The north doesn't want war, or to be precise, the leadership of the DPRK don't want war. Kim Jong-Il has a pleasant life with all of the luxury goods he wants; he has millions of people worshipping him. And it's pretty clear that the DPRK can't win a war against the South, much less if you add the US into the mix. Yes, they have a huge army and loads of artillery and so on. A porcupine has thousands of quills, yet it'll never attack you. I suggest that, although they are shitheads, the leadership is smart.
They are playing in a region where the neighbours (the DPRK propaganda site mentions the 'six country talks') are the world's #2 and #3 superpowers (China/Russia, you argue the order), an economic superpower (Japan), a decent regional power in the South that has significant financial and military muscle, and the US of course, who is interested in everything everywhere. That's the definition of a high-stakes table, and North Korea has been playing poker against these guys for 65 years, from a deck of 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s. You don't do that by being dumb or insane or crazy or ideologues, you do that by being clever as hell and bluffing for all you're worth. And every once in a while, pulling some crazy shit, like shelling a random island, or showing off your uranium centrifuges. So they can't tell if you're bluffing or crazy.
Just when you thought the place could not get any stranger, it did. In the past few weeks, this impoverished, isolated nation has tested a nuclear bomb, threatened a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States, abrogated the armistice that ended the Korean War and declared its intention to "rain bullets" on its neighbor to the South.
No one knows for sure what is going on, but the most likely explanation is that North Korea's trying to get attention, force us negotiate a deal, get some goodies, then quietly start cheating on that deal.
That has been the pattern in the past, but, this time, the North Koreans have gotten the attention of their ally, China, but not quite how they want to get it. In a remarkable shift, China, which sustains its neighbor North Korea economically, helped draft and then voted last week for U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.
For decades, Beijing saw Pyongyang as a historical and natural ally. But now, a senior Obama administration official told me last Wednesday, "We are clearly hearing increasingly levels of frustration and concern" from Beijing about North Korea.
A few weeks ago, a senior Communist Party Deng Yuwen argued in an op-ed in the Financial Times that China should "abandon" North Korea. Now, talk is easier than action. China has never imposed penalties or strictly enforced sanctions against its ally.
Beijing's reasoning is understandable. We tend to think about North Korea through the prism of two issues; nuclear weapons and human rights. But the Chinese have a more pressing concern, national collapse. If they were to push the North Korean government too hard, they feel, the regime could fall, leaving millions to seek refuge in China.
Even more important, the endgame would be obvious, a unified Korea on South Korea's terms, which would mean that China would now be bordered by a formal ally of the United States, one with about 28,000 U.S. troops on its soil as well as nuclear weapons. You don't have to be a paranoid to worry about that scenario.
If Washington wants to deepen China's commitment to tackling North Korea's belligerence, we'll have to address Beijing's concerns.
The National security adviser Tom Donilon, who has been the administration's chief interlocutor with the Chinese, could have a frank series of conversations with his counterparts in Beijing about a strategic plan for the Korean Peninsula in the event of a North Korean collapse.
We would have to talk some issues. In a unified Korea, would we destroy the nuclear weapons immediately, would American troops remain, would America's treaty relationship with the South apply to the new nation?
"The North Koreans know," says former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, "That there is now a real danger of an accident, incident or miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula."
If that happened, there is a danger that China and the United States would end up reacting quickly, viscerally and in ways that might make things much worse, even lead to conflict. To prevent this scenario, we should propose serious strategic talks."
Kissinger, who has spent more time talking to senior Chinese leaders than any other living American says, "My instinct is that the Chinese are ready to have this conversation."
DONALD GREGG, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: I met with North Koreans very recently and talked to them about it. And they said what has happened is that they have given up on their diplomats and their military is now in control.
And what they want is talk about moving from the now disbanded armistice agreement to the creation of a peace treaty. And that's what they want to talk about and anyone who is willing to talk about that -- they will listen to anyone who wants to talk about what they call "the old way" which was give up your nuclear weapons and then we'll talk is going to get nowhere.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that the -- that this is being directed by this 28-year-old boy who has essentially no experience in politics and government and seems more interested in basketball than anything else?
VICTOR CHA, DIRECTOR, ASIAN STUDIES, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Yes and amusement parks. I mean, as far as we know, from all the pictures and all the statements, he appears to be in charge.
I mean it is, in a sense, a royal family because only one family has run the country so he certainly feels entitled to that position. But the wild variations in behavior that you just mentioned, leads some people to be concerned about whether he is fully in charge or whether the military is in charge.
The three top military generals that were with him when his father died are all gone now. And we don't know what happened to them. That could be a sign of him taking control, but it could also be a sign of some real churn inside the system where some people don't like the fact that a 28-year-old is now running the country.
When I heard that Dennis Rodman was going, I couldn't believe it. I don't know about you, but you can't make this kind of stuff up.
You can't make it up. They reportedly wanted Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan, perhaps wisely, decided not to be part of it.
You know what partly this tells you, to add to the complexity of this story, is this 29-year-old boy, Kim Jong Un, is probably not running national security strategy. The guy is a few months in the job. There's a military dictatorship. He's fully in control of basketball policy for North Korea. But national security policy's probably being controlled by very senior generals.
He is the son, though, of Kim Jong Il, the grandson of founder of North Korea, so the power he has potentially is enormous.
Enormous, and it unifies the country, and it keeps the regime intact. But probably behind the scenes there are people actually pulling the strings, which makes it more complicated, because there are probably multiple centers of power here.
Where do you see this going, bottom line?
Bottom line, I think they will be deterred. I think they're trying to get attention. They're trying to get concessions. The Obama administration is probably not going to do it. So we'll probably ride this out. But as you said at the start, there have been miscalculations here.
March 22, 2010 The Columbia departed Chinhae, Republic of Korea, afre a four-day port visit and will participate in the bilateral exercise Foal Eagle 2010.
May 3, USS Columbia returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after a six-month deployment.
August 5, Cmdr. Dennis J. Kline relieved Cmdr. Craig Blakely as CO of the Columbia during a change-of-command ceremony at Pearl Harbor.
June 21, 2011 USS Columbia departed homeport for a scheduled western Pacific deployment.
July 1, SSN 771 pulled into Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka for a routine port call.
October 13, The Columbia arrived in Sepanggar naval base for a scheduled port visit to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, and to get tender support from USS Emory S. Land (AS 39).
December 21, USS Columbia returned to Pearl Harbor after a six-month deployment.
May 1, 2012 Capt. James Pitts, Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 7, relieved Cmdr. Dennis J. Klein as CO, due to a "loss of confidence in his ability to command." Chief of the boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician Don W. Williams, was also relieved of duty. Capt. Dennis Boyer, Deputy Commander of SUBRON 7, assumed temporary command of the Columbia.
October 19, Cmdr. J. Patrick Friedman relieved Capt. Dennis Boyer as CO of the SSN 771 during a change-of-command ceremony at the USS Missouri Memorial.
North Korea announced Monday that it would pull all workers and suspend operations from the joint-Korean Kaesong industrial zone, one of the last relics of cooperation between North and South Korea.
This sudden aggression could also be North Korea’s way of sending a message to China to continue sending monetary and trade support to Pyongyang. Chinese president Xi Jinping said on Sunday that "no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain," which has been interpreted as a thinly veiled rebuke at North Korea.
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to make a trip to the Korean peninsula next week where he is scheduled to address the rising tensions in the area. “I think sending the Secretary of State to the area is a lot better than sending B2s and B52s,” says Carroll.
North Korea is widely recognized as being years away from perfecting the technology to back up its bold threats of a pre-emptive strike on the United States. But some nuclear experts say it might have the know-how to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at South Korea and Japan, which host U.S. military bases.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released a classified assessment last month saying that it now has “moderate confidence” that the “North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles however the reliability will be low,” South Korea has provided additional intelligence bolstering this conclusion, according to U.S. officials.
We talked to a group of North Koreans in exile who used to serve in the North Korean army, and asked them what they thought were the most significant weaknesses in the DPRK military. The unanimous conclusion was unexpected: at present, the greatest problem faced by the North Korean army is not the chronic shortage of food or even the outdated weaponry; the real crisis in the Korean People’s Army is sexually transmitted diseases.
What's the equivalent term to "blue balls" for nuclear wargasm?
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