Sunday, October 03, 2004

In the lead up to the Iraq war when Jacques Chirac was being flamboyantly obstructive to American diplomatic efforts in the UN and in Europe, Richard Perle let drop a stinging comment that was also a mini-analysis, that the United States would have to consider how to " contain France". It was a quip and not a completely unserious one that raised hackles but it also started people thinking.

Along those lines I've just read in the Chicago Tribune an improbable but ominously possible thesis on Korean unification by Colonel E. W. Chamberlain III, an incisive military analyst with excellent DoD connections. Even if his speculation is 10-20 % on the mark it would have considerable implications for the East Asian region:

"But there may be another way the U.S. could "lose" South Korea. Recent events in South and North Korea are too coincidental for my liking.

South Korea announces after decades of silence and denial that it actually did have some rogue scientists conducting work that could lead to the development of nuclear weapons. Within a matter of hours, North Korea declares that its nuclear weapons work was in response to South Korea's program.

A few days later, on Sept. 9, the 56th anniversary of the founding of North Korea, a huge explosion is detected, followed by a mushroom cloud. The North Koreans initially refused to say anything. Then, they say that the explosion was merely work on a hydroelectric project.Sept. 9 is a huge national holiday, with everybody in the "workers' paradise" released from work except, apparently, those poor hydroelectric workers.

Shortly thereafter, the South Korean minister for reunification publicly apologizes for South Korea's nuclear work but does not condemn or comment on the detonation in North Korea.You need to note here that South Korea has a minister for reunification. His job is to work on all the issues necessary to reunify North and South Korea in a coherent manner, and as the Koreans used to tell me, in a "non-German" fashion.

And this is where the secretary may get lucky.Some predictions.I believe that North and South Korea are actually secretly close to reunification.

When I served in South Korea in the early 1990s, I was aware through my sources that serious talks were ongoing then.That was a decade ago. I think much progress has been made in this regard. South Korea is modernized and has a tremendous industrial base but a shortage of workers. North Korea, although possessing a large and well-equipped army, has no peaceful industrial base and has an abundance of workers.A unified Korea could easily outstrip and overshadow the industrial and economic capacity of Japan in a few short years. That alone provides great impetus for reunification.

The Koreans hate the Japanese well beyond how much they may hate each other.It is patently obvious to all who care to look that the 21st Century will witness the rise of Asia as the locus for the dominant economic power of the world.A unified Korea would exceed Japan in economic power and could garner significant market share from China. If China remains communist and disjointed in its economic policies and reforms, Korea may even exceed China in economic power.

I think the explosion was a nuclear test.

We have the capability and the technology to confirm or deny the North Korean claim. I have seen no indications or reports that we have done so. I further believe that South Korea was aware of the testing. If this had not been the case, the South Koreans would have gone into a defensive crouch as they have done in the past whenever North Korea did something unexpectedly.Instead, the minister for reunification made a bland statement in the South Korean parliament.

I believe all this is being orchestrated. South Korea by joining with a nuclear weapons-capable North Korea automatically joins the world's exclusive nuclear weapons club.They will do so without censure. The United Nations and the rest of the world will readily accept a unified Korea that is a nuclear power because North Korea will no longer exist as a rogue state that operates outside the pale of normal human endeavor.One more nuclear power is a small price to pay for stability in the region. "

I disagree with Colonel Chamberlain's presumption that this kind of unification would result in a benign ending. Barring an East German style implosion or a DPRK invasion, a negotiated " fusion " unification of the two Koreas could leave a single, united, illiberal, authoritarian and militantly nationalistic state with nuclear arms that provokes Japan into full-scale rearmament - forcing China, then India and Pakistan into a dangerous arms race. Kim Jong-Il is not going to negotiate himself out of existence or for a Pinochet style retirement - he will insist on an equal, if not domineering role in a united Korea.

For Seoul to accomodate Pyongyang's paranoid demands and force this brand of unification on older South Koreans it will perforce have to restrict civil liberties and clamp down on opposition, as it did to earlier, anti-communist opponents of Kim Dae Jung's " Sunshine policy " fantasy.

CIA and DIA analysts need to take a harder look at the committment to democratic rule in South Korea among South Korean elites - particularly left politicians and their financial backers.
This post is a duplicate of the preceding post.
Blogger went haywire on me last night, ate my other posts entirely and duplicated this one. Not sure why but it froze up my coomputer to boot. Perhaps it was my machine but I'm dubious.

I need to start writing in Word and pasting here instead of jumping into Blogger directly, I lost a good hour's worth of material :o(
I think the explosion was a nuclear test.Very, very unlikely. Seismographic readings weren't large enough for a nuclear test. Krypton 85 emissions would certainly have been detected had it been a nuclear test. They weren't.

In all probability this was a SCUD testing or fuel storage accident. I similarly believe that the explosion earlier this year was a SCUD fuel transport accident.

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