The True Danger Of The North Korea Crisis: It Could Cost America Its Allies

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Robert Kelly via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Tough North Korea rhetoric from the U.S. administration continues. Major South Korean media increasingly talk as if U.S. air strikes are likely, and theexpert community seems increasingly resigned to them as well. Despite constant criticism of his incendiary language, President Donald Trump continues to suggest that major action against North Korea is imminent—most recently by suggesting that we are now in a period of ‘calm before the storm.’

I have argued in these pages that such strikes would be an enormous risk. We do not know what the North’s redlines for retaliation against such a strike are. We do not know if the strikes would so unnerve the North’s elites that war was next, that they would respond with enormous force, possibly including nuclear weapons. An expert study of this scenario suggests appalling casualty numbers. We also do not know what China’s thresholds are for intervention. China is treaty-bound to help North Korea if it is attacked. It may not, but if a U.S. air strike against North Korea spirals into a major conflict, then the likelihood of Chinese intervention rises.

It is also worth noting that even if the Chinese and North Koreans do not respond to air strikes, North Korea will almost certainly deploy human shields as soon as the bombs start to fall. And the North has so many targets that the United States would like to hit, that any ‘air strike’ would look a lot more like a major air campaign and not a quick ‘surgical strike,’ as in Syria earlier this year. An air campaign against sites with human shields means a high civilian death toll. The North Koreans will not make this easy for us at all.

White House officials, most importantly Secretary of Defense James Mattis, continue to suggest that diplomacy is the preferred outcome. And there are options to continue to buy us time against the North Korean nuclear and missile programs: missile defense, sanctions, continuing to cajole China to push North Korea harder and so on. Nevertheless, the pressure to something dramatic regarding North Korea is rising. If war is inevitable - it is not, but for the sake of the argument - it is better to fight now, before they have more weapons, and before those weapons can more evidently strike the continental United States. Even Kim Young-sam, South Korea’s president at the time of the 1994 nuclear crisis, has retrospectively regretted his decision not to strike then.

President Kim’s veto of the strike at the time blocked U.S. action.

This question is now returning as Trump raises the rhetorical heat on Pyongyang. And this time, it involves Japan too, as it is now in range in range of North Korean missiles, and likely nuclear missiles. Japan has already practiced civil defense drills. But if the United States were today, as in 1994, to extend an, albeit unspoken, veto to South Korea, and now Japan too, war is unlikely. They do not want it.

Americans may feel incensed at having to get ‘permission’ from others to act. Trump is unlikely to feel such commitments. And hawks may suggest that because North Korea can hit the United States, we are threatened too and therefore no longer require allied permission. Nevertheless, there are strong national interest reasons, if not moral ones, to once again solicit allied approval.

First, it is South Koreans and Japanese who will bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation for a U.S. strike. Yes, North Korea can, perhaps, now strike the U.S. homeland, but the North’s ability to devastate the United States is significantly lower than its ability to damage South Korea and Japan. If we are going to drag South Korea and Japan into a war that could result in hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of their casualties, plus irradiated blast zones, refugees, and the possibility of state collapse, we should at least get their permission. It would be staggeringly immoral, and an astonishing act of callousness in American history, if U.S. action led to nuclear use against South Korea and/or Japan without their permission. The British referred to this problem in the early Cold War as ‘annihilation without representation’—the Americans might go to war with the Soviets over the heads of NATO, but the NATO states would be destroyed in the cross-fire.

Second, if this normative argument is unpersuasive, then consider the impact on U.S. national interests if allies around the world saw the United States sacrifice, or risk sacrificing, South Korea and Japan without even soliciting their approval. This would end pretensions that U.S. hegemony is liberal or benign. It would destroy allied trust that the United States considers their interests too. It would appear as if Washington were using allies instrumentally as shields or buffers to absorb enemy fire. That is akin to why the Soviet Union did not leave Eastern Europe in the late 1940s—to serve as a buffer against the West and a locus for the next war, rather than inside the USSR itself. This was yet one more reason for the Warsaw Pact states to exit the alliance as soon as they could.

It is similarly likely that America’s alliance system would collapse if the United States risks major, perhaps nuclear, conflict without allied consent but fought on their soil. Trump’s advisors likely realize this; does the president?

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Giant Meteor's picture

Alliances ?

And what the shit is this ?

,,,"  If we are going to drag South Korea and Japan into a war that could result in hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of their casualties, plus irradiated blast zones, refugees, and the possibility of state collapse, we should at least get their permission. It would be staggeringly immoral, and an astonishing act of callousness in American history, if U.S. action led to nuclear use against South Korea and/or Japan without their permission. The British referred to this problem in the early Cold War as ‘annihilation without representation’—  "

And such is the perpetual state of enlightened man, a failed species really ..

By all means, if we just had a bit better representation, before the annilhilation ..

Well I just want to go on record early. By all means, permission granted!

Now let's get to work !


rusty55's picture

it is going to happen. zerohedge is not just BSing here. The US may be on their own.  In europe there is so much backstabbing. no one konws who anyone's friend is anymore. 

Giant Meteor's picture

 "It would be staggeringly immoral, and an astonishing act of callousness in American history, if U.S. action led to nuclear use against South Korea and/or Japan without their permission."

I mean, and I'm just trying to follow the logic here, it would be completely ok, and much less callous so just as long as the good folks being annilhilated were nicely asked by the folks doing the annilhilating, in advance of said annilhilation? 

Heh, might the good folks want a vote on that?

What say you good folks ? Annilhilation or no!? Show of hands please!

Ok then, the no's have it!

My , my , the sociopathy is thick, the news grim, like a Grimm fairytale even  ...


philipat's picture

I think that both SK and Japan would be far better advised to ask, nicely, the US bully to leave. If Seoul and/or Tokyo cease to exist with millions dead in retaliation for a US "Flavor of the week" first strike on NK without the full buy-in of SK and Japan, it is reasonable that these "allies" might get slightly upset? As the old saying goes, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?". But, of course, the US never really had ANY allies, just Vassals (Unlike China which operates on a win/win basis with all countries in trade and diplomacy), so Washington probably argues that "They'll get over it" and, if not...Meh. Morality isn't an issue here.

Slack Jack's picture

Engdahl says Kim Jong Un is false opposition.

Engdahl says that Kim Jong Un lived in Switzerland from 1991 until 2000. He attended the Liebefeld Steinhölzli school in Köniz near Bern. The strongest hint that Kim Jong Un is a "Pentagon" puppet and not a communist (Chinese) puppet is that he had China's best friend in Pyongyang, Jang Sung-taek, executed. He also ordered the systematic execution of all other members of Jang's family including children and grandchildren (and others that were considered too close to China).

Other hints are that he is usefully (to the US) provocative and doesn't seem to listen to China.

Engdahl also thinks North Korea is an Pentagon Vassal State, but it seems more likely that Kim Jong Un is indeed a "Pentagon" man but that North Korea is (i.e., will be treated as) an enemy state.

Remember: The first rule for fighting a (real) war is to place your own puppet as the leader of the enemy.

Also, one should not forget that Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton are all Jews.

And as an example of how real wars are fought,....

Proof that Adolf Hitler was a double agent.

It seems pretty weird when you first read it, but its clearly true.
"There Is No Conspiracy... Nobody Is Attempt to Hide Anything"

Proof that Adolf Hitler was a double agent.

It seems pretty weird when you first read it, but its clearly true.

new game's picture

kim is real and out there. the usa created this. the bully has lost control. the nuke genie is out of the bottle. ask einstein what comes next...

simple shit maynard.

Kayman's picture

Proof that people with no "proof" take "pretty weird" shit as "clearly true".

coaltar's picture

Miles Mathis is probably the best thing that happened to me in the past few years, his website is my favorite thing on the internet. As for NK, I think the whole schooled in switzerland thing proves Kim Jong Un is a big fat phony and this war will be manufactured from both sides just like most major wars of the past few centuries. Not that Americans are bright enough to pick up on their being tricked like the schoolchildren they are.

Kayman's picture

"(Unlike China which operates on a win/win basis with all countries in trade and diplomacy)" Huh ???????

First joke Monday morning? 

So the premise of this article is Japan and South Korea would rather stand alone without the United States. And they would rather see North Korea continue on their path of nuclear dominance.

This author knows fuck-all about what is going on in the background between the US, SK, and Japan.

07564111's picture

It is also worth noting that even if the Chinese and North Koreans do not respond to air strikes

LoL, I liked this bit. The author had best hope that the JUSA don't make any mistakes with their little airstrikes because aaything that crosses the borders to China or Russia will not be well received. The Russian Eastern Military District is still on an alert status...where did those submarines go ;)

Kayman's picture

"where did those submarines go ;)"

As usual, just look for the boiling water.

Irvingm's picture

You go on record  no oone is listening.

Giant Meteor's picture

Thanks, and you're somewhat correct   ..

Just my little message in a bottle, or perhaps, merely graffiti on the shitter wall ..

YOU were listening, that's a start ;)


Sirius Wonderblast's picture

Remarkable. "Do you mind if we get you annihilated? We thought we should ask first" "No, that's fine, you go right ahead." " Ok, ta v much!".

Anyway, at least I now know where to get spare tyres for my Zil, if Russia should come up dry.

SoDamnMad's picture

Pacifist Japan and South Korea will gldly ask us to pause until the shells, bombs and missiles rain down and then demand we stop them. We can backoff as we have for decades but now they have the capability to hit us, perhaps even their satelittes have nuclear weapons.  They have never lived up to what they have promised at the negotiating table. I guess we have expect the inevitable; whatever that is.

rusty55's picture

Pacifist or Pacificist? 

lucitanian's picture

"They have never lived up to what they have promised at the negotiating table."

Are you talking about the US, I think so:

From the horses mouth:

Examining the lessons of the 1994 US North Korea Deal

rusty55's picture

Shepwave analysts see something big coming this week in the markets.  I saw this in their call for stocks and in gold for this week in the united states specifically.  non members you can sometimes see their trades on their blog and facebook page

bigkahuna's picture

Its gonna be a down home psyop followed by the obligatory false flag.

smacker's picture

The temperature today between Washingtown and NK is so high that it would be astonishing for it to be lowered by direct diplomacy. Only a third party could possibily hope to achieve anything, but I see no sign of it happening and I'm unconvinced that Trump even wants to do so. He is not his own man, if he ever was.

We are left to speculate on how a confrontation will play out and I would not want to be in SK or Japan right now. I'm sure the FatBoy's mind is geared up to "use it or lose it" regarding his weaponry. And if he's taken out China will move in with large numbers of boots to prevent any Western-aligned boots getting a foothold in NK.

Wars have a way of escalating out of control.

Friedrich not Salma's picture

Recall Obama Trump limo ride discussion. Trump is the anti Obama. Obama couldn't solve NK so Trump will.

smacker's picture

The operative word being the definition of "solve".

lakecity55's picture

This is ridiculous.

Kim is on a Chinese leash; he won't attack unless attacked.

I say we use diplomacy. Nobody wins this one.

WTFUD's picture

Stop Making Sense - Road To Nowhere

Sanctions must be placed on Vichy DC immediately with the accounts of President Piker Trump & his Neocon Warmongering SCUM, Frozen.

Made it Ma, top of the World.

Kayman's picture

Want a change in North Korea?  Stop Chinese containers from entering our ports.

oncemore's picture

North will devastate Seoul and Japan.

webmatex's picture

Yet another US clusterfuck!

When will they learn?

They got no Lavrof.

Mutually Assured Disarment or THAADS for the memory.

Hillarys Server's picture

" ... if U.S. action led to nuclear destruction of South Korea and Japan ... "

I don't understand.

Did someone misuse a pronoun?

Or shampoo in front of an actress?

Why is this news?

WTFUD's picture

The World should be in a better place at this stage of the Game, when old rich fat fucks have the Power of Life & Death over the little guy.

Checks & Balances, what a Fuck-over! All these US & EU PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ( yeah on your tax$£Euro ) sending us a big Fuck YOU, Exposed, while they Bunker down with their Banker/MIC buddies.

Golden Showers's picture

Last I read, America doesn't have any "allies".

Good for us.

The fact is sad, but what is worse is America doesn't need any of the weak stupid bullshit lying shysters who would pretend to help America.

If America gets into this shit, we are alone.

Except for Israel.

Too bad America can't even be on it's own. Israel will be there to fuck everything up abroad just like at home.





Your little primrose path to having no friends. Let's destroy the world for Israel. Ok. As long as those little faggots from Mossad can think they can murder us on 911 and we love it, then, we get what we deserve.

Juvenile deliquency is always rooted in adult delinquency. Israel is the juvenile and we are the adults.

Israel is going to trash this world forever because we are enablers and now we have no friends.

This behavior needs to stop. This is why "conservatives" are punked every day. They know we'll just sit here while our entire world is destroyed aroud us.

Any President with a foreign policy would stop enabling Israel, make peace with Russia, stop fucking with China, and get to work at home. Not this administration. Trump can't figure out his ass from his elbow.

Shit, If my government is Israel, I say FUCK ISRAEL.

God help us.

lester1's picture

All these so called "allies" have been taking advantage of us on trade for decades. They throw up tariffs on US made goods until our manufacturing sector has now become extinct, with millions of jobs lost. Fuck them.


If anything we lose these "allies" and the US becomes an isolationist country again. I'm ok with that.

Matteo S.'s picture

Stop whining and just consider facts.

Nobody in Europe would buy american BS movies and other craps if the US had not been the biggest war profiter in History and "liberated" Western Europe just enough to conquer the western world into submission.

The world is not stealing American jobs. Americans have been devastating their own industry with hubris, greed and disastrous management.

You can thank the dollar too : it has turned the US into the parasite of the world, sucking the worlds goods and services for worthless paper, but at the cost of destroying the competitiveness of the US economy.

fangulos's picture

True, those little chicom fuckers cost us billions with no real asset in return,

all those white-knighting japs and korks got me sick, ever been to japland?

Except okinawa I rarely see a us brand car running in streets, fuck japs.

JailBanksters's picture

What Russia ?

Russia hasn't killed any Americans

Saudi Arabia and Israel can't say that.


Sandmann's picture

Israel has an ISIS training camp on the Golan Heights

hootowl's picture

......and it should be immediately abbihilated/oblitereted......As should all the muslime training camps in the U.S.


Are the CIA/NSA/DNC/Deep State swampers still building Ovomit's "Domestic Army"?

jet20's picture

I think nobody can reasonably know if strikes NOW are an "enormous risk" (for South Korea no doubt!) - or whether kicking the can down the road LATER will pose much more far reaching risks - such as Kim or one of his even more crazy offsprings holding the world hostage with nukes to extract $$$, more Japanese women, forced reunification with South Korea on his terms, or whatever else he desires. The comparison with the Cold War containment and MAD strategy is dangerous because the Kim family tyranny by design is not as rational as the Soviet state, and anything down the road completely depends on the whims of these despots. Kim's ALLEGED logic now that he doesn't want to become Quadhafi is sound, but even if it's true, who knows what other uses for nukes the next leader of this crime syndicate will find?

So it really boils down if you want to be safe or sorry, and what collateral damage you are okay with to achieve it...

lucitanian's picture

How is the US any less a crime syndicate, threatening the world with nuclear annihilation, than is N. Korea?

The US has no business or right to judge any collateral damage in Japan or S. Korea "acceptable". There reason for having military bases in those countries is supposedly to be defensive not offensive. That means the US military is supposed to be in that part of the word protecting the lives of S.Koreans and Japanese, not to consider them as unavoidable casualties in defense against a potential threat to US territory.

Kayman's picture

There would be no Japan or South Korea without the U.S. 

And there would be no North Korea without their northern border being attached to China and Russia.

3 pawns, 3 queens, 3D.

fangulos's picture

Who the fuck gave a dime about japs or kork?

They've been Chinese bitches for centuries, why not a few years more? They are cousins, we europeans are aliens to them, have you ever been to japland? You will be registered as 'Alien' & issued an 'alien card aka Foreigner ID', still fancy white-knighting japs?

fangulos's picture

In what business 'jap women' is even an issue around N.K talks? Right 5 hostages who are either ni-sei means 2nd generation koreans or married to korean husbands, for them it's going back home. If there is really a 'women' issue it's MIC's lapdog japs' undeniable horrendous crimes on women of all nationalities including korean, chinese, dutch, english, indonesian and more.

So put that pathetic 'do-good' indoctorines back in your anus & and watch out what's already rotten in this country

hootowl's picture

C'mon, moron.  We don't need to consult our allies to get their permission to defend ourselves, if we perceive we are going to be subjected to an attack by a sociopathic/political mass murderer who perceives that we cannot defend ourselves without permission from our "allies" or make a pre-emptive strike in order to preserve American lives.

From what Orwellian/Sorosian/Ivy-League/proglodyte institute of national betrayal and geopolitical school of genocidal national suicide was this author excreted?

moorewasthebestbond's picture

94% of functional NATO military hardware is American.


Don't expect a big contribution from the "Allies".

oncemore's picture

Amerika has no allies.
Amerika has only the master, and vasal states.

Transmedia001's picture

I am constantly amazed at the willingness of intellectuals to bite hook, line and sinker the public narrative of mass destruction and the "assured" war with North Korea. Xi has been bolstered by Trump. Following his meeting at Mar-a-Lago in which the two did their business over the golf and concluded their evenining with a performance by President Trump's granddaughter singing to Xi in Mandrin (honoring Xi as a Grandfather... one of the highest praises you can give a Chinese elder)... Xi returned to China with the backing of the US. Xi is now solidifying power in the 19th CCP Congress, which will allow him to eliminate his hardline enemies. North Korea has been an embarasement for China which Xi will use the remove the hardliners who have been pushing the old guard strategy. The MSM narrative of North Korea we are getting is there to prop up our dying Liberal movement; it has nothing to do with reality. In the end, China will reclaim North Korea by way of a change in leadership in NK and a willing invite by the new "friendly" leader to have China "protect" them. This will allow S. Korea to maintain the narrative of fear and hense the increased investment into its military industrial complex it needs to shore up its economy - this holds true with Japan - further reducing the US economic burdon of these military payouts to these to countires. All the while giving China access to a mass pool of cheap labor, win a big global peace prize and re-establish its desire for regional hegemony. 

Friedrich not Salma's picture

Not just a mass cheap pool of labor. That million man N.K. army is a helluva resource for someone.

SRV's picture

Somewhere between Friedrich and Transmedia lies the truth...

Greed is King's picture

America will never consult its allies in S.Korea and Japan because America knows they will say NO, besides, to the American Piggery the Koreans and Japs are expendable commodities, who cares how many millions get killed, it`s a price worth paying if it makes a profit for Uncle Sam. S.Korea and Japan have no say in the matter, their fate has already been decided.

rejected's picture

North Korea will almost certainly deploy human shields as soon as the bombs start to fall

Stopped there,,, the author is an idiot and for sure a company ass-et.