by Larry Peery

Dippers going to Seoul or Pyongyang, like Dippers going to Paris, will experience some strange things in both diplomacy and Diplomacy. Hopefully this article and its thoughts on Korea, psychological profiling, coercive diplomacy, personal diplomacy, endgames and Paris will give you something to think about…. whether your summer travels take you to Seoul, Pyongyang, Paris, or to a friendly game of Dip with your friends. Remember, the Kimchi in Korea may make you gag, but the Soju is great! In Paris, you may pass on the escargot, but the frites are mighty fine. Wherever you go… Enjoy.

We may not know exactly, but we should be studying the Korean situation carefully because no matter what happens, even if it’s nothing, it is going to be important to us.

Why is it important? I can give you plenty of reasons — 36,574 of them (T, as compared the number of Americans killed in the Korean War, as compared to 6,688 killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as of February, 2013).

Here are a few other facts to keep in mind. South Korea has about twice the population of North Korea, while. North Korea has about twice the area of South Korea. Even so, South Korea’s GNP is ten times as large as North Koreas.

And here’s a thought. Every American president since Truman has stood with the Germans, perhaps most famously John Kennedy in his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, and every American president from Reagan to Obama has called for “the wall to come down.” When was the last time you heard an American president say that about Korea? In fact even the South Koreans are ambivalent about the unification issue. On the one hand, in theory, they support the idea, and even invited German experts on reunification to come to Korea and offer suggestions there; and on the other hand, many Southern Koreans loathe the idea of paying the financial and other costs of reunification, just as the West Germans did.

There’s a lot of interesting material out there about Korea. Unfortunately, much of what is published in the West is wrong, either because of ignorance or because of author bias. A lot of the best material comes from Asian publications, but here again everybody has their own agenda. For the average layperson, perhaps the best, easiest, and most popular way to learn something about what is going on in Korea and how Koreans see themselves is to turn to K-Pop culture which is hugely popular not only in South Korea but all over Asia. You can find Korean movies and television soap operas on line on sites like Viki.com or Dramafever.com. Road Number One, Daemul, Iris, Athena, and Iris II are all as up to date as yesterday’s news headlines. The shows offer lots of special effects and Korean stars do their own stunts!

Or you can browse through Google and see what comes up. Here are a few of the stories I’ve found recently that were interesting. A * or ** indicates a particularly good or funny story:

  • “Seoul Opposes ‘Talks for Talks’ Sake’ With North,” Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times, 27/5/2013.
  • **”Kim Jong Il’s Sushi Chef Spills Amazing Stories,” Ruth Brown, Newser, 4/6/2013.
  • **”Kim Jong Un Assassinated? Hollywood Set to Kill Off North Korean Leader in New Film,” Freya Petersen, 5/6/2013
  • “President Obama Meets With President Park of South Korea,” www.whitehouse.gov
  • *”Obama Backs South Korea President’s Policy on North,” Mark Landler and David Sanger, NY Times, 6/26/2013
  • “North and South Korea Agree to First Dialogue in Years,” Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times, 6/6/2013
  • “Korean Tensions Ease As North Offers to Talk,” Calum MacLeod, USA Today, 6/6/2013
  • “North and South Korea Meet, Set Stage for Higher-Level Talks This Week,” Chico Harlan, Washington Post, 6/9/2013
  • *”Korea: Talks Raise Hopes; History May Scuttle Them,” By Foster Klug and Youk Yung Lee, AP, 6/10/2013
  • “Behind Breakdown of Korea Talks, a History of Suspicions,” Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times, 6/12/2013
  • “Poll Shows Koreans Warming to Homosexuality,” Jeyup S. Kwaak, WSJ, 6/12/2013 (I guarantee this doesn’t apply to North Korea, but it does show the importance of K-Pop and “small screen dramas” in the South.
  • “N. Korea Proposes Nuclear Talks with U.S.,” Jean H. Lee, USA Today, 6/16/2013
  • *Dawn Blitz: U.S. and Japanese Storm Island,” Gretel C. Kovach, UT San Diego, 6/18/2013
  • **”Kim Jong Un Gives ‘Mein Kampf” as Birthday Present, Ruth Brown,USA Today, 6/18/2013
  • “North Korea Nuclear Test Still Shrouded in Mystery,” Fredrick Dahl, Reuters, 6/18/2013
  • “Pondering Pyongyang: Beijing’s Problem Child,” Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, 6/19/2013
  • “I Beseech You From Beyond the Grave: Denuclearize”,” Alastair Gale, WSJ, 6/20/2013
  • **”South Korea to Buy European Cruise Missiles,” UPI, 6/20/2013 (This is an important story, because the US has refused to sell “bunker buster missiles or bombs” to South Korea in the past.)
  • “Telling Kim Jong Un’s ‘Secrets’,” Geoffrey Cain, Global Post, 6/21/2013
  • “North Korean Diplomat Blames United States for Tensions but Calls for Peace Talks,” Rick Gladstone and Jane Perlez, NY Times, 6/21/2013
  • *”South Korea’s Park Set to Charm China, Show Up the North,” Reuters, 6/23/2013
  • “Legitimacy of South Korean Leader’s Election Disputed,” NY Times, 6/25/2013 (Note this story didn’t break while Park was in Washington, but when she was in China. Hmmmm.)
  • **”Cyberattacks Disrupt Leading Korea Sites,” Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times, 6/26/2013 (I wonder if we’ll look back at this as being the first shot of Cyber War I?.)

What scares me about the above storylines isn’t that North and South Korea are planning on going to war, but that a war may happen by accident or miscalculation. Such a war would not even need to begin directly between the two principals. It could happen because of words or acts, or even inactions, by the Chinese (PRC or Taiwan), Japan, or even Russia or the United States. There are a lot of loose cannons out there, and trigger-happy drone pilots in North Dakota and New Mexico, and I’m sure that’s true in China as well. I often wondered how long the world would wait to see another Margaret Thatcher. I thought it might be Bhutto, but… Ang of Burma is another possibility. But at the moment, my choice is Park of South Korea. Watch Ang’s speech to Congress. It will make you cry. Watch Park’s speech to Congress. It will make you start sharpening your bayonet. Which one has the taste for blood in her…

Psychological Profiling

Yes, some Dippers are a bit crazy, or at least act that way. It helps their playing, I suspect.

William C. Langer wrote A Psychological Profile of Adolph Hitler: His Life and Legend, popularly called “The Mind of Adolf Hitler,” in 1943 or 1944 for the OSS, the predecessor to today’s CIA. Since that first attempt at wartime psychological profiling, the technique has been applied by countries to study foreign political, military, and even social leaders. I say “foreign” tongue-in-cheek because no doubt its been used on domestic subjects as well. I’m sure the world’s number one subject for psychological profiling today is Kim Jung Un just as his father and grandfather were popular subjects for studies in their day.

The problem with studying Kim Jong Un is that he is so amusing it’s hard to take him seriously. The press often takes him as a joke, and foreign governments may make the mistake of doing the same. People laughed about Hitler’s mustache, funny voice, and mannerisms. They poked fun at Mussolini’s Caesar-like delusions of grandeur. And the pictures and cartoons of Japan’s Tojo were always good for a laugh. I remember when I was a kid watching newsreels from WWII and the clips of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were always greeted with laughter. Later, I remember laughing watching Khruschev pound his Italian made shoe at the UN. And so it goes. Today we’re tempted to laugh at Kim Jung Un. Just remember, he’s got his finger inches for launching WWIII.

For more thoughts on psychological profiling read Managing Groups and Teams/Psychological Profiling.

Coercive Diplomacy

(An art form invented by Conrad von Metzke and perfected by David Hood)

Have you ever noticed at DipCon or World DipCon that big, really big, Dippers come in two types: 1) Big and Loud, and 2) Big and Soft-Spoken? Have you noticed which group tends to be more successful? Keep that in mind the next time you attend a Con.

Coercive Diplomacy — def 1:. or “forceful persuasion” is the “attempt to get a target, a state, a group (or groups) within a state, or a nonstate actor to change its behavior. Def. 2: the diplomacy of threats. Rather than relying on negotiation, diplomats will sometimes threaten adverse consequences if a demand is not met.”

Moving along from Kim Jong Un’s “bait and switch” style of diplomacy let’s look at some other recent diplomatic events. Consider the strange case of the recent Chinese incursion across the Line of Actual Control near Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh.

AP hailed it as “Beijing’s Triumph of Coercive Diplomacy: In exchange for withdrawing from India’s own territory, China wins a slew of military concessions from New Delhi.” (Brahma Chellaney, AP, no date).On the other hand, Sumit Ganguly wrote in the Deccan Chronicle an article called, “Zero-Sum Diplomacy,” in which he said, “However, it is not entirely clear what concessions, if any, were made to the People’s Republic of China to end this military standoff that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) actions had precipitated.” And another Indian publication, FirstPost, said, in an article entitled “Coercive Diplomacy is the Key to Beat China’s Ladakh Ingress,” After more than a fortnight of looking to play down the gravity of China’s inclusion in Ladakhn – spouting a string of grating, infelicitous metaphors, mostly from External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid – the Manmohan Singh government appears to have been awakened to the folly of its way. The realization that walking on eggshells around Chinese sensibilities may merely signal enfeeblement – and invite yet more of the same border provocations – may have finally dawned on the government. (Didn’t the Czechs learn this from the Germans back in the 1930s?).

For a more academic discussion of coercive diplomacy look at the article Predicting Success: Predeterming Outcomes of Coercive Diplomacy.

I’ve never let another Dipper bully me around. I’m afraid if I did my secret liking for S&M would get out. (anon.)

Personal Diplomacy

“Hey, he’s just like me!” (Obama speaking about Xi, or was it Xi speaking about Obama?)

Personal Diplomacy is the name of the game whether it’s diplomacy or Diplomacy. For decades and generations personal Diplomacy and friendships have kept the game and hobby going and growing. That tradition continues this summer in Paris and those participating will move from the movers and doers of current events, to the stuff of history.

Media professionals were excited about prospects for last June’s Obama-Xi meeting. Diplomacy professionals not so much. “

  • “US-China Set the Stage for Obama-Xi Summit,” no author, AP, 5/27/2013 (from Beijing)
  • “China to Seek More Equal Footing With US in Talks,” Jane Perlez, NY Times, 5/28/2013
  • “How to Play Well With China,” Ian Bremmer and Jon M. Huntman, Jr., NY Times 6/2/2013
  • “Thorny Issues, Opportunity at US-China Summit,” by Ian James, Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/2/2013
  • “American Way: It is Time for Barack Obama and Xi Jinping to Claim Their Places In History,” Peter Foster, The Telegraph, UK, 6/2/2013
  • “US-China Meeting’s Aim: Personal Diplomacy,” Mark Landler and Jackie Calmes, NY Times, 6/5/2013
  • “A Retreat for the Rich and Powerful Is Opening Its Doors to the World,” Adam Nagourney, NY Times, 6/5/2013
  • “Obama-Xi Summit Shows the Danger of Personal Diplomacy: Chinese President Needed Less and Got More From the Meeting in California,” Steve Philips, Baltimore Sun, 6/11/2013
  • “Did Michelle Obama Just Set Back US-China Diplomacy a Tiny Bit?” Max Fisher, Washington Post, 6/5/2013
  • “Obama and China’s President Xi Begin Sunny Summit,” Aamer Madhani, USA Today, 6/7/2013
  • “Chinese President Xi Jinping No Reformer So Far, Analysts Say,” Chicago Tribune, 6/7/2013
  • “Obama, Xi Signal New Start With Walk in the Desert,” Julie Pace, AP, 6/9/2013
  • “Can Obama, Xi Take Next Step in US-China Relations,” Aamer Madhani, USA Today, 6/9/2013
  • “Chinese Summit Coverage Focuses on ‘New Relationship,’ Not Hacking,” Barbara Demick, LA Times, 6/9/2013
  • “Obama Presses Cyber Security Issue in First Talks With Xi,” Christi Parsons, Chicago Tribune, 6/9/2013
  • “Xi, Obama Set a New Benchmark in Diplomacy,” Wu Nan, South China Morning, 6/10/2013.

The big difference between Nixon’s trip to Beijing to meet Mao and Xi’s trip to Sunnyland to meet Obama was that Nixon went as a supplicant and Xi came as equal. More or less. How much more or how much less history will decide?

The End Game

The End Game in diplomacy is something a lot of diplomats are not familiar with. Too often diplomatic incidents end in war, as they did in Korea, and go on and on. Sometimes they don’t even end. The diplomats still haven’t found a way to end the war, even if they did end the fighting (mostly). It’s the same in Diplomacy. Many will find a WDC in Europe strange with its arbitrary game endings in 1908 according to the deadlines set by a clock bizarre. Still. We will go. We will play. And we will win.

One hundred thousand people, mostly civilians, have now died in the violence in Syria. Call it a rebellion, revolution, or civil war as you like. It doesn’t matter to the dead.

The title of the article is “Syrian Endgame: Diplomacy, For Once, May Be the Only Hope.” The article is about Syria. The author, John J. Metzler, is an American. The byline is Paris. The article appeared in the World Tribune, which deserves to be better known.

And remember, always, Diplomacy is the most meaningful kind of creativity.

Larry Peery

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