The Corner

The Depolitized Zone?

The opening from my USA Today piece on this No Labels outfit:

A group called “No Labels” is getting an awful lot of buzz these days, despite the fact it has raised only $1 million. (Though it sounds more impressive if you say it like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies: One. Million. Dollars.) The professed idea behind No Labels is that its members don’t believe in labels, by which they mean things such as Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. Some black-hearted cynics see No Labels as a Trojan Horse for a presidential bid by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who finds the two-party system an unfortunate obstacle to his ambitions.

No Labels denies this. According to its website, No Labels is a centrist, middle-of-the-road group whose motto (at least its members believe in mottos!) appears to be “Put the Labels Aside. Do What’s Best for America.” It goes on: “We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are united in the belief that we do not have to give up our labels, merely put them aside to do what’s best for America.”

Elsewhere, it likens itself to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which it hilariously describes as an area designed by North and South Koreans alike for “cool heads” to craft “elegant solutions.” No Labels wants to be a “Depoliticized Zone” that serves a similar purpose. Never mind that the real Korean DMZ is one of the most heavily mined and dangerous places in the world, where nothing fruitful has happened for half-a-century.

But bad metaphors are the least of their problems. These no labelers start from the premise that if you want what’s best for the country, you must declare independence from your political party because Democrats and Republicans alike are either politically brainwashed dupes or are less than fully patriotic.

Such fuzzy thinking is a symptom of the growing fetishization of the “center” as an ideologically distinct and superior location and “independents” as a philosophically coherent group….

I really do recommend going to and poking around. On every page there’s something unintentionally funny to read. Meanwhile, because of space, I couldn’t belabor the stupidity of the DMZ metaphor. But here, according to Wikipedia, is a partial list of various incidents in the DMZ over the years:

Since demarcation, the DMZ has had numerous cases of incidents and incursions by the North Koreans, although the North Korean government never acknowledges direct responsibility for any of these incidents. These include:

October 1966 – October 1969: Korean DMZ Conflict (1966-1969), a series of skirmishes along the DMZ results in 43 U.S., 299 South Korean and 397 North Korean soldiers killed

17 January 1968: 31 North Korean commandos crossed the border disguised as South Korean soldiers in an attempt to assassinate President Park Chung Hee at the Blue House. The failed mission resulted in 29 commandos killed (one committed suicide) and the other two captured. Two South Korean policemen and five civilians were killed by the commandos. Other reports indicated as many as 68 South Koreans killed and 66 wounded, including about 24 civilians. Three Americans were killed and another three wounded in an attempt to prevent the commandos from escaping back via the DMZ.

October 1968: 130 North Korean commandos entered the Ulchin and Samcheok areas in Gangwon-do. Eventually 110 of them were killed, 7 were captured and 13 escaped.

March 1969: Six North Korean infiltrators crossed the border near Chumunjin, Gangwon-do and killed a South Korean policeman on guard duty.

April 1970: Three North Korean infiltrators were killed and five South Korean soldiers wounded at an encounter in Kumchon, Gyeonggi-do.

20 November 1974: The first of what would be a series of North Korean infiltration tunnels under the DMZ was discovered. The joint ROK-U.S. investigation team tripped a North Korean booby-trap killing one American and wounding 6 others.

Operation Paul Bunyan, to remove a tree in front of the Bridge of No Return, takes place following the Axe Murder Incident in August 1976.

March 1975: The second North Korean infiltration tunnel was discovered.

June 1976: Three North Korean infiltrators and six South Korean soldiers were killed in the eastern sector south of the DMZ. Another six South Korean soldiers were injured.

18 August 1976: The Axe Murder Incident results in the death of two U.S. soldiers and injuries to another four U.S. soldiers and five South Korean soldiers. The incident may not be technically considered an “infiltration” however, as it took place in a neutral zone of the Joint Security Area.

14 July 1977: American CH-47 Chinook helicopter is shot down after straying into the north over the DMZ. Three airmen are killed and one is briefly held prisoner (This is the sixth such incident since the Armistice was signed.)

October 1978: The third North Korean infiltration tunnel was discovered.

October 1979: Three North Korean agents attempting to infiltrate the eastern sector of the DMZ were intercepted, killing one of the agents.

6 December 1979: US patrol in the DMZ accidentally crosses the MDL into a North Korean minefield. One US soldier is killed and four are injured.

March 1980: Three North Korean infiltrators were killed attempting to enter the south across the estuary of the Han River.

March 1981: Three North Korean infiltrators spotted at Kumhwa, Gangwon-do, one was killed.

July 1981: Three North Korean infiltrators were killed in the upper stream of Imjin River.

May 1982: Two North Korean infiltrators were spotted on the east coast, one was killed.

March 1990: The fourth North Korean infiltration tunnel was discovered, in what may be a total of 17 tunnels in all.

May 1992: Three North Korean infiltrators dressed in South Korean uniforms were killed at Cheorwon, Gangwon-do. Three South Koreans were also wounded.

December 17, 1994: American OH-58A+ helicopter crosses 10 km into North Korean territory and is shot down.

October 1995: Two North Korean infiltrators were intercepted at Imjin River. One was killed, the other escaped.

April 1996: Several hundred North Korean armed troops entered the Joint Security Area and elsewhere on three occasions in violation of the Korean armistice agreement.

May 1996: Seven North Korean soldiers crossed the DMZ but withdrew when fired upon by South Korean troops.

April 1997: Five North Korean soldiers crossed the military demarcation line’s Cheorwon sector and fired at South Korean positions.

July 1997: Fourteen North Korean soldiers crossed the MDL, causing a 23-minute exchange of heavy gunfire.

October 26, 2000: Two US aircraft observing a ROK army military exercise accidentally cross over the DMZ.

May 26, 2006: Two North Korean soldiers entered the DMZ and crossed into South Korea. They returned after South Korean soldiers fired warning shots.

October 7, 2006: South Korean soldiers fired warning shots after North Korean soldiers crossed briefly into their side of the border.

October 27, 2009: A South Korean pig farmer, who was wanted for assault, cut a hole in the DMZ fence and defected to North Korea.

October 29, 2010: Two shots were fired from North Korea towards a South Korean post near Hwacheon and South Korean troops fired three shots in return.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, will be released on April 24.

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