Un License to Il

There are 3 end-game scenarios in the North Korean conflict that’s been raging for nearly 60 years now. Threats of war are not new, what’s new is the increase in deadliness, the intensity and persistence of these threats. Kim Jong Un means business and that business is “Danegeld”. He relies on threatening to self destruct to make himself look strong at home and get aid from abroad. There are 3 real options for what can happen.

1. North Korea “wins” and by winning we mean gets what it wants. North Korea threats escalate. Either directly by threatening to nuke Japan/Korea/the Moon. Unwilling to deal with this the various countries acquiesce to a formal end to the Korean war and open waters around North Korea. Various sanctions are in place but aid is restored to an “acceptable” level and the status quo is restored.

2. We “win”. North Korea is left to twist in the wind by a China that’s finally realised that North Korea is a big giant liability. Beijing’s acquiescence to the UN sanctions wreck the North Korean economy and force North Korea to De-Nuclearise. The obvious mismanagement may encourage a coup and may allow for re-unification.

3. No one wins. North Korea’s plans to force the first option end up backfiring with a response from South Korea, China backs out as it is unwilling to support a frankly stupid war with a big customer and may even provide assistance to South Korea. However North Korea goes out in a blaze of glory by attempting to cause as much collateral damage to practically everyone it can hit.

However this involves a frankly deadly game of nuclear chicken. North Korea won’t use their nuke because the moment they do their “party” is instantly over. Even with conventional weapons we would simply destroy any leadership and the entire end game of North Korea’s leadership is to “Escape With the Loot” or “Preserve the Status Quo”. It’s like trying to deal with a child throwing a tantrum over sweets. You can either ignore the child and look like a “bad parent”. Or you can coddle the child and spoil it. Or you can throw a right hook. The best option is to simply ignore the damn North Koreans and stop treating their government as a solid threat.

Them zerg rushing the border (Is it racist to use the term zerg rush to describe a korean human wave assault?) won’t work. Such tactics fell out of favour in the 60s. Mixed weaponry and combined arms rule strategy today. I am afraid any North Korean attack would turn into a tragic massacre. Our soldiers would be more damaged by their actions than by the attacks of North Korea.

And which is why we must have a peaceful solution and the dissolution of North Korea and unification. Enough young men and women have died or forever been scarred both physically and mentally by war to wish for another one.


  1. TGAP Dad says

    I imagine there are a whole lot of people at a whole lot of intelligence agencies trying to figure out whether Kim Jung Un is actually as crazy as he was long thought to be, when it seemed unlikely he would be the successor to his father. He right now appears to be the Korean analog of the American tea partier, in that he has come to believe his own shrill rhetoric. What keeps he tea partiers in line is the ubiquity of video cameras and the fact that their craziness is publicly outed. So the thing that keeps the tea partiers in check is completely absent in North Korea.

    If I may draw another analogy… Imagine North Korea as what used to be known as a “wild child” (picture Jodie Foster’s Nell). They’ve scratched out an existence on the margins – starving, begging for scraps, peeking longingly in windows, and sometimes score a meal from the Chima house at the end of the street. They’ve always been belligerent, occasionally taking a swipe at the over privileged neighbor kid. But some in the neighborhood think they have seen evidence of a gun – bulge in his jacket, glint of metal, etc. we don’t know if the gun is loaded, if he knows how to use it, or can aim it at all. Oh one more thing: the kid is also nuts. This is our dilemma: get the kid to surrender the gun and calm the fuck down.

  2. sundoga says

    It’s all very well to say what we “must” have, but a peaceful solution requires two willing sides. The US and South Korea are so sick to death of this sort of thing that they simply aren’t willing to give NK the slightest benefit of the doubt any more, and I see no evidence that NK will EVER negotiate in good faith.

  3. kraut says

    They declared war. Clearly and unambiguously. Different situation from Afghanistan or Iraq. We now where the leadership has their real estate assets and is likely to be present. Simple solution….

  4. sundoga says

    Not all that simple, Kraut. NK has a LOT of artillery parked right on their side of the DMZ, and most of it can reach Seoul. We can destroy that…but not before it turns Seoul into a moonscape.
    Plus, I understand KIm Jong Il used the Saddam Hussein method of preventing assassinations – lots of palaces, and constantly moving between them and other places (like bunkers). I’d be surprised if Kim Jung Un isn’t doing the same, and it makes the target very hard to hit. If we miss…goodbye, Seoul.

  5. Jan says

    Quit the kitchen psychology and armchair quarterbacking already. Unless I’m seriously mistaken none of you has any special knowledge about either Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s strategy or their military capabilities.
    The sanity of the North Korean dictator isn’t really that much of an issue. In real life, countries are not run by single people but ruling elites who will have a say about policy. For the last 60 years at least, despite all the rhetoric North Korea has not acted in a self destructive way (for said ruling elite, that is).
    And with regards to all the “simple solutions” and “zerg runs”, well, underestimating their enemies has not exactly done much for western military success lately (Iraq, Afghanistan, anybody). If Avicenna knows that “mixed weaponry and combined arms rule strategy” we can be sure the North Korean military leadership will know, too. Whatever we may think about them, these people are not stupid or illiterate.

  6. khms says

    The sanity of the North Korean dictator isn’t really that much of an issue. In real life, countries are not run by single people but ruling elites who will have a say about policy.

    Do I misremember, or did Hitler insist on starting wars the German military (correctly, as it turned out) didn’t feel ready for? Which ruling elite had a say about that?

  7. Jan says

    @khms: Do you suggest that the german economic elites, the overwhelming majority of the military and much of the political establishment (except the parties on the left), not to mention the church, of the 30s and 40s were not supporting the Nazi government? What I’m saying is not that political decisions cannot be destructive, horrible or failing to achieve their goals, just that single people do not, in fact, rule countries. So, if a nominal ruler is clinically insane he still cannot act upon his impulses unchecked of other members of the ruling elite.

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