Tuesday, December 14, 2010
If…er…When North Korea Falls
It is nice to see that someone is considering this problem. Whether the Korean Peninsula erupts in a real shooting conventional war or North Korea buckles under the pressure of the shifting regime, or whatever may follow in the future, stability operations and nation-building are a certainty and counterinsurgency a distinct possibility. This demands a concerted effort by the Defense and State Departments to learn our lessons from our most recent conflicts.
The Defense Department, historically, has proven to be a “learning organization,” albeit one that is a bit slow to react. Some may question whether such comments should be made about State. Since the onset of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, Defense has adjusted doctrine, training, and focus. This is not without many skeptics regarding the extent and legitimacy of the change. State seems to have shown some change through new organizations and specialties, but the change is not well reflected in the strangely elusive QDDR.
Just as Defense has increased multinational cooperation and training with the ROK Military, State should similarly prepare for the potential stability operations that will follow the fall of the North. Assuming this has not already been done, this will require significant advances in interagency cooperation. Defense has found its way through the darkness in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the relative proximity of those nations to major world actors changes the calculus.
A lag on the Korean Peninsula similar to Iraq and "The Stan" would be overwhelmingly different given China’s interests in the region. Though I do not want a new geopolitical “Great Game” in the region, one must wonder who the former North Koreans, out from under Kim Jong Il’s boot, will look to. Korean kinship may have lost its effect given the Kim family’s longstanding relationship with China.