As North Korean president Kim Jong Un announced his country’s successful production of a thermonuclear device allegedly capable of being mounted unto an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), many countries such as Japan, the United States, China, South Korea and even Russia are in a state of panic. Many even believed that this is part of “biblical prophesy” of a “World War three”. Conspiracists online predict an eventual clash of both Nokor and the United States to happen this third or fourth week of September when the US and defense ally, South Korea conduct their annual joint military exercises.
This paranoia or propensity of the West to think along “clash lines” date back to Samuel Huntington’s 1992 article, ” the Clash of Civilizations” which predicted a major global battle between the West and the East or what he called the Confucian-Islamic civilization. Apart from small battles in the Middle East and the irregular bursts of suicide bombings in Europe and Asia, no civilization-level battle happened between the West and the East twenty five years after Huntington published his piece. For one, international institutions such as the United Nations have been successful in creating conflict resolution mechanisms which even the Great Powers respect such as the US, China and Russia.
What is happening right now is interstate fights in the economic levels, with state-sponsored MNCs fighting oevr economic territories and enclaves. The use of force is not anymore THE grand strategy. The military strategy is just what Schelling describe as part of diplomacy (Schelling, 1996). Other forms of force such as economic and otherwise are used while aggressive or competent force is relegated as the last option.
I dare say that a war will surely not break out between US-Sokor-Japan and Nokor for five (5) obvious reasons:
- Nokor’s military capabilities are not for offensive but only for defensive purposes. Nokor will think twice before launching an ICBM with a nuclear warhead at the United States. First, it will surely incur the ire of China which will be the first to be affected on a major scale if war breaks out between Nokor and the US. Secondly, it will attract the attention of the Security Council which will definitely vote for aggressive action against Nokor. Lastly, Nokor’s military is not as advanced as other countries and an attack by major Powers would surely decimate the hermitic state in no time.
- Nokor’s saber-rattling is measured. Meaning, Nokor has a goal in mind, and it is not entirely a military or ideologically inspired one. It is economic. Years of economic sanctions have lead to the stunting of economic development of the state. Yes, it remains self-reliant yet, most goods Kim gives to his people come from China. A war will surely cut that economic link off and will lead to what China feared, a deluge of refugees from Nokor to its borders.
- Nokor now, China in 1967. In 1956, China announced that it has attained nuclear capability. The US reacted with obvious rage but since the world back then was bipolar, with Russia at the side of China, no military action happened. In 1967, China detonated its first hydrogen bomb. The world reacted quite similarly with what the world is behaving now with Nokor. I believe this will not lead to war but an uneasy acceptance of Nokor as a “nuclear power” among the nuclear power states. Western nuclear powers such as the US and Russia need to study how to deal with Nokor as it enters this highly sensitive position.
- Nokor using tests to express possibility of integration with Asia and the West. The Nokor leadership is expressing its willingness to eventually open its borders. The successful integration of previous Communist states unto the Keynesian world economy is proof that integration provides economic stability and development instead of harming state local economies. An economically linked or integrated North Korea is for the best interests of the hermitic state, since it will prolong the reign of the Kims and provide long-term political-economic and military stability. The visit of Nokor’s defense and foreign affairs ministers during the ASEAN meeting is evidence of such possibility.
- A disruption such as a regional war could upset the rise of the East. China is benefitting from the world-system right now and a war will surely change and affect it economically and even politically. First, it would change trade flows, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It would then shift towards Europe. Second, the nexus of trade will also shift or change from the Pacific to the European region. China will not allow such a shift because it will have a regional ripple effect. Lastly, it would frustrate China’s efforts at establishing itself as a Pacific hegemonic power. A US-NOKOR war will drag China into this foolish maelstrom, which will only lead to deaths, destruction of China’s developing economy and even lead to a rise of an Asian-West military alliance. A miscalculation could even rouse the anti-government forces within China to life and stir a political brew difficult to contain.
Kim maybe a freakin ideologue but he is a blue-dyed realist as well. The world misreads his intentions, which is, I believe, is driven more on economic intentions rather than fight. Kim is not foolish to exhaust his state resources for a war which he is sure to lose a grip. Kim is neither a Mao or a Castro and even these historic figures dein fight Western powers who are militarily more superior than them during their generations. The fight between states over ideology is finished.
A Trump and a Kim, even if they are heads of their states, are not enough to bring down the world thru war.