Friday, July 7, 2017

What About North Korea?

Crazy dictator with a nuke, what could possibly go wrong? Except maybe we shouldn't push the panic button just yet.  Kim Jong Un isn't crazy in the same sense that an ISIS suicide bomber is.  This article http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/north-korea-after-icbm-test-what-does-it-really-want-n779636 makes a good case for the logic of his behavior: 
"...for all its apocalyptic bluster, the country's pursuit of a nuclear weapons program — including its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch Tuesday — is based on what it believes are a rational set of goals. The most important of these is self-preservation."  
 
"They learned their lesson from Libya and Iraq that the sure-fire way to prevent an attack is to have weapons of mass destruction, rather than just bragging about it," said John Nilsson-Wright, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, a London-based think tank."

"...developing an intercontinental ballistic missile "is a predictable and rational step for North Korea's military programs," according to Andrea Berger, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in California.
"Pyongyang believes that holding continental U.S. targets at risk is essential for deterring the United States from initiating regime change, or from joining a conflict that starts in other ways," she said." 

"...some experts, such as Nilsson-Wright, believe that "North Korea has called Trump's bluff."
He believes that, after the U.S. weighs the heavy casualties that would result, war is unlikely. 
"....North Korea, he added, has "probably handled things in a way that's not so much a miscalculation but a calculated cost-and-benefit analysis." 

 The  primary goal for Kim Jong Un is preservation of his own hegemony and the Kim dynasty. As for the US, there are several choices, none of them good.  A surgical strike to take out Kim Jong, or all out war, would endanger our allies S. Korea and Japan more than any other, and a retaliatory strike or an attempted one, on the US is all but inevitable.  Kim Jong has stated that a negotiated end to his nuclear program is off the table.  I believe that is true. The best choice for us is acceptance, because the ship has already sailed as far as preventing N. Korea from having nuclear weapons. What we will be dealing with is a cold war, mutually assured destruction.  Not what we would prefer, but worked for half a century with Russia.

22 comments:

  1. I've heard so many in the Trump administration say that N/ Korea having the ability to nuke us is just unacceptable, but I don't think they have any coherent plan of how to get the genie back in the bottle.

    There was an interesting article on this by Mark Bowden in The Atlantic ... How to Deal With North Korea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We have never attacked a country that has nuclear weapons. Nobody with nukes ever has. There are cases of have-nukes getting into fights with no-nukes, and Israel has nukes it can't use against Hamas unless it is into suicide pacts. But mutual assured destruction (MAD) seems to hold. Of course, if it ever fails, oh-oh.

    South Korea, Japan, China and the Soviet Union, two of which have nukes, have been under nuclear "threat" -- if ability equals threat -- for years. So what's the big deal if we get under that kind of "threat"? Don't say "nutty leadership." That is a boomerang reply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nukes sort of play the role of what my mother used to call an "equalizer". As you said, MAD seems to hold. That is unless someone gets them who really does want to start Armageddon and doesn't care about their own survival.

      Delete
    2. I think you're right. I also think the consensus is that Kim Jong Un wants them to protect himself and his regime. Protection is the opposite of Armageddon. Speaking of which, there are newly re-empowered Christians in this country who love Israel because they are counting on it to bring on Armageddon and the Second coming. And we have nukes. I worry more about them than about Kim. But I don't worry all that much about either.

      Delete
    3. Tom, yeah, I'm not too worried, either. But I do have a hard time understanding the particular strain of Christianity which thinks Armageddon would be a great idea. We are so not ready for the parousia, if that means having our ducks in a row.

      Delete
    4. You nailed it, Tom. "Nuke me, nuke you" should work just fine with a nuclear NK as it has in the past. I'd worry more about orangutans with nukes.

      Delete
  3. The nuclear country that frightens me is Pakistan. I read recently that they are headed toward becoming the third ranking country in number of nukes.

    They may not have the missiles to send those warheads our way, but as we see with North Korea it does not take a long time to do that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the impression that Pakistan was more worried about India encroaching on them than us. But of course there is a problem with radical groups and Pakistan perhaps fearing that they would be collateral damage in our efforts to squelch them.

      Delete
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/we-think-north-korea-is-crazy-what-if-were-wrong/2017/07/06/d13044b0-6286-11e7-a4f7-af34fc1d9d39_story.html?We%20think%20North%20Korea%20is%20crazy.%20What%20if%20we%E2%80%99re%20wrong&utm_term=.b0853aa1bce8

    We think North Korea is crazy. What if we’re wrong?

    By Fareed Zakaria July 6 at 6:25 PM

    ReplyDelete
  5. We know little about the internal life of N. Korea, the military, the apparatchiks, the citizenry. Not that they are crazy, but that they would go a long way to change their oppressive conditions. Would others in power provoke a confrontation?

    The South Koreans live with a potential attack on Seoul. They also live with divided families, some in the north, some in the south. What impact does / will that have?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Divided families..., maybe some similarities with Germany when it was still divided? I think if the oppressive conditions change in NK, it will have to come from inside their society. Is there anything similar to Radio Free Europe around now? Part of how Kim keeps control is by controlling the flow of information, telling his people that everyone is out to get them. I think we just feed into that when we threaten them over the nukes. And the sanctions, I suppose they are necessary. But they also give Kim an opportunity to say, "See? Look what they are doing to us!"

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  6. I honestly don't know what I think should be done about this, if anything. Dennis Rodman, the court jester who goes over there occasionally: I'd always wondered if he gathers info on the QT.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks like a stand-off. Can Trump & Co. tolerate that?

    ReplyDelete
  8. That's a good question. The Grand Fidget-er may have a problem making prudent comments and sitting on his tiny hands.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Unless there's a solution no one's thought of yet, striking No.Korea seems like a no-win/no-win....hundreds of thousands killed and wounded. The economies of S. Korea destroyed and Japan seriously disrupted. China's to a lesser degree, but dealing with thousand/hundred thousands of refugees. I don't think Korea and China have been great neighbors over the centuries, and except for the current moment (which I see as self-protective for China, and happens to protect N. Korea), northeast China will begin to look like Turkey and its Syrian refugees. Could be wrong!

    ReplyDelete
  10. How come, with China there where it could be embarrassed, I, Trump didn't raise N. Korea at the G-20? Far as I can see, all he did was wander around shaking hands (that, and signing his name, seem to be his proudest accomplishments) with people he didn't know. Btw, when he says, "I was honored," he means whoever he shook hands with was honoring him. Parse carefully.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bernie tweeted that Trump should use the G20 to build consensus about NK, but that's not how he rolls. He seems leery of multinational arrangements.

    Imma go read some Chuck Grassley tweets. The man is a national treasure with gems like this:

    "I hrd Sen Hatch was defending bacon on twitter Thx 4 supporting pork Iowa's # 1 meat industry + more pigs than any other state"

    And this:

    "52 Republicazn senators shld be ashamed that we have not passed health reform by now WE WONT BE ASHAMED WE WILL GO FROM MAJORITY TO MINORITY"

    Shame, Republicazns!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Salvadoran cardinal: Pope sending him to Korea to work for peace

    Cardinal Rosa Chavez said that although he will "continue to be the least of my brother bishops" as auxiliary bishop, he is also entrusted to other matters by Pope Francis. "I already received my first invitation to go to Seoul, South Korea, to attend a meeting to see how we can achieve peace between North and South Korea"

    Cardinal Rosa Chavez was involved in bringing about the peace treaty in El Salvador between the government and the National Liberation Front.

    Interesting development. At the recent US Catholic Convocation, Cardinal Tobin told a favorite Pope Francis story.

    When Francis decided he wanted to go to Lampedusa to express solidarity with the immigrants, the Cardinal Secretary of State told him to carefully reconsider the matter since it was going to be a very symbolic first trip.

    Francis phoned him a week later and said he still wanted to go. The Secretary said that it could be arranged in 6 months, but he should consider waiting a year.

    A week later the president of the Italian airline called the Secretary of State to tell him a Jorge Borgoglio had booked a ticket to Lampedusa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a wonderful story, Jack!

      Delete
  13. It is interesting that this initiative with the Salvadorian Cardinal puts emphasis on the two Koreas rather than external states, and sees a possible answer might lie in a peace treaty between Koreans just as in Salvador.

    It also takes all emphasis away powerful external actors even the Vatican diplomatic corps or Francis himself. It suggests that a powerless bishop in a powerless third world country might have something to offer where others have failed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It is also interesting that this "invitation" has come quickly after the consistory, and that it was likely in the works before the consistory. Also the consistory was called rather quickly to just appoint a few cardinals. That suggests that the Korean initiative might have been in the conceptual phase even before the new cardinals were announced.

    Francis seems to have a lot of creative ideas not only about who should be cardinal electors, but how they might help represent the Pope in unusual ways.

    ReplyDelete