Reports that South Korea is setting up a Special Forces unit numbering 2,000 men tasked with killing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the event of war comes directly after Kim Jong-un recent address that North Korea is close to having its first intercontinental ballistic missile (“ICBM”), which supposedly is to be tested over the course of this year.
The South Korean announcement is in some respects unsurprising. Though true understanding of the inner workings of North Korea’s leadership barely exists outside the secretive state and possibly China, the one thing that does seem clear is that it is highly centralised around the ‘Great Leader’ (currently Kim Jong-un) and his family. Whether killing Kim Jong-un really would paralyse North Korea in the way the South Koreans appear to hope or whether it would merely provoke the North Koreans to exact further vengeance for the murder of their ‘Great Leader’ is another matter.
More probably the South Korean announcement is intended to deter North Korea from further aggression at a time of steadily growing tension.
If so then in my opinion this announcement is completely misconceived. Everything that is known about North Korea suggests that far from deterring it a threat of this kind against the life of its ‘Great Leader’ is far more likely to provoke it.
This episode shows once again the utter bankruptcy of Western and South Korean policy towards North Korea.
I have previously written two articles for The Duran on the subject, the first pointing out that the West’s policy of confrontation towards North Korea has achieved precisely nothing, so that today North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes are forging ahead, and a second in which I pointed out that it was the West’s constant harping about those programmes and its obsession with regime change which were the reason why North Korea launched them in the first place.
Yet in spite of the utter failure of the existing policies, the South Korean announcement shows that the only thing South Korea and the West know how to do is to escalate and double down on these failed policies. Unfortunately Donald Trump’s pronouncements on this issue suggest that he knows no better.
I am not one of those who thinks the threat from North Korea is being overstated. On the contrary I think it is very serious, even if almost completely misunderstood. There is however still time to turn thing round, and we are not yet close to the point of no return. However we are gradually approaching it, and the situation is becoming steadily more dangerous. If the situation goes on drifting as it is, in a decade we could have a disaster on our hands.
I would repeat again the point I made in my first article
The worst possible scenario for the US and everyone else is an uncontrolled nuclear arms race in Eastern Asia, which over time would risk drawing in China, Japan, South Korea and possibly even Russia and the US, and over which – because of the US’s intransigent refusal to talk to the North Koreans – there would be no upper limit and no agreed rules.
That would be potentially an extremely dangerous situation – far more so even than the nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR in the 1950s and 1960s – precisely because there would be so many players involved and no clear rules. Yet that seems to be the situation we are drifting towards.
If this disaster is to be avoided then the first thing to do is to start to start talking to Kim Jong-un, not threaten to kill him.
It remains incredible that though Kim Jong-un has been North Korea’s leader since 2011, and though North Korea is in military respects becoming an increasingly powerful country, with its nuclear weapons and its ballistic missiles, sending satellites into space, and building ICBMs, no Western or South Korean official has ever met him. This despite the fact that because of his likely schooling in Switzerland he is the only leader North Korea has had who has personal knowledge of the West, and who probably has at least some knowledge of a Western language.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.