Why North Korea is a paper tiger compared to the American Giant
North Korea being considered a strategic threat to the United States is much like believing that a row boat poses a threat to an aircraft carrier. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is far from being a threat to anyone other than its own population. Still, there is a sense of a lingering threat here at home.
Tensions have been heating up on the Korean Peninsula and once again the United States feels forced to flex its muscles and demonstrate its resolve in the Pacific. However, North Korea and its erratic behavior is but a piece in an otherwise incomplete geopolitical jigsaw puzzle. A puzzle that the United States and its imperial ambitions helped to set up.
North and South Korea have been butting heads with each other since the end of the Korean War in 1953. They have been threatening each other with war for decades, yet this time things seem to be getting very serious. Since North Korea is a reclusive state, it is hard for outside analysts to find a motif for why the North is suddenly interested in raising tensions with South Korea and the United States to a higher degree.
Some speculate that the newly anointed dictator Kim-Jong Un is desperate to try and hold his country together and has decided on a rash plan to get North Korea recognized as a true nuclear power, thus altering the playing field in the Pacific region. Others say that North Korea is trying to intimidate its enemies in order to negotiate for aid, the North still can’t feed itself.
One thing is clear, the United States has an established agenda. The United States has had a presence in Asia going back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the beginning of the Cold War, America has held secure military bases and positions in and around the Pacific region. America is the predominant military power in the Pacific, to the envy of the second largest China. North Korea is an anomaly to the United States.
The US has long hoped that North Korea would self-implode and be forced to unify with South Korea (effectively giving the US control the entire Korean Peninsula). However, it looks as though North Korea won’t being going anywhere without a major fight, and its not necessarily a fight with the North Koreans that worries me.
Compared to its surrounding neighbors, North Korea is a gigantic paper tiger. Western cameras show a militant state with obedient people, tons of tanks, missiles, and assorted weaponry that all seems threatening enough. On top of that, the North does probably have a small arsenal of nukes (I emphasize small). Yet what the cameras don’t show you is that all these are tinker toys compared to the weaponry their opponents can field.
Most of North Korea’s weapons are dated from the 70’s and 80’s (some even as old as the 50’s and 60’s) and does not possess a modern, integrated military command structure on par with South Korea or Japan (let alone the United States). North Korea’s arsenal is mostly made up of old Soviet and Chinese model weapons, which stand no chance against what the United States and its allies can field. America is a giant compared to the North Korean paper tiger.
North Korea would crumble with its own militarily, which is where the real trouble might come into play; China. Any war between North Korea and South Korea will involve the United States, which will then involve China.
America has thousands of troops still stationed in South Korea, as well as troops stationed in Japan with supporting allies. China is too vested in the preservation of North Korea to allow it to fall into American hands. North Korea is seen as a strange but useful buffer by China, keeping a solid distance of any American base from Chinese borders.
China may not be as powerful militarily as the United States, but it has made clear in the past that it will intervene if the North’s sovereignty is under attack. North Korea is a valuable vassal for the Chinese and their own desires to become the superpower of Asia.
China has a much more significant nuclear arsenal than North Korea (though not near as big as the United States). What also could be a danger is the possibility of nations like Japan and South Korea seeking nuclear arsenals to have deterrents against North Korea. The game is set in the Korean Peninsula.
Korea has once again become the center for an imperial struggle. On the one hand, the American Empire seeks to preserve (and possibly expand) its influences in the Asia/Pacific region. On the other hand, the growing imperial ambitions of a rising China are coming into conflict with the American Empire in Asia, and could possibly become a serious threat if open warfare proceeds.
The odds are very low that North Korea would risk such a catastrophic war with little to nothing to gain in return, but China is the real player to be watched. War with North Korea ultimately means war with China, which risks a showdown of epic proportions. Most likely, the North will blow off some steam, get its aid, and everything will go back to the status quo. In a game of geopolitical risk, you can never be too sure which country will strike first.