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View Diary: Are we blundering into a war with North Korea? (143 comments)

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  •  The Kims practice what Owen Lattimore (1+ / 0-)
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    called the Outer Frontier Strategy, a strategy which Mo-tun, leader of the Xiongnu, devised for dealing with the Han Empire.

    The supreme leader of the Xiongnu Horde derives his autocratic power from being the sole source of access to the bounty provided by foreign tribute;
    he regularly threatens war in order to extort payoffs from the Han;
    he then disitributes these payoffs among his elites, characterizing these payoffs as "tribute" acknowledging the Xiongnu's "power over the Han."
    When the tribute flow slows or the Xiongnu are in economic distress, the supreme leader makes new threats of war against the Han.

    Han emperors tried to break the cycle by invading the Mongolian steppe and pursuing the Xiongnu, but this seldom worked-- the Xiongnu Horde fled deeper into the steppe, beyond the radius of operational effectiveness of the Han army.

    The Han emperors finally learned that the best way to deal with Xiongnu threats was to call their bluff and ignore them. The Xiongnu Horde then collapsed through internal civil war because its supreme leader lost the ability to regularly distribute "tribute" bounty.

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