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Chris Ford: North Korea has learnt from the Americans how to beat war drums

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

 They may not admit it, of course, but the North Koreans have effectively learnt from the Americans about how to beat a war drum.

Admittedly, the North Koreans have a long history of making threats towards their South Korean neighbours and the United States. The North Koreans have had some justification for doing so in the past, especially when George W. Bush placed them at the centre of the so-called 'Axis of Evil' in 2002.

This time the North Koreans under their junior dictator Kim Jong Un have become really bellicose. Even their sometime Russian and Chinese allies have become alarmed. They really think that Kim the Even Younger could lead his country into war, albeit by accident. These two nations are sending Kim the Even Younger an unmistakable message - get into a war this time and we won't lift a finger to help you!

Kim Jong Un knows this as everybody realises that he's beating the tocsin of war really hard in order to look tough. After all, the consensus of politicians and commentators alike is that he won't act tough by actually going to war, at least by design.

And he wants to look really tough like a certain George W. Bush of 'Axis' fame did back in the early 2000s over Iraq. I think there are some paralells between that crisis and how Kim Jong Un's North Korea is acting today.

The first paralell is that the US wanted to get its way over Iraq and gain access to its oil wealth. The North Koreans, similarly, want to gain benefits for their own nation including direct talks with the US, the dropping of economic sanctions, and full recognition of its status as a nuclear power alongside the nuclear existing powers.

The second paralell is the way in which each nations key allies have reacted. In the case of the US with Iraq, some of its key prospective allies, such as France, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand, walked away from any active role in the actual invasion of that country. Similarly, North Korea has been deserted on this occassion by its chief historical allies China and Russia.

The third paralell is the extensive use of propaganda to win over public opinion. The Bush Administration invested in a huge PR effort to persuade a sceptical American public to back their war with Iraq. Ten years later, the North Koreans (despite their somewhat amateurish efforts) are doing the same with their population who appear largely brainwashed anyway. This is the case as North Koreans are subjected to a diet of Stalinist-style propaganda almost 24/7. The difference this time, though, is that ordinary North Koreans are being psychologically prepared for war in a way they haven't been before.

The one key difference between Bush and Kim, though, is that the latter isn't planning on actually fighting while the former leader was fully intent on bringing about a conflict.

Above all, it must also be remembered that the US has attacked or threatened to attack more nations than the North Koreans have ever done.  Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, the former Yugoslavia, El Salvador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Liberia, Pakistan - the list goes on - have been invaded, attacked or had threats to do so levelled against them by Uncle Sam. One nation, however, has felt the wrath of North Korea and that is its neighbour South Korea. 

In writing this, I'm not trying to justify Kim Jong Un's behaviour at all this time round - no way. Yes, the Americans and the South Koreans have been conducting joint military exercises that have antagonised Kim and his military but, even so, North Korea has historically blerted out the same war like lines when this has happened. This time, though, Kim the Even Younger's threatened responses over this latest joint exercise are exceeding even those made by his father and grandfather. I believe he will stop just short of war this time but, as did his father, he's been watching too many American war movies. Clearly, he's been learning from the best American warmongers how to really warmonger. 

And that's the worrying part in that like George W and other US leaders, Kim might try to up the ante in future regardless of what his allies might think. Kim Jong Un might, one day, precipitate North Korea's own Vietnam or Iraq thinking that like many an American leader before him he's bulletproof. That's why Kim might be fatally deluded. After all, Kim the Even Younger might not admit it himself but he's as deluded as any past American president who thought that they could win a decisive victory on the battlefield.

That's why Kim Jong Un should realise the limits of beating the war drum too hard. America and other nations have found this out at their own cost down the years. If he wants survival for his regime and his country, then he might be better to send peace signals rather than beat war drums in future.



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