North Korea’s young leader must be allowed to claim small victory in order to avert a crisis nobody wants. …
The way that this has happened in recent years is that the North has lashed out, militarily, at the South. They have shelled disputed areas, and sunk South Korean vessels. In such instances the South has exercised “heroic restraint” and not risen to such extreme provocation. This has allowed the bully to maintain his facade, and peace to remain. It is unlikely that South Korea is willing to pay this price any longer. It is no longer politically acceptable to turn the other cheek. This means that if Kim Jong Un tries to lash out, to save face, he will get a blood nose in reply. If this young man gets a blood nose, the population he rules will become emboldened.
To avert this risk, he must strike harder at the external enemy. If that happens, complete escalation of every weapon in the arsenal could take minutes. This is especially so if the South hits, intentionally or unintentionally, any of the North’s strategic assets.
What this suggests is that some other method has to be found to get the North Korean leader out of the trap he is creating for us all. The key here is finding something symbolic, that gives the appearance that he has won a small victory.
On the military level, it may be that we accept a further missile or nuclear test, which is signalled in advance so there is absolutely no misunderstanding. It may be that we tone down the military exercises in the South, or that the armed forces in the South publicly reposition a military asset, away from the potential conflict. If this blink is done, then the North can reciprocate.
Promises of talks on peace treaties, food, fuel and disarmament can be part of the following package. But first, a symbolic step, away from the precipice is required. In any other situation, the bully should be confronted, toe-to-toe. But this is not that instance.
I can’t think of an argument that is more wrong. All the history of the world is appeasement fails. If you allow North Korea to attack South Korea with no retribution, then all that will do is encourage them next time to go even further.
The argument by Gillespie, while well intentioned, is as fatally flawed as Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler.
Hat Tip: No Minister