Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Next Korean War Conflict With North Korea Could Go Nuclear -- But Washington Can Reduce the Risk

Somehow I do not think the COA 3 Chinese golden parachute and escape plan will entice the Kim Family regime in any way.  And of course COA 2 will very likely be perceived as a threat to the regime and we know where that leads.  But what is missing from this is the very real preparation for what comes after the Kim Family Regime.  Before we can determine a strategy for north Korea we really need to understand the nature of the Kim Family Regime.   As Stephen Bradner has written (and said so many times) the regime is a mafia-like crime family cult.  But it has interests and objectives which it has been pursuing since 1948.

Vital National Interest: Survival of the Kim Family Regime Strategic Aim:  
Reunification of the Peninsula under Regime control Strategic Objective: 
Recognition as a "World Power" (and since Kim Jong Il – a nuclear power)  
Required Condition to achieve the Strategic Aim: Removal of or neutralization of US forces on the Korean Peninsula

But I do not think that living in exile will satisfy the regime's vital national interest but even if it did we would have to deal with what is left behind and before we embark on a strategy below that hopefully would prevent war but could possibly lead to regime collapse (which of course with the implosion-explosion paradox could also lead to war) we had better prepare the environment and posture all the necessary forces and capabilities to deal with what comes next.  Any policy or strategy that does not take that into account will be on the same level as the "strategy" we had in March of 2003 for Iraq.

Unfortunately if we are unwilling to plan and "strategize" beyond the current crisis then the only course of action we are left with is to try to "manage" the situation and prevent it from getting worse which ironically the five major powers dealing with this situation have all tacitly understood for some decades.

The Next Korean War
Conflict With North Korea Could Go Nuclear -- But Washington Can Reduce the Risk
April 1, 2013

The view that nuclear weapons are merely political instruments -- suitable for sending signals, but not waging wars -- is now so common in the United States that it is hard to find anyone who disagrees. Yet that comforting assumption is not shared by leaders everywhere. North Korea, for example, does not test nuclear weapons to send messages, but to make sure that its ultimate deterrent will work. It would be tragic if the United States let misguided Kremlinology distract from the real challenges ahead.

Last December, the chubby and blubbering soon-to-be leader of the hermit kingdom seemed too inexperienced and unqualified to ever consolidate his rule. Today, Kim Jong Un is riding high, having become the first Korean to launch a domestically designed satellite into orbit on the back of a domestically designed rocket. North Korean society, though, is changing all around him, and lobbing missiles might not be enough to keep him in power.

As North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issues increasingly over-the-top threats -- including intimations that he might launch nuclear strikes against the United States -- officials in Washington have sought to reassure the public and U.S. allies. North Korea, they say, may initiate cyberattacks or other limited provocations, but the leaders in Pyongyang wish to survive, so they are highly unlikely to do anything as foolhardy as using nuclear weapons.

Despite those assurances, however, the risk of nuclear war with North Korea is far from remote. Although Pyongyang’s tired threats are probably bluster, the current crisis has substantially increased the risk of a conventional conflict -- and any conventional war with North Korea is likely to go nuclear. Washington should continue its efforts to prevent war on the Korean Peninsula. But equally important, it must rapidly take steps -- including re-evaluating U.S. war plans -- to dampen the risks of nuclear escalation if conventional war erupts.

Ironically, the risk of North Korean nuclear war stems not from weakness on the part of the United States and South Korea but from their strength. If war erupted, the North Korean army, short on training and armed with decrepit equipment, would prove no match for the U.S.–South Korean Combined Forces Command. Make no mistake, Seoul would suffer some damage, but a conventional war would be a rout, and CFC forces would quickly cross the border and head north.
The risk of nuclear war with North Korea is far from remote.

At that point, North Korea’s inner circle would face a grave decision: how to avoid the terrible fates of such defeated leaders as Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Qaddafi. Kim, his family, and his cronies could try to escape to China and plead for a comfortable, lifelong sanctuary there -- an increasingly dim prospect given Beijing’s growing frustration with Kim’s regime. Pyongyang’s only other option would be to try to force a cease-fire by playing its only trump card: nuclear escalation.
(Continued at the link below)

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