The North Korean ‘threat’ is overrated

06 May

So says Srdja Trifkovic, and I agree:

“Use of force” means going to war against North Korea. This is a reckless and irresponsible proposition. That Pyongyang embodies a bizarre mix of Stalinism and Oriental despotism is beyond dispute. North Korean soldiers comically emulate their taller Western models in their goose-stepping routine, but the idea is the same: “passo romano” is the metaphor for violent dominance devoid of reason. North Korea is a dystopia unable to feed its cowed serfs—at least two million are estimated to have died of hunger two decades ago—yet it is perfectly capable of unleashing a hurricane of artillery fire against Seoul and other targets in the south at a moment’s notice, killing and maiming tens of thousands of civilians. That is not the kind of protection South Korea needs or wants.

The response of the Truman Administration to Kim Il Sung’s aggression in June 1950 was remarkably swift, bold, and necessary. For many years after the armistice, the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea was justified by the fact that neither China nor the USSR could be trusted to keep the North under control. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, the equation has changed. South Korea is an economic powerhouse with the financial and scientific potential to become a nuclear power at a short notice. It is perfectly capable of deterring North Korea, a fourth-rate power and an economic basket case. Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notwithstanding, the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” is the worst country on the planet in terms of what passes for “human rights” and “freedom” among reasonable people. As per the Holy Roman Empire, it is neither democratic, nor people’s, nor a republic. It is “Korean” in the narrow sense of the Kim family’s acceptance of a quasi-nationalist mantle of self-sufficiency (juche); a quick visit to the approved source will give you some idea of the nebulous concept.

North Korea is a bad place ruled by bad people, but the character of its regime is irrelevant to the security of the United. The assertion that the country’s ineptly executed missile and nuclear testing programs can or will be used as a means of disrupting the regional balance of power—let alone deployed as an imminent threat to “our homeland”—is preposterous. Even if it had the wherewithal to threaten the U.S.—which it does not have—North Korea could not do it credibly. A single missile or two would be fairly easy to intercept and destroy; and the ensuing retaliation would turn much of the PDRK into a parking lot. In a few years the North may develop a medium-range device capable of reliably delivering a warhead, but much longer it will have no guidance system necessary for reasonable accuracy. For decades it will lack re-entry technology to develop and deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

If North Korea does develop functional nuclear missiles some time in the late 2030’s, South Korea and Japan can and should acquire them too, in order to establish a regional balance of terror. This is the only viable model of regional stability. The U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia)—followed by China, Great Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and Israel—have had nuclear bombs for many years, but never used them against each other, or their lesser adversaries, or anyone else. Having the nukes makes no difference to China’s stalled efforts to bring Taiwan under its control. South Africa had developed its own nuclear arsenal in the 1980s—it has been dismantled since—but this did not enhance its government’s ability to resist the winds of change in the early 1990’s. It is like having a check for a million dollars that can never be cashed.

On the plus side, ever since 1945 the political effect of a country’s possession of nuclear weapons has been to force its potential adversaries to exercise caution and to freeze the existing frontiers. There is no reason to think that North Korea would be an exception. A coherent American response needs to address the question why North Korea feels it needs nuclear weapons at all. This is not because its regime intends to reunify the peninsula by force, but because Pyongyang regards the United States as an existential threat. North Korea may be the most unpleasant dictatorship in the world, but ever since it was designated the eastern pivot of the “Axis of Evil” in President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address it has had legitimate grounds to feel threatened. The Korean peninsula’s partition is unnatural but as inevitable as the German partition during the Cold War. Adopting the same principle in Korea today that was applied to the reality of two German states in 1974, when the United States established diplomatic relations with East Germany, would be prudent and rational, a technical move that implies no approval of Pyongyang’s policies.

For the North Korean regime the possession of nuclear weapons is the only reliable insurance policy against Washington’s regime-change obsession. Had Serbia had the bomb in 1999 or Iraq in 2003, they would not have been subjected to illegal American attacks on patently spurious grounds (“the Kosovo genocide,” “Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction”).


It is not America’s responsibility to play Globo-Cop; certainly, God didn’t declare such in Scripture, so the decision of the powers that be to pursue such a course is entirely of their own devising.

Frankly, I hope the NORKs get nukes; then the American government will leave them the fuck alone.

Anyway, I’m sorry Trump feels the need to invoke conventional imperialist warmongering rhetoric against the NORKs, instead of charting a new course for America in terms of treatment of the Pyongyang regime; I’m also sorry he’s sucking up to China in the process. Of course, since China owns America, I suppose he felt the need to bow and kow-tow to them…


15 responses to “The North Korean ‘threat’ is overrated

  1. Ironsides

    May 6, 2017 at 2:02 am

    It is quite absurd to pound the war drums over the Norks. They’re inconsequential runts with no significance to the U.S. other than to provide a hapless punching bag for the purpose of distracting the proles from broken campaign promises.

    And the Serbian and Iraqi interventions remain utterly grotesque and pointless, as you say. “Invade the world, invite the world” has thoroughly worn out its welcome. Time to stop running about strong-arming everyone and attend to our own affairs.

  2. Un Jong Kim Jr.

    May 6, 2017 at 9:41 am

    The American people themselves have a hard-on for attacking the DPRK. They’ve been chomping at the bit for it for years. Your average Amurkan thinks it is his righteous concern to hit the DPRK.

    • Will S.

      May 6, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Yep. Of course, that’s because their governments have told them they should hate and fear the NORKs. And stupidly, sadly, they’ve swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker.

  3. Gerry T. Neal

    May 6, 2017 at 10:14 am

    The time for the Americans to do something about North Korea came in 1951 and has long since passed. Rodney Dangerfield explained why here:

  4. realgaryseven

    May 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    The billions (trillions?) of dollars that are spent by the US government to “deal with” the North American “threat” staggers the mind.

    DPRK’s military policies are 100% defensive and motivated by deterrence, and its bellicose rhetoric is never reported in full (the conditional “if you attack us” is always left off; all we get is the “we’ll destroy you” part). The DPRK has neither the means, the motive, nor the opportunity to project force outside of its own borders. That’s why we’re told that the Kims are “crazy;” otherwise, we’d recognize the absurdity and irrationality of our own policies in the region.

    Which barks more, the large dog or the small dog?

    • feeriker

      May 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Which barks more, the large dog or the small dog?

      I dunno. The big, old, obese, mangy, arthritic, toothless dog has sure been making a lot of noise lately at the little dog, who, while not as big and strong, is much more agile and knows every inch of its own yard – which it has confined itself to and has no intention of leaving.

    • Will S.

      May 6, 2017 at 11:43 pm


      And what feeriker said to you.

  5. feeriker

    May 6, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    It is not America’s responsibility to play Globo-Cop; certainly, God didn’t declare such in Scripture

    Sadly, a whole lot of Amoricon evangelitards would disagree with you – even though they cannot point to a single Scriptural reference that clearly backs up their assertion that the YooEssAy is Israel’s twin separated at birth.

    …so the decision of the powers that be to pursue such a course is entirely of their own devising.

    Yup. Something else the Amoricon evangelitards are too stupid and deluded to see and grasp, because, despite all of their empty rhetoric to the contrary, they have visibly put all their faith in earthly princes (and repeatedly gotten burned by it, yet something else they’re too stupid and brainwashed to realize).

    Absolutely embarrassing. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be part of the modern “church” in the western world and be a thinking, common(?) sense-grounded, rational human being (the feminization of the church also has a great deal to do with this). And NO, the two are NOT mutually exclusive, despite what both the “church” and the world would have you believe.

    • Will S.

      May 6, 2017 at 11:49 pm

      And alas, too many Canadian evangelicals would agree with them; one reason I’m not an evangelical any more…


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