Saturday, April 13, 2013

My North Korea Theory

I think US President Barack Obama wants a war with North Korea.

Why? Five reasons:

1) I think he wants a "legacy war" that secures him a place in history. "The guy who brought a 63-year conflict to an end, turned a 60-year stalemate into a glorious victory, finally closed out the Cold War era" sounds pretty good.

2) I think he believes that a war with North Korea can be won "Desert Storm" style -- that the vaunted North Korean military will collapse within days, if not hours, and that unlike Desert Storm, the military collapse will be followed quickly by political collapse, with the US military probably suffering relatively few casualties (unless the North breaks out an atomic or nuclear weapon, in which case he can claim justification for getting the job done before they were able to lob one at Salt Lake City).

3) I think he believes that the US can avoid "quagmire problems" by letting the South Koreans handle "re-unification" and the Chinese handle "humanitarian assistance."

4) Speaking of the Chinese, I think he thinks that this war will put the Chinese on notice that the US remains a power in their region, while simultaneously giving them a chance to make friendly as a post-war "partner" on the Korean peninsula.

5) I think he sees a short, nasty, brutish war as a great way to justify compromising with the Republicans on military spending (they've been calling for 18% growth of DoD over the next five years, he's been stuck on 10% -- neither side, of course, has advocated any real cuts at all; that 10% increase is the GOP's "draconian cuts" complaint), which might produce an agreement to continue increasing all spending (and accompanying debt).

I strongly suspect that, if he thinks what I think he thinks, he is right on points #2 and #3.

Yes, North Korea has a big army, but it's a big conscript army that's equipped with 50-year-old planes, tanks, APCs, etc. and that has to put much of its manpower into farming and manufacturing to feed and clothe itself.

In point of fact, I think that if the 1991 war had been North Korea versus Iraq instead of the US versus Iraq, Iraq would have whipped North Korea's ass.

If the balloon goes up, I predict that the North will collapse militarily within 5-7 days and politically within 5-10 days. The North's artillery and rocket forces will make hay along the DMZ, inflicting heavy civilian casualties in Seoul and other border areas -- for a couple of hours, if they fire first, before they can be suppressed and perhaps a day or two before they're eliminated as a coherent threat.

Now, please don't take this to mean that I support a US war against North Korea. I don't. If I can't push a button to eliminate all the states involved in the situation, my advice to the US is to give South Korea a date certain after which it will be entirely responsible for its own defense, and start getting US forces out of there on a timetable that reaches "zero US forces in South Korea" by that date. But I don't see that happening.

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