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24 January 2013

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Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

But if you read Neil Richardson's comments below, it indicates, at least to me, that the perpetuation of the State of War actually is in the interest of the United States.

Peace could lead to unification and unification to a nuclear-armed Korea.

In South Korea, evidently, people's attitude towards North Korea is analogous to West Germans towards East Germany - one people, one country.

And they blame great powers for the continued partition of their country.

kao_hsien_chih

I don't think the interests of North Korea, South Korea, and US are necessarily incompatible, with respect to maintaining the status quo and making deals, at least in the big picture. Most of these "provocations" are actually not as big a deal as they might seem, but are just part of bargaining process. Of course, things could go haywire if the wrong buttons get pushed, obviously.

From NK's perspective, they stand to lose next to nothing even if they "escalate" the threats. An actual full-scale shooting war will be too costly for anyone to seriously contemplate. The more "uncomfortable" they make the status quo through their "provocations," they have some chance that others will fold, make some sort of deal (whether it is or isn't a peace treaty or diplomatic recognition.), and more important, offer up material/economic aid. Even if no one bites, so to speak, the status quo of the present is maintained. There are, however, reasons to believe that NK would prefer to make a deal sooner than later, provided that it can be made on the terms it likes. Contrary to what appears on surface, Koreans (both North and South) have always distrusted the Chinese. Certainly, from the NK perspective, having China as the sole source of material support for the regime severely restricts their room for maneuver, while opening up to SK, US, and Japan, if the terms can be controlled in their favor, would give them leverage.

From South Korean perspective, I think the attitude towards unification is more like that between Austria and Germany between World Wars, rather than East and West Germanies. "Officially," there is a great deal of interest in unification, but, privately, many (increasingly more and more of the younger generation of South Koreans) think it's too much of a trouble to actually unify the Koreas, both in political and economic terms. Some means of propping up the Northern regime is desirable, if the costs are within limits and if it can be trusted to behave itself (which is the big if). If some sort of deal can be reached, that would provide the framework for such deals.

From the US perspective, as Mr. Richardson noted below, the main goal is to keep a lid on things, keeping the region quiet, without relations among China, Japan, and the Koreas spiraling out of control. Making a deal with the North is probably the best means of achieving this.

So, the irony is that, in the end, everyone wants to make some kind of deal. However, North Korea is especially insistent that they be able to dictate the terms of whatever deal that may be arrived at. Thus, all the saber rattling, with the nukes and missiles and what nots. They will reject the offers that they don't like and will try to ratchet up the pressure until they get exactly what they want. The question is whether anyone in the countries whom they are dealing with can tolerate the appearance of bowing before threats (and knowing that NK might try the same trick again, to change the terms of the deal in the future, if it so desires). And the situation is further compounded by the fact that the one country that wants to see potential deals between NK and others scuppered is China, whose leverage over its protege will be undermined.

Castellio

Obviously this is a large issue with many complicating factors. However: in brief; no major power wants to see Korea unified, not Japan, not Russia, not China and not the US. The government of South Korea isn't eager, either, both for strategic and domestic reasons. It wouldn't mind (could potentially deal with) the collapse of North Korea, but it can't stand the idea of a federation where the North would play a role in its own political future, however symbolic.

And those, right now, are the options: federation or collapse. The conversation around federation includes the tearing down of all nuclear weapons programs in the North (a la Libya).

And frankly, collapse is extremely unlikely, as China doesn't wish it. It doesn't want US troops brought North.

Many people of Korea, both north and south, continue to think it an inevitability. If you go to the new Museum of Korea in Seoul, you would not learn that Korea is currently divided. But neither of the governments is actually working towards unification: they need each other as enemies to maintain their positions.

With respect, Neil's comment that the US is hoping to stop an arms race is, from my perspective, bizarre; the US works very hard to sell arms into both Japan and South Korea, and is quite happy militarizing both societies. What has happened in South Korea, however, is the development of an indigenous military industry. The US is not so keen on this, but it will continue. (The ROK intends to eventually compete internationally in the sale of weapons.) It is true that the US would prefer not to see (ie. forbids) nuclear weapons in both Japan and Korea; in the long run it won't get its wish.

It would be wrong to under-estimate the integration of the South Korean and Japanese economies, governments and military with the US; having said that, both countries have indigenous aspirations, and for both the major trading partner in now China.

Being close to the US, however, is still thought the best safeguard for national protection, and the best balance against China.

Neil Richardson

"With respect, Neil's comment that the US is hoping to stop an arms race is, from my perspective, bizarre; the US works very hard to sell arms into both Japan and South Korea, and is quite happy militarizing both societies. What has happened in South Korea, however, is the development of an indigenous military industry. The US is not so keen on this, but it will continue. (The ROK intends to eventually compete internationally in the sale of weapons.) It is true that the US would prefer not to see (ie. forbids) nuclear weapons in both Japan and Korea; in the long run it won't get its wish."

Perhaps I wasn't clear above. I was strictly referring to nuclear and missile development not conventional arms. In fact we'd been asking ROK to upgrade some its relics such as M-41 tanks and F-86s as far back as 1983 (I see that they're finally retiring M-48s and plan to do the same for F-5s). The 1-2-3 agreement negotiations and the missile guidelines are directly interlinked with our policies toward DPRK. As for the United States not getting our wish, well that's possible. A part of me thinks it's best if we walk away from this in toto. However, what I was describing is the stated position of the USG. If South Koreans think they're smart enough undertake that path while surrounded by a couple of whales, well maybe it's for the best.

Neil Richardson

Babak:

I'll split my reply into two parts.

"It seems odd to me, reading your comments, that RoK is more of a concern than DPRK.
The way I read your comments, it sounds like the way things are on the Korean Penninsula actually quite acceptable to US."

I would not go that far. In the short term, one should not underestimate the possibility of DPRK selling missile and nuclear technology to almost anyone willing to pay. There is a real danger in that during the period of power consolidation by Kim Jong-un, interdiction efforts could escalate rapidly toward the brink of a general war. From what little one can glean from what is coming out of DPRK, the purges have been even more vigorous than the one which followed the death of Kim Il-sung. Incidentally Kim Kyok-shik who recently became the defense minister was the 4th Corps commander when Jong-un had appeared with him shortly before the shelling of Yeonpyeungdo. As I've mentioned years ago, the regime preservation is the paramount goal of the Kim family. The clear lesson they drew from 2003 is that the US would not attempt a regime change if we could be "deterred" from doing so with nuclear weapons. Whether this is a correct supposition or not is seriously debatable as we'll find out when DPRK ups the ante in the coming years. (And they will test Park Geun-hye at some point in the near future.)

"That is, the perpetuation of State of War on the Korean Penninsula and the DPRK activities help to constrain (frighten, in other words) RoK leaders to the extent that they comply with US wishes."

Well, that was certainly true perhaps until 2003 when Roh Moo-hyun became the president. There were a lot of controversies regarding the basing arrangements of the USFK as well as the conduct of US personnel (the SOFA issues). Roh had come to power riding what was called the "386 generation" of South Koreans who tend to be anti-American. In a series of contentious bilateral meetings, (to the surprise of many) Rumsfeld and Feith had offered to completely withdraw US forces. This evidently shocked the Roh cabinet, and they backtracked rapidly to ask for a gradual transition which would dismantle the Combined Forces Command. This was not a problem for the United States as Rumsfeld had pointed out the need for the US forces to reduce our footprint around the world (i.e., the reduction of permanent bases). The real problem is that the South Koreans themselves cannot decide what they want to do. They foot about half of the cost of USFK and would like to take back some of the prime real estate (Yongsan). We pretty much gave them most of what they'd asked for in exchange for removing the 2ID from forward bases. At first 2012 was supposed to be the deadline for the transfer of operational command (the end of CFC) of ROKA. After Yeunpyeungdo, the Lee administration changed its mind and pushed the date back to 2015. And now they want the 2ID to forward deploy its division artillery at Tongducheon which makes little sense for the US.

(P.S. I had posted this earlier in the day, but somehow it must've been filtered out)

Neil Richardson

"In this sense, then, Peace is not useful to US - it could increase her strategic costs and efforts; North Korea being a God-send convenience."

Well, it depends on what you mean by strategic costs. A general war in Korea would make TWOT look like a Sunday picnic in terms of cost in lives and materiel. I think you misconstrue what I've stated above. The United States had seriously considered the withdrawal of US forces during the Carter administration. And I have every reason to believe that Rumsfeld was fully prepared to recommend the withdrawal of the USFK. To us this is sunk cost that return almost nothing of value after the Vietnam War. Simply we don't need ROK for our security considerations in East Asia even if one assumes the worst future for the Sino-US relationship in the coming decades.

"Which also implies that US would be opposed to any form of Korean unification since, even if RoK absorbes DPRK, the unified state will immediately become a nuclear-armed state."

I would not stretch that far. At this point it's the South Koreans who have deep reservations about a quick reunification as they saw the economic costs of the German reunification. The United States would not oppose the reunification if ROK absorbs DPRK any more than it did when FRG absorbed DDR 1989. Remember that the German question was a lot more volatile issue even among allies. The poll numbers fluctuate so the usual caveat is in order. However, today over 70 percent of South Koreans want ROK to remain allied to the US even after the reunification. The PRC has sent out mixed signals over the years, but it's they who would oppose the reunification especially if ROK decides to retain nuclear weapons under such conditions.

"On the other hand, I do not understand why US considers there to be any strategic costs - so what if RoK can target Tokyo or Beijing with nuclear weapons? Why does North East Asia matter to US security? I confess that I cannot see a serious threat there."

It might come to that if the United States were to wash our hands of this mess. You also have to remember that we have mutual defense treaty obligations with ROK and Japan. Contrary to some who attribute the worst to the United States' motives and intentions, we would rather try to prevent instability in the region. Call it a hegemonic responsibility. Rumsfeld had declared Japan and Australia as the lynchpins of our Pacific strategy. That hasn't changed today. ROK isn't critical to our overall defense requirements. The danger that most people (other than Waltz and Mearsheimer) see is that when states acquire nuclear weapons capability, there is a transition before attaining survivable second-strike capability. This period could be highly unstable if local crises threaten to escalate (e.g., Senkaku or Dokdo).

"In regards to China clamping down on DPRK - I just cannot see it under any circumstance. Korea was the Son-in-Law Country under the Empire; I do not believe that the People's Republic would treat it differently."

I do not believe I've made this argument clear (obviously I have deep reservations about this). The proponents (mostly South Koreans) of this view believe that if the PRC were to face the prospect of a nuclear armed ROK, they'd move quickly to force DPRK to agree to a comprehensive nuclear ban on the peninsula. The United States could then agree to withdraw the USFK and normalize relationship with DPRK. I would not extrapolate anything from the past history of the Zhongguo suzerainty. The PRC's support of DPRK has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with pure realist considerations namely the last two times a hostile power reached the Yalu, China paid a heavy price. Looking at the matter from the ROK point of view, it makes far more sense to seek neutrality after reunification however far into the future that might be.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you.

Castellio

I appreciate your response, and thank you for it. Yes, given the clarification you are right.

As you know, there is a new naval facility being constructed on Jeju Island (an unpopular move among the inhabitants) for US and SK use; so I don't see any level of US disengagement in the foreseeable future. If the "pivot to Asia" means anything it seems to mean a tightening of the circle around China, and a tightening of the military integration with the secondary (so to speak) nations.

I think South Koreans, speaking as a generalization, are aware of their comparative weakness.

turcopolier

Castellio

"... Neil's comment that the US is hoping to stop an arms race is, from my perspective, bizarre; the US works very hard to sell arms into both Japan and South Korea, and is quite happy militarizing both societies."

In the interest of full disclosure of interests and identity, it is noted that your IP is in Vancouver, BC and I assume you are Canadian. pl

Neil Richardson

Dear Col. Lang:

It seems Typepad spam filter might be redirecting my posts which were sent yesterday. I'll try to re-post my replies to Babak and AE.

Neil Richardson

AE:

"What where the agreed to terms that Clinton & Bush reneged on-and could these terms be reimplemented in a New Framework ? And is it likely this newly acquired North Koreans capability could trigger a nuclear arms race with the neighbors ie Japan & Australia ? It would seem that the PRC would not want an nuclear armed Japan . And as an aside did the Schmidt /Goggle /Richardson visit have any impact on relations with our newest Dear Leader in Pyonyang ?"

Regarding the non-compliance of the Agreed Framework by both parties, I do not accept this explanation. First, the DPRK negotiators were told that the agreement was subject to congressional approval, i.e. the funds had to be included in the budgetary process. The reason why the oil shipments were late was due to the fact that DOD had to use its own funds to pay for them (call it institutional inertia as nobody wanted to put up the money without the prospect of getting reimbursed). What happened in the midterm election of 1994? Also, remember that the Agreed Framework was based on the idea of tit-for-tat strategy in confidence-building measures. Given DPRK's history, it was more than a generous set of concessions. There is a reason why DPRK has had to use hard currency for its foreign transactions after 1984. As for the Clinton administration's "reneging," well perhaps the North Koreans should've thought about potential consequences before launching a missile over Japan in 1998. In any case, Clinton was seriously considering making a visit to DPRK and agree to normalization during the last two years of his term (e.g., Albright's embarrassing trip to Pyongyang in 2000). However, as Wendy Sherman said there were other doubts emerging about the DPRK compliance even as both sides were heavily engaged in the negotiations to limit missile technology transfer.

As for the AF compliance, whether one believes that the uranium program started in 1995 or 2001, the fact is DPRK knew it was a violation and admitted it to James Kelly. I have very little regard for the Bush administration, but it's very hard to accept the notion that the decision to restart the enrichment program was made only after the "Axis of Evil" speech.

As for a potential deal in the near future, well that's not very likely. There are ongoing purges as Kim Jong-un tries to consolidate his power (e.g., Ri Young-ho, Kim Jong-gak, and the hapless Kim Chol etc etc). As I've stated several years ago, the consolidation of power for Jong-il was carried out over many years (probably starting in 1976). Even then he had to deal with a coup attempt by the 6th Army Corps. Jong-un faces a far more compressed timeline with little preparation.

(P.S. I had posted this yesterday, but it might've been filtered out)

Neil Richardson

Babak:
(I posted this a couple of times yesterday, but it didn't appear. Perhaps Typepad's spam filter diverted it)

"It seems odd to me, reading your comments, that RoK is more of a concern than DPRK.
The way I read your comments, it sounds like the way things are on the Korean Penninsula actually quite acceptable to US."

I would not go that far. In the short term, one should not underestimate the possibility of DPRK selling missile and nuclear technology to almost anyone willing to pay. There is a real danger in that during the period of power consolidation by Kim Jong-un, interdiction efforts could escalate rapidly toward the brink of a general war. From what little one can glean from what is coming out of DPRK, the purges have been even more vigorous than the one which followed the death of Kim Il-sung. Incidentally Kim Kyok-shik who recently became the defense minister was the 4th Corps commander when Jong-un had appeared with him shortly before the shelling of Yeonpyeungdo. As I've mentioned years ago, the regime preservation is the paramount goal of the Kim family. The clear lesson they drew from 2003 is that the US would not attempt a regime change if we could be "deterred" from doing so with nuclear weapons. Whether this is a correct supposition or not is seriously debatable as we'll find out when DPRK ups the ante in the coming years. (And they will test Park Geun-hye at some point in the near future.)

"That is, the perpetuation of State of War on the Korean Penninsula and the DPRK activities help to constrain (frighten, in other words) RoK leaders to the extent that they comply with US wishes."

Well, that was certainly true perhaps until 2003 when Roh Moo-hyun became the president. There were a lot of controversies regarding the basing arrangements of the USFK as well as the conduct of US personnel (the SOFA issues). Roh had come to power riding what was called the "386 generation" of South Koreans who tend to be anti-American. In a series of contentious bilateral meetings, (to the surprise of many) Rumsfeld and Feith had offered to completely withdraw US forces. This evidently shocked the Roh cabinet, and they backtracked rapidly to ask for a gradual transition which would dismantle the Combined Forces Command. This was not a problem for the United States as Rumsfeld had pointed out the need for the US forces to reduce our footprint around the world (i.e., the reduction of permanent bases). The real problem is that the South Koreans themselves cannot decide what they want to do. They foot about half of the cost of USFK and would like to take back some of the prime real estate (Yongsan). We pretty much gave them most of what they'd asked for in exchange for removing the 2ID from forward bases. At first 2012 was supposed to be the deadline for the transfer of operational control (the end of CFC) of ROKA. After Yeunpyeungdo, the Lee administration changed its mind and pushed the date back to 2015. And now they want the 2ID to forward deploy its division artillery at Tongducheon which makes little sense for the US.

"In this sense, then, Peace is not useful to US - it could increase her strategic costs and efforts; North Korea being a God-send convenience."

Well, it depends on what you mean by strategic costs. A general war in Korea would make TWOT look like a Sunday picnic in terms of cost in lives and materiel. I think you misconstrue what I've stated above. The United States had announced the withdrawal of US ground forces during the Carter administration until new intelligence estimates forced the WH to reverse the decision in 1978. And I have every reason to believe that Rumsfeld was fully prepared to recommend the withdrawal of the USFK. To us this is sunk cost that return almost nothing of value after the Vietnam War. Simply we don't need ROK for our security considerations in East Asia even if one assumes the worst future for the Sino-US relationship in the coming decades.

"Which also implies that US would be opposed to any form of Korean unification since, even if RoK absorbes DPRK, the unified state will immediately become a nuclear-armed state."

I would not stretch that far. At this point it's the South Koreans who have deep reservations about a quick reunification as they saw the economic costs of the German reunification. The United States would not oppose the reunification if ROK absorbs DPRK any more than it did when FRG absorbed DDR 1989. Remember that the German question was a lot more volatile issue even among allies. The poll numbers fluctuate so the usual caveat is in order. However, today over 70 percent of South Koreans want ROK to remain allied to the US even after the reunification. The PRC has sent out mixed signals over the years, but it's they who would oppose the reunification especially if ROK decides to retain nuclear weapons under such conditions.

"On the other hand, I do not understand why US considers there to be any strategic costs - so what if RoK can target Tokyo or Beijing with nuclear weapons? Why does North East Asia matter to US security? I confess that I cannot see a serious threat there."

It might come to that if the United States were to wash our hands of this mess. You also have to remember that we have mutual defense treaty obligations with ROK and Japan. Contrary to some who attribute the worst to the United States' motives and intentions, we would rather try to prevent instability in the region. Call it a hegemonic responsibility. Rumsfeld had declared Japan and Australia as the lynchpins of our Pacific strategy. That hasn't changed today. ROK isn't critical to our overall defense requirements. The danger that most people (other than Waltz and Mearsheimer) see is that when states acquire nuclear weapons capability, there is a transition before attaining survivable second-strike capability. This period could be highly unstable if local crises threaten to escalate (e.g., Senkaku or Dokdo).

"In regards to China clamping down on DPRK - I just cannot see it under any circumstance. Korea was the Son-in-Law Country under the Empire; I do not believe that the People's Republic would treat it differently."

I do not believe I've made this argument clear (obviously I have deep reservations about this). The proponents (mostly South Koreans) of this view believe that if the PRC were to face the prospect of a nuclear armed ROK, they'd move quickly to force DPRK to agree to a comprehensive nuclear ban on the peninsula. The United States could then agree to withdraw the USFK and normalize relationship with DPRK. I would not extrapolate anything from the past history of the Zhongguo suzerainty. The PRC's support of DPRK has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with pure realist considerations namely the last two times a hostile power reached the Yalu, China paid a heavy price. Looking at the matter from the ROK point of view, it makes far more sense to seek neutrality after reunification however far into the future that might be.

turcopolier

NR

I looked in the SPAM bin and retrieved some of yours. Any still missing? I think this has something to do with comment length. pl

Neil Richardson

COL Lang:

No, these three are the only ones (two to Babak and one to AE). Unfortunately I reposted them. From now on I'll limit the length of replies

turcopolier

NR

I have now asked typepad what the problem might be. pl

Castellio

For the record, I am happy with the length of your reply. I think the brevity of quick posts sometimes creates confusion. Your comments are factual and I have no argument with them.

Just a question: why the current insistence on building a naval facility on Jeju?


Babak Makkinejad

Thank you very much; I will have to mull all of this and think it through.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you, very interesting.

Alba Etie

Thank you Mr Richardson-this very informative .

Neil Richardson

Castellio:

"Just a question: why the current insistence on building a naval facility on Jeju? "
Is that how you view it? The United States negotiated for port of call rights. (IIRC back in 2006). The plan to build the base was first proposed by the Kim Young-sam administration back in 1992. I mean of all people, it was Roh Moo-hyun who had again pushed for this back in 2005. Personally I think it was a serious mistake on the part of the Navy as the bad publicity just isn't worth it. USN has redundancy in terms of sub docks at Sasebo, White Beach, Busan, Jinhae, etc etc.

This has been so badly mishandled by both ROK MND and PACOM that I think DOD should just scrap the idea and withdraw the request. The controversy has a very familiar ring to a lot of us who'd served and worked in ROK. The ROKN expansion program started with Admiral Ahn Byoung-tae way back in 1994 (The term "Ocean-going Navy", ie. a blue water navy first appeared at the time). DJ Kim had publicly declared in 2001 that ROK would develop a "strategic mobile fleet that protects state interests in the five big oceans and play a role in keeping peace in the world." In 2005 the MND unveiled the Defense Reform 2020 which contained the three-tiered KDX program with KDX-IIAs tailored for foreign export. I mean even if had we not stupidly entangled ourselves into this by requesting port facility modifications, the MND would've done it themselves anyway for interoperability. In the aftermath of Kwangju, Gen. Wickham was slandered and libeled by the usual suspects in ROK (the opcon of ROKA units). The KTC/Rod Range controversy would've been comical had it not been for the fact that it dealt with combat readiness of 2ID (Since South Koreans had expected these men and women to shed blood as tripwire, the least they could've done was to accommodate their LFX requirements).

ROK's economic lifeline is based on freedom of navigation through East China Sea. Increasing disputes over EEZ and fishing rights only further push ROK's desire to increase naval buildup which is understandable. A substantial naval program also helps the big three shipbuilders. On a side note, the programs like KDX-IIAs are what exasperates the US. It's fine if arms export helps you improve economies of scale. However, what is frustrating is seeing ROK score the sales of K2 tanks to Turkey (And GD-LS was not a competitor so this isn't sour grapes) when I saw FROKA units still laboring to keep M48 tanks running in the field only three years ago. Our complaint has been that ROK should equip its own people first so that they don't expect the good old days of waiting around for 500,000 plus reinforcement from the US in the event of a general invasion by DPRK. ROK spends *2.7* percent of GDP on defense.

Castellio

Thank you. Your response is interesting to me on several levels. If I'm not misunderstanding, you are saying that the push to greater naval power – blue water capability – is coming from the ROK, and the base on Jeju has been 'deflected' domestically as essentially an American initiative, which it isn't. You also criticize an arms policy which is export driven, and not appropriately defense driven. And you point to an integration of new military commitments with fueling domestic growth through its well developed manufacturing sector (ship building, steel, electronics).

I accept all of that, and point out that your comment is perhaps one of the few places where this is clearly put together in an accessible form.

Where we might disagree, is whether the US actively encourages (or not) this independent desire of South Korea for enhanced military capabilities, structurally (for lack of a better word) integrated into its current model of economic growth. My understanding is that the US encourages this in both SK and Japan, as a strengthening of allies in critical North East Asia, and as a client for military sales, and actively wants to see more of the GDP of both countries spent on defense. If I'm wrong, please help me see where I'm mistaken.

Neil Richardson

Castellio:

"Where we might disagree, is whether the US actively encourages (or not) this independent desire of South Korea for enhanced military capabilities, structurally (for lack of a better word) integrated into its current model of economic growth. My understanding is that the US encourages this in both SK and Japan, as a strengthening of allies in critical North East Asia, and as a client for military sales, and actively wants to see more of the GDP of both countries spent on defense. If I'm wrong, please help me see where I'm mistaken."

The United States has been encouraging the growth of ROK's armament industry since 1972. In the immediate period following the Vietnam War, we were on a path of separation until the new intelligence estimates prompted the reversal of the course in 1978. (E.g., the withdrawal of the 7ID in 1971 as well as Carter's decision to withdraw US ground forces) As I stated earlier, it's strictly in the areas of nuclear weaponization program and long range delivery systems capability where we have sought to limit ROK's aspirations. This is related to the non-proliferation regime and regional stability issues.

Perhaps I can further clarify my point on defense spending and arms exports. When ROK allocates a signficant portion of a production run of say K-2s or the future KFXs for export, it is diverting what might've been used by ROKA or ROKAF. Production rates of current and future generation advanced weapons systems are very low. It's not like these are 300 M-4 Shermans or 700 T-34s rolling out of factories every 24 hours. In the meantime you've got line units struggling to make do with equipment that's twice as old as the kids operating them. When there is such a disparity in technological level between ROK and DPRK, why won't they exploit and maximize it? Well the simple answer is that 1) successive ROK administrations didn't think that a general war was possible, and therefore 2) there had been little need to appropriate defense budget for such upgrades (i.e., pay Hyundai for K1A1s or K2s for example). Finally, the United States provided the insurance via extended deterrence and the expectation of massive reinforcements if a war were to break out.

Japan has a formidable arms industry, but had self-limited themselves until 2012 when they relaxed the export ban. My guess which is based on the reading of the recent SDF white paper is that they will strongly consider "selling" them (heavily subsidized transfers) to potential allies in SE Asia such as the Philippines and perhaps even Vietnam in the coming decades. Regarding Japan, the biggest challenges facing them are the historical burden of WW2 and the legacy of the Cold War. It's been two decades since the end of the Cold War, but JSDF has been struggling to define its role. I think that's going to change rapidly. In terms of the legacy of the Cold War, like the UK prior to 1982 JSDMF took on a complementary role of securing SLOCs, ASW, etc. As Britain found out in the Falklands War, sometimes a state has to fight a war for which it had been ill-prepared (The RN no longer had true fleet carriers). It should be interesting to see how JSDMF plots its course. It would depend on a variety of factors such as the credibility of the US defense commitment and the level of perceived threat from PRC obviously. Like ROK and PRC, Japan's lifeline is dependent on the freedom of navigation through various maritime choke points in Asia.

I think the two key aspects that are really too big to discuss at this point are 1) the doctrinal development of AirSea Battle and 2) the economics of conventional armament production. Regarding ASB, let me just say that it's in the early stages of development and it will also impact how US allies will adjust in the Pacific. It took the Army and the Air Force maybe 12 years before AirLand Battle matured as a doctrine. Hopefully it takes less time for ASB, but basing agreements and systems acquisition paths will change many times over the course of the next decade.

In terms of the economics of armaments industry, the exponential increase in the per unit cost due to research, development and production really makes it difficult for any state today to field a new weapon system easily without resorting to export/coproduction agreements in order to achieve some measure of economies of scale. Japan, France, Britain and ROK tend to pay higher per unit cost for comparable generation weapons systems due to the small production runs since about 30-40% of the total cost are fixed costs of research and development. States facing lower level of security threats can afford to lengthen the process while hoping to find export markets. However it doesn't seem wise that those facing more acute and immediate challenges ought to follow the same path.

Castellio

I appreciate your concise knowledge and how it fits into your over-view. Thanks.

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