[imText1]Dr. Jennifer Lind of Dartmouth College brought home the nature of the challenges posed by securing a collapsing North Korea in a seminar hosted this lunchtime by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.
Titled ‘The Collapse of North Korea: Military Missions and Requirements’, Dr. Lind explained why even the most benign, optimistic form of North Korean collapse would present massive challenges to South Korea, the U.S. and the wider international community in terms of things like force requirements, coordination with the local population, and dealing with China’s dissenting views.
“There have been many issues and missions regarding the North Korean collapse issue the past few years” she said, “I wanted to focus rather on narrowing the questions down.”
Lind believes that potential problems after a North Korean collapse should be categorized into four major sections: ▲ nuclear weapons; ▲ humanitarian disasters; ▲ refugee flows; and ▲ insurgency/civil war.
She underscored, “Multiple powerful military and state leaders will claim to rule, competing with one another for resources. The North Koreans who have this oppositional feeling towards South Korea and the U.S. would be fighting to escape and there would be a large number of people on the move near the border.”
“Loose nukes need to be located and seized, and we need to secure the WMD problems that might trigger.”
Basing her analysis on established figures for peacekeeper requirements in similar circumstances, Lind speculated that it might require around 400,000 peacekeepers to secure a relatively docile, welcoming North Korean populace and military.
“Put aside who these soldiers are; we are counting noses in a very generic sense of how many troops it require to stabilize Korea,” she said, “We need the military, especially the Military Police, to be spread out in the population to establish a presence.”
This, she pointed out, is not easy, saying, “It takes a great deal of diplomatic effort with the involved parties; Beijing, Seoul, Russia or whoever gets involved, to know what the rules of engagement are and what the peacekeepers can do . It will require a lot of time to figure all this out logistically.”
Meanwhile, she added, the biggest problem today is that there is not enough planning going on, and certainly not enough coordination with China, which still prefers not to discuss the issue.
“China isn’t listening,” she said. “But I hope that if I say it often enough they might at least agree to have a conference or something.”