Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
DonAthos

Are We Going to Go to War with North Korea?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Are we going to go to war with North Korea?

The rhetoric on their side has always been bellicose, but it usually seemed to be more propaganda than anything worth taking seriously. Now that Trump is in charge, however, who is equally given to dramatic words, and who doesn't mind stirring the pot, and since North Korea is pushing the nuclear envelope to its breaking point... will this war of words escalate to an actual fight?

If so, what would it look like? Would there be a nuclear exchange? Can South Korea survive? Would the war become more global in nature? Any thoughts about what might become the defining event of not only the Trump presidency, but perhaps our generation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen any evidence that North Korea has the ability to deliver nuclear warheads with any accuracy.

There are also several missile defense systems in the area, that further reduce the success rate of NK missiles. The US is in the process of deploying THAAD missile defense to South Korea, Japan has the ship and air based AEGIS missile defense system, and I'm guessing US bases in the region are protected by both. 

So, to me at least, North Korea's ability to inflict massive casualties on either SK or Japan is being exaggerated in the media. If they attack with conventional weapons, they would have a few days at most before their offensive capabilities are fully destroyed. If they try to attack with nukes, I'm guessing they would have one try, before the US responds with tactical nukes against their launch sites.

That's one of the few good things about Trump: he is unlikely to hold back the US military from using appropriate force.

And that's IF Un even has the power to start a suicidal war. Seems like a tall order for an unpopular, unproven leader to get his military to march into certain death...no matter how ruthless and scary he is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I can tell North Korea has no aspirations of conquest or expansion.  The dictators only wish to stay in power and to pass on that power through their descendants (as a kind of dynasty)... without influence from the outside.  They likely are only afraid of invasion and/or external influence on the local people.

So then, the only reason for the nukes really is self-defense, and maintaining the status quo of a socialist tyranny.

 

If North Korea, more accurately its leader, could be satisfied somehow, that it would be left alone to rule over its geography and its people, there should be no problem.

Trump, being against globalization has the unique opportunity of putting the US on a distinctly non-invasive, non-globalization track, in exchange for de-escalation and de-armament.

Agreements promising not to invade and not to actively interfere with the dictator's family dynasty might secure a peace... albeit one which allows a state to continually violate the rights of millions of people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to further elaborate on the options North Koreans have: in case of any conflict or instability, they have the option to surrender to China, rather than the US. That would be something the US side would not just accept, but welcome, because it would solve almost everybody's problems without bloodshed: China would keep its buffer, the US, Japan and SK would no longer have to worry about a rogue regime in the area, and the transition to a more open NK society wouldn't be the US' problem.

So the North Korean elites wouldn't just be choosing between surrender/reunification (which would mean being held responsible for their crimes) and war. They have a path towards keeping their status/wealth while at the same time getting rid of the frightened, paranoid manchild who's terrorizing them. That is a very strong incentive to avoid a war, as the US (to me at least, seems like consciously, and as part of a well thought out plan) is ratcheting up tensions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

From what I can tell North Korea has no aspirations of conquest or expansion.  The dictators only wish to stay in power and to pass on that power through their descendants (as a kind of dynasty)... without influence from the outside.  They likely are only afraid of invasion and/or external influence on the local people.

So then, the only reason for the nukes really is self-defense, and maintaining the status quo of a socialist tyranny.

 

If North Korea, more accurately its leader, could be satisfied somehow, that it would be left alone to rule over its geography and its people, there should be no problem.

Trump, being against globalization has the unique opportunity of putting the US on a distinctly non-invasive, non-globalization track, in exchange for de-escalation and de-armament.

Agreements promising not to invade and not to actively interfere with the dictator's family dynasty might secure a peace... albeit one which allows a state to continually violate the rights of millions of people.

Trump isn't even in charge of the house he lives in, let alone US foreign policy. I also don't see what globalization has to do with this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Now that Trump is in charge, however, who is equally given to dramatic words, and who doesn't mind stirring the pot

I don't think it's Trump who's stirring this pot. At least, not by himself. He seems to have widespread support from the military and political establishment, on this one.

It also doesn't seem like it's happening out of inertia. There's definitely a script being followed, aimed at putting as much pressure as possible (without starting an actual war, but there might be some exchange of fire as well, at some point), on Kim Jong Un.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Nicky said:

Trump isn't even in charge of the house he lives in, let alone US foreign policy. I also don't see what globalization has to do with this.

From Kim's perspective, he would be perfectly happy if the world would leave his country to its own devices, i.e. not try to tell him what to do or not to do to the citizens, i.e. no attempts at any "reform" of domestic culture or policy, human rights, poverty, the environment, or anything else.  As the leader of a rogue and isolated state any kind of globalization, consensus, international cooperation is a threat to his own vision... certainly the march towards convergence on world views, ideas, and culture would be unacceptable to him.

Kim would likely be most happy simply to have highly controlled and restricted trade with other nations (not free trade but trade in the interests of the state) and otherwise be left alone.  Such a stance, IMHO is the rejection of globalization.

 

As for the current administration, I was under the view that one of the undercurrents of the alt-right whispering had some anti-globalization sentiments, a little bit in the realm of economics and trade, more so in immigration, and that US first means dropping the "ideals" of the left's march toward some social unified world order...

All I'm saying is that if Kim wants and respects nations staying out of each others hair, a more independent and/or aloof (non-interventionist) US concerned only with its own interests (instead of spreading democracy, human rights, eliminating world poverty and/or climate change etc) , might be better for eventually convincing him to de-arm...

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

All I'm saying is that if Kim wants and respects nations staying out of each others hair, a more independent and/or aloof (non-interventionist) US concerned only with its own interests (instead of spreading democracy, human rights, eliminating world poverty and/or climate change etc) , might be better for eventually convincing him to de-arm...

Why would telling a tyrant that we don't care about what he does convince him to disarm? (de-arm? how's he gonna stuff his chubby face without arms?)

The US adopting an isolationist foreign policy (which is what you're describing) would have the same effect it had in the past: global conflict on a massive scale.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Nicky said:

Why would telling a tyrant that we don't care about what he does convince him to disarm? (de-arm? how's he gonna stuff his chubby face without arms?)

The US adopting an isolationist foreign policy (which is what you're describing) would have the same effect it had in the past: global conflict on a massive scale.

I look at it like this, if Kim thinks the rest of the world wants to invade, and will do so, and/or wants to and will try to topple his rule, then giving up the status quo (his having a big stick to protect his regime) is a non starter... all it would do is open him up to everything he does not want.

That would be like saying "disarm or you'll get more sanctions, interference, and possibly war and invasion", oh and by the way IF you DO disarm, you can still eventually expect more sanctions, interference, and possibly invasion and war because you are a tyrant AND you'll be less able to defend yourself. 

Bottom line, unless he believes there is a reason to disarm, i.e. he simply wont, certainly not voluntarily.  Just trying to think of the only reason he could have to disarm given the situation.

I take it you believe there are no such assurances that could be made to him... and that he will never voluntarily disarm?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I take it you believe there are no such assurances that could be made to him... and that he will never voluntarily disarm?

Me and everyone else, yes. Of course he will never voluntarily disarm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I take it you believe there are no such assurances that could be made to him... and that he will never voluntarily disarm?

Assurances aren't worth much. The U.S. was part of the deal with Russia and Ukraine where the latter gave up Soviet-day nukes on a guarantee of territorial integrity. In Libya, Gaddafi gave up arms in a deal with the U.S.; but some years later the U.S. was helping rebel against him. 

Iran and North Korea would be dumb (from their rulers' perspective) to seriously roll back their nuclear program. (Aside: Erdogan has learnt the lesson too, and Turkey is rumored to be thinking about a nuclear program.)

More generally, history is full of examples of U.s. foreign policy flowing first this way and then that. So, a tyrant should not put too much into a promise from the U.S. (nor any other country).

Edited by softwareNerd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, softwareNerd said:

More generally, history is full of examples of U.s. foreign policy flowing first this way and then that. So, a tyrant should not put too much into a promise from the U.S. (nor any other country).

So is the "best" strategy for the US to adopt a kind of "containment" of little dictatorships while waiting for self implosion ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

So is the "best" strategy for the US to adopt a kind of "containment" of little dictatorships while waiting for self implosion ?

Perhaps something like what the US did in Japan after WW2. The nukes per se didn't make them surrender (Japan was bombed a great deal already, Tokyo even), nor was it just the Soviet Union attacking Manchuria. Even then, being attacked on all sides is a losing proposition. But that wouldn't be enough on its own. What mattered was their global position in history, it seems. The country's leaders had to see an advantage to surrendering - the threat of annihilation wasn't going to work. I don't know the details of post-war Japan. but the US managed to leverage Japan's position to eliminate a threat while making an ally.

Some threats need a head on attack. North Korea doesn't seem like one of those. It' s not huge, the average person in NK is in terrible condition. So using an incentive rather than a punishment may do well. I don't mean "liberating" NK. I don't mean giving in and doing what they say. I mean making it so Un isn't "in charge", he's still leader of NK, but military threat is reduced.

I'd rather people make new solutions - assassinating dictators doesn't work well, sanctions and embargoes haven't made a difference in many places, bombing makes people angrier, wars are costly. The "bomb or sanction" dichotomy is old hat. Your idea may work due to simplicity. An actual siege, literal containment on all sides.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

So is the "best" strategy for the US to adopt a kind of "containment" of little dictatorships while waiting for self implosion ?

If I start with the context of the possible realities of the next few decades, one general principle behind US foreign strategy should be to act in ways that the bulk of its voters will stand behind when all the negatives come home to roost.Otherwise, voters will force a reversal and perhaps even an apology, while enemies will often be able to wait out the U.S.

I really do nor know what realistic and military options are available to the U.S. which are also relatively safe to South Korea and Japan. If such options are available, they make sense to me.

PS: The main problem with North Korea has always been China. They're best positioned to act, but they want to keep North Korea in the hands of an unpredictable tyrant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know what's going to happen, but the current level of brinksmanship has me concerned. It seems to me like most of the above discussion assumes both Trump and Un to be rational actors, when I'm not convinced that either one is.

Maybe Trump is playing on a higher level than I can fathom? Maybe Un, as a despot, is reliable in his (narrow, irrational) pursuit of his own interests. Maybe everything so far is going according to plan. Even so, my (admittedly limited) studies into history warn me that situations like this can get out of control, and go in directions that few had anticipated beforehand.

Honestly, my feeling on this (from before Trump's election) was that Trump, as a president, would bring the US to war at some point. I think his mentality/personality demands it, and he is so volatile and undiplomatic, generally, how could he help but blunder into conflict? I would not have picked North Korea to be our first stop, however.

If war comes, I'm certain that there will be various levels of support in and around the Objectivist community. But personally, I don't relish the idea. If it comes, I hope we win quickly and decisively -- though hopefully without any nuclear exchange. Apart from the horrors of war in themselves, I also fear for what this sort of situation might allow Trump in terms of domestic policy, when he is seemingly so unconcerned with Constitutional protections, or liberty (and perhaps is actively hostile to anything which would limit his personal power).

I do like the idea of a Chinese intervention. I wish they would get on that already.

Edited by DonAthos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I don't know what's going to happen, but the current level of brinksmanship has me concerned. It seems to me like most of the above discussion assumes both Trump and Un to be rational actors, when I'm not convinced that either one is.

Maybe Trump is playing on a higher level than I can fathom? Maybe Un, as a despot, is reliable in his (narrow, irrational) pursuit of his own interests. Maybe everything so far is going according to plan. Even so, my (admittedly limited) studies into history warn me that situations like this can get out of control, and go in directions that few had anticipated beforehand.

Honestly, my feeling on this (from before Trump's election) was that Trump, as a president, would bring the US to war at some point. I think his mentality/personality demands it, and he is so volatile and undiplomatic, generally, how could he help but blunder into conflict? I would not have picked North Korea to be our first stop, however.

If war comes, I'm certain that there will be various levels of support in and around the Objectivist community. But personally, I don't relish the idea. If it comes, I hope we win quickly and decisively -- though hopefully without any nuclear exchange. Apart from the horrors of war in themselves, I also fear for what this sort of situation might allow Trump in terms of domestic policy, when he is seemingly so unconcerned with Constitutional protections, or liberty (and perhaps is actively hostile to anything which would limit his personal power).

I do like the idea of a Chinese intervention. I wish they would get on that already.

The worst that could happen IMHO is that enough signals, pressure, or other political/military/diplomatic events occur that leads Un to believe he no longer will be able to hold onto power, i.e. that there is an unavoidable imminent threat to his rule/dynasty.  Putting him this far into a corner I think would be "suicidally" unacceptable to him...  Ever wonder what level of insanity drives people to committing "murder-suicide"?  It's the same kind of insanity a tyrant raised as a tyrant would be subject too if he thought he would lose everything he was rightfully entitled to and all that mattered to him...  at that point, and to that crazed mind, there is nothing to lose... might as well go out with a bang and take millions with him...

Perhaps having a psychotic with a loaded gun in your apartment building who habitually waves his gun around and calls threatens you as his enemy, is not actually something you could or should tolerate.  Perhaps the moral action is a surprise pre-emptive strike... if the risk of death to you is less than the risk you take everyday just looking over your shoulder hoping the psychotic will leave you alone.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I don't know what's going to happen, but the current level of brinksmanship has me concerned. It seems to me like most of the above discussion assumes both Trump and Un to be rational actors, when I'm not convinced that either one is.

I don't think they were assumed to be rational actors, that is, someone who weighs and balances options, then optimizes for those goals. They were assumed to be motivated actors seeking a goal. Any person has goals and motivations. Even apparently unstable people have goals, unless they are literally having a psychotic break. So, Un would respond, with some motivation in mind.

It isn't as though intelligence officers give up on any psychological analysis as soon as they face someone out of the ordinary. The fortunate thing about NK is that it is centralized and slow to mobilize. Compare this to ISIS, which is relatively decentralized and able to take action without needing to pull along an entire state apparatus. I imagine intelligence is looking for solutions, I only hope Trump' s lack of creativity doesn't interfere.

Perhaps a massive cyberattack can essentially shut down all of NK. Or an endorsement of China to use those. Or persuade Chinese officials to adopt an alliance with NK so that Un at least will cool it on the threats. I don't know. Maybe even simply say "we've got food if you stop!" rather than say "we'll take away your food until you stop".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Perhaps a massive cyberattack can essentially shut down all of NK.

Or an endorsement of China to use those.

Or persuade Chinese officials to adopt an alliance with NK so that Un at least will cool it on the threats.

Maybe even simply say "we've got food if you stop!" rather than say "we'll take away your food until you stop".

"Perhaps a massive cyberattack can essentially shut down all of NK.  Or an endorsement of China to use those."

I literally laughed out loud when I read this.  NK has nothing to be attacked that way except their hacking and crime bureau which may have been involved in some bank robberies.

Or persuade Chinese officials to adopt an alliance with NK so that Un at least will cool it on the threats.  

China are already providing protection to NK via threats to the US if we act, thats how we got here.

Maybe even simply say "we've got food if you stop!" rather than say "we'll take away your food until you stop".

Comply with extortion?  Yeah fuck that, that is both the status quo and an act of war in itself.  Thats what was going on when Bill Clinton gave NK 2 nuclear reactors and food in exchange for peace.  Clinton was an idiot.  You don't want to be like an idiot do you?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Grames said:

I literally laughed out loud when I read this.

I meant the kind aimed at physical infrastructure such as electricity facilities...

"China are already providing protection to NK via threats to the US if we act"

It's not an actual alliance, right? Clearly whatever form this is would need to be restructured.

"Comply with extortion?  Yeah fuck that, that is both the status quo and an act of war in itself. "

See what I wrote on Japan. "Simply say" was wrong of me to write. Some requirement made by us is needed, such as government restructuring. "If you're nice" is no good to alter motivations, you're right.

What do you think is wisest to do?

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Grames said:

Comply with extortion?  Yeah fuck that, that is both the status quo and an act of war in itself.  Thats what was going on when Bill Clinton gave NK 2 nuclear reactors and food in exchange for peace.  Clinton was an idiot.  You don't want to be like an idiot do you?

This.  Clinton gave nuclear reactors and billions of dollars to NK so that they would "not" develop nuclear weapons.  And both Bush's and Obama's records were not much better.  Not to mention that much of NK's missile technology has come from China -- funded by the billions of dollars that Obama gave Iran - who in turn is getting nuclear weapon technology from NK.  We are going to see a nuclear weaponized Iran soon as well.

Edited by New Buddha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/9/2017 at 9:18 PM, DonAthos said:

Are we going to go to war with North Korea?

The rhetoric on their side has always been bellicose, but it usually seemed to be more propaganda than anything worth taking seriously. Now that Trump is in charge, however, who is equally given to dramatic words, and who doesn't mind stirring the pot, and since North Korea is pushing the nuclear envelope to its breaking point... will this war of words escalate to an actual fight?

If so, what would it look like? Would there be a nuclear exchange? Can South Korea survive? Would the war become more global in nature? Any thoughts about what might become the defining event of not only the Trump presidency, but perhaps our generation?

Logically, the fundamentals are not there for a war. Neither North Korea nor the US could win a decisive victory.  North Korea can't invade/nuke the US mainland. Nor can American afford to go into North Korea because its been preparing for a war for nearly 50 years and its population have been brainwashed into resisting any "american imperialist" occupation. Even without nukes involved, it would be a disaster for the region particularly because of how South Korea and Japan could easily be drawn in. 

So, it really shouldn't be an issue if cooler heads prevail, but it depends on just how rational the decision-making is on both ends. North Korea is at least "consistent" in wanting to stand on its own two feet, without relying on anyone else including its only ally China, for its own defence and so wants its own nuclear deterrent rather than having to rely on anyone else's. What they are doing now if talking themselves up and making sure everyone knows they've got this big new toy and everyone should pay attention and "respects" them. Its not ideal, but its a change in the balance of power that deterimental to the international community rather than necessarily a situation that could lead to a war. 

Trump, I'm less sure about but in all probability he will have a tantrum, (which is dangerous), sulk and go off and do something else. He doesn't strike me as the kind of person who could sustain the attention span or focus to manage a conflict that could last a full term (easily more). Another factor is whether the military would even follow his order if he gave the go ahead. If North Korea strikes first- American could retaliate and I'd imagine the American military would (probably) be behind him. But if Trump wanted America to strike first, the generals- knowing this is a potential suicide mission- might mutiny. The picture would then become very complicated very quickly. the exact response of the Russians or the Chinese is an unknown given they are literally next door. North Korea could try to take out South Korea and Japan as America's allies, whilst the US has a crisis in the line of succession. I think that's the most dangerous outcome right now. 

Best thing to do is ignore it or offer to negotiate a final peace treaty ending the Korean War and draw a line under the whole thing and recognise independence of the two Koreas (or possibly a federal korea which the north has proposed before under the previous leader). I'm not sure how North Korea would really feel about that giving unifying Korea is its  big goal and would look like a betrayal, but I suspect some sort of negotiation will be involved in the weeks and months ahead even if its behind closed doors.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Laika said:

North Korea is at least "consistent" in wanting to stand on its own two feet, without relying on anyone else including its only ally China, for its own defence and so wants its own nuclear deterrent rather than having to rely on anyone else's.

NK cannot stand on its own two feet.  It's being propped up by China (and a few other horrid States) as a tool.

Edited by New Buddha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

NK cannot stand on its own two feet.  It's being propped up by China (and a few other horrid States) as a tool.

I don't see China as an enemy. I don't see any issue if the landscape of China's unofficial and wishy-washy support of NK is changed to be one where China is leveraged to put NK in a more desirable spot. Or are you suggesting that China is up to something nefarious?

EDIT: My main point, to clarify, is that the options should not be constrained to "bomb or sanction". I'm not saying that it would be wrong or immoral to destroy NK forcibly with bombs if that turns out to be the best strategy. In principle, I'd argue that complex diplomacy with dedicated intelligence works better than direct force.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×