Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On Decapitation, Literal and Figurative


CNBC (citing state-funded South Korean news agency Yonhap) reports that "North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen a large amount of classified military documents, including a South Korean and U.S. plan to 'decapitate' North Korea's leadership ..."

That's somewhat different than the headline: "North Korea hackers believed to have stolen US-South Korea plans to kill Kim Jong Un."

Of course, we don't get to see the content of those documents -- we are just supposed to pick up the check and STFU.

In military terms, "decapitating North Korea's leadership" does not necessarily translate to "killing Kim Jong Un." It merely means cutting off communication between strategic decisionmakers (including top military HQs and regime figures) and on-the-ground actors (troops in the field and the infrastructure supporting the movement, feeding, etc. of said troops).

In my opinion, actually killing Kim Jong Un if war breaks out would be a strategic mistake.

For as long as he can exercise power and communicate orders, he's likely to be a poor decisionmaker.

Once his ability to exercise power and communicate orders has been degraded (which will be very quickly, almost certainly within 24 hours and probably much less), it's better if "his own people" (read: ambitious or desperate generals) kill him so that what follows (as I've previously predicted, probably an invitation for Chinese "peacekeepers" to come in with the US party to a ceasefire agreement) can be embraced by North Koreans as "we deposed Kim" rather than resented by North Koreans as "the US killed Kim."

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