Monday, October 16, 2006

North and South, East and West

Inclined to agree with Ross Terrill that debate on North Korea has ignored the human rights implications of the continued existence of the appalling North Korean regime. Historically I am reminded of the debate about Stalin's 1952 offer to withdraw Soviet troops from East Germany in exchange for the formation of a united neutral Germany. The west rejected this proposal with little attention, maybe Stalin's offer was not genuine (Gerhard Wittig argues this in the 1994 Historical Journal), but if it was serious the Stasi and the Berlin Wall would have never happened. Millions would have been freed from Communism long before 1989. Even this small chance was worth pursuing. The subsequent history of East Germany doesn't seem to offer hope for Korean reunification however. The ostpolitik of West German governments was not successful in encouraging liberalization in the regime and it only collapsed once travel across the border was possible.


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