Friday, May 06, 2005

North Korea Scariness

     North Korea is a scary place. Ever since I read Red Phoenix in high school, I've been concerned about North Korea as a military threat. Of course, Red Phoenix is just a novel, and the book was mostly concerned with South Korea and our inability to protect it in a conventional war. The problem with North Korea that makes is scarier that, say, Iraq, is that we're technically still at war with them and have been for the past 50 years. Unlike Iraq which we indisputably defeated in Kuwait in 1991, we were stuck in stalemate with North Korea and only our continued presence there ensured that South Korea remained free. (That is, free of communism. South Korea didn't have democratic elections until 1987.) Now North Korea has nuclear weapons and the missile technology to send them at least as far as Japan (whom they hate since Japan invaded them in 1910 and indirectly caused them to be divided between the USSR and USA at the end of WWII) or possibly some US possessions.
     If South Korea is worth protecting, with its Hyundais and Samsungs and LGs, then surely Japan, with the 2nd largest economy in the world and our largest agricultural importer is worth protecting. Of course, we're contractually obligated to defend Japan since we kicked their ass in WWII and took away their military. So now North Korea has nukes and could potentially destroy the world's economy for the next 20 years (and lets face it - what do the North Koreans care? Their economy is shit anyway.) as well as millions of American business partners in South Korea and Japan.
     We can't really invade North Korea - they have the largest military in the world at 1.2 million soldiers. Despite our overwhelming technological superiority (and the fact that our soldiers are well nourished), the only way we could ensure that we didn't incur unacceptable fatalities would be to nuke the entire peninsula, which is probably a bad idea. Ironic too, since preventing North Korea from doing the same thing would be our rationale for invading in the first place.
     The news today is that North Korea is about to test one of its nukes. And the UN is trying to get every country in the world to try to put pressure on Kim Jong-Il to stop. Despite that, this looks like a situation in which military action really is necessary. 1) WMD's are present 2) US interests are being threatened 3) Our allies face the potential of being annihilated 45 seconds after Kim hits the little red button. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have the military capability to do anything more than watch from the sidelines. (I swear I read this a few days ago from a general testifying in front of Congress, but I just can't find it anywhere. Help?) And we've squandered whatever willingness the rest of the world had to follow us. Who will support a military adventure in Korea with us? Most governments around the world would get voted out of office if they cooperated with the US. So watch this weekend as North Korea tests its first nuclear weapon, only days after it tested a missile capable of hitting Seoul or parts of Japan. Watch as a new nuclear power is born while our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our friends are fighting and dying in a third world country that never had more than chemical weapons, and those 15 years gone. Watch as South Korea and Japan move to kiss North Korea's ass, as the corrupt communist regime benefits from bullying the world. And watch as other rogue countries see this example and do the same. Like I said.... scary.


sideshow bob said...

Don't worry, China's got our back...ok, worry!

Mike said...

Kudos on your wit, SS Bob.

North Korea is a tough problem. It's like the crazy neighbor who fills his house with gasoline and fertilizer and threatens to blow up the whole neighborhood if anyone steps in his yard. How do you deal with someone like that?

I suspect we'll deal with them like we've dealt with them the past 50 years: sanctions and deterrence. We’ll just keep waiting them out until there is some sort of regime change that opens a new opportunity. Except now they have nukes. I think the Democratic Republic (yeah right) of North Korea is more dangerous in the sense they could be supplying a nuclear bomb black market. I'm not worried about them blowing up a neighbor because they know we would retaliate and I think they are smarter than that. What scares me more is them selling a warhead to Al Qaeda who is more than willing to blow themselves up for Jihad. That is what we have to prevent. So I think we'll have to keep a covert naval blockade to prevent this which won't be easy. I think we have to stand tough against them and not do anything to make their lives easier, like say providing them with nuclear plants and free oil in an exchange for being nice. Who’s plan was that anyway?

The Indigent Blogger said...

In responst to: "Unlike Iraq which we indisputably defeated in Kuwait in 1991, we were stuck in stalemate with North Korea and only our continued presence there ensured that South Korea remained free."

Actually, that was exactly the problem with Iraq. We were still legally at-war with Iraq, but observing a cease-fire; thus the naming of UN Resolution 687 as the cease-fire resolution. And just like South Korea, we were pinned down in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by our mutual defense agreements with those countries and Saddam Hussein's continued belligerence towards them.

We would never invade North Korea. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no news from the outside world in the DPRK. PBS reports refugees as saying that as soon as they crossed the river into China, all of a sudden they saw markets where there's food in every single store. Instantly they knew they'd been lied to their entire lives. They're told all their lives that the outside world suffers far worse conditions than does North Korea.

If North Korea successfully tests a nuclear device. Japan will go nuclear almost immediately, I'd say within six months to a year. The United States may propose an actual naval blockade, which is, in legal terms, an act of war. I don't know what South Korea will do. While, like Schroeder in Germany, South Korean President Roh campaigned on anti-american rhetoric, but he has since found the practice of distancing himself from the United States somewhat unpleasant.

The Indigent Blogger said...

Here a good article from the New York Times about the complete information blackout maintained in North Korea.

Shannon said...

Does anyone know what Kim Jong Ill really wants? Does he want to retaliate against Japan? Does he want to take over South Korea? Is he on a communist jihad?

sideshow bob said...

Kim Jong Ill wants porn...and lots of it. Seriously. I've heard he's got tens of thousands of pornographic films. I may have been mislead, though...I can't find any info to substantiate the claim on google.
But still, a porn for plutonium exchange might be worth pursuing...

Ben said...

Kim Jong Ill is just "ronery."

I think it's time to allow Japan to have more than a small defensive military force. While starting a council of democracies might be an insult to everyone else, allowing allied democracies to have militaries is probably not a bad idea.

Too bad our left wing's urge to appease everyone created this problem in the first place.