Political Physics: Are We (Should We Be) Going to War with North Korea? – Part II


Image Upload Credit: Kok Leng Yeo
Image Upload Credit: Kok Leng Yeo

Last week I posed a not so simple question. In so many words, is war with North Korea inevitable?

Tensions had come to a head last Monday when reports surfaced that North Korea had conducted another underground nuclear test that caused a seismic tremor in the northeastern part around the town of Kilju. According to US Geological Survey “a 4.7-magnitude quake was detected at 0054 GMT, 10 kilometers underground.” President Obama condemned the tests and argued that both the pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles flies in the face of the UN Security Council. He said, “The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community.”

Back then (you know all of a week ago), I wondered if we were headed for war because I was not sure that “action by the international community” would work any better than the myriad of sanctions that had already been employed.

When I posed my question back then, only one person responded. CH believed that the North was just grandstanding and that they were not really looking for fight. He said, “I have spoken to few South Koreans about the North and they equate it to paying protection to the Mob. They don’t think the North would attack them but it’s better just to give them the money instead of taking the chance that they might actual attack.”

I should also note that a friend of mine commented offline that my question was invalid because given that since the US was never a party to the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement (though the UN was), we are still at war with North Korea as we speak.

But that was all before this past Friday when according to the Associated Press “North Korea warned that it would act in ‘self-defense’ if provoked by the U.N. Security Council, which is considering tough sanctions over the communist country’s nuclear test, and followed the threat with the test launch of another short-range missile.” According to the North Korean Foreign Minister that his country would be forced to take “further self-defense measures” if the UN Security Council continues to provoke them.

What the hell does that mean?

Does it mean that if we sanction North Korea, they will try to blow us up…because sanctions are unavoidable. North Korea has not left the UN Security Council any room to move. They will issue a resolution in the near future condemning North Korea and issuing a new slew of sanctions.

Or dooes it mean that North Korea is just “preparing to defend [itself] against plans by the United States to launch a pre-emptive strike to overthrow its communist government”?

At 1.2 million strong, North Korea has the world’s largest military. I hope that CH is correct and that North Korea is just grandstanding because they are trying to extort us. But I have a bad feeling about this whole thing.

And even though General George Casey, the Army’s top officer, in one statement expressed “confidence” that the US and South Korea could successfully win a fight with the North, but then tried to downplay the whole question of war  in another statement, I remain unresolved.

Last week I posed a not-so-simple question: Is war with North Korea inevitable?

I am going to cheat a bit as I answer the question. I believe that a conflict with North Korea is inevitable. Whether or not that conflict will amount to full-on war depends on the extent of the viability of the North Korea nuclear and missile programs (e.g., do they truly have nuclear and missile capabilities to actually launch and detonate a nuclear weapon).

Townhall.Com is running a poll asking, “Is North Korea a credible threat to American security?”

85% of respondents, answered yes.

In truth, South Korea has far more to lose if and when a conflict with North Korea erupts.

But right now, I think that we are far past the question of yea or nay. The only real question now is the magnitude of the conflict. Are we talking Persian Gulf or Vietnam?

But hey, maybe I am wrong.  In this instance, I truly hope so.