Saturday, June 25, 2011

Down to Just the Kooks

North Korea, short of money and options, appeared to be relying on a strategy of spooks and nukes (oops--link fixed many months later) to keep the kooks in power. That is, rely on nuclear weapons to keep foreigners at bay and secret police to control the people and army. Do that and you can stop spending money you don't have on maintaining a conventional military capability to invade South Korea.

Well, even the spooks aren't so reliable these days:

South Korean intelligence officials believe that the corruption and economic mess up north have fatally weakened the communist dictatorship there. In particular, the Kim dynasty is seen as one of the weakest of several factions. The army leadership is perceived as the strongest faction, followed by the secret police. But the army is a huge organization (about a million people) that is largely composed of conscripts. While these draftees may be eating well because they are soldiers, their folks back home often are not. This is not good for morale. The secret police are corrupt, and now being torn apart by anti-corruption efforts.

Read the whole thing, as the expression goes.

There are only two apparent questions: when does the collapse happen and does it take the form of regime collapse (with another faction taking power) or state collapse (with South Korea essentially absorbing North Korea)?

I suppose a third question is whether North Korea tries to invade South Korea in a low odds attempt to avoid the certainty of some type of collapse by actually surviving such a clash. Not even the kooks could be that deluded. Could they?

And would the army, without access to money, go on a Viking funeral ride to save the skins of those that deprive the army of money and prestige? Really, without the secret police to control the army, an army as big as North Korea's--with just small arms--could be the major player in an internal armed struggle for power.