With North Korea’s testing of a much more powerful nuclear weapon, eyes are turning to China, North Korea’s principle patron. Reuters reports that China may not have much influence over the Hermit Kingdom:
“It’s a question of to what extent China will clamp down on trade,” said Li, who frequently travels to North Korea, studying its economic ties with China.
“North Korea is completely dependent on China – if China goes too far in closing off trade, if we shut down our ports to them, they will see it as tantamount to an attack.”
Financial sanctions were mostly meaningless, Li said, adding that no major Chinese bank still dealt with the North and that authorities had cracked down on small financial institutions in the border town of Dandong, a gateway to the North.
The United States overestimates China’s economic influence on the North, said a second academic at Yanbian University, who looks at relations between China and North Korea.
“They didn’t even notify us before carrying out a nuclear test,” said the professor, who asked not to be identified because he is not allowed to speak with foreign media.
“They just do whatever they want. The relationship is not what it was during the Cold War.”
I think that U. S. diplomats err in being too discreet with China. As I’ve put it in comments at OTB, we should be telling China that their dog is barking and it’s disturbing the neighborhood. If they won’t do something about it we will but something will be done.
Meanwhile, I’ll open the question to the floor. How great a concern is nuclear-armed North Korea? What should we be doing?
From what I’m saw of the initial yield estimates, the bomb was basically the same size as the last test. Unless newer estimates are at least an order of magnitude larger, there’s no way they set off an h-bomb.
As for how concerned we should be: not as much as the SKoreans, the Japanese, and the Chinese. China ought to be concerned that the Japanese may eventually feel the need to go nuclear themselves.
Oddly enough, the only presidential candidate I’ve heard take your view is Donald Trump.
I think North Korean nukes are a significant concern, but not as major as Pakistan and Iranian nukes. Its isolation mitigates some of the risk, and I don’t think the nuts running the prison house are as potentially crazy as the religious players in the Middle East.
I think Reuters claim that China may not have much leverage is probably due to (a) expanded trade btw/ NK and other parts of Asia, as well as Europe, and (b) reluctance to cause instability on its border. If so, an international approach would be needed, and I don’t see the interest. I would bet the Japanese and South Koreans are more worried about China.
The big challenge will be if the state collapses; should the U.S. be prepared to seize nuclear materials?
Kim looks at what happened to Saddam and Khadaffi. From his nation’s perspective he is doing the right thing.
The US should be encouraging the considerable movements in SK which want reunification.
Of course the Elite here inevitably encourages by any perfidious means necessary the opposite, and elsewhere in the world.
” I don’t think the nuts running the prison house are as potentially crazy as the religious players in the Middle East.”
What is your evidence here? I have never seen any really good evidence for the crazy mullah theory. Most of what they do seems pretty rational and in line with what other countries do, with the exception that they seem a bit less inclined to invade other countries.
My point was more general, not just about people in power, but those in the wings looking for an opportunity. But the leadership in Iran is apocalyptically crazy:
Here is Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, complaining that the U.S. is trying to arrest the Hidden Imam:
“They’ve done so much research about the Hidden Imam in the human science universities of the United States that I am not exaggerating by saying that it is a thousand times more than all the work done in the seminaries of Qom, Najaf, and Mashhad,” [Ahmadinejad] reportedly said, referring to three Shi’ite holy cities.
Ahmadinejad, who is known for his controversial statements and his devotion to the Hidden Imam, added that U.S. universities have debriefed numerous individuals who have been in touch with the disappeared spiritual leader.
“To quote a friend, they’ve completed a case against the Hidden Imam, and closed it also for his arrest,” he was quoted as saying. “The only [evidence] they lack is his picture.”
Ahmadinejad suggested that the West — and particularly the United States — sees the return of the Hidden Imam as a threat to its “empire,” adding that the U.S. administration is “evil.”
“It is really a government established by Satan to prevent reaching God and the Hidden Imam,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying. ” … This evil government knows that its end will come if the Hidden Imam reappears.””
Now that the nuclear cat is out of the bag our focus has to be on deliverability. If they can miniaturize a warhead and either build an ICBM or place it aboard a sub, that’s an intolerable situation. At that point we should destroy their naval and air forces. Given the volatility of the Koreans that is quite possibly the start of either generalized war or a regime collapse. So, not a good thing. But we can’t have these lunatics prowling off Seattle or LA with a deliverable nuke.
The Hidden Imam is part of an end of the world scenario. It legitimizes acts of horrific desperation that will trigger events that Allah has ordained will wipe an era of injustice from the earth, to which the Hidden Imam will presage the final victory.
Ahmadinejad is gone. And the problem with quoting other people’s religious nutbaggery is that they could as easily quote ours. A great deal of what George W. Bush had to say on the subject would sound insane to a non-Christian, and indeed sounded insane to me. People who believe Jesus is going to rapture folks up out of their cars and turn unbaptized babies over to Satan to be roasted for all eternity are really not in a position to declare some other nut a nut. So far the Iranian regime has shown no other signs of madness.
I’m more concerned about the Norks’ selling nuclear weapons than I am their using them.
@michael, be my guest, if you want to quote George W. Bush speaking on how foreign countries are trying to seize supernatural beings or that the last battle is approaching. Bush is a Methodist. Methodists don’t believe in the rapture. They are amillennialist, and if anything they are future-positive. I’ve noted before that a lot of American Presidents come from American Evangelical Protestant traditions that lend themselves to Wilsonianism (including Obama and Hillary Clinton).
The Shi’i tradition has been pessimistic. After initial success, they were defeated by their enemies and the 12th Imam went into hiding. He is venerated and to give succor to the faithful, they are promised his return once a violent struggle makes it safe for him to return. Ahmadinejad was approved by the Guardians of the Islamic state, he may come and go, and others like him, so long as the Guardians pull the strings. And there are practical reasons for the 12th Imam to be discussed. Why isn’t it safe for him to return to the world’s first Islamic Republic (as the Iranian religious leaders describe it)? By what authority is political power being exercised in Iran while the 12th Imam still lives? There are not many theocracies in the world today, their belief systems should be taken seriously.
Many evangelicals believe the end is coming, and they specifically support Israel because of those beliefs. They are the social conservative base of the GOP. Like it or not, that influences GOP foreign policy actions, and it is actions that I care about. How did those beliefs about the hidden imam translate into crazy foreign policy? I don’t see it, which is why I asked for examples and also why I think you didn’t provide any. OTOH, we invaded Iraq for reasons that remain obscure, but given the neocon influence, and their alliance with the social conservatives, I think you can make a much better case that religious beliefs in the US are much more relevant.
I think you can make a much better case that NK is crazy. You have a whole country of stunted people who can’t even manage traffic lights in most of the country, all because of their paranoid beliefs about the rest of the world.
Dispensationalism has invaded Methodism and all manner of erstwhile
non-cultist denominations so it would not astound me if W Bush was influenced by the heresy.