Pages: 1 2
In fact, the military apparently has a larger stake in the country’s leadership than before the passing of Kim Jong-Il. Reuters is reporting that sources close to Pyongyang have sent signals that a “collective leadership” structure was put in place by Kim Jong-Il to guide his untested son. The structure is said to comprise a triumvirate that includes the younger Kim, his uncle and top military commanders.
In short, it seems the NKPA has all the more reason to sustain and protect the regime—or at least to sustain and protect itself. In other words, the prospect of a power struggle among military factions and regime loyalists is not out of the question. The parallel here might be the civil wars in Libya and Syria.
That brings us to an even scarier nightmare scenario: To consolidate internal control, the paranoid North Korean regime could lash out across the DMZ and send shrapnel in every direction. As a once-classified Pentagon report warns, there is “the possibility of conflict spurred by internal instability, miscalculation or provocation.” (In this regard, one wonders how many more unprovoked naval attacks and artillery barrages South Korea can ignore.)
The best version of this worst-case scenario would feature China doing the opposite of what it did during Korean War I: using its military leverage to end the North Korean regime rather than sustain it, to shorten the war rather than prolong it. But even a short war would be brutal and bloody. In their book The Next War, the late Caspar Weinberger and Peter Schweizer predicted that a second war on the peninsula would claim almost 19,000 American casualties—in less than 90 days of fighting.
Within easy range of the 11,000 artillery pieces that line the northern edge of the DMZ, Seoul would bear the brunt of the blow. Gen. Leon LaPorte, the former commander of U.S. forces in Korea, noted in 2005 that every third round fired by North Korea would be a chemical weapon. Perhaps worse, with the North Korean regime’s very survival at stake, the U.S., South Korea and Japan would have to expect the unexpected: modified long-range missilery, swarms of commandos, terrorist attacks, even nuclear weapons.
The fact that a second war would end the beastly Kim Dynasty is of little comfort. Such a war would give new meaning to the term “Pyrrhic victory.”
We can continue to hold out hope that the Kim Dynasty will fall like a rotten tree rather than explode like a time bomb. But since hope is no substitute for policy, Washington’s objective should be to brace for the worst, shield America’s allies in the region, cooperate with China where necessary and keep the powder keg from exploding. That’s how U.S. administrations have measured success in Korea for 58 years. Given what Korean War II would look like, it’s a worthy goal as Kim Jong-un takes the reins of the regime his grandfather forged in war.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2