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posted on 03 May 2017

"North Korea Crisis": Real or Manufactured?

Written by

Again, North Korea is making trouble (Nuclear tests will 'never stop,' North Korean government official says). Again, America reacts blindly, not knowing what to do (Trump: 'Major, Major Conflict' With North Korea Possible), or worse, prepares to make another blunder (Poll: More Than Half Say Military Action Needed in North Korea). Again, it's time for thoughtful analysis before reckless engagement (America: What to Do with North Korea?)!

Simply put, there is really no "North Korea crisis" - It's manufactured by America, for America! Hear me out ...


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1. Overview

The current "North Korea crisis" (Rex Tillerson urges international response) is largely exaggerated and self-inflicted by America, similar to almost everything considered as part of the "war on terror"!

To really understand the issue, we must understand not only our foes and friends, but also ourselves.

2. Understanding our foes and friends

The map below illustrates five “regional” countries involved in the “North Korea crisis”.

  1. North Korea
  2. South Korea
  3. China
  4. Japan
  5. Russia.

Who are they and what do they really want in this "North Korea crisis"? Let me highlight each of them ...

2.1 North Korea

It is a de facto monarchy, with the third generation running the Kim dynasty.

Kim III faces two big problems at home (aside from having bad hair):

  1. A bad economy: All of its neighboring countries have far better economies. Specifically, North Korea relies on China for everything, from food to daily goods.
  2. Authority: His authority is constantly being questioned and maybe even challenged.

What is his solution? Identifying, and focusing on, a big and obvious enemy: the U.S., while taking advantage of China's position of not wanting to see a collapsed North Korea, which means millions of refuges into China.

2.2 South Korea

It has a very strong economy, but a very weak political system, which is democratic and corrupted. The situation becomes worse as it has been leaderless for months, because its President (image below) was recently impeached and jailed (Ousted South Korean leader arrested, jailed).

South Korea relies heavily on China for its prosperity. For example, China imported, in 2015, more from South Korea than from any other country (with the U.S. being #2). So South Korea cannot afford to "upset" China.

South Korea relies heavily on the U.S. for its defense, out of necessity and economics (as it's mostly free).

2.3 China

China has diplomatic relations with both Koreas. Given its size and stature, China is fully capable of handling the matter over there. However, because of America's military presence in South Korea and America's eagerness to continue to be the world's policeman, China has been leaving the matter largely to America. After all, America is a competitor and China eventually wants America's military presence out of South Korea.

No country wants a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula more than China. But the perpetual presence of American troops in South Korea may well make it inevitable, as it is perhaps the only way for America to prevent China from becoming the #1 economy in the world.

China has stepped up recently (China warns North Korea another nuclear weapons test would take relations beyond 'point of no return'), as a result of The First Trump-Xi Meeting.

Now, does China have 100% control over Kim III? No! One simple fact: Both Kim I and Kim II were very close to China, but not Kim III, who, after more than five years as the dear leader, has yet to visit China, nor has Chinese President visited him!

As is widely known in China, "the spoiled brat has no respect for us, and is taking advantage of us for not wanting to see his country collapse."

2.4 Japan

North Korea has no direct and obvious hostility toward Japan. But Japan, too, has made a big fuss out of it (The Latest: Tokyo subway temporarily closed over N. Korea).

What does Japan really want out of the "North Korea crisis"? To restore its previous status as #1 in Asia by containing China, with the help from the U.S., hopefully!

Remember: Japan is the only country that has actually attacked all the other five countries, including the U.S., in recent history. More importantly, the reason behind Japan’s WWII rationale (i.e. Tanaka Memorial) remains valid today. For more, read: 9/11 Attack vs. Pearl Harbor Attack.

Bottom line: Japan should settle as the #2 in Asia, next to China! For more, read: America: What if China is Japan Times 10?

2.5 Russia

Like Japan, Russia has no direct stake in this conflict either, other than the fact that Russia's remote territory in the Far East borders with North Korea.

Bottom line: any chaos on the Korean Peninsula involving Russia's foes and competitors is good for Russia.

3. Understanding ourselves

There is practically nothing we can do with regard to this "crisis," other than addressing the root cause!

Why isn't there anything we can do? The strongest card we have on the table is military action, to which all the other countries involved in this "crisis" will strongly oppose. Here is why: unless we can instantly wipe out all of North Korea's military capabilities, which is impossible, South Korea will be severely damaged by the all-out retaliatory reactions from the North! Worse yet, it would be viewed as messing with China, which we can’t afford. For more, read: Don’t Mess with Nuclear-Armed China!

What, then, is the root cause of the problem? We have had our military presence in South Korea for way too long!

More broadly, two questions:

  1. Why do we, and only we, have so many problems all over the world, from the Mideast, to Ukraine, to the South China Sea, and to North Korea?
  2. Why have we, and only we, been involved in at least one war for every decade since the end of WWII (America: A Culture of War)?

The answer: we have been an empire since 1945, with military bases all over the world (List of United States military bases), playing the role of the world's policeman, by choice (i.e. without being [adequately] paid for it)!

Why have we been so generous? Because we could afford it! Why should we stop doing it? Because we can no longer afford it, thanks to decades of practice of both Democratic Imperialism and Democratic Socialism!

The post-WWII era was very good for America. But it was an exception, not the rule. As the world has advanced to the [new] norm, with the wealth more widely spread all over the world (vs. concentrated in America), we, America, are failing to adapt to the norm. Instead, we continue to be an over-extended empire, bankrupting ourselves at home!

In short, it is time for us to focus on the economy at home and declare that America is an empire no more.

Specifically, here is what we must do:

  1. Accept and live in the real world of Three New Kingdoms.
  2. Yield more spheres of influence to Russia and China, such as forgetting about Crimea and ignoring whatever happens in the South China Sea.
  3. Stop the practice of regime change, as in the case of Iraq, Syria, Iran, and North Korea.
  4. Close our oversea military bases as many as possible and as soon as possible, starting from the ones in South Korea.

For more, read: President Trump in the Real World of Three New Kingdoms.

4. Discussion

To have any chance to win in a competitive world like ours, we must understand not only our foes and friends, but also ourselves. Unfortunately for America, we understand neither, from the Mideast (The Middle East without America?) to North Korea ("The Interview", the Film ...)!

This is the main reason we are losing everywhere, while continuing on the path of self-destruction, both at home (Democratic Socialism) and abroad (Democratic Imperialism)!

What is the root cause of our self-destruction? Democracy, as we practice it today! For example, our foreign policy remains unchanged over the past seven decades, while the world has significantly changed. Why are we so resistant to change in foreign policy? Because it has been consistently driven by the MIC (Military-Industrial Complex), not by any American President and his administration!

Will President Trump make a real difference? Highly unlikely! For more, read: Grading President Trump's First 100 Days: B!

5. Closing

There is no "North Korea crisis" per se! Instead, there is indeed a crisis at home: American Democracy.

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