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Look Before You Leap in North Korea
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Happiness is having your very own atomic bomb. This week we saw pictures of beaming North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, examining either a nuclear model or maybe even the real warhead of a miniaturized nuclear weapon.

Having a nuclear warhead is not, however, enough to scare your enemies and neighbors. You’ve got to have a fast, reliable delivery system. On his last birthday, a joyous Kim revealed what may be a submarine-launched missile believed capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.

Added to Kim’s new intercontinental ballistic missile (which may or may not work), the sub-launched strategic missile gave the South Koreans, Japanese and Americans apoplexy. China was not far behind in blasting the impudent North Koreans.

Meanwhile, a hugely provocative military exercise is underway, involving 15,000 US troops, 300,000 South Koreans, and an armada of US warplanes and warships. These war games are an annual event that enrages North Korea because they are obviously rehearsing an invasion of the North, and the decapitation of its leadership – namely Kim Jong-un.

Predictably, Kim threatened blood-curdling revenge on the US and its “South Korean and Japanese lackeys.” He ordered North Korea’s limited nuclear forces onto red alert. Whether pure bluff or not remained unknown. American generals claimed Kim’s ICBM’s can now hit the US West Coast. But the Pentagon also warned of Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

What we are really witnessing is North Asian Kabuki: a highly stylized mock confrontation that pleases all sides. It gives the US a perfect excuse to keep a powerful garrison in South Korea and the region, and to add reinforcements as part of President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia.” China’s angry responses are to be ignored.

North Korea’s threats are also allowing the US to go ahead with implanting a new THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea. High altitude THAAD will be of little use to defend South Korea. Any North Korean missile attack will come at low altitude and very short range- Seoul is only 40 km from North Korea’s border.

THAAD is really designed to intercept any missile launches from China against the US or Japan (including Okinawa). Beijing is fit to be tied over THAAD – just as Moscow was over the foolish plan to put a US antimissile system in Bulgaria and Romania. Russia is glowering.

Beating war drums helps keep Kim and his military-dominated regime in power in spite of economic hardship. Japan and South Korea will get more military aid from the US.

China, by contrast, gets the short end of the stick: it is forced to reluctantly tighten sanctions on an old ally, North Korea, while seeing new US military forces emplace themselves in its strategic and vulnerable Northeast.


Discount, or even ignore, all the howling about the danger of Kim’s North Korea. His sabre rattling and nuclear arms are defensive. They are the result of Washington’s refusal to recognize the Pyongyang regime and crushing sanctions against the North. A non-aggression pact would likely end Kim’s nuclear program.

But there’s a far larger risk from North Korea that is hardly ever discussed: the potential collapse of the Kim dynasty and North Korea’s descent into chaos. First, there will be a mass exodus of millions of starving North Koreans to South Korea that Seoul calls, “unexpected reunification.”

An even larger danger would be caused by any political/military vacuum in the North. This would quickly create a dangerous confrontation between US Asian forces, South Korea, Japan and neighboring China. A vacuum in such a strategic location must draw in all regional powers, including Russia – Vladivostok is just up the coast.

China needs a friendly North Korea as a buffer state to protect its vital Northeast region that was the site of the first Japanese-China War in 1894 and the bloody, 1904 Russo-Japanese War. Beijing cannot allow the US to turn North Korea into a second South Korea – a useful vassal state occupied by American, South Korean and possibly Japanese troops. It’s only a mere 3.5 hour drive from North Korea’s Yalu River border to China’s key northern port of Dalian, gateway to the Beijing heartland.

Objectionable and cruel though it is, the Kim regime in Pyongyang is the cork that keeps this scary genii in its bottle. Any change in North Korea’s equilibrium could plunge North Asia into the gravest crisis at a time when the region is also seething with tensions over China’s attempts to dominate the South China Sea.

After foolishly overthrowing Libya’s Col. Muammar Khadaffi, and thus unleashing waves of jihadism against North Africa, the Sahara and West Africa, one would think the West had learned a valuable lesson about being short-sighted and uneducated. But it seems here we go again in North Asia. The US just can’t abstain from mixing in other people’s local conflicts. Why else would US troops be scattered across West and East Africa?

Caution is advised. The Kim we know will always be preferable to the Kim we don’t.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: North Korea 
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  1. Hbm says:

    We’ll be okay. YHWH didn’t promise Pyongyang to the Chosen, so Tel Aviv-on-the-Hudson isn’t really all that interested in actually going to war with them.

    The whole situation will change once the West is in ruins and China becomes the preferred destination of the Eternal Instigators in search of productive goyim to attach themselves to.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  2. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Bit of a contradiction here by Eric Margolis.

    “One would think the west had learned a valuable lesson about being short-sighted and uneducated.”

    But as he points out himself later it is not really THE WEST just the USA.

    “The US just can’t abstain from mixing in other people’s local conflicts.”

    Its not Norway or the Republic of Ireland that is causing the problem although both are western countries.

    What if the US tried a different tactic. Trade with North Korea and build up economic influence there. Maybe then the north would have some incentive to behave differently. With the current situation the US has no leverage. Nor do I think North Korea would have ever developed Nukes if America had not stayed on the peninsula.

  3. Rehmat says:

    Kim Jong-un has nothing to worry. America has never attacked a country with nukes. That’s why Israel-born author Gilad Atzmon had advised Tehran to produce a nuke as soon as possible in order to put a ‘duct-tape’ on bullies like the US and Israel.

    Gilad Atzmon, on September 14, 2013, once again urged Tehran to acquire a nuclear deterrent. He said that’s the only way to bring Israeli aggression to an end. This is not the first time, Atzmon has made such suggestion. He did on several occasions during the last ten years I happen to know him.

    “Israeli leaders knew all along that Egypt possessed the capacity to inflict pain to Israel’s cities. They must have realised that Egyptian objectives were not genocidal – but it also means that Israel’s enemies: Arab countries, as well as Iran, must pursue every possible means to posses the kind of weaponry that deters Israel,” wrote Gilad Atzmon.

    • Agree: Orville H. Larson
  4. MarkinLA says:

    China needs a friendly North Korea as a buffer state to protect its vital Northeast region that was the site of the first Japanese-China War in 1894 and the bloody, 1904 Russo-Japanese War. Beijing cannot allow the US to turn North Korea into a second South Korea – a useful vassal state occupied by American, South Korean and possibly Japanese troops. It’s only a mere 3.5 hour drive from North Korea’s Yalu River border to China’s key northern port of Dalian, gateway to the Beijing heartland.

    Large massive land armies attacking one another to acquire land might make sense if China was not a major nuclear power. China may not want to see North Korea part of the South but I doubt it has anything to do with the Japanese using the place as a jumping off point for an invasion.

    • Replies: @anon
  5. anon • Disclaimer says:

    It has probably more to do with the fact that a unified Korea would be under American sway. Would the US tolerate a Mexico militarily linked to China?

  6. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The media have reported the bluster of Jong-un as threatening and an example of how unhinged he is. It’s reported in isolation without any context. They don’t bother to mention the provocative US-SK war games taking place right across the NK border whose jets are buzzing close to NK borders. We are the ones threatening them. The US has constantly threatened NK with nuclear attack from the early 50’s till today so it’s no wonder that they felt the need to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Kim Jong-un is not irrational. However, they are very tough and think they have to brandish their weapons along with their heated rhetoric to keep their enemies at bay. The article shows how provoking NK works to the benefit of the US, enabling it to spread it’s reach and increase it’s arms sales, always a good business. NK appears, at least outwardly, to be relatively stable and it’s in the interest of China for it to continue to be so. It doesn’t seem as if they’re going to collapse anytime soon; they’ve been predicting collapse every year for the past sixty years and it hasn’t happened.

  7. The don’t actually want to topple Kim … it would cut into weapon sales.

  8. Rehmat says:

    Unites States do want a pro-USsrael regime change in N. Korea – but the problem is N. Korea is not Libya. It has a few nukes which H.E. Kim wouldn’t mind dripping on 38,000 US soldiers occupying South Korea.

    In January 2016, Tel Aviv condemned N. Korea’s Hydrogen bomb test on January 6. The Zionist entity’s foreign ministry in a statement said: “A clear message must be sent to N. Korea and to other countries that such activities are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

    Chutzpah, the tiny entity that sits on 240-400 nuclear bombs cannot “tolerate” a communist-ruled country thousands miles far away.

    North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has the power to stop country’s nuclear race if the price is right – that’s lifting Washington’s sanctions against N. Korea. Barack Obama knows that but his Jewish masters in Israel didn’t allow him to seize the opportunity because N. Korea refused to distance itself from Iran and Pakistan, or stop supporting Palestinian cause…..

  9. @anonymous

    You make some excellent points. However, a North Korean collapse can’t be ruled out, whether the U.S. continues to interfere or not.

    Remember, nobody except for a few ridiculed scholars thought the U.S.S.R. was on the verge of collapse when it happened. And we know far less about what is going on in North Korea than we did about the situation in the Soviet Union.

    If it does happen, no matter the circumstances, it will be a disaster for South Korea and for China.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  10. Marcus says:
    @Bizarro World Observer

    There’s so much invested in the Kim family cult of personality that the regime may indeed be more vulnerable than it appears.

  11. Thirdeye says:

    If the US is stupid over DPRK, the ROK government is stupid x10. ROK has an interest in the stability of DPRK and an interest in their relations with China. China, not the US, is the player that can facilitate rapproachment between north and south. The only disincentive for China to do so is ROK’s alliance with the US. ROK has a choice. They can get rid of the remaining US forces on the peninsula and adopt a neutral stance that would allow them and China to work on matters of mutual interest, such as development of the north, or they can become a pawn. Confrontation with DPRK and China bears the prospect of the destruction of Seoul, regardless of the eventual outcome, and Japanese forces on the peninsula, neither of which is something any Korean wants.

  12. “foolishly overthrowing Libya’s Col. Muammar Khadaffi” —-Pure hog wash!
    Eric forgets– 1996 America needs to destroy 7 middle East countries and to start it off-
    -1999 Need a New Pearl Harbor Event. A planned operation .

  13. I agree 100% with Thirdeye. All USSA forces sorely need to leave ROK, so that negotiations on trade can begin between ROK, China and DPRK. All three countries can benefit from these talks and the trade that follows.
    It’s time that S. Korea ended its dependence on the USSA and took a neutral stance with its northern neighbor. Tell the USSA their forces must leave, so that these negotiations can begin between the two Koreas and China, and trade between the three ensue.

    • Replies: @Thirdeye
  14. Thirdeye says:
    @Eileen Kuch

    There already is trade between ROK and China. I’m sure that some in the ROK aren’t pleased about moves by their government and the US that stand to impair their relations with China.

    Until recently China had an interest in heading off competition from ROK, thus supporting the division to deny them access to the manpower and resources of DPRK. That interest is now mooted by their increasing economic ties with ROK, the shift in the relative economic power of China and ROK, and the burden that the DPRK is on China. ROK is ambivalent about assuming any of that burden but China is in a position to give some incentive.

    ROK has become more than capable of prevailing over DPRK militarily and should realize that all the THAAD deployment does is put a big Chinese bulls-eye on them.

  15. @Thirdeye

    Lol if you think the ROK or its people want reunification. I remember when the two Germanies reunited it was mostly pushed upon the West Germans to do so, the economic cost wasn’t necessarily welcomed by them. Same situation but worse applies to NK. Restructure? Sure. Assist in a governmental change? Right on. Economic assistance? Of course. But rejoin a country and absorb an entire population still stuck in the 1970s…again…lol if you think anybody important there wants that.

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