This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a student-run initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Four CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this volume include the possibility of a war with North Korea, and the rise of far-right militancy in the United States. The volume also includes an assessment of the impact of the Islamic State in the relations between Russia and the United States, and a discussion of Turkish politics and its effect on NATO's cohesion.
The Emergence of North Korea Since 1950, the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, known commonly as RoK or South Korea, have remained in a constant state of war. More powerful countries, like the US and China, have encouraged regional conflict in the past (Armstrong 2017). Japan, a valuable US ally in the region, is another major component in this topic, as it has been targeted by the DPRK through acts of provocation ever since the conclusion of World War II (Armstrong 2017). The Japanese Empire reigned over the Korean peninsula from 1910 until the end of World War II. The record of the occupation was devastating for the Korean people (Armstrong 2017). What had begun as an ostentatious display of imperialism, eventually wavered under the weight of Korean armed defiance in 1931 (Blomquist and Wertz 2015). The Korean resistance formed the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, which declared war on Japan in 1941 (Armstrong 2017). Japan became increasingly preoccupied with the World War II in the Pacific Ocean, and that lack of focus allowed the Korean resistance movement to form an independent identity. Meanwhile, many Koreans were still fighting in the Japanese military or working as civilian laborers, which made them supporters of the colonial regime in the eyes of some. That tension brought about a new era of conflict and war after 1945 (Blomquist and Wertz 2015). After the Japanese Empire surrendered to the allied forces in 1945, a power vacuum emerged in the Korean Peninsula. The region became a proxy arena for an ideological battle between the US-led UN against communist states like China and the Soviet Union. At that time, members of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began to split and form opposing factions, each of them attempting to establish an organized government (Blomquist, Wertz 2015). Supported by the US, the majority of the NRA formed modern South Korea, while factions of the NRA and the Soviet-backed PLA pledged loyalty to Kim Il-sung, future founder of the DPRK (Blomquist and Wertz 2015). In 1950, the DPRK, supported by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea, and the United States rushed to its defense. In 1951, the US and South Korea signed a defense treaty and the American General Douglas MacArthur led a multinational UN force in pushing Kim Il-sung’s troops almost to the Chinese border. Much to MacArthur’s surprise, however, Chinese forces successfully assisted the DPRK in countering the UN assault, in an effort to prevent US domination of the region (Whalen 2003). For China, the presence of a USsupported military power so close to its territory was —and has remained— unacceptable. It was the reason that prompted China to intervene in the ensuing Korean War and assist the DPRK militarily and economically. 18
The Korean War ended in armistice in 1953, after the DPRK accepted an offer to control a number of islands off the coast of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). That led to a ceasefire, but did not technically end the war (Armstrong 2017). The DPRK and China signed the so-called Sino-Korean Treaty in 1961, with the Chinese vowing to defend the DPRK in the event of a war (Armstrong 2017). Following the conclusion of the Korean War, Kim Il-sung managed to gain an almost divine status among his people, by spearheading the creation of a quasireligion called Juche, which hails him as a god. According to the DPRK’s state ideology, Kim will be forever known as the Eternal President of North Korea, and the country’s citizens are fervent supporters of that notion. The people of the DPRK are asked to display their love to Kim with an annual celebration and military display (Armstrong 2017). North Korea’s Nuclear Era Kim Il-sung managed to establish the state and significantly expand his nation’s weapons program. But his son and successor, Kim Jong-il, had even more success at expanding the DPRK’s military capability, despite the presence of economic sanctions imposed by the UN and the US. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the DPRK faced a potentially catastrophic loss of support from what was its strongest ally and defense-trading partner. That was Kim Jong-il’s first real test. He had to find a way to maintain the country’s weapons program, but was no longer able to do it as drastically as his father (Davenport 2017). In 1992, the DPRK signed the NPT and submitted relevant information to the IAEA (Davenport 2017). Kim Jong-il was then able to circumvent the rules of the treaty by pretending to be cooperative, while at the same time growing the nuclear program and avoiding major conflict. The UN imposed new sanctions against the regime after North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test, but was not prepared to send troops to the peninsula as it did in 1950 (Davenport 2017). However, over time US military presence in the region has significantly increased. Yet Washington remains broadly unwilling to engage in a new war in the Korean Peninsula, despite proclamations to the contrary. After North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, China had to publicly support sanctions against the DPRK to maintain positive relations with the UN. But Beijing has not been completely upfront about honoring all of the stipulations of these sanctions (Davenport 2017; Armstrong 2017; Shim 2017). China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, neighbor and military ally. It is therefore difficult for either side to behave aggressively against the other (Armstrong 2017). Today, the DPRK’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un continues the trend of public defiance and verbal hostility. The Kim dynasty has always ruled through a mixture of fear and respect that North Koreans often compare to the sun: if you get too close to it, you burn; if you get too far away, you freeze. That is how the ruling family has successfully maintained communal loyalty to the regime. The people do not only 19