Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bully Boy Trump Meets His Match in Kim Jong-un

The U.S. habitually forces other nations to bend to its will by using diplomatic arm-twisting, economic warfare or brute military force. The U.S. has been using all three against North Korea since the Korean War, and since the regime of Clinton and running through Bush the Younger, Obama, and now Trump The Narcissist, the U.S. has been trying to reverse North Korea's nuclear weapons development, presumably with the addition of cyberwarfare in the arsenal of U.S. weaponry. [1]
But North Korea is proving a tough nut for the U.S. to crack.
The country has great internal cohesion, unlike easy targets of U.S. coups like Chile in 1973, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, or Ukraine in 2014, among other examples. Nor can the U.S. simply invade, as it did the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 19 83, Panama in 1989, Haiti and Nicaragua in the early 20th century, Cuba and the Philippines circa 1898 and so on.
The internal cohesion of NK is based on the extreme totalitarianism of the regime, and the effective brainwashing of the populace, backed by coercion. (Actually most nations rely on brainwashing through propaganda and indoctrination in the school system backed by coercion. That description certainly fits the U.S.) The impracticality of invasion stems from the fact that NK has nuclear weapons, and a conventional military that in any event would inflict significant casualties on a U.S. invasion force- something U.S. ruling elites are deathly afraid of, for good reasons.
Donald Trump, a lifelong bully, apparently thinks he can intimidate the North Koreans. That is amazingly obtuse. It is perfectly obvious that the North Koreans are extremely tough and very hard. Trump has been issuing verbal threats for several weeks, vowing to "take care of the problem" of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs. His Secretary of State, Rex "Mr. ExxonMobil" Tillerson, has echoed the threats, saying that "all options are on the table," U.S.-gangsterspeak for You Better Be Afraid We Will Attack You With Our Military.
Currently Trump is rushing a carrier battle group at North Korea. NK's response has been a threat to launch a preemptive nuclear attack. In other words, if they think the U.S. is going to attack them, they will launch.
Whether or not that's a bluff, it is highly reckless of the Trump regime to test it.
A better tact would be to accept the reality that war with North Korea is simply insane, and negotiate. For one thing, there is no practical way to stop the North from destroying South Korea's capital and economic heart, Seoul, in a matter of hours with the 10,000 artillery pieces embedded in a mountain just over the border. Except maybe by hydrogen bombing the mountain, which would release vast quantites of radioactive fallout over South Korea and Japan and China and ineed the whole region (as well as float over the entire globe, including the U.S.). And of course the U.S. would simultaneously have to "take out" the North's nuclear arsenal- except that the U.S. does not know where all of it is hidden.
China has been advocating negotiations. True, previous negotiations "failed." That is, they produced temporary (or no) results. The first deal, cut by Clinton, might have worked if the U.S. hadn't double-crossed the North on a promise to build civilian nuclear power plants. (The U.S. said, Oh, Japan is supposed to build those. Japan never did, so the North surreptitiously began nuclear weapons work again.) But it did halt the North's development of nuclear weaponry for a few years. And yes, NK basically has practiced a policy of diplomatic extortion, using its nuclear arsenal as threat. Realistically one shouldn't expect the North to ever give up that arsenal, as without it it has no leverage. At best, perhaps a halt to its further development could be negotiated.
To be sure, the dynastic Kim regime is fanatical and unreasonable, but not wholly irrational. One good starting point for negotiations would be to propose a formal end to the Korean War by treaty. (There is actually just a truce in place.) However, the U.S. hates compromising with an adversary, especially one perceived as weak. This is why the U.S. prolonged the Vietnam War for so long, seeking "victory" (by pummelling the Vietnamese into submission). (Lyndon Johnson contemptuously likened North Vietnam to "a dwarf with a penknife" threatening the U.S.! There's the mentality you're dealing with.)
North Korea feels genuinely threatened by the U.S. Increasing that threat only increases the North's belligerence and determination to create a nuclear deterrent that can destroy not only U.S. bases in the Far East, but attack the continental U.S. The only strategy that has a chance to stop the development of North Korean ICBMs is negotiation and compromise, as distasteful as that is.
Nor should Trump count on China to bail out the U.S. China has expressed its strong objection to the THAAD anti-missile system the U.S. is preparing to deploy in South Korea, seeing it as neutralizing China's own missiles. Nor do they want to undermine the North Korea regime or bring it to its knees. It fears in that event that the South would take over the North, bring a U.S. client up to China's doorstep, and/or creating a flood of North Korean refugees into China (on top of the flow that already exists). (China has cancelled North Korean coal exports to China for this year, to express displeasure with North Korean missile tests. Oddly, it has been reported that bilateral trade has increased despite this. A real blow would be if China cut off oil shipments to the North. That would surely cripple the North's military. There is no indication China intends to go that far.)
But between a U.S. president who is ignorant, bombastic, blustering, narcissistic, and accustomed to getting his way through intimidation and bullying, and a U.S. military that is ascendant in the foreign policy arena (Trump has put generals in charge of the Pentagon and National Security Council, and diminished the role of the State Department, even proposing to cut its budget by 28%), it is hard to be optimistic about an intelligent strategy being adopted as U.S. policy. Not that the military necessarily wants war, but that after all is all they know how to do.

1] Overtly and covertly, the U.S. has used military and terroristic violence thousands of times in its history. Examples of economic warfare include against Cuba starting in 1959; against Chile from 1970 to 1973, when Nixon gave CIA secret police chief Richard Helms orders to "make the economy scream" to destabilize that country and overthrow elected socialist president Salvador Allende; against Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979; 

Why the hell is this man laughing?

No comments: