Is North Korea or China the bigger threat to America?

Summary: Attention swirls around North Korea (the DPRK), capturing the attention of Washington. But the situation might differ from its press clippings. China often leverages the DPRK’s bellicose and deviant behavior to its advantage. While the DPRK persists in its missile-rattling, we should not ignore China pulling its puppet’s strings to create a diversion to distract our attention from its campaign against America’s interests. This is classic 4GW, “war by other means.”

North Korea Poster
North Korea Poster.

Books discussed in this article.

Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War
Available at Amazon


Dr. Sebastian Gorka (Wikipedia), Deputy Assistant to President Trump, in his book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War categorically states (p 120) “Today no nation or other group poses a direct existential threat to America and the whole of Western civilization except the Islamic State.”

Regrettably Gorka with Clausewitzian fixation dismisses North Korea as being “constrained by demographics, economics, and its far more powerful northerly neighbor China.” Perhaps this is not necessary the case if one takes time to look behind the Chinese curtain, as John Poole suggests in his most recent book, Sinoland: The Subversion of Freedom’s Bastion.

Poole holds that our national security apparatchiks need to be more aware of China’s quest for global influence and the threat it poses to U.S. national security interests. Poole challenges the conventional wisdom of Washington’s ruling elites derived from brindled political expediency and sound-bite gravitas.

To be certain, North Korea has everyone’s attention, signaling the possibility of a destabilized Korean Peninsula. That might be more of a problem for China than for U.S. But, than again maybe not!

Relegating China’s role in the North Korean flap to the attic of our thinking is perhaps exactly what the Chinese want, desire, and have skillfully engineered. Such a problem in Korea might be just the diversion and/or distraction China needs to finally acquire its offshore province. The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) South China Sea protection strategy gives them a strong base from which to project power.

China cyberattack
Graphic from Third Certainty.

“Anyone who commits the American Army in the Asian mainland should have his head examined.”
— Attributed to General MacArthur.

“Rule 2 of war …: ‘Do not go fighting with your land armies in China’. It is a vast country, with no clearly defined objectives, and an army fighting there would be engulfed by what is known as the Ming Bing, the people’s insurgents.”
— Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to the House of Lords on 30 May 1962 (Source here).

Unrestricted Warfare
Available at Amazon.

Poole contends China is indeed a threat characterized by increasing expansionism and a highly deceptive modus operandi. This is a 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) approach (described in Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsu) to war which includes some non-martial aspects of a “war by other means” that are just as lethal as conventional and/or nuclear war to the U.S.

John J. Fialka’s prescient book, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft, devotes four chapters to the Chinese threat. Sinoland describes this threat in detail asking the question: How prepared is the U.S. to handle such a hostile Chinese strategy leveraging, economic, political, environmental, information, martial, and non-martial domains?

Sinoland lays out the Chinese revolutionary plan for the U.S. — a grand strategy by China that pretends to help other countries and assist the U.S.  The Chinese leadership has literally “hidden” its plan in plain sight. China seeks a dominant global role to facilitate nurturing and expanding the PRC itself. The Economist reveals China’s growing empire of ports around the world. Sinoland uncovers how such Chinese actions though seemingly peaceful are a “war by other means” seriously impacting U.S. national security and interests.

Sinoland presents an unvarnished look at Communist China’s trajectory in an ongoing 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) campaign against the U.S. This campaign has a long-term pathway. We must keep in mind the Asian sense of time is far different than ours.

According to Poole there are over 30 different subcategories of war by other means currently being applied within our borders from what the People’s Liberation Army has been calling “Unrestricted Warfare.” Read Sinoland for a candid perspective rather than the corybantic howling of Washington’s bureaucrats—whose track record at best is abysmal. Read Sinoland for a true understanding of the threat posed by China’s “Unrestricted Warfare” attack on the U.S.


GI Wilson

About the author:

Colonel G.I. Wilson retired from the Marine Corps after 30+ years of military service, including several combat tours. Today he teaches for the Administration of Justice Department of Palomar College (San Marcos, CA).  Also, he has consulted for ABC-7 Los Angeles, Knowledge and Intelligence Program Professionals KIPP), and the Emergency Response Research Institute (ERRI). See his education and publications here. His posts on the FM website are listed here.

For More Information

Articles about North Korea.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about North Korea, about China, about 4GW, and especially these articles about the power of weakness…

  1. Important: Looking ahead to the final chapter of the North Korea story.
  2. Should we expect another war in Korea?
  3. The real reason for America’s hostility to China.
  4. Stratfor: China builds a new Silk Road for the 21st century.

The books discussed here.

Sinoland: The Subversion of Freedom's Bastion
Available at Amazon.
War by Other Means: Economic Espionage in America
Available at Amazon


6 thoughts on “Is North Korea or China the bigger threat to America?”

  1. China has significant power and influence and is in a position to do great harm to not only the US but to the entire west, with its amazing geographical wealth, but with a declining demographics. But China is also its own worst enemy.

    China is caught between global domination and absolute ruin. It is an unstable top-heavy highly corrupt place that is at war with itself at the highest levels. Its very soil, its waters, its air, are all poisoned to astounding levels. Over half its population lives in extreme poverty, cast into shadow by the relative success of their city cousins. Its national wealth — and thus its national power — is built upon a growing mountain of debt. Maintaining GDP requires the use of a mind boggling cycle of real estate construction and destruction, using a state owned enterprise-led overproduction of shoddy steel and concrete, with virtually zero maintenance thereafter.

    The above concerns do not constitute mortal wounds for China. Only China itself can administer the killing blow that will send it once again into its famous eternal cycle of cohesion and dissolution. China has had a tumultuous century, as have Russia, Korea, and Japan. It is important to keep in mind the devastation that these places have suffered so recently.

  2. Hi COL Wilson,

    Thank you for the pointers to the books and insight, and thank you for a pitch perfect use of “corybantic howling”. I can’t stop laughing.

    China is a long game, and their strategic objective is, IMO, is the unfettered advance of their goals, whatever those goals are now or in the future. The United States stands athwart this objective by controlling the reserve currency, command of the seas, and military dominance around the world (among other things). The United States has no strategic objective as a strategist would think of it, but the military industrial congressional complex is such that the US must necessarily “go big” and thus will continue to stand athwart China’s objective. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), all China has to do is wait. We’ll consume ourselves.

    So, although China is the principle strategic competitor to the US (all that Russia nonsense is just nonsense), they are not an immediate threat, with the exception of the nut-job banana, got-the-bomb, “republic” of North Korea. Allow me, sir, to quote a great, but failed strategist:

    You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! —
    Vizzini from The Princess Bride.

    Substitute “North Korean” for “Sicilian” and you won’t go far wrong, and you get a two-fer. There is nothing to gain and much to lose in a hot conflict in Korea. Sadly, people forget the meat grinder that was the Korean war, millions dead including tens of thousands of our brothers from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Turkey (some are still our brothers, and all who died will always be).

    China is our principle strategic competitor, a state, and a rational actor in the competition between states.

    Islamic State, ISIL, ISIS, Daesh, is not a state. It’s the ultimate 4GW idea. And to limit it to ISIL is to miss the point. Al Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, etc., are all variations on a theme. Al Qaeda wants the same thing ISIL wants, but have different tactics and time scales. A hand full of Taliban can control a Afghan village it takes a hundred Marines to “liberate” only to be retaken by bearded men over tea. Europe’s inability to accommodate refugees from Syria is in a feedback loop that increases the isolation of refugees and the potential for “radicalization” which is just another word for a way out of a crappy situation.

    The United States is not a classically strategic nation. We can’t be. It’s by design. However, we don’t need to be as long as we keep our people safe and free. This means we’re ill equipped to deal with grand strategic competitors like China, especially if their strategy is watch us burn ourselves up. We can, however, deal with 4GW threats like these cancerous perversions of Islam manifested in groups like ISIL. Unfortunately, the MICC is ill equipped to deal with 4GW actors effectively, because bomb your way to victory won’t work. You need to take a village over a cup of tea.

    Marines can, and have done, just that.

    Brick by brick, my citizens. Brick by brick.

    Thank you again for your illuminating post.



  3. Must be a slow news day. Can’t believe I actually read this and searched the Links. Being kind ill say this is Old Man stuff. GI Wilson? USMC Colonel. Stratfor.
    USA will do almost anything to keep up the Fear and ignore the reality of the …..just about anything current, pressing and germane inside the borders.

    Fanboy War. Oh the dreaded NK and Chicoms! Pick your team, your Foe. No wonder we have this portly 70 year old gent as Pres. You bomb. We will rebuild.

    “I can’t believe they allowed this video to be made.”

  4. “The Economist reveals China’s growing empire of ports around the world.” I’ve read elsewhere that china and russia are executing increasingly large bilateral oil trade in yuan. So to what extent are China and the other BRIC countries seeking to move away from the dollar?

  5. What war/ Who wants to kill one’s best custome? China trade is all America centric. Just puppet show to stop USA from bombing North Korea’s nuclear facilities lest China loses its tool to keep needling America.

    1. Vishwas,

      “Who wants to kill one’s best custome?”

      The nations of Europe were tightly wound in deep relationships of trade and commerce. Yet they fought WWI almost to the point of mutual destruction. Illogical, but it has happened before — and can again.

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