Posted by: bklunk | September 28, 2006

Are You Hungry? Lots of Food for Thought Here

Spotlight: North Korea – Powered By Bloglines

Referring to a recent AP story JKDavis has this to say:

North Korea may not be strong militarily because of the chok-hold ofUS-led sanctions, but that doesn’t really make her all that lessdangerous.  I recently read somewhere that a dog that has been chainedup a long time is a lot more to attack and bite than one that has someroom. Interesting thought.  It is true that there is little threat ofinvasion of S. Korea by the North. There has been no indication of thatin five decades. In fact,despite famine, floods, economic collapse,nuclear crises and U.S. pressure Kim Jong Il proceeds to act rationallyand is quite capable of assessing costs and benefits.War on the Koreanpeninsula would cost an estimated $1 trillion in economic damage andresult in 1 million casualties. Dictators generally want to survive,and there has been no extensive social unrest no obvious military chaosnor a military coup, though he continues to be a thorn in the sideof the US.

An interesting use of state-level analysis here, arguing that the first interest of a dictatorial regime may be to survive.  Is JKDavis suggesting that Kim Jong Il’s provocative behavior is calibrated: enough to help him maintain his domestic position, but not enough to bring a severe response from the U.S.?

At least in the next decade, a revision of the U.S.military presence in S.Korea and maybe Japan is likely but a withdrawalof troops and abrogation of the U.S.-S. Korea alliance are unlikely. On a side note, the process of self-government and U.S. influence hastaken interesting steps with the turn over of military powers to theSeoul government, but I hope Iraq does not take half a century tostabilize too.

Well, there is a sobering thought.  Any reactions?  Predictions? 

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  1. As the 6 party talks gear up this has become a more and more important issue. North Korea has a big choice to make because now Japan has put bussiness scantions on them. History has shown the North Korea has offered to give up their nuclear weapons program but back peadeling on both the U.S. side and the North Korean side has stopped any progress. This tell me that their weapons program is there for more or less a bargaining chip compared to an actual first-strike or defense system. When the author of this post said something about how Kim Jong Il’s first goal is the survival of his regime I really agreed with this. I think that one way to keep the regime going is to have a bargaining chip like weapons.
    North Korea will not risk a war that could end his dictatorship, the weapons could be more of a scare tactic than actual aggression. The quesiton is now since he can talk the talk, can he walk the walk.

  2. I agree completely with Madi. With Kim Jong Il it really appears that he uses the controversy of nuclear weapons to bargain with other countries. When it comes down to it Kim John Il may like to seem that he would seriously go to war with another country (whether it’s South Korea or the U.S.) but I think he has enough rational thinking skills to know that that would lead to his regime’s failure. This is not to say that the U.S. or other countries should dismiss North Korea as a threat… we wouldn’t want to underestimate them and end up being sorry for it. Kim Jong Il’s actions towards other countries, activities with nuclear weapons exploration, and even the treatment of his own people is enough to entitle the world to be constantly skeptical of his actions. Again, his bark may be worse than his bite but we should still remain skeptical.

  3. I am in agreement with both of you but I think we shoudl be more skeptical about whether Kim Jong Il is really a “rational thinker” Of this I am not convinced. I think he has characteristics and gestures that make him seem spontanious and immature, but he has acted the contrary to that as well. Hes a strange fellow. Perhaps not an immediate threat, and I agree that his goal is to survive and that his regeme survives. He likes to play with weapons, but he is more likely to sell them than to fire one. But maybe the threat is that he is selling these weapons to leaders who are not afraid to fire them, and use them against the U.S. This seems to be the foremost issue against Kim Jong Il, not whether or not he will directly attack us or S. Korea.

  4. I’m not so sure that Kim Jong Il is convinced he would lose if war came about. For one thing, he has a million man army and the support of his people. For another, even if we make the assessment that it is obvious he would lose in a direct conflict, he doesn’t seem to be entirely rational, as has been pointed out. Moreover, he strikes me as extraordinarily arrogant and he may overestimate his capabilities. I am simply not sure that we can claim it to be obvious to Il that pursuit of nuclear weapons is not in his best interest, given that he may not even be convinced of his military inferiority.

  5. North Korea can go and test their bombs, they are most likely duds anyway. Let them use up their materials and supplies. I really don’t think that they have enough nuclear material in the end to make a real bomb. Although, this may be seen as an act of war by some, well, everything is an act of war with them. Are we really supposed to be scared?! This nuclear ploy is evidently a bargaining chip, not a declaration of war or the like. I agree with jim schultz, this is definitely an overestimation of his capabilities. His idealistic thinking is far beyond what he is atually capable of. And, since there is little threat of invasion by North Korea into the South, lets get our troops out of there and send them to Iraq to do some real work!

  6. Who knows if Kim Jong Il is a rational thinker. I noticed the U.S. is going to stop exporting luxury goods to North Korea because these items are going to the elite ruling class. As our Commerce Secretary said in a press conference, exporting luxury items to the ruling class of North Korea while so much of their country is mired in poverty is a practice the U.S. will not condone. If Il is irrational maybe he will come to the table with 6 party talks about nuclear weapons in his country. Apparently he is a big fan of items like IPODS. This may be a strech but who knows what motivates mad men like Il. Maybe this will be enough to get him to worth with the rest of the world. I’m my view, it is worth a shot.

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