The United States has all but solidified its climb-down after a militaristic month of April in North Korea. All of the joint military drills with Japan and all of the UN resolutions in the world are merely designed to obfuscate a deeper reality. America simply is afraid to attack North Korea, less because of North Korea itself but because they are fearful of creating a new war on the border with China. The recent passage of extended sanctions on Pyongyang by the UN Security Council is merely an affirmation of America’s continued policy of attrition over Korean matters.
US Secretary of Defence James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has spoken at a conference in Singapore where remarks about the alleged dangers of North Korea were balanced by a subtle but unmistakable attempt to shift the burden of responsibility onto China.
In reality, North Korea is not China’s responsibility and China knows it. America’s attempts to publicly patronise China into ‘doing something’ about North Korea ought to be understood as America’s arrogant way of admitting that like most of East Asia, the Korean peninsula is firm within China’s sphere of political influence and not that of the United States.
Mattis called North Korea’s weapons program a “clear and present danger” to the world before saying,
“The current North Korean program signals a clear intent to acquire nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, including those of intercontinental range, that pose direct and immediate threats to our regional allies, partners and all the world”.
He then stated,
“The Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community toward denuclearisation…
Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognise North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset”.
The truth is that China sees North Korea as neither. China sees North Korea as a sovereign state that ought to shift more towards a cooperative stance rather than a confrontational one. China like Russia is not happy at the unilateralism pursued by North Korea, not least because neither country want North Korea to be the convenient excuse for US molestation of Asia which China and Russia are a part of but the United States is not.
In this sense China like Russia wants North Korea to stop behaving in a manner which is almost as irresponsible, childish and flippant as that of the United States. North Korea if anything is like a mini-USA with a totally opposite ideology and geo-political stance. North Korea is not a Chinese puppet state as remarks like those of Mattis imply. In reality during much of the Cold War, North Korea was closer in terms of friendship to the Soviet Union than it was to China.
China would be furious if the US started a war on its border. The last time America did this, China responded. It was called the Korean War and America did not win it.
China will not allow this to happen again and even the most hawkish American figures know this.
This is perhaps why America is more content to observe ISIS’ war of aggression on Philippines than it is to start a war on a border shared by both Russia and China, in respect of North Korea.
Where America could have offered help to Philippines ,they are instead sitting and watching President Duterte’s country ravaged by terrorists. His crime? Realising what America now tacitly realises too: That China is the geo-politically king of Asia and Russia the king of Eurasia.