World View: North Korea Reveals Major Change in Strategic Direction

This morning’s key headlines from

  • North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction
  • North Korea’s ‘clarification’ of the New Year speech
  • The stark choice facing the Trump administration

North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction

I believe that this is an artist's rendering of what North-South negotiations in Panmunjom will look like. The talks are scheduled for next week. (Yonhap)
I believe that this is an artist’s rendering of what North-South negotiations in Panmunjom will look like. The talks are scheduled for next week. (Yonhap)

A few days ago, I quoted a couple of sentences from the New Year speech of North Korea’s child dictator Kim Jong-un. It now appears that the speech fits into a much larger North Korean strategy, so I’m quoting a lengthier excerpt, translated directly from the original Korean by KGS Nightwatch:

A significant achievement accomplished last year by our party, state, and people is the fact that we achieved the great historic cause of the perfection of the state nuclear forces.

A year ago, precisely at this place, I, representing the party and the government, made public that the preparatory work for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic rocket was being carried out in the finishing stage, and many rounds of test launches were conducted in a safe and transparent manner over the past year for its implementation, and its definite success was proved to the whole world.

Last year, we conducted a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon test as well, in addition to all kinds of nuclear delivery means, and thereby successfully and victoriously achieved our general aim and strategic goal, and our Republic, at long last, possessed a powerful and reliable war deterrent that no force and nothing can reverse.

Our state nuclear force can smash and respond to any nuclear threat by the United States, and it serves as a powerful deterrent that restrains the United States from the adventurous game of playing with fire.

The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state.

The United States should clearly know that the fact that the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range, and that a nuclear button is always on my office desk, are never a threat but reality.

The nuclear weapons research and rocket industry sectors must mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets, whose might and reliability are already firmly guaranteed, and put spurs to the work of deploying them for action.

It is also necessary to always maintain an immediate nuclear counterattack operational posture to cope with the enemies’ nuclear war maneuvers.

Speaking of the winter Olympic games to be held soon in South Korea, they are a good opportunity to demonstrate the nation’s status and we sincerely hope that the games will be held successfully. From this aspect, we are willing to take necessary measures, including sending a delegation, and the North and South authorities can urgently get together for this. It is natural for the people who share the same blood to be happy together and help with fellow countrymen’s happy events.

The speech was considerably harsher and more belligerent than has been reported in the mainstream media, which have mostly focused on the “nuclear button” button on his desk.

Donald Trump tweeted the following in response:

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

The mainstream media responses to this appear to have been written by teenage idiots. Some question his mental state, and as I’m typing this, I’m watching CNN discuss this topic: “Psychiatrist to lawmakers: Trump is unraveling.” As one analyst on Fox pointed out, the loony left accused Goldwater, Reagan and both Bushes of being mentally unstable, so the latest rounds of loony left comments are no surprise.

There is no question in my mind that Trump’s tweet had a strategic purpose. One possibility – and this is the sort of thing I’ve suspected for a while – is that Trump is trying to goad Kim into doing something stupid, to justify an American attack to take out North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon capability. A more prosaic possibility is that he is trying to force Kim into a box to reduce his negotiating leverage, and that apparently has happened with regard to South Korea.

Trump takes the credit for planned talks between North and South Korea:

With all of the failed “experts” weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!

As I’m typing, CNN is now broadcasting an interview with an analyst, Ian Bremmer, who is critical of Trump but describes a likely strategic purpose of Trump’s tweets: He is crediting Trump with causing China to take a harsher position against North Korea, and possibly causing North Korea to talk to South Korea, while adding that the tweets might backfire and result in a miscalculation that causes a war. Reuters and KGS Nightwatch and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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North Korea’s ‘clarification’ of the New Year speech

Following Kim’s New Year’s speech, a North Korean official announced that the hotline between North and South Korea has been reactivated for the first time since February 2016. There were apparently negotiations conducted over the hotline, there may have been a decision that a North Korean delegation would attend the South Korea Olympics in February, and North Korea may have been informed that South Korea and Donald Trump had acceded to the North’s demand to postpone the joint military drills between South Korea and the US until after the Olympics. There are reports that talks between the North and the South will begin on January 9 in Panmunjom.

On Wednesday, North Korean media issued a “clarification” of Kim’s New Year speech beginning:

Comrade Kim Jong Un, who is chairman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea State Affairs Commission, after receiving a report — that South Korea’s Ch’o’ngwadae announced official support and welcome upon hearing his stand on participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Games and the issue of improvement of North-South relations that he announced in the 2018 New Year’s address, and that at the first cabinet meeting on 2 January, president Moon Jae-in personally expressed an active intention of support and instructed relevant sectors to establish working-level measures — gave a highly positive assessment of it and expressed his welcome for it.

Here is the KGS Nightwatch analysis of the full clarification:

The so-called clarification is Kim’s follow-up to South Korea’s acceptance of his offer. It is unprecedented. Kim’s personal involvement indicates he sees this proposal as much more than an offer to participate in the Olympics.

The agreement to work with South Korea is now as formal as an exchange of notes can get. Kim mentioned South Korean President Moon by name in respectful fashion. This is the first time he has done so.

Kim personally ordered agencies and organizations to begin working-level measures that reciprocate the measures that President Moon ordered. The listing of the party and government organizations that received direct orders from Kim reinforce the judgment that this is a highest priority, serious initiative and stratagem.

We have mentioned in prior editions of NightWatch that Kim’s highest objective in the nuclear and ballistic missile programs has been to hold one of more US cities hostage to a nuclear missile threat for the purpose of keeping the US out of a future Korean war. The logic of that position also applies to North-South in general, especially reunification.

For Kim Jong Un, the proposal to participate in the Olympics is not just a first step towards improving North-South relations. It also is his first initiative in the new strategic environment in which, in his view, South Korea cannot necessarily rely on the US for automatic protection, owing to the threat to US cities.

This is not the same old wedge-driving tactic. In our judgment it is the start of the second phase of Kim’s reunification strategy. The first phase was to complete the strategic nuclear force so that it deters the US. The second phase is to manipulate the Korean political climate under that new strategic condition.

A key question for Kim and his acolytes is whether South Korea will react differently to North Korean overtures, now that the US is under a North Korean nuclear threat. The Olympics proposal tests whether North Korean nuclear blackmail makes South Korea more cooperative. If it is successful, Kim may be expected to cite it as an example of what can be accomplished by the Koreans working together without US interference.

Kim’s authorization of a clarification suggests that he and his men are interpreting President Moon’s enthusiastic response to Kim’s proposal as an initial success in phase two. For example, the US Ambassador to the UN said the US would not take the North’s proposal seriously absent a move on denuclearization. That statement is out of step with the South Korean response to Kim’s proposal.

Kim’s strategic weapons are integral to his reunification strategy. Moon thus far is validating Kim’s estimate of the prospects for improved relations with South Korea without the US under North Korean leadership.

Yonhap News (Seoul) and KGS Nightwatch and CNN and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

The stark choice facing the Trump administration

Kim’s New Year speech contains some extremely harsh messages that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media:

According to Kim, North Korea now has “a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon” such that “the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range,” so that “The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state.” North Korea will “mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets,” in order to create an arsenal of such weapons.

We know that North Korea will not hesitate to sell its missile and nuclear technology. In 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria that had been built by the North Koreans. There is little doubt that North Korea would once again sell its technology to Syria, Iran, and another other rogue nation.

So that is the disastrous reality that the Trump administration is facing. Those idiots who are calling Trump “mentally unstable” and such are people who are endorsing the decades of policies that have inevitably led to this disastrous reality.

Trump has indicated that he will not permit the above reality to occur. I have quoted other officials, such as Lindsey Graham, who say that a war between the U.S. and North Korea is inevitable. In fact, I’ve quoted high-level Chinese officials quoted in Chinese media saying that a war before March is likely.

As regular readers are aware, I have frequently described how Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief adviser. Bannon is an expert on world history and military history and, through our association, is also an expert on Generational Dynamics theory and analysis. Trump’s foreign policy in the last year has not only been completely strategic and rational, it has been entirely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses of what’s going on in the world, in particular the certainty that a war with North Korea cannot be avoided.

As everyone knows, during the last two days there have been explosions and fireworks in the media over name-calling between Trump and Bannon. A split between Trump and Bannon does not mean that Trump no longer believes that a war with North Korea is inevitable.

Kim Jong-un is aware of all this as well, and a large part of Kim’s strategy must be to derail Trump’s plans, whatever they are. This is a crucial point that the KGS Nightwatch analysis misses. There is absolutely no way that Kim is going to get away with using nuclear blackmail to allow him to create a nuclear missile arsenal aimed at the U.S. For that matter, Japan, South Korea, and even China will not allow that kind of blackmail, since they know that Kim would just continue blackmailing them on other issues, and that Kim could turn those missiles on them, and also sell the nuclear and missile technology to other Asian states.

The South Korean Olympic games are scheduled to run from February 9 to February 25. Whether the child dictator’s new strategy will work should become evident soon after that. National Interest and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, North Korea, Kim Jong-un, South Korea, Moon Jae-in, Panmunjom, Ian Bremmer, PyeongChang Olympic Games, Syria, Israel, Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Japan, China
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