View Poll Results: What is the near-term future of the DPRK

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  • It will fall into chaos as a result of renewed famine and poverty, resulting in military crackdowns.

    3 15.79%
  • There will be a military coup that displaces the current leadership, hopefully soon.

    4 21.05%
  • It will continue to remain a closed society, technologically dormant and otherwise insignificant.

    12 63.16%
  • The leadership will eventually make a misstep, forcing military action from the United States.

    0 0%
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Thread: North Korea: 2012-2016

  1. #361
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Of course it's possible to exert influence, within limits. You're proposing that "influence" can persuade a nation to perform a 180 degree pivot in a long-standing policy and undertake actions that it has consistently considered diametrically opposed to its own interests. That's outside any realistic assessment of the limits of available influence.

    Outcomes much more unlikely than that are realistic because they are real.

    * U.S. support for Israel after '67

    * EU turning on Yugoslavia, ripping a piece of it away and giving it to a group of bands who were previously advised by EU officials how to garner the needed support

    * various U-turns in regard to being allied / rivals in the Second World

    * Molotov-Ribbentropp pact

    * U.S. turning away from preventing/destroying left-leaning governments in Latin America

    * half of the U.S. turning towards domestic economic and fiscal policies that hurt their own self-interest

    * Germany and others giving up stable national currencies and lender of last resort

    * collapse of Apartheid in South Africa

    * conservative German government U-turning against nuclear energy

    * U.S. so-called "conservatives" u-turning towards nation building '02

    * Britain allowing its colonies to go

    * U.S. becoming involved in East Asia post-'38 on behalf of China (post-Nanking) despite this actually harming its trade interests

    * U.S. participating in WWI without serving any of its interests, after a three-year propaganda campaign by Britain

    * sudden U.S. tolerance of North Korea as a nuclear power

    * Turkey turning away from EU towards its own neighbourhood policy

    * France dropping Arab dictators in favour of good relations with Arab populaces

    * Saudi Arabia's sudden tolerance for foreign troops '91 and later


    Such U-turns happen all the time, just look at history.
    China has even turned on former allies before, and that didn't take any outside influence.

  2. #362
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Of course things happen and things change. That doesn't mean they change on command, or that the application of "influence" can reliably dictate the course of political evolution.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  3. #363
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Such U-turns happen all the time, just look at history.
    China has even turned on former allies before, and that didn't take any outside influence.
    Of course, but one should also realize that much of the time U-turns don't happen. The fact that U-turns occurred, can occur and will occur in the future does not mean that China will, in this particular instance, do a U-turn on North Korea. Nor does it demonstrate your assertion that influence can bring such a U-turn about.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  4. #364
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    Posted by Bob's World

    Any effort to go into a post-conflict DPRK and "fix" them would would likely trigger a far worse resistance insurgencies than we created and then attempted to resolve in those two afore mentioned locations. Far better we let China own that mission.
    I think this assumption can be challenged. I agree the potential for a serious resistance movement exists since the entire society is militarized and to varying degrees influenced by Juche, but unless China and Russia provide external support it is unlikely the resistance will garner the same level of international attention and subsequent external support such as fund raising to sustain their efforts. Of course we have no idea how this will ultimately unfold, so it could very much turn into an enduring insurgency. Our approach to COIN will most likely fail, so much rather see the South Koreans, Chinese, etc. take the necessary measures to establish security.

    Regardless of who wades into the mess it will be expensive and require a large number of troops.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 09-04-2012 at 05:33 AM.

  5. #365
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Regardless of who wades into the mess it will be expensive and require a large number of troops.
    Probably true, but it's also true that there's no terribly pressing reason for anyone to wade into the mess. I don't see how anyone needs to try and "fix" North Korea. Contain, manage, and wait for it to rot out from the inside seems to me a much more viable strategy.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  6. #366
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    Posted by Dayuhan,

    Contain, manage, and wait for it to rot out from the inside seems to me a much more viable strategy.
    It seems the South Korean government is quite content to let their fellow Koreans in the north starve as long as it doesn't disrupt their economic miracle. With the exception a few Christian activist groups no one seems to care for the average North Korean.

    The world will probably keep pumping just enough money into the DPRK to keep it on life support, of course that dooms millions of North Koreans to a terrible life under a corrupt regime. Definitely not advocating for U.S. intervention, at least directly, but hopefully their is a moral aspect to our policy objectives.

    There is also the question about what happens if the DPRK does collapse. Does a failed state with weapons of mass destruction present a threat to regional security or is it over played? Can the problems simply be contained with a little extra border security until they work it out on their own? Would China and S. Korea make a power grab? I just hope we come up with something more intelligent than clear, hold and build.

  7. #367
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    It seems the South Korean government is quite content to let their fellow Koreans in the north starve as long as it doesn't disrupt their economic miracle. With the exception a few Christian activist groups no one seems to care for the average North Korean.
    I'm not sure lack of concern is the operative constraint. What would you want the South Korean government, or anyone else, to do to liberate the north?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The world will probably keep pumping just enough money into the DPRK to keep it on life support, of course that dooms millions of North Koreans to a terrible life under a corrupt regime. Definitely not advocating for U.S. intervention, at least directly, but hopefully their is a moral aspect to our policy objectives.
    There's nothing wrong with a moral aspect to policy objectives, but all policy objectives, moral and otherwise, are constraint by a limited range of realistic policy options. Liberating the north and raising the population's standard of living to that of the south is a lovely and moral objective, but without a realistic strategy for achieving the objective, what's it worth

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    There is also the question about what happens if the DPRK does collapse. Does a failed state with weapons of mass destruction present a threat to regional security or is it over played?
    Certainly it's a threat, but trying to force or impose an unwelcome change on a failed state with weapons of mass destruction also poses risks.

    If anyone has a realistic proposal for a way to "fix" North Korea without a war (thought to be undesirable), I'm all ears...
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    There is also the question about what happens if the DPRK does collapse.
    Its a good question too.

  9. #369
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    If anyone has a realistic proposal for a way to "fix" North Korea without a war (thought to be undesirable), I'm all ears...
    There has to be a war?

    I'm all ears waiting for an explanation of the risks relating to doing effectively nothing.

  10. #370
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  11. #371
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    There has to be a war?
    To change the status quo? As I said, if anyone has a realistic suggestion for a way to significantly change the status quo without a war, I'm all ears. Haven't seen one yet. The North Korean regime is not going to change because we want it to change, and an effort to compel change could have all kinds of potential consequences, up to and including war.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I'm all ears waiting for an explanation of the risks relating to doing effectively nothing.
    The status quo has risks, certainly, and as Bill points out it certainly sucks for the North Koreans. Whether or not that would make it worth an effort to alter the status quo would depend on what realistic means for altering it are available and on what the associated risks are. The status quo may not be wonderful, but it's manageable. Hardly worth rocking the boat unless you've very good reason to believe doing so would improve matters.

    In the absence of any realistic strategy for improving the status quo, what's wrong with staying with it? It's not ideal, but neither is it intolerable.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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  12. #372
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    To change the status quo? As I said, if anyone has a realistic suggestion for a way to significantly change the status quo without a war, I'm all ears. Haven't seen one yet. The North Korean regime is not going to change because we want it to change, and an effort to compel change could have all kinds of potential consequences, up to and including war.
    Fuchs has done a better job explaining how he believes "influence" should be approached and could work than you have - continuing your stock position in near every instance - of suggesting doing nothing.

    North Korea will change when they have no alternative but to submit to influence/pressure/whatever. In this case the key lies with China, as with Syria the key lies with Russia/Iran.

  13. #373
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think this assumption can be challenged. I agree the potential for a serious resistance movement exists since the entire society is militarized and to varying degrees influenced by Juche, but unless China and Russia provide external support it is unlikely the resistance will garner the same level of international attention and subsequent external support such as fund raising to sustain their efforts. Of course we have no idea how this will ultimately unfold, so it could very much turn into an enduring insurgency. Our approach to COIN will most likely fail, so much rather see the South Koreans, Chinese, etc. take the necessary measures to establish security.
    Bill: If a serious resistance movement did arise and neither South Korea, Red China nor Russia supported it, it would have no chance. It would have no sanctuary and no external support. Northern Korea would be essentially an island and what resistance there was would wither and die.

    I hesitate to say this since I haven't read any of max161's papers yet, but I agree with you in questioning how much of a resistance could develop especially if the South Koreans showed up and contrived to provide everybody with 3000 calories a day. Juche might be have some appeal but enough or more than enough food to eat is a pretty powerful motivator.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  14. #374
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Just curious, by your own reporting, these are an incredibly hardy people used to living on very little in best of times. Just how much "external support" do you think they will need to wage a resistance?

    Now, perhaps, DPRK government takes full responsibility for the hardships of living in North Korea, so that the populace will welcome as liberators any invading foreign military forces. But I suspect that is not the case. I suspect this is a populace that will see foreign military presence as just that, a foreign invasion of their homeland, and they will logically resist.

    We have a bad habit of thinking that what we offer is so good, and that those who we oppose are so bad, that of course their populaces will be immediately grateful for our efforts to remove their government and then occupy their country while we give them new, better government, coupled with development and all manner of modern goodies.

    Yet we caused a resistance insurgency in Iraq that bled us hard for several years. President Obama's plan for curing Afghanistan, as promoted by General Petreaus, has been making the resistance insurgency stronger in Afghanistan with yearly growth numbers he wishes he could replicate in his programs designed for improving our economy at home. Seems it is easier to grow an insurgency than it is to grow an economy. Bottom line is that it is human nature to resist, and North Koreans being human will likely resist as well.

    As to "sanctuary" that will come from within the very populace that is resisting us. Will we be willing to employ the hard measures such as used by the Germans in WWII to reduce such internal sanctuary? No. I hope not. Instead we will attempt to bribe the support of the populace, and through our very largess will become the primary supporter of the very insurgency we are attempting to quell.

    Likely we will blame China or some ideology for the insurgency, and not be able to realize that it is our very presence that is driving it, or that the very people who smile and accept our aid by day are passing it on to the fighters by night.

    If we have learned anything about insurgency over the past 10 years it should have been that we don't know anything about insurgency. Like most governments faced with some form of insurgency we do not accept our own causal role and instead see the insurgents as somehow distinct from the larger populace they emerge from and blame the fighting elements on malign actors, foreign agitators and radical ideologies. Historically, the best governments at COIN have been those that recognized their causal role and that focused on fixing the broken aspects of governance rather than the "broken" aspects of the populace. The US is not among "the best governments at COIN," at least not in our foreign efforts.

    Any assumption other than the expectation that any regime change forced upon the DPRK will be met with revolution; and that any foreign occupation of the DPRK will be met with resistance is dangerous. There is no earthly reason to ever place an American boot on DPRK soil. This is a mission best left to the ROKs, and even they will find a violent welcome, I suspect. Best we let this sleeping dog lie. Conditions will evolve in time of their own accord, and there is far more risk than gain from any thoughts of rushing that inevitable day along.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 09-04-2012 at 04:04 PM.
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  15. #375
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    Bob:

    I figured I would draw you out with that one.

    No time now but will reply shortly.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  16. #376
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    I'm not sure lack of concern is the operative constraint. What would you want the South Korean government, or anyone else, to do to liberate the north?
    First off, I never implied anyone should invade to liberate the north, that is a reach on your part. My point goes back to my original point, the U.S. and other nations openly oppose DPRK's WMD program, but are relatively quiet about the human rights abuses in North Korea. Expanding the focus of pressure to include human rights does put China and other supporters of North Korea is tougher position diplomatically to continue to support an oppressive government. Failure to gain support through their normal cycles of provocation because the world is tiring of their treatment of their people puts them in a position where they'll be more likely to adapt changes over time. This would potentially increase the stability of North Korea and the region. A lot of countries are tired of the U.S. determining who can and can't have nuclear weapons, so that is hardly a high moral ground issue that resonates.

    There's nothing wrong with a moral aspect to policy objectives, but all policy objectives, moral and otherwise, are constraint by a limited range of realistic policy options. Liberating the north and raising the population's standard of living to that of the south is a lovely and moral objective, but without a realistic strategy for achieving the objective, what's it worth
    What world are you writing about? I seem to recall some rather lofty and unrealistic policy objectives for both Iraq and Afghanistan. Again you're the one saying liberate the North, I'm looking for strategies for changing the behavior of the regime in the North, not replacing it. Change is already happening in North Korea, so I'm leary of the experts who continue to believe the legacy system will continue forever without a military intervention. It is evolving now and the world should explore ways to shape that evolution.

    In simple terms I'm recommending widening our aperture and getting in front of the problem instead of our continuing ### for tat. ### for tat may be the appropriate short term response to hold things in place, but it is inadequate for longer term shaping actions and activities.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 09-04-2012 at 04:15 PM.

  17. #377
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    Anyone ever consider that ENDING sactions against NK would provide the current leadership far more challenge and adversity then maintaining the current sanctions?
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  18. #378
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Fuchs has done a better job explaining how he believes "influence" should be approached and could work than you have - continuing your stock position in near every instance - of suggesting doing nothing.
    What Fuchs suggests is simply not realistic. First, it relies on the assumption that the "Great Western Powers" (who he means by that I've no idea, you'd have to ask him) can act secretly and cooperatively toward a common goal without that being patently obvious to anyone who's half paying attention. Second, it assumes that these "Great Western Powers" have sufficient influence to make the Chinese want to do something that they most emphatically don't want to do, have no real reason to want to do and have very real reasons to avoid.

    These assumptions seem pulled out of thin air and no basis for them is presented.

    I've no objection to trying it: unlike some plans we've seen that are based on fixed assumptions about what can be done and how others will react to proposed actions, the consequences of its failure would not be terribly inconvenient. It won't work, of course, but at least it probably wouldn't blow up in anyone's face. Even when the whole "secret" plot inevitably ends up all over the Internet it would only seem mildly silly.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    North Korea will change when they have no alternative but to submit to influence/pressure/whatever.
    Do you assume that change in North Korea can only be the consequence of external "influence/pressure/whatever"? If so, why?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    In this case the key lies with China, as with Syria the key lies with Russia/Iran.
    I don't think that assessment is accurate. The key in Syria is not Russia or Iran, but the Syrian Armed Forces. If enough of his military defects, Assad will fall, no matter what Russia or Iran say or do. If enough of his military stays loyal and fights it out, he will sustain the civil war and possibly win.

    Of course even if we assume that Russia or Iran is "the key", that gets us nowhere, because Russia and Iran will act according to their own perception of their own interests, and no combination of Western powers is going to change that perception.

    Similarly, "the key" in North Korea is likely to be the DPRK armed forces: I doubt that there will be really meaningful change unless the generals either decide to take over themselves or refuse to suppress a popular uprising. Neither of these seems likely any time soon, though a coup would naturally be unexpected until it occurs.

    Similarly, even if China was "the key", that would get us nowhere, because the Chinese have no interest whatsoever in trying to "fix" the DPRK, and that's not something any outside influence is going to change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The U.S. and other nations openly oppose DPRK's WMD program, but are relatively quiet about the human rights abuses in North Korea. Expanding the focus of pressure to include human rights does put China and other supporters of North Korea is tougher position diplomatically to continue to support an oppressive government.
    I have no problem with expanding the focus of pressure to include human rights, but I also have no illusions about that accomplishing anything. It's certainly not going to put China in a tougher position: the Chinese consistently and vigorously oppose any effort to enforce an externally dictated human rights standard on anyone, anywhere. Making human rights an issue might well induce the Chinese to give more support, just to show how little they care and how seriously they oppose the idea of anyone pressuring anyone else to conform to such standards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Failure to gain support through their normal cycles of provocation because the world is tiring of their treatment of their people puts them in a position where they'll be more likely to adapt changes over time. This would potentially increase the stability of North Korea and the region. A lot of countries are tired of the U.S. determining who can and can't have nuclear weapons, so that is hardly a high moral ground issue that resonates.
    I can see the point about overreliance on the WMD issue, and mostly agree. I doubt, though, that changing the focus of complaint to anything else is going to produce much meaningful change. China will support the DPRK just enough to keep the regime afloat, because they do not want the regime to fall. That's not something any external influence is going to change. As long as the DPRK is assured of that support, they've little incentive to change, and of course they are institutionally very deeply against change.

    There are cases in which "we" - the US, the West, whatever - are simply not in control, and where attempting to take control is likely to create a bigger mess than what we've already got. Sure, we can try to exert influence, but don't expect much tangible result, because the influence "we" can bring to bear is quite limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I seem to recall some rather lofty and unrealistic policy objectives for both Iraq and Afghanistan.
    And that got us... where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Again you're the one saying liberate the North, I'm looking for strategies for changing the behavior of the regime in the North, not replacing it. Change is already happening in North Korea, so I'm leary of the experts who continue to believe the legacy system will continue forever without a military intervention. It is evolving now and the world should explore ways to shape that evolution.
    I'm not convinced that "the world" has common objectives in this, or most, cases, and I think the capacity to shape and change the regime is very limited. No objection to trying various carrots and sticks, but they haven't worked well in the past and aren't likely to work well in the future.

    Realistically, I think we're stuck with the status quo or some minor variant thereof, and are likely to be in that position for some time. We can talk less about WMD and more about human rights, but is anything likely to change? I doubt it. The catalyst for change is probably going to be internal, it will probably take us by surprise, and it will not be dictated or controlled by any outside power.

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Bill: If a serious resistance movement did arise and neither South Korea, Red China nor Russia supported it, it would have no chance. It would have no sanctuary and no external support. Northern Korea would be essentially an island and what resistance there was would wither and die.

    I hesitate to say this since I haven't read any of max161's papers yet, but I agree with you in questioning how much of a resistance could develop especially if the South Koreans showed up and contrived to provide everybody with 3000 calories a day. Juche might be have some appeal but enough or more than enough food to eat is a pretty powerful motivator.
    Insurgency in the Philippines has been going on for 40+ years with no sanctuary and no meaningful external support. Different situations of course, but sanctuary and external support are not absolutely necessary for insurgency to endure.

    Invasion and foreign occupation can be a powerful motivator... though it seems a very moot point, since I don't think anyone is likely to invade the DPRK any time soon.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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  19. #379
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    What Fuchs suggests is simply not realistic. First, it relies on the assumption that the "Great Western Powers" (who he means by that I've no idea, you'd have to ask him) can act secretly and cooperatively toward a common goal without that being patently obvious to anyone who's half paying attention.
    Look, if you quote with "", quote correctly.

    A correct quote would be "Western great powers".

    Next, if unsure what a "Western great power" is, accept the help of an encyclopaedia, preferably one quite up-to-date.
    This one might help, but other encyclopaedia exist as well, of course.


    It's late and I'm not in the mood of creating another long list (about great powers acting secretly, cooperatively and not totally obviously in history).

  20. #380
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Look, if you quote with "", quote correctly.

    A correct quote would be "Western great powers".

    Next, if unsure what a "Western great power" is, accept the help of an encyclopaedia, preferably one quite up-to-date.
    This one might help, but other encyclopaedia exist as well, of course.
    From the link provided:

    There are no set or defined characteristics of a great power.
    So we still have no idea whatsoever who you meant when you used the expression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's late and I'm not in the mood of creating another long list (about great powers acting secretly, cooperatively and not totally obviously in history).
    No need to bother, because such a list would be completely irrelevant in any case. It's like suggesting that because nations have historically reversed policy in some cases, it is therefore possible to reverse another nation's policy as desired, on cue. Just because something has happened in the past doesn't mean you or anyone else can make the same thing happen again at any time of your choosing.

    The idea that any combination of Western powers can make the Chinese reverse a long-standing perception of self-interest and inspire them with a sudden desire to "fix" the DPRK makes an amusing hypothesis, but it seems too dependent on the assumption of predictable and controllable reaction to have much place in the real world.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-05-2012 at 01:47 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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