don’t know whether that is true or not, but I do know one thing; anyone still predicting the end of the “Military-first” political line is a fool.

For a start, there’s nothing to “end”. The truth of the matter is that the ‘Military-first political line’ is neither a philosophy, an ideology or a theory. Rather, it is a simplistic political slogan, one that even the accomplished propagandists of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the almighty Chosun Workers’ Party have largely abandoned the idea of turning into anything more.

At best, it is a shallow and ineffectively implemented policy of prioritizing military over civilian expenditure. At the end of the 1990s, this manifested as strengthening the military to lower the risk of invasion during a time of national weakness. In the early and mid-2000s it meant prioritizing soldiers in the distribution of goods and state services, and by the end of the 2000s it came to mean, in essence, justifying any suffering that couldn’t be blamed on the weather on the need to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. Now, it appears to mean little more than “all the achievements of Kim Jong Il."

It’s a simple phrase for simple people, employed solely to justify the decisions of the leadership, decisions which the regime takes not in the service of the military or the people, but in the service of keeping themselves in power at all costs.

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