Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

North Korean Ambitions -- Update

In all of the discussions about North Korea and its nuclear weaponry I have not heard anyone try to get inside the minds of the North Korean rulers. Two important questions must be asked. First, what are the strategic ambitions of Kim and company? And second, how do nuclear weapons and rockets serve these ambitions? We need to answer these questions in order to anticipate the moves of the North Koreans and avoid making blunders.

There is a crazy symmetry between the U.S. and North Korea. George W. Bush did what his father did not do -- topple Saddam Hussain. But Kim may do what his father failed to do in 1950 -- namely annex South Korea. The Kim's have imposed many hardships on their people in order to build up their military forces. The only credible reason for these hardships is the ambition to contol South Korea. Perhaps the present Kim believes that he is on the brink of success. Perhaps he believes he can win a new Korean war.

Kim has characterized the U.N. Sanctions as a declaration of war. This gives Kim all the justification that he needs to invade South Korea. A westerner may think that this ambition is hopelessly quixotic and doomed to failure. But this is looking through the wrong of a telescope. Kim and company just might think that they can win a new Korean War. Alternatively, if they sense that the regime is about to collapse, that may start a war in a desperate attempt to snatch victory. That is why the present situation is extremely dangerous.

However, I do not worry about nuclear rocket hitting California as much as I worry about one hitting the port of Pusan. The destruction of Pusan would make it virtually impossible for the U.S. to send troops and supplies to help South Korea. On the other hand, if the North Korean rulers should destroy an American city, they would be signing their own death warrants.

It is likely that North Korea will soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit American cities. It is fair to ask, how does such a weapon serve the interests of the North Koreans? I doubt that Kim wants war with the United States. Instead, his goal is to keep the United States out of a new Korean war. And the threat of a nuclear strike against an American city may deter the president from intervening against North Korea.

The president may order the U.S. fleet to fire cruise missiles at the North Korean troops. With medium range nuclear missiles, Kim can make it dangerous for a U.S. fleet to enter the Sea of Japan, and impossible for the U.S. to perform an Inchon-style landing.

While the United States is losing the war in Iraq, our ability to defend South Korea is seriously compromised. We may have to abandon Iraq in order to defend South Korea. Surely Kim is counting on this.

Only after analyzing the strategic aims of North Korea do we appreciate how dangerous the current situation is.


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