An exodus of young people that is emptying villages and towns across much of rural South Korea into the larger cities is changing the capability to fight a hardened limited war against the North.
In the South, defense for a North Korea war scenarios is not taken seriously. South Koreans want to watch HDTVs, travel, talk on their cellphones, work in tech jobs and live the lifestyles they see in Western television. No one wants to prepare for a grim, expensive war with North Korea.
Why? South Korea’s dependency on America as a rescuer is embedded.
But as the US debt rises, military cuts have taken hold in the defense department.
They should be a day in the next year or so where, aid to South Korea is cut. The view will be that South Korea’s economy is robust and they have never purchased U.S. products as a payment for America’s defense guarantee.
The area could monitored through China and Russia since they joined the international community, with both Beijing and Moscow recognizing the South.
The Korea insistence that abundant American forces remain, backed by additional units aground in Okinawa do not hold in a US model of lower military spending. .
South Korean businesses span the globe so the push will start slowly for Korea to pay their fair share.
So the possibility of the South going nuclear will develop as a detterrent in the next four years. Then this is likely followed by Japan.
Beijing would have to redouble its current efforts to achieve a nuclear free peninsula. But Beijing’s frenetic island building and military posturing in the South China Sea contrasts with any attempt to play psuedo peacemaker.
Nine nations – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – possess about 16,300 nuclear weapons between them.
Nuclear weapons could never stop smaller conventional war and proxy conflicts among the North and South Koreas.
The South Korean military has problems with morale, abuse, hazing, corruption, and glitzy, ill advised procurement choices.
South Koreans have no interest in unification given the huge costs. North Korean defectors often face social discrimination in the South.
North Korea has not had successful dialogue in awhile. Pyongyang has repeatedly demanded that Seoul and Washington abandon joint drills, particularly given the ongoing presence of nearly 30,000 U.S. military personnel in South Korea.
North Korea has sent more artillery at its border. This is similar to Iraq pre-invasion of Kuwait. What would trigger the war?
North Korea can always pick a fight in the Yellow Sea or send a drone over Seoul.
South Korea’s capital and its heavily-populated region is within range of the North’s howitzers, which were involved in the fatal shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010. North Korea’s conducted atomic weapons tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
What would the reaction be if the North sent a missile into the South? Unless it killed hundreds, the reaction would be muted. This plays to a weak US Korea alliance and that the North would be free to be aggressive. But not right away. Gradually.
So imagine the scenario, where the US does to the South as it did to Iraq. Slow withdrawal. 28,500 troops become 26,000 then 23,000. It could drawdown to 20,000 by 2018.
The Winter Olympics comes to South Korea in 2018 and their spiraling nuclear program, it’s not hard to imagine friction. The next three years puts South Korea on a path to developing a nuclear weapon. A simple test could trigger the paranoid North that they are under attack. Or the North hears of the development and demands an Iran type of monitoring in the South.
Stranger things have happened.