Dissenting Opinion

by Nathan Hamm on 11/17/2004 · 2 comments

The veil of secrecy surrounding totalitarian regimes provides for rich speculation which often lends itself to reading too deeply into what may in fact be innocuous events.

So, with that in mind, my two cents on speculation about the removal of Kim Jong-Il portraits is to not get carried away. I’m thoroughly unimpressed with reporting on the story (more here, , and here). The press, though, is at almost as much of a disadvantage as the rest of us when it comes to getting accurate information.

MegaPundit’s post mentions that if this story is true it certainly has incredible meaning. I would be inclined to agree, but the world is not without at least one regime that is remarkably similar to North Korea’s. Like I mentioned yesterday, Turkmenistan experienced something similar this year. Turkmenbashi still walks amongst the living in spite of my speculation at the time that he had left us.

In fact, what likely happened in Turkmenistan is that Turkmenbashi ordered the personality cult toned down to improve his international image. It hasn’t necessarily worked, and it might not necessarily work or even be what is going on in North Korea. Still though, I have to be skeptical about speculation concerning the meaning of the removal of some of Kim Jong-Il portraits in Pyongyang.

(h/t Wizbang’s 10 spot, which has plenty of other good stuff)

UPDATE: I love it when it looks like I’m on the right track. Not that I necessarily want to be…

And also, I don’t want to rain on their parade, but if the story I linked above is correct, then when did the coup happen, August? He may be nutty and full of himself, but Kim Jong-Il is no fool and there are plenty of sensible reasons for taking down a handful of portraits. Or for spreading disinformation and sowing confusion…

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Adamu November 22, 2004 at 12:33 am

You know, this site looks a lot like the Marmot’s blog!

Nathan Hamm November 22, 2004 at 1:18 am

When I set it up, I used the same template. The comment system is coincidentally the same (but there are only so many good Wordpress plugins), so about all that’s different is the color scheme and a few other minor features.

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