Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Dangerously Alien Sanity of North Korea

Stratfor discusses North Korean rationality:

The attribution of rationality to North Korea’s leadership is not a justification for its actions, nor does it argue that the North has only one path to pursue. Rather, it seeks to understand the behavior of the country's rulers — a vital step toward predicting both action and reaction.

Do read it, of course.

Our UN ambassador should read it. Kim Jong-Un is not irrational except if you put him in an American context. His rationality comes from his environment. So we need to understand them.

I've never claimed the North Koreans are nuts, despite I'm sure calling him a "nutball" on occasion. But that is hyperbole.

That's why I've been more inclined to try to contain North Korea rather than risk a war to destroy North Korea.

Although I do worry that rationality in North Korean terms can include welcoming a 95% chance of defeat and destruction by launching a war when the alternative may seem to the North Korean elite as a 100% chance of regime collapse.

Nor do I go into panic mode over every short-range Scud missile launch into the sea that gains headlines. These are often just aging missiles that provide a chance to yank our chain and train their military with a live-fire event.

Long-range tests are more of a problem, of course.

The rationality of opponents (and allies) within their own parameters is key to avoiding mirror-imaging another actor's motivations.