Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Kim Jong-un is playing with fire

By Wang Jyh-perng 王志鵬

However, the third scenario would lead to an unstoppable conflict that would escalate into all-out war on the Korean Peninsula.

Until now, the US has responded to North Korea’s provocations by deploying advanced weapons. Assuming that all-out war does not break out and that Kim does not order a nuclear attack, the US military could use the situation as a testing ground for its military hardware, and to demonstrate the accuracy and effectiveness of its weapons.

Then, after any conflict, it would have a commanding position in the ceasefire negotiations.

As well as demonstrating the US’ ability and resolve to help maintain peace and stability in East Asia, it would be an excellent advertisement for US-made advanced weaponry. However, if such a conflict failed to deter Kim from continuing his irrational military actions, leading to the outbreak of all-out war or the launching of nuclear weapons, the consequences would be unimaginable.

Neighboring powers, notably China and Russia, have their own concerns and agendas. They do not want North Korea to spark a major war, but neither do they want to see the US achieve its objectives. Whether they decide to support Kim or try to have him replaced will depend on how the overall situation develops, and the eventual outcome could be a compromise between the major powers.

What is clear is that Kim has made the greatest possible error of judgement. The opening sentence of the ancient Chinese military treatise, Sun Tzu’s (孫子) Art of War, states that: “The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

Any leader who, like Kim, seeks to make political gains through military threats casts not only himself, but also his country, into the gravest peril.

Wang Jyh-perng is an associate research fellow at the Association for Managing Defense and Strategies.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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