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View Poll Results: What is the near-term future of the DPRK
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%
Voters: 19. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-22-2009   #41
Ken White
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Default Good assessment, I think.

With four trips to Korea South -- and few incursions into the North (long ago) -- between 1950 and 1975, I know enough about North Korea to be mildly annoying; I do not even approach the danger level. However, I've watched them fairly closely for about 58 years now and I'm firmly convinced you're correct.

The succession is / will be a big event and I suspect the jockeying is bitter and ferocious. As for the rest of the noise, they have played the west like a second hand Ukelele since 1951. They are masters of the bluff and have manipulated every US administration since Eisenhower to get this or that break.

They constantly approach but generally do not cross the line Though they sporadically (mostly through miscalculation) step on the line just to see if we're paying attention. They are concerned with three Nations; China and Russia for obvious reasons -- and us; even Japan and South Korea are 'also rans' with them. They can be irrational and unduly bellicose but they are not crazy. That said, the worst thing we could do is ignore them -- that would drive them into a perhaps irrational frenzy...
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Old 05-19-2009   #42
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Default Also RE: Taiwan

I've also had similar thoughts about such a trade, and I'm not quite as skeptical as some here. Giving up Taiwan is not going to be a blow to democracy everywhere, or make our allies distrust us. Taiwan has very little soft power, and it really hasn't ever done any kind of activism on the part of democracy, ever. Moreover, China has opened up quite a bit since we last re-evaluated our Taiwan policy, so even if this is about democracy one would have to take that into account. The analogy here with Japan is academic, as nobody in the region wants to see Japan re-arm itself. A similar trade could also be discussed for Korea, but this would only be in the very long term, after North Korea cleans itself up the way China has.

The only main caution I would have about this would be whether the Chinese are actually concerned over military control over Taiwan as they say they are. It would of course be a disaster if the US executed such a policy to only a lukewarm response in the PRC. It could be more effective to simply arrange some kind of apology for historical whatever, or to concede on some question of governance philosophy or the like. The US supposedly specializes in understanding foreign cultures better than they understand themselves, and this may be a case where that sort of skill is necessary.

I wouldn't totally take a Taiwan political trade off the table. It could be a useful element of our foreign policy 'toolbox' in that region, to at least hold in reserve. One should assume that the end of American protection would immediately mean a PRC conquest; however this wouldn't be bloody if Taiwan were convinced that they would lose and the US wouldn't back them up. So such a move would need to be planned very thoroughly.
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Old 05-25-2009   #43
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Default North Korean Nuclear Test

LINK

Quote:
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea claimed it carried out a powerful underground nuclear test Monday - much larger than one conducted in 2006 - in a major provocation in the escalating international standoff over its rogue nuclear and missile programs.

Pyongyang announced the test, and Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons - comparable to the bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The regime also test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air missiles later Monday from the same northeastern site where it launched a rocket last month, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed sources. The rocket liftoff, widely believed to be a cover for a test of its long-range missile technology, drew censure from the U.N. Security Council.

North Korea, incensed by the condemnation of the April 5 rocket launch, had warned last month that it would restart its rogue nuclear program, conduct an atomic test and carry out long-range missile tests.

As always, the best technical analysis is at armscontrolwonk.
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Old 05-26-2009   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
....As always, the best technical analysis is at armscontrolwonk.
The MIIS Center for Nonproliferation Studies' North Korea page is also a useful resource.
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Old 05-27-2009   #45
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Default North Korea loses it

Not sure if this is the correct thread, but I think this news encompasses a few categories. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency is reporting that North Korea will no longer be "bound" to the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 and that the peninsula will soon be "returned to the state of war."

Quote:
SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Wednesday that it will no longer be bound to the Korean War armistice and will militarily respond to any foreign attempt to inspect its ships, denouncing South Korea's participation in a U.S.-led security campaign as a "declaration of war."

"As declared to the world, our revolutionary forces will consider the full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) by the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors as a declaration of war against us," the North's permanent military mission to the joint security area said.

It said the North Korean military "will be no longer bound to the armistice agreement" that ended the 1950-53 war, and the peninsula will soon be "returned to the state of war" as long as the armistice remains ineffective, the mission said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
That's pretty interesting.
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Old 05-27-2009   #46
Ken White
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Default They've been playing that game for 56 years

under only two leaders versus our 11 leaders in the same period. They're pretty good at it. They generally bluster and bluff until someone pays a bribe of some sort and then they remain quiet until they want something else. They're a little dotty but not completely nuts.
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Old 05-27-2009   #47
Brandon Friedman
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Ken,

I get that, and I'm certainly no expert on Korea. But it's one thing to say this kind of stuff. And it's another thing to say this kind of stuff after you've spent the weekend detonating a nuclear bomb.

But maybe you're right. Hopefully this is just the latest cry for help on NORK's part.
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Old 05-27-2009   #48
Bill Moore
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Default Just reminding us

that this is not a problem we can wish away. We also can't apply western logic to North Korea's decision making process, and I'm always a little apprehensive of those from the West who claim to understand their reasoning.

Western logic would tell us that it is illogical to saber rattle just before you attack when they must have as much surprise as possible before launching a military attack to even have a snow ball's chance in hell of achieving limited, although short lived, goals.

On the other hand, don't expect people or a nation in dire straits to make rational decisions. I believe their food stores are lower than the normal meager of recent years, so they may feel they have nothing to lose by upping the tension and risking a miscalculation.

Obiously a war that no one desires, but one we must remain ready for.
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Old 05-27-2009   #49
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Well my understanding is that if UN forces or anyone else boards North Korean vessels or blockades NK, then that is a breach of the 1953 ceasefire.

See article 15. Might want JMM to jump in on this.

..but don't worry. According to the great and the good, "Big Wars" are unlikely. We only have to worry about insurgents and Hybrids.

And don't assume that THEY THINK military action is not in their interest. History is covered in examples of folks who did things that turned out not to be in their interest... and they did them anyway! I think it might not be a good idea to under estimate just how serious things are right now.
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Last edited by William F. Owen; 05-27-2009 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Adding fuel.
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Old 05-27-2009   #50
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Unhappy I realllly

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
And don't assume that THEY THINK military action is not in their interest. History is covered in examples of folks who did things that turned out not to be in their interest... and they did them anyway! I think it might not be a good idea to under estimate just how serious things are right now.
wish I could disagree with you on this one. Especially if what Bill said is true.
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Old 05-27-2009   #51
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I know the conventional (ie media driven) thinking is that N Korea is 'so powerful as to render war unthinkable', but surely their kit and manpower, abundant though it may be, is of the same vintage or older than Saddam's Million man army we gently turned into fertiliser in 1991? Surely their SAM array is similary susceptible...or have they got up to date S-300 type stuff?

My point being - and God knows we don't need another war - that they probably can be contained pretty comprehensively, and that a stiffening of western resolve (rather than rewarding bad behaviuor) doesn't necessarily spell the apocalypse? I always wondered (other than the bitter fact that they are exporters of WMD and instability) whether NK was in the same bracket as Cuba - just ignore and wait to implode.

Idle thinking here.
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Old 05-27-2009   #52
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Coldstreamer, mate. If you think Hezbollah had a lot of rockets, then North Korea has that to the power of 100. They could do very, very serious damage to the Seoul without leaving thier start line. Try to fight your way into North Korea, may be a bit of a challenge.
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- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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Old 05-27-2009   #53
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Default Space conservation can save the nation...

Brandon:I'm no expert either but I have watched them for years. While four tours there, peace and war may cloud my judgment a bit, I suspect it is more 'We want' ...

Not to mention that we don't know if they popped a nuke; we only know it appears they may have. A few dump truck loads of TNT can give a marginal simulation. We'll see what comes out in the long term.

Plus, there are worse things than Nukes in any event.

Bill: No one in the west understands their reasoning. Some in the west have been watching them for years and while patterns do not provide predictions or assurances, they do provide probabilities. Plus, as I said, they're dotty, they are not nuts; in fact, they're really pretty shrewd...

Wilf:
Quote:
"..but don't worry. According to the great and the good, "Big Wars" are unlikely. We only have to worry about insurgents and Hybrids. "
Absolutely. They've got it all figured out...
Quote:
They could do very, very serious damage to the Seoul without leaving thier start line. Try to fight your way into North Korea, may be a bit of a challenge.
No question on the first part; on the second -- depends on which door you use but they're, even in their current debilitated state, no pushover that's certain.

Early days...
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Old 05-27-2009   #54
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I've got all that...tons and tons of coventional, stacked and ready...

But my point is, are they genuinely likely to launch a first strike if NK mainland has not been targeted. Wilf - do we really think that thy'd react that strongly to dodgy ships being searched at sea - particularly if kit was found aboard them that was even more politically embarrassing for them. I'm not sure I see it happening. A hell of a lot of the usual piss and wind...but then again that's what we've had from appeasing them, to a degree. But the problem with appeasement is their tech and proliferation is still getting out. So we still lose.
Fundamentally, I suspect regime survival is all, and they won't invite a Western retaliation. Hence 1st strike unlikely.

But as Ken says...early days. Another thing to pray for.
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Old 05-27-2009   #55
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Default The Korean Peninsula...

I would defer to Ken's supreior experience (that was delicately put don't you think) wrt psyche and tendencies...

I would defer to Ron's experiences wrt cultural understanding...

I do, however, have some feel for capabilities, terrain, etc regarding the prospects for combat on the frozen chosen...

My greatest apprehension while serving thinking about combat operations in Korea was not the indirect fires (although impressive and certainly capable of wrecking death and destruction) - we have an idea how to systematicly take that down... ROK Arty and our ability to execute counter-fire fight isn't a joke either...

The hordes of NK light infantry and special operaters is also worrisome and would certainly creat a degree of havoc before they were hunted down... or stopped at the local grocery store to fill their bellies...

No what really worried me was that they might figure out how to provoke the South into attacking the North... the tyranny of terrain, UGF/Harts, and non-existent road infrastructure is some scarry business... especially if they haven't already shot their load on an attack...

Agree with Ken... this is almost certainly sabre rattling for the sake of leverage to preclude the implosion someone else mentioned...

In a very perverse way, I miss the hours worked and rigor of live above the no smile line...

Live well and row
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Old 05-27-2009   #56
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Talking This geriatric abuse has got to stop...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
No what really worried me was that they might figure out how to provoke the South into attacking the North... the tyranny of terrain, UGF/Harts, and non-existent road infrastructure is some scarry business... especially if they haven't already shot their load on an attack...
However, on a serious note; yes indeed, to that comment...

Few Americans ever realized that we stayed on that DMZ for 50 plus years not to deter the North from attacking the South -- but rather the reverse.
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Old 05-27-2009   #57
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Default To be otherwise determined ...

No doubt, NK has breached Art. 62's clear language (for rational or irrational reasons):

Quote:
62. The Articles and Paragraphs of this Armistice Agreement shall remain in effect until expressly superseded either by mutually acceptable amendments and additions or by provision in an appropriate agreement for a peaceful settlement at a political level between both sides.
and some propose (based on news reports of "what should be done") to breach Art. 15 & 16's clear language (for the rational reason of preventing export of nuclear weapons):

Quote:
15. This Armistice Agreement shall apply to all opposing naval forces, which naval forces shall respect the water contiguous to the Demilitarized Zone and to the land area of Korea under the military control of the opposing side, and shall not engage in blockade of any kind of Korea.

16. This Armistice Agreement shall apply to all opposing air forces, which air forces shall respect the air space over the Demilitarized Zone and over the area of Korea under the military control of the opposing side, and over the waters contiguous to both.
Ultimately, discussion of the Armistice will be trumped by each country's decision, based on its enlightened self-interests, of its need to invoke its rights under UN Article 51:

Quote:
Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain inter- national peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
whether those rights be an "offensive defense", or solely defense of territory as is the current Russian response.
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Old 05-27-2009   #58
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. . . .with all this new posturing, all I can envision is Kim-Jong-Il stomping his feet, and holding his breath until his cheeks turn blue. . . . .a la Team America.

Despite all of the needs in the North, the one consistent thing manifested over the years is dear leader wants legitimacy, measured ONLY by bilateral engagement with the US, not a committee of nations or the UN. For all the right reasons, we have rarely engaged KN without the UN, ROK, Russia, Japan and/or China coming along. Stuck in 1953 thinking, NK leadership is big on correlation of forces and wants to play with the big dogs. . . . and force one-on-one engagement with the US, thereby, establishing the legitimacy of the Kim dynasty.
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Old 05-27-2009   #59
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Mind you I bet real estate's cheap there...lot of beaches...we could be missing a trick for holiday property. Could be the next Croatia...perhaps with more submarine pens...
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Old 05-27-2009   #60
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I think a major contributing factor to the size of the DPRK's armed forces is the lack of other employment (or busy work) for the population. When the population is conscripted and forced to support the military machine, threats to state stability are minimized -- even if at the expense of internal development or foreign relations. It's a common strategy in many underdeveloped countries (except where the military itself is unreliable, i.e. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). So I do not think we can accurately conclude that the DPRK wants to "play with the big dogs" on the basis of the size of their armed forces.
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