Mon 15 Mar, 2004 12:59 pm
I'd like this to be a continuing thread where any news itemsrelated to the DPRK, or ROK would find a home. I try to keep abreast of whats going on on the penninsula, but the more eyes there the better. Of the three potential hot spots (Iran, China and Korea), Korea in my opinion may be the most likely to flare into open conflict in the near term future. China in the long run is more dangerous, but is more stable. The political situation inside Iran is volitile and probably will keep their focus internal for a little while. The Indian/Pakistani situation seems to be cooling just a tiny bit., The radical-leaning of die-hard ISI folks does pose a coup risk that could turn things around there in a heartbeat, but that may change for the better in the next 24 months. Hope springs eternal.
Hi, Asherman. Do you still think Korea is the most likely to flare up?
Things seem quiet for the moment. Apparently Jong-Il continues to be have the DPRK well in-hand. Eventually there will probably be a succession issue, but Jong-Il could live another 15-20 years. Both China and ROK will probably continue to improve it's economic position in East Asia, while conditions inside the DPRK will continue to deteriorate. How much can/will the North Koreans take before someone attempts a coup? A lot, and very few (perhaps, no one) inside will take the risk. Jong-Il might start something if conditions inside the DPRK become so bad that he would fear losing power.
As long as he doesn't push the nuclear button too often, or too hard, there isn't much threat from outside to his regime. He hasn't many weapons and they are of obsolete design. He has no reliable delivery system at this time capable of throwing further than Japan/Okinawa. Nothing is apparently being done to bring his long-range missile to readiness. It is a multi-stage rocket, but has never been stacked muchless test fired. If brought to readiness, he could reach some parts of the North American continent, but accuracy would probably remain a problem. Don't tug on Superman's cape, is a bit of advice that Jong-Il doesn't need since we went into Afghanistan and Iraq. Jong-Il is very unlikely to get into an atomic exchange situation when he so obviously doesn't have a solid pair against a full-house.
I don't believe that China, ROK, or the US will make any preemptive strike on the DPRK without very great provocation. Even so, I would rule out the first use of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, I expect that the DPRK will continue to undermine the ROK and make dangerous posturing toward the US and the rest of the world. If the DPRK were to change its negotiating methods, I would be very much surprised.
This remains a very dangerous area. On a scale of one to ten (10 being full-scale warfare with the use of nuclear weapons, and 1 being an unthreatened peace honestly pursued), the situation now is probably a 5 or 6.
I think that Southwest Asia is much more likely to become more violent. I'm concerned that Iran may acquire nuclear weaponry and it sure appears willing to use such weapons against Israel. Iran and Syria are both involved in keeping the fires burning in Iraq by providing logistical support, and safe haven for the insurgency. Saudi Arabia continues to fund and provide fanatics to radical Islamic terror organizations. Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians are up a notch, at least, during the last six months and peace there is further from realization than it has been in a long time. Radicals inside Eygpt have been quiet of late, but remain a worrisome element in the political stability of the country. If the radical faction should come to power in Pakistan, the present cooling of tensions between India and Pakistan could evaporate quickly. My score for the region currently is 7, plus or minus 1. No nuclear conflic on the immediate horizon. It is a complex area with complex problems that won't be easily solved. We have to be patient. I'm fairly confident that the U.S. is pursuing the best course available under the current circumstances.
I completely agree.
In the Mid-East region, do you foresee Iran acquiring nuclear weapons in the near future, and if not, why not? And if they did get them, do you think that would start a nuclear arms race in the region (Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Syria)?
I think Iran will acquire nuclear weapons within the next few years. They want them and have the resources to produce them. The assistance they've recieved from Pakistan and the DPRK has made possible the design of at least Hiroshima-capable warheads, and the means to deliver them throughout the region. There doesn't appear much to stop them. The UN will dither and dally without effect as usual. Even if some sanctions were imposed, Iran is already so isolated that it might have little effect. Only the U.S. and Israel have the backbone to act unilaterally, and both are currently constrained.
The U.S., I think would be unwilling to directly engage Iran for several reasons. Further stretching our military capability would be unwise at this time. Our conventional manpowr and logistical reserves are insufficient if the intervention esculated, or unforeseen additional requirements occured. The costs we are already piling up are alarming, and it would be hard to justify further increasing war costs. The political reaction abroad and at home would be negative. We are getting near election time, and the administration would, I think, be reluctant to hand the Democrats additional campaign fodder. For the U.S. to act would require a much greater and more direct a threat than I see currently on the horizon.
Will a nuclear armed Iran set off a regional arms race? No, I don't think so. Pakistan and India already have nuclear weapons, and their arsenals will probably exceed anything Iran can put together in the next 5 years. Afghanistan and Iraq are non-starters. Syria would have difficulties building and testing their own device(s) and probably don't feel much threat from Iran. The same goes for Egypt. The Saudi's and the Gulf shiekdoms are comfortable behind the American shield. The only State in the region that will be threatened by an Iranian Bomb is Israel, and they already have nuclear capacity.
Israel might like to send in an air strike, but that's a long distance through airspace that would present the IAF great difficulties. Suprise probably could not be achieved, and the Israeli's would be at a distinct disadvantage over a prepared Iran. The facilities are dispersed, hidden and hardened, so there would be a good probability that the damage inflicted would be outweighte by the cost in materiel, lives and world opinion. I don't think Israel will roll the dice.
In the long run, I believe that nuclear arsenals are becoming less desirable every year, and there will be fewer and fewer States that want to join the club. They are expensive to acquire, expenisve and troublesome to maintain, and the return on those pricey investments is almost zero. No one is likely to build a nuclear arsenal even close to that held by the U.S., and U.S. weapons are very accurate, clean and easily deliverable anywhere in the world on short notice.
Anti-American propaganda argues that the United States has Imperialist designs on the whole world. If that were really the case, our nuclear sword would be unsheathed. The so-called Republican conspiracy for world domination could seize any prize just by demonstrating its willingness to use those weapons. We don't threaten or blackmail the Saudi's for their oil, we go on paying whatever they demand. I really doubt that the French worried much about an impending U.S. nuclear attack on Paris in retaliation for their illegal deals to exchange useful miltiary goods for Saddam's oil. What the U.S. actually did was to import more old Burgandy ... hick.
Why is China a danger, and what danger does it pose to World peace?
China occupies a central position in Asia and has always been a dominent force there. If China is at peace and prosperous, the whole region is likely to remain stable. On the other hand any instability in China can spill over into adjoining areas very quickly. Flood, famine and disease have repeatedly struck China in the past, and they are likely to happen again in the future. Southeast China is the breeding ground for most of flu virises. Many believe that it is only a matter fo time before a deadly pandemic originatating in China might kill off between 20 and 50 percent of all humans on the planet. The Chinese public health and sanitation system is woefully inadequate to the threat, and its medical infrastructure would be overwhelmed quickly. That is a major threat and concern to the whole world.
China has the world's largest population, and its growth rate continues almost unabated. (NOTE: the male/female balance is out of whack as a result of State Sponsored attempts to slow the growth rate. What do you do when there are 10 or 20 lusty young men for every available girl? Put them in the Army.)
Most of the population live in densily settled regions that have been under cultivation for thousands of years, and it is very unlikely that food production can keep up with the number of mouths that must be fed. A major flood along any of China's major river systems, or a relatively small change in weather patterns could result in a famine of major proportions. Cut Chinese agricultural production by even a small percentage for few years, and millions would starve to death. Would the world be able to respond quickly and effectively to a major Chinese famine? Think Africa multiplied by 100. The government would be under great pressure and might easily fall. How would you like to live in one of the major rice producing countries of Southeast Asia, if 100 million starving Chinese wanted your crop? Wouldn't you feel threatened?
The Chinese land mass has large undeveloped natural resources, and Chinese industrial capacity has been growing like bamboo. This is widely considered to be a good thing, as more consumer goods are available to Chinese citizens. Let's take just one industry that has exploded in China over the last few years. Automobiles are one of the most desirable products in the modern world. Just a few moments ago in history, the Chinese had virtually no gasoline powered vehicles. Everyone rode bikes, or animals, or they walked. Today the Chinese are one of the world's largest producers of automobiles, and almost the entire production remain in the country. They don't export many, because the Chinese cars are not very well built yet and they don't have even rudimentary pollution controls, they are gas guzzlers. Millions of Chinese now have automobiles that require better roads than have ever existed in China. Chinese imports of gasoline and oil are skyrocketing, and that will increase demand on already limited oil reserves. The price for all petroleum products will continue to rise as the Chinese demand for oil grows. Chinese smog has been around a long time because they still use very dirty coal for cooking, heating, and energy production. Add on to that all those new automobiles without pollution devices. What will happen when 10% of the Chinese have cars? Now this is just one element in an economy that is just as explosive as any of Mao's revolutions. The problems faced by the CCP are becoming ever more complex and difficult to control. Will the Party really give up central planning and control as the country enters terra nova? They, the Party, are riding a very hungry tiger and it will be interesting to see how they dismount.
These are three different, but related trends and realities that could easily cause China to become a direct problem to the world. That would be so, even if we disregarded Chinese military capability.
China has a moderately large nuclear arsenal and can deliver warheads to any point on the earth. It has one of the largest military establishments in the world. The PLA's strength is in straight-leg infantry, with mostly obsolete artillery and armor design. The PLA is well-disciplined, but hasn't been under real fire since the early 1950's. The Air Force is also large, but the quality of equipment and aircrews is debatable. The Chinese Navy isn't a blue water navy, and lacks the ability to operate far from Chinese waters. These factors all constrain Chinese militarism to the region, with the greatest threats to Taiwan, Vietnam, India and other Southeast Asian countries. On the other hand, China operates one of the most active and effective intelligence services in the world and is focusing on acquiring high-tech military and industrial secrets. As time goes on we can expect Chinese military capabilities to drastically increase. Currently, there is little threat to China's neighbors, but the capability for extending its reach is worrisome. The current stability might easily vanish if China experiences a major fllod, famine, disease, or political/economic disorder.
China is a place that needs to be watched carefully, and helped as much as possible to over come the foreseeable problems that faces her.
the Chinese government knows the problems you mentioned above. Now I know why our government released some policies for such problems.
I believe our government is smart! They are in progress!
Your stating clears my mind to my nation.
China faces great, perhaps even insurrmountable problems. As you say, the Chinese government is aware of the problems and has adopted a number of policies to mitigate them. The question of whether those policies will be effective, or timely enough to prevent disaster from spinning completely out of control is unanswered, but of grave concern to the rest of the world. China is torn between a very conservative culture, a failed Communist doctrine, and the changes required to fully join the world economy and political community. I dare say, that almost everyone hopes that China will remain stable and unthreatening to world peace.
The demands of Chinese consumers, or the desirablility of large families with many sons, could wreck any policy no matter how well concieved. Agricultural productoin and the building of suppluses should be one of China's highest priorities to give other changes the best chance of succeeding. Recent openness in regard to the origins and spread of bird flu is a promising development. One of the greatest challenges is to find and maintain a balance between recognition of individual human rights, and the governmental control necessary to effectivly deal with the problems looming on the horizon. It would greatly ease political fears if China were to leave Tibet and come to a peaceful accord with Taiwan.