Could Iraq Be A Feint?

Okay, we know that the US is building up it’s troops to go into Iraq, and is rattling sabres left and right about how bad Saddam is, while North Korea is almost completely ignored by comparison, even though we’re 99% certain that they do have at least one nuclear weapon. Not to mention that NK’s ruled by a total nutjob (whereas, Saddam appears to have a trace of intelligence about him since he’s not threatened to shoot UN inspectors or anything so drastic) who could very well think that he could launch a war and get away with it. Suppose the US is really trying to get NK to overreach and give the US an opportunity to take out NK. How would the world react if the North attacked the South and the US responded immediately with overwhelming force and began to ignore Iraq?

I think the major difference is that North Korea (according to America) has nukes, and Iraq does not.

Hence all guns blazing-style with Baghdad, eggshell-tiptoeing with Pyongyang.

What I don’t understand is Washington’s continued adamant refusal for direct talks with North Korea. Pyongyang is insisting on direct talks, Washington is insisting on multilateral talks. Given in any talks the US and NK will be the major parties, I cannot understand what Bush has to lose by agreeing to talk directly one-on-one with Kim.

I know Bush has an attitude of “not rewarding bad behaviour” - but agreeing to talk about that behaviour is hardly rewarding it, is it?

It would be nice to see China, Russia, S.Korea, and Japan step up to the plate on N.Korea.

GW’s refusal to engage in direct ‘negotiations’ could be as much exaspiration towards the neighbors of NK, as it could (IMO) be a valid policy decision. (They broke the former agreement, therefore, there is nothing else to talk about until they return to a state of compliance with that agreement.)

My understanding is that the North Koreans could make short work of the (30,000?) US personnel in S. Korea. They are intended as a “trip-wire”: once attacked, the US can bring other forces forward.

  1. Sacrificing those troops would be diabolical. I doubt whether the Joint Chiefs would be too happy with this plan. (And I doubt whether a secret mobilization of lots more troops to the Korean peninsula is possible).

  2. Kim Jung Il is a weirdo, but I can’t point to a single instance of miscalculation on his part. Very different from Saddam. I doubt whether he will just attack S. Korea. Or rather, I see no evidence that he would make such a mistake.

  3. Anybody know the answer to istara’s question?

I wish we knew more about the whole “NK has nukes” thing. If anything, we played into their hands by breaking off what few ties their were, and kicking inspectors out. But even so, I find it hard to believe that we don’t have good intel on exactly where their weaponized nuke material would be, and couldn’t take it out pre-emptively if we cared or needed to.

The problem, as is oft cited, is not their potential for nukes, but their conventional weaponry. There’s no way we could take out all their placements fast enough to prevent them from decimating South Korea. So we don’t want to move against them just yet unless we really have to.

—They broke the former agreement, therefore, there is nothing else to talk about until they return to a state of compliance with that agreement.—

Frankly, I think this is a terrible position. It’s pretty clear that they will never be returning to that agreement, but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be gained by talking with them.

The whole nukes or not? question is a really interesting one. I first heard that they had them in comments from Rumsfeld a few weeks back.

I was quite shocked and surprised, I asked around our newsroom, and the general consensus was “oh, yeah, everyone knows that.” However I couldn’t find earlier sources saying that they had them. I had thought they just had the potential to make up to six.

Then a few days later we get other countries denying that NK has nukes, contradicting US opinion (based IIRC on CIA intelligence).

That said, this is becoming academic, because expert consensus has been for the past month or so that NK is at furthest x number of weeks/months away from developing full nukes, so with all this time passing it may well have done so by now, even if it hadn’t by the time of Rumsfeld’s comments. Or it may have done so all along.

If some reports are to be believed, the reactor they’ve switched on “to make electricity” has very little power generation capacity. So it’s all extremely sinister.

NPR announced today that NK is threatening to back out of the Armistice when brought a cease fire to the war. Also, I thought that NK had pretty much confirmed that they do have a nuke. They did admit to having a missile which could reach the Western US, and NK began violating the 1994 Agreement it made with the Clinton Administration almost immediately, so it’s not like they’re a trustworthy place.

The difference with North Korea is that North Korea could kick ass. If provoked, they could make South Korea, Japan and maybe even the United States very very unfun places to be. North Korea has a huge military. North Korea has nukes. North Korea has a lot of gudges. We could not just “take out” North Korea without dragging a lot of Asia into things and perhaps turning a good chunk of it into nuclear wastelands. I doubt that’d win us any friends anywhere.

And I think we are hopeing the North Korea eventually just gives up, Soviet style. They’re without much in the way of friends and allies, and they have a lot to gain by slowly opening their doors. It’s not going to be a fast or dramatic transition, because by doing so they are losing all the face they ever had. But baby steps are being taken and they are working.

I hate for the messege to be that the only way to keep America from arbitrarily taking over your country is to be armed to the teeth, but there you go. It works.

Also, NK has about a million troops lined up against about 45,000 US soldiers patrolling the DMZ. There’s been no military build-up in the South (and if there were, there would certainly be massive protests there). SK’s capital Seoul is a mere 50 miles from the DMZ. And however crazy one might think Saddam is (I personally think he’s crazy like a fox), Kim Jong Il is crazy enough to think he really could take on the US if it came to that. So I think negotiations have to be the way in dealing with NK right now. Any attempt to do a “quick takeout” of NK IMHO might result in a nuke being lobbed at Seoul or Japan, and a potential quick-strike invasion by NK forces of major SK cities.

Yes, it’s a different situation. Not that I think that war is the answer in Iraq, either.

Actually I asked in this thread
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=163512

about how NK stacks military against SK. From everything said there(with stats btw) NK would most likely lose unless they used nukes or had alot of Chinese support.(Since the SK army is large, better equipped, better fed, better trained, and have loads of reservists. Oh, and SK has twice the population of the North.)

Sure would.

Another thing to consider is that NK’s bluster might push the Japanese towards rearming…