From: Iowan in MD/DC
Nations do not have friends, they have interests.
And I think all in that region have vested interest to keep NK in bay.
To be honest I think NK does not display anything greatly diverging from what they have been trying (successfully I might add)
for decades already.
They up the tension until it gets close to unbearable, mix threats with display of wounded pride and comndemnations of western acts of
aggression, and then return to the bargaining table, agreeing to slowly step down again in exchange for foreign aid. Kim Jong Un might even
be a bit more excentric than his father, but he learned the ropes under his leadership, and bargaining for foreign aid with nuclear weapons
was what his father did all the time. It works on two ways: keeping the Population from starving completely, and at the same time justifying
the nuclear arsenal.
Regarding China, I do not think one could simply say they want NK getting taught a lesson, or want to get rid of them as an ally.
The DPRK is a buffer zone against US troops, and it is a great buffer zone. Noone gets through there. The Chinese might be annoyed with NKs way
of dealing with foreign politics, but I do not think China believes this outweights the benefits. Losing NK, and China got US troops and a western
oriented ROK in their backyard. I think they still prefer crazy Kim.
This is mostly my perspective as well.
I'd add that China would hate an unstable DPRK, as there would be a predictable surge of refugees across their border. That would be an unmitigated disaster, so from China's perspective-status quo is the best option. The Chinese benefit from a 'stable' DPRK, as it keeps the refugees off their turf and is also a bulwark against the rest of the "West", including Japan and S. Korea. The Chinese couldn't give a rip about the DPRK's use of slave labor, its forced labor camps, political concentration camps (I use that term very specifically) and deified dictatorship. It serves their ends, so there you go. If the Chinese can keep the starving North Koreans on North Korean territory, it's better than having starving North Koreans on Chinese territory.
The DPRK is doing nothing more than making noise at the South and the rest of the world (including Japan and the US) in order to get some appeasing settlement. If I had a buck for every time they have pledged "war" or saber rattled in the last 20 years, I'd be wealthy. Let 'em make noise.
By the way, I think we should enact a lend/lease with the South Koreans. We should lend them the arsenal of democracy to fend off aggression from regional neighbors. OK-it's not an original idea-but bear with me. If it so happens that they are victims of a nuclear attack from Pyongyang, then we should 'lend' them a fully equipped and loaded Ohio Class SSBN, complete with 24 Trident II SLBMs and the trained crew to show them how to use it in their defense. As part of the training, we temporarily turn over command positions to a South Korean Captain, XO and Weapons officer and let nature take its course. So, that's 4x24 W88 475 KT nominal yield MIRVs. That oughta just about cover every potato patch in North Korea. Assuming they had potatoes there.
Hey, if the DPRK wants to export its nuclear weapons technology and then use it in an offensive manner against its neighbors, why should we not beat 'em at their own game? Plus, WE didn't pull the trigger. It was the South Koreans that nuked 'em back.
Of course, it won't come to that. I just hope we have the stomach to roll our eyes, let 'em rant and carry on status quo. I'd like to think that we would just ignore them, but history suggests that South Korea is an easy mark.
The above is my thinking also. I remember reading several years ago about NK refugee camps just over the border in China, and how China didn't really know what to do about it but they didn't like it at all. They didn't want to invest the resources to help these people who aren't theirs, but given the flow of information these days, they couldn't just ignore them/turn them back/"send them to Siberia" either.
I think China has a strong interest in keeping NK just as it is now and has been for decades, and so that's probably how things will remain. There's always a chance Kim could always just fly off the handle (or any other leader, for that matter), but China's power will probably keep NK just barely under control.
I heard a talking head opine that the NK's are afraid they'll go the way of Iraq, and that's why they're beating the drums this loudly.
You hit the nail on the head there T; This new leader thinks he's fighting for the life of his regime, and he is probably correct. No country can employ the resources of their country at the level of military capacity, for an extended period of time that NK is. He has to use his forces now he thinks, ether to pressure or in the extreme with a limited-war to force concessions from the west.
Agree also, to an extent.