Know thy enemy

Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.

For Western leaders, intelligence organizations and militaries, that’s exactly the reality they’re waking up to this morning.

No doubt organizations like the CIA and NSA have been working diligently to gain as much knowledge about the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, as they possibly can over the last few years.  With the diminishing health of Kim Jong-il, it would have been a gross oversight if they hadn’t.  Still, those organizations were left with an impossible task.

Nobody knows for sure how Kim Jong-un will react to the reality of being handed control of North Korea.  Studying his personality, or his education, or his previous position within the regime only provides so much information.

While Kim Jong-un may have been educated in Switzerland, and had the opportunity to travel outside of North Korea, there’s no reason to suspect those experiences will actually motivate him to change the authoritarian ruling style of the dynastic regime.

It’s this lack of knowing that encourages a massive state of unrest on the Korean peninsula.  Undoubtedly, South Korean military units will move out to their predetermined war time locations and conduct training as a sign of strength and readiness.  Patrols along the DMZ will likely be doubled.  The US will dedicate weeks worth of intelligence oversight to Pyongyang and the entire border region.  Nuclear facilities will be watched non-stop for months.

Every action by South Korea, the US, Japan and China will draw a response from North Korean leadership.  At this point, nobody knows what that reaction will be.

Over the years, Kim Jong-il had become entirely too predictable.  Joint military training mission in South Korea were always referred to as a prelude to war.  Every year.  Even with the training occurring at the same time every year.  Every time, those training missions were an attempt to lure North Korea into war according to Kim Jong-il.  It was a reality that everyone eventually just came to accept.

Now we don’t know.

As GI Joe would tell us, “Knowing is half the battle.”  Lets just hope we don’t find out something we don’t want to know.

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