North Korea Warns Diplomats To Leave Country By April 10th
North Korea is now apparently telling diplomats in Pyongyang that they should consider leaving before next Wednesday:
WASHINGTON — North Korea is continuing to escalate its war rhetoric, warning foreign diplomats in Pyongyang on Friday they might not be safe after April 10 in the event of a conflict.
According to Agence France-Presse, British diplomats were warned that their safety can’t be guaranteed after April 10.
The Russian foreign ministry Twitter feed tweeted that their diplomats had been told to leave.
Similar warnings were apparently also issued to British and German diplomats, although the British appear to have responded by saying that they consider it to be nothing more than another example of the DPRK’s bluster toward the West. What this actually means is hard to say, but it likely means that the North Koreans are going to keep beating the drums of war for the foreseeable future. Indeed, with the new South Korean President scheduled to visit the United States in May, one can see them keeping tensions high for the next several weeks.
Well, we keep on hearing that “reason tells us” that the North Koreans don’t want to go to war, so that this is all bluster, and we should all just keep cool.
Well, “reasonable people” concluded that the Germans would be crazy to start a war with France and Russiain 1914.
It was also crazy for Hitler to invade Poland in 1939, because France had the strongest army in Europe.
It was crazy for North Korea to invade South Korea in 1950, because they might face the armed might of the UN.
It was crazy for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and Kuwait.
See a pattern? Maybe megalomaniac dictators don’t pay attention to what reasonable people think. We better make sure we have a Plan B ready to go, because Plan A (What reasonable people think) may not work.
To believe that they are willing to commit immediate national suicide (which is what war would mean)you would have to buy into the theory that the North is simply nuts and completely irrational, which, quite honestly, I dont. Its an extremely tense situation, with massive potential to spiral out of control, but it seems more the case that each of these moves is the product of cold political calculation, not insanity.
Above all else, the ruling class is about self-preservation. I highly doubt they have any true zeal for martyrdom.
Off topic, but I’ve understood the “Guns of August”, stumbling into war thing a lot better after watching the stumbling, farcical EU response to the financial crisis.
I think dictators living in a bubble may have their own ideas about self-preservation, or what war would mean, that may not square with “reasonable people” in the West think. Just sayin’.
If that is the case, then the rest of the world would do well to call the bluff by pulling out every diplomat and national out of North Korea. Save a few crisis diplomats who maintain high speed jets with hot engines on the runway for a last minute failure evac. Make a big show of it, burning embassy documents, etc. that is done when war is imminent.
@stonetools: “We better make sure we have a Plan B ready to go…”
Any thoughts from the local East Asian politics-trackers on whether the US can convince the Chinese that NK is really, really not an ally worth defending if they initiate a war? Or is China going to go to the hilt out of some sense of duty and kinship with her crazy uncle?
Maybe there’s a solution that has China helping to topple the NK regime and assigning it protectorate status more like Hong Kong in exchange for US help in the turnover and taking on refugees (which China has been trying to blockade out for decades)?
@ptfe: (Just to be clear, I’m looking for preparation for actions that would only have to be taken in the event of a NK strike against the US or SK targets in sufficient volume to precipitate a war. I am in no way advocating the ridiculous concept of preemptive war.)
Oh, no doubt. I think I fumbled my comment a little bit. Of course one man’s cold political calculation is another man’s raving lunacy. I just happen to think they truly do understand what war with the West would entail, and judging from their past behavior, I wouldnt bet that theyd be willing to self immolate.
North Korea can do a lot of things that wouldn’t invite “immediate national suicide”. What if the North Korea launched an artillery barrage into Seoul, over the heads of US forces? That would be tremendously disruptive, but its not clear what the response to that would be.
The North would be looking for economic concessions, but the South would almost certainly respond with military force. What though? Air and artillery strikes? Would ROK forces go north? And should the US forces follow them? How far north? Past the DMZ? To Pyongyang? To the Yalu? Holy Doug Macarthur, batman.What does China do? or the UN?
The best end game for the West would be the overthrow of the North Korean regime and the reunification of the peninsula under the ROK government, but there would have to be major concessions to Chin- a demilitarized North, at least north of Pyongyang. There would have to be others. I can see a lot of ways things could go pear-shaped before us getting to that point. Lucky for us we have Obama in charge-not Romney and the neo-cons.
China has expressed strong disagreement with NK in the past few months. Their step to join the US in sanctions is unprecedented. Also, they issued a statement that their official policy is now that they would only consider military intervention on the peninsula in the event of foreign intervention. The guys versed in diplo-speak say that was an open (and unprecedented) invitation to the generals in there:
“Coup em’ if ya wanna, boys.”
The old model of Us(S) v. Them (China) has become too simplistic for analysis of this, bottom line.
I think they have decided to adopt a nuclear shield in order to re-deploy assets away from that ridiculous military machine of theirs. That means they will no longer even pretend to negotiate on the issue of nukes.
I think war is unlikely. But I agree with Stonetools that we over-estimate the power of rationality. Kim may back himself into a corner and feel that “honor” won’t allow him to walk it back.
There’s a scene from Duck Soup where Groucho manages to turn a peace feeler into a declaration of war. “I hold out my hand and he refuses to accept it. A fine thing that’ll be!”
@Dazedandconfused: This. China cares about it’s own borders. Yeah, they really don’t want anymore US influence in that region……but they aren’t going to come bat for Fat Kim.
I suspect you may be right. They won’t support him in a war he starts, but I think they would not permit US troops to be on the other side of the Yalu river either. Homie do’n play dat!
Biggest danger (IMO) is Little Kim The III here may feel confident that he can manage a skirmish and contain events to result in nothing more.
I’m thinking that most people do not want to be in North Korea under any circumstances, let alone before or after April 10th.
Seriously, I am wondering if China is going to let its ‘wishes’ be known any time soon.
I think they have. It’s not like they run the place.
Here’s something to think about. If the theory about the DPRK’s deciding to stop negotiating on nukes entirely in order to transform their system internally, and if the Chinese signed off on it, the Chinese would hardly wish that to be public. They would probably make it conditional on the arrangement remaining secret, and make Little Kim understand that they would have to join in some of the things the US and the UN do against them, and they could and would not defend them militarily except in a very narrow set of circumstances. They would only promise to help them through the transition economically in ways that did not compromise China’s broader international interests overmuch.