« Ignorance is Strength by Publius Tacitus | Main | The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur by Ted Postol »

19 April 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


There is a tendency in U.S. analysis of North Korea to blame everything on one person, Kim whoever.

Such is always wrong. Iraq wasn't just Saddam, Libya not only Ghaddafi, Syria is not just Assad and North Korea is not Kim Yong Un.

Another false believe is that if only that one person would go away all those people below him would be free to let that small American inside them out and would be happy to live under a U.S. proxy system.

It is far from it. Leaders are comprises that work for and are part of a wider vague elite. The are in general replaceable by other symbolic unifying persons. People are first and foremost tribal or nationalistic. The political system is secondary as long as there is decent food on the table. No one outside of the U.S., besides a few globalist bankers, really wants a U.S. like system.

Kim Young Un did not plan or arrange the recent parade. Others did and they knew exactly what they were doing. Generals, oligarchs, party elite have to agree on general policies. If they don't there will be internal fighting. When the head of the relations with China was killed, last year or so, it was done because the NoKo general strategy is to stay somewhat independent of China, not because Kim Young Un had a hangover.

There is some though that North Korea might try a Myanmar deal with the U.S. - promising distance from China and a somewhat open (gangster) economy in exchange for the end of U.S. belligerence. I wonder if the Trump administration is exploring that - with the whole current hostility being just a cover. I am sure China and Russia are aware of such looming danger to their position and try to counter it.

Peter AU

Although I was looking at this thread for the reason Trump admin + DoD announced Carl Vinson sailing north but ended up south, the NK/SK history is interesting.

A contested zone at end of WWII. Similar to Vietnam and Germany.
Say in Vietnam, Russia won. Vietnam now seems to be an independent nation. On good terms with both US and Russia, no foreign forces stationed there.
In Germany, with the fall of USSR, US won. Foreign forces still stationed there, not on good terms with Russia. Tends to blow whatever way the US wind is blowing.

Korea. Still not settled from WWII. It seems the tensions, between north and south? or are the tensions between US and north? need to be wound down, to allow a gradual reconciliation over a long period of time.

A starting point for reconciliation may be, that in return for NK cutting back on nuke development, US/SK would run exercises well away from NK border that concentrate on defence rather than war gaming the decapitation of the north.
Something along this line has been suggested by China and from what I can make out, also NK.
Looking at it from the outside, the US will settle for nothing less than total submission of NK.



Who's torpedo sank the Cheonan?


You are letting your anti-Americanism get ahead of you. What the Americans did or did not do in the 1950s was in the context of the WWII, where casualty figures were mind-boggling. The Norks are evil in spite of the Americans, not because of anything the Americans had done. All you have to do is to compare dispassionately the cases of South and North Korea. While few in South Korea will welcome war, nonetheless all of the Far East are in debt to the Americans for their sacrifices of blood and treasure to keep it free from the Communists.


We all know how Communists at that time treated elections. One man, one vote, one time.


The challenge here is that I have never heard Trump say he has any South Korean tenants in his building, let alone any North Korean tenants.


"it appears you can incorporate a rocket motor into an otherwise ballistic shell"

Actually it does ... appear so. It looks all the more apparent given that apparently the US (with M549) developed and bought rocket assisted grenades for their artillery ... in the 1970s.

That said, it appears that with the KOKSAN the Nokis have succeeded in building a weapon on 1970s technological level.


'The rocket motor is located in the aft end of the two-piece forged alloy projectile body. The rocket is initiated by a pyrotechnic delay which ignites upon a gun launch and provides a 7-second delay. This delay maximizes the range extension effect of the rocket motor. The copper alloy rotating band is overlay welded to withstand Zone 8S propelling charge launch forces and is protected during storage and handling by a plastic grommet.'


Old Microbiologist

Not with what we believe they have in the way of arms. But, HUMINT in PRK is very shallow and it is mostly guesswork. However, should some "other" countries that have been on the receiving end of sanctions (which everyone except America believes is an overt act of war), might let slip a few more advanced weapons systems. If Iran, China, Pakistan, India, or Russia were to accidentally lose a few supercavitating torpedoes, or some latest model anti-ship missiles, or even some effective jamming systems then the carrier groups are basically floating targets. They always have been so which is the case in modern warfare since it was proven cheap missiles can sink very expensive ships in the Falklands. IMHO, the Navy is a more or less useless commodity. Even submarines are now useless based on space based satellite imaging, gravimetric, or magnetic detections systems. Submarines depend on being invisible but like stealth, this is a false belief. Carriers are used for force projection but only when we have air superiority and even then only when fighting third tier armies or low intensity conflicts. But, heading into Korean waters against an opponent who has strong resolve and quiet backing from countries we have been very hostile towards is stupid.

That is of course, discounting the conventional artillery focused on Seoul. But, if we want to throw S. Korea to the wolves I suppose this is a good idea but it will also cause economic havoc and be suicidal to the US. We cannot afford even a small wrinkle in the economy as it is all still a house of cards. On top of all of that should we go in there and maybe actually accomplish a win, there is no way China will let us take over the entire Korean peninsula. So, IMHO there is no actual value to any of this posturing if we can't back it up and even under the best case scenarios it is a disaster.

Worse still, the PRK has asked politely now 4 times for the US and South Korea to stop war gaming and practicing the overthrow of the PRK. It makes them extremely nervous (much like the US is doing via NATO to Russia in the Balkans). They have offered 4 times now to get rid of all nuclear weapons were we to comply with this request. We have refused them now 3 times under Obama and once under Trump. This seems insane to me. In the meantime KJU is going to keep building his nuclear arsenal and assemble some kind of MAD weapons systems so they can at least have some parity. I would not be surprised at all for the PRK to park a couple of nukes off California some time during the next year assuming they haven't already done so. They have every reason to believe the US is an existential threat to their existence.

William P. Fitzgerald III

Actually, b, the Soviets were full members of the U.N. with a seat on the security council. However, in June of 1950 they were boycotting over some other issue and no one was in place to exercise the veto which each of the five permanent members has. That raises the question of whether they knew the North Korean plan in advance.

China also was a member and had a permanent seat on the S.C. but, of course "China" at that time was an island off the mainland and always voted the American way.



He feels pretty unhinged to me too, PA. Watched too much propaganda? What ya think? But maybe I am not a fan of political dynasties, no matter if of the democratically elected or absurdly enough communist variance. With stability exceptions. ;) Maybe?

Your response reminds me of an exchange Kao* had with someone here. Was that you? All I recall is, I gave up trying to understand the Korean political context. Just as there seemed to be a deeper underlying clash of opinions.




What is the basis for your description of the anti-Japanese resistance forces as "nominally communist?" I found the following link to then Major Robert Sawyer's history of KMAG. It is a pdf of the whole book. file:///C:/Users/Pat/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.IE5/SCMYM3J5/military_advisors_in_korea_kmag.pdf

It seems to me that this would be of interest to all. pl


Recently, China sent the signal that it will not allow U.S. forces near the Yalu. A similar signal was sent during the Korean War which was ignored by the U.S.

The Chinese weren't bluffing then and I don't believe that they are bluffing now.

The question is what will the U.S. government do this time.

Babak Makkinejad

This is the link:



Some interesting observations here from an Australian ex-Ambassador to Korea. http://johnmenadue.com/?p=10120


They communists in Korea were more nationalists than communists. While some (like Kim Il Sung) had fought in China for Chinese liberation they started pushing off Chinese (communist) influence as soon as possible. Korean tradition of (heavenly) authority and reverence for ancestors does not really fit pure communist thought.

The north depended on Russia and China and had to sing their tune - thus "communists" nominally following Marx and Lenin but essentially doing their own Korean thing. The industry and much land in the north had been nearly solely in Japanese hand. It was thereby easily nationalized when the Japanese had to leave. There was not much need for a real revolution.

In modern times the (near) famine in the 1990s led to a change in the agricultural and system. Private farmer markets were allowed. These were not reigned in after the famine was over. Instead they have been expanded. Small private industry is also cropping up. How far that will go is anyone's guess. For now it helps to market the byungjin policy - the parallel development of the economic and nuclear capabilities.

(The idea behind byungjin is that a nuclear capability will allow to deter aggressors and lower the horrendous economic burden of a much oversized conventional military. More people could become useful in the economy instead of standing next to some gun in some cave.

The offer NoKo made, stop of nuke and missile development for a stop of aggressive U.S./SoKo maneuvers, is also based on that idea -> Less military necessity -> more economic development.)

Hood Canal Gardner

Bingo. What the next card Bill? Best thought will do.

Virginia Slim

I won't pass judgment on whether Trump is smart enough to see through the Warhawk faction in DC, but I do think that he sees their support as increasingly necessary for his political survival. When Lindsey Graham goes so far as to declare that he is "all in" for Trump, we probably get a fair idea what the future holds.


Come on guys, NK is not going to give up their Nukes, and they would be foolhardy to do so. The best deal possible is 1) for them to freeze their missile & nuke program in place, shutting down their plutonium plant, and 2) for the U.S. to get off the Peninsula and stop those ridiculous yearly provocative yuuuge exercises. Our troops do not need to be held hostage in the cold frostbitten place. B1's, B2's, B-52, F-22's can easily reach there if need be.

S.Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world, has nearly half a million troops under arms, and along with Japan could have nukes probably w/i a month if they so desired. Like Buchanan asks: What the hell are we doing over there? protecting our Imperium? We no longer have a Philippine colony to protect? And the Dutch, British, Japanese, & French have long abandoned theirs.

N. Korea can best be changed the way Deutsche Demokratische Republik & the Soviets were overcome. By having a preposterously higher standard of living next door, bribery, and a sunshine policy.



Yeah, I was starting to write that PRC probably would not give up NK, then started to realize that Seoul is full of Beijing's friends--but also with plenty of people who are wary of suspicious of them, too. It may be that a friend of Beijing may be installed in the Blue House soon enough, but it won't be a sure thing. Even after the decade of the blue horse government, the new DPP gov't in Taipei is not going to be pushover for CCP. Park was not, for all the good personal relationships she had with CCP leaders, as accommodating of PRC's wants after all. If I were CCP leadership, I'd hedge bets and try to hold on to NK, even if I try to expand influence in SK.


Joe, not necessarily. The Korean War never really ended; there was never a peace treaty. There was an armistice to cease hostilities. N.
Korea has in the last few years repudiated its participation in its terms.



Maybe so about NK not being really "communist," but Korea before 19th century was hardly a nice place. Brutal, totalitarian (in an oddly apt), corrupt, backwards, absurdly insular, and ridiculously full of itself. In a way, NK really does look like how old Korean kingdom looked like circa 1800.

While Japanese rule over Korea was often brutal, it did force Koreans to open up and see the world for what it is. I always wondered what might have happened if the Japanese were not defeated in World War II, and I imagined that there would have been two Koreas, one that wanted to withdraw back into the old shell and shut out the outside world and the other that wanted to remain engaged via a connection to Japan--nobody would have wanted to remain "Japanese"--and even the Japanese were acknowledging that by 1944, although no one can tell if they'd have kept their promises to give Koreans (more) equal rights (probably wouldn't have). Then someone remarked that that is exactly what did happen, even with the Japanese losing: the South that decided that there was some value to being connected to the world, even under leadership of a communist like Park Chung Hee (he was widely suspected of being a Comintern agent, and, before the Korean War, was investigated for alleged secret membership in the communist party and was kicked out of the army. He was not reinstated until halfway through Korean War and was never given a fighting command.) The North, of course, retreated into the medieval shell again.

Gene O.

I understood that Kim Il-sung was a Major in the Soviet Army. At least up until 45.


I agree with Buchanan up to a point. The scenario of the US being "dragged into" a war with PDRK by ROK seems like an inversion of the most likely war scenario. ROK today is not the ROK of Rhee and Park. ROK is the party with the most vital interest in de-escalating the confrontation and IMO they have considerable power to do so if they're willing to get over some historical baggage with China. There are lots of factors that would drive ROK towards alignment with China in a purely rational sense. The Koreans have at least as much against Japan as they do against China, and they are nominal allies. China has a lot more to offer ROK than does the US, economically and diplomatically. China is understandably reluctant to go to bat for the US on the nuclear issue, but they might be more willing to do it for ROK if it leads to a more neutral stance from ROK and more help from ROK in either carrying or alleviating the economic burden that is PDRK in the current situation.


Since when did the US need a credible pretext to start a war? The inordinate number of "false flags" and Gulf of Tonkin incidents, remember the USS Maine in Havana, etc, ad nauseam.


Will the US attack North Korea without the agreement of the South Koreans?

Apparently Bill Clinton wanted to do it but Kim Young-sam objected and put an end to that.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad