Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thoughts on Strategy for the Korean Peninsula

My remarks last week at the Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS) conference on The Korean Peninsula Issues and United States National Security.

Thoughts on Strategy for the Korean Peninsula

David S.Maxwell
Georgetown University

Let me just begin with a few framing remarks:

We have successfully deterred a resumption of hostilities by the north for 64 years and I believe we have to continue to deter for as long as it takes until we resolve the security problem on the peninsula. We should keep in mind the wise words of Sir Lawrence Freedman who said "Deterrence works, until it doesn't." 

A Strategic Planning and Preparation Paralysis arises from a fear of what comes next - how to navigate through the War/Collapse Paradox.

In 1998, Dr. Kurt Campbell when he was the DASD for East Asia Pacific affairs made the astute remark:
"There are only two ways to approach planning for the collapse of North Korea: to be ill-prepared or to be really ill-prepared." 

Sun Tzu wrote "never assume the enemy will not attack, make yourself invincible." - The Collapse Corollary is: Never assume the KFR will not collapse - prepare now even though we cannot predict if and when. We should realize that collapse will be catastrophic.

Lastly, we suffer from the tyranny of proximity - the range of north Korean artillery threat to the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area. This restricts our policy options and strategy.

Here is the Problem: There is no US and ROK comprehensive strategy to solve the "Korea Question" and address the full spectrum of threats caused by the existence of the Kim Family Regime (KFR).

We must answer these Key Questions: What do we want to achieve in Korea? What is the acceptable durable political arrangement on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia that will serve and protect ROK and US interests?

For any strategy you must make assumptions when you do not have all the facts but must continue planning. You continue to use the assumptions until they are proven as facts. And if the assumptions prove false or erroneous then you must adapt your plans and strategy based on the new facts. Since Korea is such a hard case I feel it is necessary to list fifteen assumptions that drive my strategic thinking.


(Continued at the link below)

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