Oil price ‘grounds’ N Korea fleet. Or, will we please start caring, now?

From the BBC, via worldnews:

Oil price ‘grounds’ N Korea fleet

North Korea has been forced to ground a fleet of Soviet-era military planes because of the high oil price, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

Fuel is being diverted for other training flights, Yonhap quoted a military source as saying.

The Antonov An-2 biplanes – of which North Korea’s air force is thought to have about 300 – are able to drop special forces behind enemy lines.

The planes, which can cruise below radar, carry some 12 soldiers.

North Korea’s impoverished economy has suffered from energy shortages for years, and rising oil prices have made the situation worse.

I don’t want to rain on their crazy parade, but it almost sounds as though I could bring those down by throwing some of the land-mines along their border at them (South Korea also being back in the land-mine business, as of a year or so ago*), as they flew overhead.

More to the point – it doesn’t sound, from the information we have – that they’re diverting the fuel to any sensible purpose. I was discussing this with a colleague, the other day. He had known someone (military) who had once commented upon never seeing a starving person in North Korea. Same with Guy Delisle. Our belief is that (i) the gaunt, famine-look crowd are off in the centre or to the north, or (ii – worse) are simply killed on the spot. ”Sorry chap, but you can’t work and we can’t feed you – here.” Would you be surprised? Because I wouldn’t.

So my colleague’s thought, with which I agree, is that one day, when we stop dicking around and just move in, we’ll be taught a whole new lesson in mass graves. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing when it happens – why else would we have idiot Congressional members and cable news? It isn’t as though the signs were never clearly posted, though: we just had better world leaders to fry. We should just trade with China, explicitly. They can play in the UN and WTO, etc., just like the rest of us. We’ll help them with their unemployment, and they leave us the hell alone while we de-mine the North-South Korean border, move in and take their leaders to the Hague.

Just a thought.

*So here’s something that blows my mind. The list of countries producing land-mines is hard to pin down – only 133 countries signed the treaty (I think it’s like 151, now?), and few (sub-Saharan African) are used them anyway. The US has been making new ones – but they’re always easy to spot (the US and China are at least relatively unapologetic about it). What blows my mind, though, is how they get people to make these things?

I can see in China some weird nationalism – people in rural/remote areas may be manufacturing component parts without even realising it. But in the US, this goes beyond the fantasy of deterrence that we may (stress may) allow people building mini-nukes and ICBMs. A landmine is guaranteed to blow people in half, possibly leaving one of those halves alive, and is going to do it indiscriminately. What the hell?


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