Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Mirage of Peace in the DMZ A trip to the Korean border makes regime change in Pyongyang seem like the only effective option.


A few key points:
Mr. Kerry's lack of imagination bodes well for Pyongyang's goal of perfecting its nuclear and missile capabilities, and bodes ill for the security of northeast Asia. There can no longer be any realistic hope that the North will denuclearize. 

Moreover, China has refused to isolate the regime despite Washington's repeated pleas for joint action. Yes, some Americans with close ties to China now say that they've never seen Beijing so frustrated with Pyongyang. But there is no indication that new leader Xi Jinping is considering serious sanctions against the North or independent economic and political pressure. 

Committed to a failed negotiation strategy, the U.S. government has all but assured the Kim regime of its safety so long as it doesn't attack the South or Japan. That means negotiations are doomed from the beginning. 

The Obama administration's willingness to return to talks under the "right" conditions plays perfectly into this North Korean strategy of undermining collective resolve. The longer Washington sticks to a failed policy, the more confident Pyongyang grows in its survival. It will figure out a way to proliferate WMDs, likely with Beijing looking the other way.

But in this sentence lies a potential key:

The longer Washington sticks to a failed policy, the more confident Pyongyang grows in its survival.

If one wanted to truly undermine the regime and play three dimensional chess a combination of the status quo negotiating strategy with Pyongyang confident in its survival with a comprehensive psychological operations/ influence campaign targeting the second tier leadership and the population and global intelligence and law enforcement operations against Department 39 could simultaneously cause dissent and discord internally,  prepare for a post-regime Korea , prevent proliferation of WMD (before and after collapse) and set the peninsula on a path to unification.   The supposed "failed strategy" is one key element to this because as long as the regime is confident of its survival it remains one of the best ways to prevent a deliberate attack (but not a provocation) by the north.  But the question is can we and the Alliance operate on multiple levels orchestrating the instruments of national power to achieve the ultimate end state per the 2009 Joint Vision?
V/R
Dave
The Mirage of Peace in the DMZ
A trip to the Korean border makes regime change in Pyongyang seem like the only effective option.

To understand how North Korea policy has become a diplomatic no-man's land—empty, hopeless and likely to stay that way, if recent pronouncements by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are any indication—it helps to visit the physical no-man's land of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

The DMZ is not entirely devoid of life, of course, at least on its margins. Approaching from Seoul, only 50 kilometers from the armistice line, a single barbed-wire fence gives way to thicket of guard towers and other fortifications. Busloads of tourists give the scene a surreal commercial streak, while apartment blocks lend a domestic touch here and there.

At heart, however, the DMZ remains a place of limbo, frozen in time by the armistice of 1953. The four kilometers on either side of the border are crisscrossed only by small animals, and the absence of any human activity creates a false sense of calm.

That stillness reflects the diplomatic stasis of the defunct Six-Party Talks, and the inability of Washington to devise a new approach that could change North Korea's behavior. If anything, by focusing on denuclearization and encouraging greater Chinese pressure on Pyongyang—two strategies that have never worked—Mr. Kerry seems to have adopted an approach expressly designed to maintain the status quo.

Above all, Mr. Kerry seeks a return to fruitless disarmament talks. In his first trip to Tokyo last month, he told reporters, "Our choice is to negotiate, our choice is to move to the table and find a way for the region to have peace." He reiterated such sentiments throughout his Asia trip.

Mr. Kerry's lack of imagination bodes well for Pyongyang's goal of perfecting its nuclear and missile capabilities, and bodes ill for the security of northeast Asia. There can no longer be any realistic hope that the North will denuclearize.

South Korean soldiers patrol along a military fence near the DMZ.

Looking across the DMZ border from a high vantage point, one sees the desolate North Korean landscape and brutish buildings lying just outside the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex. The bleakness is a reminder that the Kim regime's strength is solely military, and that the nuclear trump card is the regime's lifeline.

Moreover, China has refused to isolate the regime despite Washington's repeated pleas for joint action. Yes, some Americans with close ties to China now say that they've never seen Beijing so frustrated with Pyongyang. But there is no indication that new leader Xi Jinping is considering serious sanctions against the North or independent economic and political pressure.

Instead, China seems to be betting that Washington's future of defense cuts will lead to a reduced American presence in Asia. President Obama's repeated invocation of the U.S.'s so-called strategic "pivot" to Asia may worry Beijing over the short term, but the Chinese believe the budgetary fundamentals are in their favor. And so they see no incentive to deal with the Americans over North Korea.

All of this leads to the question of what to do. Perhaps unexpectedly, a trip to the DMZ makes regime change in the North seem like the only thing that will alter Korea's destiny. Figuring out strategies to get rid of, or at least seriously undermine, the Kim family regime is something both the Bush and Obama administrations have studiously avoided talking about.

Committed to a failed negotiation strategy, the U.S. government has all but assured the Kim regime of its safety so long as it doesn't attack the South or Japan. That means negotiations are doomed from the beginning.
(Continued at the link below)

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