I don’t think that George Friedman’s recent musings on the situation in North Korea did much to inform me but it did help me to bring my thoughts more into focus. Here’s the gist.
The notion that North Korea with nuclear weapons is safer than North Korea without them is wrong. Although that’s the prevailing explanation for their pursuit of nuclear weapons, it doesn’t conform to the facts. The United States isn’t interested in North Korea as such and, frankly, has shown no evidence for decades that it is. We only become interested in it when it threatens us or its neighbors.
However, being “ferocious, weak and crazy” in Mr. Friedman’s phrase increases North Korea’s leverage and its options. Would anyone be talking about entering into negotiations (for what?) with North Korea if North Korea were mild and sane? I don’t believe it. And the possession of a formidable selection of weapons, e.g. nuclear weapons, intercontinental ballistic missiles, shorter range missiles, midget submarines, light and heavy artillery, gives North Korea the potential to become a supermarket for terrorists and dictators.
That provocation is North Korea’s strategy makes it all the more likely that they’ll use the weapons they have. That North Korea has engaged in drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, and counterfeiting in the past to support its activities suggests that it’s likely to do so in the future.