As I watched the news about North Korea making various threats, I wondered about the motivation of their leaders. While some regard their great leader as a goofball, it would be unwise to let that contempt lead us to mistakes in judgment. While they might be acting in a crazy way, their might be a method to their madness.
The stock answer is that North Korea wants attention and intends to use its bad behavior to gain concessions and aid. That is a reasonable possibility. After all, there is a established pattern of bribing countries to behave better.
One possibility that struck me was that North Korea actually wants us to invade. While this seems like madness, a little consideration shows that this could be a possibility.
One reason to think this is that the great leader might wish to go out in a blaze of glory. A battle with the world could do this. Of course, this assumes a level of madness that seems unlikely. So, let us reject this.
A second reason to think this is that North Korea might gain from a limited engagement with the United States and South Korea. They could very well make some incursions into South Korean territory, do some damage and then claim a victory of sorts. They might even decide to take and hold land. After all, they know that the United States is bogged down in two wars already and that we have very few troops in the area. They also probably believe that we will not use nuclear weapons. While this is less crazy than the first option, this also seems unlikely.
A third reason is the fact that being invaded by the US can be a financial gold mine. When we liberate or defeat a country, we do the opposite of the classic conquerors. Rather than subjugate the people and strip the country of wealth, we pour in billions to rebuild the nation, help its people, and strengthen its economy. Weirdly enough, being invaded and defeated by the United States would be a huge boost for North Korea. Well, for the folks we didn’t kill. While this seems crazy, it is something to think about.
Of course, the most plausible explanation of North Korea’s behavior is that they are engaged in political posturing to gain attention, to deal with domestic issues, and to try to get some concessions from other nations in return for backing away from their belligerent behavior.
There’s a joke in the military community that says the best way to have your third-world nation become viable is to fight a war with the US, then immediately surrender so the US will build you a whole new state.
That being said, I don’t believe that N. Korea is inviting an attack.
Analysts believe this war would be one of the bloodiest in recent history, with hundreds of thousands of civilian and military casualties. And the N. Korean regime would be devestated, and surely not be allowed to exist any further in any shape or form. They would lose this war, though admittedly it would be extremely destructive, as the N. Koreans possess at least ten confirmed nuclear weapons and the means to deliver the warheads. They also possess massive stocks of chemical and biological agents.
The geographic makeup of the Korean peninsula forms a viscious funnel in which locating enemy forces would be made easier and thus also, thier targeting by various weapons systems.
There is also the likelyhood, or at least possibility, that should a war appear inevitable, nuclear strikes could be initiated by the US in order to preempt the almost inevitable use of atomic weapons by the North Koreans. This in itself seems enough of a deterent that the N. Koreans don’t actually want an attack.
What we are seeing here is an entire regime infected by a cult mentality. As with all cults, the N. Korean regime has closed off its initiates from the outside world, lest they be infected with sanity.
Kim Jong Il also suffers form all the delusions present in cult leadership: A kind of god complex fertilized with the fearful panderings of a psycologically dominated populace.
Michael LaBossiere says
If the cult hypothesis is correct, then this makes the possibility that North Korea will start a war even more likely. Self-isolating and extreme cults have shown a tendency to end in self-destruction. Perhaps as the great leader is facing his own mortality, he might decide to take extreme action.
Also, the great leader might regard the power of his nation as being up to the task. North Korea does have a large army (one of the top four), nuclear weapons, and short-medium range missiles. He knows that America’s military is stretched thing and that the rest of the West is not big on fighting. North Korea has serious economic problems and a rich prize lies to the South. Seems like a possible scenario for war.
It actually makes since that North Korea would want us to attack. First of all, they got the “Home field” advantage, their mountainous terrain would make it difficult for our vehicles such as tanks, with the fact being that our tanks our used to battling in an open field. Air support for the most part will be out of the question for they would already be in dog fights with other fighters. They already have all of their civilians and military personel prepared for an attack from the U.S. Also North Korea’s military is very high in moral, they are VERY loyal to Kim Jong Il. I remember reading a story about one submarine getting caught by the border of South Korea and the whole crew committing suicide. Later a second submarine was then caught in fishing nets, once again most of the crew committing suicide but the few who did make it were two special ops operatives and reamined at large for 50 days and killed 11 of their pursuers. I’m not sure if they made it to their own counrty alive or not but I must say, those are some kickass guys. But while Korea has many advantages, so does the U.S. we are alot higher in technology( while their best Anti-Aircraft launcher is an upgraded version of the U.S’s in WWII, i’m not sure if it’s called the Wam-sum or something like that) We currently already have spy planes and sattelites watching them.