Media pundits have written and said a lot concerning President Trump’s meeting with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un this past week. It is an historic event in our life times. Not because they signed a document drafted by others in the government bureaucracies, but the fact leaders sat across from each other and talked. Six months ago many felt we were going to war on the Korean Peninsula. The rhetoric between the leaders went up several octaves, missile tests were accomplished, and military might flexed muscles on both sides. The meeting in Singapore caused me to go back and re-read some of the things the great Chinese General Sun Tzu said in his book The Art of War. The question still remains: What are the political, informational, military, and economic ends states
In the Diplomatic arena,
The great Chinese General Sun Tzu states in his book The Art of War, “the art of war is of vital importance to the state, it is a matter of life or death, a road to either safety or ruin.” North Korea is neither safe nor alive, and I feel the reason Kim is entertaining these meetings. The political end state on the Korean Peninsula is normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea’s neighbors. How do you define normal in this instance? There has not been dialogue between North Korea and it’s neighbors since the end of the Korean War. As Lieutenant General Dan Leaf states in this article, a good start is establishing a diplomatic presence in each of the four countries involved, the US, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Establishing presence then opens the door for continued progress to normalizing relations.
In the Informational realm,
The media scoffed at the “propaganda” video President Trump showed Kim Jong Un. I thought it was a brilliant information move. Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy” and “in the midst of chaos there is also opportunity.” The video illustrated to Kim what is possible for his country and his position on the world stage. President Trump’s video strokes Kim’s ego showing him what that position may be. The video also shows what the consequences if the wrong choices are made. President Trump followed Sun Tzu’s admonition to “build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across” by giving Kim a video of what could be. The video was shown on North Korea’s ONE television channel.
In the Military area,
Many of you do not know the UN Security Council meetings, the rhetoric between Trump and Kim over the last year, and the military exercises were all part of a section in the North Korean War Plan. They are called Flexible Deterrent Options, and are designed to ratchet up the pain level on Kim over a period of time to keep him from going to war. It is the classic case of Sun Tzu’s supreme skill of subduing your enemies without fighting.
One event probably really unnerved Kim in September of last year. Three B-1 bombers escorted by twelve F-15C Eagles flew up the east coast of North Korea in the middle of the night, all loaded with live weapons. Three KC-135s from my old squadron at Kadena supported the Show of Force. A US Air Force Combat Cameraman was flying in one of the KC-135s and snapped some great pictures of the F-15s refueling. A Marine Corps squadron of F-35 stealth fighters were also involved, a plane we know even the most sophisticated Russian air defense systems cannot find. I feel these exercises were a big reason Kim came to Singapore and met with President Trump and why Kim wanted all exercises over South Korea halted. The military end state for Kim is his air defense network becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed.
In the Economic area,
A country so isolated for so long will not know or understand what foreign investment can and will do for them. I mentioned in another article five entire provinces of North Korea have no electricity, running water, sewage treatment, and roads to move vehicles in and out of these areas. South Korean and Japanese construction companies could change all of this, but who would pay for the infrastructure upgrade? South Korea has sheltered money in the case war broke out. The Chinese are certainly relieved there will not be a war on the peninsula in the near future, sparking one of the largest refugee migrations and the subsequent drain on their economy. The restructuring of Iraq has taken trillions, what would restructuring North Korea cost?
The meeting in Singapore was a great first step but the Trump Administration has yet to publish what their vision of North Korea would be and how the regional powers pursue an end sate on the peninsula.
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