It is becoming increasingly clear that the North Korea crisis has little to do with North Korea but that in reality it has everything to do with the United States testing South Korea in order to see how much power Washington can still manage to wield over Seoul, combined with the longer term goal of distracting China from its One Belt–One Road initiative through provocations on the Korean peninsula.
To understand the current political posturing, it is important to remember that in April, the month during which US-North Korean tensions were raised to feverish levels, the political situation in South Korea was somewhat uncertain.
This year, on the 10th of March, South Korean President Park Geun-hye was removed from office. She was later arrested and is currently still behind bars.
President Park was deeply pro-American and considered to be on the militant end of the spectrum of South Korean politics.
Although Park’s removal from office stemmed from wide ranging allegations of corruption, many South Koreans who favour a political and demilitarised approach to solving the Korean peninsula’s protected problems, breathed a collective sigh of relief.
There is a clear relationship between American rhetoric and military manoeuvrings becoming intensified and Park being removed from office and put under arrest. Even now, the situation in South Korea is a better barometer for American actions in the region than the rather stable situation in Pyongyang.
In the end, centre-left (by South Korean standards) candidate Moon Jae-in won the election on a campaign which centred around peace and an opposition to further deliveries of THAAD missile systems to South Korea.
However, by late June of 2017, Moon had acquiesced to further THAAD deliveries, in spite of ongoing protests for peace that have gripped South Korea. These protests have been largely blacked-out by the western mainstream media.
While the THAAD missile launches continue to arrive in South Korea, China continues to voice its protest. China and Russia have spoken with a singular voice on the matter, insisting that the US stop its deliveries of further THAAD systems. This call from the only two states which border the Korean peninsula have been completely ignored by the US which continues to deliver THAAD to and test THAAD from South Korean soil.
In spite of the fact that Moon has seemingly caved to US pressure, the peace movement in South Korea continues to grow. When all is said and done, in spite of South Korea’s traditionally pro-US alignment, South Koreans are as reticent to see the peninsula militarised as are those in the North as well as the Russians and Chinese.
In this sense, the US is seeing how far South Korea under a reluctant peace minded President can be pushed before there is some sort of existential breaking point.
In respect of China, it is well documented that the US is engaging in proxy conflicts as well as overt regime change in hotspots along China’s One Belt–One Road.
However, on the south and east coasts of China, the US is taking a more direct approach to meddling, first of all with its provocative movements in the South China Sea and secondly, in respect of the Korean peninsula.
The idea that the US is sowing chaos in Korea in order to bamboozle China is not a new theory, but it was a theory that until very recently was often dismissed as a conspiracy theory. Now, China is openly stating that it believes the US is stirring up conflict in Korea in order to drag China into a conflict which Beijing is dead set against.
Now, even the mainstream media, with their biases still intact are admitting that the US cannot do anything to North Korea without either following Chinese proposals or getting into a hot conflict with at least one nuclear power and possibly three (China, Russia and the considerably less powerful nuclear state of North Korea).
While from the standpoint of morals, ethnics and pragmatism, any conflict on the Korean peninsula is a lose-lose situation for all parties involved as well as neutral parties in the wider region, from a geo-strategic perspective, by forcing China to assert its authority in respect of disagreements with Washington over North Korea, the US has all but revealed its cards to China.
If the US was intelligent, it would continue to play the long, dirty, and of course deeply unethical game of sowing proxy conflicts on the central and western ends of China’s One Belt–One Road, in places where America can more easily sow such conflicts. Such places include, The Middle East, Africa, The Balkans and the western frontiers of Eurasia.
With the Syrian conflict about to be won by the Syrian government which has always been supported by both Russia and China and with the Ukrainian post-coup regime representing little more for the US than a costly road to nowhere, the US decided to increase its hubris just when it should have reconsidered how much money and men it wanted to expend on destabilising China’s commercial ambitions.
The US took the conflict with China back to where it started in the 1940s, to the Korean peninsula. While America’s meddling in Eurasia, southern Europe and the Middle East was more subtle, meddling in North Korea is simply doing what the US disastrously did during the hot phase of the Korean War. It has all the element of surprise of taking Neil Armstrong’s dead body and bringing it to the moon in 2017.
By showing their cards so early on, the US has forced China to call a spade a spade. China says America is provoking and meddling and increasing tensions in the region. This is an objective truth. Furthermore, China is angry not because North Korea is somehow a protectorate of China as the US pretends it is, but because China does not want a foreign super-power causing war, chaos or instability in its neighbourhood.
The US has proved to be highly untactful from an objective point of view as well as deeply dishonest from an ethical point of view. Russia, China and the US could each destroy the world with the push of a bottom. By contrast, North Korea requires a month simply to prepare comparatively crude intermediate range missile launches, some of which work and some which fail. America knows full well that Russia is telling the truth when Moscow says that North Korea objectively cannot hit the United States with any of its current or likely its future weapons systems.
The truth is that the entire American song and dance over North Korea is simply a thinly and poorly veiled way of trying to goad China and test South Korea, even Donald Trump’s Twitter account subtly admits this.
I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
Donald Trump in insulting China has inadvertently admitted who is the regional boss and therefore who is the regional prize in the eyes of the US military-industrial empire. It is not North Korea, it never has been and never will be.
There is now clarity in respect of the US moves against China. Any mystery or conspiracy over this reality has now given way to near universally acknowledged fact. A covert game is now being played in the open and on old turf at that.