Part 2: contingencies and options.

Japan will rearm, and South Korea will reexamine the departure of US troops and what effective levels of armament they can domestically sustain (a lot less).

Possibly the U.S. will start playing hardball with China through Taiwan. They screwed us in Korea, we’ll screw right back.
Attempts to support a coup/revolution/regime change in North Korea. The idea is to get this done before NK sells stuff to people we don’t like.

Heightened naval presence and security in NE Asia.

So, first set of contigencies, we attempt to topple North Korea: can they react? Their army can’t really power project. The story told to the infantry is that North Korea can get to Busan in a week. I don’t think that’s likely. Also, China would intervene, presently.

My thinking is that China would react for them. But what can they really do? Give North Korea nukes? I think the US has a lot of leeway here. There are now open demonstartions of dissent in the North, albeit small. However, consider what that means. Neighborhoods are organized along Korean traditional lines into communal associations called gye. Each gye consists of five families who help each other, with one or two who are politically connected. That means for every one act of sedition, there are at least one and possibly four other families who are in on it. And one of them is possibly party. When party membership is no longer inducement to loyalty, you’re in trouble.

North Korea the country is actually quite small, if you follow the lines of what a nation state does. A nation is meant to deliver certain services to it’s internal constituency. In such a case as North Korea, the services delivered are only to the Party and the Army. The rest of the populace are counted as a resource. Insert joke about Communist and Socialist governments here, and then realize that North Korea doesn’t have 23 million citizens with a 1 million man army, it has one or two million citizens exerting continuous force over 20 million non belligerent tenant farmers. The farmers know they’re being screwed.

So, we try to topple them, and we either succeed or fail. Success, in the American terms of it, would be to have the area come under the control of a new regime with whom we can deal, who isn’t a belligerant, and who either leaves the balance of power untipped, or tipped in our favor in such a fashion so as not to aggravate China. The Kim family will not see another generation in power, China will not tolerate it. Lacking our scruples, they would more than happily simply hold a coup and grill a brisket, and Tibet the place: no more Korean language, no korean in political power, and heavy settlement by Chinese. Any Korean successor will quietly kill any Kim family relative they can lay their hands on. That’s Stalinism after all. So, peaceful domestic transition is unlikely, and any answer that maintains the status quo is unlikely.

But if we let China have it, we can at least talk with China. What China does to one of it’s proxies is truly none of our concern, and nothing brings an ally to your side like the barbarians at his gate. South Korea with China directly on its border would be interesting to watch.

Failure. War? The Kim dynasty ends with Jong Il. China will eventually go to war with us. Chinese troops will do the most of the heavy punching, even on the Korean penninsula no matter what. The North Koreans would be too inneffective. Failure would have to be the insertion of a competent, pro-Chinese dictator who was better than Kim Jong-Il, who can actually make Korea more effective for the eventual fight with China. That may be unrealistic too. North Korea is good and proper screwed. There is not the human infrastructure to build a real nation. China would basically have to replace every korean person with a Chinese person, which they can do with one tenth of their excess, marriagable male population.

Any different reads on this? Is North Korea the next Tibet?

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17 Comments

  1. Rosencrance

     /  October 9, 2006

    I think that a very unrealistic best case scenario would be SK declaring itself neutral, but behind the scenes making a unified front with the US, Japan and China, whereby it could look the other way while the US pommels the hell out of NK with China helping or just staying out of things. After this, all four countries could help to rebuild NK and integrate it slowly into SK. This route might spare Seoul a shelling and allow them to absorb the some of the refugees.

    Of course that’s highly improbable.

    The US stance is clear. We cannot tolerate a nuclear NK. Japan is with us because they understand that if the NK’s actually develop a delivery method that works, that they will be blackmailed until NK is brought to its knees. SK has undergone such rabid Anti-American, Pro-NK brainwashing in the last few years that they probably aren’t competent enough about geopolitics to understand that the US is their friend, that Japan isn’t poised to strike at them (yes kiddies I know how silly it sounds) and that the NK’s are as of now ruining their economy, that of Japan and are asking for an invasion. The Chinese position is the only one that is both significant and not yet carved in stone. Their willingness to sit on the sidelines, aid NK or aid the US will determine whether we have to fight one nation or two.

    Sadly though, I think that the Tibetization of NK is the most likely scenario, whether or not there is an actual Second Korean War. It is most fitting that the Chinese take charge of the nation that they’ve enabled to reach this state, through troops during the first Korean War and later by subsidizing its failed policies. It’s also fitting for the US to demonstrate how necessary change is though sanctions, diplomatic pressure and ultimately war.

    Reply
  2. happycrow

     /  October 9, 2006

    There’s a problem with this, though… China is going grey, and going grey fairly rapidly. There won’t be much of an excess population to export soon, as each of the Han will have four elders to take care of. That’s some pretty brutal math.

    Sad to say, I still think it’s the most likely option: unless SK is willing to “do a Germany,” and I can’t see them stomaching the sacrifice, I don’t see any other possibility.

    Reply
  3. Brock

     /  October 9, 2006

    Why will “China eventually go to war with us”??? I really don’t think that will happen. China see itself as a regional, not global leader. They won’t challenge the USA for global dominace as long as she is allowed to infect Asia.

    Reply
  4. convivialdingo

     /  October 9, 2006

    [Comments containing links are held in moderation until they are determined not to be spam:  not deleting you, Convivial…] 

    I’ll play bad here.. my thought is that we’ll just politically keep the situation hot and sell arms out the teeth. A small nuke, while utterly horrible, is great really for selling arms. No one will use it, it’s political suicide.

    It’s no secret that we’re testing missile defense systems at the closest point we can get between Japan and Korea (Marshal Islands – just east of the Phillipines)

    Japan is going to _want_ these _now_ – and buy whatever missile technology they can. How fitting that less than a month ago we declared a huge success with our missile defense systems.

    It’s improbable that NK can get their 10 ton nuke miniturized in any near timeframe – but that’s just enough time to sell defense systems throughout the region.

    Pessimistic, yes – but South Korea just bought one for (reportedly?) 1.5 Billion (patriot missile system). And I’m sure they’ll be ready to buy the big brother system soon.
    http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200610/200610020012.html

    Japan says they’ll invest in one “at an earlier data”
    http://www.dominicantoday.com/app/article.aspx?id=18413

    India needs one too, of course – courtest of Israel.
    http://www.india-defence.com/reports/2485

    Reply
  5. I suspect that NK will get the Tibet treatment, and particularly brutally too, as a message to Taiwan as to what they’ll face if China has to flex its biceps. As to war with China, I seriously doubt it. I know we have made long-term commitments in the Area, but we don’t have the political will to disable China’s eventual Monroe-esque Doctrine. China see themselves as being the natural inheritors of hegemony in the East (except for when they had to suffer Japan due to being temporarily weakened by the West) — they don’t want the world, but they believe the Orient is theirs. There’s no way we’ll allow our leadership to spend the blood & capital required to prevent that.

    Reply
  6. happycrow

     /  October 9, 2006

    Actually, war with China is probably the least likely. China’s actual needs are not all that incompatible with those of the US, if things are handled delicately. There’s a very good chance that eventually we can all have our cake and eat it, too.

    Reply
  7. It’s a good thing to: remember Vecini’s last words….

    Reply
  8. Mike

     /  October 9, 2006

    Well, a coup is not going to happen. I think that is just impossible given the paranoia of the NK leadership. Now, after ole’ Kim kicks it, that would be a time to start thinking of a coup. I hate to say the SK are becoming stupid, but that is probably happening. The truely sad thing is that they could mop NK without much of our help (not considering Nuke-problem, this is strictly conventional stuff). Hell, I don’t think the Norks could get to Ujonbu (I totally butched that spelling, the city directly north of Seoul) in 3 months if we gave them gas. The level of training and equipment has quite literally gotten so horribly lop-sided that the 2d Korean War has already been won by the South (again, conventionally speaking). The North Koreans main fighter plane was obsolesent in 1957 for crying out loud. It would be the baby seals vs. the Green Bay Packers on meth. And that “Seoul is in Artillery range” isn’t the have all be all threat that it used to be. I know the capabilities of those weapons and how they have declined over time. That isn’t nearly the threat it used to be anymore.

    But of course we can’t just have a nice conventional fight. On no. How will China play on this? I personnally don’t buy the Tibet theory. China has enough issues with its economy without borrowing the lemon that the Norks have. The Norks may actually have the best security in the world that way. Think about it, who in their right mind would WANT to take over this cesspool? How’s that for the perfect defense?

    Hmmm, if China wanted to be a bastard, how about this? Force the Norks into the SK control and thereby cripple the SK for at least 20 to 30 years while they have to clean up this mess? That would be a nasty trick and given the “love the North” movement by many, they might fall for it. Damn, that would make the German unification cost pale in comparision.

    I am interested as to their reaction if this SK gets to be the head of the UN. Not that that will change anything in the UN, but it would be nice to see someone tell the Norks to shut up at the General Assembly meetings.

    Reply
  9. convivialdingo

     /  October 9, 2006

    There’s no way China would take over NK – Mike’s right. Additionally, Japan, Taiwan, and the Phillipines would just go bananas and it could go any number of bad, bad ways.

    No, NK is just going to play their fiddle and see who drops change in their hat.

    It’s actually kindof amazing really – what’s the purpose of being the dictator of such a place? Maybe he’d trade for California – I hear Kim likes movies anyway – and he could keep Schwartzenhager.

    Reply
  10. Mike

     /  October 9, 2006

    I dunno, Kil Ill Jong is nuts but I don’t know if he is stupid enough to want California.

    Although I would pay cash to see how the Student body of Berkley likes it after 6 months.

    Ooooooooooo, that is SUCH a pleasant vision.

    Reply
  11. Mike

     /  October 9, 2006

    I wonder if we are not looking at the world’s number “Failed State”n the making? Using Somolia as a guide, we have a country no one else wants or cares enough to intervene in and would rapidly de-volve into several armed camps fighting over who get to loot an already looted building. Famine on a biblical scale, worse than the one that brought the Jews to Egypt (no 7 good years and a heck of alot more than 7 poor years). A completely crippled population unable to think for themselves, dumber than average, smaller than average, weaker than average and completely lost when it comes to anything even remotely “modern” (a neat little trick I read about is how the border guards look for people who can’t seem to use a cellphone or pushbutton phone properly, may be a urban myth but I can actually see that happening). And you figure that anyone with half a brain will be capped by another armed group’s leadership asap, so figure that most smart types are going to hide it or leave this world pretty quick.

    Damn, Mad Max has nothing on what the Norks could de-volve into if(when) the leadership finally kicks off and(or) finally can’t keep the lid on it anymore and it blows up.

    After a couple years you would have nothing but human sheep in the most literal sense.

    Reply
  12. NK won’t be allowed to devolve. Somalia can devolve because it isn’t strategic. Somalia isn’t a buffer state at a four way choke point for access to the Pacific, with nukes. Nothing in Korea gets done without a consultation with three other countries.

    Would China possibly allow North Korea to go to anarchy? No. They will not tolerate a border state that is a foreign proxy. Will they allow South Korea to control North Korea? Not without some serious concessions, and it would probably be a play for time to eventually control the whole penninsula. Then with Taiwan, they would have a route to the Pacific that is uncontested. And a couple of things to consider about China:

    – A prime resource for them, still, is empty land.

    – They don’t consider war to be a failure of policy, but a means to an end. They also are looking forward to fighting America because, to paraphrase the discussions I’ve had, we won the Korean War with bugles and rifles, imagine what we could do with modern equipment.

    – Taiwan is not Chinese and the Chinese know this, which is why they don’t bring the case in World Court. However, it is part of a gateway to the Pacific, which, in their mind, should be theirs by right. Taiwan plus the Phillipines or Taiwan plus Korea gets them what they want.

    – China may go gray in another ten or so years, but how marketable is a more land, free land (once you kick the Koreans off of it), better chance for confucian wives, and the chance at family right now; China wouldn’t incorporate North Korea, they would settle it like a frontier territory.
    – Crippling the ROK would be deliciously simple: relax migration laws. Let any Korean who wants to, go to the South. Unskilled Korean workers are replaced by skilled Chinese workers.
    – The Chinese already claim North Korea as Chinese. The claim was made this year.
    http://www.korealiberator.org/2006/07/30/fresh-korea-china-baekdusan-battle-on-the-horizon/

    My concern is that Chinese control of North Korea would be seen as a better idea than North Korean control of North Korea, and that the playbook would not be Hong Kong, but Tibet.

    The Uri Dang (the name essentially means “our land”) Party are the guys who love Kim Jong Il. They have less than ten percent of the vote coming to them in the next presidential election. It started in 2002 when the Sunshine Policy took a shot in the shorts after a naval engagement:
    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2002/07/09/147602

    The pro American guys also galvanized when the US proposed a huge troop reduction and a shift on defense subsidies to the Korean government by 2009. Even then, South Korea will not go head to head with China.

    Reply
  13. Btw Dingo, on #4, I like the way you think!

    Reply
  14. Mike

     /  October 10, 2006

    While I agree with the fact that China doesn’t like the idea of NK de-volving, I wonder if they can do anything short of invasion when the time comes. Yeah, war for them is just an extension of policy so they wouldn’t back away from it if that’s what it came down to. But when a country has its final fall it happens pretty quick, so I wonder if the chinese could intervene in time (Rapid Force Projection not being a strong Chinese suit). But this is academic anyway, I don’t see this happening for years (Kim Ill will have to die off first) and who can say what will happen between now and then? Maybe China will force them to set something up for another proxy, or work up to being a “Protectorate” complete with “Allied” (Chinese) troops on their soil.

    Until then, I have to agree with the above and say Anti-Missile defense systems are going to be a hot commodity in Asia.

    Reply
  15. Hell, I want to buy a THEL.

    As for Kim’s health, I have for the last several month had a taunt for God: “Mothers will die birthing babies, Doctors will die in their prime, but the one fat man in North Korea will sleep on silk sheets, drink scotch whiskey, watch American porn and screw the prettist daughters to be pimped in his Party. Why oh why oh why.”

    However, Jesus is a blue collar dude at heart. Maybe he took it personally and sent a few cherubs to work over Jong Il’s kidneys.

    http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/06/front2453993.070138889.html

    Reply
  16. Mike

     /  October 10, 2006

    We can always hope anyway. Here’s to a bloodsplattered wall with Kim Ill Jong’s name on it.

    Reply

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