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Does Kim Jong-Un’s Strategy Make Sense?

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

„Looking at the recent North Korean testing of two intercontinental missiles, it may seem that Pyongyang wishes to increase tensions in the region. A more careful analysis, however, shows how the DPRK is implementing a strategy that will likely succeed in averting a disastrous war on the peninsula.“

In the last four weeks, North Korea seems to have implemented the second phase of its strategy against South Korea, China and the United States. The North Korean nuclear program seems to have reached an important juncture, with two tests carried out at the beginning and end of July. Both missiles seem capable of hitting the American mainland, although doubts still remain over Pyongyang’s ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to mount it on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). However, the direction in which North Korea’s nuclear program is headed ensures an important regional deterrent against Japan and South Korea, and in some respects against the United States, which is the main reason for North Korea’s development of ICBMs. Recent history has repeatedly demonstrated the folly of trusting the West (the fate of Gaddafi remains fresh in our minds) and suggests instead the building up of an arsenal that poses a serious deterrence to US bellicosity.

It is not a mystery that from 2009 to date, North Korea’s nuclear capacity has increased in direct proportion to the level of distrust visited on Pyongyang by the West. Since 2009, the six-party talks concluded, Kim Jong-un has come to realize that the continuing threats, practices, and arms sales of the United States to Japan and South Korea needed to be thwarted in some way in the interests of defending the sovereignty of the DPRK. Faced with infinitely lower spending capacity than the three nations mentioned, Pyongyang chose a twofold strategy: to pursue nuclear weapons as an explicit deterrence measure; and to strengthen its conventional forces, keeping in mind that Seoul is only a stone’s throw away from North Korean artillery.

This twofold strategy has, in little more than eight years, greatly strengthened the ability of the DPRK to resist infringement of its sovereignty. In contrast to the idea commonly promoted in the Western media, Pyongyang has promised not to use nuclear weapons first, reserving their use only in response to aggression against itself. In the same way, a pre-emptive attack on Seoul using traditional artillery would be seen as intolerable aggression, dragging Pyongyang into a devastating war. Kim Jong-un’s determination in developing conventional and nuclear deterrence has succeeded in establishing a balance of power that helps avoid a regional war and, in so doing, contributes to the strengthening of overall security in the region, contrary to what many believe.

The reason the United States continues to raise tensions with Pyongyang and threaten a conflict is not out of a concern for the protection of her Japanese or South Korean allies, as one may initially be led to think. The United States in the region has a central objective that does not concern Kim Jong-un or his nuclear weapons. Rather, it is driven by the perennial necessity to increase forces in the region for the purposes of maintaining a balance of military force (Asian Pivot) and ultimately trying to contain the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). One might even argue that this strategy poses dangers not only to the entire region but, in the case of a confrontation between Washington and Beijing, the entire planet, given the nuclear arsenal possessed by the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

In this respect, the triangular relationship between China, North Korea and South Korea takes on another aspect. As always, every action is accompanied with a reaction. The statement that Beijing would prefer to get rid of the DPRK leadership is without foundation. Central in the minds of Chinese policy makers is the threat of a US containment that could undermine the country’s economic growth. This strategic planning is well known in Pyongyang, and explains in part why the DPRK leadership still proceeds with actions that are not viewed well by Beijing. From the North Korean point of view, Beijing derives an advantage from sharing a border with the DPRK, which offers a friendly leadership not hostile to Beijing. Pyongyang is aware of the economic, political, and military burden of this situation, but tolerates it, receiving the necessary resources from Beijing to survive and develop the country.

This complex relationship leads the DPRK to carry out missile tests in the hope of gaining many benefits. First of all, it hopes to gain a regional, and possibly a global, deterrence against any surprise attacks. Secondly, it forces South Korea to have a symmetrical response to DPRK missile tests, and this strategy, coming from North Korea diplomacy, is far from improvised or incongruous. In recent years, South Korea’s response has come in the form of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, designed to intercept missiles. As repeatedly explained, it is useless against North Korean rockets, but poses a serious threat to the Chinese nuclear arsenal, as its powerful radars are able to scout much of China’s territory, also being ideally positioned to intercept (at least in theory) a responsive nuclear strike from China. In a nutshell, THAAD is a deadly threat to China’s strategic nuclear parity.

From the point of view of the four nations involved in the region, each has different aims.

For the United States, there are many advantages in deploying the THAAD: in increases pressure on China, as well as concludes an arms sale that is always welcomed by the military-industrial complex; it also gives the impression of addressing the DPRK nuclear problem adequately.

 

South Korea, however, finds itself in a special situation, with the former president now under arrest for corruption. The new president, Moon Jae-in, would prefer dialogue rather than the deployment of new THAAD batteries. In any case, after the latest ICBM test, Moon required an additional THAAD system in the Republic of Korea, in addition to the launchers already there. With no particular options available to conduct a diplomatic negotiation, Seoul is following Washington in a spiral of escalation that certainly does not benefit the peninsula’s economic growth.

 

Ultimately, the PRC sees an increase in the number of THAAD carriers close to the country, and the DPRK is growing in its determination to pursue a nuclear deterrent.

 

Indeed, the strategy of the Pyongyang is working: on the one hand, they are developing a nuclear weapon to deter external enemies; on the other, they are obligating the PRC to adopt a particularly hostile attitude towards South Korea’s deployment of THAAD. In this sense, the numerous economic actions of Beijing towards Seoul can be explained as a response to the deployment of the THAAD batteries. China is the main economic partner of South Korea, and this trade and tourism limitation is quite damaging to South Korea’s economy.

This tactic has been used by North Korea for the last several years, and the results, in addition to the recent economic crunch between the PRC and South Korea have indirectly led to the end of the reign of the corrupt leader Park Geun-hye, an ever-present puppet in American hands. The pressure that the DPRK applies to bilateral relations between China and South Korea increases with each launch of an ICBM carrier, which is the logic behind these missile tests. Pyongyang feels justified in urging its main ally, China, to step up actions against Seoul to force it to compromise in a diplomatic negotiation with Pyongyang without the overbearing presence of its American ally pushing for war.

The main problem in the relations between South Korea, China and North Korea is represented by American influence and the need to prevent a rapprochement between these parties. As already stated, the United States needs the DPRK to justify its presence in the region, aiming in reality at Chinese containment. Pyongyang has been isolated and sanctioned for almost 50 years, yet serves to secure China’s southern border in the form of a protected friend rather than an enemy. This situation, more than any United Nations sanction to which the PRC adheres, guarantees a lasting relationship between the countries. Beijing is well aware of the weight of isolationism and economic burden on North Korea, which is why Beijing is symmetrically increasing pressure on South Korea to negotiate.

In this situation, the United States tries to remain relevant in the regional dispute, while not having the capacity to influence the Chinese decisions that clearly rely on other tactics, specifically putting pressure on South Korea. In military terms, as explained above, Washington can not start any military confrontation against the DPRK. The consequences, in addition to millions of deaths, would lead Seoul to break relations with Washington and seek an immediate armistice, cutting off the United States from negotiations and likely expelling US troops from its territory. Ultimately, there is no South Korean ability to influence the political process in the North while they continue to be flanked by the United States in terms of warfare (very aggressive joint exercises). The influence Washington can exert on Pyongyang is zero, having fired all cartridges with over half a century of sanctions.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the United States cannot afford to attack the DPRK. Pyongyang will continue to develop its own nuclear arsenal, with Beijing’s covert blessing in spite of its officially continuing to condemn these developments. At the same time, South Korea is likely to persevere with a hostile attitude, especially in regard to the deployment of new THAAD batteries. Sooner or later, Seoul will come to a breaking point as a result of further restrictions on trade between China and South Korea. As long as Seoul is able to absorb Chinese sanctions, little will change.

What will lead to a major change in the region will be the economic effect of these restrictions that will eventually oblige Seoul to consider its role in the region and its future. Seoul’s leadership is aware of three situations that will hardly change, namely: Pyongyang will never attack first; Beijing will continue to support North Korea rather than accept the United States on its border; and Washington is not able to bring solutions but only greater chaos and a worsening global economic situation to the region. In the light of this scenario, time is all on the side of Beijing and Pyongyang. Eventually the economic situation for Seoul will become unbearable, bringing it to the negotiating table with a weakened and certainly precarious position. Beijing and Pyongyang have a long-term common goal, which is to break the bond of submission between South Korea and the United States, freeing Seoul from Washington’s neo-conservative programs to contain China (on a Russia containment model).

Indirectly coordinated work between Beijing and Pyongyang is hardly understandable to Western analysts, but examining every aspect, especially with regard to cause-and-effect relationships, these decisions are not so incomprehensible and even more rational in a broader viewing of the region and its balance of power. On the one hand, Seoul sees the DPRK offering peace, stability and prosperity based on a framework agreement between Seoul, Pyongyang and Beijing. This would also particularly benefit South Korean trade with China, eventually returning to normal relationships between countries, with important economic benefits.

The alternative is an alliance with Washington that would completely eliminate the economic benefits of a healthy relationship with Beijing. This could even potentially lead to a war involving millions of deaths, fought on South Korean soil and not in the United States. The United States does not offer any solutions to South Korea, either in the short or long term. The only thing Washington is offering is a fixed presence in the country, together with a stubborn anti-Chinese policy that would have serious economic consequences for Seoul.

As paradoxical as it may seem, Kim Jong-un’s rockets are much less of a threat than is Seoul’s partnership with Washington in the region, and in fact seem to offer Seoul the ultimate solution to the crisis in the peninsula.

Fake News vor 100 Jahren: Britische Kriegsanleihen 1914 kaum begehrt, Zentralbank interveniert und lügt

„None Of It Was True“: 103 Years Later, The FT Admits It Lied And Colluded With The Bank of England

Tyler Durden's picture

When one strips away the lies about central banks‘ „inflation and employment“ mandates and focuses on what they really do – which is to keep asset prices artificially supported and volatility suppressed – the motive behind virtually every central bank act becomes readily apparent: preserve (and increase, if possible) confidence in the market and economy, while saying anything and everything that helps achieve this, or in other words, lie but don’t get caught.

Today, thanks to the FT, we have proof of precisely this, in what may be the first recorded instance of a central bank openly lying in an attempt to preserve market stability… and getting caught.

On Tuesday, the Bank of England admitted that the UK government failed to find enough investors to fully cover its its 1914 War Loan, and was forced to turn to the central bank to help plug a deficit of more than £100m in the fundraising. However, it did so only after it lied to the public that the bond was oversubscribed:

Despite claims it was swamped with buyers, the 1914 War Loan raised less than a third of its £350m target, attracting a very narrow set of investors, according to BoE employees writing on the Bank Underground website today.“  The bloggers uncovered the cover-up by trawling through the bank’s old ledgers.

As the FT notes, „the debt yielded 4.1 per cent, well above the 2.5 per cent payable on other government debt at the time, but it still failed to attract a wide enough pool of investors.“

So why lie? For the same reason to this day central bankers around the world lie at every possibly opportunity: to preserve confidence in a fragile system, which can collapse the moment doubt spikes.

The government decided that news of a failed bond sale would have been “disastrous” to the general public, and so schemed with the Bank to plug the gap, the BoE now says. The central bank bought the outstanding securities on offer, and covered its tracks by purchasing the bonds in the name of its chief cashier, and listing them on its balance sheet as “other securities”.

Ironically, the FT which reported of the BOE’s blog finding, was instrumental in publicizing and disseminating the lie on November 23, 1914, something which many have accused the paper of doing today.

The Financial Times played its role in convincing the public that the sale was a success, publishing a segment (which appears to be an advert) claiming that the debt was oversubscribed and offering “further particulars of this magnificent investment… upon request.”

It was all a lie. This is how the BOE’s bloggers justify it:

For the Bank of England and economic policymakers more generally, this early failure led to the realisation that managing the national debt was a complex and, in war times, perhaps Herculean task. The episode marked an important step on the Bank’s transformation from private institution to a central bank. A decade after the Armistice, the altered role of the Bank prompted creation of a Parliamentary commission to examine its functions, ultimately setting it on a path to nationalisation.

Did this clear intention to mislead the public lead to any consequences? Here’s the FT’s take: „The BoE’s intervention uprooted the UK’s long-held laissez faire approach to capital, as the government prioritised the war effort over private investors. And although the hoodwink worked, the authors suggest that the failed sale prompted some soul-searching at the central bank:“

Unfortunately, over a century later, the soul-searching has led to zero tangible results, as lies in the name of preserving public confidence and avoiding „disastrous“ – but true – news continue unabated, and those who dare to expose them are branded as „conspiracy theorists“ and, more recently, Russian sympathizers.

As for the FT, the principal agent employed in propagating the central bank’s lies, it had this to say:

Clarification: On 23 November 1914, a piece published in the Financial Times claimed the UK government’s War Loan was “oversubscribed”, with applications “pouring in”. The item described this as an “amazing result” that “proves how strong is the financial position of the British nation”. We are now happy to make clear that none of the above was true.

Well, thanks for „coming clean.“ We, for one, can’t wait to find out what current stories and narratives the FT will admit some 103 years from today that it is „happy to make clear“ were lies.

„Russland in die Enge treiben“: Neue Sanktionen, die alle Firmen bestrfen, welche mit/in Russland geschäften wollen

Russian PM: „The U.S. Just Declared Full-Scale Trade War On Russia“

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Several hours after President Trump officially signed the new Russian sanctions into law – despite his reservations and his statement that while he favors „tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed“ – Russia responded when moments ago Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on his FaceBook page that any hopes of improving Russian relations with the new US administration are dead, that the Trump administration demonstrated complete impotence by transferring executive power to Congress „in the most humiliating manner“, and most notably, that the US just declared a full-scale trade war on Russia.

From Medvedev’s facebook page:

The signing of new sanctions against Russia into law by the US president leads to several consequences. First, any hope of improving our relations with the new US administration is over. Second, the US just declared a full-scale trade war on Russia. Third, the Trump administration demonstrated it is utterly powerless, and in the most humiliating manner transferred executive powers to Congress. This shifts the alignment of forces in US political circles.

 

What does this mean for the U.S.? The American establishment completely outplayed Trump. The president is not happy with the new sanctions, but he could not avoid signing the new law. The purpose of the new sanctions was to put Trump in his place. Their ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power. An incompetent player must be eliminated. At the same time, the interests of American businesses were almost ignored. Politics rose above the pragmatic approach. Anti-Russian hysteria has turned into a key part of not only foreign (as has been the case many times), but also domestic US policy (this is recent).

 

The sanctions codified into law will now last for decades, unless some miracle occurs. Moreover, it will be tougher than the Jackson-Vanik law, because it is comprehensive and can not be postponed by special orders of the president without the consent of the Congress. Therefore, the future relationship between the Russian Federation and the United States will be extremely tense, regardless of the composition of the Congress or the personality of the president. Relations between the two countries will now be clarified in international bodies and courts of justice leading to further intensification of international tensions, and a refusal to resolve major international problems.

 

What does this mean for Russia? We will continue to work on the development of the economy and social sphere, we will deal with import substitution, solve the most important state tasks, counting primarily on ourselves. We have learned to do this in recent years. Within almost closed financial markets, foreign creditors and investors will be afraid to invest in Russia due to worries of sanctions against third parties and countries. In some ways, it will benefit us, although sanctions – in general – are meaningless. We will manage.

Separately, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia retains the right to impose new counter-measures, adding the US sanctions are short-sighted, and risk harming global stability. He concludes that and attempts to pressure Russia will not make it change course.

Echoing Lavrov, earlier on Wednesday the permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow „won’t bend“ and has no plans to change its policies following Donald Trump’s signing of new anti-Russian sanctions.

“Those who invented this bill, if they were thinking that they might change our policy they were wrong, as history many times proved. They should have known better that we do not bend and do not break,” Nebenzia told journalists in New York.

„Some of the US officials were saying that this is a bill that might encourage Russia to cooperate… This is a strange form of encouragement. But it is not our habit to be resentful children,“ continued the diplomat, who promised that Moscow would „not relent on finding means and ways“ to cooperate in the international arena over issues such as Syria.

The Kremlin also chose not to escalate the situation further. “This changes nothing. There is nothing new here,” Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told the media in Moscow. “Counter-measures have already been taken.”