American Elephants

History is Still With Us. Do We Need Reminding? by The Elephant's Child

It’s hard to remember that the year 1990 was 23 years ago, and those who born at “the End of History” are now 23 years old and the “young invincibles”on whom Obama depends to rescue the unworkable liberal dream of ObamaCare from oblivion. In 1990, capitalism had triumphed and there was no serious ideological challenger left in the world. The global trend toward freedom swept away dictatorships, apartheid in South Africa and the Serbian challenge in the Balkans. Was the 1990’s only the high point of Pax America and global freedom?

Well not so fast. September 11 was a rude awakening to the fact that history was still with us, and the twelve years since have only proved the point. Dictators are reasserting themselves in the former Soviet Union, radical Islam gets even more radical and is close to having a nuclear weapon, and mayhem breaks out with regularity. The American superpower has lost its will to lead a world order, let alone police it. We apparently want to be just another nation among others, and as the United States retreats, disorder increases.

Kim Jong Un reminds us that the totalitarian mind has not vanished, even if we’d prefer not to see. The North Korean dictator reminds us that not even family is immune. The public frog-march and execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, is a reminder of just what the totalitarian mind is capable of, and why it remains a challenge to the world.

It also turns out there is a challenge to democratic capitalism: the eternal human temptation to rule and subjugate other human beings. The motivating ideology varies, such as fanatical Islam, what is left of Communist belief in China and North Korea, tribalism in parts of Asia and Africa, or simply the quest for power and control.

North Korea’s regime is instructive precisely because it has managed to survive and become even more threatening despite the post-Cold War currents of freedom. Partly this is due to its isolation, and partly to the protection of its patrons in Beijing. But its survival is also the result of the regime’s sheer will to dynastic power at all costs, and the West’s willingness to ignore its horrors.

The totalitarian mind is increasingly a threat to us all, because it is rapidly acquiring the technology to kill people far beyond the population of North Korea.They have nuclear warheads and will soon have a missile that can reach the United States, and they are happy to share the technology to anyone with enough cash.


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