Korean War II?

Thursday, April 4, AD 2013

 

 

Otto von Bismarck, the ever quotable Chancellor of the Second Reich, predicted in 1888 that “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”  I have long thought the same on a global scale about North Korea and Iran, where military power is wielded by regimes that seem to view rationality as a cardinal sin.

SEOUL — North Korea dramatically escalated its warlike rhetoric on Thursday, warning that it had authorised plans for nuclear strikes on targets in the United States.

“The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” the North Korean military said, warning that war could break out “today or tomorrow”.

Pyongyang’s latest pronouncement came as Washington scrambled to reinforce its Pacific missile defences, preparing to send ground-based interceptors to Guam and dispatching two Aegis class destroyers to the region.

Tension was also high on the North’s heavily fortified border with South Korea, after Kim Jong-Un’s isolated regime barred South Koreans from entering a Seoul-funded joint industrial park on its side of the frontier.

In a statement published by the state KCNA news agency, the Korean People’s Army general staff warned Washington that US threats would be “smashed by… cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means”.

“The merciless operation of our revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified,” the statement said.

Last month, North Korea threatened a “pre-emptive” nuclear strike against the United States, and last week its supreme army command ordered strategic rocket units to combat status.

But, while Pyongyang has successfully carried out test nuclear detonations, most experts think it is not yet capable of mounting a device on a ballistic missile capable of striking US bases or territory.

Mounting tension in the region could however trigger incidents on the tense and heavily militarised border between North and South Korea.

The White House was swift to react to Pyongyang’s latest “unhelpful and unconstructive threats”.

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14 Responses to Korean War II?

  • 1. The concentrated metropolitan settlement has a population of about 13 million, similar to that of greater Los Angeles. The figure of “25 million” includes the population of the surrounding province of Gyeonggi.

    2. Japan’s total population, productive capacity, trajectory of economic growth, and demographic profile leave her ill-equipped to challenge Chinese pre-eminence in the Far East. Both Japan and Korea are facing social crises derived from abiding low fertility. China is as yet not.

    3. I suspect at some point in the course of hostilities between the U.S. and South Korea on the one hand and North Korea on the other, China will intervene. That is their near abroad and they have intervened before. The trick will be to avoid having American and Chinese troops shooting at each other.

    4. The most practical end result would be to place the ruins of North Korea under what amounts to a Chinese trusteeship. The place cannot be integrated any time soon into the politico-economic framework of a sophisticated and affluent country like South Korea.

    5. If we are very fortunate, the death toll will not exceed that of the Bosnian War.

    6. Ron Paul will blame the United States government.

  • “1. The concentrated metropolitan settlement has a population of about 13 million, similar to that of greater Los Angeles. The figure of “25 million” includes the population of the surrounding province of Gyeonggi.”

    True, but much of the province would be a battle zone in any case.

    “2. Japan’s total population, productive capacity, trajectory of economic growth, and demographic profile leave her ill-equipped to challenge Chinese pre-eminence in the Far East. Both Japan and Korea are facing social crises derived from abiding low fertility. China is as yet not.”

    That has not stopped them from doing so Art, especially in regard to Senkaku Island. A nuking of a Japanese city would awake some very old patterns in Japan, call into question the value of the American defense shield, and remind Japan of their traditional foreign policy of never trusting gaijin.

    “3. I suspect at some point in the course of hostilities between the U.S. and South Korea on the one hand and North Korea on the other, China will intervene.”

    Perhaps, but the Chinese have been wary about becoming too involved in North Korea, the casualties suffered in the first Korean War still being vividly alive in the institutional memory of the Chinese military. So long as the US and South Korea do not seek to occupy North Korea, I think the Chinese will sit this one out.

    “4. The most practical end result would be to place the ruins of North Korea under what amounts to a Chinese trusteeship. The place cannot be integrated any time soon into the politico-economic framework of a sophisticated and affluent country like South Korea.”

    I doubt if anyone will want the immense task of dealing with the wreckage of a society in North Korea.

    “5. If we are very fortunate, the death toll will not exceed that of the Bosnian War.”

    Depends if nukes hit a civilian center.

    “6. Ron Paul will blame the United States government”

    But of course!

  • “Both Japan and Korea are facing social crises derived from abiding low fertility. China is as yet not.”

    I thought China was in the middle of some very severe social crises derived from “low fertility” — that is, forced low fertility courtesy of the one-child policy. However, that crisis does not, as of yet, include any lack of military manpower — if anything, they have a huge surplus of single young men with no wives/girlfriends around to discourage them from fighting or getting killed. Would that, perhaps, tilt the balance in favor of Chinese intervention? Or do they have too much of a good thing going as far as trade with the West, etc. to take that chance?

  • “3. I suspect at some point in the course of hostilities between the U.S. and South Korea on the one hand and North Korea on the other, China will intervene.” – I cannot think of a better means to end (high quality) Hyundia/Kia competition for Government Motors Conglomerate and the UAW’s lemons . . .

    The CHICOM army made the hike in 1950. It’s a long walk from the Yalu R. to Seoul.

  • Per the World Bank, the total fertility rates for China, Japan, and South Korea are as follows: 1.6, 1.39, and 1.22. China’s fertility rate fell below replacement level in 1993, Korea’s in 1983, and Japan’s in 1974. Unlike a number of European countries, there has not been any discernible improvement in fertility rates in the last 15 years here or anywhere else in the Far East. China has had a foolish anti-natalist policy for a generation now and could presumably improve if they all stopped penalizing procreation. (By way of contrast, France’s fertility rate is 2.0 and the anglospheric countries bar Canada have fertility rates between 1.94 and 2.16. Germany and Austria have problems similar to Japan).

  • “6. Ron Paul will blame the United States government.”

    Everybody (but FOXNEWS) will blame Bush.

  • Not so. Mark Shea will blame Richard Cheney (“cowardly war criminal”), or perhaps The Thing Which Used To Be Conservatism.

  • If, as Mr. McClarey acknowledges, South Korea’s military could deal with the North Koreans easily enough, then there is absolutely no reason for America to be involved. As it is, our presence on the peninsula guarantees our participation in any war. Let South Korean and Japan develop their own nuclear arsenals and then they would be able to handle any kind of threat from Kim. If we can live with China and Pakistan possessing nuclear arms, then surely world peace won’t be any more seriously threatened by SK and Japan having them.

  • To what planet would we have to retreat to to not risk being hit by a nuclear armed missile from a rogue state like North Korea? What would be the consequences of China confronting a nuclear armed Japan in the Pacific? What would be the consequences to the US to a nuclear conflict between China and Japan? Retreating to Fortress America is one answer to foreign policy challenges but it is almost always a bad one.

  • It is far from a foregone conclusion that any of the scenarios that you lay out would actually occur if the US adopted a less interventionist foreign policy in the Far East. As for any threat Kim directly poses to us, I think we can deter him by letting him know in no uncertain terms that he and his regime would be utterly destroyed in the event of a conventional or nuclear attack on the United States. This could be done without maintaining a garrison in South Korea.

    BTW, I do enjoy this website, but I have my disagreements with you on foreign policy.

  • “I think we can deter him by letting him know in no uncertain terms that he and his regime would be utterly destroyed in the event of a conventional or nuclear attack on the United States.”

    We have done that many times to no avail. Irrational regimes, and North Korea is clearly in that category, have their own agendas and are often not deterred by threats. A US pullout from South Korea might well convince Kim that now is the time to strike. The idea that the US retreating to its own shores would solve our foreign policy difficulties is simply an illusion. The world is shrinking each year through technological advances and a foreign policy suitable for the US in 1789 has no chance of success in this century.

  • Mr. McClarey, you are 10,000 times wiser than a certain Pat Buchanan, who believes to his core that Fortress America is all we need to fix every problem.

I Give Up, Here's a Links Round-up

Friday, June 18, AD 2010

“The Vatican” endorses the Blues Brothers.

North Korea embraces neoliberalism (baby steps).

Matt Yglesias is my kind of liberal.

The Onion channels Bertolt Brecht.

Israel further loosens border restrictions with Gaza.

A lot of people seems to think this is good news for Afghanistan. Have they never heard of the resource curse?

The menace of friendship. Paging Eve Tushnet.

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0 Responses to I Give Up, Here's a Links Round-up

Biden Was Right-Take II

Tuesday, April 7, AD 2009

biden

Well, somewhat to my chagrin I have to use the phrase “Biden was right” again.   With North Korea launching a missle that traveled 1900 miles before it crashed into the Pacific, Biden’s prediction of an international crisis early in the Obama administration is coming true again, and this time I doubt if doing nothing will probably work either short term or long term.

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One Response to Biden Was Right-Take II

  • The situation will escalate in the coming months and years, to be sure. The potential for World War III is drastically increasing, what with Russia, Iran, N. Korea supporting each other and thumbing their collective noses at any other governments or governing bodies. Throw the Israeli/Palestinian conflict into the mix (with Iran and maybe Russia as possible allies of Palestine) and the situation is becoming volatile.

    The UN and the US continue to do nothing, of course. Remember the last time we tried appeasement? That went well.

    As far as Japan going nuclear, I’m doubtful. I’m living in J-land at the moment, and anti-nuclear sentiment is pretty strong among the general populace, from what I’ve seen anyway. There are some who think Japan should have its own military, but even that is pretty controversial…