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1. I do not consider it likely that North Korea will have the means to successfully deliver nukes to population concentrations in S. Korea, Japan, or the US. As far as I know this is expert consensus. It has had impressive successes in both nuclear weaponry and long-range rocketry in the past year, but there is still no concrete evidence of the successful coupling of the two technologies. Without that, you are just going to get a far shorter and less intensive – and likely not that much more accurate – version of Germany’s V-2 attacks against London in 1944-45 (with just three civilian deaths/rocket, one of the least effective military investments ever).

2. The construction of a survivable deterrent capacity is a separate project that will take many more years and might in any case be beyond North Korea’s capacity anyway.

korean-military-balance

Author’s calculations.

3. The actual strength of the North Korean Army might be closer to 700,000 troops (the widely cited one million figure is now suspected to be more of a fantasy). Furthermore, I don’t see a large percentage of these being credibly combat-worthy. It’s no secret that the North Korean military doubles as a source of cheap labor, from helping with the harvest to road repairs and construction. This is time that they don’t spend training. Healthcare is at a Third World level. That recent defector was swimming in parasites, and those are border guards which could be expected to be more privileged and politically reliable than average. There has since been yet another defector. This raises questions about the real state of morale in its forces.

The often quoted figure of 200,000 “special forces” I suspect are the only ones loosely equivalent in quality to regular First World armies. However, even they are much more technologically obsolete. For instance, even at the most elementary level, none of the North Korean soldiers I have seen in videos ever seem to have body armor – something that has long been standard in modern militaries. As commenter peterAUS also noted, the last experience of real military conflict that North Korea had was more than half a century ago. How much do North Korean generals, and no less importantly, officers, know about modern developments in military theory?

North Korea does indeed have some genuinely “special” special forces with impressive feats over the decades. However, by analogy with other countries, there can’t be more than a few thousand of them.

One more note on morale. Although North Koreans have never lived better – hardly a high bar to clear relative to the barracks socialism of Kim Il-Sung and the famines of Kim Jong Il – this has also translated into a large material gap between elites and commoners. To be sure, North Korea has always had draconian, legally entrenched class differences that would put any capitalist country to shame (read about Songbun), but it is only in the past decade that is has become more visible than ever before – that is, the Pyongyang elite now has cars and access to department stores, while the rest have only have bootleg DVDs about the unimaginable quality of life in China and South Korea. And we know from cliodynamics that rising inequality is the death of asabiya. Unclear if unprivileged conscripts would still want to fight for such a country.

4. North Korea’s air defense system is extremely dense, and with over 150 AAA positions, Pyongyang is the most defended city in the world. But the guns and fire-control radar are of 1950′s/60′s Soviet vintage.

Much good they will do against this scenario (which is itself from 2003):

Six B-2s each armed with 80 500-lb JDAMs sequentially launch from Guam. The strike is coordinated with several divisions of B1-s with 12 JDAMs per aircraft and F-117s with two laser-guided precision-guided weapons per aircraft, taking off from other bases in the region. These strikes would be deconflicted with the launch of more than 300 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the various cruisers and submarines positioned in the Pacific. Six additional B2s, flying out of their homebase in Missouri, time their arrival closely behind – loaded with 24 1,000lb JDAMs or 16 2,000lb JDAMs. One thousand targets could be destroyed prior to sunrise.

5. The US has by far the best SIGINT in the world, and more of it is concentrated per square kilometer in North Korea than on any other country in the world.

Recent leaks indicate that voices within the Trump administration, including McMaster and Trump himself, want to “punch North Korea in the nose,” for instance, by destroying a launch site while the North Koreans are prepping for a new missile test. They should have no problems in doing so.

I do not believe it at all likely that China will intervene. While China has a formal alliance with North Korea, which it has publicly affirmed it will keep, it has no love lost for KJU and would not mind him getting taken down a peg or two. Another thing that few people mention is that both China and Russia have good relations with South Korea, and are unlikely to want to jeopardize them for the sake of Rocket Man. Neither China nor Russia want a nuclear armed North Korea, which could potentially rebound on them; and should this provoke a pro-Chinese military coup against KJU, then all the better for Beijing.

Consequently, the smart thing for North Korea to do at that point would be to swallow their pride and leave matters be.

6. North Korea has no proportionate means to retaliate against this. Maybe it could just about manage to lob a missile at Japan or Guam, with few chances that they will hit anything important, but that will just invite a much harsher retaliation against its military infrastructure.

7. What North Korea could do unleash its massive artillery forces against Seoul – the “soft” WMD doomsday scenario on the Korean peninsula. This might add up to a few 10,000′s of deaths before they are fully suppressed, especially if chemical weapons munitions are used.

This means total war, of course.

As I wrote, “I suspect it will be a harder nut to crack than Iraq in 2003, or even 1991. It is an ultranationalist regime with a formidable secret police, so you’re [probably] not going to be buying any generals off. North Koreans have higher IQs than Iraqis (so more competent), do not practice inbreeding (so more cohesive), and a have a lot more hills, mountains, and tunnels (which partially negate South Korean/American technological predominance).”

Still, this doesn’t make up for the vast technological gap (which some “anti-imperialist” writers seem to brush off as of no consequence). A South Korean victory over the North is pretty much inevitable, with the KPA getting much the worse of the exchange and ceasing to exist as a coherent force within a couple of weeks if not a few days.

Perhaps the regime’s best technologically feasible bet to stall and massive increase costs for the advancing South Koreans and Americans would be to use nuclear mines (an idea touted by NATO in the 1950s to counter Soviet numerical superiority). Not much the advancing forces will be able to do about this, and will increase their military deaths from 1,000′s or even 100′s, into the 10,000′s.

If China is smart (and they are) they would use the opportunity to try to foment a pro-Chinese military coup against KJU, and/or to take direct control of most of the country under the pretext of defending it from American aggression. With North Korea existentially engaged in the south and the Chinese-North Korean border denuded, this should be a trivial task. Americans end up expending most of the political capital, South Koreans do most of the bleeding (apart from the North itself), and the Chinese end up with most of the actual territory, which it could then leverage in post-war negotiations.

 
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  1. Are there sources for the expert consensus? I have no idea, since I’m not well versed in the topic, and it’d save me an hour or more of searching and reading.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea may be capable of launching a nuclear missile in 2018

    Though analysts and North Korea watchers disagree on the hermit state's progress, most say we will not know with certainty if they can pair a nuclear warhead with a missile unless they actually launch one.
     
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  2. Absolutely crazy piece. No power has ever got stuck at the stage of putting ICBMs and H-warheads together, and all the clowns who now assure us the DPRK has done so were telling us yesterday they couldn’t manage either technology individually. As for survivability, all it takes is one mobile system or suitably equipped submarine (both of which the DPRK has or will soon have) at most, probably not even that.
    The supposed amazing advances made by the US since 2003, or indeed since the 60s, are imaginary.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    No power has ever got stuck at the stage of putting ICBMs and H-warheads together
     
    But I think it often took several years to put them together, so it isn’t improbable that the North Koreans are not going to crack that nut for a few years either. But I wouldn’t bet my house on it.
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  3. The Chinese also don’t have much military experience. Remember the time when Mussolini tried to take advantage of the French military collapse, and it brought him little glory. The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that

    A) the Americans defeated them, not the Chinese, who merely try to prevent the reunification of the country (Kim will certainly not want the Chinese to have the spoils after his own death); the Chinese will also be seen as traitors; militaries don’t like to surrender to such backstabber secondary attackers, for example the Greeks surrendered to the Germans but not the Italians, the Hungarians in 1849 preferred to surrender to the Russians instead of the Austrians, etc.

    B) it’s better to wait for and surrender to the Americans anyway, in the meantime they might hold off the Chinese

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    • Replies: @5371
    The Italians were frontstabbers of the Greeks (but backstabbers of the French) in 1940, they just missed with their thrust.
    , @Mitleser

    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience.
     
    They have superior firepower, manpower and more advanced tech.

    The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that
     
    You are missing two factors, past and future.
    It was the PRC which saved the DPRK from complete destruction by American forces who killed millions. Later, the Mao's PRC was their most important supporter.

    For all the frictions of the relationship, Mao was remarkably successful in keeping North Korea at China’s side. In 1958, he ordered the withdrawal of the remaining Chinese troops in a bid to persuade Kim he should not fear China. He also chose to blame his embarrassing involvement in the joint Sino-Soviet intervention on Peng, whom Mao purged in 1959, accusing him of, among other things, subservience to Soviet interests.

    Sensing that Mao would not be “digging” under him, Kim drew closer to Beijing, while keeping Moscow at a distance. When the Soviet Union and China fell out in the early 1960s, Kim was among Mao’s most vocal supporters. Mao paid back in the same coin, generously supporting North Korea with economic aid, even though he famously refused to provide Pyongyang with an atomic bomb, which Kim asked for in the mid-1960s. Only once did relations sour: in the late 1960s, because the North Koreans failed to embrace the radicalism of the decade-long anarchic Cultural Revolution. Things became so tense in 1969 that China and North Korea nearly went to war over their disputed border. But it was only a year before Mao reconsidered, and again sought Pyongyang’s friendship in return for Kim’s acknowledgement of China’s leadership.
     
    http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/why-wont-china-help-north-korea-remember-1956

    And people in the elite of the DPRK might prefer becoming clients of the Chinese to being dragged to RoK courts and send to prisons.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Good points, but realistically speaking, only <20% of North Korea's military is on the Chinese border, and presumably none of the (few) crack ones.

    It also does not have the logistics capacity to transfer masses of troops quickly. Especially by the time that North Korean airspace becomes dominated by South Korea and America.
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  4. @5371
    Absolutely crazy piece. No power has ever got stuck at the stage of putting ICBMs and H-warheads together, and all the clowns who now assure us the DPRK has done so were telling us yesterday they couldn't manage either technology individually. As for survivability, all it takes is one mobile system or suitably equipped submarine (both of which the DPRK has or will soon have) at most, probably not even that.
    The supposed amazing advances made by the US since 2003, or indeed since the 60s, are imaginary.

    No power has ever got stuck at the stage of putting ICBMs and H-warheads together

    But I think it often took several years to put them together, so it isn’t improbable that the North Koreans are not going to crack that nut for a few years either. But I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

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    • Replies: @5371
    I don't think such delays in deployment, where they happened, reflected technology problems but rather a more leisurely schedule, since those powers all had a bomber force already.
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  5. @reiner Tor
    Are there sources for the expert consensus? I have no idea, since I’m not well versed in the topic, and it’d save me an hour or more of searching and reading.

    North Korea may be capable of launching a nuclear missile in 2018

    Though analysts and North Korea watchers disagree on the hermit state’s progress, most say we will not know with certainty if they can pair a nuclear warhead with a missile unless they actually launch one.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Apparently they believe it’s going to be finished in a year, maybe as little as a few months. And those beliefs are not things I’d bet my house on. What if, for example, they managed to mount a warhead on one of the shorter range missiles? The problem of mounting one on an ICBM could be more difficult than on a shorter range missile. It’s possible that they already cracked that nut, or will do so quickly.
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  6. @reiner Tor

    No power has ever got stuck at the stage of putting ICBMs and H-warheads together
     
    But I think it often took several years to put them together, so it isn’t improbable that the North Koreans are not going to crack that nut for a few years either. But I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

    I don’t think such delays in deployment, where they happened, reflected technology problems but rather a more leisurely schedule, since those powers all had a bomber force already.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    They are not going to get "stuck" at that stage, but neither is it something that is going to happen instantaneously.

    I should have clarified this, but I am speaking of the near future (i.e. the year 2018), and in particular of the next few months.
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  7. @reiner Tor
    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience. Remember the time when Mussolini tried to take advantage of the French military collapse, and it brought him little glory. The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that

    A) the Americans defeated them, not the Chinese, who merely try to prevent the reunification of the country (Kim will certainly not want the Chinese to have the spoils after his own death); the Chinese will also be seen as traitors; militaries don’t like to surrender to such backstabber secondary attackers, for example the Greeks surrendered to the Germans but not the Italians, the Hungarians in 1849 preferred to surrender to the Russians instead of the Austrians, etc.

    B) it’s better to wait for and surrender to the Americans anyway, in the meantime they might hold off the Chinese

    The Italians were frontstabbers of the Greeks (but backstabbers of the French) in 1940, they just missed with their thrust.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Yes, I gave a number of different examples where the defeated military was willing to surrender to one but not the other. Being backstabbed is one reason. Perceiving to have been defeated by the other is another. Providing considerably better conditions to POWs (like Western Allies vs. the Soviets at the end of WW2) is a third. All three will apply here: the Chinese will be backstabbers, not the ones to defeat the North Korean military, and providing worse conditions to POWs.
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  8. This topic is beyond your expertise.

    http://www.38north.org/2017/11/melleman113017/

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Liquid-fueled = needs time to fuel-up = detectable by Americans, who can swat it with a cruise missile.

    The USSR developed liquid-fueled rockets that could get prepped quickly, but very unlikely North Korea leapfrogged its way there.
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  9. The idea that China will not intervene is absurd in the extreme. Their strategic interests and exposure on the Peninsula are existential. And it important to remember that the last time out China defeated the US without a navy or air force and with a WW I army that did not have enough rifles to go around. This time they come equipped with a fully modern military, army, navy, air force, cruise and ballistic missiles and nukes. They have the second largest submarine force in the world, after North Korea’s. And while North Korea’s is obsolete, the Chinese force is modern. The China Sea will be a killing zone for the American navy.

    One should also remember that the USSR participated in both the Korean War and the Vietnamese War (China did, too). Russia has same strategic concerns as did the USSR, and they will provide aid and assistance to the Chinese and North Korean forces.

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you’re too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.

    Finally, everyone ignores the people of both South Korea and Japan. Both countries suffered nearly genocidal losses in WW II, and Korea again suffered such losses in the Korean War. Both populations have large pacifist minorities that openly oppose any war with North Korea. Pres. Moon of South Korea was elected on a peace platform, and while Abe is aggressive enough to please American neocons, he is severely constrained by Japanese pacifists.

    It is utterly impossible that either Japan or South Korea will sign off on any pre-emptive attack on the North. Their populations will not give up all that they have built over the last 70 years or suffer another genocide. Both governments will at the very least disavow such and attack and denounce it, and they might intervene to prevent it.

    Regardless of whether the North can deliver nukes by missile, a renewed Korean War would mark the end of the American Empire and our expulsion from the Western Pacific.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you’re too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.
     
    Good point. American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths. That's why the Korean War ended up being about close quarters, often hand to hand, infantry combat, and saturation bombing by the US of North Korea.

    It's hard to imagine the US and its allies committing tens of thousands of infantrymen to another slugfest. Most likely the US would just try to bomb North Korea in a new Korean War and "shock and awe" it into surrender, which probably won't work but may allow the US to save face and keep something close to the status quo.
    , @athEIst
    Both countries suffered nearly genocidal losses in WW II

    Maybe Korea, but not Japan. The population decreased 1 million from the 1940 census to the 1945 census from 73 million to 72 million, scarcely a genocide.
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  10. @5371
    The Italians were frontstabbers of the Greeks (but backstabbers of the French) in 1940, they just missed with their thrust.

    Yes, I gave a number of different examples where the defeated military was willing to surrender to one but not the other. Being backstabbed is one reason. Perceiving to have been defeated by the other is another. Providing considerably better conditions to POWs (like Western Allies vs. the Soviets at the end of WW2) is a third. All three will apply here: the Chinese will be backstabbers, not the ones to defeat the North Korean military, and providing worse conditions to POWs.

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  11. @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea may be capable of launching a nuclear missile in 2018

    Though analysts and North Korea watchers disagree on the hermit state's progress, most say we will not know with certainty if they can pair a nuclear warhead with a missile unless they actually launch one.
     

    Apparently they believe it’s going to be finished in a year, maybe as little as a few months. And those beliefs are not things I’d bet my house on. What if, for example, they managed to mount a warhead on one of the shorter range missiles? The problem of mounting one on an ICBM could be more difficult than on a shorter range missile. It’s possible that they already cracked that nut, or will do so quickly.

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  12. Who wants North Korea, except for North Koreans? It seems to me that the territory is pure liability to any modern power that could occupy it (South Korea included), and a massive one at that. So not sure what kind of leverage holding it would give to China. If it comes to all-out war against North Korea, the winner will be whichever one of the US or China will get the other (or the other’s allies) to take responsibility for occupying it. A plausible compromise is that one or the other or both will find someone pliable in the local elite (or among the higher-ranking runaways) and put them in charge, under certain stipulations and with foreign supervision to make sure that they will not be a nuisance (and that eventually Korea may be reunited, but I don’t think anyone will want to rush it this time; integrating East Germany was hard enough for West Germany, but here the contrast is even sharper).

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    • Replies: @Thirdeye
    China's has two vital interests in DPRK. One is to assure that the US or aligned forces do not encroach on their border. The other is to prevent chaos in the DPRK from spilling into China. Both of those motives make direct intervention by China inevitable in the event that conflict breaks out, IMO. China could claim, with justification, that the mission would be a humanitarian intervention. They could also sell the move to whatever is left of the DPRK government as a deterrent against invasion from the south. The result would be Chinese suzerainty, probably with some face-saving sop for the DPRK's rulers. That would no doubt be a bitter pill for the US to swallow, but a better alternative for ROK than continuing the conflict. The Chinese would be in a position to call a cease-fire then negotiate with ROK to get US forces off the peninsula in exchange for their security.
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  13. ” some “anti-imperialist” writers seem to brush off as of no consequence [the technological gap]”

    again we judge by results:

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military. They did disrupt it and force it to go into hiding, to be sure, but only bombing soft (civilian) targets + political maneuvering led to the Serbian leadership surrendering. No technological edge was required to bring about this income.

    In Iraq, they had a better record mopping up conventional forces. They then proceeded to fail at the task of occupation, which is also where they fail in Afghanistan. US&British cutting edge SIGINT&precision strikes? Similarly failing to curb Houthis militias in Yemen (Gulf Arabs are not doing this on their own, Western expertise is involved at every level) who keep beating back GCC troops and mercenaries. Again, the technological edge including drones&precision strikes can’t secure victory.

    In North Korea both winning conventionally and seizing the ground will be required. What with these nuclear sites? You’re looking at a high likelihood of encountering the same resilience the Serbian military put up AND a high casualties partisan war that promises the same grit as islamic fanaticism. No wonder the US has opted out for all these decades, even as NK WMD potential was still in its infancy.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military.
     
    The Serb military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1970s. The North Korean military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1950s. Big difference. The Serbs’ opponents were 1990s US and NATO forces. The North Koreans’ opponents will be 2010s NATO and US forces. Another big difference.
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  14. Consequently, the smart thing for North Korea to do at that point would be to swallow their pride and leave matters be.

    Assuming Kim doesn’t believe himself to be dead anyway in such a scenario. For example he might think that his prestige among his generals would collapse unless he retaliates. Then he’ll bring about total war in the hope of somehow surviving it or at least avenging his own death. Or he’ll retaliate in the hope of not bringing about total war. But the Americans won’t be very understanding, so total war will arrive anyway.

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  15. @Bukephalos
    " some “anti-imperialist” writers seem to brush off as of no consequence [the technological gap]"

    again we judge by results:

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military. They did disrupt it and force it to go into hiding, to be sure, but only bombing soft (civilian) targets + political maneuvering led to the Serbian leadership surrendering. No technological edge was required to bring about this income.

    In Iraq, they had a better record mopping up conventional forces. They then proceeded to fail at the task of occupation, which is also where they fail in Afghanistan. US&British cutting edge SIGINT&precision strikes? Similarly failing to curb Houthis militias in Yemen (Gulf Arabs are not doing this on their own, Western expertise is involved at every level) who keep beating back GCC troops and mercenaries. Again, the technological edge including drones&precision strikes can't secure victory.

    In North Korea both winning conventionally and seizing the ground will be required. What with these nuclear sites? You're looking at a high likelihood of encountering the same resilience the Serbian military put up AND a high casualties partisan war that promises the same grit as islamic fanaticism. No wonder the US has opted out for all these decades, even as NK WMD potential was still in its infancy.

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military.

    The Serb military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1970s. The North Korean military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1950s. Big difference. The Serbs’ opponents were 1990s US and NATO forces. The North Koreans’ opponents will be 2010s NATO and US forces. Another big difference.

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    • Replies: @Kimppis
    Cutting edge in the 50s? Come on, they are more advanced than that. They do have some newer weapon systems as well AFAIK and overall the military is much larger than the Serbian military of the 90s. (OK, South Korean military is large as well and just south of the border, but still.) Cutting edge in the 60s and (early?) 70s sounds more more accurate to me.

    I agree with the article to an extent (to a large extent, tbf), but while many people overestimate North Korea, IMO I feel (yeah, that sounds convincing lol) that Karlin is somewhat underestimating NK. It seems that some parts of the article are easy to misunderstand, like the first sentence... So you're saying that NK is atm not capable of delivering nukes to even SK? Not that they'll never be able to do it? Because that's how I read it at first and I don't think that's the case at all... Shouldn't be too far off at this point.

    And if I understood the China part correctly, you're saying that China will not intervene if there is a a limited strike against NK, launch sites, etc.? I guess that's quite likely, but if the Second Korean War breaks out and an actual invasion commences, hell no. Huge risks there, but I guess Trump has proved that that is something he could actually try...

    , @Felix Keverich
    The fact is NATO war machine is weaker today, than it was in the 1990s. Significantly so. American military spent the last 15 years training to wage counter-insurgency campaigns against sand people. That won't help them against North Korea.
    , @Bukephalos
    That the Serbian military could evade much of NATO's onslaught was more the function of the generation of their equipment or of good defensive tactics evading NATO's prying eyes? You tell me. Anyway,

    https://twitter.com/nktpnd/status/944245563415023618

    designs are various knockoffs of SCUD-B's, R-27 Zyb, China's JL-1. Not exactly 50's, and in any case their recent tests are achievements that only select few countries have realized. I guess it should take more than a few successful tests to prove you have the capability Hwasong 12, 14, or 15 promise. I leave it to people like Martyanov to judge...

    But their scud-B knockoffs with extended ranges are proved and are now an export industry for them. It's indeed silly to overhype them and their ability to strike the US homeland, to field nuclear-tipped missiles etc... (for now). But, having several hundreds of the lower-digits Hwasongs they can contemplate a wealth of targets in the South, Japan and US military facilities across the region, beyond the much talked-of artillery threat on Seoul proper.

    The premise of US Shock&Awe (that's how it went down, concretely) is to mete out catastrophic destruction on the targeted nations while watching comfortably from home, carriers groups and bases in allied countries. Not so here, as Norks have enough to cause actual pain on the would-be aggressors and set off a global economic crisis, even with their conventional arsenal only

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  16. Can anyone explain the meaning of the words “strikes would be deconflicted”? There should be an antonym for IYI.

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  17. If China is smart (and they are) they would use the opportunity to try to foment a pro-Chinese military coup against KJU

    Why do you think there have been significant purges in the North Korean leadership, including KJU’s uncle by marriage?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The situation might change if the Chinese military entered North Korea, ostensibly to protect it from the Americans.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Well yes, sure, but I am assuming the Chinese didn't bet everything on KJU's uncle and didn't lose all influence in North Korea after that.
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  18. @Twinkie

    If China is smart (and they are) they would use the opportunity to try to foment a pro-Chinese military coup against KJU
     
    Why do you think there have been significant purges in the North Korean leadership, including KJU’s uncle by marriage?

    The situation might change if the Chinese military entered North Korea, ostensibly to protect it from the Americans.

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  19. The North Korea drama is substantially fake, tho it indeed may become a tragedy killing tens of thousands of Koreans … it is a fiction through collusion amongst the USA, China & Kim Jong-Un, preparing an epic distraction from the upcoming Chinese and global financial explosion of excessive debt which cannot be repaid (about 40 trillion in China, over 200 trillion globally)

    Everything in North Korea is dependent upon China, apparently even their internet connections, Kim Jong-Un is a puppet

    A big background story – not easy for today’s ‘smart realists’ to grok – is that nuclear weapons are fake and have never existed … Will not repeat the longer material here that I’ve posted on Unz

    AK: Yes, good idea. Because I am just going to hide this nonsense behind the MORE tag to save comment field real estate for better material.

    [MORE]

    , but in a nutshell, Hiroshima & Nagasaki were beyond any shadow of a doubt firebombing raids just like Tokyo etc, artificially promoted as ‘nuke’ events – mushroom clouds are chemical – Swedish nuclear engineer Anders Björkman has been showing for years nuclear weapons aren’t possible – Antony Sutton proved half a century ago, the US & Soviets were in collusion during the entire Cold War, and an element of that was the fake ‘nuclear terror’

    The fakery of nuclear weapons are upheld via big power collusion, just like other big fake stories the major powers collude to uphold – the laughably fake ‘moon landings’ of 1969-72 – the fairy tale of USA 9-11 New York towers destruction as caused by ‘Muslims hijacking planes’ (see the New York Times ‘Israeli art students’ in the towers photographed with boxes of bomb detonators) – the plain-as-day CIA fakers ‘Edward Snowden’ & not-really-living-inside-Ecuador’s-embassy ‘Julian Assange’, who was even admitted by both Bibi Netanyahu & Zbig Brzezinski to be a fraud run by US intel

    The perhaps upcoming massacre of Koreans on both sides of the border, with maybe some Japanese murdered as well, will be a satanic ‘sacrifice’ providing an excuse for the economic disaster that is the inevitable consequence of the usurious debt bomb that is far more ‘real’ than ‘nuclear weapons’, with China as likely ground zero for worldwide economic wreckage

    Kim Jong-Un as a boy with father -

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    • Troll: ussr andy, reiner Tor
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    This guy just came out of my conspiracy theory where governments spread extremely dumb conspiracy theories just to crowd out sane dissident voices.
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  20. @Brabantian
    The North Korea drama is substantially fake, tho it indeed may become a tragedy killing tens of thousands of Koreans ... it is a fiction through collusion amongst the USA, China & Kim Jong-Un, preparing an epic distraction from the upcoming Chinese and global financial explosion of excessive debt which cannot be repaid (about 40 trillion in China, over 200 trillion globally)

    Everything in North Korea is dependent upon China, apparently even their internet connections, Kim Jong-Un is a puppet

    A big background story - not easy for today's 'smart realists' to grok - is that nuclear weapons are fake and have never existed ... Will not repeat the longer material here that I've posted on Unz

    AK: Yes, good idea. Because I am just going to hide this nonsense behind the MORE tag to save comment field real estate for better material.



    , but in a nutshell, Hiroshima & Nagasaki were beyond any shadow of a doubt firebombing raids just like Tokyo etc, artificially promoted as 'nuke' events - mushroom clouds are chemical - Swedish nuclear engineer Anders Björkman has been showing for years nuclear weapons aren't possible - Antony Sutton proved half a century ago, the US & Soviets were in collusion during the entire Cold War, and an element of that was the fake 'nuclear terror'

    The fakery of nuclear weapons are upheld via big power collusion, just like other big fake stories the major powers collude to uphold - the laughably fake 'moon landings' of 1969-72 - the fairy tale of USA 9-11 New York towers destruction as caused by 'Muslims hijacking planes' (see the New York Times 'Israeli art students' in the towers photographed with boxes of bomb detonators) - the plain-as-day CIA fakers 'Edward Snowden' & not-really-living-inside-Ecuador's-embassy 'Julian Assange', who was even admitted by both Bibi Netanyahu & Zbig Brzezinski to be a fraud run by US intel

    The perhaps upcoming massacre of Koreans on both sides of the border, with maybe some Japanese murdered as well, will be a satanic 'sacrifice' providing an excuse for the economic disaster that is the inevitable consequence of the usurious debt bomb that is far more 'real' than 'nuclear weapons', with China as likely ground zero for worldwide economic wreckage

    Kim Jong-Un as a boy with father -
    http://www.timpul.md/uploads/modules/news/2010/10/16310/658x0_kim-jong-mickey.JPG

    This guy just came out of my conspiracy theory where governments spread extremely dumb conspiracy theories just to crowd out sane dissident voices.

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    • Replies: @Ron Unz

    This guy just came out of my conspiracy theory where governments spread extremely dumb conspiracy theories just to crowd out sane dissident voices.
     
    While I generally agree there's a good likelihood that various organized groups are using that tactic to taint and discredit "conspiracy theories," even including on this website, I very much doubt this Brabantian fellow is part of that. I've noticed quite a number of his comments in the last year or two, and they just don't strike me as sufficiently purposeful.

    Instead, I think he's just an honest and sincere nut. After all, there used to be thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of fervent "UFO people"...
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  21. Remarkably level-headed piece. So many people, of diverse viewpoints, find it advantageous to exaggerate the threat posed by Little Rocket Man. So really refreshing to find the contrary approach.
    The idea that the Korean Political Caste System is undermining military effectiveness and ability to resist is not one I had encountered before. So Mr Unz is true to his logo.
    Songbun is a legally-based caste system, not an economically-based class system, though the former does determine the latter. Its like something out of the Ancient World – the Hittites or even the Aztecs. North Korea is not a modern state. More like Aztecs with Nukes.
    Will Rocket Boy act like Moctezuma ? Time will tell.

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  22. 5. The US has by far the best SIGINT in the world, and more of it is concentrated per square kilometer in North Korea than on any other country in the world.

    I don’t even know how to comment on this? LOL. I always thought (and was taught) that SIGINT is used on a broadness of frequency spectrum, from radio-waves to thermal (it is also radiation, you know), to whatever else. But live and learn, I guess,. I also wonder how can one “concentrate”, but I am being picky, of course, wink-wink.

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  23. 60s air defense systems become ferociously powerful when their components are put on trucks, which the North Koreans have done. Zoltan Dani’s exploits were noted by everyone. No great SEAD revolution has happened since the late 90′s – there’s no way around scoot, ping, shoot, scoot for long range standoff methods.

    North Korea has modern MBTs, ATGMs, and ammo for said MBTs. ‘Experience?’ The ‘experience’ you get from clobbering incompetents and insurgents might be considerably worse than nothing. Bad habits accrue from such duty. Including high reliance on vehicles from airfields that would be smoking craters in a war with an opponent like North Korea.

    The US could do Syria-style cruise missile strikes, but nothing really comprehensive without invasion.

    If there is one thing to remember over everything else, it is that the IQ of the operators of complex technologies matters more than the vintage. The US bigwigs realize the operators of the North Korean air defense systems are competent, and for all the public bluster know that their experience in Iraq signifies little. They may be overconfident, but not overconfident enough to invade under almost any circumstances.

    Probability of cruise missile attack on test site… 10% or so in my estimation. Too afraid of escalation and misinterpretation. On the other hand generals might be frustrated with Trumps unwillingness to be hard on Russia in Syria, and this could be the outlet.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    Zoltan Dani
     
    Let’s note that he is ethnically Hungarian.
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  24. @ilkarnal
    60s air defense systems become ferociously powerful when their components are put on trucks, which the North Koreans have done. Zoltan Dani's exploits were noted by everyone. No great SEAD revolution has happened since the late 90's - there's no way around scoot, ping, shoot, scoot for long range standoff methods.

    North Korea has modern MBTs, ATGMs, and ammo for said MBTs. 'Experience?' The 'experience' you get from clobbering incompetents and insurgents might be considerably worse than nothing. Bad habits accrue from such duty. Including high reliance on vehicles from airfields that would be smoking craters in a war with an opponent like North Korea.

    The US could do Syria-style cruise missile strikes, but nothing really comprehensive without invasion.

    If there is one thing to remember over everything else, it is that the IQ of the operators of complex technologies matters more than the vintage. The US bigwigs realize the operators of the North Korean air defense systems are competent, and for all the public bluster know that their experience in Iraq signifies little. They may be overconfident, but not overconfident enough to invade under almost any circumstances.

    Probability of cruise missile attack on test site... 10% or so in my estimation. Too afraid of escalation and misinterpretation. On the other hand generals might be frustrated with Trumps unwillingness to be hard on Russia in Syria, and this could be the outlet.

    Zoltan Dani

    Let’s note that he is ethnically Hungarian.

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  25. North Korean capabilities or lack thereof mean nothing. What would be the Nork’s motivation to attack America or it’s “allies” knowing it would mean certain death? If Imperial Zionist Washington was not in the service of evil it would revoke sanctions and stop threatening North Korea. It would then send a delegation to seek opportunities for trade.

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  26. under the pretext of defending it from American aggression.

    This seems familiar.

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  27. @reiner Tor

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military.
     
    The Serb military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1970s. The North Korean military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1950s. Big difference. The Serbs’ opponents were 1990s US and NATO forces. The North Koreans’ opponents will be 2010s NATO and US forces. Another big difference.

    Cutting edge in the 50s? Come on, they are more advanced than that. They do have some newer weapon systems as well AFAIK and overall the military is much larger than the Serbian military of the 90s. (OK, South Korean military is large as well and just south of the border, but still.) Cutting edge in the 60s and (early?) 70s sounds more more accurate to me.

    I agree with the article to an extent (to a large extent, tbf), but while many people overestimate North Korea, IMO I feel (yeah, that sounds convincing lol) that Karlin is somewhat underestimating NK. It seems that some parts of the article are easy to misunderstand, like the first sentence… So you’re saying that NK is atm not capable of delivering nukes to even SK? Not that they’ll never be able to do it? Because that’s how I read it at first and I don’t think that’s the case at all… Shouldn’t be too far off at this point.

    And if I understood the China part correctly, you’re saying that China will not intervene if there is a a limited strike against NK, launch sites, etc.? I guess that’s quite likely, but if the Second Korean War breaks out and an actual invasion commences, hell no. Huge risks there, but I guess Trump has proved that that is something he could actually try…

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  28. @reiner Tor
    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience. Remember the time when Mussolini tried to take advantage of the French military collapse, and it brought him little glory. The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that

    A) the Americans defeated them, not the Chinese, who merely try to prevent the reunification of the country (Kim will certainly not want the Chinese to have the spoils after his own death); the Chinese will also be seen as traitors; militaries don’t like to surrender to such backstabber secondary attackers, for example the Greeks surrendered to the Germans but not the Italians, the Hungarians in 1849 preferred to surrender to the Russians instead of the Austrians, etc.

    B) it’s better to wait for and surrender to the Americans anyway, in the meantime they might hold off the Chinese

    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience.

    They have superior firepower, manpower and more advanced tech.

    The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that

    You are missing two factors, past and future.
    It was the PRC which saved the DPRK from complete destruction by American forces who killed millions. Later, the Mao’s PRC was their most important supporter.

    For all the frictions of the relationship, Mao was remarkably successful in keeping North Korea at China’s side. In 1958, he ordered the withdrawal of the remaining Chinese troops in a bid to persuade Kim he should not fear China. He also chose to blame his embarrassing involvement in the joint Sino-Soviet intervention on Peng, whom Mao purged in 1959, accusing him of, among other things, subservience to Soviet interests.

    Sensing that Mao would not be “digging” under him, Kim drew closer to Beijing, while keeping Moscow at a distance. When the Soviet Union and China fell out in the early 1960s, Kim was among Mao’s most vocal supporters. Mao paid back in the same coin, generously supporting North Korea with economic aid, even though he famously refused to provide Pyongyang with an atomic bomb, which Kim asked for in the mid-1960s. Only once did relations sour: in the late 1960s, because the North Koreans failed to embrace the radicalism of the decade-long anarchic Cultural Revolution. Things became so tense in 1969 that China and North Korea nearly went to war over their disputed border. But it was only a year before Mao reconsidered, and again sought Pyongyang’s friendship in return for Kim’s acknowledgement of China’s leadership.

    http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/why-wont-china-help-north-korea-remember-1956

    And people in the elite of the DPRK might prefer becoming clients of the Chinese to being dragged to RoK courts and send to prisons.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor


    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience.
     
    They have superior firepower, manpower and more advanced tech.
     
    They also will face an extreme terrain - most of the mountains are up north.

    It was the PRC which saved the DPRK from complete destruction by American forces who killed millions. Later, the Mao’s PRC was their most important supporter.
     
    The Soviets were just as important, but Kim Il Sung purged from his party both the pro-China and the pro-Soviet factions. He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.

    people in the elite of the DPRK might prefer becoming clients of the Chinese to being dragged to RoK courts and send to prisons.
     
    That’s possible, but I’m not sure lower level commanders will think that way. Especially since there will probably be a propaganda war as well, I guess the South Koreans will be smart enough to try to lure the North Korean soldiers and officers to defect.

    All in all I don’t think we can be hundred percent sure that the Chinese will be able to easily and quickly conquer North Korea in the event of a war. Nor can the Chinese leadership.
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  29. I do not consider it likely that North Korea will have the means to successfully deliver nukes to population concentrations in S. Korea, Japan,

    Not buying that. The Norks have a lot of experience with missiles. Only a reliable strike against American territory would be difficult to accomplish.
    I do not doubt that they should be able to destroy the best target, Camp Humphreys.

    On a guided tour of Humphreys, Army Public Affairs Officer (PAO) Bob McElroy calls it “our little piece of America.” The Army calls it “the largest power projection platform in the Pacific.” Now in the final stage of a massive base expansion, when completed around 2020, Humphreys will have tripled in size to nearly 3,500 acres — roughly the size of central Washington, D.C. — making it the largest overseas American military base in the world, capping off over a dozen years of transformation and consolidation of the U.S. military footprint in South Korea.

    Humphreys is a major helicopter base, home to a rotational Attack Reconnaissance squadron. Attack assets like Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters fly out of Humphreys mostly at night and the 8,000 foot long airfield is large enough to land C-130s or other fighter jets from nearby Osan Air Base.

    The installation has a battle simulation center, small arms range, communications center, and motor pools for servicing Bradley Fighting Vehicles and battle tanks, all poised and constantly ready to “Fight Tonight” while, like any other municipality, managing its own public works, infrastructure, police, fire and real estate.

    For the residents of Humphreys — eventually there will be more than 45,000 — there are creature comforts like a “super gym” and 18-hole golf course, a community center for arts, crafts and music, swimming pools, athletic fields, a movie theater, a bowling alley as well as a 200-room hotel for military personnel. This month a 300,000 sq. foot modern shopping center with a scores of restaurants and retail stores will open near the pedestrian-friendly town center.

    In all, more than 650 new buildings have been built on what was once rice fields and farming villages. But beyond the saunas and Starbucks, the Yongsan Relocation Plan and Land Partnership Plan are consolidating U.S. bases and other installations in Seoul and near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20171107132136/https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/camp-humphreys-the-story-behind-americas-biggest-overseas-base/

    The relocation to Humphreys includes soldiers from USAG Yongsan, USAG Red Cloud, Camp Casey, Eighth Army headquarters, and elements of the combined forces command and the Second Infantry Division, uniting 173 U.S. military camps from around the country.

    The Army says the move to Humphreys means having to defend fewer sites and being further away from potential North Korean artillery strikes while improving “force posture and operational efficiency.”

    Fewer sites means fewer targets which is good news for the small nuclear arsenal of the DPRK.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    Not buying that. The Norks have a lot of experience with missiles. Only a reliable strike against American territory would be difficult to accomplish.
    I do not doubt that they should be able to destroy the best target, Camp Humphreys.
     
    I also think something like this. Attaching a warhead to an ICBM is quite difficult even if you have a small enough warhead (I think the biggest difficulty is protecting the warhead during the re-entry phase), not to mention targeting etc., but attaching a warhead to one of their smaller, shorter range missiles is a problem they have had several years to work on, I’d be surprised if they didn’t manage to solve it.
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  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @bob sykes
    The idea that China will not intervene is absurd in the extreme. Their strategic interests and exposure on the Peninsula are existential. And it important to remember that the last time out China defeated the US without a navy or air force and with a WW I army that did not have enough rifles to go around. This time they come equipped with a fully modern military, army, navy, air force, cruise and ballistic missiles and nukes. They have the second largest submarine force in the world, after North Korea's. And while North Korea's is obsolete, the Chinese force is modern. The China Sea will be a killing zone for the American navy.

    One should also remember that the USSR participated in both the Korean War and the Vietnamese War (China did, too). Russia has same strategic concerns as did the USSR, and they will provide aid and assistance to the Chinese and North Korean forces.

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you're too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.

    Finally, everyone ignores the people of both South Korea and Japan. Both countries suffered nearly genocidal losses in WW II, and Korea again suffered such losses in the Korean War. Both populations have large pacifist minorities that openly oppose any war with North Korea. Pres. Moon of South Korea was elected on a peace platform, and while Abe is aggressive enough to please American neocons, he is severely constrained by Japanese pacifists.

    It is utterly impossible that either Japan or South Korea will sign off on any pre-emptive attack on the North. Their populations will not give up all that they have built over the last 70 years or suffer another genocide. Both governments will at the very least disavow such and attack and denounce it, and they might intervene to prevent it.

    Regardless of whether the North can deliver nukes by missile, a renewed Korean War would mark the end of the American Empire and our expulsion from the Western Pacific.

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you’re too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.

    Good point. American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths. That’s why the Korean War ended up being about close quarters, often hand to hand, infantry combat, and saturation bombing by the US of North Korea.

    It’s hard to imagine the US and its allies committing tens of thousands of infantrymen to another slugfest. Most likely the US would just try to bomb North Korea in a new Korean War and “shock and awe” it into surrender, which probably won’t work but may allow the US to save face and keep something close to the status quo.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths.
     
    I see no one remembers TF Smith.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    1. The Americans won't, because they won't have to. The South Koreans will - presumably, public opinion will harden once Seoul is getting flattened - and their 500,000 strong Army (+ reservists) is enough to the job.

    2. According to elevation maps, eastern North Korea is mountainous; the west is reasonably flat (and leads straight to Pyongyang).

    3. North Korea itself certainly doesn't consider tanks and armored vehicles useless in their terrain - they have one of the largest armored forces in the world! (Granted, ridiculously obsolete - best they have is their own version of the T-72, also lots of T-55's (!) which will only clutter up the roads - but still).

    4. At this stage, I don't think the tech gap can be overstated. I doubt they even have anything capable of destroying modern Abrams or South Korean Black Panthers. Their soldiers don't seem to have bulletproof vests, apart from special forces, perhaps.
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  31. Seems like an excessively optimistic piece; also quite speculative (two defections of border guards are hardly sufficient proof that morale is low in NK’s army). There are too many unknowns, and since even a small risk of North Korea nuking Seoul or Tokyo or some US city is too high imo, “preventive” war still looks like a very bad idea.

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    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    ... and since even a small risk of North Korea nuking Seoul or Tokyo or some US city is too high imo
     
    Well, I'd argue the chances of this happening is very close to zero wrt Seoul and Tokyo, and effectively zero for the US mainland.

    Today.

    But this probability will be creeping upwards with time. This is why this year or 2019 will be the most critical ones.
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  32. US attack on North Korea will never happen because Americans have no balls for it. It’s one thing for Trump to spew BS on Twitter and another to risk the lives of tens of thousands of American soldiers, not to mention his own political future. If something goes wrong for Americans in Korea I do not see Trump surviving this politically.

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  33. @reiner Tor

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military.
     
    The Serb military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1970s. The North Korean military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1950s. Big difference. The Serbs’ opponents were 1990s US and NATO forces. The North Koreans’ opponents will be 2010s NATO and US forces. Another big difference.

    The fact is NATO war machine is weaker today, than it was in the 1990s. Significantly so. American military spent the last 15 years training to wage counter-insurgency campaigns against sand people. That won’t help them against North Korea.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I don’t think that applies to the Air Force.
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  34. @Anonymous

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you’re too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.
     
    Good point. American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths. That's why the Korean War ended up being about close quarters, often hand to hand, infantry combat, and saturation bombing by the US of North Korea.

    It's hard to imagine the US and its allies committing tens of thousands of infantrymen to another slugfest. Most likely the US would just try to bomb North Korea in a new Korean War and "shock and awe" it into surrender, which probably won't work but may allow the US to save face and keep something close to the status quo.

    American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths.

    I see no one remembers TF Smith.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I know next to nothing about the Korean War, but searched for it. It was in South Korea, where the terrain is less mountainous.
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  35. @Twinkie

    American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths.
     
    I see no one remembers TF Smith.

    I know next to nothing about the Korean War, but searched for it. It was in South Korea, where the terrain is less mountainous.

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    • Replies: @Thirdeye
    Both the north and south have mountains to the east and a broad coastal plain to the west. An armored move towards Pyongyang would be feasible, but the Chinese would probably get there first.
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  36. @Felix Keverich
    The fact is NATO war machine is weaker today, than it was in the 1990s. Significantly so. American military spent the last 15 years training to wage counter-insurgency campaigns against sand people. That won't help them against North Korea.

    I don’t think that applies to the Air Force.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    US was always going to enjoy air superiority over North Korea, but it won't be enough to win a war against North Korea.

    US game plan will be to launch a bunch of "precision strikes" on NK, and then hope that NK does not retaliate. If NK retaliates, Americans will find themselves in a world of hurt. They (US military and society) are simply unprepared for a war that will follow.
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  37. @Mitleser

    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience.
     
    They have superior firepower, manpower and more advanced tech.

    The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that
     
    You are missing two factors, past and future.
    It was the PRC which saved the DPRK from complete destruction by American forces who killed millions. Later, the Mao's PRC was their most important supporter.

    For all the frictions of the relationship, Mao was remarkably successful in keeping North Korea at China’s side. In 1958, he ordered the withdrawal of the remaining Chinese troops in a bid to persuade Kim he should not fear China. He also chose to blame his embarrassing involvement in the joint Sino-Soviet intervention on Peng, whom Mao purged in 1959, accusing him of, among other things, subservience to Soviet interests.

    Sensing that Mao would not be “digging” under him, Kim drew closer to Beijing, while keeping Moscow at a distance. When the Soviet Union and China fell out in the early 1960s, Kim was among Mao’s most vocal supporters. Mao paid back in the same coin, generously supporting North Korea with economic aid, even though he famously refused to provide Pyongyang with an atomic bomb, which Kim asked for in the mid-1960s. Only once did relations sour: in the late 1960s, because the North Koreans failed to embrace the radicalism of the decade-long anarchic Cultural Revolution. Things became so tense in 1969 that China and North Korea nearly went to war over their disputed border. But it was only a year before Mao reconsidered, and again sought Pyongyang’s friendship in return for Kim’s acknowledgement of China’s leadership.
     
    http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/why-wont-china-help-north-korea-remember-1956

    And people in the elite of the DPRK might prefer becoming clients of the Chinese to being dragged to RoK courts and send to prisons.

    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience.

    They have superior firepower, manpower and more advanced tech.

    They also will face an extreme terrain – most of the mountains are up north.

    It was the PRC which saved the DPRK from complete destruction by American forces who killed millions. Later, the Mao’s PRC was their most important supporter.

    The Soviets were just as important, but Kim Il Sung purged from his party both the pro-China and the pro-Soviet factions. He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.

    people in the elite of the DPRK might prefer becoming clients of the Chinese to being dragged to RoK courts and send to prisons.

    That’s possible, but I’m not sure lower level commanders will think that way. Especially since there will probably be a propaganda war as well, I guess the South Koreans will be smart enough to try to lure the North Korean soldiers and officers to defect.

    All in all I don’t think we can be hundred percent sure that the Chinese will be able to easily and quickly conquer North Korea in the event of a war. Nor can the Chinese leadership.

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    • Replies: @German_reader

    He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.
     
    I can't evaluate it myself (don't know any East Asian languages), but there are also claims that North Korea's nationalist ideology has some distinctly anti-Chinese elements; e.g. that argument is made in this article (the author is Chinese, so I trust his judgment):
    https://www.tichyseinblick.de/kolumnen/aus-aller-welt/was-nordkorea-wirklich-will/
    He claims the North Koreans in their view of history make a big deal of the kingdom of Goguryeo which repelled several Chinese invasions in the early 7th century; and more generally reject any traditional claims of Chinese influence on Korean civilization. Apparently Kim-Il-Sung had the tomb of the mythical king Gija (supposedly a Chinese sage) demolished already back in 1959, since he regarded Gija as a Chinese invention harmful to the sovereignty of the Korean nation:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kija%27s_Tomb
    So there seems to be quite a bit of tension in North Korea's relationship to China.
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  38. @reiner Tor
    I don’t think that applies to the Air Force.

    US was always going to enjoy air superiority over North Korea, but it won’t be enough to win a war against North Korea.

    US game plan will be to launch a bunch of “precision strikes” on NK, and then hope that NK does not retaliate. If NK retaliates, Americans will find themselves in a world of hurt. They (US military and society) are simply unprepared for a war that will follow.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Yes, Kim has successfully built up a reputation of being crazy that no one can really bet on him not retaliating in some crazy way, should the Americans attack him.
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  39. @Mitleser

    I do not consider it likely that North Korea will have the means to successfully deliver nukes to population concentrations in S. Korea, Japan,
     
    Not buying that. The Norks have a lot of experience with missiles. Only a reliable strike against American territory would be difficult to accomplish.
    I do not doubt that they should be able to destroy the best target, Camp Humphreys.

    On a guided tour of Humphreys, Army Public Affairs Officer (PAO) Bob McElroy calls it “our little piece of America.” The Army calls it “the largest power projection platform in the Pacific.” Now in the final stage of a massive base expansion, when completed around 2020, Humphreys will have tripled in size to nearly 3,500 acres — roughly the size of central Washington, D.C. — making it the largest overseas American military base in the world, capping off over a dozen years of transformation and consolidation of the U.S. military footprint in South Korea.

    Humphreys is a major helicopter base, home to a rotational Attack Reconnaissance squadron. Attack assets like Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters fly out of Humphreys mostly at night and the 8,000 foot long airfield is large enough to land C-130s or other fighter jets from nearby Osan Air Base.

    The installation has a battle simulation center, small arms range, communications center, and motor pools for servicing Bradley Fighting Vehicles and battle tanks, all poised and constantly ready to “Fight Tonight” while, like any other municipality, managing its own public works, infrastructure, police, fire and real estate.

    For the residents of Humphreys — eventually there will be more than 45,000 — there are creature comforts like a “super gym” and 18-hole golf course, a community center for arts, crafts and music, swimming pools, athletic fields, a movie theater, a bowling alley as well as a 200-room hotel for military personnel. This month a 300,000 sq. foot modern shopping center with a scores of restaurants and retail stores will open near the pedestrian-friendly town center.

    In all, more than 650 new buildings have been built on what was once rice fields and farming villages. But beyond the saunas and Starbucks, the Yongsan Relocation Plan and Land Partnership Plan are consolidating U.S. bases and other installations in Seoul and near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea.
     
    http://web.archive.org/web/20171107132136/https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/camp-humphreys-the-story-behind-americas-biggest-overseas-base/

    The relocation to Humphreys includes soldiers from USAG Yongsan, USAG Red Cloud, Camp Casey, Eighth Army headquarters, and elements of the combined forces command and the Second Infantry Division, uniting 173 U.S. military camps from around the country.

    The Army says the move to Humphreys means having to defend fewer sites and being further away from potential North Korean artillery strikes while improving “force posture and operational efficiency.”
     
    Fewer sites means fewer targets which is good news for the small nuclear arsenal of the DPRK.

    Not buying that. The Norks have a lot of experience with missiles. Only a reliable strike against American territory would be difficult to accomplish.
    I do not doubt that they should be able to destroy the best target, Camp Humphreys.

    I also think something like this. Attaching a warhead to an ICBM is quite difficult even if you have a small enough warhead (I think the biggest difficulty is protecting the warhead during the re-entry phase), not to mention targeting etc., but attaching a warhead to one of their smaller, shorter range missiles is a problem they have had several years to work on, I’d be surprised if they didn’t manage to solve it.

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  40. @Felix Keverich
    US was always going to enjoy air superiority over North Korea, but it won't be enough to win a war against North Korea.

    US game plan will be to launch a bunch of "precision strikes" on NK, and then hope that NK does not retaliate. If NK retaliates, Americans will find themselves in a world of hurt. They (US military and society) are simply unprepared for a war that will follow.

    Yes, Kim has successfully built up a reputation of being crazy that no one can really bet on him not retaliating in some crazy way, should the Americans attack him.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    Not crazy. Delivering on your threat is a perfectly rational thing to do. Trump would be crazy to attack Kim. He would be risking everything for what, a reprieve from Russia investigation?
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  41. @reiner Tor
    Yes, Kim has successfully built up a reputation of being crazy that no one can really bet on him not retaliating in some crazy way, should the Americans attack him.

    Not crazy. Delivering on your threat is a perfectly rational thing to do. Trump would be crazy to attack Kim. He would be risking everything for what, a reprieve from Russia investigation?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    It depends. For example if he really is as weak as Anatoly describes him in the article, then in case of an American attack it might not be very rational to retaliate. But by being crazy enough to retaliate even if by retaliating he brings about his own death, he might actually avoid being hit by the Americans in the first place. So in a broader, game theory sense it often pays off to be crazy.
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  42. @reiner Tor


    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience.
     
    They have superior firepower, manpower and more advanced tech.
     
    They also will face an extreme terrain - most of the mountains are up north.

    It was the PRC which saved the DPRK from complete destruction by American forces who killed millions. Later, the Mao’s PRC was their most important supporter.
     
    The Soviets were just as important, but Kim Il Sung purged from his party both the pro-China and the pro-Soviet factions. He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.

    people in the elite of the DPRK might prefer becoming clients of the Chinese to being dragged to RoK courts and send to prisons.
     
    That’s possible, but I’m not sure lower level commanders will think that way. Especially since there will probably be a propaganda war as well, I guess the South Koreans will be smart enough to try to lure the North Korean soldiers and officers to defect.

    All in all I don’t think we can be hundred percent sure that the Chinese will be able to easily and quickly conquer North Korea in the event of a war. Nor can the Chinese leadership.

    He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.

    I can’t evaluate it myself (don’t know any East Asian languages), but there are also claims that North Korea’s nationalist ideology has some distinctly anti-Chinese elements; e.g. that argument is made in this article (the author is Chinese, so I trust his judgment):

    https://www.tichyseinblick.de/kolumnen/aus-aller-welt/was-nordkorea-wirklich-will/

    He claims the North Koreans in their view of history make a big deal of the kingdom of Goguryeo which repelled several Chinese invasions in the early 7th century; and more generally reject any traditional claims of Chinese influence on Korean civilization. Apparently Kim-Il-Sung had the tomb of the mythical king Gija (supposedly a Chinese sage) demolished already back in 1959, since he regarded Gija as a Chinese invention harmful to the sovereignty of the Korean nation:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kija%27s_Tomb

    So there seems to be quite a bit of tension in North Korea’s relationship to China.

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    • Replies: @Thirdeye
    Korean dynasties have tended to come to power by gaining the support of China. The Kim Dynasty fits that pattern to a T. Syngman Rhee used the same strategy, only using US instead of Chinese support. Biting the hand that feeds you is not a good way to stay in power in Korea, despite whatever nationalist sentiments are in play.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea is an ultranationalist regime that looks out for the "purity" of the Korean race (Myers makes this argument in The Cleanest Race).

    That said, from what I've read, they don't demonize modern China.

    1. Main enemy is USA. Can't alienate China too much, too.

    2. While you can still sort of dismiss America as a wretched capitalist hive, many North Koreans have now been to China (or gotten word from relatives or friends there). And living standards are far better there. Suppressing this fact would now be completely impossible.
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  43. Merry Christmas to Mr. Karlin and all!

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  44. Aum

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  45. @reiner Tor
    This guy just came out of my conspiracy theory where governments spread extremely dumb conspiracy theories just to crowd out sane dissident voices.

    This guy just came out of my conspiracy theory where governments spread extremely dumb conspiracy theories just to crowd out sane dissident voices.

    While I generally agree there’s a good likelihood that various organized groups are using that tactic to taint and discredit “conspiracy theories,” even including on this website, I very much doubt this Brabantian fellow is part of that. I’ve noticed quite a number of his comments in the last year or two, and they just don’t strike me as sufficiently purposeful.

    Instead, I think he’s just an honest and sincere nut. After all, there used to be thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of fervent “UFO people”…

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I always say or write this tongue in cheek, since there are many nutty people on their own. Governments might encourage or help these people in subtle ways, though, for example by giving them better rankings in Google searches, or at least by not censoring them (unlike reasonable dissident voices). And yes, it’s not totally inconceivable that they do employ some trolls to comment on sites like this, but it’s more likely in most cases (and in the case of Brabantian in particular) that they are just honest to God believers in the crazy theories spread by them.
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  46. I agree with this article and have some key points to add.

    1. The US military can deliver a massive aerial blow, but requires weeks to get the machine rolling. In recent conflicts the USA had months to prepare a “shock and awe” choosing the time to start. This can’t be done in secret given all the movements required. Keep in mind the USA lost some 40 aircraft in the first attack against Iraq, so expect at least two dozen American aircraft lost with POW pilots on world TV.

    2. The US Army and Marines will be not be players and won’t matter. Our Army only has 8000 combat troops in Korea and the Marines 4000 in Japan. The rest are headquarters, rear support, and base personnel. Half of these troops will be unavailable as they see to it their families are evacuated. The rest will be guarding bases from angry South Korean protestors sure to blame the USA for the mess. The Army loves to brag that it can deploy 5000 paratroopers in a few days, but a really a few weeks. Why even bother when 5,000,000 trained South Koreans are there ready to fight.

    3. North Korea can unleash deadly artillery and it will be a couple weeks before it gets beat down. The North Koreans may try foolish World War I human wave assaults and gain perhaps a couple of miles, but they can’t move artillery and supplies forward and will end up starving and out of ammo.

    4. The South Koreans will be reluctant to charge across the DMZ and lose thousands of men, the USA no longer has an ability to conduct major amphibious landings, and it would take a year to assemble the ships and personnel to try anyway.

    5. China will not allow an American allied South Korea to take over North Korea, which will be suffering from mass famine. South Korea has no interest in losing 100,000 soldiers clearing every North Korean town and city from fanatical defenders. If US Army Generals demand to play, half of America’s volunteer force will unvolunteer and desert, refuse to deploy, or become “ill.”

    6. All this is a ruse to cover the crazy 10% boost in Pentagon spending that Trump just signed. This was proven when Senators asked why we don’t remove the 20,000 military dependents in South Korea if war is inevitable. No one wants war and this problem would go away if not for crazed US Army Generals playing budget and power games.

    7. If war breaks out by accident, there will be some bombing and shelling with a few thousand killed. The USA Air Gods will run out of munitions in three weeks and not get more for months. All sides will seek a quick peaceful resolution as business must resume. The crazies in the Pentagon will demand World War III, but taxpayers don’t give a damn about Korea and the Chinese and Russians will threaten to dump dollars, so peace will prevail.

    8. The easy way to stop North Korea from threatening to attack the USA, is for the USA to stop threatening to attack North Korea. Stop the warmonger speeches and stop all US military activity north of Seoul. This is all the North Koreans have demanded after seeing the USA “free” Iraq and Libya.

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    • Replies: @dfordoom

    The easy way to stop North Korea from threatening to attack the USA, is for the USA to stop threatening to attack North Korea
     
    But if the USA stopped threatening other nations US taxpayers might realise that their whole Military-Industrial Complex is just a gigantic money-making scam. US taxpayers might realise that they could their defense budget by three-quarters (at least) without the slightest actual risk to US security. They might figure out that nobody is threatening the US militarily.

    They might even realise that all those defense contractors and generals and the neocons are actually the enemies of the American people.

    It's a nightmare scenario. Common sense must not be allowed to prevail.
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  47. @Carlton Meyer
    I agree with this article and have some key points to add.

    1. The US military can deliver a massive aerial blow, but requires weeks to get the machine rolling. In recent conflicts the USA had months to prepare a "shock and awe" choosing the time to start. This can't be done in secret given all the movements required. Keep in mind the USA lost some 40 aircraft in the first attack against Iraq, so expect at least two dozen American aircraft lost with POW pilots on world TV.

    2. The US Army and Marines will be not be players and won't matter. Our Army only has 8000 combat troops in Korea and the Marines 4000 in Japan. The rest are headquarters, rear support, and base personnel. Half of these troops will be unavailable as they see to it their families are evacuated. The rest will be guarding bases from angry South Korean protestors sure to blame the USA for the mess. The Army loves to brag that it can deploy 5000 paratroopers in a few days, but a really a few weeks. Why even bother when 5,000,000 trained South Koreans are there ready to fight.

    3. North Korea can unleash deadly artillery and it will be a couple weeks before it gets beat down. The North Koreans may try foolish World War I human wave assaults and gain perhaps a couple of miles, but they can't move artillery and supplies forward and will end up starving and out of ammo.

    4. The South Koreans will be reluctant to charge across the DMZ and lose thousands of men, the USA no longer has an ability to conduct major amphibious landings, and it would take a year to assemble the ships and personnel to try anyway.

    5. China will not allow an American allied South Korea to take over North Korea, which will be suffering from mass famine. South Korea has no interest in losing 100,000 soldiers clearing every North Korean town and city from fanatical defenders. If US Army Generals demand to play, half of America's volunteer force will unvolunteer and desert, refuse to deploy, or become "ill."

    6. All this is a ruse to cover the crazy 10% boost in Pentagon spending that Trump just signed. This was proven when Senators asked why we don't remove the 20,000 military dependents in South Korea if war is inevitable. No one wants war and this problem would go away if not for crazed US Army Generals playing budget and power games.

    7. If war breaks out by accident, there will be some bombing and shelling with a few thousand killed. The USA Air Gods will run out of munitions in three weeks and not get more for months. All sides will seek a quick peaceful resolution as business must resume. The crazies in the Pentagon will demand World War III, but taxpayers don't give a damn about Korea and the Chinese and Russians will threaten to dump dollars, so peace will prevail.

    8. The easy way to stop North Korea from threatening to attack the USA, is for the USA to stop threatening to attack North Korea. Stop the warmonger speeches and stop all US military activity north of Seoul. This is all the North Koreans have demanded after seeing the USA "free" Iraq and Libya.

    The easy way to stop North Korea from threatening to attack the USA, is for the USA to stop threatening to attack North Korea

    But if the USA stopped threatening other nations US taxpayers might realise that their whole Military-Industrial Complex is just a gigantic money-making scam. US taxpayers might realise that they could their defense budget by three-quarters (at least) without the slightest actual risk to US security. They might figure out that nobody is threatening the US militarily.

    They might even realise that all those defense contractors and generals and the neocons are actually the enemies of the American people.

    It’s a nightmare scenario. Common sense must not be allowed to prevail.

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  48. @Daniil Adamov
    Who wants North Korea, except for North Koreans? It seems to me that the territory is pure liability to any modern power that could occupy it (South Korea included), and a massive one at that. So not sure what kind of leverage holding it would give to China. If it comes to all-out war against North Korea, the winner will be whichever one of the US or China will get the other (or the other's allies) to take responsibility for occupying it. A plausible compromise is that one or the other or both will find someone pliable in the local elite (or among the higher-ranking runaways) and put them in charge, under certain stipulations and with foreign supervision to make sure that they will not be a nuisance (and that eventually Korea may be reunited, but I don't think anyone will want to rush it this time; integrating East Germany was hard enough for West Germany, but here the contrast is even sharper).

    China’s has two vital interests in DPRK. One is to assure that the US or aligned forces do not encroach on their border. The other is to prevent chaos in the DPRK from spilling into China. Both of those motives make direct intervention by China inevitable in the event that conflict breaks out, IMO. China could claim, with justification, that the mission would be a humanitarian intervention. They could also sell the move to whatever is left of the DPRK government as a deterrent against invasion from the south. The result would be Chinese suzerainty, probably with some face-saving sop for the DPRK’s rulers. That would no doubt be a bitter pill for the US to swallow, but a better alternative for ROK than continuing the conflict. The Chinese would be in a position to call a cease-fire then negotiate with ROK to get US forces off the peninsula in exchange for their security.

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    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Adding to that

    According to reports in the Chinese media, Walvis Bay will be one of 18 naval bases that will be established in various regions: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mynanmar in the northern Indian Ocean; Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in the western Indian Ocean; and Seychelles and Madagascar in the central South Indian Ocean.

    “These three strategic lines will further enhance China's effectiveness in taking responsibility for maintaining the safety of international maritime routes thereby maintaining regional and world stability,” the media reports said.

    Other naval bases are: Chongjin Port (North Korea), Moresby Port (Papua New Guinea), Sihanoukville Port (Cambodia), Koh Lanta Port (Thailand) Sittwe Port (Myanmar), Dhaka Port (Bangladesh), Gwadar Port (Pakistan), Hambantota Port (Sri Lanka), Maldives, Seychelles, Djibouti Port (Djibouti), Lagos Port (Nigeria), Mombasa Port (Kenya), Dar es Salaam Port (Tanzania) and Luanda Port (Angola).
     
    https://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?id=130693&page=archive-read

    https://www.namibian.com.na/public/uploads/images/546c19ebf3b55/Untitled-3.jpg

    The PRC would like to own a port on the Sea of Japan/Korea and North Korea could offer that.
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  49. Consequently, the smart thing for North Korea to do at that point would be to swallow their pride and leave matters be.

    Saving face is everything in that part of the world. To not understand that is to invite disaster.

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  50. @German_reader

    He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.
     
    I can't evaluate it myself (don't know any East Asian languages), but there are also claims that North Korea's nationalist ideology has some distinctly anti-Chinese elements; e.g. that argument is made in this article (the author is Chinese, so I trust his judgment):
    https://www.tichyseinblick.de/kolumnen/aus-aller-welt/was-nordkorea-wirklich-will/
    He claims the North Koreans in their view of history make a big deal of the kingdom of Goguryeo which repelled several Chinese invasions in the early 7th century; and more generally reject any traditional claims of Chinese influence on Korean civilization. Apparently Kim-Il-Sung had the tomb of the mythical king Gija (supposedly a Chinese sage) demolished already back in 1959, since he regarded Gija as a Chinese invention harmful to the sovereignty of the Korean nation:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kija%27s_Tomb
    So there seems to be quite a bit of tension in North Korea's relationship to China.

    Korean dynasties have tended to come to power by gaining the support of China. The Kim Dynasty fits that pattern to a T. Syngman Rhee used the same strategy, only using US instead of Chinese support. Biting the hand that feeds you is not a good way to stay in power in Korea, despite whatever nationalist sentiments are in play.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Kim Il Sung purged pro-China elements from his party while there were still tens of thousands of Chinese troops on his soil. Mao accepted it because the pro-Soviet faction was also purged, he didn’t want a precedent for the removal of a god-king local ruler because of a “personality cult” (of which he himself was guilty), and he needed Phyongyang’s support or at least neutrality in his bid to become the undisputed leader of the socialist camp.
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  51. @reiner Tor
    I know next to nothing about the Korean War, but searched for it. It was in South Korea, where the terrain is less mountainous.

    Both the north and south have mountains to the east and a broad coastal plain to the west. An armored move towards Pyongyang would be feasible, but the Chinese would probably get there first.

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  52. @Thirdeye
    Korean dynasties have tended to come to power by gaining the support of China. The Kim Dynasty fits that pattern to a T. Syngman Rhee used the same strategy, only using US instead of Chinese support. Biting the hand that feeds you is not a good way to stay in power in Korea, despite whatever nationalist sentiments are in play.

    Kim Il Sung purged pro-China elements from his party while there were still tens of thousands of Chinese troops on his soil. Mao accepted it because the pro-Soviet faction was also purged, he didn’t want a precedent for the removal of a god-king local ruler because of a “personality cult” (of which he himself was guilty), and he needed Phyongyang’s support or at least neutrality in his bid to become the undisputed leader of the socialist camp.

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  53. @Ron Unz

    This guy just came out of my conspiracy theory where governments spread extremely dumb conspiracy theories just to crowd out sane dissident voices.
     
    While I generally agree there's a good likelihood that various organized groups are using that tactic to taint and discredit "conspiracy theories," even including on this website, I very much doubt this Brabantian fellow is part of that. I've noticed quite a number of his comments in the last year or two, and they just don't strike me as sufficiently purposeful.

    Instead, I think he's just an honest and sincere nut. After all, there used to be thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of fervent "UFO people"...

    I always say or write this tongue in cheek, since there are many nutty people on their own. Governments might encourage or help these people in subtle ways, though, for example by giving them better rankings in Google searches, or at least by not censoring them (unlike reasonable dissident voices). And yes, it’s not totally inconceivable that they do employ some trolls to comment on sites like this, but it’s more likely in most cases (and in the case of Brabantian in particular) that they are just honest to God believers in the crazy theories spread by them.

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  54. @Thirdeye
    China's has two vital interests in DPRK. One is to assure that the US or aligned forces do not encroach on their border. The other is to prevent chaos in the DPRK from spilling into China. Both of those motives make direct intervention by China inevitable in the event that conflict breaks out, IMO. China could claim, with justification, that the mission would be a humanitarian intervention. They could also sell the move to whatever is left of the DPRK government as a deterrent against invasion from the south. The result would be Chinese suzerainty, probably with some face-saving sop for the DPRK's rulers. That would no doubt be a bitter pill for the US to swallow, but a better alternative for ROK than continuing the conflict. The Chinese would be in a position to call a cease-fire then negotiate with ROK to get US forces off the peninsula in exchange for their security.

    Adding to that

    According to reports in the Chinese media, Walvis Bay will be one of 18 naval bases that will be established in various regions: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mynanmar in the northern Indian Ocean; Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in the western Indian Ocean; and Seychelles and Madagascar in the central South Indian Ocean.

    “These three strategic lines will further enhance China’s effectiveness in taking responsibility for maintaining the safety of international maritime routes thereby maintaining regional and world stability,” the media reports said.

    Other naval bases are: Chongjin Port (North Korea), Moresby Port (Papua New Guinea), Sihanoukville Port (Cambodia), Koh Lanta Port (Thailand) Sittwe Port (Myanmar), Dhaka Port (Bangladesh), Gwadar Port (Pakistan), Hambantota Port (Sri Lanka), Maldives, Seychelles, Djibouti Port (Djibouti), Lagos Port (Nigeria), Mombasa Port (Kenya), Dar es Salaam Port (Tanzania) and Luanda Port (Angola).

    https://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?id=130693&page=archive-read

    The PRC would like to own a port on the Sea of Japan/Korea and North Korea could offer that.

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  55. I had another question I forgot to ask.

    The construction of a survivable deterrent capacity

    What does it mean? Road mobile missiles (and the Norks are developing those) are very difficult to destroy. They are quite survivable.

    Or did you mean the full nuclear triad? Yes, it might be beyond the Norks to develop, but I’m not sure they need it at all.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Road mobile ICBMs are great, though only after they finish developing the solid fuel KN-08.

    Can't do this with liquid-fuel missiles, which are the only working ICBMs they have now.

    However, they already have a working solid-fuelIRBM, which is why a stated a nuclear strike on Seoul/Tokyo is now minimally feasible, whereas it is practically zero wrt the mainland USA.

    I would estimate the ultimate peak of North Korea's capabilities here are approximately those of Israel's (nuclear gravity bombs on fighter-bombers, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on diesel subs). Though North Korea hardly has a functional air force, and I don't know if their subs are advanced enough for this conversion (Israel gets theirs from Germany, and it's a rich country that has spent around 10% of its GDP on the military until about a decade ago).

    The Arabs, Iran, and even Turkey have zero chance of destroying Israel's deterrent, no matter how hard they prepared for it. I bet the US could if it really wanted to, though.

    Apart from nuclear mines, which won't do much good other than pissing off South Korea/USA once SHTF anyway, I wonder if North Korea could build superguns to lob nuclear shells into Seoul. Now that would be one hell of a deterrent, very hard to control for if there are several such installations. It can't be too hard, since the Germans managed superguns as early as WW1. But might be hard to hide from from US eyes in the skies.
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  56. @Felix Keverich
    Not crazy. Delivering on your threat is a perfectly rational thing to do. Trump would be crazy to attack Kim. He would be risking everything for what, a reprieve from Russia investigation?

    It depends. For example if he really is as weak as Anatoly describes him in the article, then in case of an American attack it might not be very rational to retaliate. But by being crazy enough to retaliate even if by retaliating he brings about his own death, he might actually avoid being hit by the Americans in the first place. So in a broader, game theory sense it often pays off to be crazy.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    in a broader, game theory sense it often pays off to be crazy.
     
    Or rather, it pays to be perceived as such. Behaving (seemingly) crazily and recklessly is needed to convince the world that you really are reckless and crazy. This might make others avoid messing with you. The Norks seem to have mastered this game.
    , @Felix Keverich
    Anatoly seems to rely primarily on Western sources in his analysis, which naturaly causes him to overestimate US advantage over North Korea. (The same approach leads him to overestimate Navalny's chances in a Russian presidential election lol)

    The thing about Kim, it doesn't matter how weak he is, when US bombs start dropping on North Korea, Kim has no way of knowing if this is merely a "show of strength" or an opening salvo in an American regime change operation. Kim has reasons to assume the worst. He has the examples of Milošević and Qaddafi before his eyes: restraint in the face of American domineering behavior did NOT pay off for these guys. Kim will likely conclude, that responding agressively might be his only chance at this point. Failing to respond agressively will only increase US appetites - that's a reasonable assumption to make knowing US history.
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  57. @reiner Tor
    It depends. For example if he really is as weak as Anatoly describes him in the article, then in case of an American attack it might not be very rational to retaliate. But by being crazy enough to retaliate even if by retaliating he brings about his own death, he might actually avoid being hit by the Americans in the first place. So in a broader, game theory sense it often pays off to be crazy.

    in a broader, game theory sense it often pays off to be crazy.

    Or rather, it pays to be perceived as such. Behaving (seemingly) crazily and recklessly is needed to convince the world that you really are reckless and crazy. This might make others avoid messing with you. The Norks seem to have mastered this game.

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  58. anon • Disclaimer says:

    So many plans and assumptions turn out to be wrong in actual wars. Napoleon thought it would be a good idea to invade Russia. So did Hitler. All the countries of Europe thought the war in 1914 would be over in six months at most. MacArthur absolutely, positively assured Truman that China would not intervene in Korea in 1950. The 1916 Somme offensive was supposed to break through the German lines and win the war. The Japanese naval staff were convinced Midway would be a great victory for them. Singapore was supposed to be an impregnable fortress. The list is endless.

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  59. @reiner Tor
    It depends. For example if he really is as weak as Anatoly describes him in the article, then in case of an American attack it might not be very rational to retaliate. But by being crazy enough to retaliate even if by retaliating he brings about his own death, he might actually avoid being hit by the Americans in the first place. So in a broader, game theory sense it often pays off to be crazy.

    Anatoly seems to rely primarily on Western sources in his analysis, which naturaly causes him to overestimate US advantage over North Korea. (The same approach leads him to overestimate Navalny’s chances in a Russian presidential election lol)

    The thing about Kim, it doesn’t matter how weak he is, when US bombs start dropping on North Korea, Kim has no way of knowing if this is merely a “show of strength” or an opening salvo in an American regime change operation. Kim has reasons to assume the worst. He has the examples of Milošević and Qaddafi before his eyes: restraint in the face of American domineering behavior did NOT pay off for these guys. Kim will likely conclude, that responding agressively might be his only chance at this point. Failing to respond agressively will only increase US appetites – that’s a reasonable assumption to make knowing US history.

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    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I’m not sure if Anatoly overstates US advantage over North Korea. The agree button was meant for the second paragraph:

    The thing about Kim, it doesn’t matter how weak he is, when US bombs start dropping on North Korea, Kim has no way of knowing if this is merely a “show of strength” or an opening salvo in an American regime change operation. Kim has reasons to assume the worst. He has the examples of Milošević and Qaddafi before his eyes: restraint in the face of American domineering behavior did NOT pay off for these guys. Kim will likely conclude, that responding agressively might be his only chance at this point. Failing to respond agressively will only increase US appetites – that’s a reasonable assumption to make knowing US history.
     
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  60. I wonder how would Mister Karlin respond to Putler ordering an intervention into North Korea for the sake of supporting his Chinese partners.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I wouldn't mind, so long as China was okay with it and went in first.

    By that point the regime would be doomed anyway, and Russia would benefit from having a say in the postwar settlement (though Russia would be advised to defer to China).
    , @Thirdeye
    That seems paranoid, i.e. typical of someone who would use the "Putler" epithet.

    1. The Korean peninsula is a core interest for China, for Russia not so much.

    2. A Chinese intervention would no doubt be accompanied by measures to deconflict with ROK and US forces engaged with DPRK forces. As stated in the article, China places a high value on relations with ROK. Chinese intervention would open options for ending the conflict that would obviate a bloody, grinding campaign up the peninsula.

    3. The DPRK territory is going to be a burden for whoever ends up governing it. ROK has an interest in neutralizing DPRK's offensive threat, not in occupying and governing DPRK.
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  61. Another NK article.
    Things are getting there, apparently.

    A very good article, overall, IMHO.

    I’d just add (as several times before elsewhere) that ground advance into North Korea would, most likely, be just up to, say, 70 Kms, in order to neutralize that “artillery belt”.
    Chinese would, most likely, come from the opposite side and, effectively, take over the country.

    Better world for everyone.
    Especially North Koreans. Save that hideous “elite”. Good riddance.

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    • Replies: @pogohere
    You didn't mention any of this (?) and you commented on it @ When Sanity Fails - the Mindset of the "Ideological Drone http://www.unz.com/tsaker/when-sanity-fails-the-mindset-of-the-ideological-drone/

    from Erebus comment 57 When Sanity Fails - the Mindset of the "Ideological Drone"

    You really believe that US , China and Russia, working together, can’t take out The Fat Man?
    I believe they can.

    Of course they could, but there’s some big premises embedded in your statement that I doubt apply. Namely, that N. Korea is a fully independent actor, and that China’s & Russia’s national interests align with the US’. On some levels they do, but as one teases out the matrix of interests, they don’t. The problem is teasing out who is on who’s side, and what games are actually being played.

    Depending on one’s view of that matrix of interests and games, Russia & China’s interests actually align better with Kim’s on some levels, and they align with S. Korea’s and Japan’s at others.

    At almost every level, the US is the odd man out. Except one, and it’s a doozy.

    From the Wolfowitz Doctrine onward, Eurasian development and integration has been anathema to the Empire. The explicit foundational principle of the Empire’s security doctrines is the prevention of any nation, or group of nations, from bringing continental (read Eurasian) human, financial and natural resources under consolidated control. Thus, the principal strategic value of its military presence in ROK, JP (as well as PH) is to disrupt/prevent those countries’ participation in Eurasian integration and development under the SCO’s security and financial umbrella. Maintaining its garrisons in ROK & JP at all costs is an Imperial Imperative.

    China’s BRI flies in the face of Wolfowitz’s foundational principle, and the underlying geopolitical interest that all 5 Eastasian nations (though not necessarily their regimes) share is getting the US’ occupational troops out of Eastasia so that DPRK, ROK & JP (& PH) can join China’s BRI. That means developing a security structure they can all believe in, underpinning a financial-economic-trading structure that integrates them into the development of Eurasia. It may be China’s project, but China recognizes that bringing in JP & ROK leverages their own efforts with a depth of high-end engineering and financial resources to beneficial effect. From a security perspective, bringing them in is ultimately mandatory.

    Kim’s antics are amongst the excuses the Empire’s using to underpin its continued presence. While the antics of his predecessors were relatively muted, since Jong Un came to power in 2011 the antics have stepped up quite a few notches.

    William Engdahl [engdahl quoted below] finds that telling. He says Kim’s the US’ man in Pyongyang and the article linked below is a must-read if one wants another, viable perspective on the issues.

    https://journal-neo.org/2016/11/01/north-korea-is-an-pentagon-vassal-state/

    Engdahl is no geopolitical amateur, and he may well be right. If he is, my post at #29 takes on strategic nuance and indicates that if Russia and China are working on N. Korean regime change, it is to thwart American ambitions rather than fear of any direct threat an independent Kim may present. The N. Korean threat to them thus becomes that the US may want Kim to escalate, and that he does.
    This is the logic behind China’s statement that they will defend N. Korea if it’s attacked, but not if they attack first. If they expect DPRK to attack somebody, it’s because he’ll do so on instructions from Washington, giving the USM a casus belli to garrison DPRK as well, and thereby isolate ROK completely, and also JP.
    In such case, China is likely to move at lightning speed to occupy DPRK, perhaps with Russia’s overt support, and so snatch another Donbas, if not Crimea out of the Americans’ gaping mouth.

    I think the key to unravelling Eastasia’s geopolitical Gordian Knot lies in the answer to the following question:
    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?
    The rocket motors most recently used are known to be of Ukrainian design, and quite plausibly manufacture. How did they get there, and how did they get integrated into a 3-stage long-range ICBM and mobile launch platform in record time? Ditto for the increases in warhead yields. 5 years ago, they had crap. Iran, with vastly more human and industrial resources would be hard-pressed to develop a similar ICBM in 5 years.

    If Engdahl is right, two things suggest themselves:
    - The Ukraine supplied the technology and/or actual materiel/systems under American cover (or vice versa).
    (The Ukrainian factory is near Dnipro, home base of the notorious oligarch Kolomoisky, and is no doubt watched 24/7. Any significant shipments leaving there by sea would be tracked and interdicted by the USN if determined to be heading for DPRK.)
    - The US would defend N. Korea against attempts at regime change with soft support such as intelligence. A Chinese backed coup is assumed to have been behind the execution of Jong Un’s uncle and all of his family. Was it discovered with American help? I dunno, maybe, but that China was sheltering the only viable dynastic successor is well known.

    I realize that it is equally possible that any missile related shipment moved via Russia, in which case new perspectives open with a variety of obvious implications, and the above scenario is turned on its head.

    Thus, one cannot apply the kind of analysis embodied in slogans like “The Fat Man and his circle of sycophants” and hope to come anything resembling an appreciation of the complexities involved. Kim is a Revuskian Roger Rabbit, superimposed on real, strategic geo-political issues working themselves out behind the scenes by great powers. It isn’t “Simple, really” all the time.

     

    Mackinder’s Heartland Theory – Explained!
    http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/geography/mackinders-heartland-theory-explained/42542



    North Korea is an Pentagon Vassal State

    11-1-16

    F. William Engdahl

    . . .
    Unfortunately for world peace, Kim Jong Un, while he is playing games with his rockets and threats of war, is serving the long-term interests of the USA, especially the military industrial complex, the Pentagon and State Department, whose priority increasingly is to make an Asia Pivot of military power projection to contain and isolate the Peoples’ Republic of China as well as Russia.

    In the end of the 1990’s I had the chance occasion to have a chat with the late James R. Lilley. Lilley was at the Davos World Economic Forum and by chance had sat at my dinner table together with a delegation from the China Peoples’ Liberation Army.

    . . .

    James R. Lilley . . .served some three decades at the CIA along with Bush. Both Lilley and Bush were US Ambassadors to China.

    Lilley’s term in Beijing coincided with the May-June 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests. . . . At the time of Tiananmen protests, the man who developed the handbook for color revolutions, Gene Sharp, of the Albert Einstein Institute, was in Beijing until the Chinese told him to leave, and George Soros’ Chinese NGO, the Fund for the Reform and Opening of China, after Tiananmen, was banned when Chinese security services found that the fund had links to the CIA.

    This background is important to better situate who Lilley was – a consummate insider of the George Bush CIA “deep state” networks that try to remake the world to their liking. In our Davos talk, Lilley told me he had been furious at President G.H.W. Bush in the aftermath of Tiananmen for refusing to make a stronger denunciation of the Beijing government, that, for a massacre that he knew never took place.

    In the event, in our Davos discussion we touched on events in Asia and the ongoing focus by Washington on North Korea’s nuclear program. Unexpectedly, Lilley made a remarkable statement to me. He said, “Simply put, at the end of the Cold War, if North Korea didn’t exist we would have to create it as an excuse to keep the Seventh Fleet in the region.” Shortly before our Davos discussion North Korea had launched a missile over Japan, causing huge anxieties across Asia.

    . . .

    While China does maintain certain influence and while China sees North Korea as a buffer between it and the US-allied South Korea, Beijing’s ability to influence the erratic Kim Jong Un seems to be extremely limited, if at all, a significant change from earlier Kim dynasty dictators. The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China.

    In February of this year North Korea announced that it had fired a long-range rocket in violation of a UN Security Council resolution that was voted with approval of both China and Russia. The rocket firing was immediately condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US. Most notably, right after the North Korean rocket firing, the Seoul South Korea government entered serious talks for acquiring Washington’s THAAD missile defense system, arguing it was to counter the threat from the north. China protested loudly.

    At the same time Japan increased its THAAD infrastructure installations from the US. Both deployments were aimed not at North Korea, whose missile threat to South Korea is ruled out. They were aimed at goosing up the governments of South Korea and of Shinzo Abe in Japan in their development of anti-China postures. Only months earlier, relations between South Korea and Japan were chilly and China was making peaceful economic overtures to South Korea. The Seoul decision to accept THAAD missiles has chilled those ties.

    . . .
    In November, 2013, before Washington launched its Ukraine coup d’ etat, otherwise known as Euromaidan, to split Russia from the European Union, Russia, North Korea and South Korea had signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a visit of Russian President Putin to Seoul. That agreement would also include South Korea in a further restoration of the entire Trans-Korean Railway, a major positive development towards stabilizing relations between the two Koreas.

    At this point it clearly is the case that under the erratic 32-year-old Swiss-educated Kim Jong Un, Washington has found the perfect boogie man to scare South Korea and Japan into embracing Washington’s agenda to maximize pressure, military as well as economic, against Russia and against China. James R. Lilley’s Davos remark to me is borne out by the recent militaristic and foreign policy actions of North Korean Supreme Commander, Jim Jong Un. It seems it wasn’t even necessary for the United States to “create North Korea.” Washington only had to cultivate the infantile personality of Kim Jong Un.

     

    https://journal-neo.org/2016/11/01/north-korea-is-an-pentagon-vassal-state/
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  62. @Twinkie

    If China is smart (and they are) they would use the opportunity to try to foment a pro-Chinese military coup against KJU
     
    Why do you think there have been significant purges in the North Korean leadership, including KJU’s uncle by marriage?

    Well yes, sure, but I am assuming the Chinese didn’t bet everything on KJU’s uncle and didn’t lose all influence in North Korea after that.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    Well yes, sure, but I am assuming the Chinese didn’t bet everything on KJU’s uncle and didn’t lose all influence in North Korea after that.
     
    Yes, probably not. But the Kim family in North Korea has been exceptionally adept at playing communist China and the Soviet Union against each other all those decades of the past, all the while ensuring that no internal faction that supported either became too big for its breeches.

    Contrary to the buffoonish punditry about the "crazy" Kims in the West, they are actually hyper-rational people who are ruthless and deeply calculating. Anybody who even shows a hint of having any modicum of independent power base is swiftly purged, as is any who gets too cozy with foreign governments, even that of the PRC.

    In the material sense, the Kim regime is very weak, so it is in the interest of the regime to keep the tension between North Korea and the outside world at high level, but without inviting an actual all-out conflict that would be the death of the regime.

    By the way, North Koreans, by and large, know a lot about the comparatively extreme affluence that South Koreans enjoy and that even China is becoming well-to-do. South Korean dramas - which depict the glitzy life of Seoul - are readily available in the black market and quite popular. It's not the lack of knowledge of the outside world that keeps the North Korean population docile - it's the terror and the deprivation.
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  63. @Anonymous
    This topic is beyond your expertise.

    http://www.38north.org/2017/11/melleman113017/

    Liquid-fueled = needs time to fuel-up = detectable by Americans, who can swat it with a cruise missile.

    The USSR developed liquid-fueled rockets that could get prepped quickly, but very unlikely North Korea leapfrogged its way there.

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  64. @reiner Tor
    The Chinese also don’t have much military experience. Remember the time when Mussolini tried to take advantage of the French military collapse, and it brought him little glory. The North Korean troops might even have more motivation against them, since they will probably think that

    A) the Americans defeated them, not the Chinese, who merely try to prevent the reunification of the country (Kim will certainly not want the Chinese to have the spoils after his own death); the Chinese will also be seen as traitors; militaries don’t like to surrender to such backstabber secondary attackers, for example the Greeks surrendered to the Germans but not the Italians, the Hungarians in 1849 preferred to surrender to the Russians instead of the Austrians, etc.

    B) it’s better to wait for and surrender to the Americans anyway, in the meantime they might hold off the Chinese

    Good points, but realistically speaking, only <20% of North Korea's military is on the Chinese border, and presumably none of the (few) crack ones.

    It also does not have the logistics capacity to transfer masses of troops quickly. Especially by the time that North Korean airspace becomes dominated by South Korea and America.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    All of this is immaterial to what I wrote.

    If I were Kim, the moment a war broke out, I’d just assume I was dead, along with my family and friends. So I might not let the Chinese into my country. Instead I’d give orders to the 20% of the army on that border to just stand fast and fight against the Chinese.

    Then the 20% of his army will defend the border against the Chinese. The Chinese might prove to be incompetent and so slower than the South Koreans against the 80% of Kim’s troops. It could be similar to how Mussolini was less successful against a few French divisions than Hitler against the bulk of the French army.

    I understand that’s not the way to bet, but if I were the Chinese leadership, I’d consider it a risk. While it’s likely that the Chinese will easily take over most of North Korea, they cannot take it for granted.
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  65. @5371
    I don't think such delays in deployment, where they happened, reflected technology problems but rather a more leisurely schedule, since those powers all had a bomber force already.

    They are not going to get “stuck” at that stage, but neither is it something that is going to happen instantaneously.

    I should have clarified this, but I am speaking of the near future (i.e. the year 2018), and in particular of the next few months.

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    • Replies: @5371
    It's probably happened already. Again, claims to know the contrary originate with proven liars.
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  66. @Anonymous

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you’re too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.
     
    Good point. American tanks and armored vehicles were useless during much of the Korean War because of the mountainous terrain. They were often easy targets for enemy infantry in the mountains shooting down on the narrow roads and paths. That's why the Korean War ended up being about close quarters, often hand to hand, infantry combat, and saturation bombing by the US of North Korea.

    It's hard to imagine the US and its allies committing tens of thousands of infantrymen to another slugfest. Most likely the US would just try to bomb North Korea in a new Korean War and "shock and awe" it into surrender, which probably won't work but may allow the US to save face and keep something close to the status quo.

    1. The Americans won’t, because they won’t have to. The South Koreans will – presumably, public opinion will harden once Seoul is getting flattened – and their 500,000 strong Army (+ reservists) is enough to the job.

    2. According to elevation maps, eastern North Korea is mountainous; the west is reasonably flat (and leads straight to Pyongyang).

    3. North Korea itself certainly doesn’t consider tanks and armored vehicles useless in their terrain – they have one of the largest armored forces in the world! (Granted, ridiculously obsolete – best they have is their own version of the T-72, also lots of T-55′s (!) which will only clutter up the roads – but still).

    4. At this stage, I don’t think the tech gap can be overstated. I doubt they even have anything capable of destroying modern Abrams or South Korean Black Panthers. Their soldiers don’t seem to have bulletproof vests, apart from special forces, perhaps.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    The Americans won’t, because they won’t have to. The South Koreans will – presumably, public opinion will harden once Seoul is getting flattened – and their 500,000 strong Army (+ reservists) is enough to the job.
     
    Any chance South Koreans will just panic when the North attacks?

    I think it's too simplistic to approach the country's military power as a function of its GDP. You have to consider the intangibles too. This is a society obessed with plastic surgery and computer games. They have no experience and no memory of war. The war will come as a huge shock.

    Suppose South Korea suffers a rapid social collapse, and their military becomes disorganised. What the hell US is going to do in this situation?
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  67. @German_reader
    Seems like an excessively optimistic piece; also quite speculative (two defections of border guards are hardly sufficient proof that morale is low in NK's army). There are too many unknowns, and since even a small risk of North Korea nuking Seoul or Tokyo or some US city is too high imo, "preventive" war still looks like a very bad idea.

    … and since even a small risk of North Korea nuking Seoul or Tokyo or some US city is too high imo

    Well, I’d argue the chances of this happening is very close to zero wrt Seoul and Tokyo, and effectively zero for the US mainland.

    Today.

    But this probability will be creeping upwards with time. This is why this year or 2019 will be the most critical ones.

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    • Replies: @5371
    Complete lunacy. I would recommend that the DPRK do a live fire test of an H-tipped ICBM to burst this bubble, but at this stage such a mental bubble is probably impervious to any evidence whatsoever. I guess he who was born to be hanged will never drown.
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  68. @German_reader

    He was fiercely independent throughout his reign, as are all of his descendants.
     
    I can't evaluate it myself (don't know any East Asian languages), but there are also claims that North Korea's nationalist ideology has some distinctly anti-Chinese elements; e.g. that argument is made in this article (the author is Chinese, so I trust his judgment):
    https://www.tichyseinblick.de/kolumnen/aus-aller-welt/was-nordkorea-wirklich-will/
    He claims the North Koreans in their view of history make a big deal of the kingdom of Goguryeo which repelled several Chinese invasions in the early 7th century; and more generally reject any traditional claims of Chinese influence on Korean civilization. Apparently Kim-Il-Sung had the tomb of the mythical king Gija (supposedly a Chinese sage) demolished already back in 1959, since he regarded Gija as a Chinese invention harmful to the sovereignty of the Korean nation:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kija%27s_Tomb
    So there seems to be quite a bit of tension in North Korea's relationship to China.

    North Korea is an ultranationalist regime that looks out for the “purity” of the Korean race (Myers makes this argument in The Cleanest Race).

    That said, from what I’ve read, they don’t demonize modern China.

    1. Main enemy is USA. Can’t alienate China too much, too.

    2. While you can still sort of dismiss America as a wretched capitalist hive, many North Koreans have now been to China (or gotten word from relatives or friends there). And living standards are far better there. Suppressing this fact would now be completely impossible.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    they don’t demonize modern China
     
    And would it not be possible that, the moment the regime was about to collapse, the people would shrug off decades of propaganda and perversely started believing the opposite? For example, I don’t know, maybe if there was another country (a superpower even?) where the people was extremely Americanophile just the moment that other regime was about to fall. I recently read about it a blogpost somewhere. The point is, the moment the regime is about to fall, people re-examine their assumptions, and they will think of the falling regime as a bunch of liars. Maybe there will be rumors about the benevolent South Koreans who would be willing to quickly raise living standards to South Korean levels?

    On the other hand, the regime doesn’t demonize the Chinese, so it will stay roughly neutral in their minds, liars or not.
    , @Mitleser

    1. Main enemy is USA. Can’t alienate China too much, too.
     
    China is an enemy too, though.

    https://twitter.com/DougPologe/status/945276617005391872
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  69. One advantage the U.S. would have versus North Korea is that it’s a peninsula, so the sortie frequency by carrier-based aircraft would be higher than in Iraq.

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  70. @Felix Keverich
    Anatoly seems to rely primarily on Western sources in his analysis, which naturaly causes him to overestimate US advantage over North Korea. (The same approach leads him to overestimate Navalny's chances in a Russian presidential election lol)

    The thing about Kim, it doesn't matter how weak he is, when US bombs start dropping on North Korea, Kim has no way of knowing if this is merely a "show of strength" or an opening salvo in an American regime change operation. Kim has reasons to assume the worst. He has the examples of Milošević and Qaddafi before his eyes: restraint in the face of American domineering behavior did NOT pay off for these guys. Kim will likely conclude, that responding agressively might be his only chance at this point. Failing to respond agressively will only increase US appetites - that's a reasonable assumption to make knowing US history.

    I’m not sure if Anatoly overstates US advantage over North Korea. The agree button was meant for the second paragraph:

    The thing about Kim, it doesn’t matter how weak he is, when US bombs start dropping on North Korea, Kim has no way of knowing if this is merely a “show of strength” or an opening salvo in an American regime change operation. Kim has reasons to assume the worst. He has the examples of Milošević and Qaddafi before his eyes: restraint in the face of American domineering behavior did NOT pay off for these guys. Kim will likely conclude, that responding agressively might be his only chance at this point. Failing to respond agressively will only increase US appetites – that’s a reasonable assumption to make knowing US history.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    I’m not sure if Anatoly overstates US advantage over North Korea.
     
    You know what they say: there is only one way to find out.
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  71. @reiner Tor
    I had another question I forgot to ask.

    The construction of a survivable deterrent capacity
     
    What does it mean? Road mobile missiles (and the Norks are developing those) are very difficult to destroy. They are quite survivable.

    Or did you mean the full nuclear triad? Yes, it might be beyond the Norks to develop, but I’m not sure they need it at all.

    Road mobile ICBMs are great, though only after they finish developing the solid fuel KN-08.

    Can’t do this with liquid-fuel missiles, which are the only working ICBMs they have now.

    However, they already have a working solid-fuelIRBM, which is why a stated a nuclear strike on Seoul/Tokyo is now minimally feasible, whereas it is practically zero wrt the mainland USA.

    I would estimate the ultimate peak of North Korea’s capabilities here are approximately those of Israel’s (nuclear gravity bombs on fighter-bombers, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on diesel subs). Though North Korea hardly has a functional air force, and I don’t know if their subs are advanced enough for this conversion (Israel gets theirs from Germany, and it’s a rich country that has spent around 10% of its GDP on the military until about a decade ago).

    The Arabs, Iran, and even Turkey have zero chance of destroying Israel’s deterrent, no matter how hard they prepared for it. I bet the US could if it really wanted to, though.

    Apart from nuclear mines, which won’t do much good other than pissing off South Korea/USA once SHTF anyway, I wonder if North Korea could build superguns to lob nuclear shells into Seoul. Now that would be one hell of a deterrent, very hard to control for if there are several such installations. It can’t be too hard, since the Germans managed superguns as early as WW1. But might be hard to hide from from US eyes in the skies.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    I would estimate the ultimate peak of North Korea’s capabilities here are approximately those of Israel’s (nuclear gravity bombs on fighter-bombers, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on diesel subs). Though North Korea hardly has a functional air force, and I don’t know if their subs are advanced enough for this conversion (Israel gets theirs from Germany, and it’s a rich country that has spent around 10% of its GDP on the military until about a decade ago).
     
    A couple of points.

    Israel could probably build solid fuel road mobile ICBMs if it wanted to. They don’t have the need for it. Israel spends a lot on its military, but their priorities are not so very lopsided. They maintain a strong and large high tech conventional military. Unlike North Korea, which pours almost all of its R&D budget into building a nuclear force.

    Therefore, I cannot see how it would be impossible for the Norks to build road mobile nuclear ballistic missiles. I wouldn’t worry about submarines much, if I were them, though ultimately it needs to be done for absolute safety.

    So I’d put the peak of Nork capabilities at road mobile ICBMs (and of course IRBMs) and some kind of submarine launched missiles (perhaps cruise missiles, as you suggest, I’m no expert so I don’t know if it’s that much easier than ballistic missiles from submarines). I don’t think the gravity bombs would make much sense, given their lack of an effective air force, and the fact that their enemies will have total air superiority.
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  72. @Mitleser
    I wonder how would Mister Karlin respond to Putler ordering an intervention into North Korea for the sake of supporting his Chinese partners.

    https://twitter.com/ArtyomLukin/status/943081696815087617

    I wouldn’t mind, so long as China was okay with it and went in first.

    By that point the regime would be doomed anyway, and Russia would benefit from having a say in the postwar settlement (though Russia would be advised to defer to China).

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  73. @reiner Tor
    I’m not sure if Anatoly overstates US advantage over North Korea. The agree button was meant for the second paragraph:

    The thing about Kim, it doesn’t matter how weak he is, when US bombs start dropping on North Korea, Kim has no way of knowing if this is merely a “show of strength” or an opening salvo in an American regime change operation. Kim has reasons to assume the worst. He has the examples of Milošević and Qaddafi before his eyes: restraint in the face of American domineering behavior did NOT pay off for these guys. Kim will likely conclude, that responding agressively might be his only chance at this point. Failing to respond agressively will only increase US appetites – that’s a reasonable assumption to make knowing US history.
     

    I’m not sure if Anatoly overstates US advantage over North Korea.

    You know what they say: there is only one way to find out.

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  74. @Anatoly Karlin
    Good points, but realistically speaking, only <20% of North Korea's military is on the Chinese border, and presumably none of the (few) crack ones.

    It also does not have the logistics capacity to transfer masses of troops quickly. Especially by the time that North Korean airspace becomes dominated by South Korea and America.

    All of this is immaterial to what I wrote.

    If I were Kim, the moment a war broke out, I’d just assume I was dead, along with my family and friends. So I might not let the Chinese into my country. Instead I’d give orders to the 20% of the army on that border to just stand fast and fight against the Chinese.

    Then the 20% of his army will defend the border against the Chinese. The Chinese might prove to be incompetent and so slower than the South Koreans against the 80% of Kim’s troops. It could be similar to how Mussolini was less successful against a few French divisions than Hitler against the bulk of the French army.

    I understand that’s not the way to bet, but if I were the Chinese leadership, I’d consider it a risk. While it’s likely that the Chinese will easily take over most of North Korea, they cannot take it for granted.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    What if China was to offer sanctuary to KJU?

    I think that's plausible. If he agrees - yes, China has "beef" with him, but serious countries do tend to keep their word - he might even order the northern armies to just stand down.

    Even if that doesn't happen, the northern generals won't be in any doubt about the ultimate outcome of the conflict. They can be offered money, and privileged (and safer) positions in the new Korean People's Republic, or in China.

    But I agree, this is all speculation.
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  75. @Anatoly Karlin
    1. The Americans won't, because they won't have to. The South Koreans will - presumably, public opinion will harden once Seoul is getting flattened - and their 500,000 strong Army (+ reservists) is enough to the job.

    2. According to elevation maps, eastern North Korea is mountainous; the west is reasonably flat (and leads straight to Pyongyang).

    3. North Korea itself certainly doesn't consider tanks and armored vehicles useless in their terrain - they have one of the largest armored forces in the world! (Granted, ridiculously obsolete - best they have is their own version of the T-72, also lots of T-55's (!) which will only clutter up the roads - but still).

    4. At this stage, I don't think the tech gap can be overstated. I doubt they even have anything capable of destroying modern Abrams or South Korean Black Panthers. Their soldiers don't seem to have bulletproof vests, apart from special forces, perhaps.

    The Americans won’t, because they won’t have to. The South Koreans will – presumably, public opinion will harden once Seoul is getting flattened – and their 500,000 strong Army (+ reservists) is enough to the job.

    Any chance South Koreans will just panic when the North attacks?

    I think it’s too simplistic to approach the country’s military power as a function of its GDP. You have to consider the intangibles too. This is a society obessed with plastic surgery and computer games. They have no experience and no memory of war. The war will come as a huge shock.

    Suppose South Korea suffers a rapid social collapse, and their military becomes disorganised. What the hell US is going to do in this situation?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I think that while South Koreans look effeminate, they are probably just as tough as their military’s reputation is. They won’t quickly panic and collapse without a very good reason, I’d bet my house on it. A very good reason would be if somehow Kim managed to lob nukes at Camp Humphreys and Tokyo and indicated he has a few more of those, while launching a successful offensive and overran half of South Korea already. Yes, then the South Koreans will panic. Until then, they will fight.
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  76. @Anatoly Karlin
    Road mobile ICBMs are great, though only after they finish developing the solid fuel KN-08.

    Can't do this with liquid-fuel missiles, which are the only working ICBMs they have now.

    However, they already have a working solid-fuelIRBM, which is why a stated a nuclear strike on Seoul/Tokyo is now minimally feasible, whereas it is practically zero wrt the mainland USA.

    I would estimate the ultimate peak of North Korea's capabilities here are approximately those of Israel's (nuclear gravity bombs on fighter-bombers, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on diesel subs). Though North Korea hardly has a functional air force, and I don't know if their subs are advanced enough for this conversion (Israel gets theirs from Germany, and it's a rich country that has spent around 10% of its GDP on the military until about a decade ago).

    The Arabs, Iran, and even Turkey have zero chance of destroying Israel's deterrent, no matter how hard they prepared for it. I bet the US could if it really wanted to, though.

    Apart from nuclear mines, which won't do much good other than pissing off South Korea/USA once SHTF anyway, I wonder if North Korea could build superguns to lob nuclear shells into Seoul. Now that would be one hell of a deterrent, very hard to control for if there are several such installations. It can't be too hard, since the Germans managed superguns as early as WW1. But might be hard to hide from from US eyes in the skies.

    I would estimate the ultimate peak of North Korea’s capabilities here are approximately those of Israel’s (nuclear gravity bombs on fighter-bombers, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on diesel subs). Though North Korea hardly has a functional air force, and I don’t know if their subs are advanced enough for this conversion (Israel gets theirs from Germany, and it’s a rich country that has spent around 10% of its GDP on the military until about a decade ago).

    A couple of points.

    Israel could probably build solid fuel road mobile ICBMs if it wanted to. They don’t have the need for it. Israel spends a lot on its military, but their priorities are not so very lopsided. They maintain a strong and large high tech conventional military. Unlike North Korea, which pours almost all of its R&D budget into building a nuclear force.

    Therefore, I cannot see how it would be impossible for the Norks to build road mobile nuclear ballistic missiles. I wouldn’t worry about submarines much, if I were them, though ultimately it needs to be done for absolute safety.

    So I’d put the peak of Nork capabilities at road mobile ICBMs (and of course IRBMs) and some kind of submarine launched missiles (perhaps cruise missiles, as you suggest, I’m no expert so I don’t know if it’s that much easier than ballistic missiles from submarines). I don’t think the gravity bombs would make much sense, given their lack of an effective air force, and the fact that their enemies will have total air superiority.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I agree with all of that.

    They can develop solid-fuel ICBMs, but this will take time. Perhaps another 5 years to a decade.
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  77. @Felix Keverich

    The Americans won’t, because they won’t have to. The South Koreans will – presumably, public opinion will harden once Seoul is getting flattened – and their 500,000 strong Army (+ reservists) is enough to the job.
     
    Any chance South Koreans will just panic when the North attacks?

    I think it's too simplistic to approach the country's military power as a function of its GDP. You have to consider the intangibles too. This is a society obessed with plastic surgery and computer games. They have no experience and no memory of war. The war will come as a huge shock.

    Suppose South Korea suffers a rapid social collapse, and their military becomes disorganised. What the hell US is going to do in this situation?

    I think that while South Koreans look effeminate, they are probably just as tough as their military’s reputation is. They won’t quickly panic and collapse without a very good reason, I’d bet my house on it. A very good reason would be if somehow Kim managed to lob nukes at Camp Humphreys and Tokyo and indicated he has a few more of those, while launching a successful offensive and overran half of South Korea already. Yes, then the South Koreans will panic. Until then, they will fight.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Agreed.

    South Koreans actually had better kill ratios than even Americans in Vietnam. (Though more war crimes per capita, too).

    Admittedly, that's the old, heavily indoctrinated anti-commie generation. But still, that should count for something.
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  78. @reiner Tor
    All of this is immaterial to what I wrote.

    If I were Kim, the moment a war broke out, I’d just assume I was dead, along with my family and friends. So I might not let the Chinese into my country. Instead I’d give orders to the 20% of the army on that border to just stand fast and fight against the Chinese.

    Then the 20% of his army will defend the border against the Chinese. The Chinese might prove to be incompetent and so slower than the South Koreans against the 80% of Kim’s troops. It could be similar to how Mussolini was less successful against a few French divisions than Hitler against the bulk of the French army.

    I understand that’s not the way to bet, but if I were the Chinese leadership, I’d consider it a risk. While it’s likely that the Chinese will easily take over most of North Korea, they cannot take it for granted.

    What if China was to offer sanctuary to KJU?

    I think that’s plausible. If he agrees – yes, China has “beef” with him, but serious countries do tend to keep their word – he might even order the northern armies to just stand down.

    Even if that doesn’t happen, the northern generals won’t be in any doubt about the ultimate outcome of the conflict. They can be offered money, and privileged (and safer) positions in the new Korean People’s Republic, or in China.

    But I agree, this is all speculation.

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  79. @reiner Tor
    I think that while South Koreans look effeminate, they are probably just as tough as their military’s reputation is. They won’t quickly panic and collapse without a very good reason, I’d bet my house on it. A very good reason would be if somehow Kim managed to lob nukes at Camp Humphreys and Tokyo and indicated he has a few more of those, while launching a successful offensive and overran half of South Korea already. Yes, then the South Koreans will panic. Until then, they will fight.

    Agreed.

    South Koreans actually had better kill ratios than even Americans in Vietnam. (Though more war crimes per capita, too).

    Admittedly, that’s the old, heavily indoctrinated anti-commie generation. But still, that should count for something.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    Admittedly, that’s the old, heavily indoctrinated anti-commie generation. But still, that should count for something.
     
    That's kind of my point. I bet the old generation was not into plastic surgery either...

    Think back to October this year, when the Iraqi military was launching an operation to take back Kirkuk from Kurdish militias, a lot of people, including you as well, expected Kurds to put up a good fight. That's not how it went at all. There was a betrayal amongst the Kurds, some Kurdish factions made a deal with the Iranians, the others literally wept, then ran away in fear. In the end, the Kurds surrendered Kirkuk without a fight, they just folded.

    My point is few observers expected this outcome at the time. Some unexpected shit might happen early in the Korean war that will compromise the South's ability to fight. And Americans better have a plan for this situation before they attack the North. Performance of their South Korea ally cannot be taken for granted.

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  80. @reiner Tor

    I would estimate the ultimate peak of North Korea’s capabilities here are approximately those of Israel’s (nuclear gravity bombs on fighter-bombers, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on diesel subs). Though North Korea hardly has a functional air force, and I don’t know if their subs are advanced enough for this conversion (Israel gets theirs from Germany, and it’s a rich country that has spent around 10% of its GDP on the military until about a decade ago).
     
    A couple of points.

    Israel could probably build solid fuel road mobile ICBMs if it wanted to. They don’t have the need for it. Israel spends a lot on its military, but their priorities are not so very lopsided. They maintain a strong and large high tech conventional military. Unlike North Korea, which pours almost all of its R&D budget into building a nuclear force.

    Therefore, I cannot see how it would be impossible for the Norks to build road mobile nuclear ballistic missiles. I wouldn’t worry about submarines much, if I were them, though ultimately it needs to be done for absolute safety.

    So I’d put the peak of Nork capabilities at road mobile ICBMs (and of course IRBMs) and some kind of submarine launched missiles (perhaps cruise missiles, as you suggest, I’m no expert so I don’t know if it’s that much easier than ballistic missiles from submarines). I don’t think the gravity bombs would make much sense, given their lack of an effective air force, and the fact that their enemies will have total air superiority.

    I agree with all of that.

    They can develop solid-fuel ICBMs, but this will take time. Perhaps another 5 years to a decade.

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  81. @reiner Tor

    In Serbia, we know that US&NATO allies had a mediocre record at destroying a dated military.
     
    The Serb military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1970s. The North Korean military would’ve been cutting edge in the 1950s. Big difference. The Serbs’ opponents were 1990s US and NATO forces. The North Koreans’ opponents will be 2010s NATO and US forces. Another big difference.

    That the Serbian military could evade much of NATO’s onslaught was more the function of the generation of their equipment or of good defensive tactics evading NATO’s prying eyes? You tell me. Anyway,

    designs are various knockoffs of SCUD-B’s, R-27 Zyb, China’s JL-1. Not exactly 50′s, and in any case their recent tests are achievements that only select few countries have realized. I guess it should take more than a few successful tests to prove you have the capability Hwasong 12, 14, or 15 promise. I leave it to people like Martyanov to judge…

    But their scud-B knockoffs with extended ranges are proved and are now an export industry for them. It’s indeed silly to overhype them and their ability to strike the US homeland, to field nuclear-tipped missiles etc… (for now). But, having several hundreds of the lower-digits Hwasongs they can contemplate a wealth of targets in the South, Japan and US military facilities across the region, beyond the much talked-of artillery threat on Seoul proper.

    The premise of US Shock&Awe (that’s how it went down, concretely) is to mete out catastrophic destruction on the targeted nations while watching comfortably from home, carriers groups and bases in allied countries. Not so here, as Norks have enough to cause actual pain on the would-be aggressors and set off a global economic crisis, even with their conventional arsenal only

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  82. @Anatoly Karlin
    Agreed.

    South Koreans actually had better kill ratios than even Americans in Vietnam. (Though more war crimes per capita, too).

    Admittedly, that's the old, heavily indoctrinated anti-commie generation. But still, that should count for something.

    Admittedly, that’s the old, heavily indoctrinated anti-commie generation. But still, that should count for something.

    That’s kind of my point. I bet the old generation was not into plastic surgery either…

    Think back to October this year, when the Iraqi military was launching an operation to take back Kirkuk from Kurdish militias, a lot of people, including you as well, expected Kurds to put up a good fight. That’s not how it went at all. There was a betrayal amongst the Kurds, some Kurdish factions made a deal with the Iranians, the others literally wept, then ran away in fear. In the end, the Kurds surrendered Kirkuk without a fight, they just folded.

    My point is few observers expected this outcome at the time. Some unexpected shit might happen early in the Korean war that will compromise the South’s ability to fight. And Americans better have a plan for this situation before they attack the North. Performance of their South Korea ally cannot be taken for granted.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    You're correct, all kinds of things can happen. Historically, stranger events have happened.

    But still, I don't think there can be any meaningful analogy between these two cases.

    1. Kirkuk is not majority Kurdish, was under Baghdad's control before Islamic State joined the party. The current Iraqi government is not going to violently purge or severely repress those Kurds who are left. The Kurds would have no support from anybody if they did decide to confront the Iraqis. Even though they are better warriors than Arabs, the Kurds have worse equipment; virtually no modern armor or air force, whereas Iraq has been on a weapons buying spree for the past half decade.

    2. South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world's fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don't even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.

    They're not even that far ahead of the United States:

    http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/2012/04/blogs/graphic-detail/20120428_WOC079.png

    Incidentally, the US as you know now allows homosexuals to serve openly.

    Here is South Korea's policy:

    Homosexual military members in active duty are categorized as having a "personality disorder" or "behavioural disability" and can either be institutionalized or dishonorably discharged.
     
    Definitely less decadent.
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  83. @Felix Keverich

    Admittedly, that’s the old, heavily indoctrinated anti-commie generation. But still, that should count for something.
     
    That's kind of my point. I bet the old generation was not into plastic surgery either...

    Think back to October this year, when the Iraqi military was launching an operation to take back Kirkuk from Kurdish militias, a lot of people, including you as well, expected Kurds to put up a good fight. That's not how it went at all. There was a betrayal amongst the Kurds, some Kurdish factions made a deal with the Iranians, the others literally wept, then ran away in fear. In the end, the Kurds surrendered Kirkuk without a fight, they just folded.

    My point is few observers expected this outcome at the time. Some unexpected shit might happen early in the Korean war that will compromise the South's ability to fight. And Americans better have a plan for this situation before they attack the North. Performance of their South Korea ally cannot be taken for granted.

    You’re correct, all kinds of things can happen. Historically, stranger events have happened.

    But still, I don’t think there can be any meaningful analogy between these two cases.

    1. Kirkuk is not majority Kurdish, was under Baghdad’s control before Islamic State joined the party. The current Iraqi government is not going to violently purge or severely repress those Kurds who are left. The Kurds would have no support from anybody if they did decide to confront the Iraqis. Even though they are better warriors than Arabs, the Kurds have worse equipment; virtually no modern armor or air force, whereas Iraq has been on a weapons buying spree for the past half decade.

    2. South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world’s fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don’t even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.

    They’re not even that far ahead of the United States:

    Incidentally, the US as you know now allows homosexuals to serve openly.

    Here is South Korea’s policy:

    Homosexual military members in active duty are categorized as having a “personality disorder” or “behavioural disability” and can either be institutionalized or dishonorably discharged.

    Definitely less decadent.

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    • Replies: @5371
    Kurds are great warriors only in their own minds. Their go-to tactic is that of a small dog - go belly up and whine about being genocided/gassed/oppressed.
    , @Felix Keverich

    South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world’s fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don’t even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.
     
    Plastic surgery is a sign of severe narcissism. Narcissistic individuals are less likely to engage in altruistic behavior including self-sacrifice. Imagine you spent $20.000 (I'm not sure how much plastic surgery costs) to make your face look just perfect, would you risk taking a piece of shrapnel to that face?


    If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated
     
    True, but doesn't this sound like a good reason for the elites to take a private flight to Australia when things get hot? You assume honour and unwavering partiotism on the part of South Koreans, but to me fleeing would seem like a rational thing to do. Especially, for a civilian.

    Think about it. There is a non zero chance Norks could drop a nuke on Seoul, and you have a private jet that can take you to Australia, so why would you take that risk?
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  84. @Mitleser
    I wonder how would Mister Karlin respond to Putler ordering an intervention into North Korea for the sake of supporting his Chinese partners.

    https://twitter.com/ArtyomLukin/status/943081696815087617

    That seems paranoid, i.e. typical of someone who would use the “Putler” epithet.

    1. The Korean peninsula is a core interest for China, for Russia not so much.

    2. A Chinese intervention would no doubt be accompanied by measures to deconflict with ROK and US forces engaged with DPRK forces. As stated in the article, China places a high value on relations with ROK. Chinese intervention would open options for ending the conflict that would obviate a bloody, grinding campaign up the peninsula.

    3. The DPRK territory is going to be a burden for whoever ends up governing it. ROK has an interest in neutralizing DPRK’s offensive threat, not in occupying and governing DPRK.

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  85. @peterAUS
    Another NK article.
    Things are getting there, apparently.

    A very good article, overall, IMHO.

    I'd just add (as several times before elsewhere) that ground advance into North Korea would, most likely, be just up to, say, 70 Kms, in order to neutralize that "artillery belt".
    Chinese would, most likely, come from the opposite side and, effectively, take over the country.

    Better world for everyone.
    Especially North Koreans. Save that hideous "elite". Good riddance.

    You didn’t mention any of this (?) and you commented on it @ When Sanity Fails – the Mindset of the “Ideological Drone http://www.unz.com/tsaker/when-sanity-fails-the-mindset-of-the-ideological-drone/

    from Erebus comment 57 When Sanity Fails – the Mindset of the “Ideological Drone”

    You really believe that US , China and Russia, working together, can’t take out The Fat Man?
    I believe they can.

    Of course they could, but there’s some big premises embedded in your statement that I doubt apply. Namely, that N. Korea is a fully independent actor, and that China’s & Russia’s national interests align with the US’. On some levels they do, but as one teases out the matrix of interests, they don’t. The problem is teasing out who is on who’s side, and what games are actually being played.

    Depending on one’s view of that matrix of interests and games, Russia & China’s interests actually align better with Kim’s on some levels, and they align with S. Korea’s and Japan’s at others.

    At almost every level, the US is the odd man out. Except one, and it’s a doozy.

    From the Wolfowitz Doctrine onward, Eurasian development and integration has been anathema to the Empire. The explicit foundational principle of the Empire’s security doctrines is the prevention of any nation, or group of nations, from bringing continental (read Eurasian) human, financial and natural resources under consolidated control. Thus, the principal strategic value of its military presence in ROK, JP (as well as PH) is to disrupt/prevent those countries’ participation in Eurasian integration and development under the SCO’s security and financial umbrella. Maintaining its garrisons in ROK & JP at all costs is an Imperial Imperative.

    China’s BRI flies in the face of Wolfowitz’s foundational principle, and the underlying geopolitical interest that all 5 Eastasian nations (though not necessarily their regimes) share is getting the US’ occupational troops out of Eastasia so that DPRK, ROK & JP (& PH) can join China’s BRI. That means developing a security structure they can all believe in, underpinning a financial-economic-trading structure that integrates them into the development of Eurasia. It may be China’s project, but China recognizes that bringing in JP & ROK leverages their own efforts with a depth of high-end engineering and financial resources to beneficial effect. From a security perspective, bringing them in is ultimately mandatory.

    Kim’s antics are amongst the excuses the Empire’s using to underpin its continued presence. While the antics of his predecessors were relatively muted, since Jong Un came to power in 2011 the antics have stepped up quite a few notches.

    William Engdahl [engdahl quoted below] finds that telling. He says Kim’s the US’ man in Pyongyang and the article linked below is a must-read if one wants another, viable perspective on the issues.

    https://journal-neo.org/2016/11/01/north-korea-is-an-pentagon-vassal-state/

    Engdahl is no geopolitical amateur, and he may well be right. If he is, my post at #29 takes on strategic nuance and indicates that if Russia and China are working on N. Korean regime change, it is to thwart American ambitions rather than fear of any direct threat an independent Kim may present. The N. Korean threat to them thus becomes that the US may want Kim to escalate, and that he does.
    This is the logic behind China’s statement that they will defend N. Korea if it’s attacked, but not if they attack first. If they expect DPRK to attack somebody, it’s because he’ll do so on instructions from Washington, giving the USM a casus belli to garrison DPRK as well, and thereby isolate ROK completely, and also JP.
    In such case, China is likely to move at lightning speed to occupy DPRK, perhaps with Russia’s overt support, and so snatch another Donbas, if not Crimea out of the Americans’ gaping mouth.

    I think the key to unravelling Eastasia’s geopolitical Gordian Knot lies in the answer to the following question:
    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?
    The rocket motors most recently used are known to be of Ukrainian design, and quite plausibly manufacture. How did they get there, and how did they get integrated into a 3-stage long-range ICBM and mobile launch platform in record time? Ditto for the increases in warhead yields. 5 years ago, they had crap. Iran, with vastly more human and industrial resources would be hard-pressed to develop a similar ICBM in 5 years.

    If Engdahl is right, two things suggest themselves:
    - The Ukraine supplied the technology and/or actual materiel/systems under American cover (or vice versa).
    (The Ukrainian factory is near Dnipro, home base of the notorious oligarch Kolomoisky, and is no doubt watched 24/7. Any significant shipments leaving there by sea would be tracked and interdicted by the USN if determined to be heading for DPRK.)
    - The US would defend N. Korea against attempts at regime change with soft support such as intelligence. A Chinese backed coup is assumed to have been behind the execution of Jong Un’s uncle and all of his family. Was it discovered with American help? I dunno, maybe, but that China was sheltering the only viable dynastic successor is well known.

    I realize that it is equally possible that any missile related shipment moved via Russia, in which case new perspectives open with a variety of obvious implications, and the above scenario is turned on its head.

    Thus, one cannot apply the kind of analysis embodied in slogans like “The Fat Man and his circle of sycophants” and hope to come anything resembling an appreciation of the complexities involved. Kim is a Revuskian Roger Rabbit, superimposed on real, strategic geo-political issues working themselves out behind the scenes by great powers. It isn’t “Simple, really” all the time.

    Mackinder’s Heartland Theory – Explained!

    http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/geography/mackinders-heartland-theory-explained/42542

    North Korea is an Pentagon Vassal State

    11-1-16

    F. William Engdahl

    . . .
    Unfortunately for world peace, Kim Jong Un, while he is playing games with his rockets and threats of war, is serving the long-term interests of the USA, especially the military industrial complex, the Pentagon and State Department, whose priority increasingly is to make an Asia Pivot of military power projection to contain and isolate the Peoples’ Republic of China as well as Russia.

    In the end of the 1990’s I had the chance occasion to have a chat with the late James R. Lilley. Lilley was at the Davos World Economic Forum and by chance had sat at my dinner table together with a delegation from the China Peoples’ Liberation Army.

    . . .

    James R. Lilley . . .served some three decades at the CIA along with Bush. Both Lilley and Bush were US Ambassadors to China.

    Lilley’s term in Beijing coincided with the May-June 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests. . . . At the time of Tiananmen protests, the man who developed the handbook for color revolutions, Gene Sharp, of the Albert Einstein Institute, was in Beijing until the Chinese told him to leave, and George Soros’ Chinese NGO, the Fund for the Reform and Opening of China, after Tiananmen, was banned when Chinese security services found that the fund had links to the CIA.

    This background is important to better situate who Lilley was – a consummate insider of the George Bush CIA “deep state” networks that try to remake the world to their liking. In our Davos talk, Lilley told me he had been furious at President G.H.W. Bush in the aftermath of Tiananmen for refusing to make a stronger denunciation of the Beijing government, that, for a massacre that he knew never took place.

    In the event, in our Davos discussion we touched on events in Asia and the ongoing focus by Washington on North Korea’s nuclear program. Unexpectedly, Lilley made a remarkable statement to me. He said, “Simply put, at the end of the Cold War, if North Korea didn’t exist we would have to create it as an excuse to keep the Seventh Fleet in the region.” Shortly before our Davos discussion North Korea had launched a missile over Japan, causing huge anxieties across Asia.

    . . .

    While China does maintain certain influence and while China sees North Korea as a buffer between it and the US-allied South Korea, Beijing’s ability to influence the erratic Kim Jong Un seems to be extremely limited, if at all, a significant change from earlier Kim dynasty dictators. The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China.

    In February of this year North Korea announced that it had fired a long-range rocket in violation of a UN Security Council resolution that was voted with approval of both China and Russia. The rocket firing was immediately condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US. Most notably, right after the North Korean rocket firing, the Seoul South Korea government entered serious talks for acquiring Washington’s THAAD missile defense system, arguing it was to counter the threat from the north. China protested loudly.

    At the same time Japan increased its THAAD infrastructure installations from the US. Both deployments were aimed not at North Korea, whose missile threat to South Korea is ruled out. They were aimed at goosing up the governments of South Korea and of Shinzo Abe in Japan in their development of anti-China postures. Only months earlier, relations between South Korea and Japan were chilly and China was making peaceful economic overtures to South Korea. The Seoul decision to accept THAAD missiles has chilled those ties.

    . . .
    In November, 2013, before Washington launched its Ukraine coup d’ etat, otherwise known as Euromaidan, to split Russia from the European Union, Russia, North Korea and South Korea had signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a visit of Russian President Putin to Seoul. That agreement would also include South Korea in a further restoration of the entire Trans-Korean Railway, a major positive development towards stabilizing relations between the two Koreas.

    At this point it clearly is the case that under the erratic 32-year-old Swiss-educated Kim Jong Un, Washington has found the perfect boogie man to scare South Korea and Japan into embracing Washington’s agenda to maximize pressure, military as well as economic, against Russia and against China. James R. Lilley’s Davos remark to me is borne out by the recent militaristic and foreign policy actions of North Korean Supreme Commander, Jim Jong Un. It seems it wasn’t even necessary for the United States to “create North Korea.” Washington only had to cultivate the infantile personality of Kim Jong Un.

    https://journal-neo.org/2016/11/01/north-korea-is-an-pentagon-vassal-state/

    Read More
    • Replies: @peterAUS
    Say again!?

    Like: Erebus point was/is ..in ONE SENTENCE.

    On a related matter....overall good comments here. Helpful, insightful, measured.
    Nice.

    Now, there is a bit missing, actually.
    Not a biggie, I suspect not many here have made a proper "combat document".

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.

    In "real" life all starts with The Objective.
    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?

    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.

    Different objectives demand different forces, strategy/operations/tactics and present different challenges and problems. Will also mean different casualties, own and enemy's.

    Just my two cents.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  86. @pogohere
    You didn't mention any of this (?) and you commented on it @ When Sanity Fails - the Mindset of the "Ideological Drone http://www.unz.com/tsaker/when-sanity-fails-the-mindset-of-the-ideological-drone/

    from Erebus comment 57 When Sanity Fails - the Mindset of the "Ideological Drone"

    You really believe that US , China and Russia, working together, can’t take out The Fat Man?
    I believe they can.

    Of course they could, but there’s some big premises embedded in your statement that I doubt apply. Namely, that N. Korea is a fully independent actor, and that China’s & Russia’s national interests align with the US’. On some levels they do, but as one teases out the matrix of interests, they don’t. The problem is teasing out who is on who’s side, and what games are actually being played.

    Depending on one’s view of that matrix of interests and games, Russia & China’s interests actually align better with Kim’s on some levels, and they align with S. Korea’s and Japan’s at others.

    At almost every level, the US is the odd man out. Except one, and it’s a doozy.

    From the Wolfowitz Doctrine onward, Eurasian development and integration has been anathema to the Empire. The explicit foundational principle of the Empire’s security doctrines is the prevention of any nation, or group of nations, from bringing continental (read Eurasian) human, financial and natural resources under consolidated control. Thus, the principal strategic value of its military presence in ROK, JP (as well as PH) is to disrupt/prevent those countries’ participation in Eurasian integration and development under the SCO’s security and financial umbrella. Maintaining its garrisons in ROK & JP at all costs is an Imperial Imperative.

    China’s BRI flies in the face of Wolfowitz’s foundational principle, and the underlying geopolitical interest that all 5 Eastasian nations (though not necessarily their regimes) share is getting the US’ occupational troops out of Eastasia so that DPRK, ROK & JP (& PH) can join China’s BRI. That means developing a security structure they can all believe in, underpinning a financial-economic-trading structure that integrates them into the development of Eurasia. It may be China’s project, but China recognizes that bringing in JP & ROK leverages their own efforts with a depth of high-end engineering and financial resources to beneficial effect. From a security perspective, bringing them in is ultimately mandatory.

    Kim’s antics are amongst the excuses the Empire’s using to underpin its continued presence. While the antics of his predecessors were relatively muted, since Jong Un came to power in 2011 the antics have stepped up quite a few notches.

    William Engdahl [engdahl quoted below] finds that telling. He says Kim’s the US’ man in Pyongyang and the article linked below is a must-read if one wants another, viable perspective on the issues.

    https://journal-neo.org/2016/11/01/north-korea-is-an-pentagon-vassal-state/

    Engdahl is no geopolitical amateur, and he may well be right. If he is, my post at #29 takes on strategic nuance and indicates that if Russia and China are working on N. Korean regime change, it is to thwart American ambitions rather than fear of any direct threat an independent Kim may present. The N. Korean threat to them thus becomes that the US may want Kim to escalate, and that he does.
    This is the logic behind China’s statement that they will defend N. Korea if it’s attacked, but not if they attack first. If they expect DPRK to attack somebody, it’s because he’ll do so on instructions from Washington, giving the USM a casus belli to garrison DPRK as well, and thereby isolate ROK completely, and also JP.
    In such case, China is likely to move at lightning speed to occupy DPRK, perhaps with Russia’s overt support, and so snatch another Donbas, if not Crimea out of the Americans’ gaping mouth.

    I think the key to unravelling Eastasia’s geopolitical Gordian Knot lies in the answer to the following question:
    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?
    The rocket motors most recently used are known to be of Ukrainian design, and quite plausibly manufacture. How did they get there, and how did they get integrated into a 3-stage long-range ICBM and mobile launch platform in record time? Ditto for the increases in warhead yields. 5 years ago, they had crap. Iran, with vastly more human and industrial resources would be hard-pressed to develop a similar ICBM in 5 years.

    If Engdahl is right, two things suggest themselves:
    - The Ukraine supplied the technology and/or actual materiel/systems under American cover (or vice versa).
    (The Ukrainian factory is near Dnipro, home base of the notorious oligarch Kolomoisky, and is no doubt watched 24/7. Any significant shipments leaving there by sea would be tracked and interdicted by the USN if determined to be heading for DPRK.)
    - The US would defend N. Korea against attempts at regime change with soft support such as intelligence. A Chinese backed coup is assumed to have been behind the execution of Jong Un’s uncle and all of his family. Was it discovered with American help? I dunno, maybe, but that China was sheltering the only viable dynastic successor is well known.

    I realize that it is equally possible that any missile related shipment moved via Russia, in which case new perspectives open with a variety of obvious implications, and the above scenario is turned on its head.

    Thus, one cannot apply the kind of analysis embodied in slogans like “The Fat Man and his circle of sycophants” and hope to come anything resembling an appreciation of the complexities involved. Kim is a Revuskian Roger Rabbit, superimposed on real, strategic geo-political issues working themselves out behind the scenes by great powers. It isn’t “Simple, really” all the time.

     

    Mackinder’s Heartland Theory – Explained!
    http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/geography/mackinders-heartland-theory-explained/42542



    North Korea is an Pentagon Vassal State

    11-1-16

    F. William Engdahl

    . . .
    Unfortunately for world peace, Kim Jong Un, while he is playing games with his rockets and threats of war, is serving the long-term interests of the USA, especially the military industrial complex, the Pentagon and State Department, whose priority increasingly is to make an Asia Pivot of military power projection to contain and isolate the Peoples’ Republic of China as well as Russia.

    In the end of the 1990’s I had the chance occasion to have a chat with the late James R. Lilley. Lilley was at the Davos World Economic Forum and by chance had sat at my dinner table together with a delegation from the China Peoples’ Liberation Army.

    . . .

    James R. Lilley . . .served some three decades at the CIA along with Bush. Both Lilley and Bush were US Ambassadors to China.

    Lilley’s term in Beijing coincided with the May-June 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests. . . . At the time of Tiananmen protests, the man who developed the handbook for color revolutions, Gene Sharp, of the Albert Einstein Institute, was in Beijing until the Chinese told him to leave, and George Soros’ Chinese NGO, the Fund for the Reform and Opening of China, after Tiananmen, was banned when Chinese security services found that the fund had links to the CIA.

    This background is important to better situate who Lilley was – a consummate insider of the George Bush CIA “deep state” networks that try to remake the world to their liking. In our Davos talk, Lilley told me he had been furious at President G.H.W. Bush in the aftermath of Tiananmen for refusing to make a stronger denunciation of the Beijing government, that, for a massacre that he knew never took place.

    In the event, in our Davos discussion we touched on events in Asia and the ongoing focus by Washington on North Korea’s nuclear program. Unexpectedly, Lilley made a remarkable statement to me. He said, “Simply put, at the end of the Cold War, if North Korea didn’t exist we would have to create it as an excuse to keep the Seventh Fleet in the region.” Shortly before our Davos discussion North Korea had launched a missile over Japan, causing huge anxieties across Asia.

    . . .

    While China does maintain certain influence and while China sees North Korea as a buffer between it and the US-allied South Korea, Beijing’s ability to influence the erratic Kim Jong Un seems to be extremely limited, if at all, a significant change from earlier Kim dynasty dictators. The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China.

    In February of this year North Korea announced that it had fired a long-range rocket in violation of a UN Security Council resolution that was voted with approval of both China and Russia. The rocket firing was immediately condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US. Most notably, right after the North Korean rocket firing, the Seoul South Korea government entered serious talks for acquiring Washington’s THAAD missile defense system, arguing it was to counter the threat from the north. China protested loudly.

    At the same time Japan increased its THAAD infrastructure installations from the US. Both deployments were aimed not at North Korea, whose missile threat to South Korea is ruled out. They were aimed at goosing up the governments of South Korea and of Shinzo Abe in Japan in their development of anti-China postures. Only months earlier, relations between South Korea and Japan were chilly and China was making peaceful economic overtures to South Korea. The Seoul decision to accept THAAD missiles has chilled those ties.

    . . .
    In November, 2013, before Washington launched its Ukraine coup d’ etat, otherwise known as Euromaidan, to split Russia from the European Union, Russia, North Korea and South Korea had signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a visit of Russian President Putin to Seoul. That agreement would also include South Korea in a further restoration of the entire Trans-Korean Railway, a major positive development towards stabilizing relations between the two Koreas.

    At this point it clearly is the case that under the erratic 32-year-old Swiss-educated Kim Jong Un, Washington has found the perfect boogie man to scare South Korea and Japan into embracing Washington’s agenda to maximize pressure, military as well as economic, against Russia and against China. James R. Lilley’s Davos remark to me is borne out by the recent militaristic and foreign policy actions of North Korean Supreme Commander, Jim Jong Un. It seems it wasn’t even necessary for the United States to “create North Korea.” Washington only had to cultivate the infantile personality of Kim Jong Un.

     

    https://journal-neo.org/2016/11/01/north-korea-is-an-pentagon-vassal-state/

    Say again!?

    Like: Erebus point was/is ..in ONE SENTENCE.

    On a related matter….overall good comments here. Helpful, insightful, measured.
    Nice.

    Now, there is a bit missing, actually.
    Not a biggie, I suspect not many here have made a proper “combat document”.

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.

    In “real” life all starts with The Objective.
    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?

    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.

    Different objectives demand different forces, strategy/operations/tactics and present different challenges and problems. Will also mean different casualties, own and enemy’s.

    Just my two cents.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Erebus

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.
     
    Yes, too much by half.
    IMHO, it's all for naught until/unless one teases out the interests and objectives of the likely combatants, and who's on who's side. There's wheels spinning within wheels in the ECS and it's completely unclear at this stage (at least to me). Answering the question posed in pogohere's mass quote would serve to narrow the number of variables and place some limits on the "military scenarios" and associated squabbling over unknowns.

    Namely:


    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?
     
    We know that the Hwasong-15's boost phase rocket engine is a derivative of the Soviet RD-251, made in the Ukraine. The 2nd stage is a dark horse. Duplicating it from stolen/purchased plans is not a simple matter, so was likely obtained as a refurbishable/working unit. With who's assistance and/or acquiescence? Russia's, or the USA's, or did they get them on their own? How many do they have? 1? or 10? or 10n?

    Other questions can also be asked. Probably the most critical is:

    "Has DPRK deployed the Kumsong-3 (KN-19) anti-ship cruise missile in any quantity?"

    Its June 2017 tests indicate that it has the range and guidance systems to turn USN carriers into targets. That begs an addition clause to my original. Namely:

    "How did a "starving nation" of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?"

    I'm leaning towards Engdahl's assessment, if only because it turns the popularly accepted power calculus on its head. Too many variables in that popular calculus don't add up for me, making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.

    , @Erebus

    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?
    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.
     
    If one takes Engdahl's assessment at face value and combines it with the USA's Imperial Imperative, the answer becomes clear.

    The USA's objectives are two. The first is to justify the continued presence of their garrisons in theatre, and the 2nd would be to forcibly unite the 2 Koreas under US occupation. Both serve to isolate both Korea and Japan from Eurasian integration and the 2nd plants hostile power firmly at Eurasia's eastern borders and in the ECS. That pins China between Afghanistan and Japan/Korean, which also explains the USM's continued presence there. Without Japan/Korea, Afghanistan would make little sense, and would quickly become untenable.

    They need a casus belli to execute, and Kim seems to be performing a yeoman's service at providing it for the 1st objective, and with the Hwasong-15 he may eventually provide for the 2nd.

    If Engdahl is wrong, then things get murkier. I can't bring myself to believe that DPRK is capable of developing this technology without lots of outside help. Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.
    The latter arms the large Chaebols (Korea) and Keiretsus (Japan), who have deep investments in China and are drooling over the BRI, in putting pressure on their respective govts to break with the US.

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  87. pogohere,

    “The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China.”

    This is how most Chinese netizens view the North Korea situation. By the way, Russia plays the same role of North Korea in Europe…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser

    “The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China.”
     
    Well, it seems true. The DPRK wants a deal with the USA rather than depending on Beijing's whims and for that shows their usefulness first.

    By the way, Russia plays the same role of North Korea in Europe…
     
    Only if you mean Russia as a combination of Great Russia (aka Russian Federation) and Little Russia (aka the Ukraine).
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  88. @Anatoly Karlin
    They are not going to get "stuck" at that stage, but neither is it something that is going to happen instantaneously.

    I should have clarified this, but I am speaking of the near future (i.e. the year 2018), and in particular of the next few months.

    It’s probably happened already. Again, claims to know the contrary originate with proven liars.

    Read More
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  89. @Anatoly Karlin
    You're correct, all kinds of things can happen. Historically, stranger events have happened.

    But still, I don't think there can be any meaningful analogy between these two cases.

    1. Kirkuk is not majority Kurdish, was under Baghdad's control before Islamic State joined the party. The current Iraqi government is not going to violently purge or severely repress those Kurds who are left. The Kurds would have no support from anybody if they did decide to confront the Iraqis. Even though they are better warriors than Arabs, the Kurds have worse equipment; virtually no modern armor or air force, whereas Iraq has been on a weapons buying spree for the past half decade.

    2. South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world's fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don't even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.

    They're not even that far ahead of the United States:

    http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/2012/04/blogs/graphic-detail/20120428_WOC079.png

    Incidentally, the US as you know now allows homosexuals to serve openly.

    Here is South Korea's policy:

    Homosexual military members in active duty are categorized as having a "personality disorder" or "behavioural disability" and can either be institutionalized or dishonorably discharged.
     
    Definitely less decadent.

    Kurds are great warriors only in their own minds. Their go-to tactic is that of a small dog – go belly up and whine about being genocided/gassed/oppressed.

    Read More
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  90. @bob sykes
    The idea that China will not intervene is absurd in the extreme. Their strategic interests and exposure on the Peninsula are existential. And it important to remember that the last time out China defeated the US without a navy or air force and with a WW I army that did not have enough rifles to go around. This time they come equipped with a fully modern military, army, navy, air force, cruise and ballistic missiles and nukes. They have the second largest submarine force in the world, after North Korea's. And while North Korea's is obsolete, the Chinese force is modern. The China Sea will be a killing zone for the American navy.

    One should also remember that the USSR participated in both the Korean War and the Vietnamese War (China did, too). Russia has same strategic concerns as did the USSR, and they will provide aid and assistance to the Chinese and North Korean forces.

    Furthermore, as The Saker has pointed out, the terrain on the Peninsula imposes an infantry war, a walking war of trenches and bunkers, platoon on platoon. In that war, our magical Wonder Weapons (reference to Hitler, if you're too young to get it) will be much less effective. Also, we have very few infantry nowadays, and they are reluctant to engage raghead militias, never mind modern infantries.

    Finally, everyone ignores the people of both South Korea and Japan. Both countries suffered nearly genocidal losses in WW II, and Korea again suffered such losses in the Korean War. Both populations have large pacifist minorities that openly oppose any war with North Korea. Pres. Moon of South Korea was elected on a peace platform, and while Abe is aggressive enough to please American neocons, he is severely constrained by Japanese pacifists.

    It is utterly impossible that either Japan or South Korea will sign off on any pre-emptive attack on the North. Their populations will not give up all that they have built over the last 70 years or suffer another genocide. Both governments will at the very least disavow such and attack and denounce it, and they might intervene to prevent it.

    Regardless of whether the North can deliver nukes by missile, a renewed Korean War would mark the end of the American Empire and our expulsion from the Western Pacific.

    Both countries suffered nearly genocidal losses in WW II

    Maybe Korea, but not Japan. The population decreased 1 million from the 1940 census to the 1945 census from 73 million to 72 million, scarcely a genocide.

    Read More
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  91. @Anatoly Karlin

    ... and since even a small risk of North Korea nuking Seoul or Tokyo or some US city is too high imo
     
    Well, I'd argue the chances of this happening is very close to zero wrt Seoul and Tokyo, and effectively zero for the US mainland.

    Today.

    But this probability will be creeping upwards with time. This is why this year or 2019 will be the most critical ones.

    Complete lunacy. I would recommend that the DPRK do a live fire test of an H-tipped ICBM to burst this bubble, but at this stage such a mental bubble is probably impervious to any evidence whatsoever. I guess he who was born to be hanged will never drown.

    Read More
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  92. @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea is an ultranationalist regime that looks out for the "purity" of the Korean race (Myers makes this argument in The Cleanest Race).

    That said, from what I've read, they don't demonize modern China.

    1. Main enemy is USA. Can't alienate China too much, too.

    2. While you can still sort of dismiss America as a wretched capitalist hive, many North Koreans have now been to China (or gotten word from relatives or friends there). And living standards are far better there. Suppressing this fact would now be completely impossible.

    they don’t demonize modern China

    And would it not be possible that, the moment the regime was about to collapse, the people would shrug off decades of propaganda and perversely started believing the opposite? For example, I don’t know, maybe if there was another country (a superpower even?) where the people was extremely Americanophile just the moment that other regime was about to fall. I recently read about it a blogpost somewhere. The point is, the moment the regime is about to fall, people re-examine their assumptions, and they will think of the falling regime as a bunch of liars. Maybe there will be rumors about the benevolent South Koreans who would be willing to quickly raise living standards to South Korean levels?

    On the other hand, the regime doesn’t demonize the Chinese, so it will stay roughly neutral in their minds, liars or not.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Americanophile was a huge thing in Russia even before the end of the USSR was certain.
    It was not a response to it.
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  93. What about chemical and biological weapons? Can they deliver them to Tokyo?

    Read More
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  94. According to John Kasich, more sanctions are needed and would likely be successful.

    Read More
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  95. @reiner Tor

    they don’t demonize modern China
     
    And would it not be possible that, the moment the regime was about to collapse, the people would shrug off decades of propaganda and perversely started believing the opposite? For example, I don’t know, maybe if there was another country (a superpower even?) where the people was extremely Americanophile just the moment that other regime was about to fall. I recently read about it a blogpost somewhere. The point is, the moment the regime is about to fall, people re-examine their assumptions, and they will think of the falling regime as a bunch of liars. Maybe there will be rumors about the benevolent South Koreans who would be willing to quickly raise living standards to South Korean levels?

    On the other hand, the regime doesn’t demonize the Chinese, so it will stay roughly neutral in their minds, liars or not.

    Americanophile was a huge thing in Russia even before the end of the USSR was certain.
    It was not a response to it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The North Korean population watches pirated South Korean DVDs and probably Hollywood crap, too. They probably listen to South Korean and American pop music. What makes you think they hate Americans (and South Koreans) more than Russians did back in the 1980s? They have a lot of reasons to suspect that living standards are way higher in both the US and South Korea than in China. Actually, they probably know this, since it’s common knowledge in China and a lot of them have been to China. They also have a lot of reasons to suspect that their leaders are habitual liars. Why would the crude propaganda of the regime be extremely effective? I’ve read interviews with Chinese about Maoism, and they said they felt it was ridiculous, like a cult, but were simply afraid to step out of line.

    I think North Koreans are probably proud of their military (as were Russians), but think that America is the land of opportunity and anything (any degeneracy) coming out of it is cool.
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  96. @Yee
    pogohere,

    "The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China."

    This is how most Chinese netizens view the North Korea situation. By the way, Russia plays the same role of North Korea in Europe...

    “The one power to gain from Kim Jong Un’s bellicose actions is the United States as geopolitical hegemon desiring to turn Japan and especially South Korea against China.”

    Well, it seems true. The DPRK wants a deal with the USA rather than depending on Beijing’s whims and for that shows their usefulness first.

    By the way, Russia plays the same role of North Korea in Europe…

    Only if you mean Russia as a combination of Great Russia (aka Russian Federation) and Little Russia (aka the Ukraine).

    Read More
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  97. @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea is an ultranationalist regime that looks out for the "purity" of the Korean race (Myers makes this argument in The Cleanest Race).

    That said, from what I've read, they don't demonize modern China.

    1. Main enemy is USA. Can't alienate China too much, too.

    2. While you can still sort of dismiss America as a wretched capitalist hive, many North Koreans have now been to China (or gotten word from relatives or friends there). And living standards are far better there. Suppressing this fact would now be completely impossible.

    1. Main enemy is USA. Can’t alienate China too much, too.

    China is an enemy too, though.

    https://twitter.com/DougPologe/status/945276617005391872

    Read More
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  98. @peterAUS
    Say again!?

    Like: Erebus point was/is ..in ONE SENTENCE.

    On a related matter....overall good comments here. Helpful, insightful, measured.
    Nice.

    Now, there is a bit missing, actually.
    Not a biggie, I suspect not many here have made a proper "combat document".

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.

    In "real" life all starts with The Objective.
    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?

    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.

    Different objectives demand different forces, strategy/operations/tactics and present different challenges and problems. Will also mean different casualties, own and enemy's.

    Just my two cents.

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.

    Yes, too much by half.
    IMHO, it’s all for naught until/unless one teases out the interests and objectives of the likely combatants, and who’s on who’s side. There’s wheels spinning within wheels in the ECS and it’s completely unclear at this stage (at least to me). Answering the question posed in pogohere’s mass quote would serve to narrow the number of variables and place some limits on the “military scenarios” and associated squabbling over unknowns.

    Namely:

    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?

    We know that the Hwasong-15′s boost phase rocket engine is a derivative of the Soviet RD-251, made in the Ukraine. The 2nd stage is a dark horse. Duplicating it from stolen/purchased plans is not a simple matter, so was likely obtained as a refurbishable/working unit. With who’s assistance and/or acquiescence? Russia’s, or the USA’s, or did they get them on their own? How many do they have? 1? or 10? or 10n?

    Other questions can also be asked. Probably the most critical is:

    “Has DPRK deployed the Kumsong-3 (KN-19) anti-ship cruise missile in any quantity?”

    Its June 2017 tests indicate that it has the range and guidance systems to turn USN carriers into targets. That begs an addition clause to my original. Namely:

    “How did a “starving nation” of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?”

    I’m leaning towards Engdahl’s assessment, if only because it turns the popularly accepted power calculus on its head. Too many variables in that popular calculus don’t add up for me, making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Engdahl has a poor track record, there are reasons to question both his competence and his honesty.

    [How did a “starving nation” of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?]
    Imagine that South Africa didn't give up in 1990 but continued till now in increasing isolation and hostility. Do you doubt they could have achieved the same things?
    , @peterAUS

    ...making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.
     
    Well….not necessarily.

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.
    The only important issue, now, is how to deal with that reality.
    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.

    That brings us directly back to the “war thing”.

    I still believe there is a timeframe to resolve all that peacefully. Hangs on that “nuclear tipped” ICMB.

    And, should the “war thing” kicks off, everything starts with The Objective.

    The confusion/debates here stem directly from NOT defining a clear objective.
    “It’s impossible to occupy all North Korea”. Is the objective occupation?
    “It will require zillions of troops and casualties to defeat zillions North Koreans fighting the invasion”. Why invasion in the first place?
    Etc.

    In my “scenario” the objective is to “remove the nuclear threat to US soil”.
    That is what’s given to the generals do work on.
    And I believe that’s achievable.
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  99. @Mitleser
    Americanophile was a huge thing in Russia even before the end of the USSR was certain.
    It was not a response to it.

    The North Korean population watches pirated South Korean DVDs and probably Hollywood crap, too. They probably listen to South Korean and American pop music. What makes you think they hate Americans (and South Koreans) more than Russians did back in the 1980s? They have a lot of reasons to suspect that living standards are way higher in both the US and South Korea than in China. Actually, they probably know this, since it’s common knowledge in China and a lot of them have been to China. They also have a lot of reasons to suspect that their leaders are habitual liars. Why would the crude propaganda of the regime be extremely effective? I’ve read interviews with Chinese about Maoism, and they said they felt it was ridiculous, like a cult, but were simply afraid to step out of line.

    I think North Koreans are probably proud of their military (as were Russians), but think that America is the land of opportunity and anything (any degeneracy) coming out of it is cool.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bukephalos
    Euh...because the Americans are their Nazis? A people obsessed with Kennan's scribblings who came to kill 1 in every 7-8 of them during the last war? Dropping more bombs on Koreans' heads than during the entire Pacific theater in WW2 (mostly on the north)? Every family was amputated and bled dry. I figure there is more than the personal graces of the Kim dynasty or repression to build support for the North Korean regime.

    Not even the South Koreans like Americans much, and it has surprised me but there is even some respect for the northern regime in segments of the population there for this very reason. Koreans will never really hold their heads high under the Americans, no matter how many trinkets they can own.

    , @reiner Tor
    That is an interesting question. Could V2 have been more effective with tabun?
    , @Mitleser
    (Late) USSR was pro-internationalism and relations with USA became quite friendly during Gorbachev era. On the other hand, DRPK is nationalist and relations with USA remain tense and get worse.

    There was a breeding ground in the late USSR for pro-Americanism that does not exist in the DPRK.
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  100. @peterAUS
    Say again!?

    Like: Erebus point was/is ..in ONE SENTENCE.

    On a related matter....overall good comments here. Helpful, insightful, measured.
    Nice.

    Now, there is a bit missing, actually.
    Not a biggie, I suspect not many here have made a proper "combat document".

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.

    In "real" life all starts with The Objective.
    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?

    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.

    Different objectives demand different forces, strategy/operations/tactics and present different challenges and problems. Will also mean different casualties, own and enemy's.

    Just my two cents.

    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?
    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.

    If one takes Engdahl’s assessment at face value and combines it with the USA’s Imperial Imperative, the answer becomes clear.

    The USA’s objectives are two. The first is to justify the continued presence of their garrisons in theatre, and the 2nd would be to forcibly unite the 2 Koreas under US occupation. Both serve to isolate both Korea and Japan from Eurasian integration and the 2nd plants hostile power firmly at Eurasia’s eastern borders and in the ECS. That pins China between Afghanistan and Japan/Korean, which also explains the USM’s continued presence there. Without Japan/Korea, Afghanistan would make little sense, and would quickly become untenable.

    They need a casus belli to execute, and Kim seems to be performing a yeoman’s service at providing it for the 1st objective, and with the Hwasong-15 he may eventually provide for the 2nd.

    If Engdahl is wrong, then things get murkier. I can’t bring myself to believe that DPRK is capable of developing this technology without lots of outside help. Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.
    The latter arms the large Chaebols (Korea) and Keiretsus (Japan), who have deep investments in China and are drooling over the BRI, in putting pressure on their respective govts to break with the US.

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    • Replies: @peterAUS
    Well...good post but, feels...."complicated".

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled. Coward, I know. Old fart, shame on me.

    Maybe that's the objective. I don't know.
    If...IF...that's the objective I believe it's hard to achieve (understatement). Personally, I haven't thought about it at all.

    If I were a Lt.Col assisting a Brigadier, working for a 3 star general I'd very politely point to certain difficulties in achieving the objective. If I got a message THAT is the objective I'd start thinking about resigning and moving into Civy Street. Shame on me.

    Now...if, as I posted before, the objective is “remove the nuclear threat to US soil” I'd do my best to achieve it.
    , @reiner Tor

    Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.
     
    Not impossible. I know next to nothing of this. But then why is no-one pointing that out, while they are whipping themselves into a frenzy over Russia supposedly having stolen the elections?
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  101. @Erebus

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.
     
    Yes, too much by half.
    IMHO, it's all for naught until/unless one teases out the interests and objectives of the likely combatants, and who's on who's side. There's wheels spinning within wheels in the ECS and it's completely unclear at this stage (at least to me). Answering the question posed in pogohere's mass quote would serve to narrow the number of variables and place some limits on the "military scenarios" and associated squabbling over unknowns.

    Namely:


    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?
     
    We know that the Hwasong-15's boost phase rocket engine is a derivative of the Soviet RD-251, made in the Ukraine. The 2nd stage is a dark horse. Duplicating it from stolen/purchased plans is not a simple matter, so was likely obtained as a refurbishable/working unit. With who's assistance and/or acquiescence? Russia's, or the USA's, or did they get them on their own? How many do they have? 1? or 10? or 10n?

    Other questions can also be asked. Probably the most critical is:

    "Has DPRK deployed the Kumsong-3 (KN-19) anti-ship cruise missile in any quantity?"

    Its June 2017 tests indicate that it has the range and guidance systems to turn USN carriers into targets. That begs an addition clause to my original. Namely:

    "How did a "starving nation" of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?"

    I'm leaning towards Engdahl's assessment, if only because it turns the popularly accepted power calculus on its head. Too many variables in that popular calculus don't add up for me, making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.

    Engdahl has a poor track record, there are reasons to question both his competence and his honesty.

    [How did a “starving nation” of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?]
    Imagine that South Africa didn’t give up in 1990 but continued till now in increasing isolation and hostility. Do you doubt they could have achieved the same things?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Erebus

    Imagine that South Africa didn’t give up in 1990 but continued till now in increasing isolation and hostility. Do you doubt they could have achieved the same things?
     
    Hardly a realistic comparison, given ZA could bring vastly greater domestic human/physical resources & natural wealth to bear, and that in 1990 they would have been starting from a much higher base line.

    By 1990 ZA had had nuclear warheads in hand for more than a decade, and had been producing Jericho long range ballistic missiles under license for a few years. (Both courtesy of Israel.)

    Having a wealthy, industrialized, self-sufficient country helps a lot, but ZA didn't do much with their nukes except to make (iirc) 6 gravity bombs. Of course, ZA didn't have the motivation that DPRK has. If they did, they probably could have had a fully developed nuclear ICBM by, say 2000 if not 1995, but the comparison is useless. The disparity between the two countries' motivations, wealth and starting position is too great.

    The real issue is that DPRK seems to have done all this in the last 5 years, and at a startlingly accelerated pace. When the latest Kim came to power, they were successfully firing modified vintage '60s & '70s SCUDS of the sort Yemen's been lobbing at Riyadh, and made various unsuccessful launches of longer range missiles such as the Taepodong and Musadan. From there, a quantum leap in understanding must have occurred as the Hwasong-12, 14 & 15 show staggering advances at unprecedented speed.
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  102. @reiner Tor
    The North Korean population watches pirated South Korean DVDs and probably Hollywood crap, too. They probably listen to South Korean and American pop music. What makes you think they hate Americans (and South Koreans) more than Russians did back in the 1980s? They have a lot of reasons to suspect that living standards are way higher in both the US and South Korea than in China. Actually, they probably know this, since it’s common knowledge in China and a lot of them have been to China. They also have a lot of reasons to suspect that their leaders are habitual liars. Why would the crude propaganda of the regime be extremely effective? I’ve read interviews with Chinese about Maoism, and they said they felt it was ridiculous, like a cult, but were simply afraid to step out of line.

    I think North Koreans are probably proud of their military (as were Russians), but think that America is the land of opportunity and anything (any degeneracy) coming out of it is cool.

    Euh…because the Americans are their Nazis? A people obsessed with Kennan’s scribblings who came to kill 1 in every 7-8 of them during the last war? Dropping more bombs on Koreans’ heads than during the entire Pacific theater in WW2 (mostly on the north)? Every family was amputated and bled dry. I figure there is more than the personal graces of the Kim dynasty or repression to build support for the North Korean regime.

    Not even the South Koreans like Americans much, and it has surprised me but there is even some respect for the northern regime in segments of the population there for this very reason. Koreans will never really hold their heads high under the Americans, no matter how many trinkets they can own.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Possible.
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  103. Mitleser,

    “Only if you mean Russia as a combination of Great Russia (aka Russian Federation) and Little Russia (aka the Ukraine).”

    I mean the US use Russia in a similar way it use North Korea, to prevent Europe getting too unify. Do something to stimulate Russia, and Russia will react in some way to frighten other European countries. Europe in some sort of crisis is good for the US, just like Northeast Asia in some sort of crisis is good for the US. Just provoke Russia/North Korea a little.

    Although Russia/N Korea will very much want a friendly relation with the US, it’s not likely to happen for real. They’re very effective “crisis generator” for the US.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    I mean the US use Russia in a similar way it use North Korea, to prevent Europe getting too unify. Do something to stimulate Russia, and Russia will react in some way to frighten other European countries. Europe in some sort of crisis is good for the US, just like Northeast Asia in some sort of crisis is good for the US. Just provoke Russia/North Korea a little.
     
    Why is "Europe" allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?
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  104. @reiner Tor
    The North Korean population watches pirated South Korean DVDs and probably Hollywood crap, too. They probably listen to South Korean and American pop music. What makes you think they hate Americans (and South Koreans) more than Russians did back in the 1980s? They have a lot of reasons to suspect that living standards are way higher in both the US and South Korea than in China. Actually, they probably know this, since it’s common knowledge in China and a lot of them have been to China. They also have a lot of reasons to suspect that their leaders are habitual liars. Why would the crude propaganda of the regime be extremely effective? I’ve read interviews with Chinese about Maoism, and they said they felt it was ridiculous, like a cult, but were simply afraid to step out of line.

    I think North Koreans are probably proud of their military (as were Russians), but think that America is the land of opportunity and anything (any degeneracy) coming out of it is cool.

    That is an interesting question. Could V2 have been more effective with tabun?

    Read More
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  105. @Bukephalos
    Euh...because the Americans are their Nazis? A people obsessed with Kennan's scribblings who came to kill 1 in every 7-8 of them during the last war? Dropping more bombs on Koreans' heads than during the entire Pacific theater in WW2 (mostly on the north)? Every family was amputated and bled dry. I figure there is more than the personal graces of the Kim dynasty or repression to build support for the North Korean regime.

    Not even the South Koreans like Americans much, and it has surprised me but there is even some respect for the northern regime in segments of the population there for this very reason. Koreans will never really hold their heads high under the Americans, no matter how many trinkets they can own.

    Possible.

    Read More
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  106. @reiner Tor
    The North Korean population watches pirated South Korean DVDs and probably Hollywood crap, too. They probably listen to South Korean and American pop music. What makes you think they hate Americans (and South Koreans) more than Russians did back in the 1980s? They have a lot of reasons to suspect that living standards are way higher in both the US and South Korea than in China. Actually, they probably know this, since it’s common knowledge in China and a lot of them have been to China. They also have a lot of reasons to suspect that their leaders are habitual liars. Why would the crude propaganda of the regime be extremely effective? I’ve read interviews with Chinese about Maoism, and they said they felt it was ridiculous, like a cult, but were simply afraid to step out of line.

    I think North Koreans are probably proud of their military (as were Russians), but think that America is the land of opportunity and anything (any degeneracy) coming out of it is cool.

    (Late) USSR was pro-internationalism and relations with USA became quite friendly during Gorbachev era. On the other hand, DRPK is nationalist and relations with USA remain tense and get worse.

    There was a breeding ground in the late USSR for pro-Americanism that does not exist in the DPRK.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I agree with this.

    Myers makes the interesting observation that North Korean propaganda is far more reminiscent of Japanese ultranationalism than of late Soviet internationalism.

    Differences:

    + The Juche cult has been operating for long and more totally than in Japan.

    - North Koreans have readier access to outside information
    - The gap between North Korea and the developed world is far larger and far more visible than that between Japan and the Western Allies

    Anyhow, if this works out to approximately the same degree of fanaticism, we can expect:

    * Fanatical resistance from the crack troops, of whom the Norks have perhaps 200,000 (the Japanese that the Americans faced when island hopping)
    * Much less enthusiastic fighting from the conscript bulk of the Army and reservists, readiness to surrender in the face of overwhelming power (the Japanese Army in Manchuria folded rapidly before the Soviet advance in August 45)
    * Some wacko individuals or very small groups continuing partisan warfare after the occupation, but nothing on the scale of the resistance you had in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were driven by ethnic and sectarian factors that don't apply to a homogenous, high IQ nation like the Koreans.
    , @reiner Tor
    Possible. My comments are often just brainstorm ideas here.
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  107. @5371
    Engdahl has a poor track record, there are reasons to question both his competence and his honesty.

    [How did a “starving nation” of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?]
    Imagine that South Africa didn't give up in 1990 but continued till now in increasing isolation and hostility. Do you doubt they could have achieved the same things?

    Imagine that South Africa didn’t give up in 1990 but continued till now in increasing isolation and hostility. Do you doubt they could have achieved the same things?

    Hardly a realistic comparison, given ZA could bring vastly greater domestic human/physical resources & natural wealth to bear, and that in 1990 they would have been starting from a much higher base line.

    By 1990 ZA had had nuclear warheads in hand for more than a decade, and had been producing Jericho long range ballistic missiles under license for a few years. (Both courtesy of Israel.)

    Having a wealthy, industrialized, self-sufficient country helps a lot, but ZA didn’t do much with their nukes except to make (iirc) 6 gravity bombs. Of course, ZA didn’t have the motivation that DPRK has. If they did, they probably could have had a fully developed nuclear ICBM by, say 2000 if not 1995, but the comparison is useless. The disparity between the two countries’ motivations, wealth and starting position is too great.

    The real issue is that DPRK seems to have done all this in the last 5 years, and at a startlingly accelerated pace. When the latest Kim came to power, they were successfully firing modified vintage ’60s & ’70s SCUDS of the sort Yemen’s been lobbing at Riyadh, and made various unsuccessful launches of longer range missiles such as the Taepodong and Musadan. From there, a quantum leap in understanding must have occurred as the Hwasong-12, 14 & 15 show staggering advances at unprecedented speed.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The advance is hardly unprecedented. The USSR managed to develop ICBMs in the first place in roughly the same timeframe, with no access to plans or scientists or engineers from elsewhere. The number of North Korean PhDs (usually awarded abroad, especially in China) has been growing very quickly in recent years, and there have been rumors of a Ukrainian rocket design falling into their hands. (I choose to believe this because it’d just be a perfect illustration of American foreign policy, support for regime change, but then failure to safeguard the dangerous technologies that regime had.)
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  108. @Erebus

    Imagine that South Africa didn’t give up in 1990 but continued till now in increasing isolation and hostility. Do you doubt they could have achieved the same things?
     
    Hardly a realistic comparison, given ZA could bring vastly greater domestic human/physical resources & natural wealth to bear, and that in 1990 they would have been starting from a much higher base line.

    By 1990 ZA had had nuclear warheads in hand for more than a decade, and had been producing Jericho long range ballistic missiles under license for a few years. (Both courtesy of Israel.)

    Having a wealthy, industrialized, self-sufficient country helps a lot, but ZA didn't do much with their nukes except to make (iirc) 6 gravity bombs. Of course, ZA didn't have the motivation that DPRK has. If they did, they probably could have had a fully developed nuclear ICBM by, say 2000 if not 1995, but the comparison is useless. The disparity between the two countries' motivations, wealth and starting position is too great.

    The real issue is that DPRK seems to have done all this in the last 5 years, and at a startlingly accelerated pace. When the latest Kim came to power, they were successfully firing modified vintage '60s & '70s SCUDS of the sort Yemen's been lobbing at Riyadh, and made various unsuccessful launches of longer range missiles such as the Taepodong and Musadan. From there, a quantum leap in understanding must have occurred as the Hwasong-12, 14 & 15 show staggering advances at unprecedented speed.

    The advance is hardly unprecedented. The USSR managed to develop ICBMs in the first place in roughly the same timeframe, with no access to plans or scientists or engineers from elsewhere. The number of North Korean PhDs (usually awarded abroad, especially in China) has been growing very quickly in recent years, and there have been rumors of a Ukrainian rocket design falling into their hands. (I choose to believe this because it’d just be a perfect illustration of American foreign policy, support for regime change, but then failure to safeguard the dangerous technologies that regime had.)

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    • Replies: @Erebus
    That's an even more far-fetched comparison than ZA. The USSR had orders of magnitude greater resources than DPRK, and inherited Russia's pioneering developments in rocketry.

    After a series of failures of long(er) range missiles right up to 2013, DPRK's HS12 showed up in April 2017 with 6 successive tests, the last 3 of which were successful. The HS14 launched successfully in September, and the HS15 in late November. Every one was a significant improvement in range, with the HS-15 being a clearly different design. In comparison, the USSR's ICBM development program took 4 years from inception to 1st successful launch. The US' took a little more than 3, and successfully launched a year later.


    The number of North Korean PhDs (usually awarded abroad, especially in China) has been growing very quickly in recent years...
     
    So has Ghana's, Nigeria's just about everybody's. It takes a lot more than a few PhDs to put a nuclear ICBM in the field.

    ... there have been rumors of a Ukrainian rocket design falling into their hands.
     
    I think it's much more than rumours. The photos released by DPRK show what is clearly the same unique design as the RD-251 rocket engine.
    My question is how that got there.
    The answer to that question will tell us a lot about the interests of the participants on the ECS playing field. I am not prejudging the answer. My point was that if China, or Russia, or the USA helped put it there, the playing field looks very different in each case, and very different indeed than if was DPRK (more or less) on its own. Any discussions about military scenarios (like what's above) assume that DPRK are a more or less independent actor acting in its own interests, so are idle chat until we come to some conclusion, however tenuous, on how they got where they are. It may be fun, of course, but hardly advances understanding.
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  109. @Mitleser
    (Late) USSR was pro-internationalism and relations with USA became quite friendly during Gorbachev era. On the other hand, DRPK is nationalist and relations with USA remain tense and get worse.

    There was a breeding ground in the late USSR for pro-Americanism that does not exist in the DPRK.

    I agree with this.

    Myers makes the interesting observation that North Korean propaganda is far more reminiscent of Japanese ultranationalism than of late Soviet internationalism.

    Differences:

    + The Juche cult has been operating for long and more totally than in Japan.

    - North Koreans have readier access to outside information
    - The gap between North Korea and the developed world is far larger and far more visible than that between Japan and the Western Allies

    Anyhow, if this works out to approximately the same degree of fanaticism, we can expect:

    * Fanatical resistance from the crack troops, of whom the Norks have perhaps 200,000 (the Japanese that the Americans faced when island hopping)
    * Much less enthusiastic fighting from the conscript bulk of the Army and reservists, readiness to surrender in the face of overwhelming power (the Japanese Army in Manchuria folded rapidly before the Soviet advance in August 45)
    * Some wacko individuals or very small groups continuing partisan warfare after the occupation, but nothing on the scale of the resistance you had in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were driven by ethnic and sectarian factors that don’t apply to a homogenous, high IQ nation like the Koreans.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The South Koreans are also some kind of unknown. Maybe the Norks are willing to fight against the Americans (for which the propaganda prepares them), but not so much against South Koreans. Especially if South Koreans will be smart and will give wholesale amnesty to all soldiers and officers of the Nork armed forces who defect or surrender.
    , @reiner Tor
    How homogeneous are the North Koreans? The Songbun caste system has been in practice since the 1950s. Since children inherit the lower ranked parent's status, people tended to marry within their castes. It's now been three generations. So upper caste people don't really have relatives (except, well, disgraced relatives) from the lower castes, and that's the case vice versa, how much do they like each other? Especially since the system is based on a kind of reverse of the earlier social system, so the casts didn't have many relatives even at the beginning. (Though I guess a lot of exemptions were given to experts and revolutionaries, so that latter point might not be true.)
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  110. @Anatoly Karlin
    I agree with this.

    Myers makes the interesting observation that North Korean propaganda is far more reminiscent of Japanese ultranationalism than of late Soviet internationalism.

    Differences:

    + The Juche cult has been operating for long and more totally than in Japan.

    - North Koreans have readier access to outside information
    - The gap between North Korea and the developed world is far larger and far more visible than that between Japan and the Western Allies

    Anyhow, if this works out to approximately the same degree of fanaticism, we can expect:

    * Fanatical resistance from the crack troops, of whom the Norks have perhaps 200,000 (the Japanese that the Americans faced when island hopping)
    * Much less enthusiastic fighting from the conscript bulk of the Army and reservists, readiness to surrender in the face of overwhelming power (the Japanese Army in Manchuria folded rapidly before the Soviet advance in August 45)
    * Some wacko individuals or very small groups continuing partisan warfare after the occupation, but nothing on the scale of the resistance you had in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were driven by ethnic and sectarian factors that don't apply to a homogenous, high IQ nation like the Koreans.

    The South Koreans are also some kind of unknown. Maybe the Norks are willing to fight against the Americans (for which the propaganda prepares them), but not so much against South Koreans. Especially if South Koreans will be smart and will give wholesale amnesty to all soldiers and officers of the Nork armed forces who defect or surrender.

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    • Replies: @dfordoom

    The South Koreans are also some kind of unknown. Maybe the Norks are willing to fight against the Americans (for which the propaganda prepares them), but not so much against South Koreans
     
    How well will the South Koreans fight? Do the South Koreans actually want war? We know the Americans want war and they assume that their allies want war as well, but do they? Are South Koreans happy to accept the risk of being nuked? Is the push for war coming from Seoul and Washington or just from Washington?

    What would South Korea have to gain? They're extremely prosperous. War could spell economic ruin. The conquest of North Korea could spell economic ruin.

    The South Koreans give the impression of being like the western Europeans - soft, feminised, obsessed with consumerism and hedonism, not exactly the sort of people who would be enthusiastic about fighting what might turn out to be a long, expensive and very messy war with at least the possibility of massive civilian casualties. Would they be happy to endure all that given that the only ones who will gain anything will be the Americans?

    Would the South Koreans want to risk war given the near certainty of Chinese intervention?

    What's the state of public opinion in South Korea? Are they marching in the streets demanding war?

    Is it possible the South Koreans might fight the way the French fought in 1940? Mass surrender as soon as things turn against them?

    Have the Americans even considered any of this?
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  111. @Anatoly Karlin
    I agree with this.

    Myers makes the interesting observation that North Korean propaganda is far more reminiscent of Japanese ultranationalism than of late Soviet internationalism.

    Differences:

    + The Juche cult has been operating for long and more totally than in Japan.

    - North Koreans have readier access to outside information
    - The gap between North Korea and the developed world is far larger and far more visible than that between Japan and the Western Allies

    Anyhow, if this works out to approximately the same degree of fanaticism, we can expect:

    * Fanatical resistance from the crack troops, of whom the Norks have perhaps 200,000 (the Japanese that the Americans faced when island hopping)
    * Much less enthusiastic fighting from the conscript bulk of the Army and reservists, readiness to surrender in the face of overwhelming power (the Japanese Army in Manchuria folded rapidly before the Soviet advance in August 45)
    * Some wacko individuals or very small groups continuing partisan warfare after the occupation, but nothing on the scale of the resistance you had in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were driven by ethnic and sectarian factors that don't apply to a homogenous, high IQ nation like the Koreans.

    How homogeneous are the North Koreans? The Songbun caste system has been in practice since the 1950s. Since children inherit the lower ranked parent’s status, people tended to marry within their castes. It’s now been three generations. So upper caste people don’t really have relatives (except, well, disgraced relatives) from the lower castes, and that’s the case vice versa, how much do they like each other? Especially since the system is based on a kind of reverse of the earlier social system, so the casts didn’t have many relatives even at the beginning. (Though I guess a lot of exemptions were given to experts and revolutionaries, so that latter point might not be true.)

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  112. @Mitleser
    (Late) USSR was pro-internationalism and relations with USA became quite friendly during Gorbachev era. On the other hand, DRPK is nationalist and relations with USA remain tense and get worse.

    There was a breeding ground in the late USSR for pro-Americanism that does not exist in the DPRK.

    Possible. My comments are often just brainstorm ideas here.

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  113. US and their allies being true to their warfighting doctrines they will bomb indiscriminately- which will help mobilize the general population against them, and ruin any promises of benevolence they will try to propagate (through flyers, loudspeakers etc), as seen in other theaters. NK’s troops would ensure that this happens, very consciously, by hiding close to civilian infrastructures and dwellings. [Again, old guerilla tactics applied and formalized by Mao, then imitated in the Algerian war of independence and every recent Middle Eastern conflict]. At the same time, news of spectacular strikes on RoK and regional targets, and likely asymetric retaliations and sabotage, will continue to punctuate the conflict, helping the morale of North Korean masses while ruining the other side- complex economies easily ground to a halt by disrupting any numbers of chokepoints, populations long used to comfort and modern amenities.

    The premise that Americans would bomb stupidly and massively is very founded. They have just done that in Raqqa for lack of better solutions and for being in a rush, as the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance was progressing faster than their expectations on the other bank of the Euphrates. As Konashenkov pointed out, destruction is absolutely huge and doesn’t pale in any way compared to the much maligned so-called “barrel bombing” by the Syrian government.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    At the same time, news of spectacular strikes on RoK and regional targets, and likely asymetric retaliations and sabotage, will continue to punctuate the conflict, helping the morale of North Korean masses while ruining the other side- complex economies easily ground to a halt by disrupting any numbers of chokepoints, populations long used to comfort and modern amenities.
     
    That's kind of what I've been saying: contemporary generation of South Koreans look like soft people, and completely unprepared for horrors of total war. How will the government prevent fake news and panic from spreading over the social media? Are they just going to disable the internet in the country? What if there is no internet? What happens if the Norks find a way to disable electricity in Seoul area, how will the government manage to avoid social collapse?

    I find it rather odd, that Anatoly dismisses risks for South Korea in this scenario, given how vulnerable their society is.
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  114. @Yee
    Mitleser,

    "Only if you mean Russia as a combination of Great Russia (aka Russian Federation) and Little Russia (aka the Ukraine)."

    I mean the US use Russia in a similar way it use North Korea, to prevent Europe getting too unify. Do something to stimulate Russia, and Russia will react in some way to frighten other European countries. Europe in some sort of crisis is good for the US, just like Northeast Asia in some sort of crisis is good for the US. Just provoke Russia/North Korea a little.

    Although Russia/N Korea will very much want a friendly relation with the US, it's not likely to happen for real. They're very effective "crisis generator" for the US.

    I mean the US use Russia in a similar way it use North Korea, to prevent Europe getting too unify. Do something to stimulate Russia, and Russia will react in some way to frighten other European countries. Europe in some sort of crisis is good for the US, just like Northeast Asia in some sort of crisis is good for the US. Just provoke Russia/North Korea a little.

    Why is “Europe” allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?

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    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Population is quite Americanized and the elite is even more Atlanticist.

    Did you know that the federal chancellor of Germany lives almost right next door to the main office of Atlantik-Brücke, the leading Atlanticist organisation in Germany.
    , @dfordoom

    Why is “Europe” allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?
     
    Look at the leaders they elect. Merkel. Macron. Theresa May. They have a corrupt political class that cares about nothing other than its own interests. They've had 70 years of relentless propaganda telling them that even the smallest manifestation of cultural pride or national feeling makes you a Nazi. They've had a century of being deluged by American cultural filth.

    They're like a dog that has been beaten so many times that when someone tries to kick it it just whimpers. And a dog that has grown fat and lazy.
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  115. @Anatoly Karlin
    You're correct, all kinds of things can happen. Historically, stranger events have happened.

    But still, I don't think there can be any meaningful analogy between these two cases.

    1. Kirkuk is not majority Kurdish, was under Baghdad's control before Islamic State joined the party. The current Iraqi government is not going to violently purge or severely repress those Kurds who are left. The Kurds would have no support from anybody if they did decide to confront the Iraqis. Even though they are better warriors than Arabs, the Kurds have worse equipment; virtually no modern armor or air force, whereas Iraq has been on a weapons buying spree for the past half decade.

    2. South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world's fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don't even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.

    They're not even that far ahead of the United States:

    http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/2012/04/blogs/graphic-detail/20120428_WOC079.png

    Incidentally, the US as you know now allows homosexuals to serve openly.

    Here is South Korea's policy:

    Homosexual military members in active duty are categorized as having a "personality disorder" or "behavioural disability" and can either be institutionalized or dishonorably discharged.
     
    Definitely less decadent.

    South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world’s fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don’t even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.

    Plastic surgery is a sign of severe narcissism. Narcissistic individuals are less likely to engage in altruistic behavior including self-sacrifice. Imagine you spent $20.000 (I’m not sure how much plastic surgery costs) to make your face look just perfect, would you risk taking a piece of shrapnel to that face?

    If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated

    True, but doesn’t this sound like a good reason for the elites to take a private flight to Australia when things get hot? You assume honour and unwavering partiotism on the part of South Koreans, but to me fleeing would seem like a rational thing to do. Especially, for a civilian.

    Think about it. There is a non zero chance Norks could drop a nuke on Seoul, and you have a private jet that can take you to Australia, so why would you take that risk?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    It's possible, likely even, that the South Korean 0.01% (those with private jets and yachts) would take a flight. But most people cannot easily leave the country, for them it's a life and death struggle. And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.
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  116. @Felix Keverich

    South Koreans have the support of the United States, and have a vast technological lead. If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated, and the rest will have to live under a totalitarian dystopia where most of them would end up on the bottom of the caste system. Say goodbye to the world’s fastest Internet and Starcraft.

    I also don’t even know if you can necessarily treat face surgery as a sign of militarily crippling decadence.
     
    Plastic surgery is a sign of severe narcissism. Narcissistic individuals are less likely to engage in altruistic behavior including self-sacrifice. Imagine you spent $20.000 (I'm not sure how much plastic surgery costs) to make your face look just perfect, would you risk taking a piece of shrapnel to that face?


    If North Korea wins, the South Korean elites and bourgeoisie get exterminated
     
    True, but doesn't this sound like a good reason for the elites to take a private flight to Australia when things get hot? You assume honour and unwavering partiotism on the part of South Koreans, but to me fleeing would seem like a rational thing to do. Especially, for a civilian.

    Think about it. There is a non zero chance Norks could drop a nuke on Seoul, and you have a private jet that can take you to Australia, so why would you take that risk?

    It’s possible, likely even, that the South Korean 0.01% (those with private jets and yachts) would take a flight. But most people cannot easily leave the country, for them it’s a life and death struggle. And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    Elites fleeing can have a demoralising effect on the population, and compromise the country's ability to defend itself in some other ways...

    And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.
     
    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I'm noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don't get.

    The way I see South Korea, it's just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion...The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.

    , @dfordoom

    It’s possible, likely even, that the South Korean 0.01% (those with private jets and yachts) would take a flight. But most people cannot easily leave the country, for them it’s a life and death struggle. And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.
     
    But would they fight knowing that their elites had fled? And with their leaders gone?

    Would the British have fought on in 1940 if the Royal Family and the political leadership and the top civil servants and the wealthier members of the upper classes had fled to Canada?
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  117. @Bukephalos
    US and their allies being true to their warfighting doctrines they will bomb indiscriminately- which will help mobilize the general population against them, and ruin any promises of benevolence they will try to propagate (through flyers, loudspeakers etc), as seen in other theaters. NK's troops would ensure that this happens, very consciously, by hiding close to civilian infrastructures and dwellings. [Again, old guerilla tactics applied and formalized by Mao, then imitated in the Algerian war of independence and every recent Middle Eastern conflict]. At the same time, news of spectacular strikes on RoK and regional targets, and likely asymetric retaliations and sabotage, will continue to punctuate the conflict, helping the morale of North Korean masses while ruining the other side- complex economies easily ground to a halt by disrupting any numbers of chokepoints, populations long used to comfort and modern amenities.

    The premise that Americans would bomb stupidly and massively is very founded. They have just done that in Raqqa for lack of better solutions and for being in a rush, as the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance was progressing faster than their expectations on the other bank of the Euphrates. As Konashenkov pointed out, destruction is absolutely huge and doesn't pale in any way compared to the much maligned so-called "barrel bombing" by the Syrian government.

    At the same time, news of spectacular strikes on RoK and regional targets, and likely asymetric retaliations and sabotage, will continue to punctuate the conflict, helping the morale of North Korean masses while ruining the other side- complex economies easily ground to a halt by disrupting any numbers of chokepoints, populations long used to comfort and modern amenities.

    That’s kind of what I’ve been saying: contemporary generation of South Koreans look like soft people, and completely unprepared for horrors of total war. How will the government prevent fake news and panic from spreading over the social media? Are they just going to disable the internet in the country? What if there is no internet? What happens if the Norks find a way to disable electricity in Seoul area, how will the government manage to avoid social collapse?

    I find it rather odd, that Anatoly dismisses risks for South Korea in this scenario, given how vulnerable their society is.

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  118. They’ve still got conscription in South Korea, and they don’t even recognize the right to conscientious objection (so the only way to escape military service is to fake some illness or injury which most people would probably regard as shameful):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_South_Korea

    Doesn’t seem that decadent to me.

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  119. @reiner Tor
    It's possible, likely even, that the South Korean 0.01% (those with private jets and yachts) would take a flight. But most people cannot easily leave the country, for them it's a life and death struggle. And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.

    Elites fleeing can have a demoralising effect on the population, and compromise the country’s ability to defend itself in some other ways…

    And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    South Korea in the first war
     
    The Americans didn't give them weapons until the Norks attacked, so their army was several times weaker than the northern army. Yet they didn't capitulate, but kept fighting until the Americans arrived months later.
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  120. Expect a degree of draft-dodging. Among the wealthier class many would indeed find a way to settle abroad for the duration of instability- their persons, their assets too? Having more means more incentives to decamp.

    Not that any country would be exempt of this, but the question is whether the RoK would have more or less of this. My impression is that they don’t seem terribly warlike these days, I agree, it’s just an impression but…The legitimacy of their government has a strong foundation in the prosperity it has made possible- a resounding success assuredly. But their history as a very repressive dictatorship until recently and then the enduring corruption of a crony capitalism involving the same old families, a higher inequality than Japan- there are certainly grounds for tensions. My hunch is that endangering this prosperity will deal a heavy blow to the RoK’s legitimacy.

    And again yes, a complex economy inherently means more fragility. There is now way around this.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    their history as a very repressive dictatorship until recently and then the enduring corruption of a crony capitalism involving the same old families, a higher inequality than Japan- there are certainly grounds for tensions
     
    As opposed to North Korea, where there's no history of a repressive dictatorship, no corruption under the same old families, and little inequality. So there are no grounds for tensions.

    Among the wealthier class many would indeed find a way to settle abroad for the duration of instability
     
    Currently they aren't fleeing. When will they start?
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  121. @Felix Keverich
    Elites fleeing can have a demoralising effect on the population, and compromise the country's ability to defend itself in some other ways...

    And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.
     
    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I'm noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don't get.

    The way I see South Korea, it's just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion...The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.

    South Korea in the first war

    The Americans didn’t give them weapons until the Norks attacked, so their army was several times weaker than the northern army. Yet they didn’t capitulate, but kept fighting until the Americans arrived months later.

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  122. @Bukephalos
    Expect a degree of draft-dodging. Among the wealthier class many would indeed find a way to settle abroad for the duration of instability- their persons, their assets too? Having more means more incentives to decamp.

    Not that any country would be exempt of this, but the question is whether the RoK would have more or less of this. My impression is that they don't seem terribly warlike these days, I agree, it's just an impression but...The legitimacy of their government has a strong foundation in the prosperity it has made possible- a resounding success assuredly. But their history as a very repressive dictatorship until recently and then the enduring corruption of a crony capitalism involving the same old families, a higher inequality than Japan- there are certainly grounds for tensions. My hunch is that endangering this prosperity will deal a heavy blow to the RoK's legitimacy.

    And again yes, a complex economy inherently means more fragility. There is now way around this.

    their history as a very repressive dictatorship until recently and then the enduring corruption of a crony capitalism involving the same old families, a higher inequality than Japan- there are certainly grounds for tensions

    As opposed to North Korea, where there’s no history of a repressive dictatorship, no corruption under the same old families, and little inequality. So there are no grounds for tensions.

    Among the wealthier class many would indeed find a way to settle abroad for the duration of instability

    Currently they aren’t fleeing. When will they start?

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    Currently they aren’t fleeing. When will they start?
     
    As soon as things get hot. Today all out war on the Korean peninsula seems unfathomable to most people. When the war comes, if it comes, people will react with shock and panic.
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  123. Felix Keverich,
    “Why is “Europe” allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?”

    I can’t answer that, just like I can’t answer the question “why Mongolia bother with joined military exercise with the US”. I mean, it’s land locked with only 2 neighbors, Russia and China.

    But I can reasonably assume that an unified Europe is the long term goal, the creation of Euro is a clear sign. And I can’t imagine the US very happy about that.

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    • Replies: @dfordoom

    But I can reasonably assume that an unified Europe is the long term goal, the creation of Euro is a clear sign. And I can’t imagine the US very happy about that.
     
    The EU is much easier for the US to control. There's only one political elite that needs to be bribed, or cowered into obedience. It's just like the US where there's only one Congress that has to be bought.
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  124. @reiner Tor
    The advance is hardly unprecedented. The USSR managed to develop ICBMs in the first place in roughly the same timeframe, with no access to plans or scientists or engineers from elsewhere. The number of North Korean PhDs (usually awarded abroad, especially in China) has been growing very quickly in recent years, and there have been rumors of a Ukrainian rocket design falling into their hands. (I choose to believe this because it’d just be a perfect illustration of American foreign policy, support for regime change, but then failure to safeguard the dangerous technologies that regime had.)

    That’s an even more far-fetched comparison than ZA. The USSR had orders of magnitude greater resources than DPRK, and inherited Russia’s pioneering developments in rocketry.

    After a series of failures of long(er) range missiles right up to 2013, DPRK’s HS12 showed up in April 2017 with 6 successive tests, the last 3 of which were successful. The HS14 launched successfully in September, and the HS15 in late November. Every one was a significant improvement in range, with the HS-15 being a clearly different design. In comparison, the USSR’s ICBM development program took 4 years from inception to 1st successful launch. The US’ took a little more than 3, and successfully launched a year later.

    The number of North Korean PhDs (usually awarded abroad, especially in China) has been growing very quickly in recent years…

    So has Ghana’s, Nigeria’s just about everybody’s. It takes a lot more than a few PhDs to put a nuclear ICBM in the field.

    … there have been rumors of a Ukrainian rocket design falling into their hands.

    I think it’s much more than rumours. The photos released by DPRK show what is clearly the same unique design as the RD-251 rocket engine.
    My question is how that got there.
    The answer to that question will tell us a lot about the interests of the participants on the ECS playing field. I am not prejudging the answer. My point was that if China, or Russia, or the USA helped put it there, the playing field looks very different in each case, and very different indeed than if was DPRK (more or less) on its own. Any discussions about military scenarios (like what’s above) assume that DPRK are a more or less independent actor acting in its own interests, so are idle chat until we come to some conclusion, however tenuous, on how they got where they are. It may be fun, of course, but hardly advances understanding.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    The USSR had orders of magnitude greater resources than DPRK, and inherited Russia’s pioneering developments in rocketry.
     
    Those "pioneering developments in rocketry" were considerably ancient and obsolete compared to North Korean Scud derivatives. Given how they weren't very much richer than North Korea (we're talking about the early 1950s, the USSR just barely recovered from the war), but had 10 times the population, I'd say they had exactly one order of magnitude more resources. But because they were also developing other state of the art technologies (like jet fighters etc.) including civilian technologies (like jet airliners), the discrepancy was smaller.

    Let's say three or four times more resources for development of ICBMs. But they had to develop it from scratch, without any previous or outside knowledge. Indeed, nobody even knew how to build such a missile, because nobody had done before. As opposed to the North Koreans, who used a lot of foreign designs.


    The photos released by DPRK show what is clearly the same unique design as the RD-251 rocket engine.
    My question is how that got there.
     
    Are you suggesting they are launching Ukrainian-built missiles? Or just building the same design by themselves? I think it's the latter. In which case it's obvious that only the technology (the design and perhaps a few engineers) went to North Korea. Which is small, and doesn't necessarily need a lot of outside help. People and especially data can travel easily.
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  125. @reiner Tor

    their history as a very repressive dictatorship until recently and then the enduring corruption of a crony capitalism involving the same old families, a higher inequality than Japan- there are certainly grounds for tensions
     
    As opposed to North Korea, where there's no history of a repressive dictatorship, no corruption under the same old families, and little inequality. So there are no grounds for tensions.

    Among the wealthier class many would indeed find a way to settle abroad for the duration of instability
     
    Currently they aren't fleeing. When will they start?

    Currently they aren’t fleeing. When will they start?

    As soon as things get hot. Today all out war on the Korean peninsula seems unfathomable to most people. When the war comes, if it comes, people will react with shock and panic.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    As soon as things get hot.
     
    It will be too late. Airports will close immediately. Fight or flight becomes fight or die for the South Korean middle classes.
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  126. @Felix Keverich

    Currently they aren’t fleeing. When will they start?
     
    As soon as things get hot. Today all out war on the Korean peninsula seems unfathomable to most people. When the war comes, if it comes, people will react with shock and panic.

    As soon as things get hot.

    It will be too late. Airports will close immediately. Fight or flight becomes fight or die for the South Korean middle classes.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    Some of them will fight. Some of them will try to hide. Things will get hectic. South Korean army advantages that exist on paper will be negated somewhat by chaos.

    I can imagine South Korean army holding the line, but to actually go on offensive and push into North would be insane. South Korean middle classes did not sign up for this!

    The conflict could then evolve into protracted, position warfare, and US will be screwed in this scenario.
    , @dfordoom

    Airports will close immediately
     
    Airports will close as soon as the elites are safely away.
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  127. @reiner Tor

    As soon as things get hot.
     
    It will be too late. Airports will close immediately. Fight or flight becomes fight or die for the South Korean middle classes.

    Some of them will fight. Some of them will try to hide. Things will get hectic. South Korean army advantages that exist on paper will be negated somewhat by chaos.

    I can imagine South Korean army holding the line, but to actually go on offensive and push into North would be insane. South Korean middle classes did not sign up for this!

    The conflict could then evolve into protracted, position warfare, and US will be screwed in this scenario.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    to actually go on offensive and push into North would be insane
     
    Why?
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  128. @Erebus
    That's an even more far-fetched comparison than ZA. The USSR had orders of magnitude greater resources than DPRK, and inherited Russia's pioneering developments in rocketry.

    After a series of failures of long(er) range missiles right up to 2013, DPRK's HS12 showed up in April 2017 with 6 successive tests, the last 3 of which were successful. The HS14 launched successfully in September, and the HS15 in late November. Every one was a significant improvement in range, with the HS-15 being a clearly different design. In comparison, the USSR's ICBM development program took 4 years from inception to 1st successful launch. The US' took a little more than 3, and successfully launched a year later.


    The number of North Korean PhDs (usually awarded abroad, especially in China) has been growing very quickly in recent years...
     
    So has Ghana's, Nigeria's just about everybody's. It takes a lot more than a few PhDs to put a nuclear ICBM in the field.

    ... there have been rumors of a Ukrainian rocket design falling into their hands.
     
    I think it's much more than rumours. The photos released by DPRK show what is clearly the same unique design as the RD-251 rocket engine.
    My question is how that got there.
    The answer to that question will tell us a lot about the interests of the participants on the ECS playing field. I am not prejudging the answer. My point was that if China, or Russia, or the USA helped put it there, the playing field looks very different in each case, and very different indeed than if was DPRK (more or less) on its own. Any discussions about military scenarios (like what's above) assume that DPRK are a more or less independent actor acting in its own interests, so are idle chat until we come to some conclusion, however tenuous, on how they got where they are. It may be fun, of course, but hardly advances understanding.

    The USSR had orders of magnitude greater resources than DPRK, and inherited Russia’s pioneering developments in rocketry.

    Those “pioneering developments in rocketry” were considerably ancient and obsolete compared to North Korean Scud derivatives. Given how they weren’t very much richer than North Korea (we’re talking about the early 1950s, the USSR just barely recovered from the war), but had 10 times the population, I’d say they had exactly one order of magnitude more resources. But because they were also developing other state of the art technologies (like jet fighters etc.) including civilian technologies (like jet airliners), the discrepancy was smaller.

    Let’s say three or four times more resources for development of ICBMs. But they had to develop it from scratch, without any previous or outside knowledge. Indeed, nobody even knew how to build such a missile, because nobody had done before. As opposed to the North Koreans, who used a lot of foreign designs.

    The photos released by DPRK show what is clearly the same unique design as the RD-251 rocket engine.
    My question is how that got there.

    Are you suggesting they are launching Ukrainian-built missiles? Or just building the same design by themselves? I think it’s the latter. In which case it’s obvious that only the technology (the design and perhaps a few engineers) went to North Korea. Which is small, and doesn’t necessarily need a lot of outside help. People and especially data can travel easily.

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    • Replies: @Erebus

    Those “pioneering developments in rocketry” were considerably ancient and obsolete compared to North Korean Scud derivatives.
     
    Well, the USSR had developed successful ballistic missiles by the early 30s, and development continued, even through the war. By 1949 they had deployed multi-stage R2s with electronic guidance in large numbers, so I'm guessing they were pretty far along when the call came to extend their range to more than 5500km (demarcation for ICBM status).

    Are you suggesting they are launching Ukrainian-built missiles?
     
    I'm suggesting that that is a distinct possibility, and maybe even (>50%) probability, at least in part. People and data ain't the half of what's required, and to get it right first time on 2 new models is extraordinary. A lot of missile experts were surprised by both, but their quick succession shocked many. It shows all 3 were under simultaneous development, and that the initial failures were corrected quickly in midstream (meaning easily). A number of analysts have suggested that real, physical engines must have made their way to DPRK (along with "the design and a few engineers") for this to have been possible.

    I think it’s the latter.
     
    Well, ok, but what do you base that on?

    My point in all this discussion is that if that's the case, knowing how they got there is crucial to understanding what's really going on. EG: these discussions would be wildly off the mark if the US gave DPRK the motors.
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  129. @Felix Keverich
    Some of them will fight. Some of them will try to hide. Things will get hectic. South Korean army advantages that exist on paper will be negated somewhat by chaos.

    I can imagine South Korean army holding the line, but to actually go on offensive and push into North would be insane. South Korean middle classes did not sign up for this!

    The conflict could then evolve into protracted, position warfare, and US will be screwed in this scenario.

    to actually go on offensive and push into North would be insane

    Why?

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    Because that's one way to get yourself killed, and you will be dying for no good reason. Remember, we're talking about South Korean middle class.
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  130. @reiner Tor

    to actually go on offensive and push into North would be insane
     
    Why?

    Because that’s one way to get yourself killed, and you will be dying for no good reason. Remember, we’re talking about South Korean middle class.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor, @Mitleser

    http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=shm&sid1=102&oid=437&aid=0000092087
    More and more the Korean internet forums used by Koreans in their 20's and 30's, are being dominated by such terms as '망한민국' or '헬조선', where Koreans sarcastically refer to Korea as hell on earth to live in. There are now many I hate Korea web sites and even mobile games that ridicule South Korea, are flooding the Korean internet. There's even a Bingo game where you check off your bad situations: "you don't have a bath tub", "you don't have a bidet", "your TV at home is the old tube screen TV", "you only have two pairs of shoes per one year", "you have only one car, or no car, or your car is older than 7 years old", you check off these 25 different square boxes, and your economic status as a destitute can be drawn if a straight line is shown.

    This new generation of Koreans are now called the "N" generation - a generation that has given up on everything in life.

    Out of over 21,000 young people polled, 88% of them said they hated South Korea and wanted to leave. The biggest percentage of those who wanted to leave came from the young families with one child, while those who are in their 20's are also increasing. But in summary, majority of young Koreans don't like their country and want to leave for greener grass in the West where there's more happiness, where you don't have to work as hard, your future is better guaranteed, and welfare programs are generous.
    The 93% of South Koreans polled online also said they were ashamed of being South Korean. Only 7% said no. The biggest reason why the polled people felt this way, 46% replied due to bad government, 24% said uncertain future, 13% said horrible workplace life, 9% said bad environment for kid's education, and 4% said youth unemployment.

    According to this link, http://article.joins.com/news/article/article.asp?total_id=18620351&cloc=joongang%7Cext%7Cgooglenews

    Over 53% of people in their 20's chose "Welfare" over anything else including economic growth or jobs, as the most important best thing for South Korea. One third of Koreans polled said they wanted to leave South Korea, with majority being people in their 20's and 30's. Only 64% of those in their 20's and 30's said they were proud of being South Korean, compared to over 80% for the Koreans who are over the age of 50 who were way more nationalistic.

    Summary: Younger Koreans today are deeply unhappy, extremely stressed out, don't like where this country is heading, are not as proud of their country compared to the older generations. They are looking for easier lifestyles looking for easier material gains, and are looking at other better countries to live in to escape the unwanted stress of living in South Korea.
     
    https://www.reddit.com/r/korea/comments/3lfl6h/hell_joseon_88_of_young_koreans_say_south_korea/
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  131. @Felix Keverich

    I mean the US use Russia in a similar way it use North Korea, to prevent Europe getting too unify. Do something to stimulate Russia, and Russia will react in some way to frighten other European countries. Europe in some sort of crisis is good for the US, just like Northeast Asia in some sort of crisis is good for the US. Just provoke Russia/North Korea a little.
     
    Why is "Europe" allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?

    Population is quite Americanized and the elite is even more Atlanticist.

    Did you know that the federal chancellor of Germany lives almost right next door to the main office of Atlantik-Brücke, the leading Atlanticist organisation in Germany.

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  132. @Felix Keverich
    Because that's one way to get yourself killed, and you will be dying for no good reason. Remember, we're talking about South Korean middle class.
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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    I invite you to place yourself into the shoes of a military-age South Korean man, and honestly ask yourself if you would be willing to make all these sacrifices. Didn't you tell me recently to drop the idea of annexing the Ukraine? This is nothing, NOTHING compared to what the war in Korea will be like.

    No one really wants to fight the North Korea, especially the Americans. They just assume that the South will do all the hard work. I see potential for this situation to backfire greatly for the US. It could become America's Suez moment.
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  133. @Felix Keverich
    Because that's one way to get yourself killed, and you will be dying for no good reason. Remember, we're talking about South Korean middle class.

    http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=shm&sid1=102&oid=437&aid=0000092087
    More and more the Korean internet forums used by Koreans in their 20′s and 30′s, are being dominated by such terms as ‘망한민국’ or ‘헬조선’, where Koreans sarcastically refer to Korea as hell on earth to live in. There are now many I hate Korea web sites and even mobile games that ridicule South Korea, are flooding the Korean internet. There’s even a Bingo game where you check off your bad situations: “you don’t have a bath tub”, “you don’t have a bidet”, “your TV at home is the old tube screen TV”, “you only have two pairs of shoes per one year”, “you have only one car, or no car, or your car is older than 7 years old”, you check off these 25 different square boxes, and your economic status as a destitute can be drawn if a straight line is shown.

    This new generation of Koreans are now called the “N” generation – a generation that has given up on everything in life.

    Out of over 21,000 young people polled, 88% of them said they hated South Korea and wanted to leave. The biggest percentage of those who wanted to leave came from the young families with one child, while those who are in their 20′s are also increasing. But in summary, majority of young Koreans don’t like their country and want to leave for greener grass in the West where there’s more happiness, where you don’t have to work as hard, your future is better guaranteed, and welfare programs are generous.
    The 93% of South Koreans polled online also said they were ashamed of being South Korean. Only 7% said no. The biggest reason why the polled people felt this way, 46% replied due to bad government, 24% said uncertain future, 13% said horrible workplace life, 9% said bad environment for kid’s education, and 4% said youth unemployment.

    According to this link, http://article.joins.com/news/article/article.asp?total_id=18620351&cloc=joongang%7Cext%7Cgooglenews

    Over 53% of people in their 20′s chose “Welfare” over anything else including economic growth or jobs, as the most important best thing for South Korea. One third of Koreans polled said they wanted to leave South Korea, with majority being people in their 20′s and 30′s. Only 64% of those in their 20′s and 30′s said they were proud of being South Korean, compared to over 80% for the Koreans who are over the age of 50 who were way more nationalistic.

    Summary: Younger Koreans today are deeply unhappy, extremely stressed out, don’t like where this country is heading, are not as proud of their country compared to the older generations. They are looking for easier lifestyles looking for easier material gains, and are looking at other better countries to live in to escape the unwanted stress of living in South Korea.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/korea/comments/3lfl6h/hell_joseon_88_of_young_koreans_say_south_korea/

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    • Agree: Felix Keverich
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    On the other hand, real hardship, like war, often alleviates these kinds of first world problems. During wars, suicide rates generally go down. (Except after having lost a war, when in some cases there's an uptick in suicides - like Germany, 1945. That's a different issue, and we might see something like that in North Korea, should they lose a war.)
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  134. @Mitleser

    http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=shm&sid1=102&oid=437&aid=0000092087
    More and more the Korean internet forums used by Koreans in their 20's and 30's, are being dominated by such terms as '망한민국' or '헬조선', where Koreans sarcastically refer to Korea as hell on earth to live in. There are now many I hate Korea web sites and even mobile games that ridicule South Korea, are flooding the Korean internet. There's even a Bingo game where you check off your bad situations: "you don't have a bath tub", "you don't have a bidet", "your TV at home is the old tube screen TV", "you only have two pairs of shoes per one year", "you have only one car, or no car, or your car is older than 7 years old", you check off these 25 different square boxes, and your economic status as a destitute can be drawn if a straight line is shown.

    This new generation of Koreans are now called the "N" generation - a generation that has given up on everything in life.

    Out of over 21,000 young people polled, 88% of them said they hated South Korea and wanted to leave. The biggest percentage of those who wanted to leave came from the young families with one child, while those who are in their 20's are also increasing. But in summary, majority of young Koreans don't like their country and want to leave for greener grass in the West where there's more happiness, where you don't have to work as hard, your future is better guaranteed, and welfare programs are generous.
    The 93% of South Koreans polled online also said they were ashamed of being South Korean. Only 7% said no. The biggest reason why the polled people felt this way, 46% replied due to bad government, 24% said uncertain future, 13% said horrible workplace life, 9% said bad environment for kid's education, and 4% said youth unemployment.

    According to this link, http://article.joins.com/news/article/article.asp?total_id=18620351&cloc=joongang%7Cext%7Cgooglenews

    Over 53% of people in their 20's chose "Welfare" over anything else including economic growth or jobs, as the most important best thing for South Korea. One third of Koreans polled said they wanted to leave South Korea, with majority being people in their 20's and 30's. Only 64% of those in their 20's and 30's said they were proud of being South Korean, compared to over 80% for the Koreans who are over the age of 50 who were way more nationalistic.

    Summary: Younger Koreans today are deeply unhappy, extremely stressed out, don't like where this country is heading, are not as proud of their country compared to the older generations. They are looking for easier lifestyles looking for easier material gains, and are looking at other better countries to live in to escape the unwanted stress of living in South Korea.
     
    https://www.reddit.com/r/korea/comments/3lfl6h/hell_joseon_88_of_young_koreans_say_south_korea/

    On the other hand, real hardship, like war, often alleviates these kinds of first world problems. During wars, suicide rates generally go down. (Except after having lost a war, when in some cases there’s an uptick in suicides – like Germany, 1945. That’s a different issue, and we might see something like that in North Korea, should they lose a war.)

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  135. @Erebus

    A lot of discussion about the war; plenty of details and such.
     
    Yes, too much by half.
    IMHO, it's all for naught until/unless one teases out the interests and objectives of the likely combatants, and who's on who's side. There's wheels spinning within wheels in the ECS and it's completely unclear at this stage (at least to me). Answering the question posed in pogohere's mass quote would serve to narrow the number of variables and place some limits on the "military scenarios" and associated squabbling over unknowns.

    Namely:


    How did a “starving nation” of 25M (on par with Ghana, and vastly underdeveloped compared to say Malaysia or Taiwan) under continuous sanctions come to so suddenly exhibit world class prowess in ICBM design, engineering, and deployment?
     
    We know that the Hwasong-15's boost phase rocket engine is a derivative of the Soviet RD-251, made in the Ukraine. The 2nd stage is a dark horse. Duplicating it from stolen/purchased plans is not a simple matter, so was likely obtained as a refurbishable/working unit. With who's assistance and/or acquiescence? Russia's, or the USA's, or did they get them on their own? How many do they have? 1? or 10? or 10n?

    Other questions can also be asked. Probably the most critical is:

    "Has DPRK deployed the Kumsong-3 (KN-19) anti-ship cruise missile in any quantity?"

    Its June 2017 tests indicate that it has the range and guidance systems to turn USN carriers into targets. That begs an addition clause to my original. Namely:

    "How did a "starving nation" of 25M under continuous sanctions develop road-mobile launched, sea-skimming, waypoint manoeuvrable cruise missiles while simultaneously developing 10-13,000km ICBMs?"

    I'm leaning towards Engdahl's assessment, if only because it turns the popularly accepted power calculus on its head. Too many variables in that popular calculus don't add up for me, making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.

    …making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.

    Well….not necessarily.

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.
    The only important issue, now, is how to deal with that reality.
    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.

    That brings us directly back to the “war thing”.

    I still believe there is a timeframe to resolve all that peacefully. Hangs on that “nuclear tipped” ICMB.

    And, should the “war thing” kicks off, everything starts with The Objective.

    The confusion/debates here stem directly from NOT defining a clear objective.
    “It’s impossible to occupy all North Korea”. Is the objective occupation?
    “It will require zillions of troops and casualties to defeat zillions North Koreans fighting the invasion”. Why invasion in the first place?
    Etc.

    In my “scenario” the objective is to “remove the nuclear threat to US soil”.
    That is what’s given to the generals do work on.
    And I believe that’s achievable.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.
     
    In case it is being attacked by the US. Why omit that qualification from the North Korean threats? "I will kill you if you try to kill me or beat me up!" is quite different from "I will kill you!"
    , @Erebus

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.
     
    "How" is critical if he got them from the US, for reasons even you could see, surely. If so, there is no "threat to US soil". It's a casus belli for invasion, or at least for holding ROK & Japan in thrall.
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  136. @peterAUS

    ...making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.
     
    Well….not necessarily.

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.
    The only important issue, now, is how to deal with that reality.
    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.

    That brings us directly back to the “war thing”.

    I still believe there is a timeframe to resolve all that peacefully. Hangs on that “nuclear tipped” ICMB.

    And, should the “war thing” kicks off, everything starts with The Objective.

    The confusion/debates here stem directly from NOT defining a clear objective.
    “It’s impossible to occupy all North Korea”. Is the objective occupation?
    “It will require zillions of troops and casualties to defeat zillions North Koreans fighting the invasion”. Why invasion in the first place?
    Etc.

    In my “scenario” the objective is to “remove the nuclear threat to US soil”.
    That is what’s given to the generals do work on.
    And I believe that’s achievable.

    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.

    In case it is being attacked by the US. Why omit that qualification from the North Korean threats? “I will kill you if you try to kill me or beat me up!” is quite different from “I will kill you!”

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    • Replies: @peterAUS
    Disagree.

    I'll come clean here.

    The Fat Pig.
    The............FAT..........PIG.........

    That character must not have an access to a nuclear tipped ICMB.
    Simple as that.

    If we were talking Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, even Libya, let alone Syria I'd agree with your approach.
    Those were/are rational regimes with rational people/groups leading them.

    Not in this case, IMHO.
    This is a CULT lead by...just look at him.

    That's why I believe, say, 70 %, the Fat Pig will be out and all this will get resolved without (much of a ) shooting. Soft/hard coup if you will.

    Smash that cult and make that society normal again.
    Chinese protectorate in all but name.

    Anyway.....
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  137. @Erebus

    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?
    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.
     
    If one takes Engdahl's assessment at face value and combines it with the USA's Imperial Imperative, the answer becomes clear.

    The USA's objectives are two. The first is to justify the continued presence of their garrisons in theatre, and the 2nd would be to forcibly unite the 2 Koreas under US occupation. Both serve to isolate both Korea and Japan from Eurasian integration and the 2nd plants hostile power firmly at Eurasia's eastern borders and in the ECS. That pins China between Afghanistan and Japan/Korean, which also explains the USM's continued presence there. Without Japan/Korea, Afghanistan would make little sense, and would quickly become untenable.

    They need a casus belli to execute, and Kim seems to be performing a yeoman's service at providing it for the 1st objective, and with the Hwasong-15 he may eventually provide for the 2nd.

    If Engdahl is wrong, then things get murkier. I can't bring myself to believe that DPRK is capable of developing this technology without lots of outside help. Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.
    The latter arms the large Chaebols (Korea) and Keiretsus (Japan), who have deep investments in China and are drooling over the BRI, in putting pressure on their respective govts to break with the US.

    Well…good post but, feels….”complicated”.

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled. Coward, I know. Old fart, shame on me.

    Maybe that’s the objective. I don’t know.
    If…IF…that’s the objective I believe it’s hard to achieve (understatement). Personally, I haven’t thought about it at all.

    If I were a Lt.Col assisting a Brigadier, working for a 3 star general I’d very politely point to certain difficulties in achieving the objective. If I got a message THAT is the objective I’d start thinking about resigning and moving into Civy Street. Shame on me.

    Now…if, as I posted before, the objective is “remove the nuclear threat to US soil” I’d do my best to achieve it.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    No way to achieve this objective without removing the regime IMO. If the regime survives a military clash with the US, it will be even more incentivized to develop credible deterrent, so that it doesn't get attacked again.

    Futhermore, think about all the damage to US prestige in this situation. Enemies of America around the world will get the idea that you can go to war with the US and "win".
    , @Erebus

    Well…good post but, feels….”complicated”.
     
    "Complicated" is how things get at the end of Empires.

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled.
     
    I meant occupation in exactly the same sense as ROK is currently occupied. This would be sold to the N. Koreans as "reunification", of course. I agree with you that there may be but manageable resistance to this in the north.
    Would your recoil be less visceral had I said "garrisoned" instead? For "security" against Chinese invasion, of course.

    Anyway, in the '50s they tried their damnedest, but today's reality is that the Empire has no stomach for that, which is part of why it's approaching its end.
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  138. @Erebus

    So, what is the objective here; for discussion and, well, what would be the USA objective here?
    -Regime change?
    -Occupation?
    -Destruction of NK nuclear capability?
    -Etc.
     
    If one takes Engdahl's assessment at face value and combines it with the USA's Imperial Imperative, the answer becomes clear.

    The USA's objectives are two. The first is to justify the continued presence of their garrisons in theatre, and the 2nd would be to forcibly unite the 2 Koreas under US occupation. Both serve to isolate both Korea and Japan from Eurasian integration and the 2nd plants hostile power firmly at Eurasia's eastern borders and in the ECS. That pins China between Afghanistan and Japan/Korean, which also explains the USM's continued presence there. Without Japan/Korea, Afghanistan would make little sense, and would quickly become untenable.

    They need a casus belli to execute, and Kim seems to be performing a yeoman's service at providing it for the 1st objective, and with the Hwasong-15 he may eventually provide for the 2nd.

    If Engdahl is wrong, then things get murkier. I can't bring myself to believe that DPRK is capable of developing this technology without lots of outside help. Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.
    The latter arms the large Chaebols (Korea) and Keiretsus (Japan), who have deep investments in China and are drooling over the BRI, in putting pressure on their respective govts to break with the US.

    Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.

    Not impossible. I know next to nothing of this. But then why is no-one pointing that out, while they are whipping themselves into a frenzy over Russia supposedly having stolen the elections?

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    • Replies: @Erebus

    ... why is no-one pointing that out...
     
    They did and some still are in more academic circles.
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  139. @reiner Tor

    I invite you to place yourself into the shoes of a military-age South Korean man, and honestly ask yourself if you would be willing to make all these sacrifices. Didn’t you tell me recently to drop the idea of annexing the Ukraine? This is nothing, NOTHING compared to what the war in Korea will be like.

    No one really wants to fight the North Korea, especially the Americans. They just assume that the South will do all the hard work. I see potential for this situation to backfire greatly for the US. It could become America’s Suez moment.

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  140. @reiner Tor

    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.
     
    In case it is being attacked by the US. Why omit that qualification from the North Korean threats? "I will kill you if you try to kill me or beat me up!" is quite different from "I will kill you!"

    Disagree.

    I’ll come clean here.

    The Fat Pig.
    The…………FAT……….PIG………

    That character must not have an access to a nuclear tipped ICMB.
    Simple as that.

    If we were talking Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, even Libya, let alone Syria I’d agree with your approach.
    Those were/are rational regimes with rational people/groups leading them.

    Not in this case, IMHO.
    This is a CULT lead by…just look at him.

    That’s why I believe, say, 70 %, the Fat Pig will be out and all this will get resolved without (much of a ) shooting. Soft/hard coup if you will.

    Smash that cult and make that society normal again.
    Chinese protectorate in all but name.

    Anyway…..

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    • Troll: Twodees Partain
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I don't care what you think of him. I do care that in our discussion don't use false facts. He never threatened the US with an attack. He threatened to hit back, if he is attacked.
    , @reiner Tor

    Those were/are rational regimes with rational people/groups leading them.

    Not in this case, IMHO.
     
    In game theory seeming irrational is often a winning strategy, for example in a game of chicken.
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  141. @peterAUS
    Disagree.

    I'll come clean here.

    The Fat Pig.
    The............FAT..........PIG.........

    That character must not have an access to a nuclear tipped ICMB.
    Simple as that.

    If we were talking Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, even Libya, let alone Syria I'd agree with your approach.
    Those were/are rational regimes with rational people/groups leading them.

    Not in this case, IMHO.
    This is a CULT lead by...just look at him.

    That's why I believe, say, 70 %, the Fat Pig will be out and all this will get resolved without (much of a ) shooting. Soft/hard coup if you will.

    Smash that cult and make that society normal again.
    Chinese protectorate in all but name.

    Anyway.....

    I don’t care what you think of him. I do care that in our discussion don’t use false facts. He never threatened the US with an attack. He threatened to hit back, if he is attacked.

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    • Agree: dfordoom
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  142. @peterAUS
    Well...good post but, feels...."complicated".

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled. Coward, I know. Old fart, shame on me.

    Maybe that's the objective. I don't know.
    If...IF...that's the objective I believe it's hard to achieve (understatement). Personally, I haven't thought about it at all.

    If I were a Lt.Col assisting a Brigadier, working for a 3 star general I'd very politely point to certain difficulties in achieving the objective. If I got a message THAT is the objective I'd start thinking about resigning and moving into Civy Street. Shame on me.

    Now...if, as I posted before, the objective is “remove the nuclear threat to US soil” I'd do my best to achieve it.

    No way to achieve this objective without removing the regime IMO. If the regime survives a military clash with the US, it will be even more incentivized to develop credible deterrent, so that it doesn’t get attacked again.

    Futhermore, think about all the damage to US prestige in this situation. Enemies of America around the world will get the idea that you can go to war with the US and “win”.

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    • Replies: @peterAUS

    No way to achieve this objective without removing the regime IMO
     
    Not necessarily.
    I concede, not easy, but....possible.

    Machiavellian example:

    A deal is struck with the regime: "You save face, even strengthen your hold on power and we remove your threat to us. We manage our people and keep in power."

    US/allies execute a day strike on (wrong) leadership locations and (mostly empty) airports and sites "known" to be ICMB facilities. Heavy media show.
    Result:
    USA
    "We achieved the objective. The regime can't develop the nuclear tipped ICMB for at least 5 years from now after our strike. We'll keep working with our friends and allies to keep resolving the situation peacefully...blah...blah...".
    North Korea:
    ...something about aggression.....spirit...victory....etc.....need for further sacrifice....fight against EVIL USA....blah..blah....

    Everything goes back to normal.
    The Fatso keeps up the rhetoric, but, in practice, stops developing that nuclear tipped ICMB and everybody's happy.

    Till next time.
    Or Iran.

    If one digs deep enough, Yugoslavia '99 could be a good example of a similar approach.

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  143. @peterAUS
    Disagree.

    I'll come clean here.

    The Fat Pig.
    The............FAT..........PIG.........

    That character must not have an access to a nuclear tipped ICMB.
    Simple as that.

    If we were talking Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, even Libya, let alone Syria I'd agree with your approach.
    Those were/are rational regimes with rational people/groups leading them.

    Not in this case, IMHO.
    This is a CULT lead by...just look at him.

    That's why I believe, say, 70 %, the Fat Pig will be out and all this will get resolved without (much of a ) shooting. Soft/hard coup if you will.

    Smash that cult and make that society normal again.
    Chinese protectorate in all but name.

    Anyway.....

    Those were/are rational regimes with rational people/groups leading them.

    Not in this case, IMHO.

    In game theory seeming irrational is often a winning strategy, for example in a game of chicken.

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  144. @Felix Keverich
    No way to achieve this objective without removing the regime IMO. If the regime survives a military clash with the US, it will be even more incentivized to develop credible deterrent, so that it doesn't get attacked again.

    Futhermore, think about all the damage to US prestige in this situation. Enemies of America around the world will get the idea that you can go to war with the US and "win".

    No way to achieve this objective without removing the regime IMO

    Not necessarily.
    I concede, not easy, but….possible.

    Machiavellian example:

    A deal is struck with the regime: “You save face, even strengthen your hold on power and we remove your threat to us. We manage our people and keep in power.”

    US/allies execute a day strike on (wrong) leadership locations and (mostly empty) airports and sites “known” to be ICMB facilities. Heavy media show.
    Result:
    USA
    “We achieved the objective. The regime can’t develop the nuclear tipped ICMB for at least 5 years from now after our strike. We’ll keep working with our friends and allies to keep resolving the situation peacefully…blah…blah…”.
    North Korea:
    …something about aggression…..spirit…victory….etc…..need for further sacrifice….fight against EVIL USA….blah..blah….

    Everything goes back to normal.
    The Fatso keeps up the rhetoric, but, in practice, stops developing that nuclear tipped ICMB and everybody’s happy.

    Till next time.
    Or Iran.

    If one digs deep enough, Yugoslavia ’99 could be a good example of a similar approach.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    The difference between Yugoslavia 1999 and North Korea 2017 is that Kim is not a whimp. I heard he burned his uncle with a flamethrower! Also, there is no pro-Western opposition in North Korea, ready to stage a color revolution.

    North Korea won't accept any deal with the US that won't let it preserve its nuclear capability. They simply don't trust the US not to attack them, if they disarm.
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  145. @reiner Tor

    The USSR had orders of magnitude greater resources than DPRK, and inherited Russia’s pioneering developments in rocketry.
     
    Those "pioneering developments in rocketry" were considerably ancient and obsolete compared to North Korean Scud derivatives. Given how they weren't very much richer than North Korea (we're talking about the early 1950s, the USSR just barely recovered from the war), but had 10 times the population, I'd say they had exactly one order of magnitude more resources. But because they were also developing other state of the art technologies (like jet fighters etc.) including civilian technologies (like jet airliners), the discrepancy was smaller.

    Let's say three or four times more resources for development of ICBMs. But they had to develop it from scratch, without any previous or outside knowledge. Indeed, nobody even knew how to build such a missile, because nobody had done before. As opposed to the North Koreans, who used a lot of foreign designs.


    The photos released by DPRK show what is clearly the same unique design as the RD-251 rocket engine.
    My question is how that got there.
     
    Are you suggesting they are launching Ukrainian-built missiles? Or just building the same design by themselves? I think it's the latter. In which case it's obvious that only the technology (the design and perhaps a few engineers) went to North Korea. Which is small, and doesn't necessarily need a lot of outside help. People and especially data can travel easily.

    Those “pioneering developments in rocketry” were considerably ancient and obsolete compared to North Korean Scud derivatives.

    Well, the USSR had developed successful ballistic missiles by the early 30s, and development continued, even through the war. By 1949 they had deployed multi-stage R2s with electronic guidance in large numbers, so I’m guessing they were pretty far along when the call came to extend their range to more than 5500km (demarcation for ICBM status).

    Are you suggesting they are launching Ukrainian-built missiles?

    I’m suggesting that that is a distinct possibility, and maybe even (>50%) probability, at least in part. People and data ain’t the half of what’s required, and to get it right first time on 2 new models is extraordinary. A lot of missile experts were surprised by both, but their quick succession shocked many. It shows all 3 were under simultaneous development, and that the initial failures were corrected quickly in midstream (meaning easily). A number of analysts have suggested that real, physical engines must have made their way to DPRK (along with “the design and a few engineers”) for this to have been possible.

    I think it’s the latter.

    Well, ok, but what do you base that on?

    My point in all this discussion is that if that’s the case, knowing how they got there is crucial to understanding what’s really going on. EG: these discussions would be wildly off the mark if the US gave DPRK the motors.

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  146. @peterAUS

    ...making discussions about attack/defence scenarios on the Korean peninsula academic, at best.
     
    Well….not necessarily.

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.
    The only important issue, now, is how to deal with that reality.
    Reality being “the enemy” is threatening to use that system to attack US territory.

    That brings us directly back to the “war thing”.

    I still believe there is a timeframe to resolve all that peacefully. Hangs on that “nuclear tipped” ICMB.

    And, should the “war thing” kicks off, everything starts with The Objective.

    The confusion/debates here stem directly from NOT defining a clear objective.
    “It’s impossible to occupy all North Korea”. Is the objective occupation?
    “It will require zillions of troops and casualties to defeat zillions North Koreans fighting the invasion”. Why invasion in the first place?
    Etc.

    In my “scenario” the objective is to “remove the nuclear threat to US soil”.
    That is what’s given to the generals do work on.
    And I believe that’s achievable.

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.

    “How” is critical if he got them from the US, for reasons even you could see, surely. If so, there is no “threat to US soil”. It’s a casus belli for invasion, or at least for holding ROK & Japan in thrall.

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    • Replies: @peterAUS

    even you could see, surely
     
    Not really, sorry to disappoint you.
    I am just a simple ex-soldier.

    The very idea that US sold that engine to North Korea as a part of elaborate scheme to ..do something...there...nope. I do believe there are conspiracies in the World but ..not this one.

    The Fatso got it somehow but not that way, IMHO.
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  147. @reiner Tor

    Thus, I would have to suspect that the missile technologies recently exhibited came via Russia (with Chinese assistance, or vice versa) with the intent of prodding the Americans into embarrassing themselves, and to send a message to Korea and Japan that the security guarantees they hold are as worthless as their THAAD & Patriot systems.
     
    Not impossible. I know next to nothing of this. But then why is no-one pointing that out, while they are whipping themselves into a frenzy over Russia supposedly having stolen the elections?

    … why is no-one pointing that out…

    They did and some still are in more academic circles.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Why is no one using it in propaganda? By the way from what I’ve read the rocket engine looked like a modified version of an RD-250 engine. In other words, it was a variant of the engine which has never been produced in either Ukraine or Russia.

    So again, it was either only data and maybe some people who traveled there, or it was a highly sophisticated engine which was transported there (without either Russia or the US noticing it, depending on who you accuse of complicity) and then the North Koreans modifying it themselves. But if they are capable of that, then is it a stretch to propose that they are capable of producing it themselves? As actually a lot of serious publications are proposing.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you propose that I have to come up with evidence of the Norks producing it themselves. Your theory is equally in need of evidence, actually more so, because it posits a vast conspiracy of one of the major powers supplying the engine but without any other major power noticing it or at least pointing it out.
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  148. @peterAUS

    No way to achieve this objective without removing the regime IMO
     
    Not necessarily.
    I concede, not easy, but....possible.

    Machiavellian example:

    A deal is struck with the regime: "You save face, even strengthen your hold on power and we remove your threat to us. We manage our people and keep in power."

    US/allies execute a day strike on (wrong) leadership locations and (mostly empty) airports and sites "known" to be ICMB facilities. Heavy media show.
    Result:
    USA
    "We achieved the objective. The regime can't develop the nuclear tipped ICMB for at least 5 years from now after our strike. We'll keep working with our friends and allies to keep resolving the situation peacefully...blah...blah...".
    North Korea:
    ...something about aggression.....spirit...victory....etc.....need for further sacrifice....fight against EVIL USA....blah..blah....

    Everything goes back to normal.
    The Fatso keeps up the rhetoric, but, in practice, stops developing that nuclear tipped ICMB and everybody's happy.

    Till next time.
    Or Iran.

    If one digs deep enough, Yugoslavia '99 could be a good example of a similar approach.

    The difference between Yugoslavia 1999 and North Korea 2017 is that Kim is not a whimp. I heard he burned his uncle with a flamethrower! Also, there is no pro-Western opposition in North Korea, ready to stage a color revolution.

    North Korea won’t accept any deal with the US that won’t let it preserve its nuclear capability. They simply don’t trust the US not to attack them, if they disarm.

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    • Replies: @peterAUS

    The difference between Yugoslavia 1999 and North Korea 2017 is that Kim is not a whimp.
     
    That's one way to look at it. Wimps that is.
    OK

    There is another, starting from some facts:
    Serbs/Yugoslavs (European Whites, Orthodox) at that time: already 7 years of heavy ethnic warfare in Balkans ('91-95; 98-99). All structures of the State hardened by that experience.
    The top man in his late fifties with wast political experience.

    North Koreans (Asiatics...Communists...Cultists....of some sort?):
    Haven't been in any...any....war related activity since 1953.
    Top man in his early thirties with zero political experience.

    I've said plenty of times around here. People love to point how hard Norks are.
    I think they are not.
    They are delusional and brittle.

    As for the rest, fine.

    Then won't be any Machiavellian deal but the real war.
    And the regime will lose, IMHO.
    Just how much remains to be seen.
    , @Twinkie

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.
     
    It seems to me that your racial prejudices are preventing you from assessing the South Korean military capacity objectively.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.
     
    Unlike Iraq with its tribal, sectarian, and ethnic divisions held together by dictatorships and colonial power, Korea has existed as a unitary culture and people for thousands of years (albeit with occasional divisions). South Korea as an American creation is more like West Germany than it is like current Iraq or even South Vietnam.

    Speaking of South Vietnam, South Korea sent the largest contingent of "Free World Forces" during the conflict excepting the United States. Its soldiers were extremely thorough in preparing the battle space (often multiple units would sweep the same areas independently to assure all was well) and were particularly noted for their willingness to close with the communist forces in close quarters (even hand-to-hand) combat unlike their Western allies (who liked to rely on firepower from distance).

    They were so thorough and well-prepared that they often ambushed the Vietcong in the latter's own territory. They typically had a sky-high morale and excellent cohesion, and their kill ratios reflected this - similar to that of the most elite U.S. forces. Most American liaison officers attached to the Koreans pronounced Korean AORs "completely safe" or "completely pacified." Perhaps the biggest compliment was paid by the North Vietnamese command, which advised the VC to avoid contact with Koreans. And, yes, as Mr. Karlin pointed out, the South Korean contingent in Vietnam was accused of numerous atrocities, some of which were no doubt true.

    While the current generation of Korean young men are not exactly their Vietnam War forbears, don't let the hair coloring and video game-playing fool you. All able-bodied men undergo conscription, and discipline is quite severe in the South Korean military (you can hear about one man's experience here: https://youtu.be/WsVQ7dyyc_A). There is an enormous level of social opprobrium and legal sanction against those who attempt to draft-dodge. Even famous actors and singers are not immune and are hauled into military service after trying to dodge the conscription with various excuses (usually some sort of medical exemption). Even during the heydays of the corrupt Chaebol dominance, the wealthy elites could not get their sons exempted from military service. Even today, South Koreans still have a bit of a "garrison state" mentality.

    People who do this to seven year-olds are not as soft as they look: https://youtu.be/XmgNe7EK-ww

    I've worked with various military forces in Asia. Only two groups of men unnerved me in Asia. One was the Gurkhas. The other was the Republic of Korea Army 707th Special Mission Battalion. They are some of the toughest, scariest killers I've ever met.

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It's rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if's and but's, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise. Luckily for them, their opponent, the North Korean military, is even more rigid.

    By the way, the main weakness of the North Korean military isn't so much the low morale or the obsolete equipment (although those are very large handicaps), it's that their military lacks the large-scale training necessary to mount significant conventional operations. AND they also lack the fuel and spare parts necessary to sustain high tempo operations deep into South Korean territory. As others have pointed out, Korea is generally quite mountainous with a few plains (rice-growing) areas. There is only a handful of corridors through which large mechanized forces can come through, and those are HEAVILY emplaced with layers of anti-tank defenses, even without factoring in overwhelming air dominance the combined US-ROK air forces have. Essentially, North Korea's only capacity is to hurt South Korea, not conquer it, in the act of self-immolation... which is why nuclear weapons are a vital guarantor of the regime safety for the Kim family.

    They will never give that up, and they will periodically increase tension with South Korea and the U.S. in order to strengthen domestic cohesion, without actually inviting war. And nobody knows how long this will last. Certainly South Korea, despite the unification rhetoric, don't want it since the defectors from the North have shown utter inability to assimilate in the South and end up either destitute or become the criminal underclass. Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.
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  149. @peterAUS
    Well...good post but, feels...."complicated".

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled. Coward, I know. Old fart, shame on me.

    Maybe that's the objective. I don't know.
    If...IF...that's the objective I believe it's hard to achieve (understatement). Personally, I haven't thought about it at all.

    If I were a Lt.Col assisting a Brigadier, working for a 3 star general I'd very politely point to certain difficulties in achieving the objective. If I got a message THAT is the objective I'd start thinking about resigning and moving into Civy Street. Shame on me.

    Now...if, as I posted before, the objective is “remove the nuclear threat to US soil” I'd do my best to achieve it.

    Well…good post but, feels….”complicated”.

    “Complicated” is how things get at the end of Empires.

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled.

    I meant occupation in exactly the same sense as ROK is currently occupied. This would be sold to the N. Koreans as “reunification”, of course. I agree with you that there may be but manageable resistance to this in the north.
    Would your recoil be less visceral had I said “garrisoned” instead? For “security” against Chinese invasion, of course.

    Anyway, in the ’50s they tried their damnedest, but today’s reality is that the Empire has no stomach for that, which is part of why it’s approaching its end.

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    • Replies: @peterAUS

    Would your recoil be less visceral had I said “garrisoned” instead? For “security” against Chinese invasion, of course.
     
    Yes I would.

    As I've pointed several times so far, the land invasion/attack/incursion/whatever would serve only to remove the artillery/MRLs threat to Seoul and similar. Worst case scenario (haven't gone through maps, ,this isn't War College or real stuff, just a Web chatter) up to, say, 70 Kms.

    Anyway, in the ’50s they tried their damnedest, but today’s reality is that the Empire has no stomach for that, which is part of why it’s approaching its end.
     
    Perhaps your...idea...of the death of the Empire is clouding your thinking here. I'd suggest leaving that out of this very topic.

    This has nothing to do with what happened in 50s.
    Actually, should shooting start, that focus on 50s will, exactly, be Norks downfall.

    Bottom line, US/allies will be quite capable of "clearing up" that "artillery belt", IMHO.
    Nothing more, nothing less.
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  150. @Felix Keverich
    The difference between Yugoslavia 1999 and North Korea 2017 is that Kim is not a whimp. I heard he burned his uncle with a flamethrower! Also, there is no pro-Western opposition in North Korea, ready to stage a color revolution.

    North Korea won't accept any deal with the US that won't let it preserve its nuclear capability. They simply don't trust the US not to attack them, if they disarm.

    The difference between Yugoslavia 1999 and North Korea 2017 is that Kim is not a whimp.

    That’s one way to look at it. Wimps that is.
    OK

    There is another, starting from some facts:
    Serbs/Yugoslavs (European Whites, Orthodox) at that time: already 7 years of heavy ethnic warfare in Balkans (’91-95; 98-99). All structures of the State hardened by that experience.
    The top man in his late fifties with wast political experience.

    North Koreans (Asiatics…Communists…Cultists….of some sort?):
    Haven’t been in any…any….war related activity since 1953.
    Top man in his early thirties with zero political experience.

    I’ve said plenty of times around here. People love to point how hard Norks are.
    I think they are not.
    They are delusional and brittle.

    As for the rest, fine.

    Then won’t be any Machiavellian deal but the real war.
    And the regime will lose, IMHO.
    Just how much remains to be seen.

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  151. @Erebus

    The point is that “the enemy” has obtained a workable weapon system. “How” is interesting, but not that important.
     
    "How" is critical if he got them from the US, for reasons even you could see, surely. If so, there is no "threat to US soil". It's a casus belli for invasion, or at least for holding ROK & Japan in thrall.

    even you could see, surely

    Not really, sorry to disappoint you.
    I am just a simple ex-soldier.

    The very idea that US sold that engine to North Korea as a part of elaborate scheme to ..do something…there…nope. I do believe there are conspiracies in the World but ..not this one.

    The Fatso got it somehow but not that way, IMHO.

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  152. @Erebus

    Well…good post but, feels….”complicated”.
     
    "Complicated" is how things get at the end of Empires.

    One word: OCCUPATION.
    As soon as I read that I recoiled.
     
    I meant occupation in exactly the same sense as ROK is currently occupied. This would be sold to the N. Koreans as "reunification", of course. I agree with you that there may be but manageable resistance to this in the north.
    Would your recoil be less visceral had I said "garrisoned" instead? For "security" against Chinese invasion, of course.

    Anyway, in the '50s they tried their damnedest, but today's reality is that the Empire has no stomach for that, which is part of why it's approaching its end.

    Would your recoil be less visceral had I said “garrisoned” instead? For “security” against Chinese invasion, of course.

    Yes I would.

    As I’ve pointed several times so far, the land invasion/attack/incursion/whatever would serve only to remove the artillery/MRLs threat to Seoul and similar. Worst case scenario (haven’t gone through maps, ,this isn’t War College or real stuff, just a Web chatter) up to, say, 70 Kms.

    Anyway, in the ’50s they tried their damnedest, but today’s reality is that the Empire has no stomach for that, which is part of why it’s approaching its end.

    Perhaps your…idea…of the death of the Empire is clouding your thinking here. I’d suggest leaving that out of this very topic.

    This has nothing to do with what happened in 50s.
    Actually, should shooting start, that focus on 50s will, exactly, be Norks downfall.

    Bottom line, US/allies will be quite capable of “clearing up” that “artillery belt”, IMHO.
    Nothing more, nothing less.

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  153. 1. I do not consider it likely that North Korea will have the means to successfully deliver nukes to population concentrations in S. Korea, Japan, or the US.

    An accurate assessment. However, I think an invasion of North Korea by an enemy army would be devastated by at least one (tactical) battlefield thermonuclear bomb, because China would clandestinely give them one ( and a crew) to use very quickly. Moreover, in the aftermath of such a battlefield nuking by Kim, no one is going to assume NK cannot have or get a strategic level capability.

    3 Unclear if unprivileged conscripts would still want to fight for such a country.

    That makes attacking North Korea less risky only if the ones doing the invading could be sure they would not run into a battlefield nuking. The weaker North Korea is the quicker a nuke might be resorted to .

    5. Recent leaks indicate that voices within the Trump administration, including McMaster and Trump himself, want to “punch North Korea in the nose,” …Consequently, the smart thing for North Korea to do at that point would be to swallow their pride and leave matters be.

    There is no telling what they would in fact do, because we do not know what is on their minds. It might play into North Korea’s hands to “punch them on the nose”. They are being deliberately provocative towards the US.

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  154. @reiner Tor
    The South Koreans are also some kind of unknown. Maybe the Norks are willing to fight against the Americans (for which the propaganda prepares them), but not so much against South Koreans. Especially if South Koreans will be smart and will give wholesale amnesty to all soldiers and officers of the Nork armed forces who defect or surrender.

    The South Koreans are also some kind of unknown. Maybe the Norks are willing to fight against the Americans (for which the propaganda prepares them), but not so much against South Koreans

    How well will the South Koreans fight? Do the South Koreans actually want war? We know the Americans want war and they assume that their allies want war as well, but do they? Are South Koreans happy to accept the risk of being nuked? Is the push for war coming from Seoul and Washington or just from Washington?

    What would South Korea have to gain? They’re extremely prosperous. War could spell economic ruin. The conquest of North Korea could spell economic ruin.

    The South Koreans give the impression of being like the western Europeans – soft, feminised, obsessed with consumerism and hedonism, not exactly the sort of people who would be enthusiastic about fighting what might turn out to be a long, expensive and very messy war with at least the possibility of massive civilian casualties. Would they be happy to endure all that given that the only ones who will gain anything will be the Americans?

    Would the South Koreans want to risk war given the near certainty of Chinese intervention?

    What’s the state of public opinion in South Korea? Are they marching in the streets demanding war?

    Is it possible the South Koreans might fight the way the French fought in 1940? Mass surrender as soon as things turn against them?

    Have the Americans even considered any of this?

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  155. @Felix Keverich

    I mean the US use Russia in a similar way it use North Korea, to prevent Europe getting too unify. Do something to stimulate Russia, and Russia will react in some way to frighten other European countries. Europe in some sort of crisis is good for the US, just like Northeast Asia in some sort of crisis is good for the US. Just provoke Russia/North Korea a little.
     
    Why is "Europe" allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?

    Why is “Europe” allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?

    Look at the leaders they elect. Merkel. Macron. Theresa May. They have a corrupt political class that cares about nothing other than its own interests. They’ve had 70 years of relentless propaganda telling them that even the smallest manifestation of cultural pride or national feeling makes you a Nazi. They’ve had a century of being deluged by American cultural filth.

    They’re like a dog that has been beaten so many times that when someone tries to kick it it just whimpers. And a dog that has grown fat and lazy.

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  156. @reiner Tor
    It's possible, likely even, that the South Korean 0.01% (those with private jets and yachts) would take a flight. But most people cannot easily leave the country, for them it's a life and death struggle. And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.

    It’s possible, likely even, that the South Korean 0.01% (those with private jets and yachts) would take a flight. But most people cannot easily leave the country, for them it’s a life and death struggle. And again, Koreans are tougher than they look like.

    But would they fight knowing that their elites had fled? And with their leaders gone?

    Would the British have fought on in 1940 if the Royal Family and the political leadership and the top civil servants and the wealthier members of the upper classes had fled to Canada?

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  157. @Yee
    Felix Keverich,
    "Why is “Europe” allowing itself to get played like this? Are they dumb?"

    I can't answer that, just like I can't answer the question "why Mongolia bother with joined military exercise with the US". I mean, it's land locked with only 2 neighbors, Russia and China.

    But I can reasonably assume that an unified Europe is the long term goal, the creation of Euro is a clear sign. And I can't imagine the US very happy about that.

    But I can reasonably assume that an unified Europe is the long term goal, the creation of Euro is a clear sign. And I can’t imagine the US very happy about that.

    The EU is much easier for the US to control. There’s only one political elite that needs to be bribed, or cowered into obedience. It’s just like the US where there’s only one Congress that has to be bought.

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  158. @reiner Tor

    As soon as things get hot.
     
    It will be too late. Airports will close immediately. Fight or flight becomes fight or die for the South Korean middle classes.

    Airports will close immediately

    Airports will close as soon as the elites are safely away.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    No, as soon as the shelling starts.
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  159. @Anatoly Karlin
    Well yes, sure, but I am assuming the Chinese didn't bet everything on KJU's uncle and didn't lose all influence in North Korea after that.

    Well yes, sure, but I am assuming the Chinese didn’t bet everything on KJU’s uncle and didn’t lose all influence in North Korea after that.

    Yes, probably not. But the Kim family in North Korea has been exceptionally adept at playing communist China and the Soviet Union against each other all those decades of the past, all the while ensuring that no internal faction that supported either became too big for its breeches.

    Contrary to the buffoonish punditry about the “crazy” Kims in the West, they are actually hyper-rational people who are ruthless and deeply calculating. Anybody who even shows a hint of having any modicum of independent power base is swiftly purged, as is any who gets too cozy with foreign governments, even that of the PRC.

    In the material sense, the Kim regime is very weak, so it is in the interest of the regime to keep the tension between North Korea and the outside world at high level, but without inviting an actual all-out conflict that would be the death of the regime.

    By the way, North Koreans, by and large, know a lot about the comparatively extreme affluence that South Koreans enjoy and that even China is becoming well-to-do. South Korean dramas – which depict the glitzy life of Seoul – are readily available in the black market and quite popular. It’s not the lack of knowledge of the outside world that keeps the North Korean population docile – it’s the terror and the deprivation.

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  160. @dfordoom

    Airports will close immediately
     
    Airports will close as soon as the elites are safely away.

    No, as soon as the shelling starts.

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  161. @Felix Keverich
    The difference between Yugoslavia 1999 and North Korea 2017 is that Kim is not a whimp. I heard he burned his uncle with a flamethrower! Also, there is no pro-Western opposition in North Korea, ready to stage a color revolution.

    North Korea won't accept any deal with the US that won't let it preserve its nuclear capability. They simply don't trust the US not to attack them, if they disarm.

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.

    It seems to me that your racial prejudices are preventing you from assessing the South Korean military capacity objectively.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.

    Unlike Iraq with its tribal, sectarian, and ethnic divisions held together by dictatorships and colonial power, Korea has existed as a unitary culture and people for thousands of years (albeit with occasional divisions). South Korea as an American creation is more like West Germany than it is like current Iraq or even South Vietnam.

    Speaking of South Vietnam, South Korea sent the largest contingent of “Free World Forces” during the conflict excepting the United States. Its soldiers were extremely thorough in preparing the battle space (often multiple units would sweep the same areas independently to assure all was well) and were particularly noted for their willingness to close with the communist forces in close quarters (even hand-to-hand) combat unlike their Western allies (who liked to rely on firepower from distance).

    They were so thorough and well-prepared that they often ambushed the Vietcong in the latter’s own territory. They typically had a sky-high morale and excellent cohesion, and their kill ratios reflected this – similar to that of the most elite U.S. forces. Most American liaison officers attached to the Koreans pronounced Korean AORs “completely safe” or “completely pacified.” Perhaps the biggest compliment was paid by the North Vietnamese command, which advised the VC to avoid contact with Koreans. And, yes, as Mr. Karlin pointed out, the South Korean contingent in Vietnam was accused of numerous atrocities, some of which were no doubt true.

    While the current generation of Korean young men are not exactly their Vietnam War forbears, don’t let the hair coloring and video game-playing fool you. All able-bodied men undergo conscription, and discipline is quite severe in the South Korean military (you can hear about one man’s experience here: https://youtu.be/WsVQ7dyyc_A). There is an enormous level of social opprobrium and legal sanction against those who attempt to draft-dodge. Even famous actors and singers are not immune and are hauled into military service after trying to dodge the conscription with various excuses (usually some sort of medical exemption). Even during the heydays of the corrupt Chaebol dominance, the wealthy elites could not get their sons exempted from military service. Even today, South Koreans still have a bit of a “garrison state” mentality.

    People who do this to seven year-olds are not as soft as they look:

    I’ve worked with various military forces in Asia. Only two groups of men unnerved me in Asia. One was the Gurkhas. The other was the Republic of Korea Army 707th Special Mission Battalion. They are some of the toughest, scariest killers I’ve ever met.

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It’s rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if’s and but’s, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise. Luckily for them, their opponent, the North Korean military, is even more rigid.

    By the way, the main weakness of the North Korean military isn’t so much the low morale or the obsolete equipment (although those are very large handicaps), it’s that their military lacks the large-scale training necessary to mount significant conventional operations. AND they also lack the fuel and spare parts necessary to sustain high tempo operations deep into South Korean territory. As others have pointed out, Korea is generally quite mountainous with a few plains (rice-growing) areas. There is only a handful of corridors through which large mechanized forces can come through, and those are HEAVILY emplaced with layers of anti-tank defenses, even without factoring in overwhelming air dominance the combined US-ROK air forces have. Essentially, North Korea’s only capacity is to hurt South Korea, not conquer it, in the act of self-immolation… which is why nuclear weapons are a vital guarantor of the regime safety for the Kim family.

    They will never give that up, and they will periodically increase tension with South Korea and the U.S. in order to strengthen domestic cohesion, without actually inviting war. And nobody knows how long this will last. Certainly South Korea, despite the unification rhetoric, don’t want it since the defectors from the North have shown utter inability to assimilate in the South and end up either destitute or become the criminal underclass. Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.
     
    Don’t Koreans wish for some kind of reunification? Or do they hope that the northern regime will eventually open up and develop on itself, eventually leading to a more gradual (and cheaper) reunification?
    , @Felix Keverich
    This isn't as much of a prejudice against the Korean people as against the US. US-installed regimes have an awful military record. Current regime in Iraq is weaker than Saddam's Iraq. Germany today is just embarrassing.

    Americanization seems to make your society soft. To the extent that the Southern soldiers are Americanized it makes them weaker than their Nork counterparts.
    , @peterAUS
    Very good post, IMHO.
    Keep them coming.

    You've made worth skimming "ambient noise" here for sure.

    This is NOT good:

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It’s rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if’s and but’s, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise.
     
    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.

    A couple questions of some interest for me, if I may:
    How would you assess a feasibility of a "push" by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to "clear" that "artillery belt"? Conventional warfare, no nukes.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
    I know this isn't easy but would appreciate if you give it a go.
    , @Erebus
    What you're forgetting is that the S. Koreans of Vietnam fame lived under Gen. Park Chung-hee's regime, as socio-politically repressive as the one current in N. Korea.

    After a couple of generations of living Gangnam style, I'm not sure I'd like their chances against the N. Koreans any more than I'd like them against the very different S. Koreans of the Vietnam era.

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  162. @Erebus

    ... why is no-one pointing that out...
     
    They did and some still are in more academic circles.

    Why is no one using it in propaganda? By the way from what I’ve read the rocket engine looked like a modified version of an RD-250 engine. In other words, it was a variant of the engine which has never been produced in either Ukraine or Russia.

    So again, it was either only data and maybe some people who traveled there, or it was a highly sophisticated engine which was transported there (without either Russia or the US noticing it, depending on who you accuse of complicity) and then the North Koreans modifying it themselves. But if they are capable of that, then is it a stretch to propose that they are capable of producing it themselves? As actually a lot of serious publications are proposing.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you propose that I have to come up with evidence of the Norks producing it themselves. Your theory is equally in need of evidence, actually more so, because it posits a vast conspiracy of one of the major powers supplying the engine but without any other major power noticing it or at least pointing it out.

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    • Replies: @Erebus

    Why is no one using it in propaganda?
     
    I have no real idea, but I wouldn't if I was trying to establish a different narrative that allowed a more advantageous range of actionable options.

    ... I’ve read the rocket engine looked like a modified version of an RD-250 engine.
     
    I've read both opinions, and opinions on what the modifications meant. All quite inconclusive given the unknown unknowns. The RD-250 is pretty old now, and there may have been various modifications made, even at the factory that are not publicly known at this point.

    But if they are capable of that, then is it a stretch to propose that they are capable of producing it themselves?
     
    Boring out your Chevy is an order of magnitude (probably several) less complex than building an engine from scratch. Modifying car engines was a hobby long ago, but I wouldn't contemplate casting an engine block and forging aluminium pistons myself.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you propose that I have to come up with evidence of the Norks producing it themselves.
     
    I did? If I did (no time to re-read my posts) it wasn't intentional. I'd be stunned if either of us had proof of any of this.

    I don't actually have a "theory". I'm just trying to keep the "Ideological Drones" here off-balance by pointing out that a "Monkey with Nukes" view is much too simplistic to explain the history, the geo-political interests in play, or even what we see actually happening.

    DPRK related discussions are actually going on in a few threads simultaneously, making it difficult to track what who said where, and leads to untethered side discussions like the one we're having. I haven't participated much in this thread, but quoting oneself from another seems distasteful.
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  163. @Twinkie

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.
     
    It seems to me that your racial prejudices are preventing you from assessing the South Korean military capacity objectively.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.
     
    Unlike Iraq with its tribal, sectarian, and ethnic divisions held together by dictatorships and colonial power, Korea has existed as a unitary culture and people for thousands of years (albeit with occasional divisions). South Korea as an American creation is more like West Germany than it is like current Iraq or even South Vietnam.

    Speaking of South Vietnam, South Korea sent the largest contingent of "Free World Forces" during the conflict excepting the United States. Its soldiers were extremely thorough in preparing the battle space (often multiple units would sweep the same areas independently to assure all was well) and were particularly noted for their willingness to close with the communist forces in close quarters (even hand-to-hand) combat unlike their Western allies (who liked to rely on firepower from distance).

    They were so thorough and well-prepared that they often ambushed the Vietcong in the latter's own territory. They typically had a sky-high morale and excellent cohesion, and their kill ratios reflected this - similar to that of the most elite U.S. forces. Most American liaison officers attached to the Koreans pronounced Korean AORs "completely safe" or "completely pacified." Perhaps the biggest compliment was paid by the North Vietnamese command, which advised the VC to avoid contact with Koreans. And, yes, as Mr. Karlin pointed out, the South Korean contingent in Vietnam was accused of numerous atrocities, some of which were no doubt true.

    While the current generation of Korean young men are not exactly their Vietnam War forbears, don't let the hair coloring and video game-playing fool you. All able-bodied men undergo conscription, and discipline is quite severe in the South Korean military (you can hear about one man's experience here: https://youtu.be/WsVQ7dyyc_A). There is an enormous level of social opprobrium and legal sanction against those who attempt to draft-dodge. Even famous actors and singers are not immune and are hauled into military service after trying to dodge the conscription with various excuses (usually some sort of medical exemption). Even during the heydays of the corrupt Chaebol dominance, the wealthy elites could not get their sons exempted from military service. Even today, South Koreans still have a bit of a "garrison state" mentality.

    People who do this to seven year-olds are not as soft as they look: https://youtu.be/XmgNe7EK-ww

    I've worked with various military forces in Asia. Only two groups of men unnerved me in Asia. One was the Gurkhas. The other was the Republic of Korea Army 707th Special Mission Battalion. They are some of the toughest, scariest killers I've ever met.

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It's rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if's and but's, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise. Luckily for them, their opponent, the North Korean military, is even more rigid.

    By the way, the main weakness of the North Korean military isn't so much the low morale or the obsolete equipment (although those are very large handicaps), it's that their military lacks the large-scale training necessary to mount significant conventional operations. AND they also lack the fuel and spare parts necessary to sustain high tempo operations deep into South Korean territory. As others have pointed out, Korea is generally quite mountainous with a few plains (rice-growing) areas. There is only a handful of corridors through which large mechanized forces can come through, and those are HEAVILY emplaced with layers of anti-tank defenses, even without factoring in overwhelming air dominance the combined US-ROK air forces have. Essentially, North Korea's only capacity is to hurt South Korea, not conquer it, in the act of self-immolation... which is why nuclear weapons are a vital guarantor of the regime safety for the Kim family.

    They will never give that up, and they will periodically increase tension with South Korea and the U.S. in order to strengthen domestic cohesion, without actually inviting war. And nobody knows how long this will last. Certainly South Korea, despite the unification rhetoric, don't want it since the defectors from the North have shown utter inability to assimilate in the South and end up either destitute or become the criminal underclass. Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.

    Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.

    Don’t Koreans wish for some kind of reunification? Or do they hope that the northern regime will eventually open up and develop on itself, eventually leading to a more gradual (and cheaper) reunification?

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    • Replies: @Twinkie
    They mostly want the troublesome issue hermetically sealed off and not bother them. The whole reunification thing became rhetoric-only some time ago, maybe 15-20 years ago, when it became clear that North Korean defectors didn’t adjust well to life of freedom. South Koreans were also spooked by the apparent cost of the West German absorption of the East.

    South Koreans today will state some vague, generic statements of folk solidarity with North Koreans, but serious people will tell you, especially in private, that no one wants North Korea or North Koreans. They don’t even welcome ethnic Koreans from China anymore due to the perceived criminality of the latter.

    It’s like the Japanese attitude regarding Japanese-Brazilians on steroid.
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  164. @Twinkie

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.
     
    It seems to me that your racial prejudices are preventing you from assessing the South Korean military capacity objectively.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.
     
    Unlike Iraq with its tribal, sectarian, and ethnic divisions held together by dictatorships and colonial power, Korea has existed as a unitary culture and people for thousands of years (albeit with occasional divisions). South Korea as an American creation is more like West Germany than it is like current Iraq or even South Vietnam.

    Speaking of South Vietnam, South Korea sent the largest contingent of "Free World Forces" during the conflict excepting the United States. Its soldiers were extremely thorough in preparing the battle space (often multiple units would sweep the same areas independently to assure all was well) and were particularly noted for their willingness to close with the communist forces in close quarters (even hand-to-hand) combat unlike their Western allies (who liked to rely on firepower from distance).

    They were so thorough and well-prepared that they often ambushed the Vietcong in the latter's own territory. They typically had a sky-high morale and excellent cohesion, and their kill ratios reflected this - similar to that of the most elite U.S. forces. Most American liaison officers attached to the Koreans pronounced Korean AORs "completely safe" or "completely pacified." Perhaps the biggest compliment was paid by the North Vietnamese command, which advised the VC to avoid contact with Koreans. And, yes, as Mr. Karlin pointed out, the South Korean contingent in Vietnam was accused of numerous atrocities, some of which were no doubt true.

    While the current generation of Korean young men are not exactly their Vietnam War forbears, don't let the hair coloring and video game-playing fool you. All able-bodied men undergo conscription, and discipline is quite severe in the South Korean military (you can hear about one man's experience here: https://youtu.be/WsVQ7dyyc_A). There is an enormous level of social opprobrium and legal sanction against those who attempt to draft-dodge. Even famous actors and singers are not immune and are hauled into military service after trying to dodge the conscription with various excuses (usually some sort of medical exemption). Even during the heydays of the corrupt Chaebol dominance, the wealthy elites could not get their sons exempted from military service. Even today, South Koreans still have a bit of a "garrison state" mentality.

    People who do this to seven year-olds are not as soft as they look: https://youtu.be/XmgNe7EK-ww

    I've worked with various military forces in Asia. Only two groups of men unnerved me in Asia. One was the Gurkhas. The other was the Republic of Korea Army 707th Special Mission Battalion. They are some of the toughest, scariest killers I've ever met.

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It's rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if's and but's, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise. Luckily for them, their opponent, the North Korean military, is even more rigid.

    By the way, the main weakness of the North Korean military isn't so much the low morale or the obsolete equipment (although those are very large handicaps), it's that their military lacks the large-scale training necessary to mount significant conventional operations. AND they also lack the fuel and spare parts necessary to sustain high tempo operations deep into South Korean territory. As others have pointed out, Korea is generally quite mountainous with a few plains (rice-growing) areas. There is only a handful of corridors through which large mechanized forces can come through, and those are HEAVILY emplaced with layers of anti-tank defenses, even without factoring in overwhelming air dominance the combined US-ROK air forces have. Essentially, North Korea's only capacity is to hurt South Korea, not conquer it, in the act of self-immolation... which is why nuclear weapons are a vital guarantor of the regime safety for the Kim family.

    They will never give that up, and they will periodically increase tension with South Korea and the U.S. in order to strengthen domestic cohesion, without actually inviting war. And nobody knows how long this will last. Certainly South Korea, despite the unification rhetoric, don't want it since the defectors from the North have shown utter inability to assimilate in the South and end up either destitute or become the criminal underclass. Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.

    This isn’t as much of a prejudice against the Korean people as against the US. US-installed regimes have an awful military record. Current regime in Iraq is weaker than Saddam’s Iraq. Germany today is just embarrassing.

    Americanization seems to make your society soft. To the extent that the Southern soldiers are Americanized it makes them weaker than their Nork counterparts.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie
    Did you miss the part about the soldiers of this American-installed* “soft” regime kicking ass and taking down names in Vietnam? Where the VC was afraid to engage them on its own turf?

    *Only the First Republic was US-installed. Since the Third Republic and on, the US has had limited influence on the domestic politics of South Korea, even during the military dictatorships. One book summarized the relationship as “Massive Entaglements, Limited Influence” as the actual title.

    Modern South Korea is something of an American creation, but it has its innate, ancient culture (remaining independent in the face of supposedly 1,000 invasions in the last 2,000 years), and it was ushered into modernity by Imperial Japan, which left a profound and lasting influence. In some ways, South Korea is more like pre-war Japan than Japan itself is.

    In its culture, there is a certain unhinged, single-minded pursuit of goals, that is incompatible with softness. My goodness, it is still a society in which teachers beat their students with fists and sticks for minor infractions. Expats often describe Koreans as “extreme.”

    A little tidbit, by the way. The modal surname at West Point - the U.S. Military Academy - graduations is frequently “Kim.” And Koreans are a miniscule fraction of the U.S. population. Non-Korean Asian cadets at West Point often describe Korean cadets as “hardcore,” and the Korean-American Relations Seminar is legendary.
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  165. @reiner Tor

    Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.
     
    Don’t Koreans wish for some kind of reunification? Or do they hope that the northern regime will eventually open up and develop on itself, eventually leading to a more gradual (and cheaper) reunification?

    They mostly want the troublesome issue hermetically sealed off and not bother them. The whole reunification thing became rhetoric-only some time ago, maybe 15-20 years ago, when it became clear that North Korean defectors didn’t adjust well to life of freedom. South Koreans were also spooked by the apparent cost of the West German absorption of the East.

    South Koreans today will state some vague, generic statements of folk solidarity with North Koreans, but serious people will tell you, especially in private, that no one wants North Korea or North Koreans. They don’t even welcome ethnic Koreans from China anymore due to the perceived criminality of the latter.

    It’s like the Japanese attitude regarding Japanese-Brazilians on steroid.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    In other words, if I understand it correctly, there are basically two Korean nations now.

    By the way, defectors are probably strange individuals. They cause enormous harm to their own families and friends back at home, so probably a bit more psychopathic than average.

    But even if they are not very representative, I'd guess a reunification would need a kind of colonial regime in North Korea for several decades, until it reaches sufficient development levels (and a couple generations of indoctrination) so that it could be fully reintegrated.

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  166. @Twinkie
    They mostly want the troublesome issue hermetically sealed off and not bother them. The whole reunification thing became rhetoric-only some time ago, maybe 15-20 years ago, when it became clear that North Korean defectors didn’t adjust well to life of freedom. South Koreans were also spooked by the apparent cost of the West German absorption of the East.

    South Koreans today will state some vague, generic statements of folk solidarity with North Koreans, but serious people will tell you, especially in private, that no one wants North Korea or North Koreans. They don’t even welcome ethnic Koreans from China anymore due to the perceived criminality of the latter.

    It’s like the Japanese attitude regarding Japanese-Brazilians on steroid.

    In other words, if I understand it correctly, there are basically two Korean nations now.

    By the way, defectors are probably strange individuals. They cause enormous harm to their own families and friends back at home, so probably a bit more psychopathic than average.

    But even if they are not very representative, I’d guess a reunification would need a kind of colonial regime in North Korea for several decades, until it reaches sufficient development levels (and a couple generations of indoctrination) so that it could be fully reintegrated.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    In other words, if I understand it correctly, there are basically two Korean nations now.
     
    Yes. They are very different countries, to say the least.

    By the way, defectors are probably strange individuals. They cause enormous harm to their own families and friends back at home, so probably a bit more psychopathic than average.
     
    I don't know about that. They are generally extremely desperate people. Most have a great deal of trouble integrating into the South Korean society. They are usually given a certain amount of settlement funds by the South Korean government, but they tend to blow through it fast or are defrauded easily. The structure that governed every aspect of their lives is gone, and they just don't know what to do with themselves or how to support themselves.

    But even if they are not very representative, I’d guess a reunification would need a kind of colonial regime in North Korea for several decades, until it reaches sufficient development levels (and a couple generations of indoctrination) so that it could be fully reintegrated.
     
    South Korea is just not interested. Outside communist agitators, the desire for reunification in the South was always the greatest with the older generation that remembered a united Korea (albeit under Japanese occupation) and also those who fled the North, and yet others who had family in the North, but most of them have died out or are dying out. The younger generation simply does not have any emotional attachment to the North in anyway and see it as nothing but endless troubles that would detract from their prosperity and safety.
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  167. @Felix Keverich
    This isn't as much of a prejudice against the Korean people as against the US. US-installed regimes have an awful military record. Current regime in Iraq is weaker than Saddam's Iraq. Germany today is just embarrassing.

    Americanization seems to make your society soft. To the extent that the Southern soldiers are Americanized it makes them weaker than their Nork counterparts.

    Did you miss the part about the soldiers of this American-installed* “soft” regime kicking ass and taking down names in Vietnam? Where the VC was afraid to engage them on its own turf?

    *Only the First Republic was US-installed. Since the Third Republic and on, the US has had limited influence on the domestic politics of South Korea, even during the military dictatorships. One book summarized the relationship as “Massive Entaglements, Limited Influence” as the actual title.

    Modern South Korea is something of an American creation, but it has its innate, ancient culture (remaining independent in the face of supposedly 1,000 invasions in the last 2,000 years), and it was ushered into modernity by Imperial Japan, which left a profound and lasting influence. In some ways, South Korea is more like pre-war Japan than Japan itself is.

    In its culture, there is a certain unhinged, single-minded pursuit of goals, that is incompatible with softness. My goodness, it is still a society in which teachers beat their students with fists and sticks for minor infractions. Expats often describe Koreans as “extreme.”

    A little tidbit, by the way. The modal surname at West Point – the U.S. Military Academy – graduations is frequently “Kim.” And Koreans are a miniscule fraction of the U.S. population. Non-Korean Asian cadets at West Point often describe Korean cadets as “hardcore,” and the Korean-American Relations Seminar is legendary.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dfordoom

    Did you miss the part about the soldiers of this American-installed* “soft” regime kicking ass and taking down names in Vietnam? Where the VC was afraid to engage them on its own turf?
     
    That was a long time ago. Half a century. Americanisation is a gradual insidious process. It's the cultural poison you have to worry about and it works slowly but surely.
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  168. @Twinkie

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.
     
    It seems to me that your racial prejudices are preventing you from assessing the South Korean military capacity objectively.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.
     
    Unlike Iraq with its tribal, sectarian, and ethnic divisions held together by dictatorships and colonial power, Korea has existed as a unitary culture and people for thousands of years (albeit with occasional divisions). South Korea as an American creation is more like West Germany than it is like current Iraq or even South Vietnam.

    Speaking of South Vietnam, South Korea sent the largest contingent of "Free World Forces" during the conflict excepting the United States. Its soldiers were extremely thorough in preparing the battle space (often multiple units would sweep the same areas independently to assure all was well) and were particularly noted for their willingness to close with the communist forces in close quarters (even hand-to-hand) combat unlike their Western allies (who liked to rely on firepower from distance).

    They were so thorough and well-prepared that they often ambushed the Vietcong in the latter's own territory. They typically had a sky-high morale and excellent cohesion, and their kill ratios reflected this - similar to that of the most elite U.S. forces. Most American liaison officers attached to the Koreans pronounced Korean AORs "completely safe" or "completely pacified." Perhaps the biggest compliment was paid by the North Vietnamese command, which advised the VC to avoid contact with Koreans. And, yes, as Mr. Karlin pointed out, the South Korean contingent in Vietnam was accused of numerous atrocities, some of which were no doubt true.

    While the current generation of Korean young men are not exactly their Vietnam War forbears, don't let the hair coloring and video game-playing fool you. All able-bodied men undergo conscription, and discipline is quite severe in the South Korean military (you can hear about one man's experience here: https://youtu.be/WsVQ7dyyc_A). There is an enormous level of social opprobrium and legal sanction against those who attempt to draft-dodge. Even famous actors and singers are not immune and are hauled into military service after trying to dodge the conscription with various excuses (usually some sort of medical exemption). Even during the heydays of the corrupt Chaebol dominance, the wealthy elites could not get their sons exempted from military service. Even today, South Koreans still have a bit of a "garrison state" mentality.

    People who do this to seven year-olds are not as soft as they look: https://youtu.be/XmgNe7EK-ww

    I've worked with various military forces in Asia. Only two groups of men unnerved me in Asia. One was the Gurkhas. The other was the Republic of Korea Army 707th Special Mission Battalion. They are some of the toughest, scariest killers I've ever met.

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It's rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if's and but's, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise. Luckily for them, their opponent, the North Korean military, is even more rigid.

    By the way, the main weakness of the North Korean military isn't so much the low morale or the obsolete equipment (although those are very large handicaps), it's that their military lacks the large-scale training necessary to mount significant conventional operations. AND they also lack the fuel and spare parts necessary to sustain high tempo operations deep into South Korean territory. As others have pointed out, Korea is generally quite mountainous with a few plains (rice-growing) areas. There is only a handful of corridors through which large mechanized forces can come through, and those are HEAVILY emplaced with layers of anti-tank defenses, even without factoring in overwhelming air dominance the combined US-ROK air forces have. Essentially, North Korea's only capacity is to hurt South Korea, not conquer it, in the act of self-immolation... which is why nuclear weapons are a vital guarantor of the regime safety for the Kim family.

    They will never give that up, and they will periodically increase tension with South Korea and the U.S. in order to strengthen domestic cohesion, without actually inviting war. And nobody knows how long this will last. Certainly South Korea, despite the unification rhetoric, don't want it since the defectors from the North have shown utter inability to assimilate in the South and end up either destitute or become the criminal underclass. Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.

    Very good post, IMHO.
    Keep them coming.

    You’ve made worth skimming “ambient noise” here for sure.

    This is NOT good:

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It’s rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if’s and but’s, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise.

    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.

    A couple questions of some interest for me, if I may:
    How would you assess a feasibility of a “push” by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to “clear” that “artillery belt”? Conventional warfare, no nukes.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
    I know this isn’t easy but would appreciate if you give it a go.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Let me second this, I'd like to read more of Twinkie's take on the situation.
    , @Twinkie

    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.
     
    "Auftragstaktik" is hard to do with conscripts, especially in a Confucian culture with a very high degree of deference to authority and an extreme aversion to mistakes. In this regard, it's interesting that, unlike the regular army, the special operations units of South Korea use non-honorific language in combat training and operations in an effort to simplify communication under stress and to instill some sense of initiative and improvisation (in other words, an atmosphere in which junior officers and enlisted can voice up to their superiors).

    The discipline in the South Korean military is EXTREMELY severe (I once saw an ROK Army colonel pistol-whip a captain really hard, because his company maneuvered away slightly and left a small gap on a flank - I thought the captain should get medical treatment, but he got back up, stood at attention with blood streaming down his face until dismissed and then returned to his unit, no doubt to beat the living daylights out of HIS subordinates - I could only imagine what happened to the conscripts in the company). The basic theory of discipline in the South Korean army is that the conscripts should be more afraid of their officers than they are of the enemy. This probably makes the South Korean troops stubborn and tenacious, but is not exactly the kind of environment that fosters "mission-type approach."

    How would you assess a feasibility of a “push” by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to “clear” that “artillery belt”? Conventional warfare, no nukes.
     
    I am not convinced that a majority of the 10,000+ tubes of North Korean artillery is at a high degree of readiness, let alone all that functional. Besides, I doubt that more than 5-10% of that can even reach Seoul (and, yes, that is enough to damage Seoul, but not destroy it). The ones that dare to emerge from emplacement and fire won't survive very long, given the much more advanced counter-battery capability the combined U.S.-ROK forces have at their disposal as well as their complete and utter air dominance.

    As for how well the combined forces can drive into North Korea really depends on what happened to the North Korean forces that invaded South. If North Korea's regime were really unwise enough to fling that only bolt in the quiver and roll the dice - and engage in a massive invasion attempt of the South - I expect the bulk of its mobile forces would be destroyed within two-to-four weeks after wreaking some havoc. After that I think Pyongyang would fall quickly, as the remaining totally obsolete and unready parts of the North Korean military disintegrates.

    If, on the other hand, North Korea chooses a more limited adventure of engaging in some missile strikes, shelling, and minor land incursions, any serious land-based counterattack into North Korean territory would be fraught with a very high risk of substantial allied casualties.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
     
    I think the intel is pretty clear on this. The morale of the regular North Korean forces is very low. Their standards of training have deteriorated dramatically since the end of the Soviet Union. Their readiness is very low too and the prospect of re-supply close to non-existent in war. Of course, no one knows until the balloon goes up and there is actual fighting, but my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.

    Again, the only thing that is guaranteeing the surviving of the regime at this point is the nuclear card... and the reluctance of the surrounding powers, i.e. China and South Korea, to assume responsibility toward the North Korean population.
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  169. https://www.unz.com/efingleton/north-korea-why-trump-should-kims-feet-to-the-fire/

    Trump gets elected promising to stop the Chinese mercantile blitz on American productive capacity, and Kim suddenly becomes more of a problem. It’s such a mystery.

    The Chinese would not topple Kim, China wants a buffer state North Korea. NK regarded as a rogue state a problem for the US suites China because it gives them a wedge against American economic nationalism; the Americans are going to have to ask for Chinese help with Kim and in return China continues to get into America’s economic pants

    The leaks about MacMaster and Trump wanting to give Kim a bloody nose are probably bluff. If the US tried a limited punitive raid on Kim, they will be giving him the perfect oppertunity to inveigle the US into something a lot more serious. North Korea is not behaving like it wants to avoid trouble at all, its trying to provoke something. Serbia started WW1. Deliberately.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dfordoom

    North Korea is not behaving like it wants to avoid trouble at all, its trying to provoke something. Serbia started WW1. Deliberately.
     
    The Serbs would argue that they were merely responding to Austro-Hungarian expansionism. Vienna's annexation of Bosnia in 1908 was a direct threat to the long-term national goals of Serbia. And it could be argued that the reckless and bloody-minded policy of Austria-Hungary started the war. There are two sides to every story. Austria-Hungary was a bullying superpower with ambitions beyond its declining military capacity.

    On the other hand it is true that the Serbs didn't care if their actions led to a general European war. If a general European war seemed likely to further Serbia's aims they were OK with that.

    But then the Austro-Hungarians also didn't care if their actions led to a general European war. If a general European war seemed likely to further Vienna's aims they were OK with that.

    So there are similarities. Once again we have a bullying superpower facing off against a small power that is determined not to back down even if that means another world war.
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  170. @peterAUS
    Very good post, IMHO.
    Keep them coming.

    You've made worth skimming "ambient noise" here for sure.

    This is NOT good:

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It’s rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if’s and but’s, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise.
     
    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.

    A couple questions of some interest for me, if I may:
    How would you assess a feasibility of a "push" by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to "clear" that "artillery belt"? Conventional warfare, no nukes.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
    I know this isn't easy but would appreciate if you give it a go.

    Let me second this, I’d like to read more of Twinkie’s take on the situation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sean
    Six hours ago

    https://www.ft.com/content/21a0407e-eadd-11e7-bd17-521324c81e23

    The news is likely to embarrass China and raise questions about its record of enforcing sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
     
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  171. @reiner Tor
    Let me second this, I'd like to read more of Twinkie's take on the situation.

    Six hours ago

    https://www.ft.com/content/21a0407e-eadd-11e7-bd17-521324c81e23

    The news is likely to embarrass China and raise questions about its record of enforcing sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

    Read More
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  172. @Twinkie
    Did you miss the part about the soldiers of this American-installed* “soft” regime kicking ass and taking down names in Vietnam? Where the VC was afraid to engage them on its own turf?

    *Only the First Republic was US-installed. Since the Third Republic and on, the US has had limited influence on the domestic politics of South Korea, even during the military dictatorships. One book summarized the relationship as “Massive Entaglements, Limited Influence” as the actual title.

    Modern South Korea is something of an American creation, but it has its innate, ancient culture (remaining independent in the face of supposedly 1,000 invasions in the last 2,000 years), and it was ushered into modernity by Imperial Japan, which left a profound and lasting influence. In some ways, South Korea is more like pre-war Japan than Japan itself is.

    In its culture, there is a certain unhinged, single-minded pursuit of goals, that is incompatible with softness. My goodness, it is still a society in which teachers beat their students with fists and sticks for minor infractions. Expats often describe Koreans as “extreme.”

    A little tidbit, by the way. The modal surname at West Point - the U.S. Military Academy - graduations is frequently “Kim.” And Koreans are a miniscule fraction of the U.S. population. Non-Korean Asian cadets at West Point often describe Korean cadets as “hardcore,” and the Korean-American Relations Seminar is legendary.

    Did you miss the part about the soldiers of this American-installed* “soft” regime kicking ass and taking down names in Vietnam? Where the VC was afraid to engage them on its own turf?

    That was a long time ago. Half a century. Americanisation is a gradual insidious process. It’s the cultural poison you have to worry about and it works slowly but surely.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    That was a long time ago. Half a century. Americanisation is a gradual insidious process. It’s the cultural poison you have to worry about and it works slowly but surely.
     
    So are you saying that Americanization turned South Koreans from panicky peasants into "hard-headed, tough little bastards" (to borrow P.J. O'Rourke's characterization of them) in the first twenty years of their influence, but then subsequently turned them into sissies?
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  173. @Sean
    https://www.unz.com/efingleton/north-korea-why-trump-should-kims-feet-to-the-fire/

    Trump gets elected promising to stop the Chinese mercantile blitz on American productive capacity, and Kim suddenly becomes more of a problem. It's such a mystery.

    The Chinese would not topple Kim, China wants a buffer state North Korea. NK regarded as a rogue state a problem for the US suites China because it gives them a wedge against American economic nationalism; the Americans are going to have to ask for Chinese help with Kim and in return China continues to get into America's economic pants

    The leaks about MacMaster and Trump wanting to give Kim a bloody nose are probably bluff. If the US tried a limited punitive raid on Kim, they will be giving him the perfect oppertunity to inveigle the US into something a lot more serious. North Korea is not behaving like it wants to avoid trouble at all, its trying to provoke something. Serbia started WW1. Deliberately.

    North Korea is not behaving like it wants to avoid trouble at all, its trying to provoke something. Serbia started WW1. Deliberately.

    The Serbs would argue that they were merely responding to Austro-Hungarian expansionism. Vienna’s annexation of Bosnia in 1908 was a direct threat to the long-term national goals of Serbia. And it could be argued that the reckless and bloody-minded policy of Austria-Hungary started the war. There are two sides to every story. Austria-Hungary was a bullying superpower with ambitions beyond its declining military capacity.

    On the other hand it is true that the Serbs didn’t care if their actions led to a general European war. If a general European war seemed likely to further Serbia’s aims they were OK with that.

    But then the Austro-Hungarians also didn’t care if their actions led to a general European war. If a general European war seemed likely to further Vienna’s aims they were OK with that.

    So there are similarities. Once again we have a bullying superpower facing off against a small power that is determined not to back down even if that means another world war.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sean

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/they-really-did-start-it/
    Can a small country start a big war? We have the example of the First World War, which was caused by Serbia—or rather by advocates of a Greater Serbia who saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire standing in their way. The empire had to be destroyed, and its destruction could come about only through a major global conflict.

    Franz Ferdinand had planned to redraw the map of Austria-Hungary radically, creating a number of ethnically and linguistically dominated semi-autonomous “states” which would all be part of a larger confederation renamed the United States of Greater Austria. Under this plan, language and cultural identification was encouraged, and the disproportionate balance of power would be corrected. (United States of Greater Austria, 2015)
     
    History played out differently. The Archduke’s dream was a nightmare for Serbia’s rulers. Today, few of us know just how much that country was viewed as a rogue state in 1914. About a decade earlier, a group of army officers had staged a coup d’état, killing the king, the queen, her two brothers, the prime minister, and the minister of the army (May Coup, 2015). The coup outraged the international community, with most countries freezing diplomatic relations and imposing sanctions. Great Britain restored relations only three years later, after the senior conspirators had been removed from office. Nonetheless, they and like-minded people continued to exercise much authority through a secret society called The Black Hand. More importantly, nothing was done to change the radical shift in Serbian foreign policy, which was now anti-Austro-Hungary and pro-Greater-Serbia:

    Serbia paid dearly for the First World War, but the payback was considerable. When the spoils were divided up in 1918, Serbia more than doubled in land area, becoming comparable in size to the large states of Western Europe. The dream of Greater Serbia had come true.
     

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/and-north-koreans.html
    In April 2006, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party, Rodong Sinmun, ran this editorial:


    Recently, in South Korea, a strange game pursuing the weakening of the fundamental character of our race and making society 'multiethnic and multiracial' is unfolding.

    Those responsible for this commotion are spreading confounding rumors like South Korea is a “multiracial area” mixed with the blood of Americans and several other races, how we must “overcome closed ethnic nationalism,” and we must embrace “the inclusiveness and openness of a multiethnic nation” like the United States.

    This is an outrage that makes it impossible to repress the rage of the people/race. To start from the conclusion, the argument for “multiethnic, multiracial society” cried for by pro-American flunkeyists in South Korea is an unpardonable argument to obliterate the race by denying the homogeneity of the Korean race and to make an immigrant society out of South Korea, to make it a hodgepodge, to Americanize it. (Koehler, 2006)
     
    For some, the above editorial is proof that the North Koreans are nuts. They’ve gone Nazi, and there’s no longer any point in dealing with them. This is the message of a recent book that brands the North Koreans as being “ideologically closer to America’s adversaries in World War II than to communist China and Eastern Europe” (Myers, 2010, pp. 15-16)
     


    All of this leads to two conclusions. First, the divide between them and us will continue to grow. There is no desire on either side for genuine rapprochement.

    And the second conclusion? The North Korean leadership no longer sees the conquest of South Korea as a goal that can be pushed indefinitely into the future. It is something that must happen soon—before the demographic changes in the South become irreversible. Yes, war is coming. Soon.
     
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  174. @Twinkie

    I cannot understand, where your respect comes from. I’m noticing this strange admiration for Asian people among some members of this community, which I don’t get.
     
    It seems to me that your racial prejudices are preventing you from assessing the South Korean military capacity objectively.

    The way I see South Korea, it’s just another US-made proxy regime. Americans have a record of creating regimes, which are rather soft, break under pressure, and are therefore in need of constant support. Think about South Vietnam, South Korea in the first war, Iraq post-US invasion…The regime Americans created in Iraq got nearly overrun by ISIS in 2014. And South Korea despite its wealth looks pretty fragile to me.
     
    Unlike Iraq with its tribal, sectarian, and ethnic divisions held together by dictatorships and colonial power, Korea has existed as a unitary culture and people for thousands of years (albeit with occasional divisions). South Korea as an American creation is more like West Germany than it is like current Iraq or even South Vietnam.

    Speaking of South Vietnam, South Korea sent the largest contingent of "Free World Forces" during the conflict excepting the United States. Its soldiers were extremely thorough in preparing the battle space (often multiple units would sweep the same areas independently to assure all was well) and were particularly noted for their willingness to close with the communist forces in close quarters (even hand-to-hand) combat unlike their Western allies (who liked to rely on firepower from distance).

    They were so thorough and well-prepared that they often ambushed the Vietcong in the latter's own territory. They typically had a sky-high morale and excellent cohesion, and their kill ratios reflected this - similar to that of the most elite U.S. forces. Most American liaison officers attached to the Koreans pronounced Korean AORs "completely safe" or "completely pacified." Perhaps the biggest compliment was paid by the North Vietnamese command, which advised the VC to avoid contact with Koreans. And, yes, as Mr. Karlin pointed out, the South Korean contingent in Vietnam was accused of numerous atrocities, some of which were no doubt true.

    While the current generation of Korean young men are not exactly their Vietnam War forbears, don't let the hair coloring and video game-playing fool you. All able-bodied men undergo conscription, and discipline is quite severe in the South Korean military (you can hear about one man's experience here: https://youtu.be/WsVQ7dyyc_A). There is an enormous level of social opprobrium and legal sanction against those who attempt to draft-dodge. Even famous actors and singers are not immune and are hauled into military service after trying to dodge the conscription with various excuses (usually some sort of medical exemption). Even during the heydays of the corrupt Chaebol dominance, the wealthy elites could not get their sons exempted from military service. Even today, South Koreans still have a bit of a "garrison state" mentality.

    People who do this to seven year-olds are not as soft as they look: https://youtu.be/XmgNe7EK-ww

    I've worked with various military forces in Asia. Only two groups of men unnerved me in Asia. One was the Gurkhas. The other was the Republic of Korea Army 707th Special Mission Battalion. They are some of the toughest, scariest killers I've ever met.

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It's rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if's and but's, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise. Luckily for them, their opponent, the North Korean military, is even more rigid.

    By the way, the main weakness of the North Korean military isn't so much the low morale or the obsolete equipment (although those are very large handicaps), it's that their military lacks the large-scale training necessary to mount significant conventional operations. AND they also lack the fuel and spare parts necessary to sustain high tempo operations deep into South Korean territory. As others have pointed out, Korea is generally quite mountainous with a few plains (rice-growing) areas. There is only a handful of corridors through which large mechanized forces can come through, and those are HEAVILY emplaced with layers of anti-tank defenses, even without factoring in overwhelming air dominance the combined US-ROK air forces have. Essentially, North Korea's only capacity is to hurt South Korea, not conquer it, in the act of self-immolation... which is why nuclear weapons are a vital guarantor of the regime safety for the Kim family.

    They will never give that up, and they will periodically increase tension with South Korea and the U.S. in order to strengthen domestic cohesion, without actually inviting war. And nobody knows how long this will last. Certainly South Korea, despite the unification rhetoric, don't want it since the defectors from the North have shown utter inability to assimilate in the South and end up either destitute or become the criminal underclass. Both China and South Korea have a vested interest in propping up the current regime in the North since its disintegration would adverse affect their respective countries.

    What you’re forgetting is that the S. Koreans of Vietnam fame lived under Gen. Park Chung-hee’s regime, as socio-politically repressive as the one current in N. Korea.

    After a couple of generations of living Gangnam style, I’m not sure I’d like their chances against the N. Koreans any more than I’d like them against the very different S. Koreans of the Vietnam era.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    What you’re forgetting is that the S. Koreans of Vietnam fame lived under Gen. Park Chung-hee’s regime, as socio-politically repressive as the one current in N. Korea.
     
    That's just incorrect. It's akin to saying that the Francoist Spain was "as socio-politically repressive" as Stalin's Russia.
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  175. @reiner Tor
    Why is no one using it in propaganda? By the way from what I’ve read the rocket engine looked like a modified version of an RD-250 engine. In other words, it was a variant of the engine which has never been produced in either Ukraine or Russia.

    So again, it was either only data and maybe some people who traveled there, or it was a highly sophisticated engine which was transported there (without either Russia or the US noticing it, depending on who you accuse of complicity) and then the North Koreans modifying it themselves. But if they are capable of that, then is it a stretch to propose that they are capable of producing it themselves? As actually a lot of serious publications are proposing.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you propose that I have to come up with evidence of the Norks producing it themselves. Your theory is equally in need of evidence, actually more so, because it posits a vast conspiracy of one of the major powers supplying the engine but without any other major power noticing it or at least pointing it out.

    Why is no one using it in propaganda?

    I have no real idea, but I wouldn’t if I was trying to establish a different narrative that allowed a more advantageous range of actionable options.

    … I’ve read the rocket engine looked like a modified version of an RD-250 engine.

    I’ve read both opinions, and opinions on what the modifications meant. All quite inconclusive given the unknown unknowns. The RD-250 is pretty old now, and there may have been various modifications made, even at the factory that are not publicly known at this point.

    But if they are capable of that, then is it a stretch to propose that they are capable of producing it themselves?

    Boring out your Chevy is an order of magnitude (probably several) less complex than building an engine from scratch. Modifying car engines was a hobby long ago, but I wouldn’t contemplate casting an engine block and forging aluminium pistons myself.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you propose that I have to come up with evidence of the Norks producing it themselves.

    I did? If I did (no time to re-read my posts) it wasn’t intentional. I’d be stunned if either of us had proof of any of this.

    I don’t actually have a “theory”. I’m just trying to keep the “Ideological Drones” here off-balance by pointing out that a “Monkey with Nukes” view is much too simplistic to explain the history, the geo-political interests in play, or even what we see actually happening.

    DPRK related discussions are actually going on in a few threads simultaneously, making it difficult to track what who said where, and leads to untethered side discussions like the one we’re having. I haven’t participated much in this thread, but quoting oneself from another seems distasteful.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    I wouldn’t if I was trying to establish a different narrative that allowed a more advantageous range of actionable options
     
    In other words, all three parties have the same interest in maintaining the narrative that North Korea mostly developed those weapons indigenously. I have a hard time believing it.

    Boring out your Chevy is an order of magnitude (probably several) less complex than building an engine from scratch. Modifying car engines was a hobby long ago, but I wouldn’t contemplate casting an engine block and forging aluminium pistons myself.
     
    OK, that's a fair point. But we're talking about someone who can already build a Camaro, but now claims to have produced a highly (or not so highly?) modified Corvette racing car.

    “Monkey with Nukes” view is much too simplistic to explain the history, the geo-political interests in play, or even what we see actually happening.
     
    Norks look idiotic from the outside, but they are no fools. It's also well known that they have always been fiercely independent. The Kims repeatedly purged pro-Soviet and pro-China factions from their party, the latest of which probably happened just a few years ago, which means it's quite risky for outsiders to give them anything. It's also well known that the youngest and fattest Kim reorganized the missile program shortly after his father's death, which makes it more likely that it's now working better than before.

    The alternative theories you proposed (missile received from the US or from Russia or from China) require some kind of implicit or explicit cooperation between China, Russia, and the US, plus you also proposed that the Norks are really just "monkeys" willing to do the bidding of anyone showing up at their doors. This in my opinion doesn't have Occam on its side.
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  176. @Erebus
    What you're forgetting is that the S. Koreans of Vietnam fame lived under Gen. Park Chung-hee's regime, as socio-politically repressive as the one current in N. Korea.

    After a couple of generations of living Gangnam style, I'm not sure I'd like their chances against the N. Koreans any more than I'd like them against the very different S. Koreans of the Vietnam era.

    What you’re forgetting is that the S. Koreans of Vietnam fame lived under Gen. Park Chung-hee’s regime, as socio-politically repressive as the one current in N. Korea.

    That’s just incorrect. It’s akin to saying that the Francoist Spain was “as socio-politically repressive” as Stalin’s Russia.

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    • Replies: @Erebus
    Fair enough. I was actually thinking more of Syngman Rhee's rule, and the early days of Park's, under which most of the Koreans in Vietnam would have been born and raised. Park was at least an economic reformer. Anyhow, this isn't wasn't a major variable in anybody's geo-political calculus.

    Noting your subsequent posts regarding DPRK's & ROK's, one gleans that you have considerable experience with ROK, at least, and with its opinions on DPRK. The sum of your observations on the relative state of the 2 militaries begs a question or 2.
    The first is one wonders why DPRK are being so deliberately provocative while occupying a weak position. What drives their behaviour?
    The 2nd is, given the enormous resources and investments that have obviously been expended in creating modern Pyongyang and developing other cities, one wonders how the regime came to so neglect their once capable military. I realize that much of that investment came from the ROK and China, but that should have freed up regime resources for maintaining their conventional military, no? Did those foreign investments form an "insurance policy" against invasion by their neighbours, and so opened the window to DPRK provoking the US directly?
    What's your read of why they would do this, given that almost any theatre nuclear capability would offer significant deterrent against invasion.
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  177. @peterAUS
    Very good post, IMHO.
    Keep them coming.

    You've made worth skimming "ambient noise" here for sure.

    This is NOT good:

    In my view, the main weakness of the South Korean military is not that their society is brittle or that their soldiers would cut and run. It’s rather that their military is quite rigid. Orders are to be obeyed unto death, no if’s and but’s, and their soldiers are not taught to improvise.
     
    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.

    A couple questions of some interest for me, if I may:
    How would you assess a feasibility of a "push" by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to "clear" that "artillery belt"? Conventional warfare, no nukes.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
    I know this isn't easy but would appreciate if you give it a go.

    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.

    “Auftragstaktik” is hard to do with conscripts, especially in a Confucian culture with a very high degree of deference to authority and an extreme aversion to mistakes. In this regard, it’s interesting that, unlike the regular army, the special operations units of South Korea use non-honorific language in combat training and operations in an effort to simplify communication under stress and to instill some sense of initiative and improvisation (in other words, an atmosphere in which junior officers and enlisted can voice up to their superiors).

    The discipline in the South Korean military is EXTREMELY severe (I once saw an ROK Army colonel pistol-whip a captain really hard, because his company maneuvered away slightly and left a small gap on a flank – I thought the captain should get medical treatment, but he got back up, stood at attention with blood streaming down his face until dismissed and then returned to his unit, no doubt to beat the living daylights out of HIS subordinates – I could only imagine what happened to the conscripts in the company). The basic theory of discipline in the South Korean army is that the conscripts should be more afraid of their officers than they are of the enemy. This probably makes the South Korean troops stubborn and tenacious, but is not exactly the kind of environment that fosters “mission-type approach.”

    How would you assess a feasibility of a “push” by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to “clear” that “artillery belt”? Conventional warfare, no nukes.

    I am not convinced that a majority of the 10,000+ tubes of North Korean artillery is at a high degree of readiness, let alone all that functional. Besides, I doubt that more than 5-10% of that can even reach Seoul (and, yes, that is enough to damage Seoul, but not destroy it). The ones that dare to emerge from emplacement and fire won’t survive very long, given the much more advanced counter-battery capability the combined U.S.-ROK forces have at their disposal as well as their complete and utter air dominance.

    As for how well the combined forces can drive into North Korea really depends on what happened to the North Korean forces that invaded South. If North Korea’s regime were really unwise enough to fling that only bolt in the quiver and roll the dice – and engage in a massive invasion attempt of the South – I expect the bulk of its mobile forces would be destroyed within two-to-four weeks after wreaking some havoc. After that I think Pyongyang would fall quickly, as the remaining totally obsolete and unready parts of the North Korean military disintegrates.

    If, on the other hand, North Korea chooses a more limited adventure of engaging in some missile strikes, shelling, and minor land incursions, any serious land-based counterattack into North Korean territory would be fraught with a very high risk of substantial allied casualties.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?

    I think the intel is pretty clear on this. The morale of the regular North Korean forces is very low. Their standards of training have deteriorated dramatically since the end of the Soviet Union. Their readiness is very low too and the prospect of re-supply close to non-existent in war. Of course, no one knows until the balloon goes up and there is actual fighting, but my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.

    Again, the only thing that is guaranteeing the surviving of the regime at this point is the nuclear card… and the reluctance of the surrounding powers, i.e. China and South Korea, to assume responsibility toward the North Korean population.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.
     
    That’s roughly what Anatoly wrote. The “regular army” consists of work battalions who are mostly incapable of fighting, the 200,000 “special forces” are the regular army capable of fighting (but much worse equipped than their counterparts in the South), and there are probably some true special forces as well, with a few thousand men.
    , @peterAUS
    Good post, appreciate it.

    A couple of comments:

    “Auftragstaktik” is hard to do with conscripts
     
    agree, of course.
    There are always exceptions. The one that comes up fast is IDF, although probably not much for raw conscripts but to (recalled) reservists. It also helps where there is a real combat going on.
    ROK hasn't been there for a while I guess.
    In any case this is just.........bad, IMHO.
    Wasn't aware of that and it does put a certain light on what and how would happen should real shooting start:

    (I once saw an ROK Army colonel pistol-whip a captain really hard, because his company maneuvered away slightly and left a small gap on a flank – I thought the captain should get medical treatment, but he got back up, stood at attention with blood streaming down his face until dismissed and then returned to his unit, no doubt to beat the living daylights out of HIS subordinates – I could only imagine what happened to the conscripts in the company). The basic theory of discipline in the South Korean army is that the conscripts should be more afraid of their officers than they are of the enemy
     

    This probably makes the South Korean troops stubborn and tenacious, but is not exactly the kind of environment that fosters “mission-type approach.”
     
    I believe it's worse than that.
    That works well in defense (more or less, of course).
    Does NOT work well in advance/attack.
    I guess that as soon as an officer (OC/CO) goes down the unit loses momentum.

    This type of attitude is a beauty in peace/garrison; it's unpleasant in exercises and downright bad in real modern combat.
    I guess that partially answers my first question (advance northward).

    I am not convinced that a majority of the 10,000+ tubes of North Korean artillery is at a high degree of readiness, let alone all that functional. Besides, I doubt that more than 5-10% of that can even reach Seoul (and, yes, that is enough to damage Seoul, but not destroy it). The ones that dare to emerge from emplacement and fire won’t survive very long, given the much more advanced counter-battery capability the combined U.S.-ROK forces have at their disposal as well as their complete and utter air dominance.
     
    Agree.
    There is a well written document somewhere on Web about effects of (conventional) artillery on modern structures. And, well, available practical data from recent wars. The actual damage is surprisingly low there.
    The real danger is for populace not in shelters.

    If, on the other hand, North Korea chooses a more limited adventure of engaging in some missile strikes, shelling, and minor land incursions, any serious land-based counterattack into North Korean territory would be fraught with a very high risk of substantial allied casualties.
     
    Well, after reading that about "initiative", agree.

    The morale of the regular North Korean forces is very low. Their standards of training have deteriorated dramatically since the end of the Soviet Union. Their readiness is very low too and the prospect of re-supply close to non-existent in war. Of course, no one knows until the balloon goes up and there is actual fighting, but my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.
     
    Agree.
    Now...I haven't researched that much, but, my impression about those SF, they are actually, by Western standards: "adequately indoctrinated, moderately equipped, and sufficiently trained light infantry", IMHO. Probably around a couple of thousands could be at level of, say, "real" SF.
    I just have a feeling that they lack SF type sophistication and finesse (again, apart of those couple of thousands). I've seen clips of their training...nothing there but physical and mental toughness. That's fine, of course , but not enough in "real".

    Again, the only thing that is guaranteeing the surviving of the regime at this point is the nuclear card… and the reluctance of the surrounding powers, i.e. China and South Korea, to assume responsibility toward the North Korean population.
     
    Agree.
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  178. @dfordoom

    Did you miss the part about the soldiers of this American-installed* “soft” regime kicking ass and taking down names in Vietnam? Where the VC was afraid to engage them on its own turf?
     
    That was a long time ago. Half a century. Americanisation is a gradual insidious process. It's the cultural poison you have to worry about and it works slowly but surely.

    That was a long time ago. Half a century. Americanisation is a gradual insidious process. It’s the cultural poison you have to worry about and it works slowly but surely.

    So are you saying that Americanization turned South Koreans from panicky peasants into “hard-headed, tough little bastards” (to borrow P.J. O’Rourke’s characterization of them) in the first twenty years of their influence, but then subsequently turned them into sissies?

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  179. @Twinkie

    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.
     
    "Auftragstaktik" is hard to do with conscripts, especially in a Confucian culture with a very high degree of deference to authority and an extreme aversion to mistakes. In this regard, it's interesting that, unlike the regular army, the special operations units of South Korea use non-honorific language in combat training and operations in an effort to simplify communication under stress and to instill some sense of initiative and improvisation (in other words, an atmosphere in which junior officers and enlisted can voice up to their superiors).

    The discipline in the South Korean military is EXTREMELY severe (I once saw an ROK Army colonel pistol-whip a captain really hard, because his company maneuvered away slightly and left a small gap on a flank - I thought the captain should get medical treatment, but he got back up, stood at attention with blood streaming down his face until dismissed and then returned to his unit, no doubt to beat the living daylights out of HIS subordinates - I could only imagine what happened to the conscripts in the company). The basic theory of discipline in the South Korean army is that the conscripts should be more afraid of their officers than they are of the enemy. This probably makes the South Korean troops stubborn and tenacious, but is not exactly the kind of environment that fosters "mission-type approach."

    How would you assess a feasibility of a “push” by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to “clear” that “artillery belt”? Conventional warfare, no nukes.
     
    I am not convinced that a majority of the 10,000+ tubes of North Korean artillery is at a high degree of readiness, let alone all that functional. Besides, I doubt that more than 5-10% of that can even reach Seoul (and, yes, that is enough to damage Seoul, but not destroy it). The ones that dare to emerge from emplacement and fire won't survive very long, given the much more advanced counter-battery capability the combined U.S.-ROK forces have at their disposal as well as their complete and utter air dominance.

    As for how well the combined forces can drive into North Korea really depends on what happened to the North Korean forces that invaded South. If North Korea's regime were really unwise enough to fling that only bolt in the quiver and roll the dice - and engage in a massive invasion attempt of the South - I expect the bulk of its mobile forces would be destroyed within two-to-four weeks after wreaking some havoc. After that I think Pyongyang would fall quickly, as the remaining totally obsolete and unready parts of the North Korean military disintegrates.

    If, on the other hand, North Korea chooses a more limited adventure of engaging in some missile strikes, shelling, and minor land incursions, any serious land-based counterattack into North Korean territory would be fraught with a very high risk of substantial allied casualties.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
     
    I think the intel is pretty clear on this. The morale of the regular North Korean forces is very low. Their standards of training have deteriorated dramatically since the end of the Soviet Union. Their readiness is very low too and the prospect of re-supply close to non-existent in war. Of course, no one knows until the balloon goes up and there is actual fighting, but my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.

    Again, the only thing that is guaranteeing the surviving of the regime at this point is the nuclear card... and the reluctance of the surrounding powers, i.e. China and South Korea, to assume responsibility toward the North Korean population.

    my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.

    That’s roughly what Anatoly wrote. The “regular army” consists of work battalions who are mostly incapable of fighting, the 200,000 “special forces” are the regular army capable of fighting (but much worse equipped than their counterparts in the South), and there are probably some true special forces as well, with a few thousand men.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    The “regular army” consists of work battalions who are mostly incapable of fighting
     
    Although they are used for labor, I am sure, I wouldn't quite go as far as calling them work battalions. They are just a very low readiness army with obsolete equipment that is breaking down with no fuel, spare parts, or ammunition for serious training. I'd say more a shadow of a once large conventional mechanized army organized along Soviet/Chinese lines.
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  180. @reiner Tor
    In other words, if I understand it correctly, there are basically two Korean nations now.

    By the way, defectors are probably strange individuals. They cause enormous harm to their own families and friends back at home, so probably a bit more psychopathic than average.

    But even if they are not very representative, I'd guess a reunification would need a kind of colonial regime in North Korea for several decades, until it reaches sufficient development levels (and a couple generations of indoctrination) so that it could be fully reintegrated.

    In other words, if I understand it correctly, there are basically two Korean nations now.

    Yes. They are very different countries, to say the least.

    By the way, defectors are probably strange individuals. They cause enormous harm to their own families and friends back at home, so probably a bit more psychopathic than average.

    I don’t know about that. They are generally extremely desperate people. Most have a great deal of trouble integrating into the South Korean society. They are usually given a certain amount of settlement funds by the South Korean government, but they tend to blow through it fast or are defrauded easily. The structure that governed every aspect of their lives is gone, and they just don’t know what to do with themselves or how to support themselves.

    But even if they are not very representative, I’d guess a reunification would need a kind of colonial regime in North Korea for several decades, until it reaches sufficient development levels (and a couple generations of indoctrination) so that it could be fully reintegrated.

    South Korea is just not interested. Outside communist agitators, the desire for reunification in the South was always the greatest with the older generation that remembered a united Korea (albeit under Japanese occupation) and also those who fled the North, and yet others who had family in the North, but most of them have died out or are dying out. The younger generation simply does not have any emotional attachment to the North in anyway and see it as nothing but endless troubles that would detract from their prosperity and safety.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    I don’t know about that.
     
    It’s a certainty. Even in communist Hungary, the family members and close friends of defectors to the West were punished in some form. At a minimum, their careers stalled or they were demoted, but they also received quite a bit of police harassment, and could be prosecuted if it was suspected that they could have known about the imminent defection but failed to notify the authorities. Being the relative or former friend of a defector was always a spot on one’s reputation, which was written into one’s personal dossier, which always followed everyone into any job, so your boss always knew that he was not supposed to promote you.

    I can only imagine punishment to be much more severe in North Korea. Defectors essentially try to escape the North but by doing so throw their families under the bus. I guess family members left behind cannot be happy with what they have done to them.
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  181. @reiner Tor

    my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.
     
    That’s roughly what Anatoly wrote. The “regular army” consists of work battalions who are mostly incapable of fighting, the 200,000 “special forces” are the regular army capable of fighting (but much worse equipped than their counterparts in the South), and there are probably some true special forces as well, with a few thousand men.

    The “regular army” consists of work battalions who are mostly incapable of fighting

    Although they are used for labor, I am sure, I wouldn’t quite go as far as calling them work battalions. They are just a very low readiness army with obsolete equipment that is breaking down with no fuel, spare parts, or ammunition for serious training. I’d say more a shadow of a once large conventional mechanized army organized along Soviet/Chinese lines.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I think we agree on that, esp. re-the lack of training. What I wrote:

    Furthermore, I don’t see a large percentage of these being credibly combat-worthy. It’s no secret that the North Korean military doubles as a source of cheap labor, from helping with the harvest to road repairs and construction. This is time that they don’t spend training.
     
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  182. @Twinkie

    In other words, if I understand it correctly, there are basically two Korean nations now.
     
    Yes. They are very different countries, to say the least.

    By the way, defectors are probably strange individuals. They cause enormous harm to their own families and friends back at home, so probably a bit more psychopathic than average.
     
    I don't know about that. They are generally extremely desperate people. Most have a great deal of trouble integrating into the South Korean society. They are usually given a certain amount of settlement funds by the South Korean government, but they tend to blow through it fast or are defrauded easily. The structure that governed every aspect of their lives is gone, and they just don't know what to do with themselves or how to support themselves.

    But even if they are not very representative, I’d guess a reunification would need a kind of colonial regime in North Korea for several decades, until it reaches sufficient development levels (and a couple generations of indoctrination) so that it could be fully reintegrated.
     
    South Korea is just not interested. Outside communist agitators, the desire for reunification in the South was always the greatest with the older generation that remembered a united Korea (albeit under Japanese occupation) and also those who fled the North, and yet others who had family in the North, but most of them have died out or are dying out. The younger generation simply does not have any emotional attachment to the North in anyway and see it as nothing but endless troubles that would detract from their prosperity and safety.

    I don’t know about that.

    It’s a certainty. Even in communist Hungary, the family members and close friends of defectors to the West were punished in some form. At a minimum, their careers stalled or they were demoted, but they also received quite a bit of police harassment, and could be prosecuted if it was suspected that they could have known about the imminent defection but failed to notify the authorities. Being the relative or former friend of a defector was always a spot on one’s reputation, which was written into one’s personal dossier, which always followed everyone into any job, so your boss always knew that he was not supposed to promote you.

    I can only imagine punishment to be much more severe in North Korea. Defectors essentially try to escape the North but by doing so throw their families under the bus. I guess family members left behind cannot be happy with what they have done to them.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie
    My remark was in regard to your speculation of higher psychopathy among defectors, not in regard to the punishment doled out to the kin left behind.

    I don't wish to go into it too much (or at all, really), but I interviewed defectors in the past. Setting aside the mid-to high-ranking government bureaucrats/party leaders and military officers, i.e. VIP defectors with useful intelligence to debrief, most defectors nowadays tend to be rather ordinary people who are simply very desperate. The same goes for North Korean women who are trafficked (often self-trafficked) across the Sino-North Korean border.

    And, yes, those left behind are severely punished - executions, labor camps, torture/rape, starvation, etc. But in many cases, those left behind are already on the way to their deaths. And the defectors themselves universally express a great deal of remorse for those left behind, especially after they experience even a little bit of their new enhanced lives.
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  183. @dfordoom

    North Korea is not behaving like it wants to avoid trouble at all, its trying to provoke something. Serbia started WW1. Deliberately.
     
    The Serbs would argue that they were merely responding to Austro-Hungarian expansionism. Vienna's annexation of Bosnia in 1908 was a direct threat to the long-term national goals of Serbia. And it could be argued that the reckless and bloody-minded policy of Austria-Hungary started the war. There are two sides to every story. Austria-Hungary was a bullying superpower with ambitions beyond its declining military capacity.

    On the other hand it is true that the Serbs didn't care if their actions led to a general European war. If a general European war seemed likely to further Serbia's aims they were OK with that.

    But then the Austro-Hungarians also didn't care if their actions led to a general European war. If a general European war seemed likely to further Vienna's aims they were OK with that.

    So there are similarities. Once again we have a bullying superpower facing off against a small power that is determined not to back down even if that means another world war.

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/they-really-did-start-it/
    Can a small country start a big war? We have the example of the First World War, which was caused by Serbia—or rather by advocates of a Greater Serbia who saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire standing in their way. The empire had to be destroyed, and its destruction could come about only through a major global conflict.

    Franz Ferdinand had planned to redraw the map of Austria-Hungary radically, creating a number of ethnically and linguistically dominated semi-autonomous “states” which would all be part of a larger confederation renamed the United States of Greater Austria. Under this plan, language and cultural identification was encouraged, and the disproportionate balance of power would be corrected. (United States of Greater Austria, 2015)

    History played out differently. The Archduke’s dream was a nightmare for Serbia’s rulers. Today, few of us know just how much that country was viewed as a rogue state in 1914. About a decade earlier, a group of army officers had staged a coup d’état, killing the king, the queen, her two brothers, the prime minister, and the minister of the army (May Coup, 2015). The coup outraged the international community, with most countries freezing diplomatic relations and imposing sanctions. Great Britain restored relations only three years later, after the senior conspirators had been removed from office. Nonetheless, they and like-minded people continued to exercise much authority through a secret society called The Black Hand. More importantly, nothing was done to change the radical shift in Serbian foreign policy, which was now anti-Austro-Hungary and pro-Greater-Serbia:

    Serbia paid dearly for the First World War, but the payback was considerable. When the spoils were divided up in 1918, Serbia more than doubled in land area, becoming comparable in size to the large states of Western Europe. The dream of Greater Serbia had come true.

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/and-north-koreans.html
    In April 2006, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party, Rodong Sinmun, ran this editorial:

    Recently, in South Korea, a strange game pursuing the weakening of the fundamental character of our race and making society ‘multiethnic and multiracial’ is unfolding.

    Those responsible for this commotion are spreading confounding rumors like South Korea is a “multiracial area” mixed with the blood of Americans and several other races, how we must “overcome closed ethnic nationalism,” and we must embrace “the inclusiveness and openness of a multiethnic nation” like the United States.

    This is an outrage that makes it impossible to repress the rage of the people/race. To start from the conclusion, the argument for “multiethnic, multiracial society” cried for by pro-American flunkeyists in South Korea is an unpardonable argument to obliterate the race by denying the homogeneity of the Korean race and to make an immigrant society out of South Korea, to make it a hodgepodge, to Americanize it. (Koehler, 2006)

    For some, the above editorial is proof that the North Koreans are nuts. They’ve gone Nazi, and there’s no longer any point in dealing with them. This is the message of a recent book that brands the North Koreans as being “ideologically closer to America’s adversaries in World War II than to communist China and Eastern Europe” (Myers, 2010, pp. 15-16)

    All of this leads to two conclusions. First, the divide between them and us will continue to grow. There is no desire on either side for genuine rapprochement.

    And the second conclusion? The North Korean leadership no longer sees the conquest of South Korea as a goal that can be pushed indefinitely into the future. It is something that must happen soon—before the demographic changes in the South become irreversible. Yes, war is coming. Soon.

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  184. @Erebus

    Why is no one using it in propaganda?
     
    I have no real idea, but I wouldn't if I was trying to establish a different narrative that allowed a more advantageous range of actionable options.

    ... I’ve read the rocket engine looked like a modified version of an RD-250 engine.
     
    I've read both opinions, and opinions on what the modifications meant. All quite inconclusive given the unknown unknowns. The RD-250 is pretty old now, and there may have been various modifications made, even at the factory that are not publicly known at this point.

    But if they are capable of that, then is it a stretch to propose that they are capable of producing it themselves?
     
    Boring out your Chevy is an order of magnitude (probably several) less complex than building an engine from scratch. Modifying car engines was a hobby long ago, but I wouldn't contemplate casting an engine block and forging aluminium pistons myself.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you propose that I have to come up with evidence of the Norks producing it themselves.
     
    I did? If I did (no time to re-read my posts) it wasn't intentional. I'd be stunned if either of us had proof of any of this.

    I don't actually have a "theory". I'm just trying to keep the "Ideological Drones" here off-balance by pointing out that a "Monkey with Nukes" view is much too simplistic to explain the history, the geo-political interests in play, or even what we see actually happening.

    DPRK related discussions are actually going on in a few threads simultaneously, making it difficult to track what who said where, and leads to untethered side discussions like the one we're having. I haven't participated much in this thread, but quoting oneself from another seems distasteful.

    I wouldn’t if I was trying to establish a different narrative that allowed a more advantageous range of actionable options

    In other words, all three parties have the same interest in maintaining the narrative that North Korea mostly developed those weapons indigenously. I have a hard time believing it.

    Boring out your Chevy is an order of magnitude (probably several) less complex than building an engine from scratch. Modifying car engines was a hobby long ago, but I wouldn’t contemplate casting an engine block and forging aluminium pistons myself.

    OK, that’s a fair point. But we’re talking about someone who can already build a Camaro, but now claims to have produced a highly (or not so highly?) modified Corvette racing car.

    “Monkey with Nukes” view is much too simplistic to explain the history, the geo-political interests in play, or even what we see actually happening.

    Norks look idiotic from the outside, but they are no fools. It’s also well known that they have always been fiercely independent. The Kims repeatedly purged pro-Soviet and pro-China factions from their party, the latest of which probably happened just a few years ago, which means it’s quite risky for outsiders to give them anything. It’s also well known that the youngest and fattest Kim reorganized the missile program shortly after his father’s death, which makes it more likely that it’s now working better than before.

    The alternative theories you proposed (missile received from the US or from Russia or from China) require some kind of implicit or explicit cooperation between China, Russia, and the US, plus you also proposed that the Norks are really just “monkeys” willing to do the bidding of anyone showing up at their doors. This in my opinion doesn’t have Occam on its side.

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    ... all three parties have the same interest in maintaining the narrative that North Korea mostly developed those weapons indigenously. I have a hard time believing it.
     
    No, they may well have very different interests in maintaining it, just as they all maintain (EG:) the 9/11 narrative for different reasons. I believe Putin knows exactly what happened re: 9/11, but (afaik) he's never said anything that would cast doubt on the official story.

    ... someone who can already build a Camaro...
     
    This analogy is probably running out of gas, but they built lots of lawn tractors, and failed to get a reliable Camaro that didn't usually blow up before it went anywhere. After that, they suddenly showed up at LeMans and entered successful cars in 3 different classes. The latter is what's turning heads.

    ... plus you also proposed that the Norks are really just “monkeys” willing to do the bidding of anyone showing up at their doors.
     
    I did? Where?

    The alternative theories you proposed...
     
    Look, the "theory" that DPRK, or at least Kim, is an American asset isn't mine, it's William Engdahl's.
    The "theory" that DPRK's latest series of missiles isn't indigenous isn't mine either. It's virtually a truism in think-tank circles, which the NYT brought to the general public's attention. Here's an early article pre-dating the HS-15 launch: http://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voices/blogsections/iiss-voices-2017-adeb/august-2b48/north-korea-icbm-success-3abb
    All I'm doing, as I've already repeated a couple of times for you, is trying to tease out some of the ramifications of those "theories", and show that it ain't simply a matter of who's army is better fit to invade who. Enormous geo-political issues underlie the tensions in the ECS which, in my view are more likely to determine what happens there than whether DPRK's conscripts are/aren't able to stand up to ROK's, or whether DPRK's artillery can hit Seoul, etc.

    ... require some kind of implicit or explicit cooperation between China, Russia, and the US...
     
    It does? How?
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  185. China is giving N.Korea crucial support with necessities like oil at least.

    The Kims repeatedly purged pro-Soviet and pro-China factions from their party, the latest of which probably happened just a few years ago, which means it’s quite risky for outsiders to give them anything.

    It certainly is, but North Koreans may be more subtle than they are given credit for. I think the chances of them just nuking out are zero, because they do not want to get destroyed and as you say,no one is going to risk giving them a real strategic nuke option anyway.

    Historically, the Hermit Kingdom has been adept in playing the role of China’s rebellious ward, and then playing great powers off against one another, as they did with Russia and Japan before Japan got fed up and told Russia they could have Manchuria if Japan was allowed to dominate Korea; Russia said no and the result was the Russo Japan war (and WW1) .

    North Korea may have a much more devious endgame in mind than anyone thinks possible. But if you doubt that another consideration is the effect of the ridicule that Kim is being subjected to (being called a fatso with a circle of sycophants). North Korea is a highly militarised society (that recent NK defector had antibodies to Anthrax) and absolute power in it is welded by a young man being mocked as insignificant: “unsatisfaktionsfahig” (see The Crisis of Masculinity and the Outbreak of the First World War).

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    that recent NK defector had antibodies to Anthrax
     
    Anthrax is an infectious disease for those working in unsanitary conditions with infected animals or their wool or skin. I think horses, sheep and cattle can infect someone with Anthrax.

    But it's a relatively rare disease even in the third world, so yes, it's possible that it's not natural in origin.
    , @reiner Tor
    Why would Kim risk his power and country if he was given an ICBM rocket engine by testing it? Unless he's super cozy with the outside power who gave him the engine, he'd have every incentive to distrust him. And what would he gain by "testing" an engine produced by others? I mean, if it works, great, if it doesn't, he got them for free anyway. What insight did he wish to gain by testing something produced by others?
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  186. @Sean
    China is giving N.Korea crucial support with necessities like oil at least.

    The Kims repeatedly purged pro-Soviet and pro-China factions from their party, the latest of which probably happened just a few years ago, which means it’s quite risky for outsiders to give them anything.
     
    It certainly is, but North Koreans may be more subtle than they are given credit for. I think the chances of them just nuking out are zero, because they do not want to get destroyed and as you say,no one is going to risk giving them a real strategic nuke option anyway.

    Historically, the Hermit Kingdom has been adept in playing the role of China's rebellious ward, and then playing great powers off against one another, as they did with Russia and Japan before Japan got fed up and told Russia they could have Manchuria if Japan was allowed to dominate Korea; Russia said no and the result was the Russo Japan war (and WW1) .

    North Korea may have a much more devious endgame in mind than anyone thinks possible. But if you doubt that another consideration is the effect of the ridicule that Kim is being subjected to (being called a fatso with a circle of sycophants). North Korea is a highly militarised society (that recent NK defector had antibodies to Anthrax) and absolute power in it is welded by a young man being mocked as insignificant: “unsatisfaktionsfahig” (see The Crisis of Masculinity and the Outbreak of the First World War).

    that recent NK defector had antibodies to Anthrax

    Anthrax is an infectious disease for those working in unsanitary conditions with infected animals or their wool or skin. I think horses, sheep and cattle can infect someone with Anthrax.

    But it’s a relatively rare disease even in the third world, so yes, it’s possible that it’s not natural in origin.

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  187. @Twinkie

    One would expect a bit more of initiative/mission-type approach in a Western trained military.
     
    "Auftragstaktik" is hard to do with conscripts, especially in a Confucian culture with a very high degree of deference to authority and an extreme aversion to mistakes. In this regard, it's interesting that, unlike the regular army, the special operations units of South Korea use non-honorific language in combat training and operations in an effort to simplify communication under stress and to instill some sense of initiative and improvisation (in other words, an atmosphere in which junior officers and enlisted can voice up to their superiors).

    The discipline in the South Korean military is EXTREMELY severe (I once saw an ROK Army colonel pistol-whip a captain really hard, because his company maneuvered away slightly and left a small gap on a flank - I thought the captain should get medical treatment, but he got back up, stood at attention with blood streaming down his face until dismissed and then returned to his unit, no doubt to beat the living daylights out of HIS subordinates - I could only imagine what happened to the conscripts in the company). The basic theory of discipline in the South Korean army is that the conscripts should be more afraid of their officers than they are of the enemy. This probably makes the South Korean troops stubborn and tenacious, but is not exactly the kind of environment that fosters "mission-type approach."

    How would you assess a feasibility of a “push” by US/South Korean forces into North Korea to “clear” that “artillery belt”? Conventional warfare, no nukes.
     
    I am not convinced that a majority of the 10,000+ tubes of North Korean artillery is at a high degree of readiness, let alone all that functional. Besides, I doubt that more than 5-10% of that can even reach Seoul (and, yes, that is enough to damage Seoul, but not destroy it). The ones that dare to emerge from emplacement and fire won't survive very long, given the much more advanced counter-battery capability the combined U.S.-ROK forces have at their disposal as well as their complete and utter air dominance.

    As for how well the combined forces can drive into North Korea really depends on what happened to the North Korean forces that invaded South. If North Korea's regime were really unwise enough to fling that only bolt in the quiver and roll the dice - and engage in a massive invasion attempt of the South - I expect the bulk of its mobile forces would be destroyed within two-to-four weeks after wreaking some havoc. After that I think Pyongyang would fall quickly, as the remaining totally obsolete and unready parts of the North Korean military disintegrates.

    If, on the other hand, North Korea chooses a more limited adventure of engaging in some missile strikes, shelling, and minor land incursions, any serious land-based counterattack into North Korean territory would be fraught with a very high risk of substantial allied casualties.

    And, how would you assess North Korean military (low levels) morale?
     
    I think the intel is pretty clear on this. The morale of the regular North Korean forces is very low. Their standards of training have deteriorated dramatically since the end of the Soviet Union. Their readiness is very low too and the prospect of re-supply close to non-existent in war. Of course, no one knows until the balloon goes up and there is actual fighting, but my own sense is that only the North Korean special forces are adequately indoctrinated, equipped, and trained to put up serious resistance.

    Again, the only thing that is guaranteeing the surviving of the regime at this point is the nuclear card... and the reluctance of the surrounding powers, i.e. China and South Korea, to assume responsibility toward the North Korean population.

    Good post, appreciate it.

    A couple of comments:

    “Auftragstaktik” is hard to do with conscripts

    agree, of course.
    There are always exceptions. The one that comes up fast is IDF, although probably not much for raw conscripts but to (recalled) reservists. It also helps where there is a real combat going on.
    ROK hasn’t been there for a while I guess.
    In any case this is just………bad, IMHO.
    Wasn’t aware of that and it does put a certain light on what and how would happen should real shooting start:

    (I once saw an ROK Army colonel pistol-whip a captain really hard, because his company maneuvered away slightly and left a small gap on a flank – I thought the captain should get medical treatment, but he got back up, stood at attention with blood streaming down his face until dismissed and then returned to his unit, no doubt to beat the living daylights out of HIS subordinates – I could only imagine what happened to the conscripts in the company). The basic theory of discipline in the South Korean army is that the conscripts should be more afraid of their officers than they are of the enemy

    This probably makes the South Korean troops stubborn and tenacious, but is not exactly the kind of environment that fosters “mission-type approach.”

    I believe it&#