Opinion
Grading City Hall: See our report card for L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson
Top of the Ticket
Opinion Top of the Ticket

Kim Jong Un is a bratty, brutal prince from a darker era

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems like a fictional character out of a satirical doomsday movie -- maybe a sequel to “Dr. Strangelove.” That fact that this immature brat and his gaggle of grim, aging generals actually rule a country and have the capacity to disturb the international order seems absurd in an era of global interdependence.

In the 21stcentury, humankind should have moved beyond this, but apparently we need a few more centuries of progress before all countries are led by comparatively rational, democratically elected leaders -– or at least by boring, one-party bureaucrats whose main goal is to preserve stability and promote economic growth.

Kim is a throwback to medieval times when young, cocky princes claimed a divine right to lord it over defenseless peasants. The only reason those princes could claim that power, in truth, was because they were surrounded by troops of big guys with swords, armor and horses with a license to kill any peasant who complained too loudly. It really had nothing to do with God’s blessing and everything to do with which family was ruthless enough to take from the poor and make themselves rich.

The great royal houses of Europe and the dynasties of Asia were very much like the Mafia or the street gangs of Los Angeles. They got wealthy and powerful because they were prepared to kill anyone who stood in their way. Only later did they take on the trappings of respectability and cloak themselves in royal mythology. From a distant perspective, Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great can be appreciated as great conquerors and masters of men, but, to the thousands of people slaughtered by their marauding armies, they were genocidal thugs stealing lands and treasure for no better reason than that they could.

Little Kim’s belligerent threat to start a thermonuclear war that would consume South Korea, Japan and various outposts of the United States is the tough talk of a tyrant in the ancient mold. But Kim is all bluff. He does not have the bombs or the missiles to carry out his threats. His country is a geopolitical pipsqueak and an economic charity case. If the real world powers, China and the United States, chose to make it happen, his regime could be snuffed out.

There are plenty of complicating geopolitical factors that would make that result difficult to achieve, but one still has to ask: why? Kim is a hereditary ruler who oversees a brutal prison state. Why allow such a leader and such a system to exist in the modern era? It would be a true advance of civilization if the world community were to come together and get rid of this throwback to humanity’s darker times.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • New brain study should probe shallow recesses of tea party minds

    New brain study should probe shallow recesses of tea party minds

    President Obama wants to invest an initial $110 million in a study of the human brain that could have benefits as great as those achieved by the Human Genome Project. Maybe the first study should be done on the one-track minds of tea party Republicans, who will undoubtedly oppose funding for the...

  • Kim Jong Un is a pudgy punk with the power to create great misery

    Kim Jong Un is a pudgy punk with the power to create great misery

    Kim Jong Un is an absurdly comical figure. If he were not holding the fate of millions of people in his hands, the North Korean dictator would provide us all with nothing but laughs. 

  • Senate maneuvering spares Planned Parenthood -- for now

    Senate maneuvering spares Planned Parenthood -- for now

    A series of hidden-camera videos by anti-abortion activists capturing Planned Parenthood executives discussing tissue harvesting from aborted fetuses has renewed calls by Republicans to eliminate all federal support for the organization. But as bad as it's been lately in Washington for Planned...

  • Fast-tracking VA firings makes for bad policy

    Fast-tracking VA firings makes for bad policy

    The scandals that rocked the federal Department of Veterans Affairs last year rightly had some high-reaching consequences, including toppling secretary Eric K. Shinseki. Whether Shinseki’s successor, Robert McDonald, has been able to effect much of a cultural change within the department that provides,...

  • Can a Dear Cal letter get you into Berkeley?

    Can a Dear Cal letter get you into Berkeley?

    High school seniors vying for acceptance at UC Berkeley face daunting odds. Until about 50 years ago, Cal admitted any applicant with a B average in college-prep classes. As recently as 1985, the acceptance rate was above 50%. With a record 79,000 applicants in 2014, Berkeley now admits only 17%,...

  • Behind the DWP rate hike: Where will that money really go?

    Behind the DWP rate hike: Where will that money really go?

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is asking customers to pay significantly higher rates over the next five years — from 13% to 34% more — to meet a crush of environmental regulations and fund long-delayed infrastructure upgrades and renewable energy projects.

Comments
Loading
73°