North Korea

Trump Admin Rhetoric Taking U.S.-North Korea Crisis to a Dangerous New Place, Says Kim Jong Il Biographer

The rhetoric against the Syrian government wasn't this intense before the U.S. launched missile strikes.

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Leadership North Korea Style
Michael Malice

The U.S. is preparing to launch a pre-emptive military strike if it appears that a nuclear weapons test by North Korea is imminent, NBC News reported last night, further ratcheting up rhetoric about the totalitarian hermit regime.

Michael Malice, author of Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, explained to Reason that the U.S. and North Korea were in a fundamentally new and more dangerous place today because of a number of actions taken on the U.S.'s part.

"We've never said we're done talking to them before," Malice noted, referring to Rex Tillerson's comments last month that the U.S. was done negotiating and that its "policy of strategic patience" had ended.

Malice also mentioned the U.S. sending the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula, as a specific show of force, as something new—the U.S. has generally sent ships to the region only for military exercises.

"We're openly discussing assassinating Kim Jong Un," Malice continued, pointing to a Drudge Report headline linked to an NBC News report that mentioned the option to "target and kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other senior leaders in charge of the country's missiles and nuclear weapons and decision-making" as one of three options the National Security Council presented President Trump, along with deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea and covert action to disrupt North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"This was never a headline before," Malice explained, "and the idea that any country is going to be happy while the Americans, who are really tough, are musing about killing their leader, is kind of whacky."

Malice compared the situation to last week's missile strikes on Syria: "We were more aggressive against North Korea in the last couple of weeks than we had been in Syria, and we hit Syria, and that's new."

Malice said the administration was telegraphing that it was moving to Plan B, "and I'm scared of what that's going to be."

Earlier this week Trump told the Wall Street Journal that after listening to the president of China "for 10 minutes" he realized the North Korea situation was "not so easy." Trump continued: "I felt pretty strongly that they [China] had a tremendous power over North Korea… but it's not what you would think." The U.S. sent the Carl Vinson to the region the next day.

Earlier this month, Tillerson said the U.S. had "no further comment" on North Korea's missile tests. I wrote that this was a good thing if it meant not paying attention to North Korea, which thrives on such attention. Yet since then, the administration has lavished the regime in it.

North Korea, Malice explained, sees itself as a "shrimp among whales" and its leaders "revel in giving the finger to bigger parties" like Russia, the U.S., Japan, and even China.

Malice said that Trump's more confrontational posture toward North Korea makes Kim Jong Un more likely to launch a nuclear weapons test, "100 percent."

"First of all, if you, Ed, are threatening me, Michael, as a person, you're a bigger guy, my best move is to not escalate," Malice explained, "but it is to have a strong bluff to get you to back off."

Malice pointed out that Trump should be intimately familiar with this concept. "Trump said this himself: you have to hit back," Malice said. "He wouldn't even let Meryl Streep off the hook."

"I don't think Trump's informed about North Korea, and I don't think he's in a position to be informed," Malice explained. "You can't sit someone down with no foreign policy experience and give them a 30 minute speech and he gets it."

The North Korean regime has been feeding its population a steady diet of propaganda about "U.S. imperialists."

"They have been told for 70 years that the U.S. wants to conquer them since the 1860s," Malice explained. In 1866, the American armed merchant marine steamer General Sherman was attacked and eventually destroyed when it arrived in Pyongyang without permission.

"When the media reports on U.S. ships approaching Korea, or Tillerson's comment that the U.S. was done talking… that's not North Korean propaganda, that's facts," Malice explained. "Can you imagine if Iran told Israel they were done talking, or vice versa?"

Asked how North Korea might respond to a pre-emptive strike, Malice said he was "terrified to speculate," but that North Korean propaganda always blames everything on the U.S.

"There are 100,000 to 200,000 people in the concentration camps and they are told constantly and explicitly that if the U.S. imperialists invade, we will kill you all and burn your camps down," Malice stressed. (Watch Reason TV's interview with a prison camp escapee.)

Neither should anyone bank on Kim Jong Un being deposed anytime soon. "In 1994, when Kim Jong Il took over," Malice explained, "everyone in the West said that's the end of North Korea. Who's loony now?" The elder Kim served from 1994 until his natural death in 2011, and was succeeded by his son.

"There is no end game," Malice continued. "If you're willing to let up to 10 percent of your population starve to maintain power, what's it going to take for you to release your hand from the whip?"

Malice also pointed out that the fates of previous dictators only encourages Kim to tighten his own grip on power. "When these leaders go down, Libya, Iraq, Slobodan Milosevic, Romania, they are personally killed," Malice explained, "so Kim's not in a position to liberalize, even if he wanted to, because he'd get shot, and for good reason." Kim Jong Il showed party leaders footage of Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu being executed by firing squad after the fall of communism, telling them it would happen to everyone of them if they lost power. "And it's true," Malice continued. "These people should all be shot, they're nightmares."

U.S. actions in places like Libya also make it less likely that Kim would even consider disarming. Libya's Col. Moammar Qaddafi relinquished what he said were his weapons of mass destruction in the wake of the Iraq War, but was deposed during a U.S.-backed intervention less than a decade later anyway.

Regime change in North Korea, where the population is deeply propagandized, would be even more impossible than in places the U.S. has tried before.

"The idea that it's basically, you go in and put a bullet in this guy, if you thought Iraq was a nightmare," Malice said, "they've got nothing on North Korea."

Malice will appear on Tucker Carlon on Fox News tonight at 9:00 p.m., a show the president's been known to watch. "Maybe I can save a few lives," he said.

Watch a 2014 Reason TV interview with Malice below:

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  1. Is Malice “literally shaking” ?

    1. Don’t be spiteful.

  2. Which cable news shows does the President not watch?

  3. Meh, East Germany folded up without too much hassle. Why not North Korea?

    1. That’s the hope, I think. How much pressure will topple a house of cards. I don’t think DPRK leaders want to be vaporized any more than the average Joe. They aren’t crazy, never mind the propaganda. I wonder how much it would cost to just buy them out. Think they would take a trillion dollar bill?

      1. Does it matter to them whether they’re vaporized or disemboweled & hung from a tree? I’d probably choose vaporiz’n.

    2. It’s hard to believe that the average North Korean loves his leader more than the East Germans loved their leaders (they clearly didn’t). East Germans obviously wanted to reunite with the west, just as North and South Korea ideally would be like to be reunited, but they’re not stupid. I’d say the real difference is how much the shitty regime in question depended upon a superpower to keep said regime in power. East Germany collapsed just before the Soviet Union did. China isn’t going to collapse any time soon, and the question of whether North Korea collapses is more a question of whether they’re an asset or a liability to China. I think China can do more to shut down their nuclear program, but in the long run North Korea may be shit storm for China no matter what happens.

      1. In some ways, you would think that the prospect of US forces back on the shores of the Yalu would be any more of a strategic threat to China than the current situation. Credible threats to China come from the air, the sea, and space, and I don’t see how the NK regime’s absence would change things there. I think they realize that even with Trump in charge the US would be desperate to avoid increasing hostilities with China while we’re in North Korea. But the perceived threat that US forces in NK posed (even if they’re busy battling an NK insurgency) would probably be an excellent pretext for China to push the envelope in their relations with the US and Pacific allies. In the long run, the US will go bankrupt and pull out.

      2. “…East Germany collapsed just before the Soviet Union did…”

        Which is a matter of timing irrelevant to the collapse of E. Germany.
        It wasn’t the timing; it was Gorby’s statement that Honecker could not rely on Russian tanks to save his ass.
        The collapse of NK would not take an invasion any more than it took an invasion of E. Germany. All it would take is a clear statement from China that Yung ‘Un’s opposition was going to get support from the Chi Coms. As mentioned below, the NK population doesn’t have many of the advantages the E. German population did, but the NK dictatorship doesn’t have the advantages the E German dictatorship did either.
        Depending on the NK infiltration Red China has in place (and it would be foolish to presume it isn’t there), it might be quick, or it might take ‘a while’, but the hint alone would give that twit some serious nightmares; I’m sure he read what happened to Ceausescu. He’s standing on a rug that could be yanked out from under him in a minute.
        So why hasn’t it happened? China can’t afford the refugees.
        Depending on how you read the numbers, China has the largest or second-largest economy in the world, but they’re running out of other peoples’ money. The last thing the Chi Com dictators need is another 20 – 30,000,000 starving people needing free shit.

    3. “Meh, East Germany folded up without too much hassle. Why not North Korea?”

      East Germany folded in the context of the collapse of the entire USSR satellite system in Eastern Europe, and was populated by those who had far more access to outside news sources.
      Not saying it’s impossible, but not at all analogous.

  4. In other words, Mr. Malice really has nothing useful to say. If we launched an attack on North Korea, North Korea would immediately bomb South Korea and pull them into the war. Then there would be continuous artillery and various commando raid attacks on South Korea, missiles lobbed haphazardly towards Japan, and the US continuously bombing NK into the stone age, starting with obvious missile sites, followed by everything else. If NK managed to detonate a nuke, it would not change the end result, it would just make the US use bigger bombs. The real question is how China would get involved.

    1. I recommend watching the video and listening to what Malice says.

        1. In that event you and I arrived at considerably varied conclusions with regards to Malice’s observations and opinions.

          Regardless, I must away. Have a safe weekend.

          1. Entertaining video. Only the article has nothing more to add to it.

  5. I haven’t looked today, but last night the ROK papers weren’t worried about war. No signs of increased military readiness or evacuation of civilians front line areas. ROK top men were saying “not gonna happen”, for whatever that’s worth.

    1. At least some of the stories about this confrontation have mentioned that the U.S. will not attack unless South Korea approves. If so, it’s a sure bet South Korea will not approve, so the U.S. will not attack.

  6. Oh, send them some food aid so they can feed their military and everything will be fine again.

  7. I’m almost kinda optimistic that Trump could possibly, maybe, pull off something here. If he can pressure China into squashing this bug to get a better trade deal. It would be amazing. Imagine a joint China/USA regime change op. What would the Russians think?

    1. North Korea isn’t going to get squashed without a huge amount of collateral damage to the whole region. US boats in the area aren’t a bad idea if they can collect intel to stop NK’s missiles and starve their program….. “If”. China would be more willing to enter into a trade war with the US if they’re already at loggerheads with the US over NK. If you think a trade war is a good thing for the US economy, I guess you’d welcome that eventuality even if our economy went south. Russians are probably thinking of things they can do to take advantage of the US being preoccupied with NK and China.

    2. Amazing?

      Like our last couple of regime change operations. Which have lead to a couple of decade long occupations?

  8. “We’re openly discussing assassinating Kim Jong Un,”

    Now we’re talking! When will we get back to where our tribe leaders personally engage each other in hand-weapon combat?

  9. The missile strikes in Syria weren’t only about Syria.

    And I’m not sure that a show of force is the wrong thing to do here. It’s become clear that if we remain on our present course, North Korea will soon have the ability to hit us with nuclear weapons. In the worst case scenario, if there is going to be a conflict, it’s much better to have it before North Korea has the ability to nuke Los Angeles rather than after.

    And if a show of force now prevents North Korea from doing another test, then it’s striking a blow for peace.

    Meanwhile, China better speak up. If they want to prevent all of this show of force against their ally in their front yard, they need to use all their leverage. There was a report yesterday that China had mobilized troops to the North Koran border in recent days, as well. Regardless, I’m not sure a show of force is more alarming than a dedication to complacency–which seemed to be Obama’s official policy.

    Could anything have emboldened the North Koreans more than Obama’s failure to enforce his empty red line threat in Syria and rewarding Iran with an agreement that gives them the freedom to enrich their own uranium despite having violated the NPT?

    That was fart more alarming than Trump’s show of force..

    1. The Daily Mail reports that China has deployed 150,000 troops along their border with North Korea.

      http://tinyurl.com/kk7etky

      They fear a refugee crisis streaming across their border, for one thing, but it must be intimidating to the North Koreans, as well.

      Incidentally, I guess the CCP hasn’t been reading Shikha Dalmia’s articles, or they’d know that being overrun by ideologically fucked up refugees is a blessing in disguise.

      1. Don’t they already have a NK refugee problem? Only difference is that NK refugees have far fewer rights than illlegals in this country.

        1. They’re worried about if war with South Korea and the U.S. breaks out, it won’t be a small number of refugees. Everyone who can will try to go across the border into China.

          Not like people sneaking across the border now. The conflict will be in the south, and all the civilians (25 million population) will want to flee the conflict in the south and head north into China.

          Nobody wants millions of refugees coming to their door. And the CCP is already worried about large groups of poor Chinese getting unruly within their borders. Millions of North Korean refugees is the last thing they want.

    2. North Korea wants the ability to threaten. If they were to detonate a nuke outside of their own territory, they know that would be suicidal. But the closer they are to a nuclear missile, it only becomes easier for them to call Trump’s bluff.

      1. I don’t know what that God-king is thinking. I don’t know what he’d do if he were diagnosed with cancer tomorrow.

        I’ve read that he had his ex-girlfriend machine gunned to death for choosing to stay with her family rather than come back to him–and he forced her husband and children to watch and then sent them all off to die in a work camp.

        Time is not on our side with this.

        The USSR knew that first strikes were suicidal to them, too. Still, they responded to pressure when Reagan deployed Pershing missiles to Western Europe and took any hope of their first strike capability away.

        Contentious negotiations are always about leverage. Being able to hit Los Angeles is leverage. We don’t want them to have that leverage.

        1. Kim can operate with impunity only inside of his own country, but that’s all he needs and all he cares about. The USSR knew that they were falling behind US capabilities before Reagan entered politics. “First strike” capability isn’t useful unless you’re willing to sacrifice a few US cities to totally nuke the enemy. Reagan was increasing the US strategic advantage, but he didn’t want a conflict on his watch. We don’t want North Korea to have the ability to hit us, but I really doubt we are willing to risk a shooting war in the Pacific to crush the NK regime, no matter how “crazy” Kim is. NK is no more of a danger to us than China, Russia already are, and we’re ok with that.

          1. I didn’t say we should want a shooting war.

            I said that if one is going to happen over this, it’s better if it happens before they have the ability to hit us with a nuke.

            And I said that this show of force may be a good idea.

            I’m not advocating war with North Korea.

            But I’m not condoning Obama’s effective appeasement either.

      2. In other words, the NK nuclear program will continue as long as they have the parts they need, and Trump will eventually change the subject.

    3. So the Norks would be aiming nuclear missiles at Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mhmmm?

      1. I’d remind you that not 100% of the denziens of those cities are progressives social justice warriors with socialistic and authoritarian tendencies.

        In fact, there may be libertarian inhabitants of those cities participating in this very thread!

  10. Repost from above:
    Sevo|4.14.17 @ 11:36PM|#

    “…East Germany collapsed just before the Soviet Union did…”

    Which is a matter of timing irrelevant to the collapse of E. Germany.
    It wasn’t the timing; it was Gorby’s statement that Honecker could not rely on Russian tanks to save his ass.
    The collapse of NK would not take an invasion any more than it took an invasion of E. Germany. All it would take is a clear statement from China that Yung ‘Un’s opposition was going to get support from the Chi Coms. As mentioned below, the NK population doesn’t have many of the advantages the E. German population did, but the NK dictatorship doesn’t have the advantages the E German dictatorship did either.
    Depending on the NK infiltration Red China has in place (and it would be foolish to presume it isn’t there), it might be quick, or it might take ‘a while’, but the hint alone would give that twit some serious nightmares; I’m sure he read what happened to Ceausescu. He’s standing on a rug that could be yanked out from under him in a minute.
    So why hasn’t it happened? China can’t afford the refugees.
    Depending on how you read the numbers, China has the largest or second-largest economy in the world, but they’re running out of other peoples’ money. The last thing the Chi Com dictators need is another 20 – 30,000,000 starving people needing free shit.

    1. Splitting hairs. The USSR was headed for a fall, and the GDR with it. Gorbachev was just sane enough to acknowledge it.

      The PRC could not have that much control over the Norks. They don’t even have that much control over China. China over the second half of the last century was one big humanitarian disaster. A huge influx of NK refugees would be a big headache, but it wouldn’t threaten the PRC regime.

      Still, I think China is probably in denial about NK. It will eventually collapse, with or without nukes.

      1. Sanjuro Tsubaki|4.15.17 @ 12:02AM|#
        “Splitting hairs. The USSR was headed for a fall, and the GDR with it. Gorbachev was just sane enough to acknowledge it.”
        Bullshit; Honeker hoped until the last.

        “The PRC could not have that much control over the Norks. They don’t even have that much control over China. China over the second half of the last century was one big humanitarian disaster. A huge influx of NK refugees would be a big headache, but it wouldn’t threaten the PRC regime.”
        Let’s say I disagree.

        1. Hope was all Honecker had.

          OK, you disagree, but you’re still wrong. Other articles point out that Kim has gone out of his way to kill the most prominent pro-Chinese figures in his own regime. You’d think China would have put their foot down by now. They haven’t.

    2. Let’s look at the US obligations owned by Red China.
      They are buying (or did buy) US gov’t bonds; the US gov’t was therefore allowed to use borrowed money to continue handing out free shit without raising taxes which would have curtailed the purchase of Chinese goods; the Chi Coms are better at econ than is Krugman and it seems the US Fed gov’t.
      I’d prefer the Chi Coms didn’t, since it fuels the ‘borrow and spend’ mentality, but other than that, those who presume the Chi Coms can somehow call all the debt and bankrupt the US are missing the boat.

      1. When your debt exceeds your GDP and an ever increasing amount of the budget goes towards paying off debt, you are living on borrowed time, and this greatly reduces your abllity to make war. If China is smart they’ll divest themselves of US debt long before they need to “call it”.

  11. “We’ve never said we’re done talking to them before,” Malice noted, referring to Rex Tillerson’s comments last month that the U.S. was done negotiating and that its “policy of strategic patience” had ended.

    As much as I detest paying any attention to the Norks and think we’d be far better off just leaving them to their neighbors, trying to blame Trump for decades of Nork intransigence and blustering is pretty bizarre.

    Malice also mentioned the U.S. sending the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula, as a specific show of force, as something new?the U.S. has generally sent ships to the region only for military exercises.My carrier got underway on emergency orders after the tree chopping incident. This is nothing new.

    Whining about any response to the Norks is easy, because the only rational thing the Norks have done is test some nukes; they learned from Iran, Libya, and others. Everything else they do is just bluster and the only proper response is to just ignore the idiots. They are no threat to us. Why should we care whether Japan and South Korea and China and Russia want to deal with the whiny fatface brat?

    1. “Why should we care whether Japan and South Korea and China and Russia want to deal with the whiny fatface brat?”

      Of course we care, but those players are even less likely than us to do anything about NK.

  12. “Washington Post 4/15/17 12am: North Korea shows off new missiles in huge military parade, but doesn’t test nuke ”

    If true, Trump can save face by pivoting to some other crisis. And NK can resume testing after the US ships go home and the current news cycle ends.

    1. What’s a “news cycle”? Sounds made-up to me.

      1. A PR intern would.consider it a “spinning class”

  13. Matron Malice wore it better.

  14. Just drop the MOAP* on them and be done with it. There’s no problem down there, believe me. Believe me.

    *Mother Of All Penises

  15. I thought the place that america is becoming was “dark”, not ” dangerous”. Now I don’t know what to feel…

  16. If N Korea really wants a war all they have to do is get on Twitter and call Trump a little hand dumbass punk and he will nuke them tomorrow. Doesn’t matter if it starts WWIII Trump will show the world he has big hands and a little brain.

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