The U.N. is Not the Justice League

It’s time for a geography lesson. North Korea recently tested a nuclear missile, and is rapidly displacing Afghanistan as the most important place most people can’t find on a map.

Let me try to put this into perspective. The official name of the country in question is “The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea”, which is like calling McDonalds “The Mighty Fine Dining Restaurant of Eternal Happiness” or Wal-Mart “The Heroic Bridge to Workers’ Prosperity Superstore.”

Images of its leader, Kim Jong Il, are featured prominently on monuments, government offices, buses, the sky, and unsuspecting small animals, and he has decreed that – just to make sure nobody forgets what country they’re in – his face should also adorn citizens’ chests in the form of glossy, campaign-style buttons to be worn at all times.

I guess the magnetic ribbon industry has yet to catch on in North Korea.

Kim Jong Il is known to his people as “The Dear Leader.” How this came about is uncertain. Perhaps what he was really trying to say is he really enjoyed the movie Bambi, and people misunderstood.

He is descended from Kim Il Sung, “The Great Leader,” which seems like a bit like going from “Alexander the Great” to “Alexander the Pretty Good.”

Comrade Il has done a great deal to make sure that we have minimal facts about his country; apparently, the most the intelligence community can come up with is that he enjoys drinking and porno. Sadly, this doesn’t differentiate him much from millions of other people who are not communist dictators.

I’m not writing this article to denounce the current government of North Korea. A glance at its human rights statistics will do that for me. I’d just like to ask: when was politics totally overrun by cartoon characters?

As I write this, the top headline on CNN is “U.N. Smackdown on North Korea.” Apparently, The Rock is being sent to Pyongyang as we speak. This comes shortly after a North Korean ambassador asserted that any political pressure by the U.S. would be seen as an act of war, then fled the stage dramatically. In doing so, he traveled somewhat further than the last test missile Kim Jong Il launched.

Unfortunately, Kim isn’t the only one who’s been watching too much Cartoon Network.

U.S. representative to the U.N. John Bolton responded to Korea’s recent nuclear test by spearheading a ban on “luxury goods” – which only Kim has any of – and saying, I presume while flashing thumbs up to the camera, that the ban “will be a little diet for Kim Jong Il.”

Yes, folks, we’re responding to the possibility of a nuclear holocaust on the Korean Penninsula by revoking Kim Jong Il’s subscription to Hustler.

Bolton has become known for pithy one-liners during his diplomatic career. When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (who has his own late night talk show in Venezuela – tres chic!) referred to George W. Bush as “the devil” in a scathing speech, Bolton responded, “We’re not going to address that type of comic strip approach to international relations.”

Apparently, this statement was made just before Ambassador Bolton left the United Nations assembly for the evening to battle crime in the guise of the shadowy vigilante known as Nightwing, because he has previously gone on record as saying such bizarre things as, “Some Europeans have never lost faith in appeasement as a way of life,” “If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it would not make a bit of difference,” and “We estimate that once Iraq acquires fissile material […] it could fabricate a nuclear weapon within one year.”

In studying politics, I’ve noticed a few trends that lead to this condensed, good-versus-evil, “hasta la vista, baby” view of politics.

Have you looked at a campaign ad lately? There are two common denominators:

a) Almost all politicians are “fighting.” They’re “fighting” big business. They’re “fighting” Washington – since Washington is a foreign entity to which they have no connection. They’re “fighting” the other candidate. Fighting, fighting, fighting.

This extends even to the president, whom one would assume has no one left to beat up. Bush defined his own rogue’s gallery of supervillains in the infamous “Axis of Evil” speech.

b) All politicians who are “fighting” are “fighting for you.” They are “the people’s governor.” They are “on your side.” They “fought for you” as this – they’ll “fight for you” as that. The assumption is that the last guy was some kind of alien monster, maybe even from that mysterious invasion mothership known as Washington.

What most politicians seem to want is to step into the steel cage, and that’s what they assume you want, too. Politics: it’s like Jerry Springer set in really pretty buildings.

It’s that kind of attitude, I’m guessing, that really set the stage for the U.S. to start looking into “low-yield” nuclear bombs a few years ago. Once upon a time, nuclear first-use was unthinkable. Now, we need more options.

A buffet of nukes, if you will. Just in case we want to blow up Iraq without blowing up Iran, or blow up Samara without blowing up Baghdad, or blow up just Sadr City. There might be a really good falalfel stand down the street that needs to go unharmed.

Usually, I’d offer a solution. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Maybe the best we can do is shove these “fighting” politicians into dank pits and let them vent their violent urges where no cameras can see.

Maybe with all of them sealed away, we could all get on with living, sans chest thumping and Mutual Assured Destruction.

Or maybe we all need to start voting for politicians who treat us – and each other – with respect, instead of assuming the situation is hopeless because whoever we vote for, the government gets elected.

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