Most Popular
1. Banking Crisis is Stocks Bull Market Buying Opportunity - Nadeem_Walayat
2.The Crypto Signal for the Precious Metals Market - P_Radomski_CFA
3. One Possible Outcome to a New World Order - Raymond_Matison
4.Nvidia Blow Off Top - Flying High like the Phoenix too Close to the Sun - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Apple AAPL Stock Trend and Earnings Analysis - Nadeem_Walayat
6.AI, Stocks, and Gold Stocks – Connected After All - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Stock Market CHEAT SHEET - - Nadeem_Walayat
8.US Debt Ceiling Crisis Smoke and Mirrors Circus - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Silver Price May Explode - Avi_Gilburt
10.More US Banks Could Collapse -- A Lot More- EWI
Last 7 days
Keep Calm and Carry on Buying Quantum AI Tech Stocks - 19th Feb 24
How to Profit from the Global Warming ClImate Change Mega Death Trend - Part1 - 17th Feb 24
Why Rising Shipping Costs Won't Cause Inflation - 17th Feb 24
Intensive 6 Week Stock Market Elliott Wave Training Course - 17th Feb 24
INFLATION and the Stock Market Trend - 17th Feb 24
GameStop (GME): 88% Shellacking Yet No Lesson Learned - 17th Feb 24
Nick Millican Explains Real Estate Investment in a Changing World - 17th Feb 24
US Stock Market Addicted to Deficit Spending - 7th Feb 24
Stocks Bull Market Commands It All For Now - 7th Feb 24
Financial Markets Narrative Nonsense - 7th Feb 24
Gold Price Long-Term Outlook Could Not Look Better - 7th Feb 24
Stock Market QE4EVER - 7th Feb 24
Learn How to Accumulate and Distribute (Trim) Stock Positions to Maximise Profits - Investing 101 - 5th Feb 24
US Exponential Budget Deficit - 5th Feb 24
Gold Tipping Points That Investors Shouldn’t Miss - 5th Feb 24
Banking Crisis Quietly Brewing - 5th Feb 24
Stock Market Major Market lows by Calendar Month - 4th Feb 24
Gold Price’s Rally is Normal, but Is It Really Bullish? - 4th Feb 24
More Problems in US Regional Banking System: Where There's Fire There's Smoke - 4th Feb 24
New Hints of US Election Year Market Interventions & Turmoil - 4th Feb 24
Watch Consumer Spending to Know When the Fed Will Cut Interest Rates - 4th Feb 24
STOCK MARKET DISCOUNTING EVENTS BIG PICTURE - 31st Jan 24
Blue Skies Ahead As Stock Market Is Expected To Continue Much Higher - 31st Jan 24
What the Stock Market "Fear Index" VIX May Be Signaling - 31st Jan 24
Stock Market Trend Forecast Review - 31st Jan 24

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

North Korea Is Far From Being Irrational… It Has A Plan

Politics / North Korea Aug 18, 2017 - 02:53 AM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Politics

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN : The United States has several thousand operational nuclear missiles. It has a large fleet of strategic bombers, an enormous navy, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and marines. The US could bomb, blockade, and invade North Korea if it chose to incur the cost.

Yet North Korea is threatening to fire missiles at Guam, a US island territory in the Western Pacific where a substantial portion of the American strategic forces are now stationed. The North Koreans are also insisting that they intend to complete intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike the US.


This seems to be irrational behavior.

But if North Korea was an irrational regime, how has this same regime, founded by the current leader’s grandfather, survived since 1948? It survived a devastating war, managed to stay nimble during the Sino-Soviet confrontation, and endured the fall of the Soviet Union and the transformation of China, starvation in the 1990s, and confrontation with the United States.

The regime should have collapsed many times. It didn't.

So the question is, what are seeing now?

South Korea May Oppose an American Attack

At root, the North Koreans don’t believe that the United States will attack them. Yet they have spent years creating a nonnuclear but devastating response to an American attack. It’s this artillery along the Seoul border that can cause a massive number of South Korean casualties.

The South Koreans actually fear the North’s artillery more than they fear a nuclear strike. North Korea faces the risk that the fallout of a nuclear strike might reach their soil and devastate them as well. But the North’s artillery could wreak havoc.

The artillery emplacements are both well-defended by anti-air missiles and widely spread, so that it would take many airstrikes or a bloody invasion from the South to destroy them—a process that would take days at least.

Therefore, the North believes that the South will oppose an American attack (albeit quietly), which might cause military problems for the US—and certainly political ones.

North Korea Is Threatening to Nuke Guam If the US Attacks

Moreover, the US is not fully certain that North Korea doesn’t have nuclear weapons already. The North Korean threat to hit Guam with missiles acts as a deterrent.

Authorities in Guam have even briefed the public on how to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear attack. The point isn’t that North Korea intends a first strike—that would open the door to North Korea’s destruction.

But the US must be open to the possibility that in a war North Korea could knock out Guam and then use the delay to complete (if they don’t have it already) a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the American mainland.

The Risk of China’s Confrontation

Finally, an extended war could draw in China.

The Chinese have been playing their own game. North Korea doesn’t trust China for reasons going back to the Korean War. The Chinese allowed the North Korean military to be ravaged and only intervened when they felt threatened.

The North Koreans view China as an unreliable but powerful neighbor, not a trustworthy partner. On the other hand, they know that the United States has no appetite for a war with China on the Asian mainland.

The US can’t rule out the possibility that China would intervene. And that further raises the risks of an American attack.

Betting on History

These are the reasons that the North Koreans have a high degree of confidence that the US won’t go to war.

They also believe that, once they have nuclear weapons capable of reaching the US, they will not only be able to deter any action against them, but they will also be on their way to becoming a regional power.

It isn’t only the US—China, Japan or Russia would be no more likely to risk inviting a nuclear response from North Korea. Equipped with nukes, North Korea, always the weaker of the two Koreas because of the South’s economy, may be able to change the peninsular balance of power.

The North Korean regime intends not only to survive but also to have the ability to reshape relationships with its neighbors.

It thinks it has the Americans blocked. In fact, it’s so confident that it is willing to place an existential bet on it. The North Koreans have been living on the edge of disaster for so long. They are emboldened by history.

They’re strange from the American point of view, but North Korea’s elites are far from irrational. And this is a disadvantage that they have. If others think they are irrational, then they are unpredictable.

But if they are rational, then their actions can be predicted. And if their actions are to a degree predictable, then it exposes the weakness of their plan.

The North Koreans think they have the Americans backed into a corner. The US is now grappling with the question of whether a nuclear North Korea is more or less dangerous than an attack on the North. The North Koreans are betting that, based on past performance, the US will choose not to attack.

The decision now is up to the Americans, and no decision is itself a decision. In many ways, this is less about what North Korea is doing (that part is fairly obvious) and is instead about what the Americans are thinking.

Grab George Friedman's Exclusive eBook, The World Explained in Maps

The World Explained in Maps reveals the panorama of geopolitical landscapes influencing today's governments and global financial systems. Don't miss this chance to prepare for the year ahead with the straight facts about every major country’s and region's current geopolitical climate. You won't find political rhetoric or media hype here.

The World Explained in Maps is an essential guide for every investor as 2017 takes shape. Get your copy now—free!

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2022 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in