North Korea’s aggression thus threatens not only South Korea but Japan, too. Its leadership is as much national-fascist as communist, and has manifested deep hostility to the Japanese, who occupied the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. In short, Japan is getting real-life experience of what maritime Asia would be like without unipolar America power.
They are obsessed with short-term survival, most clearly expressed by their nuclear programme. Precisely because economic liberalisation could destabilise the fragile police state, the Kim family knows there is no way to guarantee survival except through a nuclear deterrent.
America’s fear of North Korea’s ability to proliferate – let alone to detonate – a primitive weapon in the face of an invasion is what brings Washington to the bargaining table.
America’s fear of North Korea’s ability to proliferate – let alone to detonate – a primitive weapon in the face of an invasion is what brings Washington to the bargaining table. The North Koreans know that if Saddam Hussein had nuclear capability in 2003, he and his sons would be in power today. Consequently they have invested much in their programme. They risk relations with neighbours South Korea and China precisely because of the programme’s centrality to regime survival.
A sudden implosion could unleash the mother of all humanitarian problems, with massive refugee flows toward the Chinese border and a semi-starving population of 23m becoming the ward of the international community – in effect the ward of the