(…just because a big bad-boy dreams of playing with very nasty toys)

Memories of the Korean War are bad enough for anyone who lived through it, so having a nightmarish vision of going back to the future…just because a big bad-boy dreams of playing with a very nasty toys…is not something to make one feel optimistic about the “future.”

There are any number of disruptive and unstable elements in this world of ours today, ready and more than willing to blow things apart, and North Korea is perhaps the most potentially disruptive and unstable one around. The fact that it seems determined to become a nuclear power…even if it means committing national suicide in the process of becoming one… beggars understanding.

While North Korea’s threatening behavior may be nothing more than puff-adder type posturing to make itself appear more fearsome than it actually is due to some kind of a misguided perspective about an existentialist threat…which doesn’t exist…the whim-driven  nature of its bad-boy leader’s character makes it too much of a gamble to ignore. Moreover, even without a nuclear capability, its conventional military forces pose just as much of a threat to its neighbors, and just as easily create another round of devastation across the entire Koran peninsula as it did before, back in 1950.

Thus the dilemma…how best to neutralize and constrain both its nuclear ambitions and its conventional military capabilities…without creating a firestorm of conflict that would impact the entire region around it…which is why neither China nor the US can continue to stand by and allow that to happen. That would radically cripple not only their mutual interests with each other, but those of South Korea and Japan as well.

There are few workable options to avoid such eventualities, and the most critical aspect about the situation is that it requires very careful well thought out joint Chinese and American counter moves to prevent things from igniting with a big bang. The only option that seems least likely to cause the most damage to everyone is a coordinated multi-pronged strategy. That is, with both China and the US applying coordinated pressures on any countries having diplomatic relations with North Korea to suspend them, thereby halting all international travel, trade, communication, financial transactions with it, while concurrently, coordinating whatever cyber capabilities they have to disrupt and sabotage North Korea’s nuclear related projects.


Lastly, and perhaps the most effective means of resolving the problem, is to quietly begin a covert campaign to subvert the loyalties of North Korea’s inner circle of political and military hierarchs surrounding its “Dear Leader.” The rationale for this being to eliminate an erratic latter-day Nero from power without actual regime change, by offering a negotiated arrangement with a Mafia-type syndicate guaranteeing their survival and retention of power and status. Such a development would avoid the potential chaos of a failed nation-state, and perhaps lead to a more peaceful level of co-existence between North and South Korea. In short we would be using that least endearing characteristic of human nature…greed…instead of military firepower to achieve that end.

From a Chinese perspective such an arrangement would avoid its concerns about having a unified Korea right at its Yalu River border, ease some of its internal security problems about it, and generate a much more viable multi-lateral economic traffic for itself. From a US perspective, both it and its regional allies would be freed from potential military confrontations and, as with China, benefit from increased economic activity and trade with both North and South Korea.

For those who might object to such a perhaps cynical realpolitik concept we can only ask: Would that be worse than the prospect of what we have right now?