Friday, December 01, 2017

A Rather Interesting Threat

Our ambassador to the UN wants China to shut down oil exports to North Korea. Or else?


"We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands," [Nikki Haley] said.

Did she just basically say that America will bomb the pipelines (I think the military one is buried--the North Koreans having retained the lesson of American air power from the Korean War) if China doesn't turn the spigot off?

Isn't that a whole lot of interesting?

I can't help remember the last time we cut off the oil of a militaristic Asian state.

UPDATE: Gordon Chang:

Will America attack the Friendship Pipeline running between China and North Korea or hit the North’s only operating refinery?

Or is it a signal to China that we're serious if they don't take action against the Kim regime?

But would China go to war over North Korea as they did in 1950?

I've read the same stories about China's treaty with North Korea and think their is wiggle room if our strikes are clearly not about regime change. I think in many ways a strike that takes out North Korea's nuclear capacity but leaves the regime intact is ideal from China's interests of keeping their buffer without a nuclear North Korea that will be hostile to China and prompt fearful nuclear proliferation among potential foes of China.

And North Korea after the strikes will be even more dependent on China.

Further, I've read that China really didn't appreciate that the Soviet Union pushed China to intervene in 1950 and then pushed China under the bus to face the UN forces alone. China lost a lot of troops in that intervention that their Russian friends sat out.

Remember that China no longer has the mass army of cheap peasant soldiers for a war of attrition. They are trying to match America and South Korea in high tech armies and would face the same problems we face with replacing losses.

I have doubts that a limited attack could work. Never do an enemy a small harm, and all that. My general view is that it is better to go big or not at all.

Sending signals is a dangerous game when two sides speak such different languages. Did America consider September 11, 2001 a signal to recognize al Qaeda's objectives as valid?

Of course, if the pipelines attack is done in a way we can deny, claiming it is an industrial accident (I'm thinking stealth planes unless cyber can do something--if the infrastructure is even that advanced, Heck, maybe China does the deed.), then if North Korea responds we may be free to use a lot of force that allows China to say that North Korea initiated war and so the treaty is invalid.

This would mean we have limited objectives and have coordinated with China on what we will do and what we will try to achieve.

And it fits within my preference to do a job thoroughly rather than hoping a minimum will work. It just makes it a two-step maximum effort.

I've long said we need to coordinate any military action with China very carefully to keep this from spiraling out of control to a bigger war. Have we done that? Is this what we are seeing play out?