7 months ago: Is China blinking on the Kim regime? 6 months ago: Why does China protect North Korea & What is to be done? @MichaelAuslin @HooverInst

Apr 21, 12:00 AM


(Photo: North Korea)



Twitter: @BatchelorShow

7 months ago: Is China blinking on the Kim regime? 6 months ago: Why does China protect North Korea & What is to be done? @MichaelAuslin @HooverInst

Finally, the role of China should not be underestimated in any potential military scenario in Korea. Washington may desire and even plan for a limited conflict, but any threat to the continued existence of North Korea is more likely than not to induce Beijing to get involved. While Chinese President Xi Jinping has no love lost for Kim Jong-un, China appears unwilling to let North Korea disappear as a buffer state between it and the democratic, liberal, largely Western-leaning South Korea. It is thus entirely possible that Beijing would order Chinese forces into North Korea to secure Pyongyang and set up a puppet regime. That could put U.S. and Chinese forces in close proximity, or put Chinese forces potentially at risk from U.S. airstrikes in North Korea, either of which scenario would force Washington policymakers to make a difficult choice about how or whether to continue military operations.

The highest priority of the North Korean regime is survival, and to that end, it has developed a set of interlocking defensive and offensive capabilities that would challenge allied conventional military strategies. In the end, the North Korean regime would be unlikely to survive a campaign waged with the full conventional strength of the United States and South Korea, but it would seek to impose such significant physical costs on South Korea, Japan, and U.S. territories, that Washington and Seoul would hesitate to wage preventive or preemptive war, and might even refrain from an overwhelming response to North Korean aggression. With the anticipated risks to South Korea, Japan, and U.S. interests of any type of preventive or preemptive war, North Korea has shaped the pre-hostilities environment in a way that removes confidence in any reasonable conventional military option to remove the threat it poses, short of a major theater war.