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THE KOREAN CRISIS -- from the Perspective of Sun Zi's Art of War [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2013-4-2 11:14:36 |Display all floors
This post was edited by abramicus at 2013-4-2 11:33

The multiple rounds of escalating rhetoric in the Korean peninsula may sound insane to most folks unaccustomed to questions of national survival and nuclear proliferation, but there is method in this madness, as anyone familiar with the other paradigm called "Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)" would have considered it as well.

Put simply, Sun Zi taught that the weak should feign strength, and the strong should feign weakness.  Therefore, North Korea has to exude strength of will, of intelligence, of military capability and of political unity, threatening its enemies with utmost pain and suffering, while the Allies have to project peacefulness and non-chalance while conducting military exercises that could at a moment's notice be converted into a nuclear conflict with North Korea, all the while projecting everything is routine and normal.  The reality is that both sides are preparing for instant conflict, even as one paints itself as threatening, and the other as passively being threatened.

In this conflict of the intellect that is being waged, any Chinese strategist worth his salt should see that the next Korean War is in fact already taking place, at the highest strategic level, much akin to MAD, where the object is to prevent the other side from attacking, but fundamentally different in that the object is to lull the other side into taking threats as routine, or into accepting routine military exercises as non-threatening, object of which is to create the OPPORTUNITY for a pre-emptive attack on the other side, outcome of which can only be advantageous to the initiator of the attack, rather than its recipient.

Thus, the strategic model of this conflict is fundamentallly different from MAD which managed the Cold War to a peaceful ending.  The Korean Conflict is one more modeled after the Yin (passive) and Yang (aggressive) balance of forces.  It is more of a dynamic equilibrium than a static one, and threatens to break out in the all-out attack of one side on the other side, bluffing aside.  From a Chinese Sun Zi perspective, therefore, the Korean War is not something that can be avoided, because it is already far in progress at a very high strategic level.  Maybe, someone can still prevent it, well and good.  But the chances are very slim.  The next question is therefore, how will China pick up the pieces, as it once had to do when the North Korean offensive against South Korea was blunted and then beaten back.  This is likely to happen again.  But is China prepared to cross the Yalu a second time around?  Or, will there be such a huge political vacuum that instead of the Six-Party-Talks there will be a Five-Party-Free-For-All in the aftermath?  Food for thought.  Perhaps, this time around, China will have a harder time securing itself as there will be no buffer state possible, and China may end up in direct conflict with other major powers in the Korean peninsula.  If so, knowing this to be the ending, why should China allow it to begin at all?

China should find a way to derail the Second Korean War at all costs.  Fighting a raging forest fire, surprisingly is done best by using fire, in burning off already dry tinder surrounding the center of the blaze.   Thus, a Second Korean War may be averted, by a more limited conflict of a different kind, at a different place, a place that North Korea and its opponents realize is far closer to China's heart -- Diaoyudao.


China can reverse this trend by understanding that the fundamental principle of the First Korean War was that China agreed to postpone its reunification of Taiwan (a blessing in disguise actually) in deference to the insistence of the elder Kim to first unify the Korean peninsula.  Once China is engaged in a fight of her own, involving her sovereignty, she will have neither the wish or the ability to intervene in the Korean peninsula. Therefore, one way for China to take the wind out of the sails of the North Korean push for re-unification is to retake Diaoyudao NOW, before any military conflict breaks out in the Korean peninsula. Seeing China engaged in a fight with Japan, North Korea will postpone its push toward the south, and thus China would have killed two birds with one stone.  A war with Japan over Diaoyudao is more manageable than a Korean War, and of greater direct and indirect benefit, short and long term, to China.  Japan has no legal rights to Diaoyudao, and has no military power to sustain any occupation of that island either.  Morally and materially, China's retaking of Diaoyudao will be a good excuse for everyone to stop the spiral of conflict in the Korean peninsula.  It won't be pleasant, but it will be preferable to all, including of all countries, Japan.

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