Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Haiku of OSINT for 08/31/13

Kim Jong-Un's envy
Rich ROK healthy "mi-guk" tie
"Juche" cannot win

US-South Korea Ties Leave North Korea In The Dust

The US and South Korea get along like old pals.  The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has been active for over a year.  The ROK's US embassy actively promotes US-ROK business ties under the KORUS FTA through US Korea Connect.  The Korea Economic Institute of America lobbies in the US on behalf of the South Korean government's economic initiatives.  This is a more mature approach to influence than the Koreagate troubles of past decades.  I reviewed OECD StatExtracts on FDI flows by partner country.  It's surprising to note that Korea's FDI in the US was US$6.2B in 2011 while the US's FDI in South Korea was $US1.6B.

The US and South Korea are on the same sheet of music diplomatically.  They oppose North Korea's nuclear development and the Kim dynasty's placement of its self-interest ahead of the welfare of the North Korean people.  North Korea detains about 1% of its population in concentration camps.  The US and South Korea do not punish political dissent with imprisonment or forced labor.

North Korea envies the attention the US lavishes on its healthier twin to the south.  That's why it lashes out with military provocations and drags out even the simplest diplomatic issues for months.  The US-DPRK "New York" channel has been dormant for months because North Korea has nothing new to offer.  The Kim regime likes to imprison some random missionary when it needs attention but delays release negotiations to extort for foreign aid.

Asians can take responsibility for their own security once they outgrow what ROK President Park Gyun-Hye calls the "Asian paradox" where political cooperation has not kept pace with economic integration.  The US will remain engaged in inter-Korean relations until Asian powers resolve that paradox.  They can begin such resolution by working on matters unrelated to North Korea's problems.  Start with climate change and disaster relief.

The Kim regime in the North makes lots of bombastic threats.  It has little to show for decades of hostility to its neighbors and paranoia.  This satirically dubbed video of "Pyongyang Traffic Girls From The Sky" may be all the North can muster as a threat.  I wouldn't mind seeing hot chicks drop out the sky if they were friendly.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Poised For Syria

The world waits for something to happen in Syria in response to an alleged atrocity, although forensic analysis of the scene in question is not complete as of this writing.  The general outlines of the geopolitical drivers are pretty obvious.

Western media already announced the general targets in open sources, giving the Syrians time to clear out.  The destruction of the presumed targets will not hamper the Assad regime's campaign against the Islamic rebels.  Indeed, replacing the destroyed systems with new Russian equipment fulfills that country's support contract with Syria, throwing Moscow a bone if it elects not to escalate.  Note Moscow's muted response; Putin has not announced countermeasures but merely shakes his head diplomatically.  The end result is that the Assad regime continues to its likely victory over Islamic radicals and the US satisfies world opinion that it "did something."

The primary concern now is drawing the correct parallel with history.  If the Kosovo Air Campaign is a template, any strike will be over in a fortnight.