What North Korea Wants is Security

In a strategy class I took years ago there was a guest lecturer who was a psychiatrist. I wasn’t looking forward to the lecture and expected it to be boring. The psychiatrist jumped into a lecture about how an individual’s point of view drives their understanding of their worldview. My first thought was, what does this have to do with conducting warfare. No sooner had the thought crossed me mind that the lecturer argued that understanding the worldview of the adversary was akin to winning by knowing your enemy. A classic Sun Tzu argument about war.

The discussion centered around the idea that if someone saw the sky as purple, there was no amount of facts that would change their mind. One could argue that the sky is blue or prove the scientific principals of why the sky was blue, instead of purple, and none of that would change the individual’s belief that the sky was purple.

A few years later, when the Soviet Union was dissolving I read an interesting quote about the reason why the Soviets weren’t jumping forward towards democracy. The argument was that the Soviets could not want something – democracy – that they didn’t comprehend. How could you want something you know nothing about?

We may all agree that Kim Jong Un should not have nuclear weapons. But that doesn’t matter to Kim Jong Un, because he, and his people, see the world differently from us. For North Korea, it is not about nuclear weapons, but rather about deterrence.

Deterrence against an invading force ready to make a regime change on North Korea.

The United States keeps about 81,000 soldiers in Asia, the largest concentration outside of the United States. About 55,000 are in Japan and about 25,000 are in South Korea. South Korea has about 25 million personnel, out of a total population of about 51 million, ready for battle.

North Korea sees the military power on its border as a threat, a threat to the regime and the sovereignty of the nation.

That is their world view, and in their world view they feel the need to have nuclear weapons as a deterrence against military intervention. Keeping in mind that North and South Korea are in a state of war, as a peace treaty has yet to be signed, is the nexus to their world view.

It is under this backdrop that the question of whether North Korea is ready to relinquish its nuclear arsenal to Donald Trump.

Will they ultimately do away with their nuclear weapons is not the question everyone should be asking. The question is, will North Korea feel safe enough to denuclearize?

In closing, here’s another cartoon from the people at Cagle Cartoons for your enjoyment:

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