Monday, April 6, 2009

North Korea

Here we go again; North Korea is testing its long range missiles. In 2006 the Taepodong missile that they tested blew apart seconds after launch. This time it reached far into sky and several thousand miles past Japan before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. When I see something like this happen, my immediate reaction is why do it, and what do they have to gain? Clearly the N.K leadership can’t wipe its own ass without say so from Beijing, so evidently China calculated that it had something to gain by testing the resolve of the United States, Japan, and South Korea. It is as Joe Biden predicted, that enemies of the United States would “test his mettle” in the first year of his administration.

But to what end? I don’t think that anyone would deny that China hates Japan (read the book the Rape of Nanking), and that it fears the thriving democracy in South Korea. While North Korea is by every standard of measure a failed state, and evidence of the folly of a communist dictatorship; if that regime were to collapse and be absorbed by South Korea, that would be a domestic public relations nightmare for communist China. They cannot use their proxy in Pyongyang to invade South Korea, because the 50,000 or so American troops stationed at the DMZ would drag America into the war. I seriously doubt that China wants another fight with the United States.

So again the question must be asked, what is there to gain by firing rockets over Japan? The downside is that it scares Japan enough to encourage the re-militarization of an old rival. China does not want Japan to have a military again, especially now that it is closely allied with the United States. Japan clearly has the most to lose from a trigger happy N.K regime. If one of those missiles flames out and strikes Japanese sovereign territory, all bets are off. These rockets are hardly technological marvels, and when they are shot up into the sky the N.K military brass should clearly have their fingers crossed that they do not mistakenly strike Japan. Perhaps these tests could serve to scare South Korea, which I am quite certain has no intention of ever invading the North unless N.K troops cross the DMZ and invade South Korea. It is possible that they are motivated by scaring South Korea into increasing aid, but how likely that is to happen I do not know.

I think the answer to the motive lies in Ockham’s Razor; that after eliminating the most complicated hypotheses, the simplest explanation is most often right. With the hope and change anti-war President now in the Whitehouse, it is unlikely that North Korea wanted to flex its muscles to deter an invasion. Obama would never invade North Korea, unless of course that N.K invaded South Korea. It is possible that with the potential perceived weakness of the possible death or illness of the insane Kim Jong Ill, the goal was to frighten their own population and deter a potential civilian uprising. It is also plausible that the goal is to test the new President of the World Police. Will he respond to provocative threatening actions with toughness, or will he wither into appeasement? If Obama responds to threats of violence with appeasement, I strongly believe that will open a Pandora’s Box similar to what Neville Chamberlain did with Nazi Germany. If he responds by being as tough as he possibly can without actually declaring open war, I would hypothesize that it would send the appropriate message to insane dictators around the world.

It is now up to the President to decide how to respond.

1 comment:

  1. Several people are ridiculing North Koreas missile capability but I would say they've been progressing fairly impressively. I hope to hell their nuclear program isn't making similar gains.