Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prospects for Regime Change in North Korea

At the clip below, with Donald Kirk of the Christian Science Monitor. He speaks toward the end on the extreme dangers of a military overthrow in North Korea, especially a refugee crisis. Interesting how these dangers are raised primarily in the context of outside intervention, and not in the case of an implosion of the dictatorship in Pyongyang. Most problematic is the size of the North Korean forces, with nearly 1,000,000 troops under arms. A military incursion from the south would only be feasible with a combined contingent of American and South Korean units. The U.S. would provide air support off shore through carrier battle groups. Tokyo has indicated its support for military retaliation --- and Japanese military forces were deployed to Iraq in the first outside operations since WWII --- so perhaps the operation could be multilateralized. And then there's China. We can only speculate, but it's unlikely any force options would be available without some kind of support from Beijing. Regime change North Korea would require buy-in from all the major actors, and so far I don't see much realistic discussion of it on the Chinese side. (But see, "Is China About to Throw North Korea Under The Bus?") Certainly China relishes the regional prestige from propping up its NoKo client. But should the Kim dynasty continue its bellicose actions, perhaps leading to the additional loss of life, the situation will be an increasing reminder of the false peace of 1930s Europe. A huge blowout of historic proportions could be expected.

Kirk's got a report from yesterday: "Disillusioned South Korea Weighs Response to North Korean Flare-Up."

And New York Times has another installment on the diplomatic cables: "
Leaked Cables Depict a World Guessing About North Korea." And related news at Memeorandum.