Wednesday, April 17, 2013

China's North Korea Strategy

Eric Margolis writes:
China’s strategy to date has been to talk moderation and issue occasional blasts at North Korea to appease the outside world and its major American trading partner while quietly ensuring that North Korea remains viable. China supplies all of North Korea’s oil, part of its food, and large amounts of industrial and military spare parts. 
North Korea’s Kim Jung-un appears to have climbed too far out on a limb by issuing dire threats that include nuclear war. His problem is to climb back without losing too much face or appearing to be forced by the United States. 
Prestige is a key factor in dictatorship. An obvious defeat can lead to the dictator’s fall. That’s why Hitler refused to retreat from the deathtrap at Stalingrad, rightly fearing such a loss of prestige and his mystique of military genius would encourage his domestic foes to move against him.

So Kim will likely need Beijing’s help in ending the crisis, and Beijing will be both happy to do so and end up in a position to demand useful concessions from Washington.

Beijing has been claiming that the US whipped up the current Korea crisis to justify deploying new military forces to Asia and emplacing more anti-missile systems in Alaska and a new one in Guam – all part of President Barack Obama’s much heralded "pivot to Asia."

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