Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Dead End of Appeasement

I've been watching a Korean drama called Jumong. It does not compare with Dae Jang Geum, because Jumong is filled with fatalism, and there are Sorceresses who can predict the future, heal injuries with some sort of faith-healing, etc. However, it does have an interesting plot, and many interesting characters, in spite of the flaws.

Episode 41 is of interest for its examination of the idea of appeasement, something relevant to our situation in America today, with regard to our relations with Iran and North Korea. The scene involves the deposed King of Puyo (a Korean kingdom), named Kumwa, lecturing his son, Taeso, who had forcibly taken over from him. Taeso has refrained from killing the King, evidently, because the people would revolt if he committed regicide. So he is ruling under the fiction that the King is incapacitated from a wound received in a recent war against the Han (China), in which Kumwa was attempting to recover lands taken from Korea by the Han in an earlier conflict.

Kumwa: I heard the Han demanded a hostage. Is that true?

Taeso: Yes.

Kumwa: You might be my representative, but shouldn't you have told me earlier?

Taeso: I was going to, after giving it enough thought.

Kumwa: So, are you done thinking?

Taeso: Yes.

Kumwa: What will you do?

Taeso: I'm going to send a hostage.

Kumwa: Don't you have any pride?

Taeso: Why wouldn't I have any?

Kumwa: Yet you're going to send a hostage and accept that we're a tributary state?

Taeso: We can't afford to talk about pride. The Han is just waiting for a chance to make us pay for the war. I had to marry a woman I don't love just to put an end to it. If one hostage will save thousands of lives, why not? Your Majesty, pride won't stop a war. I'll reap the benefits of not starting one.

Kumwa: Give up one thing to avoid a war and the Han will demand something else. You'll use Puyo's peace as an excuse to back out again and again until you're at a dead end. What will you give them then? Will you let them conquer us if they want to? Will you die for them if they ask you to? Can't you see the reality hidden behind the so-called benefits?

This is indeed the fruits of appeasement. Bush did it too often, and for Obama, it is the only option he considers. How long before we reach the dead end?

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