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#51 Posted by Winternet (8025 posts) -

Because they like that half of the population is starving so they can have a strong and active military force?

#53 Edited by troll93 (391 posts) -

@truthtellah: When I was saying take over, I meant establish a more moderate North Korean government still fully linked to China but independent, not taking over the country like in tibet. If China just straight up annexed them, yeah, no really advantage. However, if they establish new government that will deal with all the things of running the country relying only on some aid now and then from China, actually grow to be a significant ally able to truly contribute to the alliance, grow to be generating enough income through various market reforms to be able to function as South Korea does in the US/SK alliance i.e. funding most of their own defence capabilities and not constantly forcing China to back them up over stupid international arguments, there is huge benefits to that.

At this very moment, are there enough benefits to outweigh the negatives, probably not, in 5-10 years, maybe, however, in my opinion, it is more likely that you would see Chinese troops disposing of the government and setting up a new one rather than US troops, as I can't see China accepting a US invasion of NK as they are still in the modern empire building stage, both projecting their influence and needing to demonstrate that they can 'enforce' it.

@azimuttyo: A lot of these things sound more a factor of it being a developing nation rather than anything do with Vietnam in particular. One dude I know from uni bought a hotel in Bali, Indonesia and through some laws about foreign ownership and general corruption, the government ended up taking it away without recompense.

#54 Edited by troll93 (391 posts) -

@azimuttyo: This post has made me decide to go to Vietnam for my next holiday. I always like to ask someone that has been to the place before, what kind of things should I be looking at? Should I hang around Hanoi or is there any place in particular that I should go? When I go I'll probably spend some time in the Ba Ria Vung Tau province as that is where my dad was stationed when he was conscripted during the war. Also, how much Vietnamese do I need to know, phrases or basic conversations?

Sorry to bombard you with questions out of the blue.

#55 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3810 posts) -

Capitalism, frankly, sucks. I'm glad to see North Korea as the very few "specimen" of the purest communism we could get in today's world, it really is interesting to study these countries. It gives us a better perspective as to how to make the world a more egalitarian place.

Go there. See how that works out for you. At least with capitalism ANYONE has a chance to become more financially successful than anybody working in our government, and that is the true meaning of egalitarian. That is absolutely not the case in North Korea.

Egalitarianism is not "everyone shares everything that they have with everybody, regardless of whatever skills they might possess, ideas they might have, or the effort that they might apply. There is nothing egalitarian about that, and that would be the IDEAL form of "egalitarian" government. It's never how things actually end up.

Hey! It's that guy who sings songs in the Toy Story movies! What the heck is he doing here?

#56 Posted by TruthTellah (9307 posts) -

@troll93: That's still very unlikely, and considering the cultural dynamic in Korea, near impossible. North Korea is on a countdown, and in some ways, that's by design. Their foundations are built on defensive buildup, and that comes at the cost of just about any investment in their future. Because the ultimate goal is reunification. That's everything for them. If China somehow removed the leadership from power, no moderate government could actually exist. That's part of the sad reality. There simply isn't a known infrastructure for non-dictatorial order in the country, and so, you would have to have one of two situations. If China came in and set up a new government, they'd basically have to take over the running and funding of everything. They would have a refugee nation, not something similar to what they have now. The other alternative is China helping a South Korean effort to retake North Korea, followed by allowing South Korea to manage that territory. South Korea actually has the will to do that. China can't have the current situation without the dictatorial rule. Without it, the whole house of cards just comes crumbling down. That's not a scenario anyone wants, and it's not really one I've seen entertained by any experts of the region.

So, while I agree that it would be sort of nice for China if they could somehow get a more moderate government in North Korea without giving them significantly more support, that simply isn't a possibility we're likely to see. It's also unlikely we'll see many US feet on the ground, as any action there would probably involve aerial and naval support with UN and South Korean troops securing the territory. The best scenario is the people of North Korea rising up against their government and then actively working toward a peaceful reunification with South Korea. But, unfortunately, there aren't many signs of that happening any time soon.

#58 Edited by Nivash (241 posts) -

@truthtellah: There would be a lot of US boots on the ground in any Korean war simply because they are already there: 28,500 men are stationed in South Korea according to the current agreement of which 19,755 are Army, 8.815 are Air Force and the rest are a few hundred Navy and Marines. Their primary garrison, Yongsan, is right in the middle of Seoul and is likely to be a first strike target for the North Koreans in a full scale conflict.

The only way to avoid US boots on the ground would be to pull them out before any hostilities which obviously won't happen for a score of reasons. You should also keep in mind that any "UN" forces would be almost exclusively American because of the simple fact that no other nation can redeploy the needed men and material fast enough to the area; the European NATO members being too far away in relation to their logistical capabilities and the neighbouring countries being too weak - Japan would be the best bet in that sector but for political reasons in both Japan and Korea, Japanese boots on the ground wouldn't be a particularly good idea.

South Korea would still have to bear the brunt of the fighting, of course, but there would be a lot of American blood shed as well - American casualties are expected to be the worst since Vietnam. Ten years ago, the Pentagon expected 300,000-500,000 South Korean and US casualties in the first 90 days of fighting. The situation has improved since then since North Korea is weaker today, both in relative terms compared to the allies and in absolute terms due to fuel shortages and hardware degradation. But American casualties in the tens of thousands is still a very real possibility - I'd say even the most likely one.

EDIT: As for China, I'm of the opinion that they are mainly using North Korea as a stalling tactic at this point. Chinese economic and military power is growing by the day and if they can keep North Korea standing for just two more decades they will be capable of standing up to the US militarily on more equal terms, at least within the Chinese zone of influence.

#59 Edited by troll93 (391 posts) -

@truthtellah: I understand where youre coming from, I just disagree with you. Everything that I have heard from interviews with North Korean refugees is that faith in the government is at an all time low, a black free market is rapidly growing as a result from the famine, there is a functional governmental structure that could rapidly convert to a Chinese style 'democracy' and a growing knowledge of the outside world through smuggled media. In addition, there economic base is actually in an ok position to then grow from is the economic policies of China are applied it will improve pretty decently. The workforce is of solid quality, lots of IT degrees in the workforce and at least the infrastructure around Pyongyang is of ok quality. The biggest thing that they need is saying ok, need need to sell stuff to the rest of the world and buy stuff from the rest of the world.

I remember reading an interview with a defector that was a lieutenant (I think, low level officer definitely who was saying that the lower levels of the military that were part of the newer generation, post famine that had very limited faith in the ability of the army to effectively wage a war. He estimated that only around 40%-50% of the troops under his command would be willing to fight a war, they were only in the army to ensure that they have food. They are not believers in the government, they don't really hate the South Koreans or the Americans, basically are in a similar state to the "youth" of middle east that just had the Arab spring. The biggest differences are that the older generation are still true believers in North Korea, the government is relatively effective at managing meetings which are essential for any kind of resistance, peaceful or non peaceful.

It seems, from the information that I am aware of from defectors is that there is a massive generational shift in North Korea post famine They know that North Korea is fucked up, they know that average Chinese person lives a lifestyle so far above what they do and they don't have the hate of the west and the south as the old generation because the largest impact in their lives was caused by the government. You can see this in the defections from North Korea. Since the generation that grew up in the famine became adults, people fleeing North Korea has increased exponentially. These are the people that would make up the core of a Chinese style government in North Korea.

However, I should note that in the interviews with the defectors that I have seen, most seem to want to return to North Korea, just without the government, and most seem to think that the Chinese government is ok.

And I say again, my original comment was that I think that you are more likely to see Chinese troops in North Korea than Us troops. I have never said that the Chinese invading is likely just in my opinion more likely than an US invasion.

#60 Edited by Nivash (241 posts) -

Oh, and I think this article is well worth a read for those interested in trying to understand North Korean foreign policy.

Here's an excerpt of the article's main points:

A Three-Part Strategy

First, the North Koreans positioned themselves as ferocious by appearing to have, or to be on the verge of having, devastating power. Second, they positioned themselves as being weak such that no matter how ferocious they are, there would be no point in pushing them because they are going to collapse anyway. And third, they positioned themselves as crazy, meaning pushing them would be dangerous since they were liable to engage in the greatest risks imaginable at the slightest provocation.


So long as the North Koreans remained ferocious, weak and crazy, the best thing to do was not irritate them too much and not to worry what kind of government they had. But being weak and crazy was the easy part for the North; maintaining its appearance of ferocity was more challenging. Not only did the North Koreans have to keep increasing their ferocity, they had to avoid increasing it so much that it overpowered the deterrent effect of their weakness and craziness.


Hence, we have North Korea's eternal nuclear program. It never quite produces a weapon, but no one can be sure whether a weapon might be produced. Due to widespread perceptions that the North Koreans are crazy, it is widely believed they might rush to complete their weapon and go to war at the slightest provocation. The result is the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea holding meetings with North Korea to try to persuade it not to do something crazy.

Read more:

Ferocious, Weak and Crazy: The North Korean Strategy | Stratfor

EDIT: If someone's wondering about the deleted posts, those are mine - they became double posts for some reason.

#62 Posted by TruthTellah (9307 posts) -

I really wish I was getting notifications. Are they broken for anyone else right now? Been this way for the last day...

@nivash Yeah, I'd agree that Americans would be in the war zone; I was more referring to a real US push of ground troops into North Korea. They're far more likely to defend South Korean territory and allow UN and South Korean forces to go in with US aerial and naval support. Plenty of American troops would be in harm's way, but you wouldn't have a more Iraq or Afghanistan kind of ground offensive from mainly the US. And, as far as who would make up the UN forces, I doubt any land offensive would be undertaken without plenty of preparations. Which would include having other countries' forces mobilize for an upcoming attack. Unless something changes drastically in the US government over the next few years(which, there could), I don't see them having much of any interest in being the bulk of any offensive or stationing many ground troops there. You'd likely see a lot of jets, missiles, and drones with as minimal ground support as possible.

@troll93 The scenario you described is still a very heavy investment on China's part. As bad as North Korea is, I just don't see them taking such action. If Chinese troops are going to be on the ground in North Korea, it's as a reluctant support to international forces taking the nation. And most of their efforts would probably just be at the borders trying to keep too many people from fleeing into China during the conflict. While I agree that North Korea isn't completely dead in the water, you're talking about a potential generational shift in the next few decades, not something really relevant to the immediate situation. There aren't visible opposition groups within the nation or any indication that the regime has lost its grip on all areas of power. Morale does seem to be down and the younger generation are waking up to some semblance of reality, but it's still a very challenging spot for any potential revolution. And while that would be an interesting turn of events, even a revolution in the country would probably require a bloody Syria-like conflict, with some former military using those resources to fight the majority military forces with heavier weaponry and perhaps even chemical weapons. And like in Syria, the international community couldn't just ignore that.

Any revolution would likely be in support of reunification, as well, as any leading revolutionary would be smart enough to realize that it would be the best thing for the nation to cease its conflict and reunify. Them establishing a separate moderate North Korean government next to South Korea simply seems like the last thing possible, if not the last thing anyone would even want. As much as some expats care about North Korea, most will generally care more about the country of Korea as a whole. And that will drive any moderate revolution to seek eventual reunification.

#63 Edited by troll93 (391 posts) -

@truthtellah: My notifications are fucked too.

I fail to see why China wouldn't be willing to expend the effort. They are the new superpower, that's what super powers do, expend vast amount of resources on dumb shit. That's why the US has spent the last 10 years invading Iraq and Afghanistan, it's why the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, it's why the British invaded Afghanistan. It allows China to show to the rest of the world that they have the biggest dick, and if it cost them a million men and a trillion dollars, it doesn't matter, China can afford that. It allows them to put themselves up on a pedestal like the US would do and say "hey world, look at us, we just took out a dictator".

North Korea is the most likely target because Nato 99% will not interfere, it's a far easier nut to crack for the first invasion of the modern China than the neighbours to the South, who very well might receive aid from the rest of the world. The once they have done that they can build themselves a new North Korea so that they can then use that as a credible opposition to South Korea and allow it to have it's own Miracle on the Han River. Let's not forget that after the Korean war, South Korea was a desperately poor place ruled for the next 40 years by a variety of military strongmen who organised coups and basically ran the place as dictators and yet out of that they managed to turn South Korea into what it is today economically. There is not a single reason why this could not happen to a North Korea run by a Chinese puppet.

#64 Posted by Nivash (241 posts) -

@truthtellah: I don't think a slow build-up of Non-US UN forces in South Korea for an invasion of the North is a feasible strategy. If you do it in preparations of initiating hostilities yourself you can't hide it; and once North Korea gets wind of it they would have no choice but to strike pre-emptively or be forced to fight an even greater force later on. If you respond to an invasion by the North then most NATO members would be caught off-guard and would largely be unable to respond before most of the fighting is over, providing they respond at all - South Korea is not a NATO member after all, and they could expect the US and ROK armed forces to handle it on their own. That means that you'd still have to use ROK forces in a primary role and US forces in a secondary. As for an actual push into North Korea I think you're largely correct in that US forces would not really be needed. If nothing else, then because at that point the worst of the fighting would already be over since the North is expected to amass most of their forces at the DMZ in an attempt to either desperately push deep into the South, or if that fails at least use their considerably fortifications to halt an advance into the North. North Korean forces are not particularly maneuverable, and if you can push past the DMZ you should be able to encircle the bulk of their forces and either force them into collapse or at least isolate them. A defense-in-depth is not expected.

At least for the time being the official US strategy in regards to the defense of South Korea is rapid redeployment of air- and naval assets with ground forces to follow. The extent of possible US ground operations in the North largely depends on how long the war lasts: if the current estimates that the North will run out of fuel within 30 days are correct, and the forces in the South are able to penetrate the DMZ, then the war would be relatively short and the US involvement minimal beyond the ground assets already in place and, like you say, jets, missiles and drones. But if it drags on? In that case the value of opening up a second front in North through an amphibious invasion using US Marines cannot be readily discounted. Keep in mind that thousands of dead Americans (including women and children living with the men at Yongsan, and other American ex-pats in Seoul) will easily lower the bar for such retaliatory action compared to the current political status quo.

Any post-war occupation would definitely be handled mainly by the South like you say, of course, again because of obvious reasons. UN Peacekeepers could play a role here, but if they do and how largely depends on the outcome of the war and the situation in the North. A short, decisive war with minimal South Korean casualties would leave them with enough men and resources to handle to situation on their own. Any devastation of the South is also a factor. In any case there would be a massive need for aid relief in both Koreas. But the aftermath is far more difficult to project than the war itself: will there be North Korean partisans? Will there be widespread ecological damage due to conventional warfare or WMDs? What about Seoul - what about the world economy? What will China do - and I'm not referring to active military involvement in the conflict, but how they will deal with refugees and aid.

In any case, the US involvement would not be like the last wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or any involvement since the last Korean war, really. Occupation is a non-issue as far as casualties are concerned compared to the actual fighting since everything points to this primarily being a quick, intensive, bloody, conventional war.

But I think I'm capping my comments on the possible war with that, I feel like I'm just reiterating what I wrote in the last North Korea thread and that I'm a bit off-topic. It's difficult to not "mention ze war" when talking about North Korea but this thread was supposed to be about economical politics, after all.