Permanent Irritation: Why Nothing Will Change With North Korea

There has been much talk in the news of possible military action of some sort on the Korean peninsula.  Western observers—the United States in particular—suspect that the North Korean government is planning shortly to test a nuclear device.  Before, US officials have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction to their Chinese counterparts regarding North Korea’s refusal to abide by its previous treaty obligations.  Compounding the confusion are recent statements by President Trump that he plans “solve” the North Korean problem one way or another.

Despite all the hype and all the talk, however, all sides know that little is going to change in the region.  The permanent state of irritation in the region will continue.  Everyone involved simply has too much too lose; only a suicidal fool would launch an unprovoked act of aggression in the area.  We will explain here why this is so.

China’s posture in Northeast Asia has traditionally been to keep competitive foreign powers at a distance.  South Korea and Japan are China’s rivals in the region, and Beijing has absolutely no desire to see either of them engaged in a war along its northern border.  From the Chinese perspective, North Korea is an ideal neighbor:  it is essentially like having one’s own pit bull at the front door, keeping away any unwanted intruders.  Pyongyang is hostile, xenophobic, and militant, all qualities to be valued in a guard-dog.  China is not about to jeopardize its security by doing anything meaningful to “rein in” its depraved border gargoyle.

China has every reason historically to fear foreign incursions in the region.  There were a series of invasions of Korea from Japan from 1592 to 1598.  The Chinese intervened to support their vassal state and repelled the Japanese invaders, and a truce was reached roughly where the North-South border stands today.  Another incursion into Korea from Japan came in the 1890s.  Again, China tried to repel the invaders, but was not successful; Korea became a Japanese protectorate.

In the Korean War of 1950-1953, the United States’ attempt to occupy the entire peninsula was met with a massive Chinese intervention that saved its North Korean ally from destruction.  These interventions by China were not based on altruism, but on security considerations.  No matter what, China does not want to see powerful foreign states on its doorstep.  This is entirely logical and no one can blame them for it; we need only remember the Cuban Missile Crisis to see how the US acted when a foreign power attempted to intrude on its own sphere of influence.  We mention these historical events to make the point that China sees North Korea as vital to its security.  It will not do anything meaningful to undermine its own security interests.  This seems to be lost on US planners, who keep trying vainly to pressure Beijing to do things it will never do.

This is not to say that Beijing is entirely happy with the situation.  It does not like North Korea’s insistence on conducting nuclear tests.  While Pyongyang is contemptuous of the world’s judgment, Beijing cares very much about how it is perceived by the world.  Being associated with a state that counterfeits currency, deals drugs, and kidnaps people is hardly good for public relations.  But the cold, hard reality is that Beijing is willing to swallow its neighbor’s uglier side to preserve its larger purposes.

So China will confine itself to cosmetic measures designed to appease the Americans but which in reality do nothing:  it will suspend flights between itself and North Korea, shuffle some troops around on its borders, issue meaningless platitudes about peace, and every now and then shut the lights off in North Korea.  There may come a time when Beijing racks up its abacus and decides that the cost of keeping the pit bull outweighs the benefit the dog is providing.  But that time is a long way off.

North Korea, South Korea and Japan have their own security considerations; none of them want war, either.  For all its bluster and bombast, the reality is that Kim Jong-Un is more interested in consolidating his hold on his people than engaging in reckless military adventures.  His recent purges have ensured that his position is now unchallenged.  For him, nuclear weapons are an insurance policy:  insurance against both the West and China.  From his perspective, he wants to make himself such a thorn in everyone’s side that the big players will conclude that it is simply too much trouble to get rid of him.  He wants to engineer a situation where he is more valuable on the throne than off it.  Keeping his people and his military in a permanent state of frenzy and crisis suits his purposes; this is right out of the Basic Dictator Handbook.

From Japan’s perspective, it wants no trouble, either.  It knows its military is in no position (yet) to mount a challenge to regional rivals.  It will need at least another 5 to 10 years to modernize its military and try to overcome decades of pacifist stagnation.  South Korea, of course, has absolutely no desire to see any trouble break out.  It knows that it will be the battleground in any conflict and that the entire society would be laid waste.  The United States must also realize that the status quo is certainly much better than anything else.  It has lived with a nuclear North Korea for a while and has no choice but to continue to do so.  Of course, it must keep a close watch on the situation, since North Korea has never abandoned its goal of conquering the entire peninsula by force.  But if any aggression were to happen, it knows that North Korea must take the international blame as the aggressor, as it did in 1950.  Only in this way can it preserve any moral high ground in a conflict.

When all is said and done, nothing will change.  The media hysteria means very little.  The situation will continue to be what it has been for many decades:  a state of permanent irritation.  All the actors have done their calculations, and everyone realizes that the status quo—while not perfect—is far better than any alternative.

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177 thoughts on “Permanent Irritation: Why Nothing Will Change With North Korea”

    1. Nah, every time someone breaks up with their girlfriend anywhere in asia it is very difficult because literally everyone you see looks just like your ex

  1. I’m going to wager the cancer rates in North Korea are much lower than in the U.S.

      1. Stomach cancer especially.
        South Korea too.
        It is a combination of genetics and the overly salty diet.
        Kimchi and other salted/pickled/fermented vegetables plays a part.

    1. I’m going to wager the life expectancy and quality of life in North Gookland is a lot lower than the US too. But at least through famine their people aren’t obese.

    2. Like 1/4th of all North Koreans have some kind of meth addiction from when the government started up a bunch of drug factories to make money off of poisoning foreigners, and it bit them in the butt.

      1. The Kim regime is shaaaaady as hell. Meth production and state-sponsored counterfeit currency operations. Everybody inside the country knows that the regime is full of shit.

        1. The people on the ground love the Kims, even in the 90s when they were literally starving to death. They blame their ills on the Party (And the US/SK).

    3. It would be interesting to know that figure. However, they burn coal, mostly without clean filters.

  2. It’ll end when they run out of resources and they launch a last ditch effort attack on the South. As long as China doesn’t bail them out again, they’ll be crushed. North Korea offers very little to China compared to getting American concessions on even just sitting idly by and watching Kim burn.

    1. While not on the level of Korean-Japanese feuding, Koreans and Chinese still dislike each other. China supports NK so that they don’t have to deal with a country with the massive resources of the North, and the technical/commercial ability of the South. Plus China practically steals natural resources from them.

      1. Not really — most of the surrounding players see that a collapsed North Korea would massively fuck up their own countries. Imagine 20 million refugees running straight into China and South Korea, searching for rice, stealing anything not nailed down, raping women, etc. It would be a nightmare for both of those countries.
        tl;dr They’ve got a wolf by the ears.

        1. I was more stating why China wouldn’t want to see a peacefully unified Korea.

        2. Oh. Well that’s a pipedream, since S Koreans don’t want a unified Korea, given the sorry mental, physical, educational, and economic state of the north.
          Someone explained to me that the Korean peninsula is a zero sum game. Fifty years ago, the north was rich and the south poor; now they’ve reversed roles.

        3. Yep, I don’t think anyone has seriously mentioned unification since the 90s.

        4. Many specialists think that North Koreans are exactly what South Korea wants. 24 million people with the same language, ethnicity, average IQ levels etc. It will boost their economy to the extent that they will supersede Japan, their main economic and historical rival. However, it would be more smooth if it happened gradually after a peaceful reunification.

        5. Because of malnutrition, North Koreans are an average of 5 inches shorter than South Koreans. Many are mentally stunted. They have no concept of civil society.
          As time goes on, S Koreans have a harder time making your argument. Unification would change S Korea for the worse, and devastate their economy.

        6. They’ve virtually no skills applicable to the South Korean economy. Bribery, selling smuggled cigarettes, and the ability to subsist on tree bark just aren’t in high demand.

        7. No one knows exactly how much shorter they are, since all we can do is try to extrapolate data from South Korea, when the countries were at about the same material level. South Korean males have grown about 3 inches the last 30 years, so I think that 5 inches is an exaggeration.
          But so what if they are shorter? It is a long term investment, which also transcends mere economic profits. Even if the average man is 5.5 instead of 5.8 it does not mean that they cannot work. Adoption studies show that cognitive ability is not affected in the long term by malnutrition. North Koreans can, in general, work with more simple industrial jobs (which they already do) until the next generation, when their children have obtained proper nutrition and education. Of course there is gonna be all sorts of obstacles throughout this process, if it happens, but like I said, long term it is beneficial. Just think how much land they have in the north that the entire country can benefit from.

        8. You dont understand..they are Asians, not dont see 20 million asian refugees..

        9. Yeah well, I wonder what will happen with all the chest thumping when Russia and China gang up on the USSA.

        10. Both sides would move to solidify their interests (Chinese Border, Russian Ports). Neither would lift a finger in support of NK if a conflict finally popped off.

        11. Most defectors can’t adapt in Seoul, they usually want to defect back before long.

        12. No it’s not. It is because Marxist-Leninism is so bad. Of course North Korea could have been much richer or equally rich if they would have had the same market economy as SK.

        13. Since The kims are running the show, expect more disaster to come in the future. It looks like a theathrical play of the cold war to me.

        14. Wasn’t that about the time the last rice harvest failure occurred and canabalism was taking place?

        15. They have never been rich but their industrial economy was much better in the 1950s and 60s.
          Not to sound arrogant but the problem with many debaters is that they do not know enough, although some seem quite informed. Like my article on K-pop received criticism from people who do not know the slightest, or at least too little, about what they talk about.
          I have spend time with some of the geekiest geeks of professors, specialised in Korean history, relations etc, who have looked at pretty much all angles on these matters, and also published articles on Korean culture and history, studied the language at university for several years etc. Also I have attended at several defectors’ guest lectures.
          Just because it is somewhat known to the public that the prospects of reunification is not as bright since the 1990s and onwards, it does not mean that economists and politicians in SK and elsewhere do not calculate the costs/benefits with an eventual reunification, both short term and long term-wise, and depending on different scenarios (collapse of the Kim regime, gradual reunification etc.).

        16. Their industrial economy was heavily subsidized from what I recall, but when a regime is based on Stalinst model, you will get Stalinist results. NK’s collapse is already baked into the cake.
          I would agree that the ROK (Republic of Korea) has toned down unification and have done their cost accounting. The ROI right now isn’t worth it.
          I was stationed in the ROK in the late 80s, but from what I hear I would not recognize the place anymore as it has come a long way.

        17. Sure, the costs are gonna be massive for SK. Still within 2-3 generations the ROI can be overall positive, especially if one takes into account non-economic measurements such as family reunion etc. If one is informed about the significance of cognitive ability (or cognitive capitalism, as Heiner Rindermann puts it) and ethnic homogeneity then the calculation can be very different.
          I have been there several times in the 2000s. Quite recently, in fact.

  3. Good article as always Quintus. I will admit I view Trump as a complete wild card and could see him escalating this situation. Particularly if he believes NK will improve their long range delivery mechanisms.

    1. If he does, he’s an absolute idiot. Everything NK does is a negotiation. They launch shells, rattle the saber, and get food and medicine in return for not acting up. They’re the bratty kid in the store whose Mom gives him a soda to settle him down. Then the kid realizes that every time he acts up, he gets a soda.

      1. Exactly. There’s a good reason why decades of different U.S. administrations haven’t done crap about the Kim regime. It’s a stalemate.

      2. I was never part of the Trump fluff crew like some on here. I don’t think he is an idiot. However, I have zero idea how he will take Kim Jong Un openly challenging him internationally. I could see Trump starting a conflict over indignation.

      3. Perhaps it’s time to stop giving the spoiled little shit a soda and give him the back of the hand instead. The situation isn’t improving with the carrot and it’s probably better to deal with Kim and his merry band of goose stepping morons now, before they perfect their current bottle rockets into ICBMs. The last thing a civilized country should want, including China, is a half baked, unhinged nutjob like Kim with long range nukes.
        The current status quo may appear to be more palatable for all parties concerned, but it only appears that way. In reality, it’s not sustainable. A nuclear armed North Korea is a lose-lose situation for all involved. China may not want US intervention in North Korea, but I’m willing to bet they like the idea of a nuclear wildcard like Kim even less.

    2. Asians are good at math, they’ll figure it out eventually. Iraq showed that the USA takes every opportunity to destroy its resources for shadowy interests, Trump would be a wildcard if he didn’t take that path and brought Kim to the casino

    3. Well let’s get it all over with..why wait ? Rather get it all done with in 2 days than having to fight SJWs for the next 300 years.

    4. Trump needs to have a chat with Seth Rogen and James Franco when exploring options with managing the North Korean situation.

  4. North Korea is a deranged cult and will not end until it implodes from within.

    1. Considering the health habits of the current Kim, and the potential heirs, don’t be surprised if it happens within 20 years. The people are tired of the problems they blame on the Party, and the Party is tired of the problems they blame on Kim and co.

      1. They think it is some kind of joke!!!!!! Those sick bastards!

  5. The South Koreans realized this a while back, and decided to kick the can down the road, in the hopes that they’d never really have to deal with the problem.

    1. Say what you want about north korea I bet everyone has very clean laundry.

      1. Not the women. They don’t have tampons/pads, so they use white rags instead. Go to a female college, and you might see clothes-lines of red/pink sheets hanging outside.

    1. “Both as female advisers for the Afghan special police unit that we mentored, but also when we did an arrest,” said Col. Frode Kristofferson, the commander of Norway’s special forces. “We needed female soldiers to take care of the women and children in the buildings that we searched.”
      So they created the all-female unit specifically designed to train them.”
      So they are basically seems
      “Capt. Ole Vidar, the officer leading the training program, said. He added that the female unit has also shown a stronger sense of solidarity among its members.
      “The boys see that the girls help each other, so the boys are doing better on that as well,” said Vidar.”
      In Norway it seems as though it is normal to refer to elite special forces soldiers as boys and girls.

        1. In fairness the average modern woman is more full of bull than an actual bull is.

        2. notice that if the bull and the little girl statue were to come to life, what would think if your happen?
          This is a complete contradiction against feminism and female empowerment, many dont realize this.

        3. They are bad at making rational decisions, forget about it. Look at the sheer stupidity of the statue of the girl standing in front of the “Wealth bull” in front Of NY stock exchange. Can you imagine what it actually meant by a apparent “retarded” girl whom is blocking wealth that is represented by the bull? In my perspective, the libtards are making clear message about ruining a nation from becoming wealthy or even achieving glory instead are too busy finding faults that are too incredibly trivial and are making sure the intended “audience” get the message that they are stupid and incapable of any rational thought let alone critical thinking. If at any chance, both statues come to life, The “retard” wont be able to save herself for standing in the bull’s way due to her overinflated ego over her rational thinking.

        4. I get your jist, but the progs function on an emotive basis. A man would be blamed for not protecting the empowered little girl from the nature of the beast. The narrative doesn’t change, just the timing to deploy it.

      1. Yeah, exactly – they needed females to work with civilian females in trainer and MP type roles. Not exactly high speed, low drag specops stud jobs. That news report was so full of SJW wishful propaganda.

        1. they identified a need – presumably a real one – for translators, liaison with females etc – and want that function to be attached to the special ops teams who go in first. That’s fine but they’re more obviously support staff than front-line soldiers and pretending otherwise in order to blur the lines in the name of ‘equality’ isn’t going to do them any favours.

    2. Ha I scanned the article and loved how it kept saying the all female program was a “complete success!” They are mighty confident considering they have never been to battle. Also, could you imagine what the isis YouTube videos are going to be like if they ever capture one of those princesses? That will be hard for even me to watch

      1. I’ll bet every dollar I have that an average National Guard unit could beat these female “special forces” handily.

        1. Probably and if they did a bunch of dudes are gonna get killed trying to save them

      2. They successfully proved that women can play at being soldiers. They have now risen to the level of schoolboys.

      3. And what kind of a bullshit drill was that they were doing in the video?? No point to the exercise other than to impress a bunch of clueless reporters.

    3. She added that the weapon, backpack and other gear she carries on long marches, weighs over 100 pounds.
      “I’m the smallest, so I carry as much weight as I myself weigh,” she said.

      The maximum weight any soldier can carry and still be able to fight effectively at the end of a march is 30% of bodyweight. But she’s a woman so I’m sure she’ll be fine.

  6. One of the best rules in life applies here “Nothing will change until it has to change”. When they get nuke capability they can threaten others for money and power and that’s their goal. When that is a real possible action then you will see a real reaction.

    1. They’ve already been blackmailing the world for rice, ever since the famine of the nineties.
      The revolution will come from within. The growth of the private markets, which the Kims turn a blind eye to, is proof. Plus the West has been dropping USB drives filled with S Korean soap operas and movies into the country for years.

  7. “There may come a time when Beijing racks up its abacus and decides that the cost of keeping the pit bull outweighs the benefit the dog is providing. But that time is a long way off.”
    Beijing has already done the math and it knows that North Korea has stopped being a good return on investment. The problem is that there are two Beijings. One of them is Xi’s government and the other is a residual, embattled, but still very powerful cabal of officials roughly connected with Jiang Zemin’s era in the 1990s and 2000s. These guys built up a massive network of structural corruption and as such have a huge stake in keeping up the “socialist brotherhood” facade. Otherwise Xi would become a new Mao and purge them from the Politburo Standing Committee the way he already purged their minions in the provinces, army, and security services.
    And when I say “socialist brotherhood,” I mean that the Chinese old guard is happy to use any excuse it can to keep Xi on edge and keep him from restructuring internal politics to something more beneficial to China as a nation (but that would destroy them as a political force). North Korea’s nuclear technology is supplied by the Chinese Communist Party’s international department. Much like the unrest in Hong Kong, the disputes in the South and East China Seas, and even perhaps the stock exchange meltdown a couple years ago, the Kim regime’s continued existence and antics persist because of the factional nature of Chinese communist factionalism.
    So far, Xi Jinping (himself originally envisioned as a stand-in, not a permanent leader) has not been cut down to size the way his predecessor Hu Jintao was. The anti-corruption campaign has caught the monied CCP elite by shock and awe. Stirring up trouble by leveraging North Korea is one of their last cards to undermine Xi, and like everything else they’ve tried it’s a pretty bad one.
    Once North Korea comes near to making an IRBM that actually works, you can be sure that both Xi and Trump have already come to a pre-established harmony on how to end Kim. Most likely the agreement involves saving face for Xi by having the military operation fall upon Trump’s shoulders, while removing the last bastions of old guard Marxism-Leninism, be they in Pyongyang or Beijing.

    1. I can imagine that the US and China have a plan to deal with N. Korea, but it probably wouldn’t involve China giving up Marxist Leninism in return for the US doing the fighting. If anything, it would be the reverse- China does most if not all of the fighting in order to keep their buffer zone, and the US goes easy on them in trade negotiations.

  8. There may come a time when Beijing racks up its abacus and decides that the cost of keeping the pit bull outweighs the benefit the dog is providing. But that time is a long way off.
    I’ll offer a slightly different take. I think the Chinese decided long ago the costs of keeping NK around outweigh the benefits. But the cost of NK going away imposes a different, rather large, cost that Beijing hopes to avoid.
    China has recently had some rather atypical responses to the situation. And my read is Trump is of mind to extinguish the perceived threat, and is willing to be creative in making it happen.
    I’m looking for something in a Chinese-managed regime change. It’ll look like an internal North Korean military coup from the outside, but be totally directed by the Chinese, the actors will be trained by the Chinese. This is win-win for them. They get to keep their buffer, but the NK government becomes more friendly and more rational (or, well, directly controlled), and it allows for the North to liberalize, something the Chinese has been trying to get them to do for decades now. It also gives them pretext and cover to enter the country and secure the nukes, boosting their image as a responsible power.
    I see Seoul as being on board with this, as the North will need decades of economic liberalization before the costs of unification seem manageable, and it neatly sidesteps the otherwise certain artillery shower.

    1. I’d guess that it depends on the timing of the next North Korean crisis. If it’s before China’s 19th CCP Congress (the big meeting where they decide who gets to be in the Politburo for the next five years), then Xi Jinping’s leadership will probably avoid rocking the boat and try its best to install a puppet communist government. Doing otherwise would cause an embarrassment to socialism and give his enemies an excuse to stack the Politburo with their own men—a political setback if not disaster for Xi.
      If Kim acts up and has to be put down after the 19th Party Congress, Xi probably has enough control over the Politburo to do whatever he wants. Letting Trump/SK/Japan deal with North Korea in that case isn’t all that big of a problem and in fact spares China the trouble of having to fix it up. It also has the added bonus of further discrediting communist traditions—a plus as far as Xi is concerned. His aim is to become a Chinese Putin and the Politburo system has proved most inconvenient as a means of securing power for himself.

      1. Ha, nice one
        The North Koreans would then be in full compliance provided they could orange up their complexion a tad

  9. Yes, I sometimes wonder what all that geo-political game is about since the results are likely gonna be the same. It’s like when two male animals fight and then leave without anyone killing each other. Or a bar fight that never really happens. Waste of time and energy, it appears. I think it’s part of male nature, though: to manifest strength, to be cocky etcetera without any real purpose at first glance. So as paradoxical as it may seem, it might actually be worth something. One has to act a bit in order to consolidate the stalemate.

      1. That was a pun and a good one for that matter. My friend, go back to puns 101.

  10. The U.S.-North Korea conflict
    An unqualified nepotistic petulant authoritarian mentally juvenile manchild w/terrible hair
    Kim-Jong Eun

  11. The only way I could see China ever allowing reunification of the two halves of Korea would be to tear Seoul out of US grasp, making Korea a neutral country. Then China might have interest financially in helping reconstruct the North, but the prosperous South would be a threat to China’s own industrial interests. And the US would never let S Korea slip out of its ‘protectorate’. Your analysis is pretty spot-on – situation normal, preserve status quo – that’s the lowest common denominator that satisfies all interests around the table.
    The only way change will happen is if N Korea gets such a huge infusion of western culture that the vast military/security apparatus in N Korea is unable to control the population, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s a certainty that every tin-pot dictator studied and planned on how to prevent that.

  12. War with NK would be a complete bonehead decision.
    Can’t nukem-fallout over Japan, China, and Russia
    Conventional-entire NK has been preparing for it for 50 years, huge casualties, and no surrender.
    Decapitation-would put the generals in charge, worse result than present situation
    Just let them be and let them slowly implode/starve to death.
    Change comes from within

    1. I agree with that line of thought. Problem is they will have a handful of legitimate long range ICBM mirvs before they collapse at their current pace. Better to snuff them sooner than later when they do have nuclear hegemony.

        1. Nukes when we’re dealing with relatively “reasonable” leaders are all about their threat rather than their actual physicality or effectiveness. In essence, nukes are more of a psychological weapon and this was understood implicitly during the cold war era. However, we’re no longer in Kansas and today’s leaders, especially fat-boy in NK lives in a delusional State, so anything is possible.

        2. He already has nukes so your argument is mute. He could have done it several years back now. This is nothing else than American imperialism looking for new wars.
          Then here’s another argument. Who can guarantee that an already nuclear power will not in the future have a nut case ready to push all the buttons? It’s just how the game is played.
          Your “reasonable” leaders argument was dismantled twice.

        3. Imperialism gave the Indians, cricket, afternoon tea and a rather good rail system. Imperialism gets a bad rap by the usual left wing self haters like you. Whether you like it or not, imperialism is based on the natural instincts of stronger cultures conquering lesser ones. This is hard-wired into human beings and in fact most mammals. Why do Marxists always ignore the immutable biological basis to notions you despise like “imperialism” . Your idiocy is only equal to your dishonesty and the sound of your ever repeating slogans of “racist” “imperialist ” “fascist”….yawn..

        4. I am not a leftist. I never voted democrat. But your ad hominem shows your true colors.

        5. I’m free. What does the stupid poster mean? Your reacting like a little baby, looking for cheap laughs. Sonny you’re so pathetic, a mere fruit fly spinning around some shady lamp looking for something it will never find.

        6. You questioned nothing. You made a inane statement saying that you hoped Washington would be nuked. I’d rather not contemplate such peevish nonsense.

        7. You took my statement literally. I can see how that can happen. Point is Washington is the problem both inside and outside.
          I expected nothing less from someone that thinks he is free. Thanks for the laugh.

      1. Here’s the thing. I will never understand why we have this obsession with NK nukes. Things are very simple.
        Hey, you want to have nuclear weapons? Fine, but beware if you use them you will be annihilated as well. Welcome to the club!

        1. We cannot allow subhumans to have nukes. It’s that simple. They cant control them. So people like you can never ever have nukes.

        2. Yeah sure. It’s a matter of size. Why don’t you go and take the darkies’ nukes away, huh? Or the russians. They’re kind of subhumans too.

        3. Subhumans rule your nation, and have all the nukes too. And so far, your nation is the only one who actually used nukes, without military need of it ( Japan was already defeated ).
          Also the peoples that rule your country just recently proved they have no regrets bombing other countries. Who can blame NK for wanting to be able to fire back, if someday you decide that is their turn.

  13. Under any other President, I would agree. But with Trump in the mix, all bets are off. Things could get worse (North Korea is an Orwellian regime where human rights abuses are a matter of course), better (regime change) or stay the same.
    Of all U.S. Presidents of recent memory, Trump is the least comfortable with any sort of status quo, domestic or otherwise. The idea of a nuclear North Korea (they already are) isn’t the issue: its the delivery method. Being able to reach the U.S. with an ICBM is different from being able to nuke Japan (something that has already been done anyway).
    This will be the first major foreign policy test for the Trump administration: can it strongarm the Kim regime where so many others have failed. While North Korea is an effective buffer state for China, they are getting tired of running cover for them. The issue is this: the cost of getting of dealing with North Korea could be higher than China is willing to pay, even if they aren’t happy with the current situation.
    Overall, the best resolution for the U.S., China and South Korea is the Chinese executing a regime change with U.S. and NATO neutrality. Let China bear the burden of engaging the North Koreans while the West stays officially neutral.
    The North Koreans would be very unlikely to unleash artillery on South Korea (as it would draw the U.S. and South Korea into the war, opening up a second front from the south).
    Trump has a few cards to play: Chinese trade and Chinese oil supply. A few years ago, I attended a brief by the former head of Naval Intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and it’s widely known that the U.S. can cut off China’s oil supply in less than 72 hours.
    We will see if the (co-)author of the Art of the Deal can deal with North Korea and China.

    1. I stopped right here “human rights abuses are a matter of course”
      We killed millions in the name of “human rights”. Tell that to the slaves currently being bought and sold on the open market in Libya.

      1. ‘Human rights’ in the actual sense, not the SJW sense where being called fat on Twitter is a capital offense.

        1. As I said: “human rights” is the right’s mantra just as “equality” is for the left. Complete bull shit disguising the real intentions.

  14. North Korea is not like the Middle East. I hope our leaders and military leaders know that when they threaten Kim they are telling North Koreans they want to kill their god. That is how North Koreans view him. South Koreans like their more modern lifestyle. They do not want to starve or be without a home. I even doubt they want Kim to rule them. The West needs get the idea you do not go to war unless you want to win. Do you think North Korea will shoot missiles at South Korea, Japan or Hawaii? Do you think Iran will shoot missiles and cause trouble? If so what will the world do about it? As for China viewing North Korea as a guard dog I will say a guard dog is only good if it obeys and is not a big liability. Like America China is starting to be hated in the world. I learned this out quickly when a female filipino that I know finally flat out told me she does not like me talking about Chinese things and stated she does not like China.

      1. Yea well that is absurd but remember once they didnt have much to eat and had to adapt. Apart from that I think they are alrite

        1. Korea still has restaurants featuring dog.
          They keep them outside in the back to fatten them up. I saw one in Busan. There must have been a dozen dogs back there. They looked like big, dirty, very lethargic pit bulls. Was pretty damn sad, if you like dogs, as I do. Many of the younger people over there are against it. But they remain.

      2. Here we go again;
        I have heard rumors that my brethen in the mainland of china eats dogs, cats even monkey’s brains but that will definitely make me puke. As an overseas chinese, stereotyping us as barbarians eating dogs and cats is not helping at all. The idea of consuming a dog or a cat would disgust me.

  15. Well, at least both Trump and Kim have bad hair cut. It will be interesting to watch.

  16. While driving thru the garden state paradise today of bayonne,
    Heard the pretend radio rhetoric – is same as for first Gulf war.
    All bullshit…
    and none of us thought they would begin bombing a city…
    But they did, it was surreal, and now we are accustomed to it.

  17. I typically agree with Quintus’ points of view; I do not agree with this at all. North Korea is a complicated situation militarily but absolutely needs to fall. Allowing them to establish a functional nuclear deterrence is wholly unacceptable to both US and Chinese interests in the short and long term. Any engagement since macarthur’s neccesitates the US to use its SLBM capabilities to stop artillery shelling of the south. That is unquestionable in strategic command scenarios bar none. This madness needs to stop and China needs to step in today or be prepared for a decisive nuclear US response in North Korea. That is how it is and how it will happen. Mark my words

  18. Here’s another possible reason for N. Korean hostility.
    The worst f’ing hangovers on the planet:
    I figure the South doesn’t have this issue is because they have food there, to absorb this crap. It’s basically the Thunderbird of the East.
    Being a purveyor of cheap booze, I will admit to downing that crap like no tomorrow when I was there (SK), but still, it is rot gut nonetheless.

      1. $2 Phillipine gin sounds like a good bargain to me.
        That other stuff, though, yeah…I like saving money, but going blind not such a good bargain.

    1. NK probably don’t get much soju. They do make some abominable wines though. The wine version of Grappa’s retarded cousin.

  19. The status quo changed when Kim Jong Fatboy decided he wanted a ICBM. Just the threat of North Korea being able to hit the mainland US with a nuclear missile is intolerable, per great power politics 101.

  20. Excellent article Quintus, great breakdown of geopolitics in this particular flashpoint.
    the reality is that Kim Jong-Un is more interested in consolidating his hold on his people than engaging in reckless military adventures”.
    This is the M.O. of all dictators, its their prime directive above all others. Nuclear weapons in the modern age simply give the dictators who have them a bargaining chip at the big boy’s table of international dialog.
    I wish more conservatives (read: neocons) who are cheering this saber rattling by Trump could understand this.
    You have a better chance of being killed by an illegal immigrant than being nuked by North Korea, Yet, our UN security council representative states that; North Korea is a top agenda matter for Trump’s presidency, or was that Syria? Regardless, its far from “Making America Great Again”.

  21. How can you say nothing will change? Do you think any US president is going to tolerate a NK with a ICBM? They’re still far away from having a functional one but they’re incrementally improving. The Deep State/Neocons are never going to tolerate that. Also even if both are rational actors who dont want war war can still happen if either side miscalculates, all it takes is one move like a ship that strays into enemy water (which happened with the U.S.S Pueblo) and the whole situation can explode. I’m not saying people should panic but if you’re arguing there’s nothing to worry about that’s wrong also

  22. Now listen you stupid schmucks .. If you were Trump, you would have been peed off by Kim Jong Un ultimatum to the US ??
    That USA give up all it’s nuclear weapons, that it stop unconditionally all nuclear research ?? That there has to be a “Regime Change” in Washington & the latest threat is that Kim Jong Un is sending assassins to USA to kill the POTUS ! Now if you were Trump ?? How would you take that ??

  23. The FX of a Chinese tariff on imports will be the most crushing thing Trump will do on the global stage I suspect. Russia doesn’t want war, picking on Jungie is like beating up Communism’s little bastard brother.. sends a message because he stole daddy’s gun and likes to play with it, and Trump’s gonna take it away, but the long-term change in economic leveraging is what’s going to hurt. The key is to do it in a manner you don’t send the global economy into a tailspin, or unchained volatility that won’t stabilize.

  24. Interesting analysis and most likely correct. What a long war it’s been in Korea. I love the metaphor of the DPRK as an attack dog. China’s problem is that while it has itself moved to a mixed economy and evolved politically and socially, DPRK is solidly rooted in its Maoist absolutist past. I have to assume that DPRK is essentially rational – I think the guff that is printed about some of the nonsense that goes on there is unhelpful. I think they have looked at the ‘axis of evil’ and other similar ‘pariah’ states. Iraq – no WMDs – get invaded. Libya – give up a nuclear program- get bombed. Iran start to develop nukes and ally with Russia – get left alone. And that’s the problem. The attack dog now has a nuke and possibly a delivery mechanism. The attack dog is sitting at the poker table and playing its hand to the max.
    That DPRK is rational is an assumption. No one really knows. Couple that with the possibility of an accident or misunderstanding, and the fact that the White House is occupied by an emotionally incontinent dunce, and it could go wrong. But I think Quintus is on the money.

  25. Agreed. Insightful political commentary. Kind of the way they should have handled Syria.

    1. I’m not one to go overboard with classical allusions but something about the recent Syrian intervention makes me think of Crassus. A rich man (property speculator) who wished to further his political ambitions by proving his military credentials in an overseas campaign. In Syria. Didn’t go well.

      1. If there’s anywhere you’re going to go overboard with classical allusions, then this site has to be the most welcoming place to do it.

  26. N. Korea may be an awful place to live, but we have nothing to gain from an altercation with them. Team america world police is only a thing when it is convenient (ie profitable) for us to get in there and destabilize. No matter how evil the government is there (one of the only things i agreed with g.w. bush on), america doesn’t save countries out of the goodness of their heart. Nor should we, but in this case i wouldn’t mind a crack team head-shotting their leadership.

  27. Depose a crazy dictator that commits atrocities on his own people (according to MSM of course), maybe get instead the Asian version of ISIS, destroy South Korea with refugees and hunger…maybe it’s better to leave things as they have been for decades.

  28. This article misses a few vital points.
    1, Japan were complete assh*les when they invaded Korea, and the memories of Japanese aggression has never left their psyche.
    2, Because of this, if Japan so much as farts militarily in the direction of NK then it’s war.
    3, China likes a buffer between itself and the US in South Korea.
    4, If war did break out, SK would get pummeled by artillery before NK is defeated. Massive humanitarian crisis in SE Asia, and on China’s border.
    5, The US can’t afford to be patient much longer. Even if it’s a bluff, the threat of NK ICBM’s hitting the continental US is too much to bear politically. Washington will strike first if it reaches the PNR.
    And lastly, Twump is an arrogant narcissist who really does not give a flying f*ck about a bunch of Asians swarming all over China’s border in the event of war. Hell, this would be treated with glee by the Pentagon! China would have an absolute nightmare on it’s hands while the US sits back and watches.

  29. How many countries did North Korea attack?
    Your United States government has good reason to install fear among American citizens. Everyday you read something from the media, it’s always some fear-mongering “terrorist” attacks or some race baiting stories.
    You have a lot to worry about your current mortgage rates, how your taxes are being used and your job prospects.
    How many times do we have to hear North Korea making empty threats to attack United States? They done this for nearly more than 10 years. So when did they attack the US?
    They aren’t stupid and know what would happen to them if they did attack.
    Your media likes to play with your emotions.

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