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Blaming "hostile" U.S. policies, Korea said "We have already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and have manufactured nukes to cope with the Bush administration's ever more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle" North Korea.
It's now increasingly clear that President Kim Jong-il's North Korean government has used two years of nuclear proliferation talks as a stalling maneuver to gain time to complete development of its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has already demonstrated the ability of its missiles to reach past Japan, and it's suspected that they're able to reach California, although not with the ability to hit a specific target.
This is only the most recent of a series of steps that indicate strongly that North Korea is planning a preemptive nuclear attack on South Korea, Japan, California, and possibly China. The goals would be to reunite Korea by force, under control of the Kim Jong-il government, exterminate as many Japanese as possible, expel the Americans permanently, and give the united Korea hegemony over the region.
In January, 2003, I wrote the following: "North Korea is a pressure cooker waiting to explode, as North Korean president Kim Jong-il is becoming increasingly belligerent on an almost daily basis, and he seems determined to launch a nuclear war in the region, with worldwide implications. Korea has restarted its nuclear reactors, and according to one analyst, Korea will have enough plutonium for a dozen nuclear weapons by the end of 2003. Listening to Kim Jong-il, there can be little doubt that he's thinking in terms of a nuclear war -- a nuclear missile for Tokyo, a nuclear missile for Seoul, and his million-man army bursting into South Korea and taking control. This is the road we seem to be on, and there's nothing that President Bush or anyone else can do to stop it."
It's now clear that Kim has continued steadfastly on this path over the last two years. In April of last year, Kim ordered the Workers' Party, the military, and all officials to assume wartime readiness, according to leaked documents. At that time, Russia became so alarmed about Kim's provocative statements that it took "preventive action" to defend its population in the region near Korea.
Outside of a few provocative statements, this wartime mobilization was kept secret throughout the last year, as Kim used the nuclear proliferation talks to stall for time. This secret mobilization, along with the political strategy of blaming the U.S., is a typical strategy used historically by countries planning preemptive wars.
North Korea appears to be following, in a compressed time frame, a sequence of steps followed by Japan prior to World War II.
Korea was invaded, conquered and colonized by Japan in the early 1900s. Korea suffered greatly from the violence and atrocities of World War II, which started for them in 1932, when Japan used North Korea as a launching pad for its invasion of Manchuria (northeastern China).
In 1933, America and Britain led the League of Nations and the world into imposing an oil embargo on Japan as sanctions for the invasion of Manchuria. This was a "non-violent" act, but Japan considered it an act of war because it was devastating to the Japanese economy. Japan's reaction was to permanently walk out of the League of Nations, a move that was clearly done in anticipation of war. One thing led to another, and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. This shows how even "non-violent" acts can be taken as acts of war.
There's a startling parallel between Korea today and Japan in the 1930s. In January, 2003, there was talk about possible economic sanctions against North Korea, to induce it to stop its development of nuclear weapons. North Korea's news agency this "part of the US-tailored containment strategy against the DPRK [North Korea]." It said, "The strategy means total economic sanctions aimed at isolating and stifling the DPRK. Sanctions mean a war and . . . war knows no mercy. The US should opt for dialogue with the DPRK, not for war, clearly aware that it will have to pay a very high price for such reckless acts."
These statements were a clear echo of Japan's statements in 1933. Since last January, North Korea has mobilized for war, continued further development on nuclear weapons, and now has pulled out of the nuclear non-proliferation talks.
Many analysts believe that North Korea has to hold back for fear of retaliation from America and China.
Kim has carefully studied America's successes and weaknesses in the war with Iraq, and undoubtedly believes that he can withstand the expected American counterattack. America is already overextended militarily throughout the world, and would not be capable of bringing a large army to bear on the region. America could retaliate with missiles, but they won't help much, unless American also wants to bomb its South Korean ally, as North Korea's million man army pours across the DMZ (demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea). The missiles could strike North Korea's military installations, but Kim will already have evacuated and dispersed them.
Retaliation from China is not a sure thing, in my opinion, for several reasons:
China's belligerence with respect to Taiwan has been increasing lately, though it hasn't reached nearly the belligerence exhibited by North Korea. But it's quite likely that all these separate threads are coming together.
Some journalists, pundits and analysts today are speculating that North Korea's claims are just a bluff.
Thus, Hanns Guenther Hilpert, an East Asia analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, said: "The world has been blackmailed by Pyongyang for years to get energy, food and economic aid. The danger North Korea is now facing is that the United Nations may seek to enforce economic sanctions and China, which has vetoed such action in the past, may now go along."
But this is crazy talk. North Korea has already publicly committed itself to treating economic sanctions as war, and will never back down from that position.
There's one more factor that's seldom mentioned: the North Koreans may well feel that they have nothing to lose by going to war. Poverty is so deep in North Korea, and poverty is one of the main generators of civil war. Even if a civil war in the short run can be avoided, poverty is only going to continue increasing. Thus, Kim may see a forceful reunification with South Korea as the least destructive of the choices available to him.
There are some things we can be sure of: North Korea is in a generational crisis period typical of countries that initiate genocidal crisis wars. North Korea is mobilizing for war, and has developed nuclear weapons and the missiles to carry them. North Korea is determined to reunify Korea by force and eject America. North Korea wants blood revenge against Japan for the latter's atrocities during and prior to World War II. North Korea has already laid the political groundwork for a pre-emptive war by blaming its actions on "hostile" U.S. policies.
What we cannot be sure of is North Korea's time frame. Has Kim Sung-il chosen a "date certain"? We don't know, of course. He may instead be waiting until a suitable time or a triggering event. A triggering event might be, for example, another conflict somewhere in the world that would distract America and stretch its forces even further. Or a triggering event might be civil unrest in China. Or it might simply be a provocative (in Kim's view) act by America.
North Korea could have used the nuclear talks indefinitely as a stalling maneuver, so the fact that they walked out gives me the feeling that they plan to make their move sooner rather than later.
There's another reason to think that. As I wrote last year in "Unrealistic expectations worldwide about the American election are setting the stage for hostile reactions next year," all of America's previous crisis era catastrophes (Civil War in 1961, stock market crash in 1929, Pearl Harbor in 1941, 9/11 in 2001) have occurred in the year following a Presidential election.
There are very good reasons for this. For example, Japan waited until the 1940 Presidential election to see who would replace FDR after two terms, and whether America would become more friendly to Japan. Imagine Japan's shock when the hated FDR because the first President to win three terms! The Civil War clearly began as a result of Abraham Lincoln's election, and Osama bin Laden may have decided to wait to see if the 2000 election would change America's policy toward Israel and Saudi Arabia before giving the go-ahead on the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The same dynamic may well be going on today. News reports last year indicated that Kim Jong-il strongly favored a victory by John Kerry over George Bush in the Presidential elections, and was extremely disappointed when Bush won reelection. Just as the reelection of the hated FDR caused Japan to launch its pre-emptive strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the reelection of the hated George Bush may cause Kim to follow a similar path in 2005.
Finally, as I've described, Korea is one of the six most dangerous regions of the world, in that a regional war is almost certain to explode quickly into a world war. We have security treaties with South Korea and Japan that would immediately force us to enter a pre-emptive war begun by North Korea. The conflict would almost certainly be enough to trigger further unrest in a China that's already unraveling, and lead to China's approaching civil war, which would bring the struggle over Taiwan into the war. From there, it would only be a matter of weeks or months before Islamic militants take advantage of the distraction to launch attacks in the Mideast and the Caucasus regions, especially targeting the hated Israel. It's possible that it could all happen by the end of this year.