May 27, 2017
Bilahari Kausikan: 4 Hard Truths about North Korea
There are no good options, only least bad ones. Unilateral US action will harm US allies in the region and permanently damage trust.
He explains: “Seoul is within range of conventional artillery, and South Korea and Japan are within range of North Korea’s existing missiles. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned that North Korean missiles could be armed with sarin, a nerve agent.
“Unilateral military action by Washington would thus impose serious direct risks on its allies at a time when the US itself does not yet face a direct threat. If the US acts unilaterally, it will, in effect, force its allies to immediately bear the very heavy costs of mitigating threats to itself that are still theoretical or putative as far as the US is concerned. This would cause grievous political damage and could permanently undermine trust in America well beyond North-east Asia.”
3. The US will not sacrifice American cities to save Asian capitals, when North Korea eventually develops a missile that can hit America.
Mr Kausikan writes: “When North Korea has nuclear-capable ICBMs able to threaten the US, the question is bound to be asked – will San Francisco be sacrificed to save Tokyo? Since the answer is obviously ‘no’, Tokyo will have to seriously consider its own nuclear options.
“Japan has the capability to develop an independent nuclear deterrent very quickly and has, in fact, been quietly developing this capability – with American aid and acquiescence – for 30 years or so… The decision will be politically very difficult. But Japanese public opinion has changed very abruptly several times in modern Japanese history, and since the alternative is to accept subordination to China, I believe it is only a question of when and not whether Japan will become a nuclear-weapon state. I do not think the US is eager to see Japan become a nuclear-weapon state. Neither do I think that Japan is keen to become a nuclear-weapon state. But, for both, this will eventually be the least bad option.
“Where Japan goes, South Korea must follow since Seoul is bound to wonder whether it will be sacrificed to save Tokyo.”
Trump’s America threatens to go Alone on North Korea–Not possible since its arrogance of power will destabilize North East Asia and undermine regional stability..
The likely result: Japan and South Korea will move out from under the US nuclear umbrella protection and want to develop their own nuclear capabilities. A nuclear arms race may result in the region.
4. Denuclearisation is not an option. Nuclear escalation is more likely. But luckily, mutually assured destruction is not as mad as it sounds.
If regional countries become nuclear powers, will the situation become more volatile? Mr Kausikan says not necessarily.
“A balance of mutually assured destruction in North-east Asia will not be a satisfactory situation for anyone. But it will not necessarily be unstable – in fact, it may well be more stable than the current situation – and it may be of some small consolation to Washington, Tokyo and Seoul that the implications for Beijing are somewhat worse. A balance of mutually assured destruction will freeze the status quo and is an absolute obstacle to Beijing’s goal – which is implicit in the essentially revanchist narrative of the ‘Great Rejuvenation’ of China by which the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) legitimates its rule – of recreating an East Asian order with China at its apex.”
For the full article, go to http://str.sg/46xe