Australian news, and some related international items

USA needs a policy of containing Kim Jong Un’s regime, not eliminating it

Kim’s Nukes Aren’t a Bargaining Chip. They’re an Insurance Policy Climb into the North Korean dictator’s mind, and you can see that his aim isn’t to destroy Los Angeles but to save his regime. Bloomberg Michael Schuman, 7 Sept 17, 
North Korea looks pretty scary at the moment, firing off missile after missile, threatening to target Guam, and, on Sept. 3, testing what the regime claims was its first hydrogen bomb. And the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un—so ruthless he may have had members of his own family murdered—might be just crazy enough to push the button to initiate a catastrophic war.

Or maybe not. Look deeper, and you’ll find a North Korea that isn’t as much of an immediate danger to the U.S. as the headlines and rhetoric suggest. That’s because Pyongyang isn’t very likely to use its nukes and missiles against the U.S.—or anyone else.

 Don’t get me wrong: North Korea still presents a huge security risk to East Asia and the world. Kim’s neighbors include three of the world’s 11 largest economies and two of America’s closest allies, Japan and South Korea. No U.S. president would want to see Pyongyang lob a missile into Tokyo or Seoul, let alone Hawaii.

But climb into the mind of Kim—as terrifying as that may sound—and we can conclude that his aim isn’t to destroy Los Angeles but to save his own skin. This is a regime that was never expected to still be around in 2017. When the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union unraveled more than a quarter century ago, North Korea was supposed to vanish with them. The regime has since outlasted economic and political isolation, stiff international sanctions, and famines so severe that they may have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. But through it all, the Pyongyang government has persisted. That speaks to the cunning of the Kim family, which has lorded over the country since its founding by the current Kim’s granddaddy in 1948. They’re survivors.

 And that’s what Kim is striving to do today: survive. He’s not out to conquer the world or even expand his influence in his own neighborhood. Kim and the Pyongyang elite must recognize that the odds are against them and their backs are to the wall. …….

Here’s where the nukes come into play. Pyongyang believes they’re the best, and possibly only, deterrent against evaporation, absorption, or annihilation. That’s why the regime has never been truly willing to trade its nuclear program for other benefits—something Washington has tried to do since the 1990s. The nukes aren’t a bargaining chip. They’re an insurance policy.

Yet the very same weakness that drives Kim’s mania for nuclear weapons is why he can never use them, at least not as an aggressor. As President Trump has already warned, any such attack would be met by “fire and fury.” That comment was irresponsible, but the point is true nevertheless. Kim likely isn’t delusional enough to think his country could survive an all-out war with the U.S. and its allies. Proactively launching a nuclear-topped ballistic missile against the U.S. would mean his own destruction. That’s why it won’t happen. The U.S. Defense Department in its 2015 report said that even though the country remains a continuing threat, “North Korea is unlikely to attack on a scale that would risk regime survival.”

If we see Pyongyang’s motivations in this light, the policy course the Trump administration is taking is all wrong. Threats of fire and fury will only make Kim more paranoid and more certain that he needs nukes to defend himself or deter an aggressive Washington—……

At this stage, with Kim already in possession of nukes and maybe the ability to deliver them, the only viable option for Washington is to accept this reality and deal with Pyongyang as it does with any of the world’s other nuclear powers. This may sound terribly distasteful, and the course presents its own risks—mainly, that North Korea’s neighbors, especially Japan and South Korea, will feel the need for nuclear weapons of their own, leading to a regionwide, potentially destabilizing arms race. Washington would also have to work hard to ensure Pyongyang doesn’t spread its know-how to other rogue states or terrorist organizations that might be less wary of using it—such as Islamic State.

But the U.S. has successfully dealt with the appearance of other nuclear powers, whether China, India, or Pakistan, and it may have to do so again, this time by containing the North Korean threat instead of attempting to eliminate it. ……


September 8, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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