THE STRONG POSSIBILITY EXISTS THAT BEIJING FINDS NORTH KOREA MORE TROUBLESOME THAN WE DO [ DOUBLE UPDATED]
The diligent historians laboring at The Cold War History Project
have been busy translating decades of diplomatic material from the archives of the former Eastern bloc satellites on North Korea's strange and often rocky relationship with the rest of the Communist world.
KimIl-Sung, the father of the current dictator proved to have been a major headache for MoscowAn excerpt:“These documents from North Korea’s former allies give us a record of what constrained the DPRK-—what worked and what did not,” said Kathryn Weathersby, senior associate and coordinator of CWIHP’s Korea Initiative. As U.S. policymakers differ on whether to take a hard or soft approach toward North Korea, this new material brings a level of reality to that debate, she said, “by revealing the evolution of North Korean thinking about the use of military force against South Korea and about the perception of threats to the DPRK......The “Stalin formula” had two main tenets. First, North Korea could not decide on its own whether to invade South Korea, but had to consult its allies and await decision from Moscow. Second, North Korea was permitted to defend itself from a U.S. or South Korean attack. The DPRK took full advantage of this latter point, said Weathersby, “a loophole that inadvertently encouraged Kim Sung Il to stage provocations disguised as attacks from the South.”Thus, in January 1968, North Korea sent 30 commandos disguised as South Korean guerillas to the Blue House in Seoul to kill South Korea’s President Park Chung Hee. Kim Il Sung had hoped this action would incite an uprising in the South and a subsequent request for military aid from the North, thus leading to reunification. But the commandos were captured, all but one were killed, and the failed plot was exposed. To divert attention from this embarrassment, North Korea seized an American intelligence ship, the USS Pueblo, charging U.S. aggression. One crewmember was killed, several wounded, and the 80 surviving crewmembers were taken hostage for 11 months. In the United States, the Johnson administration assumed the Soviet Union was behind the Pueblo attack and took steps to reinforce its military strength along the Soviet border. The new evidence, however, reveals that North Korea did not consult any of its allies before the attack. “The Soviets were ignorant of the plot but after the Pueblo attack, they used their influence to restrain North Korea and make them take less provocative actions,” said Weathersby. But when Kim sent a note to Moscow asking for reassurance that the Soviet Union would indeed offer assistance should North Korea be attacked, “Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev made it clear to the North Koreans that the Soviets would not get dragged into war with the United States by North Korea—-that the alliance was strictly defensive.” To relay this message, Brezhnev summoned Kim to Moscow but with remarkable impudence Kim declined to go, sending his defense minister in his place. Nonetheless, despite their anger, “the Soviets had to publicly defend North Korea in part to rebuff what they saw as U.S. arrogance. Privately, though, the Soviets pulled the Koreans back and the situation was calmed,” said Weathersby. “Although North Korea kept pushing the envelope,” she observed, “it still stayed within the ‘Stalin formula.’”
It may be that Pyongyang's rattling of nuclear sabres causes more of a spike in Maalox consumption at the Chinese Foreign Ministry than at the White House.UPDATE: TM Lutas
examines how DPRK nuke tests might affect BeijingUPDATE II: Dr. Barnett
says that Kim Jong-Il " must go down".