In the lead up to the Second World War, Germany engaged in some belligerence, resulting in talks with Britain, talks that eventually would break down. When Germany invaded Poland subsequent to break down in talks, Britain declared war on Germany.
North Korea currently is engaged in belligerence with the rest of the world, with particular focus on the United States. The purpose of Kim Jong-un’s belligerence remains, however, somewhat unclear.
Is Kim Jong-un merely attempting to distract the United States from engagement with China or harboring serious intent at taking on the rest of the world?
So long as North Korea continues with its belligerence, the United States cannot engage China full scale because without China’s cooperation, any attempts at containing North Korea are fraught with seemingly insurmountable difficulties. While total nuclear annihilation of North Korea is achievable, such an action results in loss of credibility for the United States and inability to lead the rest of the free world. In so far as nuclear options are concerned, only a nuclear strike authorized by the United Nations can work. But if the United Nations is on board, meaning China is on board, there exist solutions outside of a nuclear strike. Having the United Nations on board, meaning China is on board allows for tractable solutions to the North Korea problem. If North Korea merely is making it difficult for the United States to antagonize or fully engage with China, we may be in for a lot more “China-advantageous” belligerence from Kim Jong-un. Since China is main benefactor for North Korea, belligerence that is advantageous for China favors North Korea.
Belligerence can be used rightly (advantageously) or wrongly (disadvantageously), or somewhere in between of the two stated extremes. Used rightly, belligerence can be deployed for arrival at advantageous outcomes in interactions within society. Advantageous usage of Belligerence signals to targets of belligerence:
We are not happy or comfortable with the state of things, as such are interested in discussions, actions, or decisions that improve our affairs relative to the current status quo.
The key to effectiveness of belligerence is willingness to engage in give and take. If Germany had characterized its incursions into Poland and Austria as belligerence, we perhaps do not have a Second World War. Military might displayed by Germany could have been utilized to draw other countries into negotiations that perhaps might have prevented an all out Second World War.
Russia’s incursion into Eastern Ukraine can be characterized as belligerence towards NATO, an action that signals Russia will not stand for NATO forces knocking on its doorstep via presence of NATO forces in Ukraine. While Russia’s methods may leave much to be desired, the concept of belligerence is maintained because there is no attempt at destabilization of all of Ukraine.
Martin Luther King Jr. won new freedoms for African Americans because he realized importance of right use of belligerence. Once he received offers of immediate changes upon which new changes could be built from the Government of the United States, he realized belligerence of demonstrations or work stoppages by African Americans had yielded fruit, fruit that would serve as foundation for future initiatives. The promised new freedom he had to wait for — capacity to vote — was delivered as promised in timely fashion. Martin Luther King Jr. put the welfare of his people ahead of any desire to stay in the limelight as an activist pushing for all or nothing for his people.
Used advantageously, belligerence works whenever targets of belligerence are rational, welfare maximizing agents willing to admit “the belligerent” have good reason for belligerence.
Belligerence does not present itself within context of disorder or chaos. Advantageous belligerence attempts to demonstrate discontent with the status quo with a view to extracting new freedoms, concessions, wealth, or opportunities from targets of belligerence. Used tactfully, rationally, and without demanding all or nothing, belligerence can be a useful tactic or strategy for arrival at improvements in welfare of individuals or groups of people.
Will belligerence that involves North Korea, the United States, China, and Russia turn out to be advantageous or disadvantageous belligerence? Time will tell.