Over the past year, the situation in the Korean peninsula has gone from bad to worse. With regular missile tests, the threat of nuclear annihilation and underground nuclear tests things do not seem to be headed in the right direction and if popular media is to be believed we are headed towards a nuclear showdown. But is it really so? Can a country that can barely feed its own people actually think of nuking one of the most powerful nation on Earth? Is Kim Jong-un just another crazy dictator threating the US or is he a genius? and most importantly why has a nation which prides itself in bringing freedom and democracy across the globe, a nation which invaded Iraq just because it felt they had Weapons of Mass destruction taken no firm actions yet? In this edition of “Seeing the Big Picture” let us try and answer some of these questions and hopefully have a better understanding of the entire situation. But first, let us know about the geographical location and significance of this hermit kingdom.
Yup, that blot which can barely light itself up at night talks of lighting up (Nuking) the very symbol of western power. But it is not just all bark and no bite the North Koreans (according to several reports) actually do have the capability of hitting the West Coast of America and their nuclear-tipped missiles can easily reach the American territory of Guam. So can a country that barely manages to feed its own people actually nuke one of the most powerful nation on Earth? Sadly the answer to this question is a YES. But then I don’t think we are asking the right questions here because during the cold war even USSR had the capability to launch a massive nuclear strike on America, but it didn’t. I feel the right question would be to ask does North Korea really want to nuke America? This is exactly where things start getting tricky. As the answer to this question is largely dependent on our understanding of the beloved leader and supreme commander of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea) Mr. Kim Jong-Un. Seen as an eccentric leader, the western media loves portraying him as a crazy trigger-happy and chubby kid with no regard for human life. While most of it might be true, Kim Jong-Un is no crazy person. He, in fact, is one of the most ingenious leaders the world has ever seen.
How? Well for beginners he is still alive and ruling while most of his cousins in the middle east and around the world are either dead or have lost their kingdoms. Somehow Mr. Kim has managed to isolate an entire nation in this era of globalization and interconnectivity, galvanizing them to fight against the entire world. Setting up and maintaining such a cult of personality is no easy task. If we view the entire crisis from North Koreas (Kim Jong-Uns) perspective then these nukes are their only hope of survival. In fact, for countries like Pakistan and North Korea the only way to stay relevant in the international forum is a nuclear weapon and Kim Jong-Un knows it all too well. His aim is not to attack the USA with a nuclear missile, because-
a) He could have done so without spending billions on advanced missile technology, a dirty bomb could have had the same impact. and
b) He is very well aware of the possible repercussions.
What this little genius really wants out of his Weapons of Mass destruction is to pump enough fear into his enemies so that they leave him alone and to show his people that he indeed is the supreme leader. His recent threats of launching a missile off the coast of Guam and then backing off is a clear indication of this mindset. Kim Jong-un is careful to escalate an issue just enough to get everyone’s attention but not enough to get anyone’s action.
That being said, America does not really need a lot instigation to bring freedom and democracy to any nation. It is more than evident from its interventions in Iraq, Afganistan, Syria and Libya. So why don’t we have North Korea in the list of countries that America has brought freedom and democracy to? The North Koreans (Kim Jong-Un) would like to believe that it is so because they gave America a bloody nose during the Korean war (which technically is still not over). The truth, however, is a bit different. One of the Key reasons why Kim Jong-un is still the ruler of North Korea is because the major powers (USA and China) want it to be that way. Why? because with Kim Jong-un in Korea China will have a buffer state preventing the Americans from coming right at their doorstep and USA would have a reason to increase their troops in the region. You see North Korea (or so they would like you to believe) is the reason why the US has 28,500 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in South Korea along with several fighter jets, warships and other military support equipment. With North Korea out of the picture, the need for such a massive American military presence in the peninsula would disappear, while the enemy (China) would still remain.
The North Korean crisis serves as a perfect proxy for rapid build-up of Japanese and South Korean forces while pushing them closer to the USA and helping contain an imperialistic China. This crisis is less about ‘Fire and Fury’ and more about a tussle between two major powers to maintain their dominance over a certain region, while the people of North Korea suffer a horrifying fate at hands of their beloved supreme leader. So what does the future hold for us, a nuclear war? Most certainly NOT. So are we looking at a non-nuclear military intervention from the west? NO, that too is not possible as it would be too expensive an endeavor and most likely not yield any fruitful result. The future, in my opinion, comprises of a continues cycle of periods of intense tension (like the ones we have now) and a bit of relaxcation until and unless the people of North Korea themselves understand and their situation and do something about it. Which is only possible when we have a prosperous North Korea (something Kim Jong-Un would never let happen) as people who are too busy sourcing food for their survival can not be expected to think, let alone take action, about bringing a change.