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06 July 2017

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Eric Newhill

I've been thinking for a while now that NoKo can no longer be ignored and that something is going to have to be done about it sooner than later; as ugly in the extreme as that "something" might turn into. The devil is going to get paid tomorrow, if not today. So payment might as well be on our terms to the extent possible.

Seems to me that China is the deciding factor as it was in the original conflict there. I do not understand the Chinese outlook. Perhaps they can be offered a good deal on economic relations with a unified Korea and they would assist in removing the NoKo regime? They also have a bargaining chip with Taiwan and other assets in that area? + US trade arrangements? Seems like there is enough opportunity for some horse trading to override any value in a continued relationship with the troublesome NoKo regime.

Paul

Allow me to play devil's advocate here...

And why should he play nice? Maybe the US and Japan should be playing nice with him. After all, ask yourself why NK is seeking nuclear weapons, and why the country is the way it is today. Given the destruction wrought by the US all across Korea in the 50s, isn't NK's need for nuclear armaments an existential one?

turcopolier

Paul

International relations is not about justice. It is about interests. pl

Sam Peralta

Col. Lang

In your opinion is the little fat boy amenable to negotiation? Would he curb his nuclear and missile development if the US moved out of Korea? Is his strategy to acquire sufficient deterrence to force negotiation?

Where do you see China & Russia come out on this? They're neighbors and probably will experience the fallout if nukes are used by either side.

BraveNewWorld

The offer to stop the missile and nuclear tests in exchange for the US to stop conducting military exercises in South Korea and one other thing I don't remember off the top of my head but it is pretty trivial as well has been on the table for years. I suspect that is where this comes out. Every thing else is a lose, lose situation for the US and the Koreans.

Alaric

Kim's behavior is a result of US policy and the true history of Korea (which this article ignores) and the country's internal problems (some of which are a product of uS policy). It's perhaps time to rethink US policy. Squashing anything that does not bow to US policy is not feasible foreign policy.. especially when said country has ICBMs and nukes. The "madmen" of N KOREA have behaved in a very
rational way when you look deeper than a CNN/state department story. N Korea has been a nuisance but they (unlike the US) have invaded no one.

The US has tolerated N Korea because America's option are severely limited, not just by the N Korean military, but by China and Russia who are of course the North's neighbors. Neither of those nuclear powers is going to allow a nuke strike so close to their borders. China in particular will not allow a US colony on its border. I expect a Trump hot air display and little more.

Now let's consider the incredible hypocrisy that North Korea is rogue and a threat because they tested a ICBM (or IRCM if you believe the Russians). How many of those foes the US have? How often does the US test such devices? How long has the US had a very developed missile program (well over 50 years).

The US policy makers and public don't care about logic or hypocrisy. They are dedicated to rationalizing and perpetuating might makes right but in this case it's questionable who wears the might crown.

Hood Canal Gardner

Q: to what extent, if any?, is NK central or critical to Chinese defense/economy re US/Russia? If the answer is minimal then it seems NK is disposable for the right price..just a matter of time. In passing I sometimes wonder what's holding up the Korean War paperwork.

Fred

Paul,

Yep, the poor ole North Korean's. Guess some folks believe they deserved to conquer the South Koreans.

eakens

Seems to me China would have quite a bit to gain with the US engaging in a war in Korea given the competitive landscape vis-a-vis shipbuilding and consumer electronics. That wouldn't justify a war in itself, but we are talking about significant dollars here that I'm sure look pretty good to some.

Green Zone Café

Not saying it's a good idea, but they probably have what they think is a clever mastermind next generation shock and awe plan for a decapitation strike.

Bill Herschel

Russia and China propose that North Korea freeze their nuclear ams development and proliferation and that the U.S. stop military exercises with the South. I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem with a police action in North Korea to interfere with their military development. China can put a MIRV on my kitchen table. Why don't we invade China? And why don't we realize that if we invade North Korea, we'll lose.

Swami

The N Korea situation is beyond serious. It appears some on these threads are well-connected in military circles. A question for them: is the Administration at the highest levels giving this the attention it deserves?

Mark A. Gaughan

Pat,
Do you see any chance at all that negotiating with the North Koreans can lead to them cancelling their Nuclear missile plans? If so, what do you think that deal would be?
Mark

phodges

Colonel I think you have laid out the sweetest dreams of our Geopolitical rivals.

But rather than seeing N Korea as a 'self destruct' button the Imperial planners see just one more victim to feed the Imperial coffer for a short while. How much gold does N Korea have? If by chance some our economic competitors get destroyed in the process that is just a bonus. How far from the front line is Samsung??? Are Toyota and Subaru in range of N Korean missiles?

Of course the obvious solution is to remove our occupation troops and allow the Koreans to run their own country. But a unified and independent Korea is last thing anyone but the Koreans wants.

kao_hsien_chih

The 50s are long gone. The past is dead and buried, and the images of the past invoked by those alive today (including, or rather, especially Koreans) are propaganda pieces tailored to suit today's political agendas. Delving into the past is a real rabbit hole to jump into, and an especially dangerous one, too.

The real danger is that there is no obvious stopping point where neither side can be trusted to not cross. North Koreans want to use the nuclear threat to blackmail everyone else into granting them everything that they like. The Chinese and South Koreans want to use the North Korean nuclear weapons to advance their own agendas, which are often at odds with US interests (huge chutzpah for the latter, since the usual story that comes out of any confrontation with NK is how NK can wipe out Seoul in minutes, but medieval kings of Korea, after decades of depredations by Mongols, did promptly turn the Khan's armies to props for their own regime against Korean nobles who threatened their power domestically by becoming the "son-in-law" regime--and later the Japanese, who until then, posed no threat to Koreans whatsoever. NK nukes are like Kublai Khan's armies to the South Korean regime.) Japan wants to use nuclear threat to "normalize" themselves.

And what's US got to do with any of these? Nothing! We have been reduced to a toy for these guys to manipulate, a sugar daddy to be milked for endless concessions. I don't see why we should keep putting up with these. If the NK threat rises above some threshold, we should whack them and leave. If it doesn't, we should still pick things up and leave, and let the Asians deal with their own mess.

BillWade

Smiling here, I would ask Muammar Qaddafi if he was still around.

turcopolier

Alaric

as I said, foreign policy is not about justice. pl

Ante

To put all the absurd politics, supporting elements of Japanese imposed vichy police state, aside, The Korean War was a great demonstration of the failure of airpower-solves-everything doctrine.

What's embarrassed me most is the degree to which our politicians and generals have become like the North Koreans, shouting idiotic bellicosities, losing credibility with each empty threat. Acting like the weakest bullies on the playground, they disgrace us.
When you have fields bristling with ICBMs, nuclear submarines lurking silently, when you have the ability to project force anywhere, you don't need to woof. You don't need to make a single threat. All those things allow you to be polite and kind to your adversaries. Call me old fashioned, but that's a much greater show of strength than bragging and boasting for the cameras.

zk

It seems to me that a military option would be a disaster for everyone.
Unless the USA has some magic weapon that can :
- neutralize the growing nuclear threat
- prevent a military retaliation on SK & Japan
- prevent the proliferation of NK nuke & missile tech know how

Military solution would bring great destruction and loss of human life.
It would also send a strong message to all American allies (or quasi vassal states if you prefer the Russian classification).
The message would be that being a US ally is fine, unless and until the US feels genuinely threatened.
After that point is reached, the US will sacrifice it's allies to protect itself.
This would hurt the US immensely and quicken the decline.

I believe the much better approach is for all interested parties to find a way to bring the NK to the fold, so to speak.
A united and neutral Korea would be an economic and military powerhouse. But it takes great minds to make this happen.
In this day and age, great minds in places of power seem to be in low supply.

Eric Newhill

James,
Things may already be changing. China normalized relations with SoKo some time ago. China has been, apparently, shaping a carrots and sticks policy to attempt to curb NoKo nuclear aspirations. China and NoKo may no longer be "brothers in arms": http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/chinas-top-korean-war-historian-china-north-korea-are-no-20268

IMO it is a mistake to think that a non-aggression policy is going to appease NoKo and alleviate the problem. That is you coming from an America as bad guy perspective. Beyond US/SoKo shared economic interests, there are treaty/defense obligations that would have to be fulfilled in the event of a North attack on the South. Then there is the disruption of the entire region and all associated economic arrangements, all of which is quite significant. Finally, the threat of an eventual ability to hit the US mainland with nuclear weapons. All of that to be gambled against the notion that NoKo is only concerned with its own defense? Big risky gamble, IMO.

AEL

China is treaty bound to North Korea's defense. A massive American attack on North Korea will bring the Chinese into direct conflict with the USA.

Conflict between the top two global powers is not something to be desired.

different clue

phodges,

I suspect many South Koreans don't really want a re-unification with North Korea. They certainly wouldn't want to be invaded, conquered and looted by NorKo for NorKo benefit. They wouldn't really want to spend the huge money to rehabilitate a NorKo which simply collapsed and needed help. It would cost SouKo relatively more than what it cost West Germany to rehabilitate East Germany.

different clue

James,

We have practiced a very strange sort of containment with China. Our governators have spent the last few decades giving away whole chunks of our industry to China which will make China too powerful for anyone to contain in the long run. Meanwhile we try objecting to their "illegal West Bank Settlements" on their tailor-made artificial islands in the China Sea.

different clue

Eric Newhill,

My best amateur guess from what I have read and heard over the last few years is that China has two reasons for supporting North Korea.

1: They hope to keep the US engaged here as elsewhere so as to keep our attention diverted from figuring out how to protect ourselves from the One Belt One Road Co-Prosperity Sphere which China is patiently building up for all of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia too if they can achieve it.

2: China considers the NorKo regime to be brittle and fear that if it makes any compromise on any issue, all the fatigue-cracks in NorKo society and rulership will split open, NorKo will collapse, and a million or more desperate NorKo refugees will pour into China.

b

North Korea's interest is
- economic development provided that it does
- not get invaded
- not get decapitated and
- has a reliable deterrent against any "preemptive strike".
NoKo has no interest in any aggressive moves for any other purposes. It has declared a "no first strike" nuclear policy.

Constantly discussing and training for decapitation and preemptive strikes, as the U.S. and SoKo do, will only increase NoKo's determination. It has a rudimentary ICBM capability, it has tested nukes, it already tested submarine launches and in 5 years from now it will have combined all of that into a tidy deterrence package. Game over.

China's interest is to have no U.S. stooge near its border. Korea can unite, from a Chinese perspective, if it is guaranteed that it is friendly with China.

U.S. interest is to keep China under threat and to keep its "allies" under control. It also wants to sell lots of weapons. It is not interested in a united Korea at all.

I don't see any of these interests changing in the upcoming years. It is therefore unlikely that there will be any change in the current situation.

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