Confrontation works for North Korea

North Korea has learned in dealing with the U.S. and South Korea: “Confrontation works.” North Korea’s pattern of "confrontation works" since at least 1994:

1) Manufacture a crisis by threatening to do something diplomatically (early 1990s, threatening to withdraw from Non-Proliferation Treaty, then finally doing so in 2003; recently ending or threatening to end the 1953 Armistice)
2) Escalate, such as threatening to turn Seoul into a “sea of flames,” as it has done regularly since at least 1994
3) Watch important people in Seoul and Washington scurrying around trying to make the problem go away (until the next election, before the markets react).
4) Escalate with action: If they get ignored, do something really crazy, such as sinking a ship, lobbing missiles, nuclear tests.
5) Wait for response/offer of talks/aid proposals.
6) Offer minor concessions that reaffirm what they were already doing while continuing to work on their nuclear program.
7) Payday, baby!
8) Tell the people of North Korea how leaders around the world have bowed to their beloved dictator and that rations will go up 10 grams per day in celebration.
9) Starting plotting the next manufactured crisis, repeating steps 1-8.

North Korea’s “erratic” and “crazy behavior” is quite predictable, with the goals always being

A) to squeeze aid and concessions out of Washington, Seoul, and other well-meaning democratically elected politicians
B) buy time to build up its nuclear capability, which it has been doing since 1975.

* * *

Oh, and over the weekend, I went on a retreat with some North Korean activists, they would love to dance on the graves of the Kim crime family members who have run North Korea since the 1940s, we had long discussions about many things, here are some of the main points from a few of them along with my points mixed in:

1) one activist said that he has lost faith in the U.S., he now thinks America truly is a paper tiger and he can understand why the Kim crime family has been bold enough to escalate tensions and make threats

2) one of the activists was quite serious in recommending: the U.S. should invade North Korea/assassinate Kim Jong-Un rather than having talks with him. Talking with him will make him appear stronger than he is. So either ignore him completely or go on the attack, but don’t just respond when he starts to escalate, he can then claim credit for the inevitable concessions he wins or the stalemate showing he can stand up to America and South Korea.

3) some of the elite in NK would want to fight on if the dictator were killed but most would give up quickly in the face of an attack from the U.S. because they know they would be slaughtered if China didn’t come to their aid, and at the moment they can’t be sure what China would do. The attack from the U.S. would have to happen quickly, without warning, be overwhelming, and take out the dictator and key cronies.

4) most North Korean soldiers would quickly give up fighting and many or most of them wouldn’t even fight if they had a chance to surrender peacefully.

5) Kim Jong-Un "won" this latest diplomatic fight because the U.S. and Seoul have raised his stature in the eyes of North Koreans because the young dictator has shown that he is willing to challenge even the mighty United States (which most North Koreans don’t realize is a paper tiger). The U.S. should have sent Dennis Rodman rather than John Kerry to talk with South Korea, to let the dashing young dictator know he was not being taken seriously.