You tell me, what is North Korea really up to?

Political calculation is an art and a gift. It cannot be taught and much of it is luck. Yet here we are with the whole world watching so who is to say whether this is right or not: All signs point to North Korea preparing a bait-and-switch. Certainly not “all” signs, but some definitely are. The question is, how will this unfold? We want the North Koreans to abandon nuclear weapons. They want their little shop of horrors to survive with no outside interference. You all follow the news, so what’s going to happen? What should the United States and its allies do?

As a template in this sort of thing, the until-now Secret Transcripts of the Israeli “Security Cabinet” from 1967, which made all policy decisions leading up to the Six Day War and then after it was over, have just been released after fifty years. The SC was made up of the leaders of every party in the Knesset. This is how the documents are described:

The Six-Day War: classified documents unsealed 50 years after the conflict reveal: Jerusalem conquered almost by accident; Israel’s National Religious Party, forerunner to the settler movement, lobbied for military de-escalation at every turn; and nobody in Israel’s security cabinet seems to have seen the country’s most momentous war coming.

You already know what happened, but even so these are fascinating. Read them through and listen to the deliberations that were undertaken in real time. There are two halves, pre-war and post-war.

Part 1

Part 2.

Political calculation is the way everything in politics must be since the future will always be an unknown while everything has to be weighed up since there are no facts about the future. You can only hope for level-headed decision-making but no one gets it right every time while some are worse than others. Fifty years from now we will know what had happened in North Korea, and then we can read the transcripts of how the Americans were weighing things up. By then, who knows, Pyongyang may have become the richest city in the world.

ANOTHER TAKE ON NORTH KOREA: From Pushing North Korea and Iran to the brink:

By now, this much should be obvious to anyone paying close attention: Mr. Kim regards deliverable nuclear weapons as the great equalizer, the means by which he can keep America at bay while he plots to rule the entire Korean peninsula. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants such weapons in pursuit of an even more ambitious objective: dominating the Middle East and spreading what he calls the Islamic Revolution around the globe. “Death to America” is a longer-range goal, one that Mr. Kim would heartily endorse.

Nothing is obvious to me, but I hope what is clear to those involved reflects the underlying actual reality.

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14 Responses to You tell me, what is North Korea really up to?

  1. I don’t think you can compare Israel to North Korea, anymore than you can compare Vietnam to Afghanistan.

  2. Steve Kates

    Agree. But the analogy here is between the US and Israel on one side, and North Korea and Egypt and the armies of the Arab states on the other. The US v NK today as against Israel v the Arab states then. What should PDT do with everything still before us, and what can he expect?

  3. Egor

    A bait and switch on Trump after the first NK insults designed to derail Singers #1 is unlikely.
    This Trump bloke won’t put up with too much more bad faith…..it’s the Chinese who run this and that’s where the economic retaliation will be directed.
    When a NYC property developer has had enough it won’t be like the beta males at State wringing their delicate hands.

  4. Halfway through the first bit.
    With the Shoah within living memory, the Israelis had politicians saying that the Israelis striking back at Syrians who were shooting at their farmers as ‘provocative’. Why wasn’t that prick dragged out the back and shot?
    It’s a rhetorical question…

  5. Herodotus

    I’m backing the bigger red button.

  6. Makka

    What should PDT do with everything still before us, and what can he expect?

    Listen to Mad Dog. It’s as if the NK talks aren’t even happening. The US Military has NK in the cross hairs if they make one offensive threatening move outside thier own borders.

    Meanwhile , sanctions and Trump are doing the jaw jaw. It’s a process the pace and outcomes of which are still unknown. What is known are the objectives. We shall see.

  7. What should PDT do with everything still before us, and what can he expect?

    The US now has a president that doesn’t give a fcuk about diplomacy or public opinion, but is only interested in results. Little countries that have been pretentious SJWs now realise that their number is up.

  8. Entropy

    I think the NKs believe that eventually Trump will make any kind of deal he can just to say he has a deal. That is the way it has worked out for the last four presidents, so why not Trump?
    It must be disconcerting to discover all the extra work they have had to do so far for no result, but no doubt they are still confident the same outcome will eventually occur. Because that is what western politicans are like.
    I hope there really is a flaw in their plan.

  9. Dr Fred Lenin

    Trump is used to dealing with some of the toughest people on the planet , New York bankers realtors and builders they don’t come much tougher The Norks and Chinese aren’t dealing with two bob failed lawyer politicians here dominated by the u.n.communists this man has goals and knows how to achieve them no matter what the opposition . If the Norks stuff around ,China will suffer ,and Xia knows thus ,he has experienced Trump pressure already and he didn’t like it ,trade cuts to the USA will leave his dictatorship with major problems ,his brand of narxism can’t handle ,fat boy is in for big pressure .

  10. egg_

    Trump is used to dealing with some of the toughest people on the planet , New York bankers realtors and builders they don’t come much tougher The Norks and Chinese aren’t dealing with two bob failed lawyer politicians here dominated by the u.n.communists this man has goals and knows how to achieve them no matter what the opposition . If the Norks stuff around ,China will suffer ,and Xia knows thus ,he has experienced Trump pressure already and he didn’t like it

    Fat Boy Kim dancing on a tightrope between the two Superpowers?

  11. Speedbox

    I think the NKs believe that eventually Trump will make any kind of deal he can just to say he has a deal. That is the way it has worked out for the last four presidents, so why not Trump?
    It must be disconcerting to discover all the extra work they have had to do so far for no result….
    I hope there really is a flaw in their plan.

    They may have initially thought that but they have had time to reconsider and I can’t imagine that is their current thinking – because it is too stupid for words.

    If we wind the clock back a little, it is self-evident that Trumps election surprised most and even the most casual observer would have recognised the certainty of a shift in America’s stance in a range of issues. Hell, Trump campainged on it and you could be sure he was going to follow up.

    Looking at China, they walk a tightrope between communism and capitalism. They allow their people the trappings of capitalism (money, travel, luxury goods) but strictly control Government, Police and the military, free speech, the media (in all its forms) and many other aspects of daily life. Surveillance of your activities must always be assumed as the dark hand of the State is everywhere.

    North Korea is almost totally dependent on China but the Chinese have much to loose if NK goes truly rogue becaue the Chinese need the USA (and other countries) for trade more than it needs NK which is a handy buffer zone but not much more.

    When you combine those three elements plus the recent US trade restrictions, I see a larger plan. Ok, a few allies are getting hurt as well but this is a much larger game that satisfies the internal US politics but also demonstrates to China that that the US can and will impose sanctions to force NK (with Chinese compelled assistance) to dump the nukes. The US has ample history of enduring hardship and, the sanctions against NK, already severe, can be enhanced with significant indirect impact on China regardless of reflected impact on the US and her allies.

    The US is also able to demonstrate unity with SK, Japan and other SE Asian countries who would love to see China’s wings clipped. And, any significant fall in economic performance and consequent living standards in China could set off a chain of events that could topple the ruling party which is a thought that keeps Xi awake at night. Tiananmen Square was mostly just Uni students – try taking away the wealth and relative freedom of the broader population and see what happens. These things can get out of control quickly and another Tiananmen (coupled with substantial loss of life) could easily see a global backlash that severly hurts China’s global reputation, economic performance and ability to retain power.

    The same (but different) could be said for Iran.

    Bottom line – almost nothing that occurs in the geopolitical arena is a ‘one-off’. Seemingly independent actions that may or may not immediately impact other countries are often part of a much larger plan for broader geopolitical goals.

  12. Empire 5:5

    You tell me, what is North Korea really up to?

    Wrong question, Steve.

    Try: who has historically controlled Kim(s) and do they still control him?

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