North Korea; A Reflection of a Global Hybrid Conflict
December 17, 2017
Lately North Korea has been taking the headlines for antagonistic behavior and comments. At the same time the current president of the United States, for better or worse, has fired antagonistic comment right back at North Korea. Aside the usual antagonistic comments such as, “we will bring war of total destruction, turn Seoul into ashes, Trump is begging for war, and etc.” And Trump’s reciprocal comments of, “ we will bring fire and fury like the world has never seen, and little rocket man”. The nation of North Korea has a history of real violence and aggression directed towards South Korea, such as building underground tunnels for invasions of South Korea, firing Artillery at the Island Yeonpyeong, Presidential assassination attempt known as the Blue House Raid, and killing several US personnel over the course of several decades, and etc.
What is different this time? The North Korea that former presidents dealt with in the past did not have nuclear weapons until very recently (2006), nor did they test ICBM capable of hitting the US with multiple warheads, and they did not have a stockpile of enriched Uranium for 13-60 bombs which is a conservative estimate. Plus, US is having a difficult time gauging where US or Russia stands on this. China has hinted that they would protect the Regime of North Korea unless they invade or attack US allies first. And Russia and China have flown strategic bombers, tested new ballistic missiles around the Korean peninsula; these actions seem to be aimed at the US and not North Korea. Has the United states entered a new phase, were it is no longer fighting a new cold war but has entered into an asymmetric hybrid global war with Russia? The US stands at a cross road in global strategic relationships. On the one hand North Korea has not demonstrated that they can attach a nuclear war head to an ICBM, they are still working towards submarine capable nuclear ballistic missiles and currently are limited to a few dozen war heads. However, they have demonstrated that they can launch an ICBM that can hit DC, which is capable of carry multiple warheads and they are working towards the Hydrogen bomb.
This launch demonstrates that their missile development is happening at a much more rapid pace then the US anticipated. What is more worrying is that they have actively worked with other countries with missile programs and nuclear weapons programs such as Pakistan and Iran. And they seem more than willing to share any of their technology with any other Regime. One wonders why are China and Russia so mum about this, when it seems to be a direct conflict of interest. One might consider that China lost 100,000 military personnel intervening in the Korean war (1950-53), pitting them against the US in its first direct conflict. Perhaps Russia feels it is actively pursuing an Asymmetric Hybrid war with the US and is looking towards political leverage in Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine is still claiming lives on a regular basis as Russia Hybrid forces shell the border. To date the Ukraine conflict has cost the lives of over 10,000 people and more than 2,000 Russians fighting for Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is currently actively pursuing membership in NATO. Should North Korea weapon research sharing concern the world? One might turn their eye to a recent event were Iran fired ballistic missiles over the air space of Iraq to hit ISIS bases in Eastern Syria. The point lost on many people; first it was warning to Saudi Arabia and the US, it was a demonstration of ability to hit targets beyond their borders with precision, and a demonstration of power in the region. Second it was done with no condemnation from Russia forces operating in the region. It was dully noticed these missiles arched over US bases in the field at the time. They were also accompanied by Iranian Drones dropping duds in US bases to harass America forces and harassing American Aircraft Carriers with drones. This came at a time that Russia claims US operatives ordered an offensive in Syria to capture Russian Military personnel.
It is also known that Iran is supplying thousands of missiles of all types to hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Hezbollah claims to have hundreds of thousands of missiles, which many can hit any part of Israel. And Israel has recently bombed hezbollah, Syrian, and Iranian operatives in several hundred incidents through the course of Syrian Civil War. Iranian military hardware and technicians have actively been involved with recent ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia fired from Houthi positions in Yemen. A conflict between old Sunni and Shia rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran seems to be evolving into a new conflict that will not be defined by ISIS. Will this conflict drag the US, Israel, and Russia into this larger conflict? What does all this have to do with North Korea? People forget Operation Orchard, when in 2007 Israel bombed Al Kibar plutonium-producing heavy water reactor secretly built in Syria that was designed and built by no other then North Korea.
The questions that the US must ask are; if the Strategic balance was flipped; would North Korea attack, including the use of Nuclear Weapons. Will North Korea share nuclear weapon and missile technology with hostile regimes around the world? We at least know that North Korea attacked in 1950 and they have been involved with many border hostilities since then. We also know they had no inhibition to sharing missile and nuclear technology with Iran, Pakistan, and Syria. Is there a regime compromise that the US can reach with China and Russia if the US acts? This must be considered if China is willing to defend the Regime a second time militarily? Is launching ballistic missiles through sovereign air space of Japan considered a direct threat to national security? Would the US be so restrained if Cuba tested missiles that flew across the Florida Panhandle? No doubt US experts are considering these questions, in recent statements by Lindsey Graham, “If North Korea Tests another Nuclear Weapon, there is a 70% chance US will respond with military force.” It is hoped that China and Russia know that? For now, what happens; your guess is as good as ours.