“A conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla wins if it does not lose. “
So said Henry Kissinger and one can’t but equate this to the Cold War happening in North Korea between Kim Jong – un and American interests. As all will agree, an armed confrontation between the two means loss and plenty of casualties. Will Kim Jong – un blink if the going gets tough? Will Donald Trump cower when body bags are sent home with no end in sight? Where is the common sense when staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.
North Korea, the guerilla in this scenario stands to lose in the area of mass casualties. Kim can lose legitimacy as leader if he fails to stand up to American aggression. He – Kim- will look weak among his generals and this opens the door to coup attempt to oust him and bring in an independent leader to steady the North. That may result in a leader chosen by Beijing and/or Moscow to curry favour to their hopes for stability and to avoid a refugee crisis. However, Kim is unlikely to go down without a fight to save face for the long-storied history of the Kim family in North Korea. A “Cult of Personality” will do that for a nation, collateral damage be damned. “Organized” protests in Pyongyang this week stirred the pot of discontent against Donald Trump’s fire and brimstone hubris that promises “fire and fury like the world has never seen.
The United States, the world power, and conventional army can win only if it avoids mass American casualties in a war that nobody wants. A recent poll suggests that Americans are more concerned than they have ever been about North Korea now that a missile strike inside the U.S. is technically possible for the Kim regime. The pressure is squarely on President Trump as he engages punch for punch in the rhetoric department with Kim and the North Korean propaganda machine. This summons potential images of the upcoming match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor where by Mayweather has the most to lose in reputation, while Conor McGregor has the most money and prestige to gain if he can live through one round. Donald Trump cannot win this war of words or public relations tournament as he has chosen the route of an inexperienced leader with weak political chops, who refuses to be reined in by stalwarts inside the Republican Party such as Mitch McConnell and John McCain. Trump knows that his early returns as U.S. President are on shaky ground with his health-care proposal in tatters. He needs to secure a public relations victory to satisfy those factions inside his party and with the general population. Therefore, a diversion may be necessary to prop up his government and legacy along the lines of former President George W Bush and America’s foray into Iraq to dispense with alleged Iraqi WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) controlled by Saddam Hussein. One can hope that Trump wins his tax-bill reduction, NAFTA renegotiation, or Mexican wall proposal.
- Kim miscalculates as the Korean army lacks the expertise of America in military technology with one or more missiles falling inside Guam, South Korea or Japan.
- America responds with a flurry of Tomahawk’s, drone and other missiles to quiet Kim and allow him to save face by staring down America, the Goliath and “conventional” Global Superpower. The Kim family can retain it’s posture on the Korean peninsula and live to fight another day in the future.
- The main problem, and it is a costly one, is that the international community appears to be saddled with a young, aggressive leader in Kim Jong – un, whose nuclear cache is going to grow more sophisticated and prolific with time. It is the right time in many respects to cut off the head of the serpent before it can pose untold damage to the United States and its allies. The sacrifice might lead to the loss of millions of lives in this zero-sum game involving innocent spectators. If we channel Vilfredo Pareto “Pareto – Efficiency” for a win – win for all or Herbert Spencer “Satisfice” the best that the international community can hope for is one where the recent sanctions affecting approximately one-third of North Korean exports will work their magic and bring about a resumption of the stagnant “six-party talks” that lie dormant since 2009. These failed talks saw the onset of North Korea’s launch of a satellite, which prompted sanctions by the U.N. (a recent -August 12, 2017-Reuter’s report indicates that North Korea is circumventing the coal sanctions by establishing a strong textile business with China.) The situation crystallized in 2010 when North Korea sunk a South Korean patrol vessel with 104 people on board. The Kim family’s aggressive nature remains unabated since this period. UN sanctions may be the panacea, but are they delaying the inevitable. Diplomacy in the tower is on shaky ground, with no solution in black or white.