North Korea: Living in a Fantasy World

Ted Keer's picture
Submitted by Ted Keer on Fri, 2006-10-13 04:04

Both South Korea and Japan have been able to indulge in their pacifist fantasies for so long because of America's willingness to shoulder almost the entire burden of protecting them militarily. Neither state has an armed force ready for the type of military actions necessary; blockade, bombardment, and perhaps invasion, because for so long we have shouldered that burden for them. This strategic mistake has been compounded by the fact that we simultaneously accept the abuse of the leftist elements of these countries which act toward us as if we are foreign occupiers, rather than their sole means of defense. My father and my friend in the 82nd Airborne have both been to Korea, and both say that the generation which lived through WWII & the Korean war are still very appreciative of Americans. But the younger generations have grown up as spoiled brats at our indulgence.

We should immediately hold an emergency meeting with South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, Australia & our allies to discuss the need for the East Asians to forgo their mutual distrust and take actions to defend themselves. We should play hardball, and let them know that we will not sit on the DMZ as hostages for their nutty neighbor to threaten. We should do all we can to support them, except leave our troops on the Korean front line. As for attacking North Korea, I have no problem with this in principle. North Korea's sortie across the DMZ 24 hours before their test was likely meant to see whether we would react to any provocation, and they read well the signal that we would not. Bush should also immediately pardon the elderly Korean man who was imprisoned for firing off a gun outside the UN to protest against the North Korean regime some years back. The gentleman fired once into the air, put down the gun, and waited calmly to be arrested.

Finally, an immediate blockade of Korea with a quiet ultimatum to red China that they must not oppose us is an absolute necessity. We have already intercepted North Korea shipments of arms to Iran. Talking heads on TV say that this would be an act of war. This is nonsense, we have already been at war with Korea since the '50's. I doubt their actions have not been in violation of the armistice.

It's time for everyone to wake up.

Ted Keer, 12 October, NYC
this is an adaptation of a previous work by the author


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Where did I say to Blockade China?

Robert's picture

"Finally, an immediate blockade of Korea with a quiet ultimatum to red China that they must not oppose us is an absolute necessity. We have already intercepted North Korea shipments of arms to Iran."

Pardon, I should have said: "blockade Korea and bait Red China." In any event the outcome remains the same. You are advocating pissing in China's swimming pool. As Craig has pointed out, the Chinese aren't cowed by threats.

They know very well the limitations of the US military. They know that they could win air, land and sea dominance in Korea faster than the US could, simply because they have more troops, aircraft and ships in the region than the US does. Your threats are empty and therefore useless.

In Korea the US is facing the same threat it faced in Germany during the cold war. Respond to any overt act of aggression with all out nuclear attack or get swamped in a tidal wave of conventional military hardware. All out nuclear war will probably involve a nuclear exchange between mainland China and the USA because I doubt that vapourising NK will go down well with the Chinese (or the ROK for that matter).

So unless you are in a hurry to forment nuclear-WWIII, your best bet is to hold the lid on the pot, without giving NK anything, until the US disengages from Afghanistan and Iraq and changes the military calculus. How do you hold the lid on the pot? Basically promise to immolate NK and Red China should anything south of the 38th parallel go boom! Meanwhile get the USAF's airborne laser and the strategic missile defences up and running. Once you have them in place and working well, that knocks one peg out of the Chinese military strategy and should make them a little less eager to encourage Kim to build and test nukes.

In the end, the best outcome would be to have NK fall apart from within. It can't be long now before the hungry natives start noticing how portly Kim JI is...

And as for a formal blockade of NK: bollocks to that. Wait till NK ships enter Pirate riddled waters and sink them on the sly (use a submarine launched torpedo - haven't used them on Afghanistan and Iraq), and blaming it all on the modern Pirates of South East Asia & Somalia. You can inspect them for WMDs etc. while they sit on the ocean floor. Thus you avoid ship-based defences the NKs have installed while simultaneously exploiting the fact that the USN has the best diving & ocean exploration toys in the world.

I'm not advocating pacifism here. I'm advocating restricting military actions to sucker punching NK & Iran until such time as you don't have to or they start fueling their missiles. And if the latter comes to pass, you wipe the entire country off the map as fast and as furiously as possible. Basically, you promise to do unto them what you promised to do unto the late USSR. The cold war is alive and kicking gentlemen, all that has happened is that some new opponents have been tagged into the ring.

A link from John Gagnon on Rumsfeld

Ted Keer's picture

You can click here to see an article in the U.K.'s Daily Mail on Rumsfeld's latest release of the North Korean satellite image. The link was recommended by John Gagnon.

Ted Keer

The Present Situation is Reality

Craig Ceely's picture

Greg:

1. Failure by what standard? Do you know what they were doing? I don't. If the North Korean nuke test was a failure, that doesn't mean that we know Kim is getting more desperate: it means that we know nothing about it.

2. Do you have any evidence that China responds well to threats? They stood against the US Army and Marine Corps in Korea, before they had nuclear weapons of their own. Then in 1964 they exploded their own nuke. They got a Republican US president to grant them diplomatic recognition and they got the UN to shove a founding member nation (the Republic of China) out the door. They've faced the Soviet army -- and exchanged shots with them -- over the Amur and Ussuri River disputes. They fight and win wars with India, seemingly whenever they feel like it. Think about what threats they stand to fear.

3. Yes, the famed Japanese constitution. As we all know, the Chinese, the Israelis, the Indians, the Pakistanis and god knows who else have all developed their nuclear arsenals in public.

4. Israel buys nukes from us? You know something I don't know. As for buying other weapons, as I mentioned earlier, it is not a simple matter.

5. Nobody named Bush will ever employ the option of force against China.

Ted:

What do I think we should do? Hmm...imagine if Yongbon were Mecca.....

Let's Triple Defense Spending!

Ted Keer's picture

Craig, You and I discussed earlier whether or not U.S. defense spending should be increased. It seems that neither you nor Greg nor I disagree on any matter of principle. So, if you contest the factual state of affairs, what do you think should be done about those affairs? It is quite obvious that Greg's verbiage ("WalMart") was rhetorical, not literal.

In the meantime, here is a visual demonstration of the economic might, or, should I say, "mite" of North Korea. Can anyone spot the obvious target?

Craig...

Greg Mullen's picture

What "present situation" are you referring to? As far as I know this situation hasn’t change much over the years unless you count that recent failed nuke test by North Korea which doesn’t mean anything except that Kim is getting slightly more desperate.

Remember I’m only suggest we threaten China with the remilitarization of Japan not that we would actually have to do such a thing to get China to act.

I do not doubt what you say regarding the nuclearization of the rest of the region but I am dubious that Japan is currently seeking nukes or planning much military expansion nor do I think they will until they officially revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. And when they do the country with the second largest GDP can simply buy them from us like Israel does.

As to my bet on China, remember all bets are hedged with the option of force which never leaves the table.

The Western Pacific Crisis

Craig Ceely's picture

You started with, "Would you doubt that the US has any shortage of adequate weapons to sell or that US firms could not produce if there was a welcome demand from Japan?"

Yes, I do think the US has a shortage of adequate weapons for the purposes you describe. I'm in the defense industry, and let me tell you, it takes time to tool up for production, to train people to use and maintain them properly, and to get such sales through Congress. The South Koreans, the Japanese, the Taiwanese are not US citizens, remember, and those are not US states. And we can not afford to forget that we are fighting two other wars already. You're not talking, Greg, about a proposal which can influence the present crisis in North Korea.

As for further nuclearization of states in the region, I'd say that anyone who doesn't believe that Japanese, South Korean, and Taiwanese nuclear programs already exist just isn't paying attention. They don't even need Sam Walton's free parking. Unless I'm very, very wrong, the Western Pacific is a nuclear lake already and could become even more so, in very short order, even without additional help from the US.

As for China preferring a neutered North Korea to a remilitarized Japan, I'd caution you not to be so sure that you know the Chinese minds better than they do.

Really

Greg Mullen's picture

Would you doubt that the US has any shortage of adequate weapons to sell or that US firms could not produce if there was a welcome demand from Japan? Both Japan and South Korea would welcome a strengthened military for the obvious reason of owning wealth and the need to protect it (not to mention the added bonus of negotiating on the world stage as a nuclear state).

Consider that Japan currently only spends 1% of their GDP on the military of which a 1% increase would put them at the spending level of China. Would American firms really have a problem with the words of Sam Walton applied to their buyer/seller relationship with South Korea or Japan? "The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want. And really, if you think about it from your point of view as a customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of good-quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; free parking; a pleasant shopping experience." - Sam Walton (1918-1992)

As you correctly point out China always has a choice but I’d wager that between a nuclear Japan or a neutered North Korea China would prefer the latter.

Oh really?

Craig Ceely's picture

"All the US really needs to do is tell China to stop enabling the North and if they refuse then we will nuclearize both South Korea and/or their arch nemesis Japan. If we threaten to help militarize Japan (by selling arms at Wal-Mart prices) then China will have no choice but join the blockade until NK falls like the nut-sack of a neutered goat."

Oh, that's all we need to do, eh? And where do they magically appear from, these Wal-Mart priced weapons? Who pays for that subsidy -- and where does that money come from?

What crystal ball implies that either South Korea or Japan -- or, to go with your argument, both -- are willing to stand militarily against China?

China has a large air force, a large army, and nukes. Arguing that they will have "no choice" in any situation is ridiculous.

China Has Everything to Lose, Nothing to Gain

Ted Keer's picture

Considering the matter from a Realpolitik viewpoint, there are only three conceivable reasons for China to prop up North Korea or to break a blockade. The first is the fear of a flood of refugees, should North Korea fail. The second is the fear of an attack by North Korea. The third is a desire to keep the US & our allies off balance by keeping Korean partitioned.

The fear of a flood of refugees is often touted in the press, but is utter nonsense. China could easily shut the border down if it desired, to say otherwise is shear nonsense. China does not have to deal with a domestic population that would scream bloody murder if there were a brutal crackdown on North Korea, and shutting down the border wouldn't require all that much brutality. Likewise, Both the South Koreans and our allies would flood the place with aid if Kim's regime fell. People who have been starving for six decades won't die in six days.

China's possible fear of an attack from North Korea is also nonsense. The Chinese would again have no compunction against flattening North Korea whether with Nukes or conventionally. Given the recent failures of all of North Korea's tests, and the fact that the recent test yielded only 1% of the expected energy, and may even have been a ruse, since still no radiation has been detected as of the time of this post, there is little for anyone to fear from a missile or artillery attack against an y place other than Seoul. This is not a part of the Chinese strategists' equations.

The only actual reason that China would break a blockade is the last, to prop up the regime as a thorn in the side of the West. This is absolutely unacceptable. Bush has flatly said that we will not have a nuclear North Korea. His word is on the line, and he must quietly warn China that China has much much more to lose than to gain by thwarting us. The Chinese have no ideological motivations for their actions.

The current regime could step down, if they were given cushy amnesty, and China, with its peaceful and educated populace, its great wealth and burgeoning infrastructure could privatize and hold free elections in a very short time. The privatization would have to be done properly, as it was in Central Europe, (Viz. Hungary, Poland & the Baltics) rather than as it was pretended to in Russia. Even then, the parasitic warlords running the state now could come out ahead if they were allowed to maintain estates and were given shares in privatized companies that would boom in value after liberalization. The model for this would be (dare I say it?) "neo-con" Jeanne Kirkpatrick's authoritarian vs. totalitarian distinction. Please don't scream that I am advocating rewarding the current regime. I am arguing that they can do everyone a favor by choosing this peaceful path to reform for themselves.

The alternative must be put forth to the Chinese in the starkest terms. Exclusion of China from all civilized forums such as the Olympics and trade talks. The nuclearization of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Active opposition by the US and its allies in every sphere of interaction, military, politica and economic, that China will depend upon in its move into the modern world.

There is only one thing that the West lacks. We have the wealth, the military strength, the expertise and the experience needed to encourage China transition to a great free nation. All we need is the will.

Ted Keer, 13 October, 2006, NYC
this is an adaptation of a previous work by the author

Where did I say to Blockade China?

Ted Keer's picture

Robert, I acknowledge the South's posession of a conventional army. But my point is that the central strategy, which we have encouraged, of both Japan and South Korea has been to rely on the U.S. to shoulder most of the burden. My understanding from reading the conventional press is that neither country has a significant air or sea capability. The problem is not having enough groud troops to repel an invasion from the North, but rather not having a strong enough and flexible air, sea and land force to pursue a successful blockade of the North. I don't see at all how you got the idea that I advocated blockading China. Do you disagree with my other points?

Ted

Simple solution to the North Korea problem

Greg Mullen's picture

All the US really needs to do is tell China to stop enabling the North and if they refuse then we will nuclearize both South Korea and/or their arch nemesis Japan. If we threaten to help militarize Japan (by selling arms at Wal-Mart prices) then China will have no choice but join the blockade until NK falls like the nut-sack of a neutered goat.

Indeed - time to wake up

Marcus's picture

Good Article Ted - although I can't vouch for your invasion plan as Robert points out below.

Also see my post:
The price of shillyshallying

"Neither state has an armed

Robert's picture

"Neither state has an armed force ready for the type of military actions necessary; blockade, bombardment, and perhaps invasion"

In the case of South Korea this is bullshit.

The ROK Army has 500,000 regular troops organised into 5 Corps level formations and nearly 10 times that number in reservists. The ROK produces its own Main Battle Tanks ( The K1A1) and will begin manufacturing Infantry Fighting Vehicles of an indigenous design (the K3) to replace the current K200 series.

The ROK Airforce shouldn't be sneezed at either.

True, they have a light weight navy, but given that their enemy is within artillery range of their capital city (and can pump an estimated 5 million 122 mm (and larger) shells an hour over the DMZ) they've decided to focus on the land battle.

Compared to the ROK forces in theatre, the US 2nd Infantry Division and the USAF forces deployed in ROK are a drop in the bucket. They are a trip-wire only designed to underline the US commitment to ROK. Remove them and you will embolden the most unbalanced military dictatorship in history.

As for the rest of your suggestions. They are stupid and insane because they completely ignore the current strategic predicament that the US finds itself in.

Your proposal to attack NK while blockading China invites open war with North Korea & China at a time when a sizable proportion of the US Army and Marines are tied up on the other side of the world. The ROK can handle the NK military. They cannot handle the NK military and the Chinese Army simultaneously.

Ask you father & brother about the PLA lurking over the Yalu river. Better yet go back and read history, concentrating on the Chosin Reservoir Battle. Then read on and for fuck's sake try and understand just how tough the geography and climate of the Korea peninsula is. Remember how many people there are in the highly urbanised South Korea, and consider for a second what they think about having their towns and such turned into a battlefield.

In the Korean War, Soeul changed hands multiple times before 1953. It was flattened by artillery and aircraft. Entire families were wiped out. The reluctance to embark on a flight of military fantasy - such as you have suggested here - should not automatically be derided as cowardice. It just may come from first hand knowledge about what its like to pay a butcher bill of the scale you are proposing and gain nothing for the effort. That is the likely outcome of your grand plan.

A naval Blockade of China! Baiting the largest navy in the world, whilst supporting land operations in Korea and the Middle East. That's just beyond stupid.

Remember A is A? All that matters in the real world is what the US military can do and what it can't do at the present moment in time. And right now it cannot -- because it doesn't have the manpower  -- simultaneously contain Iran, fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then militarily engage China and North Korea simultaneously.

Your plan is so idiotic it would have been rejected by the WWI British General Staff.

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