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War Drums: North Korea edition

294 posts in this topic

Just now, Kalbear said:

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?

How do I put this differently, for the nth time. The secretary is an example. The dissident who is falling out of favour in his inner circle is an example. A farmer who lost all his children to hunger the previous winter, and whose field the Dear Leader happens to be visiting on some excursion could be an example. An army officer in some platoon he is inspecting could be an example. Any one of 25 million North Koreans could serve as an example. Let's not pin it on the butler alone, purely because I used him as on obvious example.

All the factors listed in the many posts above, that make it very difficult to achieve, are potential reasons that we don't see those examples occurring. Including the possibility that those attempts are indeed occuring, but we just don't hear about them in the outside world.

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Well, that's just great.

 

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1 hour 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.

Or, they try and fail.

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Another followup from the meeting with the White House - 80 sets of eyes rolling at once.

Quote

But as far as anyone can tell, none of these new ideas were proposed at the meeting. If they were, somehow not one of the nearly 100 assembled senators has thus far mentioned it, and they would in fact seem to be actively covering it up by suggesting they learned nothing at the meeting in comments to reporters.

All of the swirling North Korea rumors — like the dubious NBC report in mid-April that Trump was considering a military strike — appear to have been just that: rumors. The truth seems to be that the Trump administration has no new policy, or at least not one that even a single senator thought was significant enough to bother mentioning.

yay no war

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5 hours ago, Werthead said:

[...]

Excellent read as usual. 

We've arrived at a fairly unpredictable time where it's possible things could decompensate rapidly due to a mistake or sudden event, even an external one. A nuclear first-strike would generally be unthinkable, but there are still likely some around who believe in the concept of a "limited" nuclear war. Maybe such a thing is possible. Any conflict is likely to cause significant loss of life, and it is more likely the North that will bear the brunt of this. 

 

We certainly should not overrate the conventional capabilities of the NK military. The country as a whole is impoverished and starving and I would have grave doubts about just how "loyal" they would be when put to the test. The regime itself is unpredictable and opaque. That doesn't mean that certain elements might not seek to oust Kim if it seemed advantageous (or necessary). The likely result of any conflict is the collapse of the Kim regime in some form or other. 

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6 hours 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.

The story I read was that Stalin had a stroke and laid paralyzed in his bathroom. His staff did see him there but realized that if he survived the stroke, Stalin would then have anyone who had witnessed his lying in a pool of piss eliminated. Thus he was left to die.

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8 minutes ago, maarsen said:

The story I read was that Stalin had a stroke and laid paralyzed in his bathroom. His staff did see him there but realized that if he survived the stroke, Stalin would then have anyone who had witnessed his lying in a pool of piss eliminated. Thus he was left to die.

That may also be the case, but it is known for sure that top party officials were notified of the situation in the evening of March 1, but doctors did not arrive until the morning of March 2. Thus, at least a few hours are due to the hesitation of Beria, Malenkov, Khruschev et al. Also, he was not left to die; they did eventually call the doctors and he survived until March 5. Of course, it is possible that there was nothing to be done in any case -- he was 74, he had a stroke and all they had was WWII-era medicine -- but their hesitation certainly didn't help.

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The thing about a population uprising or even a lone wolf assassination attempt is that it is very rare for that sort of thing to happen these days, even less to succeed.

I mean every country in the world will have at least a small number of the population who are so pissed off with their lot in life and how the place is run that they wish to turn to terrorism or assassination. Just look how divided something as small as a general election in the UK causes the population to be. But we don't see attempts on the lives of our rulers very often, and they very rarely succeed. We have quite good policiny and security services, and tools required are generally not available. Even in the US where guns are easier to get such plots don't happen that we know of, and don't come close to success. 

Now in a place like NK where the state is 100 times more paranoid and brutal with its hand of justice, what chance does any unrest or plotting really have? I doubt anyone gets within 1000m of KJU without being suitably vetted and having their whole family checked over.
Not a chance that anyone working in the kitchen or as a gardener will ever be of a frame of mind to kill their dear leader, or even get close enough to do it. You can get sent to the camps for just looking at a picture of KJU  in the wrong way there.

Plus remember the population may not even know that their situation is as bad as we see it. They don't have the same level of news outlets we have, nor a means to compare the outside world to their own. Some may access smuggled phones or music, but in a volume enough to cause an uprising...i doubt it. Would they "want" to rise up, when they know nothing else but kneeling before the Dear Leader?

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21 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Another followup from the meeting with the White House - 80 sets of eyes rolling at once.

yay no war

I have a strong suspicion that Trump wanted to roll in all guns blazing and started amping up the rhetoric because he thought it would be easy to sort out North Korea. Then a combination of the Chinese President and his advisors managed to talk him down, pointing out that a war on the Korean Peninsula would definitely cost tens of thousands of lives, many of them South Korean and American, and potentially a lot more than that. I also think Trump was not expecting the Chinese to be so accommodating in agreeing to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea so vigorously.

The situation is still critical and tensions remain at their highest for decades, but I think we are seeing signs that Trump wants to take a slight step back. The absolute critical threat right now, I think, is if North Korea does another nuclear or missile test. Trump may feel he has to retaliate or look weak, and that's how the dominoes might start falling. If North Korea refrains, then we may see the status quo resume.

The problem after that is that the status quo is non-viable in even the medium term, as North Korea continues to develop its missile technology. The Taepodong-2 and KN-08 can hit (at least in theory) both Seattle and London, and I don't particularly want to be living in range of a North Korean missile (cue South Koreans and Japanese rolling their eyes).

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Posted (edited)

50 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I have a strong suspicion that Trump wanted to roll in all guns blazing and started amping up the rhetoric because he thought it would be easy to sort out North Korea. Then a combination of the Chinese President and his advisors managed to talk him down, pointing out that a war on the Korean Peninsula would definitely cost tens of thousands of lives, many of them South Korean and American, and potentially a lot more than that. I also think Trump was not expecting the Chinese to be so accommodating in agreeing to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea so vigorously.

The situation is still critical and tensions remain at their highest for decades, but I think we are seeing signs that Trump wants to take a slight step back. The absolute critical threat right now, I think, is if North Korea does another nuclear or missile test. Trump may feel he has to retaliate or look weak, and that's how the dominoes might start falling. If North Korea refrains, then we may see the status quo resume.

The problem after that is that the status quo is non-viable in even the medium term, as North Korea continues to develop its missile technology. The Taepodong-2 and KN-08 can hit (at least in theory) both Seattle and London, and I don't particularly want to be living in range of a North Korean missile (cue South Koreans and Japanese rolling their eyes).

If it can hit London it can hit everything in the UK, right?

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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21 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

If it can hit London it can hit everything in the UK, right?

Not quite. They show different ranges for the missile depending on whether it's powered flight, which puts it just off the north-east coast of the UK, to unpowered after exhausting its fuel to get to a higher apogee, which could put it on London,but wildly inaccurately. In both cases the south coast and the south-west seem to be safe, so if you ever think of moving to the UK Cornwall will be the best bet.

I think if it comes to it, the UK is unlikely to be on the first list of targets. That will be the US (Alaska, Hawaii, Seattle, Guam and maybe a bit more of the north-west will be in range), Japan and South Korea as first-priority targets. Also worth noting that lobbing a missile at the UK or Europe involves overflying Russian airspace, which given North Korean missile failure rates the Russians would likely not appreciate.

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Yeah, recent Tory scaremongering notwithstanding I cannot imagine NK gives a single shit about hitting the UK even if they were able. We're a long way down their list of targets.

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9 hours ago, Werthead said:

I have a strong suspicion that Trump wanted to roll in all guns blazing and started amping up the rhetoric because he thought it would be easy to sort out North Korea. Then a combination of the Chinese President and his advisors managed to talk him down, pointing out that a war on the Korean Peninsula would definitely cost tens of thousands of lives, many of them South Korean and American, and potentially a lot more than that. I also think Trump was not expecting the Chinese to be so accommodating in agreeing to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea so vigorously.

The situation is still critical and tensions remain at their highest for decades, but I think we are seeing signs that Trump wants to take a slight step back. The absolute critical threat right now, I think, is if North Korea does another nuclear or missile test. Trump may feel he has to retaliate or look weak, and that's how the dominoes might start falling. If North Korea refrains, then we may see the status quo resume.

The problem after that is that the status quo is non-viable in even the medium term, as North Korea continues to develop its missile technology. The Taepodong-2 and KN-08 can hit (at least in theory) both Seattle and London, and I don't particularly want to be living in range of a North Korean missile (cue South Koreans and Japanese rolling their eyes).

I wonder whether we are seeing - albeit by fortunate accident perhaps - some of the consequences of Trumps' initial hardball approach to various world leaders. Take China for example. Trump came out guns blazing about how he is going to take them on, called them currency manipulators and how they are screwing the US economy etc etc. Frankly, the Chinese seemed a bit shocked by his overt animosity, not so much during campaigning, but they really thought he would tone it down after he got elected. When it then continued full steam I imagine it somewhat alarmed them.

Now fast forward to the North Korea situation, and suddenly we see China exerting pressure on North Korea to a greater extent than before. And also suddenly we see a reversal on Trump's part, apparently viewing China much more favourably than before.

Could it be that China saw an easy way to win him over, by making some concessions on the North Korea front which don't really cost them that much, partly as a result of his initial hostile attitude? In effect, Trump's intention to "sort them out economically" may not come to fruition, but it might have indirectly led to him getting something from them on North Korea.

Which might say something for the "tough guy" approach to dealing with international so called "partners". If you start out frosty, maybe it gives you some leverage in later discussions. May we also see something similar after Trump's frosty start with the likes of Australia and Mexico?

After all, you aren't there to make friends and create feel good vibes. You are there to negotiate and make some deals.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I wonder whether we are seeing - albeit by fortunate accident perhaps - some of the consequences of Trumps' initial hardball approach to various world leaders. Take China for example. Trump came out guns blazing about how he is going to take them on, called them currency manipulators and how they are screwing the US economy etc etc. Frankly, the Chinese seemed a bit shocked by his overt animosity, not so much during campaigning, but they really thought he would tone it down after he got elected. When it then continued full steam I imagine it somewhat alarmed them.

Now fast forward to the North Korea situation, and suddenly we see China exerting pressure on North Korea to a greater extent than before. And also suddenly we see a reversal on Trump's part, apparently viewing China much more favourably than before.

An alternative, and I think more accurate, summary is: Trump blustered and blathered. Meanwhile China put pressure on NK because they were angry and frustrated by Kim Jong-Un's actions. Trump backed down because he's all mouth. Trump's behaviour was not that important.

There is no sign that China were alarmed by Trump. Bemused, perhaps. Slightly offended, yes. Alarmed, not so much. There's a circular argument that they acted over NK because they were alarmed and we can tell they were alarmed because they acted over NK, but let's not bother with that, shall we? I think we can all see it's pointless.

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Posted (edited)

12 minutes ago, mormont said:

An alternative, and I think more accurate, summary is: Trump blustered and blathered. Meanwhile China put pressure on NK because they were angry and frustrated by Kim Jong-Un's actions. Trump backed down because he's all mouth. Trump's behaviour was not that important.

There is no sign that China were alarmed by Trump. Bemused, perhaps. Slightly offended, yes. Alarmed, not so much. There's a circular argument that they acted over NK because they were alarmed and we can tell they were alarmed because they acted over NK, but let's not bother with that, shall we? I think we can all see it's pointless.

Mormont

I was merely speculating, given recent developments, not stating anything as fact. As an aside, being the intelligent poster that you are, I'm sure you can see the equally circular reasoning on your own part, going something along the lines of China was gong to act against North Korea irrespective of Trump's stance, and we can tell that they would have done so because they acted against North Korea.

Sometimes, maybe we need to acknowledge that we don't know so much about what goes on behind the scenes as we like to pretend.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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9 minutes ago, mormont said:

An alternative, and I think more accurate, summary is: Trump blustered and blathered. Meanwhile China put pressure on NK because they were angry and frustrated by Kim Jong-Un's actions. Trump backed down because he's all mouth. Trump's behaviour was not that important.

There is no sign that China were alarmed by Trump. Bemused, perhaps. Slightly offended, yes. Alarmed, not so much. There's a circular argument that they acted over NK because they were alarmed and we can tell they were alarmed because they acted over NK, but let's not bother with that, shall we? I think we can all see it's pointless.

China enacted sanctions against NK last year in April, through pressure by the UN. I'd say anything they are doing now is just a continuation of that forward momentum, as China has to be very concerned about NK's nuclear program, even more than the US would be. 

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Posted (edited)

12 minutes ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

China enacted sanctions against NK last year in April, through pressure by the UN. I'd say anything they are doing now is just a continuation of that forward momentum, as China has to be very concerned about NK's nuclear program, even more than the US would be. 

I read an interesting article earlier about how the current North Korea nuclear crisis can be traced back to the Carter administration caving in to Pakistani nuclear demands in exchange for military bases in Pakistan from which to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Basically, Pakistan agreed to provide such bases, provided that the US allow them to pursue nuclear technology. Carter agreed, thinking that a few rogue nuclear states was an acceptable price to pay in exchange for weakening the soviets in Afghanistan.

Fast forward some decades, and Pakistan eventually shared their nuclear technology with North Korea and here we are. The same article argued that a potential solution might be to make some cold blooded diplomatic decisions, as a military option is fraught with danger. The trade off would go something like this:

China might be willing to apply the necessary pressure to end the North Korean regime, in exchange for US agreement that North Korea will never become a hostile state on China's border. Meaning the US will agree to never bring Korea into some kind of military alliance, which would place a US ally on China's border.

Basically, the US would have to acknowledge the reality that smaller states on the borders of powerful states  must live under the influence, pressure and interference of those more powerful states. In effect, small states on the borders of powerful states do not have the autonomy that other states may have, and that's just a fact of life. A reality of this world.

Of course, this would then draw an obvious line to the Ukraine situation, and NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, and Russia's security demands in this context. But that may be the price that needs to be paid to solve the North Korean threat.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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38 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Mormont

I was merely speculating, given recent developments, not stating anything as fact. As an aside, being the intelligent poster that you are, I'm sure you can see the equally circular reasoning on your own part, going something along the lines of China was gong to act against North Korea irrespective of Trump's stance, and we can tell that they would have done so because they acted against North Korea.

Except that's not my argument, and not an equal comparison anyway.

Your argument here is that the Chinese actions and statements about North Korea are not what they claim to be - China actually being angry with NK - but are in fact caused at least in part by Trump's tough stance, and would not have happened anyway. It's all secretly a victory for Trump, at least in part.

My argument is that things are as they appear. When China say and do things in reaction to NK's actions, they are in fact saying and doing them in reaction to NK's actions. When Trump backs off and decides to let China lead on NK, he isn't retreating from the field victorious having forced China to do so, he's leaving it to them because he's recognised that he can't fix it as simply as he said he would.

The difference is that you need no evidence that things are what they appear to be, but you do need evidence that they're not. So you need the circular argument to prove your point. I just need to look at the facts.

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3 minutes ago, mormont said:

 

Except that's not my argument, and not an equal comparison anyway.

Your argument here is that the Chinese actions and statements about North Korea are not what they claim to be - China actually being angry with NK - but are in fact caused at least in part by Trump's tough stance, and would not have happened anyway. It's all secretly a victory for Trump, at least in part.

My argument is that things are as they appear. When China say and do things in reaction to NK's actions, they are in fact saying and doing them in reaction to NK's actions. When Trump backs off and decides to let China lead on NK, he isn't retreating from the field victorious having forced China to do so, he's leaving it to them because he's recognised that he can't fix it as simply as he said he would.

The difference is that you need no evidence that things are what they appear to be, but you do need evidence that they're not. So you need the circular argument to prove your point. I just need to look at the facts.

Or how about it is a combination of all of the above? Clearly the US is applying more pressure on China now than under Obama as far as North Korea is concerned. It is said outright, in Tillerson's very statement today, as reported on CNN, for reference.

So let's equally take the US' administration's actions as actually being what they say. Or does only China get the courtesy?

Again. It's not about Trump being victorious. In my original post I was quite clear that it might be more of an accident flowing from his general approach, than by long term design. But let's also not think that the Trump administration is achieving nothing, and is in fact incapable of achieving anything. Which seems to be the default position of some.

 

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18 minutes ago, mormont said:

 

Except that's not my argument, and not an equal comparison anyway.

Your argument here is that the Chinese actions and statements about North Korea are not what they claim to be - China actually being angry with NK - but are in fact caused at least in part by Trump's tough stance, and would not have happened anyway. It's all secretly a victory for Trump, at least in part.

My argument is that things are as they appear. When China say and do things in reaction to NK's actions, they are in fact saying and doing them in reaction to NK's actions. When Trump backs off and decides to let China lead on NK, he isn't retreating from the field victorious having forced China to do so, he's leaving it to them because he's recognised that he can't fix it as simply as he said he would.

The difference is that you need no evidence that things are what they appear to be, but you do need evidence that they're not. So you need the circular argument to prove your point. I just need to look at the facts.

Having said that China has vested interests in keeping the situation in NKorea the same as it is. NK is a huge buffer between them and SKorea and the collapse of the country would be very damaging to China. They only put sanctions on NK after pressure from the UN, they probably are being influenced by Trumps actions actually, otherwise their preference is to do nothing.

 

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