NORTH KOREA: CHINA'S "BORROWED KNIFE"
By Alan Caruba
That’s the kind of calculus the President of the United States has to make every day, while the rest of us must depend on the following kind of reporting out of Beijing. It was February 18, 2005, and Elaine Kurtenbach of the Associated Press wrote:
She went on to say that, “China, the North’s biggest backer and major source of aid to the impoverished country, has been wary of openly testing its influence on Pyongyang.” Wary?
This is what passes for informed reporting. The only problem is that, when China says, “jump”, North Korea says “How high?” Pyongyang is owned lock, stock, and barrel by China. North Korea was originally the creation of the former Soviet Union’s dictator, Joseph Stalin, who picked Kim Il Sung, the father of the current despot, Kim Jong Il, to aid the expansion of the USSR with an audacious attack on the South, on June 24, 1950.
The U.S.A. paid the price of not fully understanding Stalin’s intention to enlarge the reach and grip of the USSR following the end of World War II. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman had already ceded the whole of Eastern Europe to Stalin, and, in Asia, the U.S.A. had substantially reduced its own troop strength and, at the same time, failed to arm the South Koreans, for fear they might try to liberate their families and countrymen to the North. Suffice it to say, just like 9-11, the North Korean attack came as a complete surprise to the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C..
If you want to know what we’re really up against with the Chinese and North Koreans, read William C. Triplett II’s new book, Rogue State: How Nuclear North Korea Threatens America ($27.95, Regnery Publishing Co.) Triplett is a veteran national security specialist. If you do read his book, you will discover that North Korean warheads could hit American soil, that North Korea is selling nuclear weapons technology to terrorist states and groups, and that Kim Jung Il is, among other nasty things, training Arab terrorists and others with an eye to sabotaging Japan’s nuclear power plants and doing all kinds of other mischief.
Put plainly, Red China will determine what North Korea will do and has, for decades, supported its most aggressive, criminal instincts. The Korean conflict ended in a truce, but only after Red China had committed thousands of its own troops in an effort to turn the tide. Why would we not consider that its desire for hegemony in its part of the world might also include plans for even greater expansion? History demonstrates that no arms agreement with a rogue state is worth the paper on which it is printed.
However, Triplett warns:
That’s very different advice from the calls to somehow find and destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons facilities, presumably eliminating that threat. The fact is that North Korea has more than one million men on active duty and almost five million reserves. That makes it the fourth largest armed force in the world. It is an army supplied by an extensive and expensive network of underground arms factories and depots.
In recent weeks, Japan, which has long taken a passive, self-defensive stance, as regards its military, signaled that, if Red China were to try to make good on its threats against Taiwan, it would join with the United States in defense of that island nation. That is a good thing. It swings the power equation in the right direction, and one suspects decisions have already been made to put Japan on an equal military footing with others in its neighborhood. Dependence on the U.S. military power will give way to a renewed sense of nationhood and the need to hold its own in the face of threats by North Korea and Red China. Most certainly, the “One China” fiction that Taiwan should be treated as a non-nation needs to end as official U.S. policy.
North Korea is called “China’s borrowed knife” because it is the instrument Beijing can use, while hiding behind the mask of diplomacy. It is the Chinese proxy, and anything you read or hear about North Korea reflects Beijing’s worst intentions. Triplett warns that the Bush administration has “no endgame strategy” to deal with North Korea, does nothing to punish its open aggression and provocations, and has not determined how to link diplomacy with Red China to whatever diplomacy is possible with North Korea.
If history is any indicator — and it always is — then, sooner or later, North Korea will do something just as surprising as it did in June, 1950. Right now it is selling ballistic missiles to Pakistan, Iran and Syria, while helping those nations develop their own missile systems. Right now, its missiles threaten Japan and South Korea. And they are able to hit the U.S. West Coast. The difference between 1950 and now would be measured in how many would die.
And the news only gets worse. The European Union has announced it intends to sell weapons to Red China, ignoring a long embargo against it.
Just as the Associated Press reporter appeared to think that North Korea was an independent nation over which Red China had little control, this view has its advocates, says Triplett, in the U.S. State Department. Fortunately, the Pentagon has been planning for decades for the possibility of war with North Korea and, if necessary, Red China. For that, we will need many more divisions than we currently maintain. Yet, that is the only option we have at present, other than to wait patiently to find out what North Korea and Red China intend to do.
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com).
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