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Old 05-09-2019, 08:34 PM
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Why should North Korea be expected to denuclearize if the US won't?


In my politically uneducated mind, I cannot figure out why USA expects [Iran, North Korea, whoever else] to denuclearize (or to stop their nuclear development programs).

Why wouldn't the North Korean response simply be "you first"?

Is this just a case of one country which has the resources, money and power bullying other countries into doing what they want 'or else we'll sanction you into the ground'? Or are there justifiable reasons why the US ought to quash everyone else's nuclear programs while maintaining their own?
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:13 PM
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As you allude to, nuclear nonproliferation is about the most hypocritical aspect of international relations that there is. Nobody argues for nuclear disarmament on the basis of it being "fair," they argue for it because the idea of having several dozen new nations join the nuclear club makes them nervous.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Smudge777 View Post
In my politically uneducated mind, I cannot figure out why USA expects [Iran, North Korea, whoever else] to denuclearize (or to stop their nuclear development programs).

Why wouldn't the North Korean response simply be "you first"?

Is this just a case of one country which has the resources, money and power bullying other countries into doing what they want 'or else we'll sanction you into the ground'? Or are there justifiable reasons why the US ought to quash everyone else's nuclear programs while maintaining their own?
A couple of things. First off, the US isn't the only country pushing for NK to denuclearize. Nor was the US the sole country that originally pushed for nuclear non-proliferation. The US is pushing the hardest wrt North Korea, but you seem to be implying that it's only the US which is incorrect.

As to why the nuclear powers originally pushed for non-proliferation, well, that's obvious...nuclear weapons can destroy entire cities in one strike, and having those weapons in everyone's hand would be very destabilizing. It wasn't about being 'fair', it was about trying to prevent the things from spinning out of control and leading to the end of human civilization. Was that a worthy goal? I'd say yeah, it was.


North Korea, of course, was never a signatory to the NNPT, so they never got any of the bennies from signing it and then reneging. But it still is in the US's best interest to try and push the NKs into giving the things up. As to the reverse, well...that would be kind of silly. Sure, NK COULD say 'you first', but pretty much everyone would have a stunned look on their face before laughing and probably falling out of their chair. It would be stupid if they were serious, and probably why they haven't tried to use this tactic. From a practical perspective of course, there isn't any way for the US or anyone else to force North Korea to give the things up either, only try and put pressure on them to voluntarily give them up.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:41 PM
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North Korea, of course, was never a signatory to the NNPT, so they never got any of the bennies from signing it and then reneging. But it still is in the US's best interest to try and push the NKs into giving the things up. As to the reverse, well...that would be kind of silly. Sure, NK COULD say 'you first', but pretty much everyone would have a stunned look on their face before laughing and probably falling out of their chair. It would be stupid if they were serious, and probably why they haven't tried to use this tactic. From a practical perspective of course, there isn't any way for the US or anyone else to force North Korea to give the things up either, only try and put pressure on them to voluntarily give them up.
The USA could shout "they just fired a nuke at us! We fear for our safety!" and glass the country. Sort of a police shooting on a global scale.

Last edited by SamuelA; 05-09-2019 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:54 PM
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The USA could shout "they just fired a nuke at us! We fear for our safety!" and glass the country. Sort of a police shooting on a global scale.
And convince the other powers, especially those who would be directly affected due to radiation and crap falling on their citizens that it really happened the way we said, despite their own direct evidence to the contrary?

Oh, if we could get away with it then...well, it would still be a bad idea. But the thing is, in reality, we can't, so no using the standard Albuquerque police solution (i.e. *bang bang bang* Freeze!).
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:20 PM
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... you seem to be implying that it's only the US which is incorrect.
I implied no such thing. I've singled out the USA because:

1. It is one of two countries with massive stockpiles of nukes

2. It has been at the forefront of several denuclearization

But I'm fully aware that the USA is just one of dozens of countries who are working together for this goal.

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As to why the nuclear powers originally pushed for non-proliferation, well, that's obvious...nuclear weapons can destroy entire cities in one strike, and having those weapons in everyone's hand would be very destabilizing. It wasn't about being 'fair', it was about trying to prevent the things from spinning out of control and leading to the end of human civilization. Was that a worthy goal? I'd say yeah, it was.
Sure, non-proliferation seems to be a good thing. When Australia, Spain or Finland encourage non-proliferation, I respect it. But having one of the loudest voices for non-proliferation be a hoarder of nukes, themselves ... well that's some absurd double standards. Thus, I'm curious if there's a good justification for the double standard, or if it's just like a bully in the schoolyard who eats all the candy while forcing other kids to give theirs up.

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Sure, NK COULD say 'you first', but pretty much everyone would have a stunned look on their face before laughing and probably falling out of their chair. It would be stupid if they were serious, and probably why they haven't tried to use this tactic.
Why? Why would it be so ridiculous for a world leader to tell other world leaders "you want me to denuclearize? I only have a few nukes. How about we talk about the guys with thousands of nukes?"

Last edited by Smudge777; 05-09-2019 at 10:21 PM. Reason: Left a sentence unfinished
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:38 PM
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Why? Why would it be so ridiculous for a world leader to tell other world leaders "you want me to denuclearize? I only have a few nukes. How about we talk about the guys with thousands of nukes?"
Because in the real world countries negotiate realistically and when they have some reasonable method to do so. North Korea has zero leverage to even talk to the US about getting rid of nukes. This is why in the real world, only Russia has been able to discuss this topic and actually get (and of course vice versa) the US removing some of their nukes. Basically, there is nothing the North Koreas could use TOO get the US to take any such request seriously. And everyone knows this. So, they would, rightfully, be laughed at...same as if they went to the Chinese and asked them to give up their nukes, or asked the Brits or the French to do so. And the US was not only the first member of the exclusive club but also have an order of magnitude more capabilities than China, France or the UK...which have an order of magnitude more than North Korea does.

I'm struggling to find an analogy in my current state, but it would be like Obama going to Trump and demanding his tax returns because Obama gave up his own when he was running for president. Obama has no way to force or even have Trump take serious such a request. He's not in the congress or senate, has no way to pressure Trump to do so, and so such a request would be laughed off. It's not a very good analogy, because Obama is actually closer in power to Trump, even though he's not currently president, than North Korea is to the US.

The thing is, you need to put aside any notions you have that international politics is about fairness or what's right, it's about power. You can decry this as not fair or whatever, but it's the reality. North Korea doesn't have sufficient power to do more than try and hold onto their nukes while fending off the US's attempts in pressuring them to give the things up. Of course, it's not right or fair that they HAVE the things...they have them because another superpower (2 actually) decided to help them get them and for no other reason.

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Sure, non-proliferation seems to be a good thing. When Australia, Spain or Finland encourage non-proliferation, I respect it. But having one of the loudest voices for non-proliferation be a hoarder of nukes, themselves ... well that's some absurd double standards. Thus, I'm curious if there's a good justification for the double standard, or if it's just like a bully in the schoolyard who eats all the candy while forcing other kids to give theirs up.
Um...ALL the major nuclear powers pushed for the NNPT And, basically, they did so with bribes. Countries that signed would get goodies...countries that didn't would get the cold shoulder (by and large). It IS a double standards, and always was on...hell, it's a double standard BY DESIGN. The justification is that every country that gets the things, especially those who are potentially unstable themselves (like, oh, say North Korea...or Iran) increases the probability that something bad will happen wrt nuclear weapons. Presumably, the large powers would be less susceptible to this (woops on the USSR thingy).


It's not about being a bully though. If the US wanted to REALLY be the school yard bully then they would directly and openly threaten countries who might be developing the things...or perhaps it would be Russia doing so. Or the UK, or France or China. Since the US made the club and was the first member, that sort of mafia type response didn't happen. Plus, different powers have different goals and different interests. So, some countries got help with their programs while others were bribed not to pursue the things. I think this was actually a very good thing, for the most part, and most countries went along...the smart ones did, realizing that they couldn't compete with the US or Russia in any case, and that, in the end, those weapons would almost certainly never get used, so why waste all that money and effort?
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:49 PM
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If you're singling out North Korea it's because that country is basically a cult with borders. No one on the outside really knows what's going on with the leadership there, it might change overnight, and whoever is in charge tomorrow might want to throw MERVs like confetti at a parade.

As to to other countries, like Iran, see XT's post above. Global geopolitics is under no obligation to be fair.
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:29 AM
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Are there rationale individuals who expect NK to denuclearize? That's their most powerful playing card so why fold with a powerful hand?
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Old 05-10-2019, 04:57 AM
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Because they can't be trusted with nuclear weapons says the only country who ever dropped a nuclear weapon on human beings. Twice.
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Smudge777 View Post
In my politically uneducated mind, I cannot figure out why USA expects [Iran, North Korea, whoever else] to denuclearize (or to stop their nuclear development programs).

Why wouldn't the North Korean response simply be "you first"?

Is this just a case of one country which has the resources, money and power bullying other countries into doing what they want 'or else we'll sanction you into the ground'? Or are there justifiable reasons why the US ought to quash everyone else's nuclear programs while maintaining their own?
To some extent your last paragraph is correct. However, the US and USSR have both demonstrated a willingness to dial back their programs and dismantle chunks of their stock of warheads. Of the approximately 70,000 US nuclear weapons built since 1945 only about 6,000 are still in existence and 1/3 of those are slated for dismantling (it takes time due to limited facilities and the inherent hazards in handling weapons-grade materials). So, in fact, the US has reduced its nuclear stockpile, re purposing some of it for peaceful use in power plants (the USSR and now Russia does the same).

Of course, "reducing our pile of stuff", even by a large amount, is not the same as saying "you can't have stuff". And for a small nation like North Korea the fact that the US has, in fact, used nuclear weapons in war is going to be a factor in their calculations. Kim having a nuke program, even at WWII level technologies (which is more or less where they are) is rational because it functions as an invasion-deterrent. Given how often the US has invaded other nations the past few decades North Korean fears of the same are not unfounded.

Bottom line - Kim would have to be crazy to give up his nukes. That said, if both sides were being more rational then there would be space discussing limiting or slowing down the North Korean program in exchange for lifting some of the sanctions, especially in light of extremely poor agricultural output in North Korea and the looming threat of another famine. But North Korea is not going to give up nukes entirely.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:07 AM
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North Korea, unlike the U.S. has been testing nuclear weapons (in violation of a U.N. resolution), firing ballistic weapons toward its neighbors (i.e. over Japan) and threatening annihilation of its enemies.

They're way past the pretense of having nukes to deter "aggression".
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:36 AM
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North Korea, unlike the U.S. has been testing nuclear weapons (in violation of a U.N. resolution), firing ballistic weapons toward its neighbors (i.e. over Japan) and threatening annihilation of its enemies.

They're way past the pretense of having nukes to deter "aggression".

The US has tested nuclear weapons extensively (now they just don't *need* to any more - they would in a heartbeat if they did), has used nuclear weapons on Japan and its president has threatened NK with nuclear fire and fury directly.


Potato, pohtahtoh.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:44 AM
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North Korea, unlike the U.S. has been testing nuclear weapons (in violation of a U.N. resolution), firing ballistic weapons toward its neighbors (i.e. over Japan) and threatening annihilation of its enemies.

They're way past the pretense of having nukes to deter "aggression".
1) North Korea never signed that UN resolution
2) Underground testing is within modern rules if you're going to be testing nuclear weapons - which is what they've been doing, testing underground.
3) As a pariah state what motivation do they have to play by anyone else's rules?
4) North Korea is too small to do a lot of testing on its own territory and isn't big enough to test long range missiles within its own borders. I know the Japanese are unhappy about the doing it over Japan, with good reason, but arguably that is in fact the safest way for North Korea to do long-range missile testing.
5) Korea has been threatening to annihilate its enemies for as long as it has been existence. Like pretty much every other country on the planet. Unlike some others, though, they've largely stayed in their own territory these past few decades. They don't act like they're interested in conquest and I think we can believe them when they say they're mostly interested in keeping their sovereignty.

I think there may be an opportunity here to ask the North Koreans to halt their program where it currently is, and in this instance allowing them to keep the nukes they currently have might actually lessen tensions by making them feel that the US (and others) are much less likely to invade and force a regime change. That still sucks for those suffering under the current government, but reinstating a shooting war (or worse yet, starting a nuclear war) could actually be worse in regards to death and destruction. But the only way the North Koreans would play that game is if we also reduced sanctions. Even then, there is no guarantee either side would keep its word.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:56 AM
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Even then, there is no guarantee either side would keep its word.
There is actually pretty good evidence that WE wouldn't keep our word on a deal like that.

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Old 05-10-2019, 09:56 AM
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Because in the real world countries negotiate realistically and when they have some reasonable method to do so. North Korea has zero leverage to even talk to the US about getting rid of nukes. This is why in the real world, only Russia has been able to discuss this topic and actually get (and of course vice versa) the US removing some of their nukes. Basically, there is nothing the North Koreas could use TOO get the US to take any such request seriously. And everyone knows this. So, they would, rightfully, be laughed at...same as if they went to the Chinese and asked them to give up their nukes, or asked the Brits or the French to do so. And the US was not only the first member of the exclusive club but also have an order of magnitude more capabilities than China, France or the UK...which have an order of magnitude more than North Korea does.

I'm struggling to find an analogy in my current state, but it would be like Obama going to Trump and demanding his tax returns because Obama gave up his own when he was running for president. Obama has no way to force or even have Trump take serious such a request. He's not in the congress or senate, has no way to pressure Trump to do so, and so such a request would be laughed off. It's not a very good analogy, because Obama is actually closer in power to Trump, even though he's not currently president, than North Korea is to the US.

The thing is, you need to put aside any notions you have that international politics is about fairness or what's right, it's about power. You can decry this as not fair or whatever, but it's the reality. North Korea doesn't have sufficient power to do more than try and hold onto their nukes while fending off the US's attempts in pressuring them to give the things up. Of course, it's not right or fair that they HAVE the things...they have them because another superpower (2 actually) decided to help them get them and for no other reason.
This is a terrible analogy and you seem to have completely missed the point of the OP.

The US wants something from NK: nuclear disarmament. Thus, NK has leverage. Saying "you first" would thus be a negotiating tactic which would test how important this was to the US.

Your analogy is way off base because it misses the fact that one party wants something from the other party and it reverses the "wanting" and "approached" parties. In your analogy, if Trump (the US) had gone to Obama (NK) seeking something and Obama had said "show me your tax returns first", your analogy would make sense. The party with power seeks something from the party without power, who then sees leverage potential in the situation.
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Old 05-10-2019, 11:37 AM
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This is a terrible analogy and you seem to have completely missed the point of the OP.

The US wants something from NK: nuclear disarmament. Thus, NK has leverage. Saying "you first" would thus be a negotiating tactic which would test how important this was to the US.

Your analogy is way off base because it misses the fact that one party wants something from the other party and it reverses the "wanting" and "approached" parties. In your analogy, if Trump (the US) had gone to Obama (NK) seeking something and Obama had said "show me your tax returns first", your analogy would make sense. The party with power seeks something from the party without power, who then sees leverage potential in the situation.
Well, I was drunk and I did say I was struggling to think of an analogy. That said, I think you are missing a few things. The US does want nuclear disarmament from North Korea, true enough...but, frankly, we've kicked this can down the road for decades now, so it's not exactly a huge priority for us, obviously. What we really wanted was for them to stop the provocative tests...which, you know, they kind of have done, even if it's only temporarily. NK has very little leverage, so saying 'you first' would be laugh worthy. I'm unsure what leverage you were thinking of, but as stated, we've kicked this can down the road through multiple presidencies and administrations, so kicking it down the road again and just sticking with sanctions is really no skin off our collective noses. NK on the other hand...well, tick tock. They need, badly, for those sanctions to be lifted...a lot more than we need to lift them or need them to disarm. In the end, after all, what good are the things to NK? If they use them, they will be completely and utterly destroyed. And by keeping and maintaining the things, it's a continual drain on their finances, already strapped to the limit.


The point of my own analogy was to show how someone without leverage or anything to compel the other party to take them seriously would play out. Obama has no leverage against Trump, and nothing he can use to compel Trump to do what he wants. NK has no leverage over the US and nothing they can use to compel us to do what they badly need. Their only path is to use their one bargaining chip and try and get the most out of it they can. But for the US at this stage it's all or nothing...either NK completely disarms or, you know, we can just kick that can down the road again and just keep up the sanction status quo. It's kind of like Cuba has been all these years....there really hasn't been any driving need, from the US's perspective, to lift the embargo, so it just sort of kept on keeping on. There isn't any compelling need for the US to lift the sanctions on North Korea unless and until they disarm. We don't need to settle for less at this stage.
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:14 PM
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You seem to be having difficulty with transactional leverage.

As soon as someone asks you for something, you have leverage: you have something they want. If we don't see eye-to-eye on that point, further discussion will be useless.
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Old 05-10-2019, 10:36 PM
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You seem to be having difficulty with transactional leverage.

As soon as someone asks you for something, you have leverage: you have something they want. If we don't see eye-to-eye on that point, further discussion will be useless.
I was going to answer this seriously, but it's just too ridiculous, and I figured with the 'you are having difficulty' bit there was no need for a more studied tone. Sure, the US does want North Korea to stop their nuclear program and disarm. But it's like saying Trump wants a cheese burger, so therefore McDonald's has leverage over him. During the time we have been engaging North Korea THIS time we, the US, has removed from our nuclear stockpile more weapons than they have. Literally, we have 2 orders of magnitude more nukes than they do. And they have zero leverage to try and play the 'you first card'. It, literally, is like saying McDonald's could leverage Trump because he wants a cheeseburger, and absolutely no one, with perhaps the exception of you and the OP would be shocked if the US completely ignored such a stupid suggestion or fell off our collective chair laughing. I mean, come on...even if whoever your dream candidate got elected president, they wouldn't take such a thing seriously either.

Or, to put it another way, why do YOU think this brilliant idea hasn't occurred to North Korea or the US? Generally, if you think some brilliant idea SHOULD, logically (by your own logic) work, you have to ask yourself...why hasn't anyone tried this? Is it really that you are that brilliant and no one has asked, or that it's not such a brilliant idea after all?

The reality is that, while Trump would love an easy win, to demonstrate to the faithful how brilliant he is and all that, if he doesn't get it this won't really matter that much. It's fairly small potatoes. WRT general US foreign policy, try and recall that we were good, for several administrations, just kicking the can down the road and putting in and taking off sanctions. And we could just stick with that...in fact, my WAG is that this is what most people would prefer. In the end, unless you REALLY think North Korea is going to unilaterally use the things (and be completely destroyed), them having the things won't really make that much of a difference. They are, actually, a huge drain on North Korea, and have basically been a huge factor in keeping them down. They have and continue to cut their own throats with the things, draining their coffers AND providing the excuse to continue sanctions that cripple their economy and make them an outcast nation, and for not actual, tangible benefit, as no one would invade them anyway, with China on their side (as well as Russia to a lesser degree).
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Old 05-11-2019, 02:00 AM
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. . . not actual, tangible benefit, as no one would invade them anyway, with China on their side (as well as Russia to a lesser degree).
They help Kim himself and his family survive and remain in power by keeping the country on a permanent war footing. It’s not entirely irrational behavior.
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:13 AM
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Uh ... Because North Korea is run by a tyrannical egomaniacal brat, while the U.S. is an enlightened democracy?
Uh ... Because North Korea is a petty country full of inequities while the U.S. is a stable and respected power?
Uh ... Because the North Korean leader parades his Army every year like a spoiled little boy, while the U.S. military is wielded by adults for adult purposes?
Uh ... Because the North Korean leader is a faker who cheats at golf and likes to rape every pretty pussy he can grab?

Yeah, I guess you're right, OP ó Why should North Korea be expected to denuclearize if the US won't?
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Old 05-11-2019, 08:20 AM
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They help Kim himself and his family survive and remain in power by keeping the country on a permanent war footing. Itís not entirely irrational behavior.
Nukes or the Chinese? They probably have had a non-zero effect (nukes I mean...the Chinese have definitely had a huge impact on the continued rein of the Kim's) on keeping the Kim family in power, as it's something they can point to that is tangible and they can and have used it to demonstrate they are on a war footing and that the US is in check and can't invade them because of those nukes. But the reality is that the US was never going to invade them, and their nukes have definitely been a double edged sword, working to inspire their people with the mistaken belief that the ant-tiger wards actually keep the tigers away and draining their resources and also making them an international outcast who no one but the Chinese wants to invest in or trade with on anything but the shallowest levels. I think we can see in the different trajectory between North Korea and Vietnam how that obsession with nukes has played out for them. Vietnam is by no means a free country, nor have they thrown off the shackles of their communist party, yet they are slowly starting to prosper, despite their own outcast status from the past, and they have the hook in, so to speak, for future even greater prosperity down the road. The biggest difference is, they don't test nuclear weapons or toss ICBMs over their neighbors to get attention. Hell, they don't even have the close relationship to China to protect them from the supposedly ravening US, and they have the distinction of actually beating us in a war they didn't even start, as opposed to the lost the war with the US until the Chinese saved them that is North Korea's only distinction.
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Old 05-11-2019, 01:04 PM
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I was going to answer this seriously, but it's just too ridiculous, and I figured with the 'you are having difficulty' bit there was no need for a more studied tone. Sure, the US does want North Korea to stop their nuclear program and disarm. But it's like saying Trump wants a cheese burger, so therefore McDonald's has leverage over him.
You've missed the point again. McDonald's offers hamburgers for sale. Did North Korea offer nuclear disarmament of their own volition? No, they did not. This analogy fails as well.

Again: someone who wishes something from someone else gives that other person leverage. I'm shocked at your disagreement on this point, as it's a basic bit of trade and negotiations.

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Old 05-11-2019, 01:48 PM
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Because they can't be trusted with nuclear weapons says the only country who ever dropped a nuclear weapon on human beings. Twice.
And saved over a million Japanese civilian lives by doing so. At least. Estimates from works such as, e.g., Richard Frank's book on the proposed invasion of the Japanese home islands, Downfall, suggest the real number may have exceeded 5 million dead.

As to why the North Korean's possession of nuclear weapons is thought of differently than the US's, the US hasn't recently threatened to use weapons like those if its demands for food and aid weren't met. (Admittedly, because the US can achieve its foreign policy goals without needing to do so.)

The North has.

Unfortunately, the later lives of despots who've abandoned their nuclear weapons programs (Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein) vs those who've kept their nuclear WMDs argues rather strongly for not getting rid of the things.
  #25  
Old 05-11-2019, 02:21 PM
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Because they can't be trusted with nuclear weapons says the only country who ever dropped a nuclear weapon on human beings. Twice.
By inducing Japan to surrender without the need for an invasion, the atomic bombings probably prevented that many US casualties; possibly even a million US deaths.

Okinawa cost the Americans almost 50,000 casualties including over 12,000 KIA. The Japanese armed forces took close to 100 percent casualties on Okinawa. Nearly 100,000 killed.

Okinawa has less than one percent of the Japanese land mass and, maybe, one percent of its population.

The number of Japanese casualties, deaths in particular, resulting from a US invasion would have dwarfed the number due to the two atomic bombings.

Little Boy and Fat Man saved lives, American and Japanese.

Last edited by KarlGauss; 05-11-2019 at 02:23 PM.
  #26  
Old 05-11-2019, 07:19 PM
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You've missed the point again. McDonald's offers hamburgers for sale. Did North Korea offer nuclear disarmament of their own volition? No, they did not. This analogy fails as well.

Again: someone who wishes something from someone else gives that other person leverage. I'm shocked at your disagreement on this point, as it's a basic bit of trade and negotiations.
First--the person (in this case North Korea) needs the power to influence or achieve their goals. And they don't have that. If North Korea did have any leverage (which would have been extremely small to begin) they lost that leverage and bargaining power a long time ago.

Leverage requires power and influence. It's not something that is automatic because the other person asks for something. Sure they can ask for something in return, but it's not leverage.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:17 PM
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the reality is that the US was never going to invade them, and their nukes have definitely been a double edged sword, working to inspire their people with the mistaken belief that the ant-tiger wards actually keep the tigers away and draining their resources and also making them an international outcast who no one but the Chinese wants to invest in or trade with on anything but the shallowest levels.
My bolding.

No. This isnít as clear cut as you state. Itís been widely reported that the US was contemplating attacking North Korea in the 1990s. For example, from the Atlantic in 2005
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As tensions rose, Pyongyang became more belligerent, at one point reminding the South Koreans that it wouldn't be hard to turn Seoul into ďa sea of fire.Ē The United States, for its part, contemplated pre-emptive strikes on Yongbyon.

By the spring of 1994 the United States was probably closer to nuclear war than it had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. On June 15 President Clinton and others sat in the White House Cabinet Room listening to Secretary of Defense William Perry present an array of military options against North Korea. Clinton was preparing to evacuate American civilians from the country when word came that Jimmy Carterówho was in Pyongyang as an independent citizen, not as an official emissary of the Clinton administrationóhad reached a preliminary deal with the North Koreans and was about to go on CNN to announce the terms.
The United States has attacked many countries over the last several decades. Clearly, the us of military force by the US is a real option, so the question for the North Koreans would be if the US would attack them or not. There simply isnít a clear answer.

Itís not irrational for them to look at cases where the US has attacked or invaded countries to cause regime changes, and believe that they needed a greater deterrence.
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we can see in the different trajectory between North Korea and Vietnam how that obsession with nukes has played out for them. Vietnam is by no means a free country, nor have they thrown off the shackles of their communist party, yet they are slowly starting to prosper, despite their own outcast status from the past, and they have the hook in, so to speak, for future even greater prosperity down the road. The biggest difference is, they don't test nuclear weapons or toss ICBMs over their neighbors to get attention.
This is a comparison of apples and oranges. Vietnam doesnít have external enemies. They donít believe they need to protect themselves from other countries. Mostly importantly they donít have a one-man dictatorship.

Iím not arguing the North Korea should be developing nukes or ICBMs. Iím just saying that analyzing the situation using game theory, from the point of view of Kim, it makes sense. He doesnít care about the masses. He doesnít care about how many people starve.

If dictators were really concerned about the well being of the people, then they wouldnít steal billions and billions of dollars, yet they do. For some odd reason, empathy is not one of the traits most commonly associated with brutal dictators.
  #28  
Old 05-11-2019, 09:54 PM
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You've missed the point again. McDonald's offers hamburgers for sale. Did North Korea offer nuclear disarmament of their own volition? No, they did not. This analogy fails as well.

Again: someone who wishes something from someone else gives that other person leverage. I'm shocked at your disagreement on this point, as it's a basic bit of trade and negotiations.
No, you are missing the point. You don't seem to understand the disparity in negotiating position vis a vis the US and North Korea. The US wants North Korea to disarm. They don't NEED them to disarm, however. North Korea does need the US to stop sanctions...as well as the rest of the world, including, now, China. Just because someone wants something from someone else doesn't automatically give them the sorts of disparate leverage you and the OP seem to think automatically exists. If Jay Leno wants to buy a car from Joe Poor, what this means is that if they can agree on a price, then a car is sold. But it doesn't give Joe Poor the leverage to say 'Sure, Jay, I'll sell you this car if you first sell all your cars!'. Basically, Jay is going to laugh in Joes face and walk away to find another car. Yes, this too is not a perfect analogy, but the point of all of these analogies is to underscore the disparity in bargaining position between North Korea and the US. Once again, the US wants the North to stop doing provocative shit, and to disarm. But in the end, we've managed to go without both of those things for, literally, decades, and we can just walk away and kick the can down the road again. We don't need, fundamentally, them to do more than refrain from attacking the South or Japan or anyone else. Of course, if they do, then it will be bad...but it will be existential for them. Literally no one will come to their aid if they attack first, not even China. On the other side, they need some sort of deal that lifts the sanctions and, perhaps, allows some capital to flow into their system, which is dying. It IS an existential need for them. So, bargaining 101...who is in the stronger position between want and need? Or, you know, keep dwelling on my analogies, which proves...well, that I'm just bad at analogies, especially when I'm drunk, but doesn't actually address any of the core issues I've laid out.


One last try. If you really think that North Korea has this sort of leverage, why doesn't every other nuclear armed country? Why has none of them ever been able to leverage us into nuclear disarmament and denuclearization? I mean, the Soviets would have loved this sort of leverage, yet they didn't manage to do it...why do you think that now, at this stage in history, and with reality being real, North Korea DOES have that sort of leverage? Why do you think the fact we want a deal (and our president is obviously an idiot) that this would lead us to denuclearization? Why would we even take serious such a request, that we'd get rid of 1000's of nukes to get the North Koreas to give up 10's? Seriously, how does this make sense to you at all??
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:05 PM
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My bolding.

No. This isn’t as clear cut as you state. It’s been widely reported that the US was contemplating attacking North Korea in the 1990s. For example, from the Atlantic in 2005
Sorry, but it's horseshit. Or, to put it another way...why haven't we? Why is North Korea still a thing? I mean, we certainly could have attacked them. We still could in fact. Why haven't we? It's now nearly 20 years later, yet they are still a thing? They didn't have nukes for that whole time. What was the tiger repellent for all those years?

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The United States has attacked many countries over the last several decades. Clearly, the us of military force by the US is a real option, so the question for the North Koreans would be if the US would attack them or not. There simply isn’t a clear answer.
Well, even a cursory study of how and why the US has attacked 'many' countries would show the factors that could lead to some theoretical one. Acting provocatively, doing things like threats and even testing nukes hasn't been enough for us to attack North Korea, so there must be more too it. Now, you could make a case that THEY might not see it that way, but there is another factor you are seemingly not addressing...that being that North Korea was and still is in the Chinese sphere of influence, so, the reality is that even if we wanted too invade them we still wouldn't because of that alone. And this was before China became the second most powerful single nation on the planet. Nukes aren't what keeps the US out...the US was never going to be in, unless North Korea attacked first.

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This is a comparison of apples and oranges. Vietnam doesn’t have external enemies. They don’t believe they need to protect themselves from other countries. Mostly importantly they don’t have a one-man dictatorship.
You are kidding, right? Pretty much EVERYONE was an external threat to Vietnam. They not only had 1 superpower angry at them, they actually had 2, and their shield folded in the early 90's. True, they never had a one family rule god thingy going for them, but external threat wise, as well as direct economic embargos, no one trumps Vietnam. I can't think of any other country attacked by more world powers with less external help (one of their superpower NEIGHBORS attacked them) than Vietnam. North Korea, on the other hand, has never been attacked by anyone. They attacked and lost one war, and since then...since before most of the posters on this board, including me...have basically been shielded by the two regional superpowers and haven't fought shit. They don't need nukes for protection, and they never did...they wanted them as a threat and also because it buffs the local cred of the Kim family.
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Last edited by XT; 05-11-2019 at 10:05 PM.
  #30  
Old 05-12-2019, 05:56 AM
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Sorry, but it's horseshit. Or, to put it another way...why haven't we? Why is North Korea still a thing? I mean, we certainly could have attacked them. We still could in fact. Why haven't we? It's now nearly 20 years later, yet they are still a thing? They didn't have nukes for that whole time. What was the tiger repellent for all those years?
Because we didn't want to deal with the costs of an attack, and if we're smart, we still don't. American power is, in part, the projection of power backed up by real power. Once power is used, the projection of power is removed, and we're dealing with whatever the reality is once combat starts, which is inevitably different from what war planners and pundits thought it would be beforehand. I mean, see Iraq and Afghanistan - why are we still there now? Shouldn't we have finished our enemies off a long time ago?

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They don't need nukes for protection, and they never did...they wanted them as a threat and also because it buffs the local cred of the Kim family.
They want them for the purposes of blackmail, yes, but that blackmail is strategic. They wouldn't need to blackmail the US if sanctions weren't a threat to their regime, but they are. They can be counted on to misbehave and to escalate their misbehavior until we reach a deal on sanctions, and that's not very likely with Bolton and Pompeo sitting next to the president and goading him to take a progressively tougher stance.

Last edited by asahi; 05-12-2019 at 05:56 AM.
  #31  
Old 05-12-2019, 06:18 AM
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There is actually pretty good evidence that WE wouldn't keep our word on a deal like that.
Like the 1994 deal. The the Under Secretary pretty much admitted to Congress back in 1998/99 that the US was not keeping its end of the bargain.
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:30 AM
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Iím not arguing the North Korea should be developing nukes or ICBMs. Iím just saying that analyzing the situation using game theory, from the point of view of Kim, it makes sense. He doesnít care about the masses. He doesnít care about how many people starve.
Actually, I would argue that he does. Even in North Korea there are limits to the numbers of people who can suffer before people in high places begin wondering whether their house of cards might collapse. There's always a chance someone in the military decides that a dictator's days are numbered - even in North Korea.
  #33  
Old 05-12-2019, 07:33 AM
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The USA could shout "they just fired a nuke at us! We fear for our safety!" and glass the country. Sort of a police shooting on a global scale.
It's only a 'police shooting' if the US nukes North Korea after they launch a weather satellite. "I saw a nuke and feared for my safety".
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:55 AM
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In my politically uneducated mind, I cannot figure out why USA expects [Iran, North Korea, whoever else] to denuclearize (or to stop their nuclear development programs).
It's not really a case of "expects". It's a case of the US saying "hey, things will go easier for you if you don't try to join this club".

Doesn't really work but there is no reason for the US to completely give up on this play either.

Quote:
Why wouldn't the North Korean response simply be "you first"?
Because they have no real interest in a denuclearized US. There are still a thousand ways the US could smash the Kim regime without nukes.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:48 AM
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Is this just a case of one country which has the resources, money and power bullying other countries into doing what they want 'or else we'll sanction you into the ground'?
You got it.

The state department might use pretty words to justify the policy, but nukes could hurt an invasion if used properly and deter an aggressor from thumping you at a lower bar of justification. I think if it was only one rogue state, it would have been militarily dealt with by now, but there is a rogues gallery and you have to pick the precedent that you are going to be setting.

Samuel Colt made all men equal, Robert Oppenheimer is doing the same for nations and the rogues have learned that lesson well. Realistically we have done all we can do in NK short of Military action, but we shall have to see how the China tarriffs succeed in the next stage of NK talks.
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Old 05-12-2019, 12:27 PM
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Because they have (nuclear) "weapons of mass destruction."
Whereas we have a nuclear deterrent to maintain peace.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:19 PM
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We had them first.
  #38  
Old 05-13-2019, 10:11 AM
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No, you are missing the point. You don't seem to understand the disparity in negotiating position vis a vis the US and North Korea. The US wants North Korea to disarm. They don't NEED them to disarm, however. North Korea does need the US to stop sanctions...as well as the rest of the world, including, now, China. Just because someone wants something from someone else doesn't automatically give them the sorts of disparate leverage you and the OP seem to think automatically exists. If Jay Leno wants to buy a car from Joe Poor, what this means is that if they can agree on a price, then a car is sold. But it doesn't give Joe Poor the leverage to say 'Sure, Jay, I'll sell you this car if you first sell all your cars!'. Basically, Jay is going to laugh in Joes face and walk away to find another car. Yes, this too is not a perfect analogy, but the point of all of these analogies is to underscore the disparity in bargaining position between North Korea and the US. Once again, the US wants the North to stop doing provocative shit, and to disarm. But in the end, we've managed to go without both of those things for, literally, decades, and we can just walk away and kick the can down the road again. We don't need, fundamentally, them to do more than refrain from attacking the South or Japan or anyone else. Of course, if they do, then it will be bad...but it will be existential for them. Literally no one will come to their aid if they attack first, not even China. On the other side, they need some sort of deal that lifts the sanctions and, perhaps, allows some capital to flow into their system, which is dying. It IS an existential need for them. So, bargaining 101...who is in the stronger position between want and need? Or, you know, keep dwelling on my analogies, which proves...well, that I'm just bad at analogies, especially when I'm drunk, but doesn't actually address any of the core issues I've laid out.


One last try. If you really think that North Korea hasthis sort of leverage, why doesn't every other nuclear armed country? Why has none of them ever been able to leverage us into nuclear disarmament and denuclearization? I mean, the Soviets would have loved this sort of leverage, yet they didn't manage to do it...why do you think that now, at this stage in history, and with reality being real, North Korea DOES have that sort of leverage? Why do you think the fact we want a deal (and our president is obviously an idiot) that this would lead us to denuclearization? Why would we even take serious such a request, that we'd get rid of 1000's of nukes to get the North Koreas to give up 10's? Seriously, how does this make sense to you at all??
This post contains many clarifiers and things not at all present in my posts; I've bolded the parts that are, IMO, problematic.

You are arguing with yourself, or at least with what you want me to have written.

Go back and re-read what I wrote. I didn't write anything like what you're arguing against. None of your "if you really think" things are anything I've ever argued.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 05-13-2019 at 10:12 AM.
  #39  
Old 05-13-2019, 09:01 PM
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This post contains many clarifiers and things not at all present in my posts; I've bolded the parts that are, IMO, problematic.

You are arguing with yourself, or at least with what you want me to have written.

Go back and re-read what I wrote. I didn't write anything like what you're arguing against. None of your "if you really think" things are anything I've ever argued.
And you were focused on the analogy and not bothering to address the actual point. So, I extrapolated what you wrote to see if you would engage with something...which you haven't. So, not really seeing much of a discussion here. Let's take a step back and see if we can salvage something. The OP is...'Why should North Korea be expected to denuclearize if the US won't?'. I've laid out why they shouldn't...basically, because it's an unrealistic and silly supposition. North Korea KNOWS, just like every other nation, that they aren't going to get the US to denuclearize. It's not on the table, and never will be. We might, as with Russia, agree to give up some nukes in a like manner, but North Korea's pitiful handful of the things won't even register on our ledger, but we wouldn't do it anyway. So, unless North Korea doesn't want a deal at all, they wouldn't ask for something they know, for a fact, they could never get. Do you agree or disagree? If you disagree, why? And, as a follow-up, if you REALLY think the US would do this, why hasn't anyone else tried? Why hasn't North Korea tried? I asked this question earlier, but it got ignored, but I think it's kind of a key question.
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  #40  
Old 05-13-2019, 11:05 PM
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Sorry, but it's horseshit. .
No. You aren't sorry.

People can have discussions without being disrespectful, but it doesnít seem like you can. Winning a discussion seems to be very important for you, so you win! I just donít engage.
  #41  
Old 05-13-2019, 11:13 PM
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Actually, I would argue that he does. Even in North Korea there are limits to the numbers of people who can suffer before people in high places begin wondering whether their house of cards might collapse. There's always a chance someone in the military decides that a dictator's days are numbered - even in North Korea.
Yes, but that doesnít show that heís actually concerned about the people. Itís much more likely that heís concerned about his own position / life. If there are limits to the suffering he inflicts on the ďpeasantsĒ itís not because he cares about them, but because he knows that there will be potential consequences for him and his family.

Watching him have his uncle and others brutally executed and murdered reminds me how little I understand the day-to-day decision making processing of a dictator.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:41 PM
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On a global scale, of course, the reason is because it's theoretically possible (albeit a long shot) to get nuclear weapons out of North Korean hands, whereas it's clearly not going to be possible to get rid of US nuclear weapons.
  • Simple analysis of human behavior informs us that the more different entities possessing the weapons, the more likelihood of their use.
  • Cold War doctrines imply that "limited use" is highly likely to spiral out of control into a full-scale exchange.
  • Physics demonstrates that a full-scale exchange would be the worst disaster in history.

Those things being understood, nonproliferation efforts should be much more serious and urgent than they actually are -- it feels like we're not doing nearly enough.

Unfair and one-sided and hypocritical it probably is, but some effort at heading off a historically likely full-scale exchange that would devastate humanity probably ought to be attempted.

Last edited by Sailboat; 05-15-2019 at 12:42 PM.
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