Monday, March 11, 2013

North Korea, Afghanistan

US Military Forces Korea are beginning Key Resolve (the annual joint US-RoK major military exercise). While this action is nothing new, it's taking place at a time of escalated tension. The North Koreans are unhappy because of new UN sanctions that were imposed following their latest nuclear test. In a standard manifestation of their dissatisfaction, for the last few days they've been threatening nuclear war. Anyway, in the aftermath of their last test, I argued that the North Koreans must be made to understand that attempts at nuclear blackmail will not succeed. My position is pretty clear - North Korea can be deterred by a US policy of confident strength. Conversely, if you just want a laugh, check out North Korean propaganda reporting the US 'snow/starvation crisis'.

On a different note, Hamid Karzai is a disgusting weasel. Afghanistan's fragile semi-democracy survives on a transfusion of American/ISAF blood and treasure. Karzai would be dead without the courage and skill of American service personnel (DEVGRU saved his life in 2002). By suggesting that the Taliban and the United States are in cahoots, Karzai dishonors those who have given their lives for his country. Karzai's words also make securing a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghan future that much more difficult. An objective that is additionally complicated by the ongoing strategic deficiency of the Obama Administration.


  1. Regarding North Korea, do you think there is any room left for a "Carrot and Stick" approach? Or has North Korea fallen too far down the path of building nuclear armaments? I don't think North Korea couldn't do any serious damage to the U.S., however there is the constant worry of possible attacks by the DPRK on regional targets. Interesting bit from Brookings

    While there is no scenario under which the DPRK would ever present an existential threat to the United States, its possession of a credible capacity to attack regional and extraregional targets with nuclear weapons would greatly complicate the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, including by raising questions about U.S. willingnessto use nuclear weapons in defense of its allies once the DPRK is able to threaten the American homeland.

    Personally, I have never viewed North Korea as much of a threat. I have trouble imagining a relatively weak (in terms of economic prosperity and growth, which in my view is the most important measure of a country's strength) and isolated country doing anything of magnitude in the region. What could North Korea possibly gain from such an irrationally endeavor? Then again, I don't know what China has at stake here and I haven't explored that angle.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I think a Carrot and Stick approach can work - but only from a launching baseline of stability. Not as a response to blackmail. I disagree with the Brookings analysis - 'would ever' - who knows what ICBM capability DPRK will have in ten years? As you note though, China is the key. That is where our diplomatic pressure must lie.