Friday, July 23, 2004

The End is Near for North Korea

US forces are realigning over the next several years in South Korea. They're moving South - away from the forward bases they've occupied since the cease fire in 1953. As North Korea has had upwards of a million soldiers stationed along the DMZ, the realignment of US forces is telling. North Korea is not being seen as such a large threat these days. This takes nothing away from ROK forces, they are fierce and formidable - but not nearly as well equipped as their US counterparts.

North and South Korea are talking more than ever before and South Korea's Unification Ministry is busier than ever in its history.

North Korea is impoverished. Famine is rampant and consistent, impacting up to 85% of North Korean children. South Korea is more open in accepting refugees from the North, who have traveled through a circuitous route in Asia, seeking asylum. South Korea could never have done this in the past without losing contact completely with the stubborn North.

All the while, North Korea has been quite vocal about its nuclear programs - maybe too vocal. The North Korean nukes have been a bargaining chip for many years now. One which has kept them fed in lean years. This time, however, the US is not giving in to demands so easily. The negotiations have been only enough to keep the North interested in talks, but not enough to be called "concessions".

North Korea has no economy, relying almost entirely on petro-chemicals and arms sales for income. Agriculture in the communist state is a shambles. North Korea doesn't have the ability China does to produce, so simply opening up the economy to world trade will not work for them.

The end is near.  If the US does not capitulate.

The cost has been high - maintaining an infantry division, and air force, naval support for more than five decades, while watching a country starve itself shows us containment is not the answer. Allowing a tyrannical dynasty to remain a threat, always on the edge of war, while watching it arm itself with consistently more powerful weapons is not responsible foreign policy. Many have died since the end of the Korean hostilities and the North Korean population remains still under the thumb of tyranny.

I am glad we did not make the same mistake in Iraq that we made in Korea. Korea has been far more costly - for everyone.

However, the end is near for North Korea - I can feel it.


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