View Poll Results: What is the near-term future of the DPRK

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  • It will fall into chaos as a result of renewed famine and poverty, resulting in military crackdowns.

    3 15.79%
  • There will be a military coup that displaces the current leadership, hopefully soon.

    4 21.05%
  • It will continue to remain a closed society, technologically dormant and otherwise insignificant.

    12 63.16%
  • The leadership will eventually make a misstep, forcing military action from the United States.

    0 0%
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Thread: North Korea: 2012-2016

  1. #341
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    What makes you think "we" is "US"?
    Does it matter? Do you think accusations or blame from anywhere are going to embarrass the Chinese at all, let alone enough to get them to change a policy they find congenial? Does anyone but the US care enough to bother?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  2. #342
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    That's exactly my point. They have high ambitions and high expectations.
    It would be possible to create the feeling that North Korea's behaviour and existence is a shame to them, since it's their backyard and they don't keep it calm.

    This isn't about trade war mechanics or bargaining chips, but about the psychological needs and desires.
    So far they can be amused by how easily the North Koreans fool the shallow-brained foreigners. Turn that perception into one of North Korea actually damaging the standing of China and being a chain that keeps China from being an example to the world and they might act very, very differently.

    Turn North Korea into China's problem, period.
    And I mean China, not just the Chinese government. Everything from caricatures and jokes up to political speeches in front of cameras and ruining days they intended to shine on.
    Make them *want* to clean up the North Korean mess.

  3. #343
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It would be possible to create the feeling that North Korea's behaviour and existence is a shame to them, since it's their backyard and they don't keep it calm.
    Possible for who exactly to create this feeling? How do you propose to create this feeling, and why do you think the Chinese give a hot round one about any feeling that anyone tries to create?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Turn that perception into one of North Korea actually damaging the standing of China
    Among whom do you propose to create this perception, and how?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Turn North Korea into China's problem, period. And I mean China, not just the Chinese government. Everything from caricatures and jokes up to political speeches in front of cameras and ruining days they intended to shine on.
    Make them *want* to clean up the North Korean mess.
    Neither you nor I nor anyone else can make the Chinese want to do anything. They really don't care.

    PS: That's aside from the reality that even if the Chinese wanted to try and "fix" North Korea it's not likely that they could, and the effort would almost certainly create more problems for them than it would solve, as efforts to "fix" other countries usually do. Why would they want to step into that kind of mess just because some unspecified person, nation, or group of people or nations is making a transparently manipulative attempt to embarrass them? The Chinese are in no way omniscient, but they aren't that stupid. Nobody's that stupid, except perhaps the Americans.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-02-2012 at 12:57 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  4. #344
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Look, from my point of view you simply lack creativity and imagination if you cannot believe that their perception of North Korea could be warped into seeing it as an intolerant embarrassment.


    I suppose back in 1990 would have agreed that some Kosovars would certainly not be able to turn NATO against the government in Belgrade, to make Yugoslavian policy unbearable to most EU powers.
    Yet, it happened. All they needed was a decent opportunity, some imagination and an understanding of which trigger they need to use.

  5. #345
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Look, from my point of view you simply lack creativity and imagination if you cannot believe that their perception of North Korea could be warped into seeing it as an intolerant embarrassment.
    Ok, so display your creativity and imagination and tell us who you think could do this, how they could do it, and why you think the Chinese would care enough to undertake a risky venture that would probably end up in a world of scheisse just because someone (who?) undertakes a transparent attempt to manipulate them.

    If you can't do that, all you've got is a fantasy. A marvelously creative and imaginative fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  6. #346
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Step (1) for avoiding said transparency is certainly not to publish the plan in the internet, right?

    I could easily devise an IO and diplomatic campaign, and add more proposals for action as history develops and more opportunities become available. I've got plenty ideas on this, and this should be quite obvious by what I wrote so far.
    There's a limit to how much I do for free, though.


    Your apparent idea of a Chinese black box that's immune to foreign influence is ridiculous.
    They're humans just like you and me, their bureaucracies are bureaucracies not much unlike ours and their businesses are businesses like ours (=relevant in regard to media).
    They have high expectations for the future and their standing in the world, and it's a piece of cake (for the Western great powers) to turn North Korea into their responsibility and their problem.
    The bigger challenge is to get the Americans off their autopilot and out of the way. THAT is a tough nut (in the short to medium term).


    P.S.: You're apparently equally lacking imagination in regard to what the PRC could do about North Korea.

  7. #347
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    it's a piece of cake (for the Western great powers) to turn North Korea into their responsibility and their problem.
    I officially call BS on that. You can't even tell us who's supposed to be undertaking these actions, let alone what they're supposed to do and why you think it would work... you just say you could do it. I don't think you could.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You're apparently equally lacking imagination in regard to what the PRC could do about North Korea.
    I can do all kinds of amazing things in my imagination, but I'm not going to pretend that imagination will translate seamlessly to reality.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-02-2012 at 12:39 PM. Reason: One sentence removed as it referred to an issue on a closed thread, superfluous here.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  8. #348
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    A. It would be possible to create the feeling that North Korea's behaviour and existence is a shame to them, since it's their backyard and they don't keep it calm.

    B. 1. Turn that perception into one of North Korea actually damaging the standing of China and
    2. being a chain that keeps China from being an example to the world and they might act very, very differently.

    C. Turn North Korea into China's problem, period. [...] Make them *want* to clean up the North Korean mess.

    As my 12 year old niece would say (in her best American accent) "really?....really?

    A. What is shame? Here's one definition:
    ...shame is the feeling of loss of standing in the eyes of oneself or significant others and can occur as the result of a failure to live up to expectations for a person of one’s role or status. It entails not merely the feeling of having lost status, but the conviction that one is really not who one thought one was—the failure to achieve a wished-for self-image, the failure to live up to an ego ideal, or perhaps even the revelation that one embodies a negative ideal. p. 128
    And here are some more.

    Why should the DPRKs existence be "shameful" to China? The DPRKs existence provides China which a buffer zone against what it perceives to be an ally of the US (not there’s a perception we could work on). The DPRK is an ally, sabre rattling aside, China and the DPRK have relations that are qualitatively stronger than those of China and Russia or even China and the US. A sabre-rattling DPRK, in what you euphemistically describe as their backyard, serves to increase China’s worth in the six-party process and in the international arena precisely because they are “in their backyard”. Furthermore, do you really think China shares the universal sense of shame (or the standard of civlisation0 you seem to think exists as some kind of platonic ideal-type?

    B. for a response to 1 see above. As for 2. What do you mean by “being an example to the world”? is there an objective criteria for this? If so please do tell.

    C. The DPRK is/isn’t China’s problem in the same way that Mexico is for the US, or Iraq is for Iran (&c). The DPRK is an existential fact that China has to deal with anyway on a day to day basis. Calling the DPRK a “problem” implies that there is a solution. What is the problem though? As I see it, as a political relist, the DPRK is a state pursuing its own interests in an international system. No different from the US, Chile or Bangladesh. Each has to formulate policy based on its environment, its competitors/threats and its domestic structure. If the DPRK is a problem then it must be “abnormal” (there’s a functionalist bias in there somewhere)…what is a “normal” state? As for the DPRK being a “mess” you’ll have to objectively define what exactly a mess is.

  9. #349
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Look, from my point of view you simply lack creativity and imagination if you cannot believe that their perception of North Korea could be warped into seeing it as an intolerant embarrassment.


    I suppose back in 1990 would have agreed that some Kosovars would certainly not be able to turn NATO against the government in Belgrade, to make Yugoslavian policy unbearable to most EU powers.
    Yet, it happened. All they needed was a decent opportunity, some imagination and an understanding of which trigger they need to use.
    I don't think your Kosovo example supports your assertion. First, the prospect for civil war there was well known - indeed long before 1990. You can google up a prescient CIA analysis on Yugoslavian reforms in 1970.

    Secondly, the "trigger" in your example was rebellion and civil war. I think if that were to occur in North Korea then the Chinese will be forced act. At that point there might be an opportunity to persuade/shame/whatever the Chinese. Then again there might not be. Personally, I'm suspicious of any claims of certainty regarding what is "obvious" when the future is involved.

    Regardless, there is no such "trigger" in North Korea at present and the Chinese and others are working hard to prevent one from happening. No one really wants to deal with the consequences and so pretty much everyone is trying to push the inevitable off into the future as much as possible. Absent a trigger, AKA, a fundamental change in the status quo, I don't see your IO doing squat. Or maybe you advocate creating a trigger to force China's hand in order to provide an opening for your grand IO plan? Sounds like something Doug Feith would come up with.

    There's a limit to how much I do for free, though.
    Well, if your ideas, whatever they are, live up to your hype, then the US State Department will want to hire you as a consultant. Let us know how that goes.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  10. #350
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    You guys are serious and really cannot imagine how to pull it off, right? Amazing.


    OK, I'll give you a tiny bit of taste "how to", with two points only of probably more like 20 overall. Overall time horizon; about a decade. Budget; very low nine digits per annum for all points, maybe less.

    (1) Create and maintain the impression that NK is an unworthy ally - not only in government, but also amongst the political population as a whole.
    (This is simple, as long as you don't overdo it and keep your plan secret enough.)

    Disinformation aimed at Chinese spies could involve documents pointing at NK officials spying / lying / joking / cheating at the PRC.

    Create diplomatic situations in which PRC and NK disagree, NK doesn't support the PRC and most importantly, openly votes against the PRC.

    Play into cultural differences, introduce and reinforce prejudices about North Korea's leadership in public forums with fake accounts from within the PRC (if necessary via proxy; employ a few people from Taiwan as well as Hong Kong exiles in the UK for the texting, but make them believe their main effort is something else). Identify opinion multipliers and exploit them in order to leave some impression on an almost 2 billion nation. Employ viral means such as caricatures, jokes, rumours etc..

    Stop deliveries of foodstuff to NK in order to let them ask the PRC for support instead. Again, make sure that Chinese get the impression that NK is a burden, not an asset - unworthy and incompetent. Talk loudly about how NK is China's problem, not ours, and China ought to subsidise NK since NK it's China's zone of influence and responsibility.

    Employ civilian lobbyists just as corporations do. Use corporations (not from your country, but run by a national of your country) as strawmen and pay them back through profitable orders or preferred treatment in some cases.
    The lobbyists would be more effective for other strategic points, but they can also be effective in point (1) by complaining to Chinese officials about anything from criminal NK refugees in the border area to transmitting aforementioned jokes, rumours and prejudices.

    Openly compare PRC and NK in speeches about Chinese successes and mentioning what a drag NK is to China with its backwardness and how it (supposedly) affects Western respect for East Asians in general.

    Once you get a NK defector official such as an embassy employee etc, use him to bribe a Chinese official against Chinese interests as if he did it for NK. Then allow him to flee to your political asylum as if he did it only because of the consequences at home. Don't pass the opportunity by allowing him to defect right away. Make sure people learn about the bribing, preferably by having bribed someone who was about to fall from grace anyway (=one of the publicized corruption cases).

    (+ more actions I did not think of within a mere few minutes.)


    - - - - -

    (2) Create and maintain high expectations concerning order and 'loveliness' of China's zone of influence. The state of affairs in NK shall be unsatisfactory and a stench on China measured at the high expectations.

    Speeches covering this topic without being too direct.

    Speeches about how the EU did (or failed to) keep order in its periphery.

    Direct, public requests to china calling them to restore order in their zone of influence (which, admittedly, would first need to be recognised.)

    Influence media (possibly even through movie scripts) to reinforce the view that great powers and especially super powers need to keep their backyard orderly. Translate a couple of existing books that suit the theme and make sure they're very much available.

    Visiting dignitaries/pols could make suitable points in interviews.

    Let South Korea publicly propose politically impossible pipelines and other traffic lines through Beijing, pointing out that NK is an obstacle to development. In case that NK plays along at first, make sure to blame NK for eventual failure of the project. Exaggerate the relevance for China.

    Point out at (almost) every opportunity how NK is a troublemaker even to the PRC's interests. Anything from Chinese fishermen getting in trouble with NK gunboats to troubles caused by NK's air policing.
    For example, fly with Chinese dignitaries from Beijing to Seoul, let the pilot switch off one engine, let him tell over the cabin loudspeakers that they're going to make an emergency landing for safety, later let him complain over cabin loudspeakers that NK airfields are the closest, but don't permit the landing - then let him fly painstakingly slow and with some shaking and noises to a South Korean airport. Make sure those dignitaries really, really believe that NK was implicated in their troubles (instead of the pilot). Make sure the incident gets publicised, exploit whatever statements the dignitaries give after the landing.

    Reply with dismissive remarks about China's inability to keep order on the Korean peninsula whenever China issues remarks bout our failures of similar nature.

    Analyse the rumours and nationalism within China, and their potential for making your point about China being obliged to fix NK. Contemplate how to exploit them in their specific cases.


    (+ more actions I did not think of within a mere few minutes.)

    (3) to maybe (20) not going to be written in here.




    I could go on page after page. Many in themselves small efforts that form a whole with some synergies and stand a good chance of ultimately turning the opinion against NK.
    Once that's done, all "you" need to do is allow the PR to fix the problem.
    The methods involved in the latter action might be covered up on paper by the fact that NK is in theory still at war and the aggressor, but in practice it would amount to threatening or assaulting a sovereign state and I won't lay out any 'how to' proposals for such an action.

  11. #351
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    Default If your dog bites the neighbour....

    Another strategic approach is to more or less openly define North Korea's government as creature of the PRC, in the same time decleare South Korea as a very valuable member of the "western" economic system. Do not longer interact with the NK government in for them important matters only talk to the PRC.

    Make clear that ecomnomic damage NK will do to the south is the responsibility of the PRC and will handled as damage directly done by the PRC, i.e. if your dog bites the neighbour you are responsible. This would turn the current hostage approach used by NK against China.

  12. #352
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    My comment is that some (but not all) of the comments being made in this thread all sound well and good from a western perspective. I would ask anyone who is interested in thinking about the problems on the Korean Peninsula to use their imaginations (and perhaps do some studying) to try to imagine how the the Korean people (north and South) and the Chinese view these situations. Many of the things we are imagining on this thread might seem ludicrous to the various actors who have a direct role in the affairs on the Peninsula. I think we could make (and I think a number of you have made) many of the same criticisms about how we were (and perhaps still are) ignorant of Afghanistan, it's people, culture, traditions, and history and we can see where that has gotten us. The discussion on this thread would likely lead down the same path for the Peninsula as was taken in Afghanistan. Only the path on the Peninsula is perhaps at least slightly more dangerous, complex and will have more far reaching implications than Afghanistan will ever have.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

  13. #353
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thank you, max161

    Well spake...

  14. #354
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    Quote Originally Posted by max161 View Post
    My comment is that some (but not all) of the comments being made in this thread all sound well and good from a western perspective. I would ask anyone who is interested in thinking about the problems on the Korean Peninsula to use their imaginations (and perhaps do some studying) to try to imagine how the the Korean people (north and South) and the Chinese view these situations. Many of the things we are imagining on this thread might seem ludicrous to the various actors who have a direct role in the affairs on the Peninsula. I think we could make (and I think a number of you have made) many of the same criticisms about how we were (and perhaps still are) ignorant of Afghanistan, it's people, culture, traditions, and history and we can see where that has gotten us. The discussion on this thread would likely lead down the same path for the Peninsula as was taken in Afghanistan. Only the path on the Peninsula is perhaps at least slightly more dangerous, complex and will have more far reaching implications than Afghanistan will ever have.
    Very good assessment.

    My friends from South Korea (first and second generation immigrants to Germany) with family member still in the Seoul region were in favour of a very strict policy against the north. My colleague from mainland China becomes quite uncomfortable when asked about the potential role of Peking in this mess. And I as citizen of the former FRG but with large parts of my family living in the GDR at that time I assume that there is no simply solution. :-)

  15. #355
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You guys are serious and really cannot imagine how to pull it off, right? Amazing.
    I don't think any of this stands a snowball's chance in hell of changing Chinese policy. Information operations have a place, but they aren't magic; there is no Jedi mind trick that will change a nation's mind and induce it to do your will, especially when doing your will is likely to create all kinds of trouble for the nation in question.

    Don't kid yourself, they will know exactly what you're trying to do, almost from the start. So will most of the observing (and publishing) pundits.

    Like certain other strategies occasionally proposed on SWJ, your suggestion relies on the assumption that the people on the other side of the picture will react as you say they will. Of course in the imaginary world that works very well. In the real world it does not: the other guy rarely cooperates.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Once that's done, all "you" need to do is allow the PR to fix the problem.
    The PRC can't "fix" the DPRK, and the effort would probably make an enormous mess for them. They of course know this: it doesn't take a genius to notice what happens when nations try to "fix" other nations. They aren't going to try, because they don't want to, and you can't make them want to... except of course in your imagination, where all things are possible and the other fellow always predictably responds to your initiatives in accordance with your desires.

    You still haven't told us who "you" are supposed to be. Who do you expect to undertake this effort?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-02-2012 at 10:49 PM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  16. #356
    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    I would be happy to have a discussion on north Korea and strategy for the Peninsula. I will offer up some of the work I have done on this should anyone care to read it and discuss it. I have posted the following papers and a briefing in a public drop box so it you are interested in downloading and reading them I would be happy to discuss them:

    "Beyond the Nuclear Crisis: A Strategy for the Korean Peninsula" http://db.tt/zWLh99pM

    A Strategy for the Korean Peninsula Beyond the Nuclear Crisis (A Military Review article that summarizes te thesis above) http://db.tt/gpCh0r76

    “It Takes A Strategy” To Deal with north Korea and its Provocations - http://db.tt/K5RVOnyV

    CATASTROPHIC COLLAPSE OF NORTH KOREA: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES MILITARY http://db.tt/vpUkyeXH

    North Korea Strategic Culture and Potential Futures (briefing) http://db.tt/rXArE4XX

    Irregular Warfare on the Korean Peninsula - Thoughts on Irregular Threats for north Korea Post-Conflict and Post-Collapse: Understanding Them to Counter Them http://db.tt/yItb3zmd

    Why North Korea will continue to “Muddle Through” - Regime Survival on the Backs of its People and in the Hands of its Military http://db.tt/HxGsZLXU

    My testimony before the HASC Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on the future of Irregular Warfare and in part I discuss the irregular threats posed by the north in a post-war/post regime collapse north Korea. http://db.tt/LVFzYtuT

    I have a number of other papers and briefings but these give an idea of some of my thinking on this topic over the years.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Default Culture....

    ...seems to be a real problem for our Fuchs (forget Chinese cultural concepts let's talk Sweden!)

  18. #358
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Like certain other strategies occasionally proposed on SWJ, your suggestion relies on the assumption that the people on the other side of the picture will react as you say they will. Of course in the imaginary world that works very well. In the real world it does not: the other guy rarely cooperates.
    You think of China as a nation, I think of it as a huge group of people. People follow certain psychological defects and limitations. It is possible to exert influence on them, and it's being done all the time.

    Right now, you and I are certainly under influence of political manipulation. Because we're humans, and not impervious to manipulation AND because people exist who understand how to manipulate people.

    The ground rules for doing it are actually rather simple, albeit manifold.

    You still haven't told us who "you" are supposed to be. Who do you expect to undertake this effort?
    Actually, I did. You could read more carefully.
    Oh, wait. You even quoted the part where I wrote it!
    Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    it's a piece of cake (for the Western great powers) to turn North Korea into their (edit: China's) responsibility and their problem.
    So I guess you just don't want to understand.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-03-2012 at 10:03 PM. Reason: Moderator at work, PM to author.

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    Default Moderator at work

    Can all contributors please enjoy the discussion here on a topic that is quite new and has taken an unexpected direction of late. I have now acted twice to keep posts within our rules and still facilitate a debate.

    Thank you for your understanding.
    davidbfpo

  20. #360
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You think of China as a nation, I think of it as a huge group of people. People follow certain psychological defects and limitations. It is possible to exert influence on them, and it's being done all the time.
    Of course it's possible to exert influence, within limits. You're proposing that "influence" can persuade a nation to perform a 180 degree pivot in a long-standing policy and undertake actions that it has consistently considered diametrically opposed to its own interests. That's outside any realistic assessment of the limits of available influence.

    The assumption that the PRC could "fix" the DPRK even in the extremely unlikely event that you could make the PRC want to "fix" the DPRK is in itself highly questionable. I'm sure you could contrive a perfectly lovely fantasy process to accomplish the goal, but when reality sets in any attempt by one nation to "fix" another is liable to become extremely sloppy and generate all manner of unintended consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Actually, I did. You could read more carefully.
    Oh, wait. You even quoted the part where I wrote it!

    So I guess you just don't want to understand.
    Surely you didn't seriously and literally mean "the Great Western Powers", acting secretly and in concert... that alone would be somewhere on the border between fantasy and delusion.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-03-2012 at 10:46 PM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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