September 17, 2017

"For him, basketball was everything."

"Kim [Jong Un] drew pictures of Michael Jordan and slept with a basketball, according to Ko Yong Suk, the aunt who cared for him [when he was at school in Bern, Switzerland].... It is a measure of how impoverished America’s contact with North Korea has become that one of the best-known conduits is Dennis Rodman, a.k.a. the Worm, the bad boy of the nineties-era Chicago Bulls. Rodman’s agent, Chris Volo, a hulking former mixed-martial-arts fighter, told me recently, 'I’ve been there four times in four years. I’m in the Korean Sea, and I’m saying to myself, "No one would believe that I’m alone right now, riding Sea-Doos with Kim Jong Un."' 2013, when Vice Media, aware of Kim’s love of the Bulls, offered to fly American basketball players to North Korea. Vice tried to contact Michael Jordan but got nowhere. Rodman, who was working the night-club autograph circuit, was happy to go. He joined three members of the Harlem Globetrotters for a game in Pyongyang. Kim made a surprise appearance, invited Rodman to dinner, and asked him to return to North Korea for a week at his private beach resort in Wonsan, which Rodman later described as 'Hawaii or Ibiza, but he’s the only one that lives there.' On his most recent trip, in June, Rodman gave Kim English and Korean editions of Trump’s 1987 best-seller, 'The Art of the Deal.'"

The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea/On the ground in Pyongyang: Could Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump goad each other into a devastating confrontation? by Evan Osnos (in The New Yorker).

ADDED: Here's a WaPo article from last year: "The secret life of Kim Jong Un’s aunt, who has lived in the U.S. since 1998":
“He wasn’t a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered and had a lack of tolerance,” Ko recalled. “When his mother tried to tell him off for playing with [games and machinery] too much and not studying enough, he wouldn’t talk back, but he would protest in other ways, like going on a hunger strike.”...

He was shorter than his friends, and his mother told him that if he played basketball, he would become taller, Ko said.

107 comments:

Hagar said...

China does not wish for any nuclear confrontations to take place on their immediate frontage. It is past time for them to take steps to prevent such from happening.

Mark said...

The bigger question is to what extent have any of the Kim boys really been in charge?

Fernandinande said...

Hunger strikes not in evidence.

n.n said...

Basketball => despotic leader. Close association?

Art => Hitler and the rise of National Socialism.

Empathy => diversity, abortion rites, redistributive change, elective wars, refugee crises.

Now that we know the warning signs...

J. Farmer said...

@Hagar:

China does not wish for any nuclear confrontations to take place on their immediate frontage. It is past time for them to take steps to prevent such from happening.

That is certainly true, but I think it underestimates how much the Chinese fear a collapse of the North Korean regime, which is the primary reason for why they have been reluctant to take too drastic steps in constraining the regime.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Lil' Kim builds prisons, for all the dissenters. He has built a lot of prisons. His people have no choice but to stay in line, accept their station which is extreme poverty, or a loyal pod of the state. The people are kept misinformed about the real world, and are forced to accept what they are fed. At best it's a Potemkin village, at worst, an orphaned child, starving in the street while Lil' Kim lives large. (you know - every democrat's dream)
If one family member is caught shaming Lil' Kim, the whole family goes to prison.

China is helping NoKo with the nukes. China is not our friend.

Our useless politicized Clintonized CIA will never rid the world of lil' Kim. We are too busy whining about abusive child labor mowing the white house lawn.

Hagar said...

Indeed. They failed to constrain him - or them - when it could have been done gently; now they have a real problem. It is difficult to see how they can solve it without bringing down the Kim regime.

Narayanan said...

What do China's Communists fear more ... Collapse of North Korea or Korean unification?

Narayanan said...

Or the truth about how they are supporting nork weapons program?

Hagar said...

Collapse of the CCP regime in China. "Iron rice bowls" and all that

steve uhr said...

The recent CNN special on NK was remarkable for showing the network's ignorance and lack of concern for the common people of the country. Will Riply was given "unprecedented" access to talk to whomever he wanted. Being interviewed on CNN puts the interviewee and his family at great risk. Of course they understand they are to toe the official line, but what if they slip up and say something not quite right or not applaud the leader with sufficient vigor? CNN should not have put them at risk of harm for ratings.

J. Farmer said...

Dickin'Bimbos@Home:

China is helping NoKo with the nukes. China is not our friend.

To paraphrase a cliche, no country has friends, only interests.

@Narayanan Subramanian:

What do China's Communists fear more ... Collapse of North Korea or Korean unification?

I don't think they necessarily see those as separate outcomes. One of the reasons they fear collapse of the North is that it could lead to unification under an American-backed government and could put such a government (and American troops) right on China's border. The other major reason is the fear of millions of poor, uneducated refugees streaming across their border.

Michael K said...

The bigger question is to what extent have any of the Kim boys really been in charge?

I have wondered this since I read that NK is a warlord state and Kim is a figurehead. That was when his father was alive but I do wonder.

I agree with Farmer that China is the key and they are not our friends.

I also agree with this.

What do China's Communists fear more ... Collapse of North Korea or Korean unification?

My Chinese student pointed out that the area of China close to NK is also the poorest area of China.

Also South Korea fears reunification for the same reasons it was a problem for Germany.

I invested a lot (for me) of money in Germany when the wall came down thinking it would be a good time for Germany with a low cost more skilled population added so they didn't need the Turks.

Instead, the German unions insisted on high wages for unskilled East Germans and it was a time of high cost and low productivity.

I would have done better to invest in Poland.


Mark said...

The recent CNN special on NK was remarkable for showing the network's ignorance and lack of concern for the common people of the country.

The response to a lot of folks to the evil and horror imposed on innocent people, including Hillary in the campaign last year, is to say, "So what? It's not our problem. It doesn't affect our national interests. It's the problem of those people and they need to fix it." So what if people are maimed and raped and burned and butchered? So what if they are defenseless and wholly incapable of protecting themselves?

Narayanan said...

Why would refugees stream to China rather than to South?

David Begley said...

What is former WI BB coach doing these days? Let's send a serious delegation of basketball people to NoKo. Bo Ryan, Bob Knight and Michael Jordan could be in the delegation. Rodman is not serious.

What the hell do we've got to lose? Everything else has failed.

J. Farmer said...

@Mark:

The response to a lot of folks to the evil and horror imposed on innocent people, including Hillary in the campaign last year, is to say, "So what? It's not our problem. It doesn't affect our national interests. It's the problem of those people and they need to fix it."

I get that you are probably paraphrasing, but can you really find a single quote that says anything to that effect? I would be delighted if a national politician were to make such an argument, but Hillary has been an interventionist hawk for her nearly 30 years in national politics.

Is it really the job of the US government and the US military to intervene everywhere in the world where people are "maimed and raped and burned and butchered?" What about close American "partners," like the Saudis, where torture and extrajudicial killings for criticizing the regime are commonplace?

J. Farmer said...

Narayanan Subramanian:

Why would refugees stream to China rather than to South?

For one, it is much easier to illegally cross into China from North Korea than into the South, given the nature of the border between the North and the South. The border with China is also much longer than the border with the South, about 900 miles versus 160 miles. The most frequent route for defectors to get to South Korea is to cross into China and then somewhere in either southeast Asia or Mongolia and then travel to the South from those destination.s

Michael K said...

The most frequent route for defectors to get to South Korea is to cross into China and then somewhere in either southeast Asia or Mongolia and then travel to the South from those destination.s

Yes and the SK embassy was returning refugees to the North rather than send them on to SK a couple of years ago.

They feared a larger flow of refugees if they were rewarded so they sent them back to their deaths.

buwaya said...

The North-South Korean border, the 38th parallel, is a military front line, where most of the active-duty armed forces of both sides are deployed in a massive system of fortifications, with a mined and patrolled no-mans land between them. Both sides are constantly on the lookout for infiltrators.

A few people have snuck through the 38th Parallel, but its rare.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

...his mother told him that if he played basketball, he would become taller

Well. There you go. No wonder he has turned out so terribly with trust issues. Lied to by his mother. Told he could be taller and then his starry eyed hopes were crushed under probably the first of many lies from trusted adults.

NO ONE can be trusted!!!!!!

It is all his Mom's fault.

Hagar said...

If the Kim regime falls and North Korea unifies with the South, part of the deal presumably would be the withdrawal of all U.S. forces. Which would be another problem, since the CCP - like all dictatorial regimes - needs credible enemies on its frontiers to justify its existence.

The fear of NORK refugees is nonsense - 5 or 10 million new people are a "rounding error" in China's population and might even be welcome in the sparsely populated north. Might be more worrisome to the Russia, which is occupying formerly Chinese territory that the Empire wants back.

Narayanan said...

Then would the possible solution be to maneuver China into accommodate refugee efflux to depopulate North Korea




Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

China wants money and has no use for human rights issues. If NoKo buys, China sells.

JPS said...

"The flight [from Beijing to Pyongyang] was mostly empty, except for some Chinese businessmen and Iranian diplomats."

Funny, that.

I get a little tired of the press' enormous self-regard, but that's a brave reporter.

Narayanan said...

In essence then the diplomats are beating around the bush in all unseriousness to keep paycheck coming. Got it.

J. Farmer said...

@Hagar:

The fear of NORK refugees is nonsense - 5 or 10 million new people are a "rounding error" in China's population and might even be welcome in the sparsely populated north.

What is your evidence for this? All of the evidence, in fact, points to the opposite conclusion. China has increased resources to border protect to increase more barbed wire and military patrols. There are currently a few hundred thousand North Korean defectors in China, and they are a headache for the regime, which is working to repatriate them back to the North. Plus you ignore that admitting and settling refugees is a big political issue in China. Many Chinese do not believe that China should be helping nationals of another country when there are still hundreds of millions of impoverished Chinese.

Hagar said...

Of coure, "withdrawal of all U.S. forces" might only be to the Japanese island chain, which also used to be Chinese, and the Japanese government knows the Empire wants those back too, though they may have to explain that to the Japanese people in the home island and why they should care.

Narayanan said...

I mean all our diplomat.

J. Farmer said...

p.s. Here is a good summation of the issue:

It’s time to start considering what a North Korean refugee crisis would look like

Bob Boyd said...

I wish I was a little bit taller
I wish I was a baller

I wish I was a little bit kookier
I wanna go nuclear

Hagar said...

I do not think the Chinese government has any intention of "helping and settling" any refugees. Asian regimes do not do that. Any such refugees would be on their own to sink or swim.

Narayanan said...

Would China like to absorb North Korea ... Ok with me.

bagoh20 said...

Could Hitler and Churchill goad each other into a devastating confrontation? Nope, Chamberlain prevented all that ugliness, and all was good.

J. Farmer said...

@Narayanan Subramanian:

Would China like to absorb North Korea ... Ok with me.

No, it wouldn't.

@bagoh20:

Could Hitler and Churchill goad each other into a devastating confrontation? Nope, Chamberlain prevented all that ugliness, and all was good.

Sorry, but what does that have to do with anything?

William said...

The Soviet Union at one time advanced the idea to the United States of making a preemptive strike on China's nuclear development facilities. Yesterday's friends are tomorrow's enemies. There should be some concern in China about having such a near neighbor armed with nuclear weapons....,,.I don't think Hiroshima was the last ever use of nuclear weapons. I also think it will happen in unlikely circumstances among unlikely antagonists. The great lesson of Sarevejo is that shit happens.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, the hell with unifying Korea. Lets help China take over the North. Or we could work with the Russians and help them take it. Maybe Canada is interested in a foreign territory. How about sending Kim a boatload of Syrian refugees or "Dreamers".

bagoh20 said...

"Sorry, but what does that have to do with anything?"

Nothing. Kim is one of the good ones.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

It's a humanitarian nightmare, and no one seems to care. Certainly not CNN.
Re-unification with the South would be ideal.

MisterBuddwing said...

I'm reminded of the old joke about how Irish unification is like heaven - everybody wants it, but nobody's in a hurry to get there.

J. Farmer said...

Dickin'Bimbos@Home:

It's a humanitarian nightmare, and no one seems to care. Certainly not CNN.
Re-unification with the South would be ideal.


3,000,000 children in the world starve to death every year. Tens of millions still live in modern slavery. Never mind the amount of murder, child molestation, rape, and death. There is a lot of pain and suffering in the world. You can "care" about it till the cows come home. There is only so much you can do about it.

Of course the North Korean regime is a beastly one, and the people there suffer under a particular harsh form of authoritarianism. But there is only so much outside powers can do about that without making the situation worse. As the cliche goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Michael K said...

the Japanese island chain, which also used to be Chinese

Huh ? Japan was settled by Korean types in prehistory. The Ainu were the aboriginals.

The Japanese are genetically related to Koreans and the risk of invasion by China was ended by the "Kamikazi" which was a typhoon that destroyed the Chinese fleet.

Ray - SoCal said...

China should allow NK refugees to go to SK.

Michael K said...

"China should allow NK refugees to go to SK."

What's worse is the SK embassy in China sending refugees back to NK where they will die.

Sebastian said...

Since MJ is a Kim icon, how long before his statue comes down?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Yes - Farmer J - I'm aware that the world is a harsh place, filled with cruelty.
this thread is about NoKo.

J. Farmer said...

Dickin'Bimbos@Home:

Yes - Farmer J - I'm aware that the world is a harsh place, filled with cruelty.
this thread is about NoKo.


Oh, I read your comment as being about the fact that "no one seems to care." So, what would seeming to care look like?

And as far as NoKo goes, I also said in response to you:

"Of course the North Korean regime is a beastly one, and the people there suffer under a particular harsh form of authoritarianism. But there is only so much outside powers can do about that without making the situation worse. As the cliche goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Birkel said...

I can usually smug the argument to death in between planting crops.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

oh boy - a retread cliche.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Heh! Birkel.

Hagar said...

About this refugee question: If the Kim regime falls - and I think the Chinese can arrange for this to happen with a minimum of drama - from whom is the Korean people supposed to be escaping?
It was the Kim regime that was their enemy.

And Michael K., you really need to read up on Chinese - Korean - Japanese history -- at least since 1900.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Hagar - I do not think the Chinese are interested, esp. as long as Little Kim launches his missiles in other directions.

pacwest said...

China gets two main things from the existence of NK. A buffer between it and western ground troops, and a continuing thorn in the USA's side. The trade they do with NK is relatively miniscule. $6B I think. There are a lot of reasons China would like to keep the status quo. I am not sure we can move them off of that dime short of the threat of all out war on the peninsula, and to my mind that is not a credible threat no matter how much saber rattling we do. I'm assuming China thinks the same thing. Take into account that Russia is a player here too.

The choices seem to be an ugly war with strong possibilities of wider (nuclear?) conflagration, or living under constant blackmail and uncertainty going into the future. Add Iran into the equation. Maybe we could hire Hillary to deliver a reset button to NK. Or give Kim an NBA contract?

I have no idea whether Japan and SK are considering a nuclear arsenal, but I would hate to see that.

Inscrutable.

J. Farmer said...

@Hagar:

About this refugee question: If the Kim regime falls - and I think the Chinese can arrange for this to happen with a minimum of drama - from whom is the Korean people supposed to be escaping?
It was the Kim regime that was their enemy.


Because the most proximate result of a regime collapsing is inarching violence and a vying for power by certain factions. See post-regime change Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya as examples. In each case, autocratic rulers were removed from power, and people began fleeing their countries. If the Kim regime were to fall, we have no idea what would come next or what could potentially rise to take its place.

J. Farmer said...

@pacwest:

The choices seem to be an ugly war with strong possibilities of wider (nuclear?) conflagration, or living under constant blackmail and uncertainty going into the future.

I agree with pretty much everything you wrote with the exception of the latter half of this sentence. I don't believe that North Korea will be able to effectively blackmail us with nuclear weapons. They are basically defensive weapons and an insurance against invasion and regime change, which is most probably what the North Koreans want them for.

Michael K said...

And Michael K., you really need to read up on Chinese - Korean - Japanese history -- at least since 1900.

So, let's see your links. I have read up on it.

Japan was Chinese ? Come on.

William said...

Doesn't anyone in China have the ability to imagine a scenario in which a nuclear armed psycho asshole proves to be a horror for the Chinese. A Bolshevik Russia was not in the long term interests of Germany, although no one on the German General Staff had the wit to realize it. History lasts longer than this week's enemies.

JPS said...

DB@H, 1:23:

"I do not think the Chinese are interested [in removing KJU], esp. as long as Little Kim launches his missiles in other directions."

Can we interest them?

pacwest at 1:30 alludes to this. I'm curious what happens if Secretary Tillerson takes his Chinese opposite number aside and tells him, look, the boss - he just doesn't see the danger of further proliferation the way you and I do. As far as he's concerned, South Korea and Japan can go ahead and nuke up; takes some of the heat off of us.

And hey, between you and me? We've tried to stop them from pursuing nuclear weapons - we've tried at least as hard as you tried to stop your ally - but we're not absolutely sure they've abided by their treaty commitments. In fact, we think they could test around, oh, tomorrow, if they get nervous enough. Anyway, good luck!

pacwest said...

"They are basically defensive weapons and an insurance against invasion and regime change, which is most probably what the North Koreans want them for."

I know this is your position, and while it maybe true, past NK actions tend to make me think they will try to wring some goodies out of being a nuclear power. It's all guesswork, even at the highest levels I think.

But, even given the defensive only theory, what problems arise regarding other countries wanting 'defensive nukes'? It's a can of worms.

J. Farmer said...

@pacwest:

I know this is your position, and while it maybe true, past NK actions tend to make me think they will try to wring some goodies out of being a nuclear power. It's all guesswork, even at the highest levels I think.

I certainly think that is possible, I just can't see how it would actually play out in the real world. The blackmail would only work if North Korea threatened to launch weapons, but then they would be destroyed in the counterattack. The theory seems to rest on the notion that normal deterrence cannot work on North Korea, and I have not seen much evidence for that.

J. Farmer said...

But, even given the defensive only theory, what problems arise regarding other countries wanting 'defensive nukes'? It's a can of worms.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of India and Pakistan for 20 years seems to have had a moderating effect on those two countries relations, even as they continue to have simmering disagreements over Kashmir.

sinz52 said...

Nuclear weapons have actually been wonderful.

For the first time in the history of the human race, the leaders of the world's nations are almost as scared of war as their citizens are.

pacwest said...

"The theory seems to rest on the notion that normal deterrence cannot work on North Korea, and I have not seen much evidence for that."

Howso? Hasn't our 'normal deterrence' so far failed miserably?

Re: Pakistan and India. There are two things working against this argument. Time and number of participants in the nuclear club. Too many moving parts for MAD to work once either progresses to far.

Bad Lieutenant said...

J-Farm,



in the hands of India and Pakistan

Right. India AND Pakistan. Either alone were destabilizing.

So...shame about those Pershing II plans falling out of the Ambassador's briefcase at his last visit to the Blue House in Seoul. Who knew those guys could crank out so many copies? Gee, maybe we shouldn't have sold them all that plutonium. North Korea will be worried.

What?! Even the Pershing I can hit Beijing from Seoul? The Devil you say!

Well, at least we've increased stability. Better buy the Ambassador a new briefcase.

Hagar said...

With a "peaceful" collapse, the first thing that would happen is that a number of South Koreans would load up their cars with food and goodies and drive up to find their long lost relatives in the North, and a number of less altruistic individuals would load up likewise and go north to peddle the stuff. The North Koreans would see more food and nice stuff than they have seen since forever, so why the drive to escape?
Except former Kim officials who the populace might feel had enforced Kim's dicta stricter than necessary or had been quite unusually corrupt, of course.

Hagar said...

The main problem for the Chinese is the effect an undeniable failure of the Communist regime in NK would have on their own people.

Everybody knows they do not believe in socialism any more, but it is not safe to mention it aloud. Domino theory, etc., and they are still the Communist Party, superior to the Constitution and laws of the land.

J. Farmer said...

@pacwest:

Howso? Hasn't our 'normal deterrence' so far failed miserably?

No, because that is not what we are deterring. We are deterring the North from taking the South, and that mission has been completely successful. At this point, the South Koreans have such an advantage in wealth, technology, military, and population resources that it is more than capable of defending itself against aggression from the North.

@Hagar:

The North Koreans would see more food and nice stuff than they have seen since forever, so why the drive to escape?
Except former Kim officials who the populace might feel had enforced Kim's dicta stricter than necessary or had been quite unusually corrupt, of course.


I'm not sure what you mean by a "peaceful" collapse. If the central governing authority collapses, something has to take its place. What will fill the power vacuum and how will it do that?

Mark said...

Hillary Clinton on ISIS terror and genocide --

"It cannot be an American fight. . . . we will support those who take the fight to ISIS. That is why we have troops in Iraq that are helping to train and build back up the Iraqi military, why we have special operators in Syria working with the Kurds and Arabs, so that we can be supportive. . . . I don't think that the United State has the bulk of the responsibility, I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself."
-- November 14, 2015

pacwest said...

J. Farmer,
I'm not talking about conventional warfare deterrence. That has been in place and I agree it is working. I am talking about nuclear deterrence which is what we have been at for awhile now.

I would like to see you address my point about the number of players in the nuke club, because I think that is the bottom line regarding not letting NK (and Iran) get nukes. And, yes, I know the camel already has his nose under that tent.

J. Farmer said...

@Mark:

Hillary Clinton on ISIS terror and genocide --

"It cannot be an American fight. . . . we will support those who take the fight to ISIS. That is why we have troops in Iraq that are helping to train and build back up the Iraqi military, why we have special operators in Syria working with the Kurds and Arabs, so that we can be supportive. . . . I don't think that the United State has the bulk of the responsibility, I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself."


That is obviously true and has been the predominant American attitude towards foreign conflicts for many decades. Of course, it is far from saying "So what? It's not our problem." The US has been deeply involved in the conflict against ISIS, including airstrikes and US troops on the ground in Syria. The problem in Syria is that we foolishly attempted to bring down Assad when we should have been assisting him in protecting his government from a violent coup. If conservatism has only one truth to teach us, it should be to be extremely skeptical of revolutionary movements.

Hagar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Farmer said...

@pacwest:

I'm not talking about conventional warfare deterrence. That has been in place and I agree it is working. I am talking about nuclear deterrence which is what we have been at for awhile now.

I would like to see you address my point about the number of players in the nuke club, because I think that is the bottom line regarding not letting NK (and Iran) get nukes. And, yes, I know the camel already has his nose under that tent.


I think the sanction/pressure tactics have been a failure for many reasons. Diplomatic engagement and negotiations remain the best option. But we probably have enough leverage with S. Korea and Japan to keep them from going nuclear and thus maintain the general balance of power in the region. I think we should be much more conciliatory towards China and work more in partnership with them and Russia in maintaining a general balance of power and conceding the strategic necessity of countries not separated by giant oceans for spheres of influence. In this sense, the US-Japan mutual defense treaty is one of the very few I am likely to support. I would support a similar arrangement with Australia and the UK, though I oppose NATO.

Hagar said...

I have not suggested that Japan ever was Chinese.
Korea was a vassal state of imperial China up to 1895 - usually not too onerous except when there were troubles in northern China that spilled over into Korea, but the king of Korea had to send an envoy to Beijing once a year with "gifts" for the emperor and to make the kow-tow to acknowledge China's suzerainty.
The Japanese took over Korea in a thoroughly rotten mannner after the 1st Sino-Japanese War and treated it as a colony with an inferior people.
And, of course, through their recorded history the shoguns sent expeditionary forces over to ravage Korea whenever they felt the daimyo were getting restless and needed something to occupy them.
None of which made either the Chinese or the Japanese overly popular with the Koreans.

Hagar said...

I put "peaceful" in quotation marks, since of course there would be some unrest, but if China lets the air out of Kim's balloon - say by turning off his electric power as an unmistakable sign he is out of favor with them - there is no reason for the North Koreans to go to civil war.

pacwest said...

J. Farmer,
I understand your points, but continue to think the weight of past outcomes is on my side of issue. I believe we need to draw a line at this point in history for the continued survival of our species. How we do that successfully I do not know. And my line drawing preference may well be the very thing that causes the horrible outcome I am afraid of. Thanks for the discussion. I will examine my premises further.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

A line does need to be drawn because Pat Buchanan isolationism / bogus treaties and negotiations with NoKo are useless.
The old model is dead.

Michael K said...

"the Japanese island chain, which also used to be Chinese"

OK. I have no information that this is true and it seems you don't either.

I'm stumped about what we are in disagreement about.

I have not suggested that Japan ever was Chinese.
Korea was a vassal state of imperial China up to 1895


???

Quaestor said...

J. Farmer wrote: I think it underestimates how much the Chinese fear a collapse of the North Korean regime, which is the primary reason...

Unlikely. Framer ignores the strategic.

What China fears is a flood of refugees across their border with North Korea. During the worst of the famine years of the 1990's, the tide of Korean illegal immigration into China rose higher and higher until China extended massive food aid to the Kim regime, which the Norks reciprocated by reinforcing their border patrols, thus reducing the flood to a trickle. The one thing that would certainly open the floodgates again is an escalation of threats by Kim resulting in pre-emptive military action.

What would be the consequence of the collapse of the Nork regime? Assuming it was an actual collapse like the collapse of the CeauČ™escu regime the result would likely be more or less peaceful reunification with the ROK. A coup against Kim from within his party might result in civil war, but this is unlikely. The vast majority of the population would probably be unaware of such a coup. Given the improbability of civil war in NK, China should be working intensely to tame Kim's bellicose demonstrations lest the threat of war drives a million Koreans into Manchuria — but they are not, are they? Thus one must conclude that Kim's nuclear threats serve Chinese ends.

China wants the crisis to deepen to the point that America will agree to recognize their annexation of the oil resources of the Spratleys in exchange for Chinese action to disarm Kim.

Ray - SoCal said...

Basically after WW2 Japan kept all the islands they could. At the time this was seen as so what, but with the extended law of the sea control from 3 mile to 12 mile things changed.

Takashima / Dokdo is the ones Korea and Japan disagree with.

Senkaku is the Chinese / Japanese disputes.

Ray - SoCal said...

National Interest has an article that believed if SK and Japan got nukes, US would withdraw their forces.
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-north-korea-ensuring-nuclear-arms-race-asia-22315

Ray - SoCal said...

China likes to think decades, and the problem is a deal may not outlast one administration.

Another reason I don't see China doing much on NK.

Ray - SoCal said...

China's area around NK is full of ethnic Koreans, and once was part of a Korean kingdom,

Another reason China does not want a united Korea.

Ray - SoCal said...

Did an SK embassy's directly had back NK refugees? No.

In Laos the local embassy allowed a situation where some refugees were sent back to NK, but not directly. 2013
http://sinonk.com/2013/06/19/north-korean-orphans-and-refugees-in-laos-symptom-of-a-larger-problem/

http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/joint-assembly-of-international-lawmakers-ngos/#more-1294
2005 did not allow other refugees entry.

In China, 2003(?) Chinese guards went into the SK embassy to get NK refugees. Big PR nightmare, and eventually refugees ended up in SK.

China has lots of guards outside embassy to prevent this issue.

My guess how the SK embassy acts depends on the politics of Korea. Sunshine policy top priority, fo as little as possible on refugeees.

And a problem is NK refugees who reach SK, have major problems adapting.

J. Farmer said...

@Hagar:

I put "peaceful" in quotation marks, since of course there would be some unrest, but if China lets the air out of Kim's balloon - say by turning off his electric power as an unmistakable sign he is out of favor with them - there is no reason for the North Koreans to go to civil war.

China cannot turn "off his electric power." The overwhelming majority of North Korea's electricity production is from burning coal, which they have in abundance. An oil embargo would certainly put massive pressure on North Korea, but it would still likely take months for the effects to cause a regime collapse, and again we have no idea what events would unfold in the immediate aftermath.

@Quaestor:

Thus one must conclude that Kim's nuclear threats serve Chinese ends.

China wants the crisis to deepen to the point that America will agree to recognize their annexation of the oil resources of the Spratleys in exchange for Chinese action to disarm Kim.


If only it were that simple. If such a deal was on the table, Americans would be fools not to take it. China does have significant leverage over North Korea, as the relations between a hegemony and a client state. However, this power is not absolute.

Hagar said...

The Meiji government annexed the Ryukyu Islands in 1879. According to my grandfather, who traveled in China and Japan in the 1890's, this was very much a military occupation and was greatly resented by the Chinese government, but they were in no position to do anything about it, being quite under the thumb of the European "Great Powers" at the time.
Of course, China was - and still is - in the habit of claiming not just theirs, but also what is next to theirs as their sovereign possessions.

According to Wikipedia, I see that the Ryukyus in fact was/is considered to have been an independent kingdom, though very primitive, and no Chinese government had been exercised there in modern times.

Hagar said...

I was under the impression that a substantial part of their electric power comes from hydro-electric installations in China.
However, if that is not true, it will still be true figurativly speaking, if China actually go to implementing a complete sanctions embargo on the Kim regime.

J. Farmer said...

@Hagar:

I was under the impression that a substantial part of their electric power comes from hydro-electric installations in China.
However, if that is not true, it will still be true figurativly speaking, if China actually go to implementing a complete sanctions embargo on the Kim regime.


Let me ask you something. If the government of Mexico collapses tomorrow, do you think it would be cause for concern in the US? China knows that North Korea's nuclear program causes unnecessary trouble for it, but it's stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. It wants a buffer between itself and the South. It wants leverage in the region against a US superpower with troops stationed very close to its borders. To give up these strategic benefits and roll the dice on what a post-Kim North Korea might look like is unlikely to be a risk they are willing to take.

Hagar said...

If the Chinese shuts Li'l Kim's water off, they have lots to worry about with regard to what the unforeseen consequences might be - both inside and outside of China - but they also have an immediate and pressing worry if Kim Jong'un really thinks he has got the world by the balls and can go it alone.
The United States has a lonng history of "over-reacting" and going to war in a big way "unexpectedly."

Comanche Voter said...

We need to get Rodman to "stuff" Whoa Fat into a very small basket.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

If such a deal was on the table, Americans would be fools not to take it.

On the contrary, the Americans would be fools to acquiesce to such a deal. Firstly, because it would among to rewarding nuclear blackmail. Secondly, the only nations with viable historic claims to the area are Vietnam and the Philipines. Vietnam has been asserting its claim since the 1980s, and the Obama Administration gave assurances that the United States would support Vietnam's rights to the western banks in The Hague.

It wants a buffer between itself and the South.

Armchair strategist J. Farmer wants us to think Chinese think just like he does. It's safe to assume they are smarter than that. China enjoyed such a "buffer" for nearly sixty years without the involvement of nuclear weapons. If China is really so desperate to keep that buffer in place allowing Kim to introduce nukes into the equation is the last thing a sound strategic planner would want. It encourages the United States to station more forces near China's borders, not fewer. And it puts China at more risk of a military confrontation with the US than at any time since the 1953 armistice. The status quo provided a reasonable buffer. Kim has upset the status quo, thus endangering the buffer.

J. Farmer said...

@Hagar:

If the Chinese shuts Li'l Kim's water off, they have lots to worry about with regard to what the unforeseen consequences might be - both inside and outside of China - but they also have an immediate and pressing worry if Kim Jong'un really thinks he has got the world by the balls and can go it alone.

Who cares what Kim Jung Un "thinks" he has? That is irrelevant. What is relevant is the actual strategic reality. The ostentatious threats and provocative behavior is emblematic of North Korea's relative position of weakness. Even if they were able to extract some foreign aid it would not significantly alter their position in the region or in the globe. The North Koreans show next to no expansionist ambition, and they have nowhere near the resources necessary to obtain such an objective, even if it really wanted to. The regime's primary concern is self-preservation, and it sees nuclear weapons as the only sure way to defend against such an action because it is obviously surrounded by much larger pagers.

The United States has a lonng history of "over-reacting" and going to war in a big way "unexpectedly."

Yes, and they "unexpectedly" tend to leave us bogged down in quagmires where we find ourselves in a worse strategic position than when we started. For example, we are still trying to clean up the messes we made from stupid wars begun nearly two decades ago. If you are Kim Jung-Un, and you watch the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi get forcibly ejected from power by the United States, and you see that same country station tens of thousands of troops and integrate with the military of the South, and it makes perfect strategic sense that you would want to protect yourself from this possibility.

The best thing the US can do is accept the Kim regime as the legitimate government of North Korea, give assurances not to undermine the regime, and beginning to replace military personnel in the DMZ with solely South Korean forces would all be concessions we could make to persuade the regime to put restrictions on its nuclear program. Of course there will be the usual unhinged hours of capitulation and Munich and Chamberlain and all of the familiar cliches. But in reality, the US would have given up very little strategic position for a much greater strategic concession on the part of the North.

The 1994 Agreed Framework remains the basic blueprint. The decision by the Bush administration to abandon the process in favor of a get tough approach backfired in a spectacular fashion. We have continued with the sledgehammer approach through the Bush and Obama and now Trump administrations, and the strategy has been an abysmal failure. Inevitably, those who favor the sledgehammer approach, will insist that we are simply not hammering with sufficient force. As former British prime minister Lord Salisbury once remarked, "The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies."

J. Farmer said...

@Quaeestor:

The status quo provided a reasonable buffer. Kim has upset the status quo, thus endangering the buffer.

I think you are conflating several issues. I said that China has varied interests in propping up the North Korean regime, of which its buffer against the South is an obvious one. However, while the Chinese have significant influence in North Korea, their power is not absolute, and North Korea will still pursue policies it believes to be in its self-interest. We had significant leverage against the Shah, yet the US and Iran still had major conflicts and strategic differences during the Shah's reign.

China likely does not look on the nuclear program favorably, but as I stated before finds itself trying to balance the choice of bad options. A regime collapse would be a significant issue for China and something it is willing to go to great lengths to persevere. To draw another parallel, Russia's relationship with Assad and the use of its leased naval facilities in Tarsus allow the Russian navy operating in the Mediterranean to receive maintenance and services without having to pass through the Bosphorus Straits and return to the Black Sea. This is of significant strategic value for the Russians for them to commit their military and economic resources to keeping Assad in power.

Ray - SoCal said...

These are the only Chinese Options I see:

1. Hard Sanctions againt NK that result in country collapsing.

Outcome may be:

1. Increase in refugees that China has to take care of.
2. War by NK that uses Nukes against SK. Preemptive Strike.
3. Artillery Barrage against SK.
4. Nuke action by NK against China
5. Reunification of SK and NK, with American troops or at least a democratic government on their Northern Border.
6. Start of WW3 as Chinese troops rush in and encounter SK and US troops.

And the Chinese can't trust any agreement with the US, because it may change with our next President!

Option 2 - Some Sanctions, Good PR. Lots of Nice Words
1. Does nothing, except hopefully keeps US doing nothing.
2. Reminds NK who Big Brother is.
3. Keeps Japan and SK from developing Nukes.

Option 3 - Chinese Backed Coup
1. Current NK Leader is aware of this, and keeps on killing potential coup leaders. Such as half Brother that got gassed.

2. Great if it could be made to happen.

Option 4: Allow NK refugees easy travel to SK
1. May cause collapse of regime.

My guess the Chinese will continue to do the war of words with NK and limited sanctions. And hopes the problems go away.

My guess US will expand Missile Defence tremendously, as will SK and Japan. You may even see SK and Japan get Nukes.

I don't know how much of this is true:

Establishment GOP Puts Cronies over Country on Missile Defense
By Angelo Codevilla| September 12, 2017

My gut feel is a lot of it. The North Koreans are going to force a huge increase in missile defense by the US. North Korea as a threat can no longer by ignored by the US and Japan, and the NK are rubbing both our noses in it. This is a dumb strategy, but historically it's worked out well for them.

Ray - SoCal said...

Clarification - NK Threats and Bad Actions have worked out well for the NK government on receiving stuff from the US, SK, and Japan in the past.

Birkel said...

The Japanese are old and in no position to attack anybody. The Japanese are living on credit. I'd bet they borrow and spend an awful lot for defense. The status quo is not an option of North Korea continues to develop offensive capabilities.

A heightened defense of Japan does not seem the sort of outcome China wants. Credible threats of a Japanese military buildup, with the great technical sophistication of that society, seem more likely to deter NK and China from the present course than do American direct efforts.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Either everybody is really smart about geopolitics and military strategy these days or it's obvious easy stuff. Unfortunately, when the important decisions need made there is an inexplicable shortage of either geniuses or common sense, because stuff seems to always go wrong every time. If people would just take my advice, this would never happen.

pacwest said...

bagoh20,
If they would make me President I could fix all the world's problems just like that! [Snaps fingers]

Narayanan said...

What is wrong with Scott Adams proposed scenario for kicking new improved redesigned can down the road?

Kim was given art of the deal through rodman.

walter said...

Ok..so ambassador Rodman/Worm was there in June and handed him Art of the Deal.
Shit has been heightened long before that.
Umm..anything else to report?

walter said...

Dunno..I joked previously about doing so..but think Trump convinced Rodman to pay a visit?
Might explain how/why it was on the DL.

Hagar said...

Went to B&N and bought "The Impossible State - North Korea - Past and Future" by Victor Cha.
Just the first chapter was full of statistics that showed my ideas of North Korea's history to be completely wrong. More revelations presumably to come.

ken in tx said...

The Sea of Japan is called the East Sea in South Korea. It is called the Korean Sea in North Korea. With all of these sanctions for all these years, how did they get Seados in North Korea?

Hagar said...

@J. Farmer,
That response is all about you and not the countries involved.
If Kim sends a missile into U.S. territory - even if it is just carrying a chunk of concrete, or if one intended to just plunge into the ocean should happen to hit a U.S. Navy ship, f. ex., the Chinese may think the odds are 90-99% that the U.S. will shrug it off and not go ballistic, but the remaining chance is still too big for them to let Kim risk it.
Or is it?



JAORE said...

Correlation =/= causation?

I don't know. Basketball may make you taller.

Bowling certainly seems to make you fatter.

Does baseball makes you salivate excessively(and spit)?

Do tennis and golf make you hyper sensitive to crowd noise?

Rusty said...

bagoh20 said...
"Either everybody is really smart about geopolitics and military strategy these days or it's obvious easy stuff. "

Mostly it's just people who think they're smart talking through their asses.