North Korea

Broader Measures

Finally, there is something more broad that needs to be done and that isn’t mutually exclusive from these other options.

We need to take the focus off Northeast Asia by putting the fight elsewhere. As discussed above, a good place would be the South China Sea. I honestly don’t see why China’s encroachment upon other nations, including the recent use of their own domestic police on foreign soil in Thailand against Thailand’s orders, wouldn’t encourage those Southeast Asian countries to assist us in exchange for TPP and other assurances on the SCS maritime radar. Getting them involved in a joint show of force in the South China Sea might allow us to then encourage their involvement in backing us up in Northeast Asia if necessary.

We essentially distract the region while we work on guaranteeing that we can withstand a counterretaliation, which would then give us more options. At that point, we can go through the same steps we always do. We’ll start with diplomacy, which I’m sure is an option that will be quickly eliminated. Then we’ll again use a show of force on the Korean Peninsula. If they don’t continue their aggression, we know they’ve lost some power in the region, and we’ll continue to monitor any changes to that position. At that time, if we can invade, we should try a very targeted operation, like South Korea’s “decapitation force.” If we can have a peaceful transition not of power but from power, then a consortium of South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia, and China can all monitor the implementation of a new government, ensuring that each can get what they want. It would look like an all-Asia version of the UN Security Council, but frankly, I don’t see a way to influence how this new government operates than by letting Russia and China have some influence, as well. It is their neighbor, and moreover, that would be the right thing to do. While negotiations are occurring, the whole place would look like Iraq or worse, but look at what it is now. Moreover, we can direct our attention to freeing the 120,000 prisoners in the Russian-style gulags in North Korea. This will encourage Russia and China to ask for something they want, which is fine because freeing 120,000 people, some of whom were born in those labor camps, is something we want.

WELL! OKAY THEN! That all sounds plenty scary enough. Let’s stop talking about it. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

War is no longer fought on an agreed upon battlefield under strict rules and with an agreement to never harm civilians. Compared to now, that almost sounds like a football game.

HOWEVER, here’s what we can do. You can encourage Trump to pass the TPP. You can support businesses that source from countries other than China. Buying from Vietnam and India will have the biggest impact. Check out the Make In India campaign started by their Prime Minister in 2014. Also, Vietnam is aligned very well to replace China in areas of low-wage labor, so much so that China has thought of bringing in Vietnamese workers to China. Also, Vietnam will benefit most from the ASEAN Open Skies Policy, increasing “regional and domestic connectivity.” Moreover, they’ve just been given permission to schedule direct flights from Vietnam that terminate in the United States. All this, along with TPP, allows Vietnam to be a leader in Southeast Asia and United States to help the region grow how they want to rather than being forced into something China wants.

Overall, what you can do is promote responsible supply chains. Everytime you purchase a product along a supply chain, your money goes the other way. Where is it going? Do you want it to go there?


  1. This is a very well laid out argument and I love that it includes what YOU can do. Sometimes the media put out so much fear mongering crap, that it’s hard to have clear, laid out options on what’s happening.

    I will add two things. First, in regard to the South China Sea. the Philippines are no longer a staunch ally and Duterte has basically said that they don’t care about the island disputes. It’s not so easy to put pressure on China without them. It’s less China vs the world, as now it’s Philippines and China versus the US, Vietnam, Indonesia, et al. That’s not exactly an easily winnable, one-way argument.

    In addition, I think it would be wise to make mention of Vladivostok, the port near North Korea that enables so much of their workers to work abroad. Many of them work in Russia, though I’m not sure “pressure Russia more” is a useful tactic at the moment. I do agree that pressuring European nations with North Korean workers would be immensely helpful. For instance, NATO ally, Poland, has more than a few in the docks, kept under tight wraps.

    Last, I will say that it’s a bit moot point on traveling to North Korea as it’s all but impossible these days if you’re American. Since we must enter the country using tour groups, and every tour group that I know of has barred Americans from signing up as of 2017, I believe the only way into North Korea with a certain blue passport would be to sneak in. Correct, me if I’m wrong.

    Let me know if you agree or disagree on these points!!

    1. Thank you, Mikey, for a great comment. In each one of my articles, I include a section on what we all can do. It’s important to remind people of their power. Moreover, recent ideologies and wars have targeted citizens, economies and civilizations as an alternative to fighting a superior military. Therefore, as targets, we’re as much involved as anyone.

      Duterte has become a softer ally. We have two nationalist leaders in the alliance, but I believe that alliance has the power to strengthen again under new leadership. I will say our ability to pressure China doesn’t hinge on the Philippines, though the broad measures that are necessary need to happen slowly. We need to exit the Chinese economy. The TPP would have been a dramatic benefit for so many Asia-Pacific alliances. Check out my article on the TPP, as well.

      You’re right about Vladivostok. That’s what completes the case that Northeast Asia is such a hotspot. It’s overlooked compared to its potential for danger, which is greater and more concentrated than the Middle East. And yes, pressuring Russia wouldn’t do much, I agree with you completely on that!

      I had planned to go to North Korea to run the Pyongyang Marathon, and the only reason for not going was I was only confident I could complete a half marathon at that point. Then I went to grad school so training for a marathon was out of the question. However, as of 2014, China’s leverage over the United States has allowed North Korea to capture anyone they want with impunity.

      Thanks for a great response. I hope you can encourage more people to follow along as the situation in Northeast Asia continues!

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