This seems comforting as the DMZ on the Korean peninsula cools down:
North Korea would have no chance of defeating its southern neighbor and its allies in a conflict, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday, days after the peninsula appeared on the brink of armed conflict.
Of course, only now do we found out that North Korea was totally justified in shooting:
The [K-pop band Girls’ Generation] group’s hit “Genie” was among the barrage of pop songs and polemics South Korea blasted across the border this month, driving North Korea to the point of firing artillery and massing troops on the border.
If the latest standoff between North and South Korea proved anything, it is that old-school propaganda, juiced up with a synthesized K-pop beat, still has the power to get under the skin of North Korea’s leadership. Turn off the loudspeakers, the North warned, or face “all-out war.”
We say North Korea would lose a war. But don't we assume "war" means conquering South Korea?
Even if North Korea shares our assessment that they'd lose a war as we define it, what if "war" means something different to the North Koreans?
What if war--even a losing war that smashes up South Korea--is seen as the only alternative to facing an uprising? Wouldn't "losing" a war with a South Korea that doesn't want to counter-invade into North Korea because of the additional cost of building up North Korea added to the cost of rebuilding war-damaged South Korea be a victory if the objective is keeping the regime in power? [Sorry. I trailed off on that long sentence without finishing the thought. My bad.]
What if North Korea is worried that the huge military that they can't afford is too much of a threat to keep around but know that they can hardly demobilize all those trained soldiers into a poverty-stricken civilian world?
What if the North Korean leaders see a losing war that gives America, South Korea, and Japan the job of killing off a dangerous--to North Korea's leadership--military while providing evidence that the West really does want to destroy North Korea, the best chance of regime survival?
Remember, North Korea is broke and once believed a strategy of relying on nukes to deter invasion and spies to control the people was the way to go. But that leaves the too expensive armed forces a wild card.
North Korea doesn't have to be right about their logic. If they believe it, a war that they "can't win" will begin.