Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il - Moral Opposites

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il - Moral Opposites

Article excerpt

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel was a victim of communist dictatorship; North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was a communist dictator. It is time to correct a historic injustice and award Havel the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously for his lifetime achievements.

Last weekend saw the deaths of two historic figures on opposite ends of the world's moral spectrum, a communist dictator and a victim of communist dictatorship.

Headlines around the world featured the demise of Kim Jong-il, the bizarre and reclusive head of North Korea's maniacally despotic regime.

Subordinate coverage noted the passing of Vaclav Havel. This dissident Czech writer suffered years in prison because of his fight for national freedom from authoritarianism under the Soviet empire before his elevation to the presidency of a liberated nation.

One man headed half of a divided country that went to war to unite North and South Korea under communist rule, while permitting no domestic challenge to his monolithic power in the Democratic People's Republic.

The other led a true democratic people's republic and resigned rather than see Czechoslovakia split into Czech and Slovak entities; he later yielded to popular demand and agreed to serve as president of the Czech Republic.

The contrast in their rule and the nature of the governments they headed reflect the character of the governments that supported them.

North Korea's sole ally and its chief sponsor and protector was and is the People's Republic of China. The two communist states joined in the invasion of South Korea in 1950 for which they were condemned as aggressors by the United Nations when Kim's father, Kim Il-sung, was in power.

Ever since, they have proclaimed themselves "as close as lips and teeth." Beijing has provided the government in Pyongyang with the material, political, and diplomatic support essential to keeping it in power. China has used its position on the UN Security Council to insulate North Korea from meaningful international sanctions as it built its nuclear weapons and missile programs. …

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