Is war coming to the Korean peninsula? — RT World News

With nothing to lose and limited time to achieve certain geopolitical goals, Kim Jong Un may choose conflict as his only option.

by Timur FomenkoPolitical analyst

A few days ago an analytical piece appeared on North Korea research website 38North With a title that begs the question: “Is Kim Jong Un preparing for war?

38North is a respected source of analysis and does not promote any agenda or sensationalism. This particular piece is by Robert Carlin and Siegfried Hecker, who are also not known for being alarmists.

Their argument is as follows: North Korea tried to pursue the normalization process with the United States, especially during the Donald Trump administration in 2018-2019, and failed after Trump withdrew from the February 2019 meeting in Hanoi. After those efforts failed, Pyongyang has now effectively “surrendered.” It believes it has no options left, and has continued to develop its nuclear program and increasingly harden its position, thanks to the geopolitical context regarding Russia and China.

We may note early on that this assessment does not provide “hard” evidence that North Korea is pursuing such a path, and relies only on changes in Pyongyang’s rhetoric to argue that North Korea’s claims are not a “threat” but rather a true reflection of its strategic policies. position. Many things have changed since 2019 that should be taken into account: the Biden administration has no interest in negotiating with North Korea, and a hostile presidency has come to power in Seoul led by Yeon Suk-yul, a pro-Japanese man who has abandoned reconciliation. Moon Jae-in's approach, while the US confrontation against both Russia and China has given the DPRK new options to try to undermine the isolation it experienced during the era of US unipolarity.

For this reason, the United States has completely lost its ability to hold North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs accountable, with new sanctions blocked at the United Nations by Moscow and Beijing, and existing sanctions not being implemented. North Korea is increasingly capable of striking the American homeland with intercontinental ballistic missiles. This also makes unilateral preemptive military action by the United States against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea increasingly unrealistic. But why would this enable Kim Jong Un to pursue a war of choice against South Korea, and if he started one, would he have a real chance of winning?

North Korea's entire diplomatic strategy from the 1950s onwards has always been to exert maximum influence for itself as a small state, by creating crises. This is the ultimate focus of Juche ideology on independence and sovereignty at all costs, even for its own population. To this end, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has always been provocative, whether or not it is American soldiers were killed with axesCapture of the American spy ship USS Pueblo, Indiscriminate bombing of South Korean islands Or even sinking a South Korean warship during training exercises. In doing so, it aims to suppress the hands not only of its enemies, but also of those who sympathize with it.

Aware of its crucial strategic position, Pyongyang had no problem at all with drawing Moscow and Beijing into a crisis whether it wanted to or not, and was happy to cause major problems during the Sino-Soviet split. Therefore, in an era in which China and Russia are in a state of tension – and even confrontation – with the United States, North Korea is finally calculating an opportunity for itself and its expanded influence. Kim Jong Un will realize that neither country in such a geopolitical situation can tolerate the fall of his regime and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula on US-centric terms, which, for China, places a US military presence right next to its border. .

Indeed, even though Kim Il Sung started the Korean War in 1950 and then faced defeat at the hands of the United States and its allies, China still saved him – and at that time it was much weaker than it is now. So does Kim Jong Un fancy his chances of unleashing full-scale war again on the Korean Peninsula, assuming that China will be forced to intervene? This is not outside the realm of possibility. Does Kim want the United States and China to normalize and improve relations? Of course not, because it means they will cooperate Against him To force him to disarm. As for the benefits of such reconciliation for the global economy, why would Kim care about that when his country is poor and isolated from said global economy anyway?

So where does this leave the Democratic People's Republic of Korea? It leaves Kim Jong Un with a window of time to achieve a series of geopolitical goals and objectives, in a context that suits him, which raises the possibility that tensions will somehow escalate dangerously. We have already seen how similar considerations have led to a full-scale war, or now two, in the Middle East. We cannot determine whether these events might lead to the outbreak of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, but it would be foolish to rule out this possibility, in light of the world we live in today.

Multipolarity has arrived and heralds the collapse of the US-centered unipolar order that forcefully imposed stability as a one-way street. Clearly, many assumed that the Soviet-era DPRK army could be destroyed by crushing US and allied forces in the same way as Saddam Hussein's army did in 1991 and 2003, but that was a different world. Here, you have a nuclear-capable Democratic People's Republic of Korea that has external backers who, while they would never want such a conflict, cannot see the country collapsing. North Korea has made attempts at peace but has been met with America's absolute unwillingness to reach a settlement – ​​so what options does Kim have for dealing with South Korea?

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of RT.

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