Who’s Being Unreasonable?

18 Apr

SK ChaebolThe key to Pyongyang’s “insanity” could be the necessity to anchor itself to a single principle.

But put away the swords and the blinders for the moment and go back to the basics:  The first axiom of politics is a leader’s (or collective leadership’s) determination to remain in power.  That’s lesson one, political science 101.   In Pyongyang, the transfer of power is dynastic.  The country may call itself socialist, workers or communist but in reality it is governed through an age old form of familial leadership based on an historic Asian dynastic model. Moreover, over the years, the North Korean dynasty has been propped up by the country’s military with China’s acquiesce and sometimes more.


If North Korean leaders were to relinquish the nuclear weapons option and ratchet down their bombastic rhetoric, then what would be left to keep them in power?  In essence, those particular cats’ paws would become clawless and the cat’s jaws fangless.

Lest we not forget, the South is an economic powerhouse much like the Federal Republic of Germany in 1989 and the North is far poorer than East Germany was.  Lest we also not forget, South Korea’s economy is far from fragile and neither is Japan’s.

As in Berlin and along the entire German border between East and West throughout the Cold War, the US military perches near Korea’s DMZ and sits on bases elsewhere in South Korea with weapons and antennae trained northward.  US forces are there through a mutual defense alliance with the South Koreans signed 60 years ago.  US bases are also in Japan. Meanwhile, the Russians have all but disappeared from North Asia and Chinese-North Korean relations are no longer as strong as they once were.

China is not governed by a dynasty – nor are its current leaders particularly close to Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s new apparently Swiss educated young leader who, unlike his ancestors, is not part or parcel of the increasingly weak Communist international old-boy fraternity.

Secretary of State John Kerry just made his first trip to South Korea before moving on to Beijing. This is not insignificant and his remarks should be read carefully.

His maiden visit there coincided with the 60th anniversary of the demarcation of the armistice that ended the Korea War, the 60th anniversary of the mutual US-South Korea defense treaty and the 60th anniversary of the American Chamber of Commerce in Seoul.

So, who in Seoul is Washington protecting?


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