In the good-old-days of the Forecasting World Events intelligence crowd sourcing project, this would have been prime material. Quoting,
Friday’s report is based on a single, unidentified “source who knows about North Korea” – with no details about where that source got their information. The report so far hasn’t been matched by any major media in Seoul or confirmed by government officials, even anonymously.
It sounds like a bad way to source intelligence, but with North Korea, it’s the norm. My approach in the FWE program was to find a strong logic, and let it imply a conclusion, hopefully without subconscious bias, which in the case says, “ridiculous!”.
The media touts embarrassment as the reason. The word hides too much, while the logic is painfully clear:
- North Korea is starving.
- The apparent cause is Kim’s inability to negotiate relief.
- The basis to challenge to his power is clear.
The executions serve two purposes:
- Deflect the responsibility for the state of the country onto others.
- Intimidate those who might harbor the most secret thoughts of rebellion.
The logic says the envoys were executed, not out of embarassment, which is a social term, but to reinforce “truth” as it is dictated: Kim Jong-un is never wrong. Is the logic truthful? That was the nut of the FWE game. If so, it’s a twisted confirmation of the CIA assessment that Kim is not insane.
In many cases, when dealing with unreformed dictators, moral judgments are a distant second to the main objective. In this case, it is highly relevant. If the lives of process negotiators have no value, then in North Korea, process has no value.
North Korea cannot be trusted to implement any form of process; it is simply alien to their leader. Secretary Pompeo, I feel for you.
Saddam Hussein was more of a hands on guy. He took a guy out of a meeting into an adjoining room, shot him dead, and continued the meeting.