North Korea -- Latest Developments

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Gonk, Nov 23, 2010.

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  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Not that I'm particularly in favor of preemptive war, given that the USA did perfectly fine for 200 years without it, but North Korea's military would honestly be even more pushover than Iraq's was. Just by raw defense budget comparison alone, South Korea has it all over North Korea-their level of spending is approximately six times North Korea's, which means that their military has better equipment, more time to train, and most important of all, better logistical support.

    The biggest issue, honestly, would be post invasion reunification. North Korea is already a humanitarian disaster; rehabilitating it would be a major drain on South Korea's economy, particularly given the events of the last two years.
  2. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    I don't know about a pre-emptive strike. I think what the strategy is, is if that's looking like the way things are going, the US is going to make moves that will make it likely for NK to strike first. At the current rate it doesn't seem as if this will be too hard to do.

    They couldn't do that with Saddam, btw: he wasn't about to attack anyone in his current state, which was why pre-emption became the catchphrase.

    There has to be something to NK's moves beyond this succession situation though. Unless NK backs down completely and all at once... which they've done before... it doesn't make sense to me that this situation is entirely about the succession. What do they have left to prove to anyone within their own nation at this point?

    Something must be up within NK. Either the nation is on the brink of collapse, or they've come upon some sort of intelligence which suggests that the US's missile shield is showing some serious progress -- to which I'd have to apologize to Mr44 about my major doubts and the worth of the amounts spent on it many years ago. If that were the case, NK might see that whatever nuclear advantage they may have may dissipate unless they push for as much as they can right now while they have the technology and there's no reliable way to counter it.
  3. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    I agree, which is why if we're going to attack North Korea it has to be swift, efficient and knock out their ability to quickly retaliate. Seoul is in grave danger if war breaks out.

    Sorry Gonk if I was unclear in earlier arguments. I don't think this is solely about the succession, but I do feel that the succession is coming at a bad time for the regime and is one of the factors shaping their decisions. I never thought about the nuclear shield point, which is a pretty interesting/valid one.

    Very true, integrating North and South Korea into just Korea is a very daunting task, one that is going to take another generation. I don't even know if you can even make them one country right away without seriously hurting South Korea. Creating a "protectorate" first is a possible option, but how do you prevent it from being manipulated by China? Ah well, I suppose this is another subject entirely.

    It has been quiet again for the past day or so, and it has been several days since the initial incident. The more time passes, the more I hope this is going to blow over. Now that things have cooled since the latest escalation, I would rule out a pre-emptive strike.
  4. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    Honestly? IMO, let China absorb North Korea. In my opinion, given the support that they've given North Korea over the last few decades, propping up the regime, let them handle the fallout, reconstruction, blowback, and all around general mess. America can't afford to do it. South Korea can't afford to do it. From a cultural standpoint, it's going to be easier to integrate NK with China anyways.

    Of course, China might have enough common sense to avoid stepping into that steaming pile of trouble.
  5. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    Yeah.. trying telling that to a South Korean.

    Could you clarify what you mean about North Korea-Chinese integration from a cultural standpoint? Other than having communist governments since the mid-20th century (and China at this point is communist in "name only"), what about North Korea's would make it easier to unify with China rather than South Korea? That would be a really interesting point to explore.
  6. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    According to the latest WikiLeaks release, top Chinese officials say that North Korea is of little use as a buffer state, and have told American diplomats that they are not only comforatable with a reunifed Korea based in Seoul but have said that it should happen.

    Link:
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/11/29/wikileaks.new.documents/index.html?hpt=T1
  7. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    That's even further than I had suspected.

    It makes sense. Even though China is a rival to the US and they're still not BFFs, and disagree on humanitarian and democratic issues, China is still as pragmatic as they come and most of the major powers and first world powers -- meaning not only the old "first world" of the latter 20th century of the US, Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan, but now also at least the "greater powers" of Russia, China and India -- are no longer seeing armed conflict as an advisable enterprise. To a certain degree, even arms races (though those remain valuable). China is in a much better position to defend itself and Korea would have no reason to invade... nor really would the United States.

    The value of North Korea as a buffer state is not only a Cold War concern, but an EARLY Cold War concern. NK's value started dropping the moment Nixon set foot in China (which still remains one of the best foreign policy moves the US has made).

    I had been thinking thier favored stance would still to be to have the buffer state becuase it was the best of both worlds -- and that IF re-unification was inevitable, then it was better it happened under direction of Soeul. I'm willing to believe that if NK had a government closer in temperment to that of say, Vietnam, this would still be China's position.

    But NK is not Vietnam. They're clearly becoming problematic for everyone, and thier success only puts thier own allies more in danger from them in the long term: were South Korea and Japan ever neutralized can China, at this rate, be so assured that NK would not try to exact concessions from them next? Russia, apparently, has given thier answer to this already.

    If this is any indication, the NK situation will be resolved quite possibly sometime in the next 10 years, and that NK will not exist by 2020 -- and I'm very relieve to hear these reports on China's stance. The only question is then: what is the best route to ensure the minimum amount of lives are lost on both sides to see this through?
  8. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    If that is how they really think, would this not have been an ideal time to put their money where their mouths are?
  9. Sinrebirth SWC and EUC Forum Moderator

    Manager
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    Nov 15, 2004
    star 7
    They won't do it now it's been revealed, though, will they? Those in the government/country who view America as a threat will place inordinate amounts of pressure on their government to not do this, and they'll step back. No country who has been informed on with useful views will go through with them due to the public outcry. Which is why these opinions weren't public in the first place.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    As Gonk wrote, the Chinese gain from the status quo by making the U.S. bleed billions of dollars indefinitely in a raging regional pseudo crisis. Our presence in Korea is a thorn in our own side, trickling away our ability to maintain a long-term economic and military rivalry with China.
  11. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    If that is how they really think, would this not have been an ideal time to put their money where their mouths are?

    Not necessarily. China definately doesn't want a war, and the situation is such that China abandoning NK now would probably result in one.

    Plus, as mentioned, if they give up entirely on NK then they give up on maximizing what they might be able to get out of the situation. They would gain stability on the NK peninsula, but they know that picture: it's essentially the same one they've been living overall: sure, NK is problematic but over the decades it hasn't troubled China all THAT much. It's probably only beneficial to them to finally divest themselves of NK at such a point when they're looking at a loss from thier current position. They'll want to ride this as long as they can to see if they can get some sort of benefit out of it: and avoiding war at this point is benefit enough.

    NK is getting problematic for China since the stronger NK's position becomes in the longer term, the more China is actually threatened -- in fact more than it is by SK or the US. If Korea is united by a conflict won beyond all expectations by NK, it only means that China now has to worry more about it's own ally and its demands than the US. And in the more likely scenario that Korea is united in a successful war by SK, there comes at least an annoyance factor in knowing that it will take another 50 years at least before Koreans start wanting the US to go home.

    I think China is, overall, hoping that North Korea will collapse quietly on its own, and that it can use any oppertunity in the meantime to try and angle this into working in favor of its other goals. Helping out the US at this point would just mean giving up on their advantage before it's run its course.

    Of course they may realize with Wikileaks and the ever-increasing NK belligerance that they've probably rode this horse about as far as it's going to go.


    They won't do it now it's been revealed, though, will they? Those in the government/country who view America as a threat will place inordinate amounts of pressure on their government to not do this, and they'll step back. No country who has been informed on with useful views will go through with them due to the public outcry. Which is why these opinions weren't public in the first place.

    I disagree. Those in government mostly know of the situation. And those in the country at most probably view the west similar to how the Russians viewed them: Americans are annoying. These are the streets of Beijing, not Islamabad. The Chinese don't HATE you guys... they just don't care.

    If this were Saudi Arabia or Egypt, the public outcry would be very troubling. In China there might be an older generation that objects, but I don't see them caring about this, especially after NK's recent moves. In fact, had the Wikileaks info come out before NK's shelling it might have been a lot worse: now it just looks like people are all justly concerned that NK is off it's nut.

    Remember that North Koreans are Koreans: they are not Chinese. The Chinese don't hate Koreans generally -- unlike, say, the Japanese -- but for a growing strata of thier society, what does the average Chinese man care? If they don't think the US will invade or that the South Koreans will invade... I have a hard time seeing how it's going to matter too much. They're probably quite smug at the failure of US diplomats to keep thier attitudes under wraps, but it doesn't make sense for them to start placing pressure on thier government to stop coming to an agreement about NK. What are they gaining out of NK? Whatever they are gaining, it's probably only visible to Chinese diplomats: most of the public isn't going to argue on behalf of keeping good relations with NK so they can angle a position on Taiwan, or spend the US into reduced status. What has NK ever really done for China (frankly, they might argue, what has ANYONE ever really done for China)? NK is becoming an embarassment all around. The wikileaks coming after NK beligerance i
  12. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    From a fiscal standpoint, would our presence in Korea be sustainable if we were out of Europe and out of Afghanistan/Iraq within the next four years?

    Yeah, true. The WikiLeaks revelation blew a hole through my buffer state ramblings for sure. The thing is, none of that stuff had leaked at the time of the shelling, though. So even though nobody knew China's true thoughts, they still sat on their hands. They couldn't even condemn the shelling.

    But yeah, I will agree that they are likely "kicking the can" until time runs out on the Kim regime.
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Except that an 'economic and military rivalry' with China isn't the end goal of American policy in the Pacific. It's containment leading to a strategic partner. A long-term rivalry isn't what the US is aiming for.

    edit: The Wikileaks information also shows that neither country genuinely treats the other as a rival; we're both on the same page as far as North Korea (needs to go away) and Iran (needs to stop playing ICBM Doctor) are concerned.

    I couldn't find much on how much our forces in Korea cost, but they ran at about 2.6 billion dollars a year in 1989, with 43,000 soldiers there, compared to 28,000 now. That is frankly nothing savings wise when compared to the rest of the defense budget or the US government budget in general. It's like cheering over saving ten dollars when you owe a few million.
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    If the U.S. remains a successful economic powerhouse, then rivalry is inevitable. If we continue our relative economic decline, then not so much. Eventually, we'll be relegated to junior partner.

    It's easy for the Chinese to express indifference about Korean reunification when it's clear that it won't be happening anytime soon. Waiting for the Kim regime to fail is not the same as actually expecting it to go under in the near term. It could last another 3 generations for all we know. In the short term, Chinese indifference, feigned or genuine, puts no additional pressure on North Korea and no impetus for a shift in the longstanding status quo.
  15. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    I'll say that the Chinese advantage in American commitment in Korea only remains while NK is in place, and that it's something that the Chinese would rather have than not have.

    But if Korea is re-unified under SK juristiction, which China appears amendable to, they probably won't split hairs about it any longer. NK requires that the US keep shovelling some real cash into the military presence that they have. Once NK is gone, the US is freer to scale down thier commitment. And it becomes more of an annoyance than anything else becuase the only reason for the US to be in the region is to complicate things for China. Which is really not a big deal, but the Chinese would probably rather skip ahead to a point where Korea no longer has American troops since it's no longer siphoning off any considerable cash... or at the least the US has the freedom to stop the spigot without the area careening into war.

    Remove NK and the US is free to Re-re-deploy, and leave behind a force only a little more substantial than what they plan to leave in Europe (assuming they just don't decide to pull out of Europe altogether. Since China isn't interested in starting a war and calling them back over, China will only care about keeping the American investment in place as long as it's focused on someone else. The moment they become the only reason for the troops to be around is the moment the Americans can afford to scale down, and the moment it becomes most convenient for the Chinese for the Americans to get out of its spehere of influence as much as possible.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Except that the Chinese aren't 'indifferent'. They've apparently stated that 'NK is of little use as a buffer state and that reunification should happen'. That's hardly 'feigning indifference'-that's a direct statement that China is in favor of NK going away.

    You seem to be under the impression that American economic & military dominance is a key factor in our plan for China. It frankly isn't the point of the plan, which is to make China a partner and ally. the United States will always maintain an independent foreign policy and world relevancy irregardless of what happens with China. Tell me, does the United States' massive economic and military power compared to Europe make Europe dance to our tune? It does not. Similarly, we're more economically and militarily powerful than any of our partners in the Pacific area and it's not a "The US is going to tell you what to do" game plan there, either. The point of the thing is to turn China into a real partner irregardless of what our economies do. You know, like every other partner the US has. ;)

    Economic and military rivalry has long become irrelevant between major powers and is going to continue to do so so long as no single major power becomes so awash in domestic issues that it loses the ability to exert power.

    Although since we're stuck on !!OMG CHINA SYNDROME!! evidently, I'd like to present a little graph regarding US and Chinese defense spending:



    List of countries by military expenditures

    The US and China are number one and two, respectively. The United States, however, spends 4.3% of it's on military spending and that comes to 663 billion last year. China spent 2.0% and it only came to 98 billion.

    In other words the US could literally drop military spending to 2.0% of GDP and still have a defense budget literally 3 times the size of China's. China's military spending is in no way comparable to ours; while it is large compared to it's neighbors-South Korea spent 27 billion last year for example, and Japan spent 46 billion-it's still orders of magnitude smaller than ours even with a 50% drop in US military spending. That spending translates to:

    -More training time for our military
    -Better and deeper logistical support
    -More new equipment
    -More money available for research and development to keep a technological edge

    The supposed military rivalry is a pipe dream conconcted by rabid hard-liners still thinking that different governmental systems=enemies.
  17. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Economic and military rivalry has long become irrelevant between major powers and is going to continue to do so so long as no single major power becomes so awash in domestic issues that it loses the ability to exert power.

    Well firstly in Jabba's defense the statement from Wikileaks don't amount to a Chinese consensus on the matter.

    And secondly I don't think it's quite true that economic and military rivalry has become IRRELEVANT. I think it's much closer to say that they're all aware that they are to a degree interdependant, but that none of them are above trying to arrange things so that one of them might become a little more "dependant" on the other.

    Trying to get the Americans to keep spending cash wouldn't be about bringing America to her knees... at this point the Chinese need America in a very real sense. But it would be about having the Americans meet more and more on China's terms. But it's not like China is out to utterly crush America or anything.
  18. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    But let's air the possibility at least that just because China has privately expressed within diplomatic channels indifference to (or even a preference for) reunification under South Korean rule as described in a formerly secret cable doesn't necessarily prove that it's an authentic representation of Chinese interests and goals. It could easily be, among other reasonable interpretations, a meaningless statement meant to placate the U.S. in the face of overwhelming unlikelihood that reunification will ever actually happen within the lifetimes of anyone now living. Consider the possibility that nations lie to each other in private as well as in public.
  19. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Eeeh, yeah, there is that possibility, certainly. But it's come from a number of diffrent sources over a period of time if you look at the makeup of this report. It ranges from information from the US Ambassador to Kazakstan to high-ranking South Korean officials.

    Maybe the Chinese are engaged in a large misinformation campaign, but the effort it would be to maintain that over a long period of time so that it doesn't SEEM like a misinformation campaign... well, there would have to be some very long reaching plan in place.

    I think more likely it is as the report states, which is sort of half your position anyway, which is: the Chinese themselves aren't of one mind about what to do with NK. There's a good portion of the leaderhip that wants to support NK, and is probably very anti-US. Other portions are more pragmatic, and other people of importance are probably very pro-US and wondering what the holdup is in getting rid of the North Koreans already becuase it's complicating US-related business interests in Hong Kong.

    China's not a Democracy, but it's not really a dictatorship. It's more of an oligarchy, and there's probably a wide sentiment of varying opinions within that oligarchy. It might be that there's no real consensus.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    I'd agree with much of that, although I don't think it would require any kind of long term scheming to make this statement consistent. A simple: "as long as reunification remains a practical impossibility, we do not need to cause extra tension by maintaining a hardline diplomatic stance" would suffice.

    China in any case remains unmotivated by any kind of pressing need to act. The status quo doesn't hurt them. China is our economic partner right now. But they are also our geopolitical and economic rival. They always will be, but the dynamic changes as we slip into relative economic decline.

    The age of the year 2003, of America the hyperpower, seems so long ago and far away, doesn't it? Gone are the days when a determined White House could ram a war of vanity down the throats of a squirrely global body politic. In a way, the leaked diplomatic docs are an echo of the Iraq War - an unwelcome exposure of deep American structural weakness encased in a grandiose display of power.

  21. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    Germany took about ten years to re-integrate - and the DDR was not the hellhole that North Korea has become. Korean unification would be a huge economic rain on the ROk for a generation, if not more.

    It's in their interest to promote reunification.
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    But one of the reasons Germany is so strong economically right now was the vast pool of lower income labor created by reunification.
  23. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Germany took about ten years to re-integrate - and the DDR was not the hellhole that North Korea has become. Korean unification would be a huge economic rain on the ROk for a generation, if not more.

    Wait... so they're integrated now?

    Seriously, nobody really shoots off an announcement for these things...
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