Analysis by Reporting San Diego
August 8, 2017 (San Diego) One of the things we keep hearing is that the North Korean regime are irrational actors. We will diverge from the mainstream view. Kim Jun Un is thinking of only one thing, and that is regime survival. The hermit kingdom has been increasingly isolated, starting with the armistice of 1953. The war has never been over.
However, there was one moment that told Un’s father that he needed to start a nuclear program, or rather accelerate it. This was the Axis of Evil speech. During that State of the Union in 2002, then President George W Bush said:
Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction.
Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September 11, but we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
Libya and Iraq agreed to give up their nuclear program. Iran never did. Both Muammar Qadaffi and Sadam Hussein are dead.
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.
Their regimes did collapse. So if you are the leader of the Hermit Kingdom that fears the US wants to destroy your regime, it is an uncomfortable lesson. You too need to become a nuclear power. Preferably one that can project force.
The reaction from the president was, however, one meant to provoke a response.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
The video is hosted by the New York Times. among others.
North Korea responded in sort of kind. They have threatened a preemptive strike on the United States territory of Guam, which also is home to a few nuclear subs.
In the meantime, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is trying to cool heels, while abroad building a coalition. He has also said that the United States is not North Korea’s enemy, or that we seek regime change.
A Second Korean War
As we said above, technically this would be the resumption of hostilities. It would also, most likely, be the end of the Un regime. Going from this forced peace to the fall of the government in Pyongyang, would not be bloodless or painless.
North Korea has positioned as many as 8,000 artillery cannons and rocket launchers on its side of the Demilitarized Zone, analysts say, an arsenal capable of raining up to 300,000 rounds on the South in the first hour of a counterattack. That means it can inflict tremendous damage without resorting to weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Kim could order a limited response, by hitting a base near the Demilitarized Zone, for example, and then pausing before doing more. But most analysts expect the North would escalate quickly if attacked, to inflict as much damage as possible in case the United States and South Korea were preparing an invasion.
Casualties could be as high as a million people. There is also the very real possibility that the United States could be hit. Even one nuclear weapon hitting Honolulu, or San Diego could leave us with tens of thousands of casualties. Also, the United States would have to send in American troops, to fight in very rugged terrain. We could very well need a draft. This could be the worst fighting in living memory, except for the few veterans of World War Iwo that still remain.
One of the things that many analysts do not touch much on is why is China reluctant to place pressure on Pyongyang. It is simple. Millions of refugees, potentially, coming across the Yalu River.
This could make the current refugee crisis in Europe look like a walk in the park. In effect, this could destabilize China. It is not that the Chinese like their client state much. It has become a point of contention with the West in general, and the US in particular. This flow could destabilize them.
There is another point. The German reunification. They know that if South Korea reunifies with the north, they will have a potential enemy, south of their border, with 30 thousand American troops. This is why they protested loudly over the THADD missile system deployment.
Whether Donald Trump is in the White House, or Hillary Clinton was elected, this crisis would still happen. The outlines of how it would proceed are different. But this crisis has been building since the end of the Korean war.