The Corner

Fate

I’ve written a column for tomorrow, but my fingers still itch, so I’d like to drop a note here in the Corner. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about China and Korea (for a project I’m working on). And, of course, we’ve all been reading a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people say, “We may have to leave Iraq to its fate, and Afghanistan, too. That’s what we did with Vietnam, after all.”

So, I’ve been thinking a little about fate.

Was it the fate of North Koreans to live under a psychotic Communist dictatorship? And the fate of South Koreans to live in a vibrant, free, happy democracy? They are all Koreans. They have the same ancestry, speak the same language, eat the same food (to the extent North Koreans can eat). But their national lives could not be more different.

In 1950, the Communists invaded the South, in order to Communize the entire peninsula. The United States stepped in, and so did other nations, under the U.N. umbrella. We repelled the Communists and chased them into the North — but the Chinese Communists swept in, and the Koreas were back where they started from: divided.

If the South Koreans had not been aided, defended, they, too, would be living under that psychotic Communist dictatorship. Was it fate that they are free? No, it was the U.S. Army (and we are still there).

Was it fate that the Communist Vietnamese would succeed where their Communist brethren in Korea failed? If so, fate was helped along by the post-Watergate Congress, which cut off the South, despite the pleas of President Ford and others.

This is too big a subject for a lil’ Corner post, but I guess I’m not much of a believer in fate. Men act, in good and evil ways, and then other men call the results “fate.” You could say, I guess, that men are fated to act in good or evil ways. But then action, or inaction, counts for nothing.

Frankly, I’m not sure what the U.S. should do in or about Iraq and Afghanistan. But I think I know that choices matter, fate aside. The North Koreans don’t love happiness and well-being any less than the South Koreans do. It’s just that they have been captured and enslaved by evil people who have proven impossible to dislodge. They are even armed with nukes now.

Cubans don’t love freedom any less than Dominicans do, or than we Americans do. Etc., etc. Fate, schmate. At least that’s my feeling now. It may be my fate to have a different feeling tomorrow.

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