China should do to North Korea what the US did to Grenada — invade

A half starved North Korean army is unlikely to prove much resistance to modern Chinese forces. Let’s clear out the odious people seeding a global conflict

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 10:49pm

The 3,000-metre runway of Point Salines Airport was wildly excessive for the twin-turboprop that dropped me on the sleepy island of Grenada in 1986. It was sleepy then - but just 30 months earlier it had been invaded by an American and Caribbean-led coalition.

The airport was impressive – built for Russian and Cuban supply aircraft. The big road built by the Americans to the capital of St Georges for the victorious visit of President Reagan was even more impressive – until I realised it was the only one of its kind on the island.

It was a good invasion, removing the revolutionary government that had taken power by force from the previous revolutionary prime minister, who had taken power by force, and who they had executed.

The invaders restored a stable political system, completely removing the global stress and tension caused by the bad guys, laid the ground for a good economy – and the invading powers we out within three months.

Grenada reverted back to its sleepy nature and is now a successful democracy and tourist-led economy. It is growing at around 3 per cent per annum and boasts a per capita income not far below China.

North Korea is the most risky geopolitical situation since the Cuban crisis could have sparked superpower war. For 25 years the North Korean situation has slowly warmed and bubbled, like a frog in a pot that doesn’t realise the water has warmed until it has boiled.

The Security Council met on Monday night and even China is criticising the Hermit Kingdom. North Korea has deliberately flouted China’s calls for moderation. It is no wonder that a former American ambassador to China has reported the personal antipathy that President Xi Jinping has for Kim Jong Un.

Yet China still wants to keep Kim in place as a buffer in fear of what might come next – even though that may be Chinese air and groundwater polluted by radiation. Sanctions have not worked for a generation – Kim and his army will continue to eat well, while his people eat grass.

My job is not to say what people should do – even the Secretary General of the United Nations seems unable to do that.

China will have preserved their buffer state and better still would have burnished their credentials for mature and balanced global intervention. It might even become the dawn of Pax Sinologica

However we can say what we think will happen. The end game is that an unchecked North Korea will soon be able to marry a launch vehicle, a guidance system and a nuclear weapon. A man who is prepared to launch a missile over a third country’s airspace and who has brutally murdered his brother and uncle is likely to launch a pre-emptive strike against the US.

This third generation sheltered child may well believe that he can knock out the US with a single blow.

But the US cannot afford even the threat of a west coast city being attacked or irradiated in the interests of calm.

That opens the clear possibility of a US conventional pre-emptive strike on Kim’s nuclear facilities. Better a Korean peninsula in flames than San Francisco. The first responsibility of a nation is to defend the homeland.

A strike on Pyongyang would be very damaging for China’s prestige and credibility yet it takes little to imagine China’s actions if Beijing or Shanghai were threatened. For the US it is unavoidable; it would not be an exercise in power but an exercise in defence. They have no choice.

But the other way is the Grenada option... an invasion by China. A half starved North Korean army is unlikely to prove much resistance to modern Chinese forces. Clear out the odious people seeding a global conflict, sort out the politics (almost anything is better than the present), and move out.

The North Koreans would be able to feed themselves and maybe enjoy some of China’s prosperity.

China will have preserved their buffer state and better still would have burnished their credentials for mature and balanced global intervention. It might even become the dawn of Pax Sinologica

The markets have reacted in rather a sanguine manner were we are on the cusp of war; the Seoul stockmarket is only 5 per cent off it’s recent highs.

As we have observed before, there is no point investing for Armageddon. While tension exists, the markets will still fall on North Korean threats but action against North Korean has proved popular with markets. Be sure that if China did invade, markets would go up – once again proving Nathan Rothschild right, “buy on the sound of cannon fire…”

Richard Harris is a veteran investment manager, banker, writer and broadcaster, and financial expert

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