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Death of Kim Jong II: Chaos or Opportunity
|by Dr. A. Adityanjee|
The North Korean Communist King, Kim Jong Il, the second one from the reigning Kim dynasty died of heart attack on Saturday, December 17th. His youngest son, 27 years old Kim Jong Un, the great successor is ostensibly anointed to succeed him in this hermit state. Besides the palace intrigues of the ruling dynasty, North Korean military has a powerful role in the statecraft with the untested young Kim prince-ling as the titular head of the Stalinist state.
A more alarmist scenario is that the North Korean military, under threat of loss of power and privileges, might attack South Korea and create a dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula. If the North Korean generals are sane, they would not use this opportunity to test their power and hopefully would not start a new war.
Having said that, anything is possible in love and war, and of course in geo-politics. Death of the “dear leader” may lead to palace intrigues and a de facto succession battle with other sons of the dead king throwing their hats in the ring. Or else, the great successor himself might precipitate a crisis to prove his “coming of age” to his brothers or to the regent. The regime may try to deflect attention from its shortcomings and might use the nuclear weapons in the ensuing conflict. The de facto regent may want to acquire more power de jure. A prolonged succession battle might lead to more severe economic crisis, famine, misery, starvation and a consequent massive exodus of North Korean refugees into the neighboring states.
Will China like such an outcome? Decidedly not! Will China risk an international war trying to protect her client state? Very unlikely! China will try to stem the tide of North Korean refugees into China if the unstable regime in North Korea falters. China would want the status quo to continue by any means. However, China has other pressing economic and social priorities rather than fighting another hot war in the Korean peninsula. China itself is going to go through a leadership transition in 2012 when President Hu Jintao completes his second four year term.
Such an interventionist scenario in the North East Asia would be in the long term strategic and geo-political interests of India. It will set an international example as to how under certain “dangerous conditions” forced denuclearization of a “rogue regime” is acceptable to the UN, the IAEA and the international community. To India’s advantage, it may ultimately lead to dismantling of the “CHIPNOKISS” network.
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