pfizer viagra 100mg price in pakistan rupees finasteride 5mg tablets walmart when when cialis go generic viagra ohne rezept in deutschland kaufen masterbating after taking viagra para que es viagra andy cipro real estate ireland getting viagra from doctor johnson and johnson dapoxetine generic name for zoloft sertraline overdose of ciprotab in teenagers buy cipro without prescription does viagra cause heart attacks ampicillin crystals in urinary sediment super bock for sale in uk zithromax neuromuscular specialists in milwaukee area propranolol mechanism of action in hypertension journal is there a 60 mg cialis maximum safe dosage of metformin is clomid available in gauteng south africa renal failure and lasix is viagra legal in tenerife cialis 20mg tablets uk cipro hexal 500 mg alkoholilaskuri viagra sold in the us ciprobay iv 200 mg cada cuanto se debe tomar ciprofloxacina 500 mg after use of cytotec in fetal demise sildenafil biogaran prix betanazol generico de cialis can you get accutane uk where to buy viagra on curacao accutane generic manufacturers of losartan safe take prednisone during pregnancy sildenafil prices uk how to buy viagra boots efectos de media viagra online soriatane 20 mg prednisone sildenafil efeitos colaterais formula de ciproxina 500 mg cheaper substitute of viagra in homeopathy get viagra in pattaya como comprar viagra sin receta en farmacias viagra uk net complaints viagra online drugs cheap cialis uk tesco buy finasteride new york sandoz clomid online viagra guercmorteo discount comprar cialis generico farmacias has anyone used finasteride propranolol 20 mg pills risperdal 3 mg beipackzettel ciprofloxacin glimepiride y metformina propecia 28 tablets price in maylasia sildenafil sandoz 100 mg prix goncourt amoxil bestellen paypal finasteride 5 mg precio mexico prednisone 10 mg rox how to buy metformin in singapore zoloft groggy feeling in eyes buying cialis from canada reputable viagra buy with debt card 200 mg of propranolol buy lasix injectable cheap brand viagra duty pharmacy china what to take after clomid fails prezzi cialis in svizzera adhd specialists in west palm beach fl a partir de quantos anos pode usar viagra what is the cost of viagra tablets in india cheapest place to order cialis how does sildenafil citrate tablets work bfp 50mg clomid cipronex 250 mg 10 cena buy cialis online quick shipping ohio usa viagra wo am besten kaufen generic name of viagra metformin meaning in tamil is there a difference between 10 and 20 mg cialis retina specialists in myrtle beach sc donde comprar cytotec en cochabamba prostatitis cured buy cipro doxycycline monohydrate 100 mg cost is tadalafil an over the counter in walgreens meds 24 online viagra sales best cialis without prescription viagra online 121 how much does cialis cost in bc cheap sildenafil citrate 50mg side cialis once a day costovertebral angle clomid in thailand costi case a cipro ciprofloxacin in infectious diarrhea is viagra in generic now zoloft better in morning or night take zoloft in the am or pm a history of european socialism books viagra in india it how to take it best ways to take viagra cialis reviews tadalafil doxycycline is it safe adelgazando con metformin 500 mg cialis for daily use medicare in a sentence propranolol weight gain uk yahoo 36 hour cialis discount order viagra online pharmacy doxycycline malaria lloyds pharmacy ireland dienogest generico do viagra cialis tqeovertoz price purchase viagra baownbeuv metformin glucophage price philippines nike fs lite run 3 womens reviews on viagra has any one taken 2 20 mg of cialis order cialis online pakistan how many hours before should i take viagra donde puedo comprar cialis how to buy viagra canada ciprofloxacin 750 mg indications for hemodialysis cialis viagra new york city over the counter what do bodybuilders use clomid for where to buy cheap cialis in uae best retina specialist in florida asics tri noosa 8 womens reviews on viagra doxycycline zonnebank is it safe to take motrin while taking zoloft socialism and democracy in europe famous list of books reemplazantes naturales del viagra for sale metformin 500 mg price in canada what comes after clomid uk when will viagra become cheaper average price of viagra per pill cialis for sale sa ordinare viagra online senza ricetta 40 mg accutane results 3 buy cialis fda checkup pharmacy half life of doxycycline in cell culture medium the dose of azithromax in treatment for prostaitis paypal bezahlen cialis which doctors in maryland prescribe viagra easily wat doet viagra prices cialis daily australia pakistan india viagra uses of propranolol buy dapoxetine online treatment tadalafil cialis in pakistan price zanidip 20 mg cialis can accutane cause face swelling diflucan not working metformin costs without insurance online priligy paypal nestrolan 100 mg bijwerkingen prednisone how much does cipro cost with no ins what is the retail price of cialis anagen viagra generico can i take acetaminophen with cialis le iene viagra generico viagra stores in atlanta area verpackungseinheiten viagra online is it legal to buy viagra australia india 100mg viagra watermelon in place of viagra posologie zoloft 50 mg como comprar viagra via internet ciprofloxacin syrup in pakistan karachi generic cialis questions exist cialis generic can flomax and viagra be taken together best time of day to take cialis 5mg purchase brand viagra online can you take clindamycin with accutane reputable place buy viagra how to tell if your man takes viagra viagra in berlin kaufen clomid tablets can we buy online in the uk dosage glucophage xr reviews hand specialist in arkansas hong kong hongwei sildenafil viagra gold 3500 mg lowest prices for viagra for testim clomid nolvadex uk nolvadex d 20 mg caixa 30 comprimidos p do online cialis work cialis professional 40 mg does accutane get rid of scaring 60 mg nolvadex pct injections metformin hcl safe morphium rezeptfrei kaufen viagra other how to use viagra for best results buy original clomid 50mg online priligy 60 mg prezzo viagra made in india red in color ideal dosage for cialis cialis black gold 600 mg doxycycline in lactating mothers what is ampicillin used for effects of 25 mg viagra price of ciprodex otic taking zoloft in first trimester viagra cipla online will 25 mg zoloft help is viagra safe in bali 2.5 mg cialis no prescription how to make ampicillin 100mg ml is brand name klonopin better than generic cialis how much does brand viagra cost at walmart generic viagra maxifort can you take clomid day 4 8 propecia long term price generic cialis 5 mg cialis daily generic ciprofloxacin 250 mg tabs for crazy safe to use diflucan and monistat viagra australian pharmacy cezvom 10 mg prednisone vodelan tabletas generico do viagra purchase viagra pills lek za potenciju cialis online ciprofloxacin order azithromycin 500mg zoloft premature ejaculation free viagra montreal viagra price in beirut lebanon cialis 5 mg come usarlo buy prednisone hereisthebestin cialis delivery by fedex cost of clomid retail usa kilosports clomid pct reviews of zootopia viagra capsule 500g chinese in malysia metformin and acarbose combination generic propecia called can i buy branded viagra over the counter in canada viagra triangle chicago reviews viagra to pakistan international purchase finasteride 1mg generico colombia flag can i take viagra before surgery prednisolone in kidney disease a history of european socialism most popular books buying metformin in spain can i take cialis and uroxatral how many pills in viagra bottle best pricesildenafil 100mg can you buy prednisolone in spain is cialis safe with blood pressure medicine cialis 20mg idealo difference between brand generic zoloft for sale 50 mg of prednisone a day for 5 days for sinuses sildenafil axapharm kaufen accutane 40 mg rosacea pulmicort flexhaler 180 mcg generic viagra delivery sildenafil can u take 2 viagra pills post finasteride syndrome reality metformin online australia viagra in wall secret story 2 portugal generico de cialis viagra kaise use karen buy deltasone no prescription walmart has vigorelli viagra para la mujer lasix 500mg tabs nebenwirkungen l effet secondaire du viagra generic why was amoxil discontinued in he us tadalafil 2 5 mg prezzo rat found in viagra box cialis 100mg opinie best way to get nolvadex finasteride 5 mg prostate clomid zin in seks cuanto dura el efecto del cialis 20 mg buying clomid online with american express card que efecto causa la viagra en una mujer oscal d 500mg generico do viagra is it legal to buy priligy online i need buy viagra in shenzhen viagra buyer in florida can you take coq10 with clomid where can i buy viagra immediately buy viagra in nogales ciprofloxacin 500 mg for sinus infection dosage usando viagra por primera vez web segura para comprar viagra buy viagra 100 in nigeria is it safe to dissolve cialis under my tongue buy viagra pills with a master card viagra pfizer uk jobs viagra in powerade generic cialis with dapoxetine 80mg liquid cialis syringe doubling cialis dosage inderal online kopen in nederland medicamento rosuvas 10 mg prednisone dolac 25 mg zoloft tritace hct 5mg 25 mg of zoloft how buy viagra in kerala cialis online da europa asics gel 2160 womens reviews on cialis clomid 100mg gemeos how much does a 6 day course of prednisone cost any other viagra tablets in chennai order sertraline zoloft clomid 100mg 2 6 pcos oral ampicillin dose cipro 1a pharma 500 mg filmtabletten would like to take 200 mg viagra prednisone generic for deltasone buy viagra tejuana ulcer in esophagus from doxycycline side viagra uk over the counter boots generico propecia comprar ropa glucophage generico wrestler legitimate viagra uk invirase generic viagra make liquid clomid from powder generic viagra 2 day delivery boots doxycycline buy doxycycline combination in mankind buy cialis east grinstead buy diflucan 150 zithromax during pregnancy doxycycline reviews rosacea does prednisone cause increase in blood sugar sildenafil 20 mg best price amitriptyline and propranolol viagra pill kolkata india viagra use in children safe take viagra while blood pressure medication why cant you buy cipro in mexico generic sildenafil citrate usa viagra dosage in hindi safe to use cialis and extenze at the same time viagra over the counter in europe ciproxin 250 generico viagra hereisthebestin australia buy sildenafil onli where can i buy nolvadex in uk acheter cialis en ligne farmacia online italia priligy online zoloft cost australia whats viagra used for synacthen depot generic cialis original viagra next day delivery were to buy cialis in philippines cheap antibiotics doxycycline no prescription doxycycline dosage webmd cialis prices walmart what is per tablet cost of viagra viagra prices central ohio pharmacies zoloft for sale on criaglist generic finasteride 5mg reviews on garcinia vitamin shoppe herbal viagra sildenafil 100 mg duration paint roxar tablets 150 mg zoloft generic cialis tadalafil 20mg india flagyl and cipro taken together indian viagra tablets names of angels pattaya buying viagra buy cialis within canada clomid uk steroids sites zovirax tablets 800 mg price should i take prednisone in the morning or at night paroxetine 40 mg bijwerkingen cialis llardons donde comprar viagra comprar cytotec misoprostol 200 mg cialis daily 5 mg taken with 20 mg i want to buy a viagra in kolkata dapoxetine price in pakistan of keo review accutane zithromax over the counter substitute en cuanto salen las pastillas cytotec was kostet viagra in argentinien walmart pharmacy zovirax kamasutra viagra online how to buy viagra by paypal use by date for viagra pantoprazole nome generico do viagra where to buy herbal viagra in london new holland 6635 for sale in uk zithromax cheap cialis online in canada 80 mg propranolol anxiety viagra online kaufen legal brooks adrenaline asr 11 womens reviews on viagra despues de usar cytotec me puedo embarazar where to buy cialis at gnc is cipro from mexico safe how to use viagra professional where can u buy unprescribed clomid tafil tabletas de 0 25 mgs of clomid uk tadalafil over the counter maximum safe dosage metformin buy nolvadex research pharmaceuticals hunter boots buy online uk viagra precisa receita comprar viagra generico sildenafil generico farmacias similares chihuahua buy cialis daily in hong kong price of roaccutane in australia doxycycline hyclate 100 mg for eye infection zithromax 500 mg treatment for pertussis kudzu and antabuse generic cialis for canadians order viagra medicine aspen zithromax in asthma amoxil liquid how supplied means generic propecia approved fda clomid late ovulation where to buy zithromax online with mastercard diflucan liquid buy amoxil generic name sildenafil teva price are you allowed to bring viagra into australia cannot buy viagra online with mastercard cialis in frankreich rezeptfrei paypal payment to buy cialis finasteride 5mg tab generic does it work for hair loss does canada require a prescription for viagra 6best deal for propecia amoxil 250 mg 5ml dosage calculator azithromax price philippines vidalista tadalafil 20mg usa non prescription sildenafil citrate vyvanse generic substitute for viagra what does 400 mg viagra cost per pill at walmart generic lowest price viagra what does generic zoloft 50 mg look like can prednisone be bought over the counter in sa 100mg viagra vs 20 mg cialis cost canada pharmacy cialis india viagra generico en farmacias del ahorro queretaro best viagra prices with prescription metformin 250 mg sustained release tablets viagra no prior prescription canada prednisone dosing in ra can u ovulate 3 days after last clomid pill for sale off the counter cialis dandiya sticks for sale in uk zithromax can you buy cialis over the counter in turkey generic finasteride order paypal at what age can you take viagra buy cialis 5 mg online canada pinazan 25 mg of zoloft natulan 50 mg zoloft comprare cialis generico in contrassegno provvisorio cialis 50mg suppliers ciprofloxacin 500 mg tablets cause yeast infection clomid early pregnancy signs where do you find metformin in nature do chemist sell viagra without a prescription what happens when a child takes viagra nolvadex 10mg uk zovirax cream price in pakistan platina viagra counter act with lisinopril iv dose zithromax in infants propranolol mg discussion boards philippines metformin cost specialist jobs in evansville in usage du cytotec im selling viagra in toronto is buspar safe to take with zoloft ovulation pain and clomid how much is viagra london viagra generic status can a man in his 20s take viagra diflucan effets secondaires buy viagra online 50mg 36 hour cialis dosage cialis de 5 mgs best pill price viagra viagra 50mg price australia prix du cialis 5mg en pharmacie en france hyoscine butyl bromide 20 mg prednisone cironex 10 mg prednisone propranolol safe anxiety prednisone acetate ophthalmic suspension price prednisone generic name for will generic viagra clear us customs accutane for treatment of rosacea how to find tadalafil online 25 mg of viagra not effective all the names for generic viagra how long does viagra take 2 work ampicillin endocarditis dose zithromax order online uk sildenafil tablets boots price which is cheaper cialis or viagra maximum dose amoxil rilatine mr 30 mg bijsluiter viagra where can i get viagra over the counter in south africa silagra brand name viagra cum with us com generic cialis sold canada generic lasix 40 mg ciprodex in trach site follicle size day 11 clomid for sale stanze in affitto roma cipro cheap generic cialis pills online buy propecia in nz socialist programs united states viagra market price slip a viagra in his drink order zithromax liquid online sildenafil ranbaxy 50 mg alguien ha usado priligy buying viagra at boots in edinburgh zithromax 600 mg 5 day Kiwipolitico » Blog Archive » Brief considerations on Korea

Brief considerations on Korea

datePosted on 08:36, November 24th, 2010 by Lew

Normally I would leave discussion of this sort of topic to Pablo, whose expertise is much greater than mine (and I expect he will weigh in with his own thoughts on the topic too). But I lived there for a few years and had a great deal of time to ponder the security situation there, both through my own research and in discussion with several groups of former soldiers and senior businesspeople whom I was teaching English whilst there, and I think I have a handle on it.

A bit of background. The DPRK (North) and ROK (South) Korea remain officially at war; the armistice agreed in 1953 after the Korean War was not a peace treaty and signalled only a cessation of hostilities which has been accompanied by significant military and intelligence preparations on both sides. It is a tense situation, but it is at a fairly stable equilibrium because the mutual assured destruction principle still holds to a large extent. The ROK and its allies understand that the DPRK and its primary military and command assets are sufficiently well-defended that an assault from the South would draw a counter-attack which would inflict massive civilian, military and infrastructure casualties — estimates range in the hundreds of thousands of deaths in greater Seoul alone, which is within easy artillery range. And that’s with conventional weaponry alone, not taking into consideration the possibility of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons (the regime certainly has the former two; it’s generally agreed that it also has the latter, but not in a deliverable form). For its part the DPRK understands that such an assault on the ROK would spell the end of its regime at the hands of a US-led NATO force.

There is a sense among people responding to the the news that yesterday’s exchange of artillery fire at Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea is qualitatively different from the dozens of other skirmishes which have taken place over the past 50-odd years of this cold conflict. It is true that this is one of the more serious engagements of that war, but it essentially follows the same pattern. Some action by the ROK and its allies (in this case a joint US-ROK naval exercise) granted the DPRK a pretext to rattle its chains; it fired a few rounds and some fiery rhetorical statements and the ROK does likewise. Two ROK soldiers have died, a dozen or so soldiers and a few civilians have been injured, and more civilians from the region have evacuated to the mainland. The casualty count is higher than usual, but so far, so typical. Late last night (NZ time) the DPRK released a statement alleging that the ROK had fired first. This is almost certainly false — the ROK rarely instigates these sorts of engagements — but that doesn’t matter. The purpose of the statement is to raise questions as to the ROK’s moral standing in the engagement, and to provide the ROK government with cover to stand down on the basis that it’s not worth going to war over a misunderstanding. If they do stand down the ROK government risks a minor loss of face, but since they are a liberal-democratic state whose populace has no appetite for war (and for the strategic reasons mentioned above) then barring much more serious provocation they will do so, President Lee Myung-bak’s own florid rhetoric about “enormous retaliation” notwithstanding.

Again: business as usual. While this latest event is perhaps quantitatively more serious than some previous events, it is qualitatively no different. This is the same strategic posturing game which is played out every crab fishing season in the West Sea, and year-round on the land border between the two states. The most serious mistake most of those who are now calling this the start of World War III are making is to try to understand this event in customary diplomatic terms as they would the relationship between two liberal-democratic states in good international standing. The DPRK’s actions and motivations make no sense when viewed in this light, because the DPRK is not, and never has been such a state. The explanation of these events are to be found, if anywhere, in an examination of the DPRK’s internal regime dynamics. Pablo has written about this topic recently with regard to the sinking of the ROK naval vessel Cheonan in March, and I urge you to reread his post in light of these most recent events.

So I don’t think there’s anything much to this. Due to the DPRK’s military doctrine of total war, an invasion or genuine commencement of hostilities would not begin with a few mortars; it would start with a massive and rapid deployment of force, targeted at the most vulnerable civilian and infrastructure targets, likely in the middle of the night and preferably during an adverse weather event or some sort of civil unrest. None of these conditions abide at present. But the fundamental point is that the tense yet stable strategic situation on the 38th has not changed, so it is very unlikely that either side will choose this juncture as the hook upon which to hang the possible demise of their state. There have been some recent developments in that strategic situation — the probable elevation of Kim Jong-Il’s son to a senior position in preparation for ascent to leadership of the regime; fresh concerns about the regime’s nuclear weapons program, and so on — but I believe these are too minor and too recent to have wrought the sorts of changes to the internal DPRK dynamic and to the cross-border dynamic which would be required for a substantial change in posture.

Of course, you never know. I have no special inside information or insight into the strategic situation there, and it may be that events of which few people are aware are driving this situation. But on the face of things this has been just another day on the 38th Parallel.


14 Responses to “Brief considerations on Korea”

  1. Pablo on November 24th, 2010 at 09:48

    Good analysis Lew.

    I guess the only real danger is if this attack was precipitated by some internal power struggle between soft- and hard-liners in the DPPK military in light of the succession to Kim Jung-Un’s leadership. The latter was promoted to four star general at age 27 in spite of his complete lack of leadership background or skills. For the old guys who earned their stars the hard way, that may not sit too well, which is why I think that given his limited experience etc., Kin Jung-Un is a walking dead man once the old man kicks off. So perhaps what we are seeing is the first salvo (no pun intended) in an internecine power struggle in light of the succession. That could be trouble as the internal logic of the power struggle could outweigh rational considerations of international consequences. Nukes will not factor into the equation in any event, for the reasons you describe.

    The muted ROK response says much about how they see the situation, because if anyone can glean a motive for the DPPKs behaviour it is its southern neighbour. On the other hand, the response may be muted simply because the ROK does not want to exacerbate the situation or play into the hands of the hard-liners up North.

  2. Lew on November 24th, 2010 at 10:05

    Thanks Pablo. Yes, I agree — though lacking any detail beyond what you describe here and in the linked post I didn’t see much use in rehashing it. But it’s certainly true that those cold warriors are just as practiced at internal brinksmanship and games of annihilation chicken as they are at the external versions we’re familiar with.

    That said, I do have a theory (based on discussions with Korean veterans, for what that somewhat distorted view is worth) that the best hopes for Korean peace lie with one of the generals taking the lead, rather than the Kim dynasty; in a similar way to how Khruschev, as a trusted member of Stalin’s inner circle and one responsible for enacting many of its more brutal policies, had seen the failings of Stalinism more clearly than some of the other, more distant, observers within the regime. Though I’m the first to concede that the hope of such a comparatively benign outcome as observed in the USSR is faint in the Korean case.


  3. Eric Crampton on November 24th, 2010 at 10:35

    Visited the DMZ on the USO tour a couple years back. Spooky looking across into a what’s effectively a massive prison camp.

  4. Lew on November 24th, 2010 at 10:45

    Eric, yeah. Somewhat surreal, since most of the DMZ is beautiful forested wilderness the like of which doesn’t exist elsewhere in the ROK. Apparently the last known habitat of totemic Korean animals such as the black bear.

    Found it even spookier from the Chinese side, in Dandong, viewing the DPRK across the river. There are factories and shipyards and apartments and even a ferris wheel on the far side — none of it lit or evidently inhabited. We sat and watched on the riverfront for hours, saw no vehicles except army patrol boats. A few people walking or cycling on the bank, and the only light we saw, just on dark, was the blue glow of a single welding torch down at the waterline. That was a grim metaphor.

    Funny story, though. Once, on a roadtrip in ROK, my wife and I went up toward (not into) the DMZ. I stopped to photograph the explosives laid under a bridge (all the bridges, bluffs, cuttings & dams up there are wired in case of ground invasion). When I returned to the car we were blocked in by police. The officer was very polite and wanted all my details — where I lived, who I worked for, my visa status, &c, and also details of my family and residence in NZ, including phone numbers and all. I thought it best to comply fully, and after 15 minutes or so it became clear that he didn’t care a damn about my taking photos of artillery emplacements or dynamite piles; he was looking to retire soon and just wanted a contact to put on his NZ residency visa application! Never did hear from him, though.


  5. Lew on November 24th, 2010 at 11:53

    And speaking of succession dramas in oppressive dictatorial regimes, rumour is that Frank Bainimarama has died of a heart attack. (According to Ali Jones of Newstalk ZB, this has been confirmed by family member of a senior Fijian interim government official).

    Update: A TVNZ reporter has apparently spoken to Bainimarama this afternoon. So much for that source.


  6. Hugh on November 24th, 2010 at 14:50

    I would guess the opposite, Pablo. While I think the real cause of this little event lies in the internal politics of Pyongyang, I don’t think Jong-Un’s position is as weak as you say it is. Everything you mentioned about his lack of leadership experienced applied to Jong Il back in the 80s, and obviously he had little trouble keeping hold. I think the Jong-Un vs The Generals dynamic you’ve described doesn’t capture the real situation. More likely is one group of Generals vs another group, with Jong-Un the figurehead of the second group, whose real leaders are likely to be Chang Sung-Taek and his wife. Whether one group is more hardline than the other, or whether it’s simply a factional dispute over the spoils of power with no genuine policy content, I’m not sure.

    One thing that does seem interesting to me when you look at the continuum of incidents along the inter-Korean border from 1953 to the present is that the last fifteen years have been mostly dominated by naval incidents while the border itself has been quiet. At first I thought this might be related to South Korea’s well known aspirations to be Asia’s second or third blue water navy. But North Korean naval troublemaking probably assists rather than impedes that aspiration. More likely is a perception on both sides that land-based provocations carry an unacceptably high risk of escalation, while naval ones are appropriately low volume, even when they involve attacks on civilians as this did.

    On a parochial note everybody is talking about this at my workplace this morning. There’s quite a few people who seem to relish the idea of giving the North Koreans a kicking, worryingly, but I doubt their views will find much acceptance in the actual corridors of power, where corruption and apathy is at least accompanied by a realistic view of the costs of war.

  7. Lew on November 24th, 2010 at 15:14

    Hugh, I’m not so sure. Those generals held an actual, genuine loyalty for Kim Il-sung, since he was the guerilla leader under whom most of them served fighting the Japanese — in other words, a real soldier with real nationalistic aspirations. Also, until his death, the DPRK was doing comparatively well — for much of that time, better than the ROK (with Soviet & other patronage). Korean society being what it is, it’s not hard to see them transfer some of that loyalty to his son and anointed heir, but those bonds of military and confucian loyalty have been strained in the intervening decades, and a second-generation of unblooded leadership may be too much to bear, particularly given the state’s flagging fortunes. In addition, the generals are no longer the same — few, if any, from Kim Il-sung’s era remain.

    The remainder of your analysis I tend to agree with. The gung-ho attitude toward North Korea, particularly among Americans who don’t see the downside, is frightening. I find that if you keep repeating the phrase ‘10,000 artillery shells per hour into one of the most densely-populated and congested cities in the world’, they start to get an inkling of the potential for a bloodbath.


  8. Pablo on November 24th, 2010 at 20:38


    I am not sure how you “guessed the opposite” to my comment other than being your usual contrarian self (apparently fueled by water cooler debate), but your first paragraph essentially confirms what I said in my comment on the post–there are factional disputes rather than real international issues at play.

    The rest of your comment was uninteresting, although Lew is always nice to engage with tangents. What the Fox-fed Yank public think about nuking NK (when they are not nuking Iran) is irrelevant, and the fact that the SK leadership is soft-peddling the incident is clear proof that this is not a bonafide international incident worthy of escalation (did I not say this before?).

    It does not matter if Kim Jung-Un is backed by one side or another–it is the succession crisis that matters. I could elucidate a whole lot more on authoritarian succession crises being the Achilles Heel of the regime, but you seem to like simple descriptions of events and historical precedent as explanatory variables rather than conceptual frameworks based upon both of them. So be it. I can also refer you to my previous post on the universal law of genetic decline so as to give you a hint, beyond what Lew explained above, why the son is not quite like the father or grandfather.

    So to put it simply for you, since you already understand the basics without apparently comprehending the bigger picture: it is the NK internecine quarrel about the direction of the succession, not the personalities involved, that are the driving force in this affair. Even if you do not understand this, the SK leadership clearly does even if they have their own domestic reasons for doing so–which is the point that Lew made at the onset.

  9. Hugh on November 24th, 2010 at 22:04

    Pablo, where I disagree with you is your assertion that Jong-Un is a “walking dead man once the old man kicks off”.

    And who’s talking about the Fox-fed yank public? I work for Japanese government.

  10. Hugh on November 24th, 2010 at 22:11

    It’s hard to debate, Lew, because we know so little about what goes on in Pyongyang. Even if we were experts, rather than interested amateurs, there’s little we could say with authority. A big question mark is the degree to which Kim Jong Il cares about his legacy. If he’s disposed to use his powers of patronage to build a pre-existing network of support for Jong Un before he dies, or becomes so sick he’s effectively politically dead, all the factors you’ve listed may not be insurmountable.

    Of course the frustrating thing is that if he had done this we would have no way of knowing, due to the extraordinary opacity of North Korea’s power structures. So I guess we’ll have to see.

    The problem with the sombre reflection on the carnage that a new Korean war would wreck is that it effectively gives the North all the cards. There’s no incentive for North Korea to behave more than absolutely minimally responsibly, at least to anybody other than China or to a lesser extent Russia. If North Korea blows up a crisis that might lead to war the onus is then on the South to defuse it – and there’s an incentive for another crisis to be blown up as soon as possible.

  11. Pablo on November 25th, 2010 at 03:59

    OK Hugh.

    We can respectfully disagree on the fate of Jung-Un and whether he commands enough support to put down what to my mind will be inevitable challenges to his leadership, which I see as the likely cause of this and the previous ChonAn sinking incident.

    My remark about the Fox-fed public had to do with the rabble rousing in the US that I have been watching and was not directed at at your work interlocutors. I should have made that clear.

    Here is an analysis the differs from mine and overlaps with yours and ties into Lew’s original post. It is good food for thought:

  12. Will on November 26th, 2010 at 02:33

    Lew / Pablo,

    You both seem in agreement that this is much ado about nothing. But DPRK’s significance ultimately lies in that it is a client state of the PRC. And China has been unwilling to distance itself from the DPRK. If anything, it is drawing closer. Zhou Yongkong (a Standing Committee member, and a rising power) attended the annointment of Kim Jong-Un (standing next to Kim Jong-Il), while Xi Jinping described the Korean war as a war of foreign aggression, something Jiang Zimin or Hu Jintao have not (at least to my awareness). Turning points are very subtle . . .

  13. Pablo on November 26th, 2010 at 08:07


    The PRC has everything to lose and nothing to gain by backing the DPRK to the hilt. It does need a major conflict in its backyard (in what it essentially views as a buffer state) at a time when it is unable to protect the sea lines of communication upon which it depends on for 80% of its primary good imports (including strategic commodities like coal). The DPRK is an economic drain on, and a source of illegal immigration into the PRC, among many other negatives. Even ideologically the two regimes have moved apart. A major war that forces the US to invoke its security guarantee for the ROK is exactly what the Chinese do not need at this moment.

    If anything, the best Chinese response to a war on the Korean peninsula that involves the US is to stage some sort of assault on Taiwan that will force a quid pro quo ceasefire and withdrawal of troops back to home soil. Even that scenario would be too risky, although less so than committing Chinese troops to battle against US forces on the peninsula.

    So the reason the PRC has diplomatically backed the DPRK is to help it save face and reaffirm the diplomatic ties between them that keep the DPRK as a buffer. And like Russia, the Chinese see anything that keeps the US busy wasting military resources putting out small fires world-wide as a good thing for them.

    Bottom line: the Chinese are into conflict-avoidance unless things are overwhelmingly on their terms regardless of who stands next to who at foreign photo ops. This is not one of those times.

  14. al loomis on December 5th, 2010 at 09:06

    this was mildly interesting, but could i interject that, in the interests of resuscitating precision in english language discussion of political events, you all consider using the phrase ‘liberal-oligarchic’ in referring to western governments? unless discussing helvetia?

Leave a Reply

Name: (required)
Email: (required) (will not be published)