kuenjato

War Drums: North Korea edition

294 posts in this topic

1 minute ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Well my question was exactly that. A question, based on the intriguing psychology behind it all.

Why would Japanese pilots be willing to become Kamakazis for the sake of defeating an enemy, or Gauls be willing to die in their millions to oppose the superior Roman legions, or American Revolutionaries be willing to die to liberate themselves from British rule, or Apache members of raiding parties remain silent as they fall down a cliff to their deaths, resiting the natural urge to scream rather than alerting enemies to the party's approach, or WW1 soldiers fatalistically charge from a trench into the face of machine gun fire and certain death, or a Chinese protester standing in front of an advancing tank, or believers refusing to speak against their conscience even when burnt on a pyre, or thrown to lions to be devourse, and and and, while in other societies or circumstances people are not willing (or able) to make such sacrifices for something they believe in.

My point is that it is an intriguing question, to which I don't have the answer. All it takes is one close aid who has reached breaking point, grabs a pen and stabs him in throat. But for some reason - and we have seen it in many tyrannical states in the modern era - it does not seem to happen.

 

There are kind of an absurd amount of studies behind what motivates people to take altruistic tasks. It's really not that hard to look them up. In particular, the things that you named all above are people identifying with their own group fighting against another group opposed to that first group - with one exception: the Chinese protester. That right there should tell you why North Koreans are not defying other North Koreans to kill the leader of North Korea - because it  is incredibly uncommon to fight against the group you belong to. 

Add to that the sheer massive oppression of North Korea where there are no real organized opposition groups and any hint of opposition is treated as a crime worthy of death, and you'll see how it's pretty hard to get one aide to do anything so insane as to kill someone they're next to. The simplest answer is that humans are good at not hitting those breaking points and not rebelling. They want to belong. They want to believe. They want to fit in. And that aide in North Korea working closely with Kim Jong Un is doing better for themselves than 99.99% of the rest of their friends and family. 

So naked self-interest and belonging. 

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1 minute ago, Kalbear said:

I certainly know more about it than you appear to. I don't claim to be an expert - but I do claim to be able to tell when someone thinks things are easy because they don't understand them in the least. But please, entertain us - tell us what we said that is wrong. 

It is you who seem to have jumped the gun and criticized a question I posed as being a result of the "Dunning-Kruger" effect of all things. I did not claim to have the answer to the question. Merely raised it as an intriguing issue to which I don't have the answer.

Ascribing it to the Dunning-Kruger effect would imply that I think I do have the answer to it, due to assuming greater knowledge than I actually possess. So ironically, it would appear that in this case, your very invocation of the Dunning-Kruger effect displayed a lack of knowledge of the very effect that you so confidently sought to apply to the situation. Which, in a nutshell, is a rather apt demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect in action.

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21 hours ago, TerraPrime said:

Will a pre-emptive strike benefit the Trump brand and legacy? Will it boost his popularity rating domestically? Will it make him look strong and decisive?

Do you mean a conventional pre-emptive strike or a nuclear one? I think a conventional one would not be out of character for the US: every presidential administration since the end of the Cold War has bombed at least one new country and thereby contributed to regime change. A nuclear one... I really don't think that would benefit his legacy or boost his popularity. Humanity has agreed to keep that demon bound (along with its biological and chemical kin) and, for the most part, we have kept to that agreement over more than half a century of conflict. Even if it such a strike works as desired and is relatively limited in scope, it is much more likely to be seen as reckless to the point of madness than strong and decisive.

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Posted (edited)

7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

It is you who seem to have jumped the gun and criticized a question I posed as being a result of the "Dunning-Kruger" effect of all things. I did not claim to have the answer to the question. Merely raised it as an intriguing issue to which I don't have the answer.

You implied that it was weird that no one has done it. That alone was enough depiction of your ignorance. It isn't weird. The weird thing is the Chinese protester. Everything else is completely normal and typical.

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Ascribing it to the Dunning-Kruger effect would imply that I think I do have the answer to it, due to assuming greater knowledge than I actually possess. So ironically, it would appear that in this case, your very invocation of the Dunning-Kruger effect displayed a lack of knowledge of the very effect that you so confidently sought to apply to the situation. Which, in a nutshell, is a rather apt demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect in action.

No, it implies that you think it's really bizarre that this isn't happening, when it is pretty simple. You think that it's very bizarre that people don't kill each other willy-nilly, and instead of even looking into why it might be the case imply that it's got to be a special snowflake. You then double down on saying how no, you were just posing a question, instead of admitting that you messed up the first time. 

It's kind of your thing in general, especially when people call you on it. 

You believing that your knowledge is special or different when it is simply ignorant is a pretty good Dunning-Kruger behavior. Me calling you on it could also be, and I admit that, save that I actually looked things up (you didn't, and still apparently didn't) and I formulated my opinion after reading, which again - you didn't. 

ETA: I mean, here's your original post:

Quote

 

What I find perplexing is the length of time people are willing to put up with despots in the absence of external intervention to remove him.

Surely there must be 0.1% of the entire population willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to end the tyranny. Heck, we saw people sacrifice their lives in their thousands in centuries gone by to fight for causes of liberty and justice.

Even 0.1% of North Korea's population would amount to tens of thousands of people. And yet we have never heard of even one assassination attempt by a kitchen worker in his palace with a carving knife, or by a gardener with a pitchfork, or by his driver who chooses to drive off a cliff, sacrificing himself for the cause of killing the tyrant in the process.

It boggles my mind, I must admit.

 

In this you're not asking a question about why - you're declaring that it is so bizarre that no one does this. You then bring up a whole bunch of irrelevant examples to back up this claim based on...I'm not sure. Do you happen to know a whole lot of private staff who killed their employers? It's not particularly historical. Why would you think otherwise? (answer: because you think it's common when it isn't).

Edited by Kalbear

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Just now, Kalbear said:

You implied that it was weird that no one has done it. That alone was enough depiction of your ignorance. It isn't weird. The weird thing is the Chinese protester. Everything else is completely normal and typical.

No, it implies that you think it's really bizarre that this isn't happening, when it is pretty simple. You think that it's very bizarre that people don't kill each other willy-nilly, and instead of even looking into why it might be the case imply that it's got to be a special snowflake. You then double down on saying how no, you were just posing a question, instead of admitting that you messed up the first time. 

It's kind of your thing in general, especially when people call you on it. 

You believing that your knowledge is special or different when it is simply ignorant is a pretty good Dunning-Kruger behavior. Me calling you on it could also be, and I admit that, save that I actually looked things up (you didn't, and still apparently didn't) and I formulated my opinion after reading, which again - you didn't. 

Well how about you don't actually know for a fact why we haven't heard of such attempts either. You just jumped to what you believe the answer is, based on some cursory googling. Let's see some potential varied answers to the mystery:

1. There actually have been attempts on his life, but it has just been kept secret and we therefore haven't heard of them.

2. There have been plots in the making that were uncovered BEFORE they could be carried out.

3. There actually aren't tens of thousands of dissidents, and virtually everyone is happy under his rule, although I find this hard to believe considering the desperate attempts defectors go to to escape from that country.

4. The group think solution that you claim such authority on, under which even people who have reason to be unhappy, don't have the motivation to do anything about it.

And the reason this issue perplexes me is not because I suggest North Korea to be a "special snowflake" as you claim, but because it is a phenomenon that has cropped up repeatedly in dictatorships of the modern era. From Saddam, to Mugabe, to Ghaddafi to Kim Jong Un and so forth. And perhaps the answers are different in each case, depending on the circumstances.

But if Kim dies tomorrow due to being stabbed with a letter opener by a secretary who has reached breaking point, well, then indeed, all it would have taken is one person to be willing to take that step, and had the opportunity to do so. Then the mystery would be no more, would it.

 

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Posted (edited)

I think that to even be considered for the job of being Kim Jong Un's secretary in the first place, the person in question must have demonstrated a completely spotless record throughout his or her entire life regarding loyalty to the regime. Furthermore, once getting the job that individual is probably put under permanent surveillance by the secret police and has very limited opportunities to come into contact with people, or information, that could make him change his political views. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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Just now, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

I think that to even be considered for the job of being Kim Jong Un's secretary in the first place, the person in question must have demonstrated a completely spotless record throughout his or her entire life regarding loyalty to the regime. Furthermore, once getting the job that individual is probably put under permanent surveillance by the secret police, and has very limited opportunities to come into contact with people, or information, that could make him change his political views. 

Indeed. And family members are likely held as "hostages" etc. But my question remains. In a nation of millions, ruled by a tyrant, what is a reasonable estimate of the number of people with sufficient motivation to assassinate him that they would sacrifice their own lives in the attempt? I have no idea what that number is, but I used 0.1% as a guestimate. Maybe that is ludicrously high? I don't know.

So then it becomes a question of his security arrangements simply being so tight that even those with the motivation have zero opportunity to do so.

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16 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And the reason this issue perplexes me is not because I suggest North Korea to be a "special snowflake" as you claim, but because it is a phenomenon that has cropped up repeatedly in dictatorships of the modern era. From Saddam, to Mugabe, to Ghaddafi to Kim Jong Un and so forth. And perhaps the answers are different in each case, depending on the circumstances.

It's not just that, however. There are not historical examples of despots of any flavor being killed by those close to them. It just doesn't happen. 

As to your list - you have zero backing or evidence for anything of those existing - they're just random uninformed thoughts.

 

16 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

But if Kim dies tomorrow due to being stabbed with a letter opener by a secretary who has reached breaking point, well, then indeed, all it would have taken is one person to be willing to take that step, and had the opportunity to do so. Then the mystery would be no more, would it.

The reason that I'm taking such annoyance is that this isn't a mystery. This is the kind of bullshit conspiracy crap that props up all the time. "Oh, if I don't understand why it's not happening there must be a SPECIAL REASON'. No, there isn't - it means that chances are good that you simply don't understand in depth what's going on. 

So here's the counterargument: you're waiting with bated breath for this secretary and a letter opener to save the day. If that does not happen, what does it show you? 

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23 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

My point is that it is an intriguing question, to which I don't have the answer. All it takes is one close aid who has reached breaking point, grabs a pen and stabs him in the throat. But for some reason - and we have seen it in many tyrannical states in the modern era - it does not seem to happen.

Check out the video (or better yet, the book which actually addresses North Korea specifically as an example) from my post in this thread. Briefly, it doesn't happen because any aid close enough to be in a position to do this is part of the winning coalition and (with one exception) has nothing to gain and everything to lose from such an action. By "winning coalition", I mean the people who are well off despite (and in fact because of) the poverty of the country as a whole. If you add in the formidable espionage capability and the harsh penalties for any hint of disloyalty, it becomes extremely unlikely that anybody would do anything of the sort.

The one exception is that if a close ally believes that they're about to be purged, they may decide that an assassination attempt and the ensuing chaos is worth the risk. This may have been the fate of Stalin -- at the very least, his closest associates and highest-ranking members of the Party took a surprisingly long time to summon medical assistance. There are theories that go further and claim that he was poisoned by one or more of them.

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5 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Indeed. And family members are likely held as "hostages" etc. But my question remains. In a nation of millions, ruled by a tyrant, what is a reasonable estimate of the number of people with sufficient motivation to assassinate him that they would sacrifice their own lives in the attempt? I have no idea what that number is, but I used 0.1% as a guestimate. Maybe that is ludicrously high? I don't know.

So then it becomes a question of his security arrangements simply being so tight that even those with the motivation have zero opportunity to do so.

Well, his security arrangements probably are very tight, yeah. But there may still have been tonnes of failed attempts on his life for all we know. 

Hitler survived so many assassination attempts that he started to believe that he was protected by divine providence, for example. Not too sure about these more recent dictators. 

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Just now, Kalbear said:

It's not just that, however. There are not historical examples of despots of any flavor being killed by those close to them. It just doesn't happen. 

As to your list - you have zero backing or evidence for anything of those existing - they're just random uninformed thoughts.

 

The reason that I'm taking such annoyance is that this isn't a mystery. This is the kind of bullshit conspiracy crap that props up all the time. "Oh, if I don't understand why it's not happening there must be a SPECIAL REASON'. No, there isn't - it means that chances are good that you simply don't understand in depth what's going on. 

So here's the counterargument: you're waiting with bated breath for this secretary and a letter opener to save the day. If that does not happen, what does it show you? 

FFS, the secretary is a random example. It could be someone who feels unhappy after he fed his uncle to rabid dogs, or someone who had enough when he executed some folks with an anti-aircraft cannon.  You are on your high horse about this issue since I posted the question. Have a drink and relax. It really wasn't a loaded question aimed at starting some "conspiracy theory".

You are claiming an absolute answer to something when there is a lot we don't know about what goes on inside the North Korean state. How would you know if 10 assassination attempts had been secretly foiled in the last year? You won't. So maybe let's tone this discussion down a notch or three. It's not worth going all "Dunning-Kruger" over.

Next time someone claims it "boggles their mind" why Donald Trump has any supporters I'll be sure to pull the Dunning-Kruger rabbit out of the bag, rather than engaging them with what I happen to believe the answer may be.

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Posted (edited)

On 24/04/2017 at 10:54 PM, kuenjato said:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-usa-senate-idUSKBN17Q1LR?mod=related&channelName=worldNews&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social

(Didn't see a dedicated thread)

So, I'm going to South Korea with my family in June (wife is a native of Seoul), and naturally all this recent barrage about NK is somewhat troubling, to say the least. I'm constantly reminded of the time when "Iraq" and "Saddam" were filtered through the newsphere with growing consistency leading up to 2003. My wife doesn't seem concerned, but she's one of those who have lived with the NK threat to such an extent that threats and saber-rattling is just garbled noise by this point. Having Trump brief the entire Senate on the NK situation is rather worrying, given what that traditionally means, and given that Trump desperately needs some distraction glaze right now. 

This is different, and it's very different. China seems genuinely alarmed, and that in itself is alarming, and even more odd is the fact that the Chinese government itself seems to have taken a hard edge on North Korea. When China, which has been pretty constant and implacable in its support for North Korea for almost seventy years, starts changing up I think it's a good sign that the old normal has gone out of the window.

 

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What bothers me is the tone I hear of "lets get this over with" even from people who dislike and distrust Trump.

It looks like Obama was seeing the escalation of North Korea's rhetoric and capability with alarm during the waning days of his presidency and he impressed upon Trump that North Korea was going to be his #1 foreign policy concern after landing in the White House. This really isn't a partisan issue - although Trump may indeed use it to distract from other issues - as both sides of Congress seem to be united in their belief that something needs to happen before America is in range of a North Korean nuclear missile (which will be within North Korea's capabilities within a few years: the breakthrough in producing and using solid fuel a year or so ago is a massive gamechanger for North Korea missile technology).

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This is a country that has for the last 50+ years been brainwashed at almost every level to see all outsiders as the demon enemy. Their army will not just roll over and give up, they will potentially fight to the death. Their general population either don't know what the hell is going on outside or have been fed constant lies and will only see any aggressor as a monster coming to steal their children.

Fighting the Nazi's was difficult with their propaganda and war machine, even the USSR was a challenge to come up against. But NK has been so isolated and brainwashed for so long with little outside contact for most i dread to think what would happen if an invasion was attempted.

This is, frankly, cliched nonsense. The North Koreans are really not as ignorant of the outside world as it's portrayed. Chinese smugglers bring films, music and CDs full of cached web pages of news websites in from the outside world and sell them within North Korea. The dissemination of such material is patchy and uncertain, but there is a very large contingent of the North Korean population which knows quite a bit about the outside world and how poor their country is compared to the south. Anyone living close to the DMZ knows the North Korean official story that Seoul was destroyed in the Korean War and never rebuilt is bullshit (one of the biggest cities on Earth lighting up the sky even from 35 miles away).

There would be a massive readjustment to the truth of the world outside, but it's not coming from the total low base of ignorance you suggest.

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Plus you have the problem of how do you stop the almost instant retaliation the North will unleash? You'd have to remove every single artillery position aimed at Seol, together with those aimed elsewhere, plus all the aircraft, subs, patrol ships. No easy task.

 

North Korea's air force, tanks and ships are all woeful. They will be obliterated on Day 1 of any military conflict. Their subs are big, noisy, dirty and of Cold War vintage. They won't long survive the US Navy's attempts to track them down.

The artillery is more difficult, but not impossible to remove. Removing it before it fires is a different question.

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Does anyone genuinely believe the US or anyone else will be invading North Korea any time soon? 

Surely this is all just posturing, and trying not to look completely soft against the Korean regime that has rinsed the west dry over the past few decades. I doubt there will be any war at all. There are far better ways to get rid of the Kims, war would be the worst and I'm sure everyone is aware of that.

The only risk is that NK get so spooked that they pre-emptively strike S Korea. But then my point above was that even KJU is not that stupid, that actually they are far more coherent in their thought patterns than we give them credit for.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are, right now, at their highest since 1953. Kim Jong-un is an actual idiot who believes his own propaganda (hence his disdainful treatment of China), which his father and grandfather were not. Trump is unpredictable, dangerous and prone to taking risks against even other great powers (as we saw with Syria). I'm not convinced that Trump fully appreciates that North Korea would not sit idly by whilst it was hit with Tomahawk missiles or air strikes. The fact that China has stood aside from its old ally and is ratcheting up the rhetoric against North Korea, and seems to actually not be condemning the US military build-up and rhetoric, is probably what has scared the North Koreans more than anything, along with the two weeks of live-fire wargames that are now underway near the border and the message from the US government that they will shoot down any missile test and retaliate against a nuclear test-firing.

War is certainly not inevitable, but things are the worst they have been in a very, very long time.

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It seems that if they have the military capabilities we think they do - and this is not a given, as they may have exaggerated their strength - then it is virtually impossible - short of a preemtive nuclear strike - to wipe out all the artillery aimed at Seoul and Japan before they are able to do major damage and cause tens of thousands of deaths in South Korea and possibly in Japan.

A normal areal bombardment to wipe out the artillery would first require the US to destroy the North Korean air defences, and this could take several weeks. During this time, artillery fire would be raining down on Seoul.

I remember once there was speculation that the Russians had sold the North Koreans some of their AA batteries in the 1990s, but that it didn't look like they'd received anything since. If that's the case, the US has very little to worry about. The general consensus seems to be that North Korean air defences are poor (maybe even worse than Syria's) and would be swept aside very quickly. In addition, the North Korean artillery is very close to the border, well within artillery range from the south and certainly within cruise missile range. Hitting Pyongyang might be riskier, but hitting the forward positions would be relatively straightforward.

One American-South Korean contingency plan (potentially with Japanese support) apparently puts 650 planes in the skies over North Korea simultaneously, along with artillery, coastal and cruise missile strikes on the artillery positions, AA and North Korean aircraft facilities, all without prior warning (because North Korea's strategic strength depends on first strike capability: give North Korea an ultimatum or a warning of when they'll be hit and they will attack first). It might not be enough, but it would put an overwhelming dent in North Korea's ability to retaliate.

It's worth remembering at this point that North Korea is quite small. It's 124 miles from Pyongyang to Seoul, less than 200 miles from the DMZ to the Chinese border. It's 46,000 square miles, which is slightly smaller than Greece and slightly bigger than Malawi, and about half the size of the UK. Or in American terms about the same size as Mississippi, slightly larger than Pennsylvania and slightly smaller than New York State. We're not talking about Iraq-sized distances here.

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I heard on CNN that the Korean Blue House (their equivalent of the White House) is closer to the DMZ than the White House is to Dulles Airport.

To the border? Yes, just, but that's the maritime border. To the DMZ, not quite (it's like 2 miles further than from the White House to Dulles). It's pretty close though, around 23 miles. The border turns north from the sea though, so it quickly gets a lot further away, and the North Koreans don't have their best artillery there, where the South Koreans and US could wipe it out with a shore bombardment, let alone anything else.

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But they don't have several hundred obsolete pieces. They have thousands, dug into the mountains and protected by blast doors that close during reloading. According to STATFOR, every volley would be equivalent to 11 B52 payloads. 

North Korea has between 10,000 and 20,000 artillery pieces dug into the DMZ, so assuming a cycle rate of the guns firing by thirds and a 25% failure rate (which seems about right given the type of artillery), if they all hit one target that would indeed be equal to about 11 B-52 payloads. But they can't. About 600 can reach Seoul. There are other towns, villages and military bases along the border, but North Korean artillery accuracy - lacking recon, satellite, aircraft or even balloon spotting - will not be very good, so the primary threat will be against Seoul because they can't reliably hit anything else, and even their best, longest-range guns can barely reach the city centre. The northern suburbs would take a pounding, but the population is also a lot more dispersed.

The main risk in all of this isn't Seoul being blown away in a sea of fire or hundreds of thousands of deaths resulting from a conventional attack, but North Korea's biological, chemical and nuclear capabilities. We're pretty certain that they can't put their nuclear weapons on missiles or shells, but getting that wrong would be catastrophic. North Korea's gas and biological capabilities are a lot less certain, which is why there's tons of gas masks in every metro station and many buildings in Seoul.

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What I find perplexing is the length of time people are willing to put up with despots in the absence of external intervention to remove him.

Surely there must be 0.1% of the entire population willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to end the tyranny. Heck, we saw people sacrifice their lives in their thousands in centuries gone by to fight for causes of liberty and justice.

Even 0.1% of North Korea's population would amount to tens of thousands of people. And yet we have never heard of even one assassination attempt by a kitchen worker in his palace with a carving knife, or by a gardener with a pitchfork, or by his driver who chooses to drive off a cliff, sacrificing himself for the cause of killing the tyrant in the process.

 

North Korea is borderline starving. During the 1990s 10% of the entire country's population, over 2 million people, starved to death. Ever since then North Korea has barely survived. Its food is mostly imported from China and to keep its internal food economy going it's been reliant on tractors given to them by an EU programme and the black market. All of North Korea's money has been sunk into its military, missile and nuclear programmes. The North Korean army dropped its minimum height requirements ten years ago because the latest generation of young men were shorter than their forebears due to being malnourished (which is why the threat of North Korea's much-vaunted 4 million-man army has largely been dismissed, as they simply won't be able to fight at long as their South Korean and American counterparts).

The people who aren't starving are those serving the government directly in Pyongyang. The further you live from the capital, the more likely you are to be preoccupied with getting enough food to survive, which makes it harder for rebel groups to form, gather strength, hide out in the mountains etc.

Edited by Werthead

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7 minutes ago, Altherion said:

Check out the video (or better yet, the book which actually addresses North Korea specifically as an example) from my post in this thread. Briefly, it doesn't happen because any aid close enough to be in a position to do this is part of the winning coalition and (with one exception) has nothing to gain and everything to lose from such an action. By "winning coalition", I mean the people who are well off despite (and in fact because of) the poverty of the country as a whole. If you add in the formidable espionage capability and the harsh penalties for any hint of disloyalty, it becomes extremely unlikely that anybody would do anything of the sort.

The one exception is that if a close ally believes that they're about to be purged, they may decide that an assassination attempt and the ensuing chaos is worth the risk. This may have been the fate of Stalin -- at the very least, his closest associates and highest-ranking members of the Party took a surprisingly long time to summon medical assistance. There are theories that go further and claim that he was poisoned by one or more of them.

Now that's the type of answer/discourse I was hoping to elicit, rather than being blindsided by a suddenly enraged wielder of "Dunning-Kruger" accusations for having the temerity to ask the bloody question.

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5 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Next time someone claims it "boggles their mind" why Donald Trump has any supporters I'll be sure to pull the Dunning-Kruger rabbit out of the bag, rather than engaging them with what I happen to believe the answer may be.

Feel free to; you seem to have no end of things to be wrong about.

I'm not claiming an obvious answer, only that there are several fairly good explanations that aren't particularly boggling to anyone who even, ya know, reads this thread. 

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Now that's the type of answer/discourse I was hoping to elicit, rather than being blindsided by a suddenly enraged wielder of "Dunning-Kruger" accusations for having the temerity to ask the bloody question.

Perhaps figure out how to ask questions instead of lead them to the answer that you think is right, then? I mean heck, Altherion actually posted this upthread earlier and you didn't bother to read it

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Posted (edited)

10 minutes ago, Werthead said:

(Long post)

I think you might be overestimating the effect of air strikes a bit. Look at the Gulf War. Over 2000 combat aircraft bombing the country for a month, and yet Iraq still had plenty of forces left that had to be taken out in ground battles. 

It would probably take a long while to silence all that North Korean artillery, especially if it is dug into the mountains. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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The main risk in all of this isn't Seoul being blown away in a sea of fire or hundreds of thousands of deaths, but North Korea's biological, chemical and nuclear capabilities. We're pretty certain that they can't put their nuclear weapons on missiles or shells, but getting that wrong would be catastrophic. North Korea's gas and biological capabilities are a lot less certain, which is why there's tons of gas masks in every metro station and many buildings in Seoul.

Yeah, that's the real rub. Can NK deliver a chemical or biological attack to SK? Can they do it to Japan? To China? My suspicion is that they at least have the capability to try, and it's probably got about a 1 in 3 chance of succeeding - but they'd do it. And the chances are far greater against SK, where it's very likely that they can deliver at least some kind of WMD. Possibly not artillery, but almost certainly with their short range ballistic missiles. 

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I think you might be overestimating the effect of air strikes a bit. Look at the Gulf War. Over 2000 combat aircraft bombing the country for a month, and yet Iraq still had plenty of forces left that had to be taken out in ground battles. 

 

Mobile ground forces when they were dispersed, yes. Fixed-point defences such as artillery (the longest-ranged guns are not very mobile) are considerably more vulnerable to air strikes, as are ground forces when condensed (hence the "Road of Death" when the coalition destroyed most of Iraq's armour as it fled north).

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12 minutes ago, Werthead said:

This is, frankly, cliched nonsense. The North Koreans are really not as ignorant of the outside world as it's portrayed. Chinese smugglers bring films, music and CDs full of cached web pages of news websites in from the outside world and sell them within North Korea. The dissemination of such material is patchy and uncertain, but there is a very large contingent of the North Korean population which knows quite a bit about the outside world and how poor their country is compared to the south. Anyone living close to the DMZ knows the North Korean official story that Seoul was destroyed in the Korean War and never rebuilt is bullshit (one of the biggest cities on Earth lighting up the sky even from 35 miles away). 

Cell phones smuggled into the country have likewise had a huge impact.  Lots of North Koreans have relatives in either China or South Korea that they really want to talk to, and they're willing to take the risks of being discovered with those phones.  Those that do talk to someone quickly learn that North Korea is vastly poorer than China or South Korea. 

It was in Barbara Dimick's (nonfiction) book that a North Korean doctor fled over the border to China and was surprised when she came across a bowl of food - rice and meat paste, laying out.  Was this an act of charity for refugees such as herself?  No, it was dog food.  Dogs in China eat better than doctors in North Korea.  

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10 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Feel free to; you seem to have no end of things to be wrong about.

I'm not claiming an obvious answer, only that there are several fairly good explanations that aren't particularly boggling to anyone who even, ya know, reads this thread. 

Perhaps figure out how to ask questions instead of lead them to the answer that you think is right, then? I mean heck, Altherion actually posted this upthread earlier and you didn't bother to read it

Seems like a whole bunch of responses eager to engage with my question, and one lone ranger for some reason taking offense at it and going off half cocked in indignation. As I said, take a step back and cool down, maybe. You've over reacted.

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Just now, Free Northman Reborn said:

Seems like a whole bunch of responses eager to engage with my question, and one lone ranger for some reason taking offense at it and going off half cocked in indignation. As I said, take a step back and cool down, maybe. You've over reacted.

That's certainly possible. 

Are you willing to entertain that you didn't ask very well, and the reason that people are responding at all is because you and I are bringing it up? Or that the notion of people being assassinated by the help isn't exactly a very historically accurate thing?

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