Small Wars Journal

03/05/2021 News & Commentary – Korea

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 10:05am

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs.

1. US foreign, defense chiefs may visit Seoul this month: sources

2. Reports: U.S., South Korea to commence scaled-down military exercises

3. 'Robust' N. Korea sanctions needed to prevent nuclear proliferation: defense nominee

4. U.S. defense chief shortlists N. Korea as 'nation-state threat'

5. N. Korea again ranks lowest in terms of economic freedom: think tank

6. Report: North Korean delegation seeking imports visited Chinese city

7. N.K. leader sets agriculture as 'primary economic task' for local party officials

8. Declaration: Former South Korean Diplomats Call for Freedom, ROK-US Alliance, Human Rights for Defectors, Adherence to UN Sanctions, Improving Relations with Japan, Abolishing China’s 3 Nos

9. Biden must learn from Trump’s mistakes on North Korea

10. A Korean critique of the White House's Interim National Security Strategic Guidance.

 

1. US foreign, defense chiefs may visit Seoul this month: sources

The Korea Times · March 5, 2021

A positive step forward for the alliance. A "2+2" meeting is significant, especially this early in the new administration's tenure. I wonder if they will be briefing the administration's new Korea policy or if they are going to coordinate the policy and get senior level input to the policy? Note also the report of travel to Japan. And hopefully they will announce a conclusion to the SMA negotiations. And we should keep in mind even if they announce an agreement it still must be approved by the Korean national assembly.

 

2. Reports: U.S., South Korea to commence scaled-down military exercises

UPI · by Elizabeth Shim · March 5, 2021

For nearly three years (since President Trump's unilateral and surprise announcement in Singapore that he wanted to cancel exercises) we have cancelled, postponed, and scaled back combined training. Yet there has been no reciprocity from the north in any area and in fact as we read this article the north is nearly reaching the culmination of its annual winter training cycle and will have brought the nKPA to the highest state of readiness at the optimal attack time (March).

We should not forget that the regime focuses on cancelling exercises for one reason: to split the ROK/US alliance and get US forces off the Korean peninsula so that it can execute its long term strategy to dominate the peninsula. Ending training means readiness cannot be sustained and therefore US forces will not be able to remain on the peninsula (Confucius: "To lead an untrained people to war is to throw them away").  

This will not satisfy the regime.

 

3. 'Robust' N. Korea sanctions needed to prevent nuclear proliferation: defense nominee

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · March 5, 2021

Another aspect of the Biden Korea policy is foreshadowed by the USD(P) nominee, Colin Kahl.

Some very good words on the alliance:

“Kahl said U.S. forces in South Korea and Japan provide a powerful deterrent to North Korean threats.

"If confirmed, I will look to ensure that U.S. forces have what they need to maintain our robust deterrent and readiness posture in Northeast Asia, in close collaboration with our regional allies," he said.

The nominee noted the outcome of the global defense posture review has yet to come, but said, "Our force posture in South Korea ensures our ability to "fight tonight" alongside our ROK allies, and it is critical to regional stability," referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

He added, "The U.S.- Republic of Korea (ROK) alliance is critical not only to the security of the ROK, but also to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region — the Department's priority theater."

 

4. U.S. defense chief shortlists N. Korea as 'nation-state threat'

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · March 5, 2021

We are seeing hints of the new Biden administration Korea policy in the statements from our senior leaders.

 

5. N. Korea again ranks lowest in terms of economic freedom: think tank

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · March 5, 2021

Economic and all forms of freedom.

 

6. Report: North Korean delegation seeking imports visited Chinese city

UPI · by Elizabteh Shim · March 4, 2021

The regime has to try to get its economy working and it cannot do that without China.

 

7. N.K. leader sets agriculture as 'primary economic task' for local party officials

en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · March 5, 2021

Nuclear weapons do not feed the Korean people in the north.

 

8. Declaration: Former South Korean Diplomats Call for Freedom, ROK-US Alliance, Human Rights for Defectors, Adherence to UN Sanctions, Improving Relations with Japan, Abolishing China’s 3 Nos

East Asia Research · by 이원주 · March 4, 2021

 

9. Biden must learn from Trump’s mistakes on North Korea

spectator.us

If Trump had agreed to the "deal" in Hanoi we would not be criticizing that because it would have played right into Kim Jong-un's hands. He would have deemed his political warfare and blackmail diplomacy successful and would have doubled down. The Biden administration would be going into its policy review with little to no leverage.

There is one lesson we should all keep in mind. Appeasement of the regime does not work and will only result in further blackmail diplomacy.

Conclusion:

“The longer Washington waits to develop any policy towards Pyongyang, the more time in the hands of Pyongyang to bolster its weaponized nuclear capabilities, and continue its egregious human rights violations on its citizens.

As the US and South Korea prepare to conduct their annual military exercises next week — which has been a core target of North Korean criticism from the rule of Kim Il-sung — it’s important to remember that negotiations require actions on both sides. While the Biden administration’s policies towards the DPRK remain shrouded in secrecy, a continued approach of sanctions and pressure without any form of dialogue won’t help. Instead, this approach risks marooning the international community in a never-ending quandary of how to resolve the North Korean issue; nuclear and beyond.

It was once said that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, but moving forward with a nuclear North Korea, a ‘small deal’ approach may be the best we can hope for. If it results in the concession — albeit paltry — of Yongbyon, or otherwise, it still marks progress which is otherwise non-existent. To go into any dialogue with denuclearization as the starting point — rather than one possible, if rare, objective — would be a flaw on the part of the US and its allies.

As Trump made explicit in Hanoi, ‘sometimes you have to walk’. Two years on from Trump’s North Korea summit, we must face the pessimistic reality that North Korea is not walking away from its nuclear weapons any time soon.”

 

10. A Korean critique of the White House's Interim National Security Strategic Guidance.

donga.com

Conclusion:

“What differentiates the Biden administration from its predecessor is how it carries out its policy. The Trump administration is characterized by one-off events full of political showmanship or unilateral approach such as tariff bombshells. It makes a stubbornly unilateral start and forces the rest to come with it. By contrast, the first thing that the Biden administration does is to group friends and foes and form a scrum to make others feel pressured to follow. Being sandwiched between Washington and Beijing, Seoul has until now been reluctant to decide whose side to take while peeping others to figure out the mainstream. Indeed, all such circumstantial changes test Seoul's competence in foreign policy. The last thing that Seoul wants to happen is to stay in a reluctant status and let someone else maneuver where it is headed. South Korea does not have any extra time to spend being stuck in indecisiveness when it restores its relationship with Japan or joins the Indo-Pacific Strategy.”

We are not supposed to be swayed by external forces in diplomacy

 

 

----------

 

“Look at everything as though you are seeing it either for the first or last time, then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” 

- Betty Smith

 

“Above all, do not lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.”

- Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”

- Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Categories: News