Forget the ME, think Korea


"Merry Christmas from Korea land of lice and diarrhea, from this land that we half mastered, Merry Christmas, you lucky bastards."  Korean War era Christmas card sent home to cheer everyone up.

North Korea invaded the south in June, 1950.  You all can argue whether or not Syngman Rhee provoked the attack.  I don't care.  There were no US forces in South Korea except for KMAG, the training group for the South Korean Army.  The NOKOs ran riot all over the place.  They had the nasty habit of torturing and killing PWs, unlike the nice Chinese who arrived later.

The UN resolved to resist.  US  troops were rushed from Japan where they had been enjoying the fruits of occupation duty.  To say that these US Army units had been allowed to wallow in the experience would be about right.  The NoKos kicked them around unmercifully.  A regiment of USMC showed up from somewhere (Okinawa maybe?)  They did a lot better initially until the Army brought some better units to the fight.  The 1st Cavalry Division comes to mind

That little pink patch was the Pusan Perimeter.  This was all the UN forces held by 14 September, 1950.  This was a dicey situation.  One more big push by the NoKos …

And then Macarthur landed the 1st Marine Division at Inchon, the newly built up forces at Pusan broke out of the perimeter and by November the front line was up in NoKoland where that blue line shows on the map. 

Then the Chinese intervened and quick, quick the front line was back near the 38th Parallel.  There followed a lot of offensives and counter-offensives until Eisenhower negotiated an armistice in 1953.

In the course of all this, millions died and the economies of both countries were smashed to bits.

Kim Jung Un does not seem in the least interested in making nice with the US, Japan and the ROK.  He boasts of his intention to acquire a nuclear tipped ICBM that can range the US.  Maybe the NoKos don't have these yet, but it seems that they will have them soon.

IMO the US, under ANY administration will not accept having its cities held at risk in the bizarre spectacle of a NoKo counter-value strategy.

Would the US ultimately smash a lot of NoKo in a pre-emptive attack to reduce the threat? I think so.  Would the lack of a SoKo agreement on that stop the US?  I doubt that. 

We would undoubtedly try a Stuxie type solution first, but if that does not work …

The NoKo reaction to  big, crippling, strikes is very likely to be a massive onslaught across the DMZ.  Could they capture large parts of Seoul?  Yes.

Would a back and forth reminiscent of 195-53 then occur?  Would millions die?  Probably.  Would most of the US Army and USMC end up in Korea?  Probably. 

So, in that context you could forget the ME (sorry AIPAC).   The fight against the jihadis would become the problem of US Greenies, Kurds, tribal Arabs, the SAG, the Iraqi government and Iran.  the Israelis and Saudis would continue to back their jihadis of choice.

A brave new world.  pl


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169 Responses to Forget the ME, think Korea

  1. Eric Newhill says:

    I’ve been thinking for a while now that NoKo can no longer be ignored and that something is going to have to be done about it sooner than later; as ugly in the extreme as that “something” might turn into. The devil is going to get paid tomorrow, if not today. So payment might as well be on our terms to the extent possible.
    Seems to me that China is the deciding factor as it was in the original conflict there. I do not understand the Chinese outlook. Perhaps they can be offered a good deal on economic relations with a unified Korea and they would assist in removing the NoKo regime? They also have a bargaining chip with Taiwan and other assets in that area? + US trade arrangements? Seems like there is enough opportunity for some horse trading to override any value in a continued relationship with the troublesome NoKo regime.

  2. Paul says:

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate here…
    And why should he play nice? Maybe the US and Japan should be playing nice with him. After all, ask yourself why NK is seeking nuclear weapons, and why the country is the way it is today. Given the destruction wrought by the US all across Korea in the 50s, isn’t NK’s need for nuclear armaments an existential one?

  3. turcopolier says:

    International relations is not about justice. It is about interests. pl

  4. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    In your opinion is the little fat boy amenable to negotiation? Would he curb his nuclear and missile development if the US moved out of Korea? Is his strategy to acquire sufficient deterrence to force negotiation?
    Where do you see China & Russia come out on this? They’re neighbors and probably will experience the fallout if nukes are used by either side.

  5. BraveNewWorld says:

    The offer to stop the missile and nuclear tests in exchange for the US to stop conducting military exercises in South Korea and one other thing I don’t remember off the top of my head but it is pretty trivial as well has been on the table for years. I suspect that is where this comes out. Every thing else is a lose, lose situation for the US and the Koreans.

  6. Alaric says:

    Kim’s behavior is a result of US policy and the true history of Korea (which this article ignores) and the country’s internal problems (some of which are a product of uS policy). It’s perhaps time to rethink US policy. Squashing anything that does not bow to US policy is not feasible foreign policy.. especially when said country has ICBMs and nukes. The “madmen” of N KOREA have behaved in a very
    rational way when you look deeper than a CNN/state department story. N Korea has been a nuisance but they (unlike the US) have invaded no one.
    The US has tolerated N Korea because America’s option are severely limited, not just by the N Korean military, but by China and Russia who are of course the North’s neighbors. Neither of those nuclear powers is going to allow a nuke strike so close to their borders. China in particular will not allow a US colony on its border. I expect a Trump hot air display and little more.
    Now let’s consider the incredible hypocrisy that North Korea is rogue and a threat because they tested a ICBM (or IRCM if you believe the Russians). How many of those foes the US have? How often does the US test such devices? How long has the US had a very developed missile program (well over 50 years).
    The US policy makers and public don’t care about logic or hypocrisy. They are dedicated to rationalizing and perpetuating might makes right but in this case it’s questionable who wears the might crown.

  7. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Q: to what extent, if any?, is NK central or critical to Chinese defense/economy re US/Russia? If the answer is minimal then it seems NK is disposable for the right price..just a matter of time. In passing I sometimes wonder what’s holding up the Korean War paperwork.

  8. Fred says:

    Yep, the poor ole North Korean’s. Guess some folks believe they deserved to conquer the South Koreans.

  9. eakens says:

    Seems to me China would have quite a bit to gain with the US engaging in a war in Korea given the competitive landscape vis-a-vis shipbuilding and consumer electronics. That wouldn’t justify a war in itself, but we are talking about significant dollars here that I’m sure look pretty good to some.

  10. Green Zone Café says:

    Not saying it’s a good idea, but they probably have what they think is a clever mastermind next generation shock and awe plan for a decapitation strike.

  11. Bill Herschel says:

    Russia and China propose that North Korea freeze their nuclear ams development and proliferation and that the U.S. stop military exercises with the South. I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with a police action in North Korea to interfere with their military development. China can put a MIRV on my kitchen table. Why don’t we invade China? And why don’t we realize that if we invade North Korea, we’ll lose.

  12. Swami says:

    The N Korea situation is beyond serious. It appears some on these threads are well-connected in military circles. A question for them: is the Administration at the highest levels giving this the attention it deserves?

  13. Mark A. Gaughan says:

    Do you see any chance at all that negotiating with the North Koreans can lead to them cancelling their Nuclear missile plans? If so, what do you think that deal would be?

  14. phodges says:

    Colonel I think you have laid out the sweetest dreams of our Geopolitical rivals.
    But rather than seeing N Korea as a ‘self destruct’ button the Imperial planners see just one more victim to feed the Imperial coffer for a short while. How much gold does N Korea have? If by chance some our economic competitors get destroyed in the process that is just a bonus. How far from the front line is Samsung??? Are Toyota and Subaru in range of N Korean missiles?
    Of course the obvious solution is to remove our occupation troops and allow the Koreans to run their own country. But a unified and independent Korea is last thing anyone but the Koreans wants.

  15. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The 50s are long gone. The past is dead and buried, and the images of the past invoked by those alive today (including, or rather, especially Koreans) are propaganda pieces tailored to suit today’s political agendas. Delving into the past is a real rabbit hole to jump into, and an especially dangerous one, too.
    The real danger is that there is no obvious stopping point where neither side can be trusted to not cross. North Koreans want to use the nuclear threat to blackmail everyone else into granting them everything that they like. The Chinese and South Koreans want to use the North Korean nuclear weapons to advance their own agendas, which are often at odds with US interests (huge chutzpah for the latter, since the usual story that comes out of any confrontation with NK is how NK can wipe out Seoul in minutes, but medieval kings of Korea, after decades of depredations by Mongols, did promptly turn the Khan’s armies to props for their own regime against Korean nobles who threatened their power domestically by becoming the “son-in-law” regime–and later the Japanese, who until then, posed no threat to Koreans whatsoever. NK nukes are like Kublai Khan’s armies to the South Korean regime.) Japan wants to use nuclear threat to “normalize” themselves.
    And what’s US got to do with any of these? Nothing! We have been reduced to a toy for these guys to manipulate, a sugar daddy to be milked for endless concessions. I don’t see why we should keep putting up with these. If the NK threat rises above some threshold, we should whack them and leave. If it doesn’t, we should still pick things up and leave, and let the Asians deal with their own mess.

  16. BillWade says:

    Smiling here, I would ask Muammar Qaddafi if he was still around.

  17. turcopolier says:

    as I said, foreign policy is not about justice. pl

  18. Ante says:

    To put all the absurd politics, supporting elements of Japanese imposed vichy police state, aside, The Korean War was a great demonstration of the failure of airpower-solves-everything doctrine.
    What’s embarrassed me most is the degree to which our politicians and generals have become like the North Koreans, shouting idiotic bellicosities, losing credibility with each empty threat. Acting like the weakest bullies on the playground, they disgrace us.
    When you have fields bristling with ICBMs, nuclear submarines lurking silently, when you have the ability to project force anywhere, you don’t need to woof. You don’t need to make a single threat. All those things allow you to be polite and kind to your adversaries. Call me old fashioned, but that’s a much greater show of strength than bragging and boasting for the cameras.

  19. zk says:

    It seems to me that a military option would be a disaster for everyone.
    Unless the USA has some magic weapon that can :
    – neutralize the growing nuclear threat
    – prevent a military retaliation on SK & Japan
    – prevent the proliferation of NK nuke & missile tech know how
    Military solution would bring great destruction and loss of human life.
    It would also send a strong message to all American allies (or quasi vassal states if you prefer the Russian classification).
    The message would be that being a US ally is fine, unless and until the US feels genuinely threatened.
    After that point is reached, the US will sacrifice it’s allies to protect itself.
    This would hurt the US immensely and quicken the decline.
    I believe the much better approach is for all interested parties to find a way to bring the NK to the fold, so to speak.
    A united and neutral Korea would be an economic and military powerhouse. But it takes great minds to make this happen.
    In this day and age, great minds in places of power seem to be in low supply.

  20. Eric Newhill says:

    Things may already be changing. China normalized relations with SoKo some time ago. China has been, apparently, shaping a carrots and sticks policy to attempt to curb NoKo nuclear aspirations. China and NoKo may no longer be “brothers in arms”:
    IMO it is a mistake to think that a non-aggression policy is going to appease NoKo and alleviate the problem. That is you coming from an America as bad guy perspective. Beyond US/SoKo shared economic interests, there are treaty/defense obligations that would have to be fulfilled in the event of a North attack on the South. Then there is the disruption of the entire region and all associated economic arrangements, all of which is quite significant. Finally, the threat of an eventual ability to hit the US mainland with nuclear weapons. All of that to be gambled against the notion that NoKo is only concerned with its own defense? Big risky gamble, IMO.

  21. AEL says:

    China is treaty bound to North Korea’s defense. A massive American attack on North Korea will bring the Chinese into direct conflict with the USA.
    Conflict between the top two global powers is not something to be desired.

  22. different clue says:

    I suspect many South Koreans don’t really want a re-unification with North Korea. They certainly wouldn’t want to be invaded, conquered and looted by NorKo for NorKo benefit. They wouldn’t really want to spend the huge money to rehabilitate a NorKo which simply collapsed and needed help. It would cost SouKo relatively more than what it cost West Germany to rehabilitate East Germany.

  23. different clue says:

    We have practiced a very strange sort of containment with China. Our governators have spent the last few decades giving away whole chunks of our industry to China which will make China too powerful for anyone to contain in the long run. Meanwhile we try objecting to their “illegal West Bank Settlements” on their tailor-made artificial islands in the China Sea.

  24. different clue says:

    Eric Newhill,
    My best amateur guess from what I have read and heard over the last few years is that China has two reasons for supporting North Korea.
    1: They hope to keep the US engaged here as elsewhere so as to keep our attention diverted from figuring out how to protect ourselves from the One Belt One Road Co-Prosperity Sphere which China is patiently building up for all of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia too if they can achieve it.
    2: China considers the NorKo regime to be brittle and fear that if it makes any compromise on any issue, all the fatigue-cracks in NorKo society and rulership will split open, NorKo will collapse, and a million or more desperate NorKo refugees will pour into China.

  25. b says:

    North Korea’s interest is
    – economic development provided that it does
    – not get invaded
    – not get decapitated and
    – has a reliable deterrent against any “preemptive strike”.
    NoKo has no interest in any aggressive moves for any other purposes. It has declared a “no first strike” nuclear policy.
    Constantly discussing and training for decapitation and preemptive strikes, as the U.S. and SoKo do, will only increase NoKo’s determination. It has a rudimentary ICBM capability, it has tested nukes, it already tested submarine launches and in 5 years from now it will have combined all of that into a tidy deterrence package. Game over.
    China’s interest is to have no U.S. stooge near its border. Korea can unite, from a Chinese perspective, if it is guaranteed that it is friendly with China.
    U.S. interest is to keep China under threat and to keep its “allies” under control. It also wants to sell lots of weapons. It is not interested in a united Korea at all.
    I don’t see any of these interests changing in the upcoming years. It is therefore unlikely that there will be any change in the current situation.

  26. João Carlos says:

    I think the problem is that North Korea will use nukes against US army and navy if a conventional war starts. And a preemptive nuke attack will not stop North Korea from nuke Tokyo.
    As foreign policy is not about justice, China will not help US. They don’t want the chinese army nuked and they have no reason to help a country that sells weapons to Taiwan and is against the isles they are building in South China Sea. Maybe the chinese like to see th US forces bleed a few in a war against North Korea. Mostly because they are not buying US bounds.
    A few more trillions dollars wasted in a war can end the US hegenony sooner than we can imagine.
    Anyway, better learn mandarim.

  27. MRW says:

    I thought your comment “International relations is not about justice. It is about interests” was a particularly succinct insight.
    Has it always been thus?
    At one point early in our republic, I thought our ‘interest’ was no unnecessary foreign entanglements unless we were threatened directly. When did that change? After WWII?

  28. Eric Newhill says:

    Agreed, probably correct on both points.
    However, if NoKo keeps on the path it is on, then China suffers from #2 for sure and #1 is at risk too (who knows how things would shake out in the midst or aftermath of a major conflagration in Korea?).
    Seems to me – in my uniformed opinion – that China would want to keep the peace on the peninsula so all that wonderful trade and partnership can occur. How can there be peace with a nuclear armed unstable guy like KJU at the helm? Seems like an untenable situation that will have to be resolved soon. KJU must go. Perhaps China is holding out for more concessions from the US before it is allowed to happen.

  29. Eric Newhill says:

    AEL, that is a double edged sword. South Korean is treaty bound protected by the US. So a North move against the South results in the same conflict that you describe. Neither the US nor China want that. Therefore, someone needs to remove KJU before he causes something that no one wants. Unless you think he can be controlled; a position that seems like magical thinking at this point.

  30. Fred says:

    If China puts a MIRV on your kitchen table they will get to find out how many bombs it takes in the retaliatory strike to wipe out Chinese civilization. I think we’ve got more than enough to do the job multiple times over. Would China like to solve the problem next door or have Trump do it his way? That seems like a more reasonable question for China to consider.

  31. charly says:

    Look at the map of China. Measure the distance between Beijing and North Korea. Answer question.

  32. mike says:

    Colonel – “A regiment of USMC showed up from somewhere (Okinawa maybe?)
    They embarked from San Diego on 14 July and sailed directly to Pusan to become Walton Walker’s mobile reserve. It was the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and included tanks, artillery and F4 Corsairs, although I believe the F4s were diverted to Japan.
    The nucleus was the 5th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton. But it had only 1800 officers and men instead of the 3500 authorized. It had been in cadre status with only two rifle companies per battalion, and two rifle platoons per company. So it was be strengthened by activating reservists from all over the country, and also by putting cooks, bakers, bandsmen, truck drivers etc into rifle platoons. But even so the regiment sailed with just 2200 and only the two rifle companies per battalion. And only four howitzer tubes instead of six in the attached battery. They did have the advantage of weapons not available to the first US units thrown into Korea: the F4 Corsair was ideal for CAS; an M26 tank company with 90mm gun, and 3.5-inch bazookas instead of the 2.36-inch one that was useless against NoKo T-34s.
    A good article on the subject was published in July 2000 (50th anniversary):

  33. charly says:

    “Cost” is always a very nebulous concept with states but Korea has the advantage that the poor part is already capitalistic.

  34. Alaric says:

    Agreed. That’s why I mentioned the might makes right aspect of US policy. The problem is that just ain’t gonna work here.

  35. charly says:

    The Chinese earn enough for a booming North Korea to happen. It also explain why China stopped importing coal

  36. Peter AU says:

    China is now a different country to 1953 and peasant armies.
    If kept at a conventional level, US would be quickly pushed off the Korean peninsular.
    The choice for the US seems to be- take the option China and Russia are proposing on negotiation and de-escalation all round, or WWIII against Russia/China if it wishes to attack NK.

  37. Mark Logan says:

    There is an alternative theory to blackmail on their nuclear ambitions.
    The nutshell verson: They seek to move away from that ridiculous million man army economy by installing a nuclear shield. It seems plausible.
    They have indoctrinated their people for generations to believe that army is the only thing that stands between them and destruction so the Kim Un regime can not simply RIF it. There is practically no middle class and there would be a lot of comfortable people in that army looking at becoming one of the uncomfortable and being so in North Korea is something to be feared.
    Blackmail perhaps, but the question the raised is blackmail who and for what. They have the Chinese frightened of having to deal with millions of refugees. They have the South frightened of war. What would having nukes garner which these things don’t already?

  38. Paul says:

    Yet the regime in NK offered multiple times to freeze their nuclear program. All they asked was that the US cease joint military drills with SK. Offer was refused every time…

  39. Paul says:

    I agree. But I also believe it would be in everybody’s interest, including the US, if the US got out of South Korea.

  40. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I don’t think the agreed framework ever had real chance of working, in 1990s or otherwise.
    It is true that mechanisms for keeping the US accountable were lacking, but so were those of keeping NK accountable, in a manner that was compatible with keeping the regime sufficiently “sovereign,” and as North Koreans see it, “sovereignty” lies with their “autonomous” military power (the whole “Juche” business), which they could employ to blackmail at the time, place, and target of their choosing. North Korea has always been engaged in quadruple blackmail: not only against its alleged enemies, South Korea, Japan, and United States, but also its sponsors, now limited only to the Chinese. Their means of blackmail used to be that they might collapse, unless China backed them up, but now, it seems to be more that they would escalate the crisis to the point that China would have to back them up, if they do not want to see a war break out on their borders.
    For a number of years, China had been trying to hold open the possibility that they might install a more cooperative regime in Pyongyang via a coup or something, either through their ally Jang or Kim’s older brother. Both are dead now, with no plausible replacement for Kim Jong-Un. Even if China might not care to prop up NK in event of something foolish in “the Balkans” (choice of words is intentional–it’s the same logic as Austria-Hungary vs. Germany in 1914, basically. China may not want a conflict, but if there is one, they cannot let NK regime fall.), the current NK regime is the only one they have now. This gives Pyongyang big leverage over the Chinese as well.
    I think there is one real choice for the US that leads to some kind of conclusion: wash our hands of Asia and refuse to get drawn in needlessly. This is relevant only as long as the North Koreans and others leave us alone. If they do not, then we should clean out the sore and then still walk away for good.

  41. FourthAndLong says:

    “China can put a MIRV on my kitchen table. Why don’t we invade China? ”
    Precisely. The US has lived with that reality since the 1960’s. Why can’t we live with a Nuclear NK ???

  42. turcopolier says:

    Do you live on the west coast? The USSR and China demonstrated a certain rationality with regard to MAD. I do not see that in NoKo. pl

  43. turcopolier says:

    I don’t care how the NoKos see their sovereignty. What I care about is the ability of these crazed Koreans to hold US cities ar\t risk even if they are on the Left Coast. pl

  44. turcopolier says:

    My isolationist views are well known. pl

  45. turcopolier says:

    The NoKos have no right to DEMAND that we end our defensive alliance with the ROK. Let the ROK ask for that. pl

  46. turcopolier says:

    Peter AU
    Yes, and China might cease to have a modern economy. pl

  47. turcopolier says:

    That does not mean hat we might not do it. pl

  48. Brunswick says:

    The Missile Program, allied with their WMD Program’s, is the NORK’s means to ensure that when the US launches it’s program of Regime Change in North Korea, it won’t be just the Korea’s that suffer.

  49. Brunswick says:

    Clinton didn’t “renenege”,
    The Agreed Framework was a Treaty, and thus had to be passed and Ratified by the Senate to continue to go forward. The Republican Senate refused to pass and ratify the Treaty.

  50. eakens says:

    We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Option 1 is we get engaged in a very serious war with North Korea. Option 2 is China and Russia extract a pound of flesh from us to avoid said war. I’m not sure there is an option 3 at this point.
    The deciding question appears to be what will cost us more, what Russia and China want to get out of this, or what we estimate the war with North Korea is going to cost us.
    By my estimation, I’m not sure we can pay the price China and Russia probably are seeking.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yet I wonder; for I can discern no benefits that has befallen the United States during her almost 2 centuries of interaction with Japan, China, and Korea.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The United States has benefited, over the course of 2 centuries, by her interactions with Russia; e.g. the Alaska purchase and World War 2, Space Station Freedom.

  53. Seacoaster says:

    Beat me to it. It’s a remarkable story, especially because most of the myths about the Brigade (majority were seasoned Pacific vets, ample prior training for 5th Marines in California) were just that. Col (ret) TX Hammes’ book is highly recommended:

  54. Thirdeye says:

    Good article. China’s relationship with DPRK has been completely cynical for decades. DPRK’s mutant-communist-cum-feudal ideology and hereditary power structure didn’t sit well with the Chinese, but they were still useful as a bargaining chip. But if DPRK gets too erratic to be influenced by the Chinese, potentially triggering a catastrophic war, they’re not much good as a bargaining chip. China’s most important relationship on the peninsula is no longer with the DPRK but with the ROK.

  55. Peter AU says:

    China economy being second only to the US, would have considerable knock on effect if suddenly taken out of the world financial System.
    There would be loss of income in countries that export to China and at the same time a great deal of inflation of manufactured goods while countries against China are rebuilding their manufacturing sector.
    Another thing I looked into awhile back was the rare earth minerals. It seems these minerals are required for our digital world, everything from iPhones to missiles. China is currently the worlds main supplier. There are sufficient reserves elsewhere, but long unused mines would have to be refitted and restarted and other mines started from scratch.
    Considerable disruption all round.

  56. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but why can’t the South Koreans defend themselves?
    Population: SK ~50M, NK ~25M
    Economy (GDP per capita): SK ~$30K, NK ~$1K
    If the South Koreans do not choose to pay for and man their own defense,
    why should the U.S. pay the cost in dollars and manpower to bail them out?
    I just don’t get it.
    Our investment, psychological and geopolitical, in South Korea
    may well be a major geopolitical error for the U.S.
    Any counterarguments to that?

  57. Thirdeye says:

    That answers a different question, the importance of not having a hostile force in the North. If that can be obviated by other means, maintaining the DPRK becomes an enterprise with very little benefit to China.

  58. Thirdeye says:

    I think you’re ignoring the ideological aspect of the DPRK’s power structure. It has a cult-like need for a confrontational stance to legitimize itself. Iran reached the opposite conclusion from DPRK’s, that nuclear strike capability would provide an incentive for outside powers to attack and that developing formidable AAAD capabilities would be a greater deterrent.

  59. Gute says:

    IMO we are not going to war, unless the crazy dude in NoKo decides to pop a nuke. Personally, I think the dude is gonna catch one in the back of the head sooner than later. I don’t think the leadership in NoKo wants a war because it will be the end of their reign of power, but maybe I’m naïve. There’s just nothing to be gained for all sides involved.

  60. Thirdeye says:

    Russia and China have no interest in an attack across the DMZ.

  61. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I would buy into the rationale if they were not actively pursuing ICBM class missiles. For the rationale of substituting a nuclear shield for their conventional forces, having an array of intermediate range missiles, capable of hitting strategic targets around Asia, makes an excellent sense, without overtly threatening US mainland–and makes for a useful and strong initial bargaining position, I think. An active pursuit of ICBM actually complicates bargaining, potentially, I suspect, by making NK an active threat to US. A nuclear-armed NK is not that big a problem, as far as I see it. An ICBM-armed NK is, and makes for an implacable foe.
    Now, an argument could be raised that an ICBM program can be dismantled by negotiation. But, let’s face it, no negotiation could plausibly leave their nuclear program intact while just dismantling only their ICBM program. I don’t think a negotiated settlement is likely for the long term if only because neither has good reason to trust the other. Commenters whom I take to be anti-US are correct in pointing out that NK has very little reason to trust US guarantees, but it is also true that US has no good reason to trust NK (or, for that matter, any other East Asian country on NK related matters). There will be breakdowns in whatever agreement that could be reached, with one side or the other acting perhaps within (technical) wording of the agreement, but certainly not in spirit, and Lord knows both have plenty of means to play dirty tricks on the other.

  62. Lars says:

    North Korea has been a problem and will remain so. While important, the biggest threat could be what Donald Trump decides to do about it. Military options may look good on a one page memo, but once commenced, may bring about all kinds of consequences, including some seriously bad ones.
    I guess we will soon find out.

  63. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The big annual US-SK joint exercises were suspended between 1993 and 1996, precisely because of the negotiations over the nuclear matters, and resumed because of breakdown in relationships, but, as I understand it, on much more limited scale. Hardly the “refusal of offer every time.” The actual NK demand, as I understand it, was that joint exercises be permanently shelved. Hardly a proposal given the conditions involved, I should think.

  64. kao_hsien_chih says:

    My point is simply that, if the NK are just bluffing (which increasingly seems unlikely), we should just leave unilaterally and let the Asians sort themselves out. If they are not just bluffing (which sadly seems more likely), we should seriously consider beating the crap out of them unilaterally and then leave unilaterally and let the Asians sort themselves out. Either way, we don’t negotiate and give a rat’s ass about their idea of sovereignty. The trouble with the notion that we should somehow negotiate ourselves out of the mess by talking nicely with the NoKos is this forces us to take seriously the lunatic notions of “sovereignty” that NoKos have.

  65. Imagine says:

    Because NK is a small country, it has had to play the game of blackmail–esp. with the US intent on obliterating it. In this way it is a lot like Israel. Perceived existential threats provide much adrenaline and meaning&purpose when there’s nothing else to run on. Take the existential threat away, let the country mellow out over two generations, and then there’s no juice nor reason to fight. Instead, America is like the man beating his watch-goat.
    like America can’t afford to be blackmailed. We’re paying $5B a year to a country with H-bombs already to keep it from attacking its neighbors, and the Treasury hasn’t run out of fingers to hit the Return button on the printing computers yet.

  66. Muzaffar Ali says:

    Super headline:
    Forget the ME, think Korea.
    How will the Saudis and their Allies find their way in the sand?

  67. David says:

    The only worry I have about this, is that it may lead Japan to conclude that they are are on their own and so they will go nuclear. South Korea may then decide to do the same as much as because of their fear of a nuclear Japan as because of their fear of North Korea.

  68. turcopolier says:

    This has nothing to do with NoKo blackmailing us. It has everything to do with the crazy little buggers deciding at some point to nuke Seattle. pl

  69. Tom says:

    The Korean war was a disaster. It resulted in two million dead at the least and a completely destroyed country. It was US airpower that did it andthe indiscriminate bombing of civilians did indeed amount to a war crime. On the other hand one cannot fault the grit and determination of those marines. They laid their lifes on the line and earned eternal respect for their bravery.
    I have been following the back and forth concerning Korean history after WWII. I think there is no doubt that the US propped up a murderous regime in the South and I very well believe that there had been serious provocations from the South. On the other hand you had two murderous dictators in the USSR and China who would use any sign of weakness to pounce. (As they did after all by greenlighting Kim Il Sung´s invasion of South Korea).
    It is a very hard call to make but I believe the US was right to intervene when it did.

  70. Brunswick says:

    The NORK’s will only “pop a nuke”, if the US attacks.
    Over time, the NORK’s conventional respose to an attack pushed most of South Korea away from the Regime Change project,
    NORK Ballistic missile development’s in the 80’s and 90’s pushed most of Japan away from the Regime Change project.
    NORK ICBM and Nuclear Miniaturization Project’s might, eventually take the US Regime Change Project off the table, finally.
    I say, might, because there’s no shortage of US Pundit’s and “unwashed” that pontificate that the US can absorb a few NORK Nuke’s with “no real or lasting” consequences.

  71. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Blackmail is not about the money. It is about some punks threatening to attack you if you don’t pay up. That you can afford to pay the bugger is irrelevant. Once NoKos upped their game to ICBM’s, they’ve stepped over the line.

  72. different clue says:

    A united neutral economic and military powerhouse Korea is what China and Japan will both do everything they can to prevent from happening. Neither wants that level of competition from a third peer economic power in the region, especially not right exactly between them.

  73. Thirdeye says:

    China does not have an interest in keeping the North Korean regime from falling. China has an interest in keeping hostile forces away from their border with North Korea. China has alternatives to supporting the North Korean regime for that objective, but they would not leave North Korean regime intact. The North Korean regime seems to not realize that.

  74. Richard says:

    I would like to see a discussion of why a first strike using tactical nukes couldn’t largely eliminate North Korea’s threat to the South in a way that minimized damage to the South.
    I’m interested in hearing about this from a military strategy/tactics point of view and don’t want an extended discussion of its political ramifications.

  75. Old Microbiologist says:

    Whack them and leave? When have we ever successfully done that? We can’t beat tribesmen in caves. We couldn’t beat them in the ’50s albeit they had strong help from both China and the Soviet Union. Those two countries border North Korea and the only thing which will reign in them is if Russia and China agree to do so which they more or less did 2 days ago. However, this situation does present an opportunity for Russia and China to advance their own interests and possibly even get South Korea to finally kick us out completely. The deployment of THAADS without Korean consent is chutzpah of the first order and might have been the final straw. We will see how it plays out. But I am reasonably certain the US is going to once again lose to Russia and China especially with Trump at the helm.

  76. Old Microbiologist says:

    One big question is whether US nuclear weapons actually still work. There is some reasonable doubt about it. Now we have attempted to rebuild the capacity to replace/refurbish the weapons but the plant caught fire (releasing plutonium into the work spaces) so now we cannot make any weapons for quite some time. Add in the disasters occurring up at Hanford and the complete lack of reliability with any GO/CO DOE laboratories and our nuclear deterrent capabilities are completely suspect.
    If you add in the faked ABM test results and for some icing add in that the Russians have completely shut down the destroyer based ABM systems at least twice and you see a dismal picture of how well we might perform if we continue down this path of push and shove diplomacy. Of course, both Russia and China have their own intelligence and very likely know exactly what is what and how big the risks are. They never abandoned HUMINT like we did.

  77. Old Microbiologist says:

    Excellent comment.

  78. Peter Reichard says:

    Possible framework for a grand bargain:
    1)A formal end to the Korean War with a treaty of mutual recognition and non-aggression.
    2)N.Korea rejoins the NPT and the Korean peninsula becomes a nuclear weapons free zone.
    3)N.Korea gives up its ICBM program.
    4)US withdraws its ground forces from S.Korea.

  79. Peter Reichard says:

    The presence of one aircraft carrier is often used only as a show of force. When two show up we often mean business as one can protect the other when it is vulnerable while launching or recovering aircraft. Three in one place is very unusual and often presages military action. Two are currently in the region along with a Trident sub retrofitted with 154 cruise missiles. A third carrier left Washington State with its escorts and was joined by several more surface warships out of San Diego. This bears watching and the plot thickens even more as any president under extreme domestic attack as is Trump now would be well served if a foreign military confrontation were to suddenly happen.

  80. Wunduk says:

    Both Russia and China need a buffer state next to South Korea and its military bases. It’s likely that this is also true for the US. Neither Russia nor China seems to particularly require KJU to run this state. Gaining control a nuclear threat capability against the US strengthens him against both protectors.
    So imagine they’d like to take it way from him. Would US economic sanctions help them in this? The sanctions boat seems to have sailed. The US will “cut off major sources of hard currency …, restrict oil to its military, increase air and maritime restrictions, … hold its senior officials accountable … [and] look at any country doing business with” the DPRK.” (Haley at UN SC on Wednesday)
    The eight major banks (From Deutsche to BoA and Wells Fargo) have already been asked by the US to stop business with a key North Korean company, Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material and its front companies.
    This will increase some economic pressure on the DPRK elite, but it will bring about a change in KJU’s head. He probably will relish the increased pressure from abroad, as it stabilises him within his system.
    The Chinese and Russians demanded a moratorium from the DPRK on nuclear and ballistic missile testing. Likely they won’t get it only through an appeal and in return for a cessation of military exercises. KJU will point to the US sanctions and use them as pretext for not declaring such a moratorium.
    An inventive political approach would be for the US to offer a withdrawal of military capabilities based in the RoK. This might help the Russians and Chinese to work on ways how to defang the DPRK.

  81. LondonBob says:

    Candidate Trump would agree with you, President Trump I don’t know. Doesn’t help he has people like McMaster advising him otherwise he might sensibly take the offer that Russia and China have offered him on North Korea. Otherwise his only other choice is once again ‘strategic patience’. I am hoping Putin puts him straight on several issues today.
    The Korean War always brings up memories of watching the Max Hasting documentary with my father when I was a little lad. Good book he wrote on the war. The Glorious Glosters action at the Battle of Imjin River remains a well regarded event in British military history.

  82. ancient archer says:

    The North Koreans, the fat boy in particular, might be crazy but they are not suicidal. If he were truly mad and suicidal he would not have been able to reach and hold on to power for as long as he has. His survival instinct is definitely strong. And he knows he cannot hope to remain alive if indeed there is a war with the South Korean US alliance. There is no way he is going to preemptively bomb US cities – he stands to gain nothing and will definitely lose everything. US cities are in as much danger from Kim Jong Un as they are from China or Russia, in fact much much lower on the order of magnitude. I don’t understand why the US (or any other country) can’t live with that risk – after all it is just a small additional risk to the one all of us have been living under since 1950.
    I think the best antidote might be to let him play with his toys and make all the noise he wants to. If we reduce the aggressive posture with the NoKos and don’t give him much attention, he will calm down. Children stop their tantrums when the grown ups don’t pay them attention.

  83. b says:

    The ideological aspect of the DPRK is the result, not the cause, of its history and situation. It has cultural aspects that also exist in the south (and in Japan) but are ignored by the west as long as a country is an “ally”.
    The ideology is mellowing internally but will be kept up as framework for external relations as long as the DPRK feels under threat.
    Iran is in a very different situation because its deterrent is right at the front door. It can shut down all Persian Gulf energy exports with catastrophic results for the global economy. It does want nukes and it does not need nukes.

  84. b says:

    @Pat –
    I don’t get why you call the Korean’s in the north “crazy little buggers”?
    What is crazy with them? I read Kim Yong-un speeches – they are way more rational (and better written) than most of the stuff that comes out of the White House or Congress (independent of who rules in the White House).
    They have their interest just as the U.S. has its interest. The NoKo interest is not to blow up Seattle. They have no reason to do so unless they are under attack.

  85. divadab says:

    “There can be little doubt now that President Bush’s reason for launching the war in Iraq was, for him, fundamentally religious. He was driven by his belief that the attack on Saddam’s Iraq was the fulfillment of a Biblical prophesy in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord”
    This is what you get when you elect an addict – addictive behavior. More war. Far better IMHO to provide concubines a la Solomon as a much less harmful addiction than alcoholism replaced by warlike religion and pathetic need for approval.

  86. divadab says:

    They need our soybeans and wheat much more than we need their trinkets and geegaws.

  87. divadab says:

    North Koreans are hungry and motivated – South Koreans are fat and happy.
    It’s not complicated.

  88. turcopolier says:

    You continue to have the idea that international relations function on the basis of what you consider to be virtuous and logical. All of history indicates that the world does not work that way. You and the NoKos may think that they have a right to nuclear weapons. The Iranians have the same idea. You and the NoKos may well have the idea that they are playing a rational game of deterrance with us but what is missing from your calculations is the fear generated in the US that the NoKos will soon have the ability to destroy one of our cities and we have no assurance that they might not do that. that risk is too great to accept given the belligerence of their government and the possibility that an unstable leader might in a fit of anger order such an attack. The US means nothing to you, actually, less than nothing given your often demonstrated animosity towards us. If the perceived risk grows to be too great. We will act to eliminate that risk. This strategic need has nothing to do with the globalist ideology of the BORG. It is in fact a matter of self defense since once an ICBM strike is launched that genii cannot be put back in the bottle. pl

  89. Willybilly says:

    Correct, and the same goes for Iran.

  90. turcopolier says:

    ancient archer
    Your analogy to children with toys is invalid. These toys could kill several million Americans if used by this child in a tantrum. You want us to accept this risk based on your merely logical idea that KJU can be deterred. That is absurd. You are English. You have no “skin in this game.” You should think about that. pl

  91. John Minnerath says:

    Col. Lang bends over backwards to allow your presence here. Much of what you believe in is as irrational as what comes from the DPRK.
    The country has been in near total isolation for generations. To expect them to act in any manner similar to most of the world is crazy, I’d liken them more to ISIS types as far as what they will do.
    I’m sure their only ally, the PRC, has had some backroom talks with their leadership about what would happen if they dared use a nuclear weapon.
    Right now I see nothing that might stop them from launching an ICBM with a conventional warhead against a US target once they think they have an operating system.
    So, what then?

  92. turcopolier says:

    “The NORK’s will only “pop a nuke”, if the US attacks” Well, that is comforting but that is only your opinion of their intention. We should risk this based on your opinion of their rationality? pl

  93. jld says:

    Of course the psychological impact of the risk for “several millions” American deaths (how many?) is severe but what do you think would be the worldwide geopolitical consequences of even a “successfull” premptive strike on North Korea?
    Especially with tactical nukes.
    And once done it would not be about “risks” but most certainly about retribution from many players, the game will be “on”, a sure road to hell…

  94. Fred says:

    “question is whether US nuclear weapons actually still work”
    It is only a disinformation question. Russian electronics and HUMINT have nothing to do with nuclear physics or the current state of our 8,000+ nuclear weapons.

  95. Fred says:

    After we pay up the first time what will his next extortion request be? How whoever comes next?

  96. Marcus says:

    MAD does not apply here NK would see total destruction we would not. The “crazies” in charge of NK show homicidal drives not suicidal tendencies. If interests are the motivators what interest would NK have in nuking Seattle? And exactly when could that feat be achieved with relative certainty?

  97. turcopolier says:

    You sound like a typical political scientist. The question is not of “psychological stress.” It is a question of actual risk to American civilian lives. From Nigeria or wherever you are this seems a game. It is NOT a game. compared to the risk of loss of one of our cities, the risk of unhappiness in the 3rd world is a triviality. pl

  98. turcopolier says:

    Once again, you are complacent in the amount of risk the US should assume. pl

  99. Dan Lynch says:

    You make many valid points but are fixated on long range missiles. But aren’t there other ways to deliver a nuke (or WMDs)?
    Just as the Russian missiles on Cuba in 1962 were not really a game changer because Russia already had the ability to nuke the U.S. from close range by sub, N.K. already has the ability to nuke a coastal city by sub or even by small boat. Perhaps there is already a N.K. nuke floating around somewhere in the Pacific ocean?
    As B mentioned, N.K. has a no-first strike policy, but if America launches a strike on N.K. all bets are off. Trump may be too dumb to consider that possibility but surely the Pentagon is advising him “not so fast.”

  100. jld says:

    I guess I did not properly expose my point, I was not talking about a game or road to hell for just the “rest of the world” but for America too.
    You seem to think that the US can keep “in control” but resentment builds up and you cannot hope to “win them all forever”, once the US begin to falters this will turn really, really ugly.

  101. Old Microbiologist says:

    Regarding HUMINT, I was more referring to “probable” Chinese/Russian assets working for contractor companies in the DoE and DoD labs. We equally likely have none in reverse.
    The question of physics is a good one. Most people are unaware of how nuclear fissile material degrade metals and especially electronics. High neutron flux causes alterations to the actual chemistry of the bomb casings and electronics as well as the chemical explosives used (which degrade on their own over time). All nuclear based weapons are based on pressurizing and bringing together under extremely tight and precise timings the fissile material. Any failure to the timing or lack of sufficient explosive power will cause a dud or a much smaller yield. My point is we let these things sit on the shelf without any conditional testing now for over 20 years (1992 to be precise). We have zero idea if they work. The Russians have also lived up to the test ban but have in the mean time developed some very serious delivery systems and still have production facilities in full operation. I think we let ourselves become lax since 1992 and now we cannot physically bring things back on line. The problems at Los Alamos are very serious and the program has been shut down since 2013.

  102. Old Microbiologist says:

    She has as much chance as Ron Paul had…sadly. But, there is always hope.

  103. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not think that you can expect North Korea can be de-nuclearized. Furthermore, a war in which major part of South Korea (as well as parts of Japan) are destroyed does not do much to enhance the merits of a US-based alliance system.

  104. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That might be true. Note that Western Diocletian states do not have a religious beef with the Godless Oriental; only with the Orthodox & the Muslim.

  105. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Rather unlikely. You might be able to get them to agree to not field rockets of a certain range.

  106. Hood Canal Gardner says:


  107. DianaLC says:

    Well, all I can say–with tongue in cheek–is thanks for cheering me up.
    Without knowing much about anything in regard to military matters and capabilities, I had in a vague way come to the same conclusion.
    I think fondly of my mother’s youngest brother, who joined the Navy too young (one of those who lied about his age)and ended up in Korea. He saw some pretty horrible things and came back emotionally scarred.
    All I am left to do is what I’ve always done: pray for our young men–and now women–who will put their lives and their emotional well-being on the line because of this psychopathic idiot who has for some reason been put in charge of millions of lives. I’ve been fantasizing that some suicidal soul will rush up to him and pants him so the whole world, but especially the people of N. Korea, sees that he indeed does have to urinate and defecate like the rest of us.

  108. sid_finster says:

    Notice that South Korea and Japan, the two countries with the most to lose from an aggressive North Korea, are not begging for the US to come rescue them?

  109. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The deployment of THAAD was in fact negotiated with the South Korean government and there was never a formal request that it be rescinded. What did take place was that the deployment schedule was sped up without consultation–or not, as the new administration there had been claiming conflicting things, which suggest that they knew and may even have agreed to this informally, even if they officially didn’t. Typical (South) Korean duplicity, leaving things vague and trying to have things both ways–which is why they’ll never actually ask us to leave, even as their domestic political allies agitate about alleged evils of American imperialism (now, that’s chutzpah.) This is all the more reason that it should be us that pull the plug, and not them.

  110. Thirdeye says:

    I agree that their ideology is the result of their history, including deep history, and I think that actually supports my point that Juche is bringing a lot of weird ideological baggage into the situation. What would the status of DPRK’s heredity ruling caste be if their leaders couldn’t sell the external threat that requires their supernatural abilities to counter? Yes, those supernatural abilities that according to Juche enabled Kim et al. to singlehandedly throw out the Japanese and stop the Americans with no help from the Russians or Chinese.

  111. charly says:

    It depends on your definition of work. Worst case yield is only 5%. Still a very big explosion and radioactive problem

  112. Thirdeye says:

    China is their patron, not an ally. Their relationship to China is parasitic. China has no interest in DPRK other than as a military buffer and DPRK’s leadership seems oblivious to that fact.

  113. Old Microbiologist says:

    Funny coincidence but I happened on this after writing earlier.
    My main point is that I worked in several highly secure WMD laboratories along side of Russian and Chinese scientists who emigrated to the US and had DoD TS clearances. I also worked with several very strongly fundamental islamists from Iran(who maintain dual citizenship) so the idea of security in the US WMD infrastructure is ridiculous. We were all subject to the Biological Personnel Reliability Program which was a joke at best. To think that some of these same scientists don’t have mixed loyalties is preposterous yet we continue to have them present in our system. We actually make it easy for them.

  114. Bill Herschel says:

    “The NoKo reaction to big, crippling, strikes is very likely to be a massive onslaught across the DMZ. Could they capture large parts of Seoul? Yes.
    Would a back and forth reminiscent of 195-53 then occur? Would millions die? Probably. Would most of the US Army and USMC end up in Korea? Probably. ”
    I feel my leg being pulled. Wouldn’t it be easier to drop the sanctions on North Korea, flood their market with iPhones and watch some football on TV?
    After all, Hitler was bonafide barking mad, and we made nice with Germany after the war. Hell, we financed their recovery. If we can do that for Germany, why not Korea? And what about Japan? We nuked Japan and then bought their cars. Now, millions will die to protect the Japanese automotive industry?
    After all, we’ve already gone to war with North Korea once before, as noted, and it didn’t end well. This would be worse than following the Russians into Afghanistan. We’d be following ourselves into North Korea.
    If it doesn’t gel, it isn’t aspic, and this ain’t gellin’.

  115. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    This is not after the war. We killed Hitler and devastated both his country and Japan before we were ready to make nice. You are living in a dream world. pl

  116. phodges says:

    What B said.
    It’s not like you have a bunch of messianic Neocons running N Korea.

  117. turcopolier says:

    I put up with “b” because it pleases me to do so. Any more snide humor at my expense and I will not put up with you. pl

  118. turcopolier says:

    The scientists insist on it. pl

  119. turcopolier says:

    Diana LC
    “who lied about his age)and ended up in Korea. He saw some pretty horrible things and came back emotionally scarred.” I am at a loss as to how he was emotionally scarred. Was he bullied or molested by other sailors on the ship? pl

  120. turcopolier says:

    I don’t want to win them all. I don’t want to fight anyone outside the borders of the US or maybe North America. I am an isolationist. We should get our forces out of everywhere except the US and to hell with you. I want to abandon all of you, especially in Africa. Save yourselves. I am also a mercantilist. Free trade is OK so long as it benefits you. pl

  121. eakens says:

    Never a dull moment around here.

  122. FederalistForever says:

    The Agreed Framework was not a Treaty. Nor was it an “executive agreement.”

  123. turcopolier says:

    Dan Lynch
    You must be new here or haven’t learned much. Atom bombs on cargo ships or cargo planes? This is the stuff of sensational films and novels that should be cheap. Why hasn’t anyone done it yet? 1. US intelligence and law enforcement is very efficient in blocking things like this that don’t involve political leaks to the Democrats. Some of the ex-grad students here say that KJU is not suicidal. Some say he is a responsible leader. You have to decide which he is. A responsible leader knows that he forensic effort on the part of the US after such an event would eventually yield the truth of the culprits’ identity or a plausible substitute. Have you heard of Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan. We have fought in these places with one hand behind our backs as part of the Political Science faith in proportional response. There would be nothing like that after a nuclear attack, no proportional response just a waste land on which future generations of Borgists could shower their attentions. 3. ICBMs are really dangerous because once capability is achieved they await nothing more than an order. pl

  124. jld says:

    You may be isolationist but the current US government is not (never been AFAIK) and seem indeed intent to “win them all” which is precisely what build resentment toward Americans.
    WRT the “Noko problem” you seem to be willing to trade a very grievous but highly improbable disaster (which in any case would be instantly “repaid” by the total obliteration of North Korea) against a most certain “bad karma” which will likely ensure even more fateful consequences for the US, i.e. more “millions deaths” (and for many non-Americans too, but I get you don’t care about these).

  125. turcopolier says:

    You are a boring fantasist. How did you get the idea that I am the US Government? All you people out there in the big bad world should grow up and learn to solve your own problems. We’ll sell you things if you behave and have hard money. pl

  126. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Sounds good to me.
    The U.S. loses nothing but a costly burden.

  127. Jack says:

    There are many armchair conspiracy theorists and left wing ideologues with a virulent anti-American bias who throng b’s site who have come over to comment on SST recently.
    In their mind any fuckup in the world is caused by the US. They were cheering Chavez’s Socialist Paradise of Venezuela and now that it is falling apart and the poorest are getting screwed the most, it’s all Americans fault.
    With regard to NoKo it will be difficult to discern intentions but not capability. There should be no doubt that long range IBCM is a threat and should be cut off at the pass soonest. How is open to debate but military strikes should be an option.

  128. empty says:

    Slightly OT: Does anyone here know much about the first Turkish Brigade. I ask because of a familial connection.

  129. Keith Harbaugh says:

    This may be of interest:
    I see CVN-76, the Reagan (Yokosuka),
    and CVN-68, the Nimitz (Bremerton) out there.
    Only other possibility I see is CVN-71, the TR (San Diego).
    The TR was in SD on July 4 :

  130. Eric Newhill says:

    LOL, but, in fairness, he could have been a Navy corpsman attached to a USMC rifle company, or something like that.

  131. Bobo says:

    That is the start of a deal that could be made.
    Add 5) China to enforce deal, if it fails USA to ban all imports from China amongst other things.

  132. Fred says:

    There is no high neutron flux without fission, that only happens when you set these off.

  133. Mark Logan says:

    I posit ICBMs can be rationalized as necessary for effective deterrence, it’s why, after all, we have them.
    I don’t personally believe nuclear extortion is practical. The very attempt is grounds for getting yourself first-struck, and capitulating to it is something much of the world will not allow even another country to do. Just my opinion.
    To me this strikes of 1% Doctrine. To me the odds of the PDRK wishing to commit suicide is actually less than 1%…and there are easier ways to do that, then only need to attack South Korea. I suspect the PDRK’s hysterical public press releases are designed for internal consumption, it’s 1984 in there, but many take them literally. I see great danger in our press’s habit of seeking to scare people for ratings. We may push Trump into doing something stupid.

  134. turcopolier says:

    Mark Logan
    I do not agree. ANY chance of a suicidal gesture on the part of the NoKos that would kill millions of Americans must be taken seriously. pl

  135. turcopolier says:

    Eric Newhill
    You have suggested what she should say next. OK, let her send us the details of his service so that the USMC and Navy people here can examine it. pl

  136. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Real people may not be suicidal, but many people take far too much risk for their own good, thinking that they can get away with it, and then accidents happen. NoKo, with their reckless pursuit of missiles AND nukes, are taking far too much risk both for themselves and others. One might liken the present situation to a driver racing at 150mph right at us. Maybe he’s not crazy and he’ll stop or veer away in time. Maybe we can get out of the way. Maybe we may have to blow the car and the driver away. I think we should try to get out of the way as best we can, without trying to make sense of the driver, but, if he is actually chasing us–and that’s where NoKo ICBM program comes into the picture–we may have to blow the car away because he won’t let us get out of the way. I don’t think we need to talk at any one of these steps.

  137. Sam Peralta says:

    Scott Adams has a 100 year deal to address the Korea issue. His proposal is that Russia, China & the US guarantee the security of BOTH, North & South Korea for 100 years. In return NoKo dismantles all its nuke and ICBM programs.

  138. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    The only national politicians with this policy framework are Ron Paul and maybe Kucinich. That’s why I have admired Ron and have written him in for many presidential elections. I am fully on-board and completely agree with you. Focusing on the defense of US territories and air/sea lanes and withdrawing from all the bases around the world and having bi-lateral trade relationships that benefit the median American worker would be a sea change in our affairs.
    I wonder many times, why we are in such a minority?? I suppose the Captain America mindset is too widely ingrained.

  139. jld says:

    I fail to see how your reply is in any way related to my comment.
    – I didn’t assume that you were the US government but conversely that the US government WOULD ALSO lean toward the preemptive strike you seem to prefer.
    – I wasn’t talking about problems of people in “the big bad world” but about hubris of the US which will ultimately bring disaster to all Americans and only incidentally to other people.
    – I wasn’t arguing in any way about money, economics or mercantilism, were did you fetch that one?

  140. Old Microbiologist says:

    Good points. I got suckered in by the new President’s oral protests. I do agree though that we need to pull the plug but not just in Korea but everywhere. I supported Ron Paul for his campaign promise to close all overseas bases and end all foreign aid. As we are now over $21 Trillion in debt and growing rapidly, especially with the rate increases which also increase the interest payments, it is time to cut our losses and decide we are not the world’s police force nor does everyone want US style “freedom”. We have crumbling third world style infrastructure in the US and cannot afford any longer to fund these ridiculous never-ending wars. Korea has a robust economy and a large population so it is time they defend themselves. If they cannot do that then a negotiated peace needs to be achieved. The Korean war never legally ended and that still needs to be resolved. Only Russia and China will have any real influence over the two Koreas.

  141. Old Microbiologist says:

    There is high and then there is a lot higher. The flux is always present as the isotopes decay at a constant rate but that rate assumes a constant level which changes over time. They keep the respective parts at “near” fission levels until they are forced together. For fusion bombs it is more complicated being a 2 level device. Worst case it only has kiloton yields instead of megaton assuming the chemistry of the conventional explosives work as planned. This is all miniaturized to the largest extent possible which makes small changes in anything have large effects. Of course, we have modeled these rates of decay but long term effects are still a big unknown and are based on scientific assumptions (as is usual). The Russians are facing the same problems we are. But, they have a continuous program for refit. Ours is stalled due to incompetence at gigantic levels as Ishmael lists below.
    What I was getting at is we are assuming everything works as planned without actually knowing that. I wouldn’t bet the farm on assumptions. I was a government scientist a long time and assumptions get you in big trouble. I also never trust any work not done by myself or under my supervision. There is a lot of politics in science and negative results are usually hidden, especially if a lot of funding is involved. Having everything contracted out to corporations, many of which are run by nefarious characters (usually retired military whose careers were not actually doing anything but rather being experts in schmoozing), will yield filtered results. Yes, I am cynical but only because I worked in this field over 40 years.

  142. Old Microbiologist says:

    Yeah, but being one I can tell you they very definitely pad the results in their favor. Money is everything now in science and every lab at DoE is now a GO/CO (government owned -contractor operated) with enormous profits involved. Politics and money rules government science now. I wouldn’t trust anything that comes out of any of the labs unless I see all the raw data myself. That, of course, will never happen. The scientific reviewers and program managers (also contractors) are usually failed scientists who change desks roughly every 6 months and never report negative data up the chain as their jobs all depend on having “good” programs running. Of course, reality bites back now and again.
    If you want to have fun go to DTRA over at Ft. Belvoir and watch the body language there. These are very unhappy and unpleasant people. The same thing exists for DoE, DHS, and DHHS.

  143. aleksandar says:

    Oh yes, removing people US doesn’t like has been so much a successful move,( Iraq,Lybia,Syria,Iran,Ukraine ) isn’t it?
    And for sure, KJU is mad, I have been told by his cousin that is nickname is ” Doc Folamour “.
    NOKO deterrence is to wipe out SOKO if attacked.Simple.
    Maybe you should stop thinking that people out of the US are just plainly stupid,so far, there is no proof KJU is a moron.
    Stop thinking that they want to attack the US,attack is a last resort weapon.
    And get out your schizophrenic sheme since 9/11.

  144. Old Microbiologist says:

    I am assuming by “we” you are including the Soviet Union. You are correct, we won we devastated them and we ensured compliance so a 3rd war with them would be avoided. We also kept them under our thumb as long as politically possible then we ensured their constitutions were compliant to whoever was controlling the respective losers. So far, that part has worked well. This is what winning armies do. They also get to write history.

  145. Lurker says:

    The questions no one asks: a) how did NK get a re entry vehicle sooner than expected for its IRBM (according to Russia) or ICBM (according to USA)? Hint: A PRC present? b) Why did Russia and China block USA’s sponsored UNSC condemnation of NK missile and nuclear testing? What does a) + b) mean for any kinetic action against NK? I am not a historian but remember that NATO ally Turkey provided a lot of expeditionary foot soldiers to the Korean war. But Erdogan is not too pleased with Washington’s support for the Kurds in Syria so who is in a position to provide this capable and competent support this time?

  146. turcopolier says:

    I will be clear in telling you that if you take an adversarial attitude with me as some new people do then I will eject you from SST. This blog is a vehicle for civil discussion. It is not a platform for European and/or other academics and the army of European professional anti-Americans to vent their animosity. I do not favor a “pre-emptive set of attacks” as you assume. You seem to live somewhere in rural France, Montpellier perhaps. the massif central? With the Cold War a distant memory for those old enough, it must be easy to view the emergence of a new and potentially catastrophic threat to one of our cities as a minor matter to be accepted by Americans as an extension of MAD. That is a badly flawed belief. We will not accept the NoKo’s possession of a city killing weapon. I don’t know what we will do about that threat but we certainly will not accept it as those who dislike us would love to see us do. In intelligence analysis as opposed to academic analysis that has no consequence in real life, both intention and capability must be considered. NoKo possession of a an ICBM mounted weapon will not be accepted by the US. pl

  147. turcopolier says:

    “I am not a historian.” I guess you mean that you don’t know any history. “Hoistorians” write history. The term does not apply to those who merely read history. The Turkish Brigade in the Korean War was about 5,000 men in strength at any given time.. US strength in theKorean war was 327000. pl

  148. turcopolier says:

    Sam Peralta IMO the Borg cannot accept the idea of not being the hegemon of the world rather than just one of the players. pl

  149. Fred says:

    You are wrong.

  150. ked says:

    Col Lang (& others) have in the past pointed out that a nuclear device test + an ICBM flight do not make a functional weapons system. One of the problems NK faces is that of probabilities. They will not be able to perform a full-up flight test of their fully integrated weapons system, and previous missile testing has demonstrated a high failure rate, especially in the early phases (like most weapons systems). KJU must contemplate the consequences of a failed first use, & there is only somewhere between 50/50 & 90/10 chance of a successful “hot” launch. A proper long term development program works through the issues, but ultimately the fear remains, “what if our first launch fails?”.
    This does not mean the US is safe from the threat. It means that NK has a ways yet to go, and that we will be able to read indicators of their technical progress (of weapons systems integration & testing) as well as support operations “tells” such as test & prep for salvo firings of ICBMs. We don’t like / can’t make nuclear defense policy based solely upon estimation of crap shot odds, but KJU is faced with a high likelihood of a failed first-time use of his nuclear weapon.
    The consequences for him are fairly clear… the challenge is determining how the leadership system in NK recognizes & processes the risk.

  151. Jack says:

    That implies that a great war is in our future! The “Thucydides Trap”.
    China is growing their economic and strategic strength and will challenge the hegemony of a weakening US at some point. Our Borg influenced policy is driving the Russians to an alliance with the Chinese. I doubt humanity will survive the next “Great War”.
    Do you see any forces that will prevent the escalatory ladder to such a conflict?

  152. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Threr are also too many people with science degrees that cannot do science.

  153. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Can a planet the surface of which is 70% water be militarily dominated by a single state? Is that even possible?

  154. Mark Logan says:

    I agree with that. They are playing a very dangerous game.

  155. Mark Logan says:

    I agree it should be taken seriously, regardless of what their actual motivations may be.

  156. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So, in essence, you are alluding to a Dialogue Among Civilizations; first broached by the former Iranian President Khatami.

  157. Fred says:

    Do you take your car engine apart every year or two to “make sure it works” or do you drive it every now and again to keep the battery charged? In the same vein we don’t need a uranium processing plant to make electronics or chemical based weapons that trigger these things. The point about capacity of weapons and funding was brought up in public a couple years ago. Here are comments, includuing those from Congressman Thornberry of Texas from 2015:
    “His comments join a chorus of nuclear experts who have become increasingly concerned about the role the weapon that defined the Cold War will play in the coming years. Much of the nuclear material in the U.S. arsenal will expire roughly between 2020 and 2030, without a clear plan for their replacement”
    2030 is over a decade away. One point I do agree with OMB is that these don’t fail to explode they have a decayed yeild, so 450KT may turn out to be only 300kt, which is still 20 times the one dropped on Hiroshima. Yes all those labs/facilities need refurbishment. That doesn’t mean our bombs won’t work in the immediate time frame with which we are dealing with North Korea.

  158. Sam Peralta says:

    ..wars happen because people (society and state) want to fight..
    Is this true? My impression is that people don’t usually want war as they have to fight and die and get maimed. It is always leaders who get societies into war due to escalation and their egos prevent backing down.
    The only time both people and leaders want war is when it is existential. Fight or be conquered and die.
    Col. Lang notes that our Borg want world hegemony. The Chinese want hegemony in their sphere and are building their economic and military strength. Does that imply there will be war in the distant future as both parties with hegemonic aspirations collide?

  159. Peter Reichard says:

    My info is out of date. When the Nimitz left the west coast in early June the Reagan and Vinson were conducting a war game off the Korean coast. Both have now left the area so the possibility of a three carrier armada has for the moment gone away.

  160. I’m more in line with Tulsi Gabbard’s view of the NK nuc and missile threat. She represents what I believe is the number one target of any potential NK strike against the US.
    “North Korea’s latest successful intercontinental ballistic missile test further demonstrates the extremely dangerous and growing threat that North Korea poses to Hawaii, Alaska, and the mainland United States. For the past 15 years, our leaders have let the people of Hawaii and our country down, allowing the situation in North Korea to worsen to this point of crisis where we are left with nothing but bad options. We must ensure we are able to defend against North Korea’s threat with cutting-edge missile defense technologies, but this is not enough. We must pursue serious diplomatic efforts to de-escalate and ultimately denuclearize North Korea. However, U.S. leaders need to understand that Kim Jong Un maintains a tight grip on North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a deterrent against regime change. The Trump Administration would be far more credible in finding a diplomatic solution with North Korea if we weren’t currently waging a regime change war in Syria, and contemplating a regime change war in Iran.”
    This was part of an editorial in a Kauai newspaper. I also agree with its recommended COA.

  161. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Hey, who says Kim Jong Un is psychologically unusual?
    Don’t all world leaders laugh about the ICBMs and nuclear weapons they control?

    On Wednesday morning, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, taunted the United States, saying
    the launch was a Fourth of July “gift” to the Trump administration.
    The Korean Central News Agency said the country’s citizens were happy with the “great timing” of their leader’s decision to “hit the arrogant Americans in the nose” by conducting the first ICBM test to coincide with Independence Day.
    “The American bastards must be quite unhappy
    after closely watching our strategic decision,”
    the news agency quoted Mr. Kim as saying after watching the missile test on Tuesday.
    “I guess they are not too happy with the gift package we sent them
    for the occasion of their Independence Day.
    We should often send them gift packages so they won’t be too bored.”
    Mr. Kim made those remarks “with a guffaw,”
    the news agency said.

    Clearly a man the U.S. can easily coexist with.
    (Sarcasm intended.)
    But seriously, has there ever been a world leader with control over nuclear-tipped ICBMs
    who has made such comments?
    I don’t know of any, but that doesn’t prove anything.

  162. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    Having worked on the SIOP and the Red SIOP I don’t think jokes about ICBMs are funny at all. pl

  163. Fred says:

    “Serious diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula will require an end to our regime change war in Syria and a public statement that the U.S. will not engage in regime change wars and nation-building overseas, including in Iran and North Korea. We should focus our limited resources on rebuilding our own country and seriously commit ourselves to de-escalating this dangerous stand-off with North Korea and negotiate a peaceful diplomatic solution.”
    That’s going to go over well with the Borg.

  164. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Pat Buchanan has a recommendation for how America should proceed vice Korea:
    “An America First Korea Policy”
    by Pat Buchanan, 2017-06-30

    What would be an America First Korean policy?
    The U.S. would give Seoul notice that we will, by a date certain, be
    dissolving our mutual security treaty
    and restoring our full freedom to decide whether or not to fight in a new Korean War.
    Given the present risk of war, possibly involving nuclear weapons,
    it is absurd that we should be obligated to fight
    what Mattis says would be a “catastrophic” war,
    because of a treaty negotiated six decades ago by Eisenhower and Dulles.
    “The commonest error in politics,” Lord Salisbury reminded us,
    “is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.”
    But we should also tell South Korea that
    if she desires a nuclear deterrent against an attack by the North,
    she should build it.
    Americans should not risk a nuclear war, 8,000 miles away,
    to defend a South Korea that has
    40 times the economy of the North and twice the population.
    No vital U.S. interest requires us, in perpetuity,
    to be willing to go to war to defend South Korea,
    especially if that war entails the risk of a nuclear attack on U.S. troops or the American homeland.
    If the United States did not have a mutual security pact
    that obligates us to defend South Korea against a nuclear-armed North,
    would President Trump be seeking to negotiate such a treaty?
    The question answers itself.

  165. turcopolier says:

    I have stated many times that I do not want your comments to be a mere quotation from someone. KH, you got this one up because your lack of quotation marks prevented me from telling how much was you and how much is Buchanan. pl

  166. Keith Harbaugh says:

    I am posting this question here because this seems the “main” recent SST page on Korea.
    What are the best references explaining why the U.S., South Korea, and North Korea, and any other relevant nations
    have never signed a peace treaty?
    I can understand (if not agree with) the impasse now between NoKo and the U.S. over nukes, denuclearization, and ICBMs,
    but that does not explain why the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s went by,
    with nine U.S. presidents, from Eisenhower-34 to Clinton-42,
    without NoKo and the U.S. being able to agree to a peace treaty.
    I think a good reference on this subject (including the 2000s and 2010s) is needed.
    (It probably exists, but I don’t know what it is.)
    (I suspect the answer to that question involves a lack of understanding between the two.
    A question for the psychologists of geopolitics.)
    The best answers to that question I could find are:
    and more specifically
    However, the Niksch Congressional Research Service note only covers the situation circa 2010.

  167. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    Evidently you don’t value my opinion so I won’t give it to you. pl

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