My thoughts on Korea – Chapter 1 – 19 April, 2017


"It was supposed to be steaming towards North Korea more than a week ago, an “armada” signaling American resolve. Then it wasn’t.

Now, it seems the USS Carl Vinson may finally be heading north.

“Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula,” Rear Admiral Jim Kilby, the commander of Carrier Strike Group One, said in a message posted on the Carl Vinson’s Facebook page addressed to “families and loved ones” of the personnel on board.

The Carl Vinson, accompanied by a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a cruiser, was supposed to have been ordered to sail north after leaving Singapore on April 8. But a week later, the Navy published photos showing it was actually sailing the opposite direction through the Sunda Strait between the Indonesia islands of Sumatra and Java, more than 3,000 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula — and more than 500 miles southeast of Singapore."  Washpost


What!  You mean the US Navy did not inform the Washpostian snowflakes of the correct location of the Carl Vinson battle group?  For shame Navy!  For shame!  The self-obsession and self-importance of the journos continues to spiral upward toward Olympos.  Ho hum.

On a more serious subject – what is it that the old turcopolier thinks is likely to be in the prospect for a new Korean War? 

Well, pilgrims, close observation of Trump and Pence leads me to believe that nothing that goes BOOM will happen very soon.  It seems to me that they are going to wait for a bit to see if China will solve the nuclear weapons/ballistic missile dilemma that will soon face the US.  How long will they wait?  Holding my finger in the air to catch the direction of the breeze I would say – at least until late May.  How's that for a SWAG? 

Why?  Well, they want to "give peace a chance," i.e., see if they can finesse this actual problem without having to fight.  If that does not prove possible, and I think it will not be possible, they will take military action.

Why won't a negotiated solution work?  !- China is not terrible interested in negotiating on our behalf .  The North Koreans under their fat kid boss are still Asian Communists.  Why would the Chinese relish the idea of helping us against the Koreans?  Why?  2 – The spoiled brat fat kid does not really understand just how much devastation the US can wreak upon his "honey bucket" of a country if it sets itself on that path.  3 – Neither do Trump and Pence.  Trump has watched a lot of movies and Pence has a son who is a USMC junior aviator.  Great military thinkers they probably are not.

So, what is the probable future (60% maybe?) IMO by the end of May we have the possibility of three aircraft carrier battle groups being in the Sea of Japan.  That would make available the carriers' three embarked air wings with all the various ordnance on board as well as on board replenishment ships.  There would also be the assets provided by the ships of the aircraft carriers' screens.  These would be some combination of cruisers, destroyers and frigates, all of whom would be missile shooters.  Further surrounding these surface ships would be a number of submarines.  This truly would be an "armada."  To this could be added the weight of US strategic assets, i.e. heavy bombers; B-52s, B-1s and B-2s.  These can fly from anywhere in the world directly to their targets.  Like the cherry on an ice cream sundae there would also be the artillery and tactical air assets of US/ROK forces in the peninsula.


On the other side of the DMZ we would face the forces of the PDRK.  These are considerable.  A million men under arms, indoctrinated with anti-ROK feeling, 6,000+ tanks of varying vintage, about the same number of artillery weapons including the fearsome 170 mm rifle nicknamed the Koksan gun.  Built in the PDRK, this descendant of the German 88 mm multi-purpose gun was specifically designed to range Seoul from present positions north of the DMZ. 

IMO, a general US/ROK onslaught by air and artillery would be unable to neutralize all the PDRK artillery that can range Seoul.  A bombardment of the ROK capital might well be accompanied by a general PDRK ground attack across the DMZ.

The result would be general war in and around the Korean peninsula.  The casualties and destruction ensuing would probably be the political end of Trumpismo.  pl–and-may-stay-a-while/2017/04/19/734ac5e7-ad0c-4395-9cfe-43a9596dca7b_story.html?utm_term=.c90bd42ffe04

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113 Responses to My thoughts on Korea – Chapter 1 – 19 April, 2017

  1. b says:

    I don’t think another Korea War will happen.
    “The spoiled brat fat kid does not really understand just how much devastation the US can wreak upon his “honey bucket” of a country”
    There is not one in North Korean who does not know what inhuman damage the first U.S. war on them created. These people have schools, history lessons and millions of personal witnesses who attested to it. I do not think that North Korea will risk anything unless the attempt is to destroy the government and state.
    Neither North Korea, NOR CHINA, can allow that to happen. They will defend the status quo.
    Is Trump willing to risk the lives of 10,000nds of South Koreans for a useless (and completely illegal) show of force? The whole city of Seoul? Against the will of the South Korean government?
    He is too smart for that. The Pentagon would also block such action.
    North Korea is a nuclear state. That is water down the river. It can no longer be changed (thanks to Clinton and Republican Congress). It develops missiles. That is an 80 year old technology. There is no way to halt them from doing so. All one might be able to do is hinder the process. It can not be stopped except by negotiations.
    North Korea has offered three time over the last three years to halt its missile and military nuclear programs if the U.S. and South Korea refrain from any further large maneuvers (which disrupt the North Korean economy.) China supports that deal.
    That is a good deal. Trump should take it.

  2. Seamus Padraig says:

    Boy, what an utter disappointment Trump is shaping up to be. This is NOT what got him elected. North Korea, whatever its shortcomings, has not attacked anyone–least of all the US–in more than 60 years. As far as disarming the Norks is concerned, that’s not going to happen–and the current situation shows us why. If they had never proliferated at all, they would already be gone, just like Iraq, Libya, etc. Kim knows that. Nukes give him some leverage. So if Trump attacks, I hope for his sake that he doesn’t own any hotels in Tokyo!

  3. Mattias says:

    What if the ROK doesn’t want to play along? They could well be on the way to elect a new government that want to try the Sunshine policy again.

  4. confusedponderer says:

    Thanks for your assessment.
    That written, it’s an interesting thing that Koksan gun.

  5. BraveNewWorld says:

    I assume that Trump can legally do all that with out talking to Congress first. But would he?
    The repercussions of doing this from the destruction of the SK economy and all the parts they feed into various industries, the world economy, to the fall out with China are immense. But Trump has tweeted his way into a corner and is already looking bad with the majority of Americans that think their country is a failure if it isn’t killing people.
    As for the rest of the world . A country that says it will never give up nuclear weapons attacking another country, for not giving up nuclear weapons, will just make the US more and more despised in the world. The real American interest in this other than domestic politics???? Of course a couple of million Asian people should be more than willing to give their lives for American domestic politics. Right?

  6. turcopolier says:

    1. North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, not the other way ’round. They invaded South Korea with the intention of destroying the South Korean government. You seem to have forgotten the UN Resolution that called for defense of South Korea. 2. DoD has no ability short of mutiny to block a presidential decision to go to war. None. 3. Trump IS NOT smart enough to see through the warhawk faction in Washington. pl

  7. Clueless Joe says:

    -> “The casualties and destruction ensuing would probably be the political end of Trumpismo.”
    With all due respect, Colonel, I think you’re actually even underplaying the consequences. That would rank as illegal war of aggression, if the US shoots first. The level of destruction caused by another reckless and illegal US military action might well be the political end of current US situation of near-hegemony – for a starter, I can’t see the nearly bankrupt EU countries backing and engaging with another war of choice, specially when it’s on the other side of the world.

  8. aleksandar says:

    Will China accept a american state sponsored right their southern frontier ?
    Never !
    They will back DPRK.

  9. Peter AU says:

    Five hundred miles south in seven days or more? Eighty miles a day or less. Very leisurely cruise. Or did they head north for a day or two before turning back?

  10. BillWade says:

    My last tour was in the Philippines. We trained and trained, and then trained again for deploying our fighter squadrons to S Korea. The estimate then, and I can’t see why that would have changed much now, was 1 million dead on day one alone. Unthinkable. I think the sabre rattling has more to due with Trump’s planning on increasing defense spending.

  11. turcopolier says:

    Peter Au
    As I wrote, they are in no hurry. pl

  12. turcopolier says:

    There is no reason to think rationality would prevent war. Pl
    Sent from my iPhone

  13. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    The US political system has gone off the rails. There can be no doubt about that. The fact that the MSM and the political establishment cheered Trump and claimed he became “presidential” only after he ordered the firing of missiles at a Syrian airbase on a false pretext shows the level of dysfunction. No longer is there any element with a megaphone that speaks to US national interest. The only voices that are opposed to spending trillions on destroying sovereign nations and creating anarchy are at the fringe. They are immediately impugned as water-carriers of a foreign power. Pax Americana ends through self-destruction. We are well on our way to being despised by everyone. An amazing situation from the period of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
    Pat Buchanan is one of those fringe voices along with Ron Paul and Tulsi Gabbard.
    The left in the US have blood lust in their push for their PC world.

  14. Will.2718 says:

    Don’t know where I read it, need to find it. But the salient fact is this: Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Koskan range is short of Soeul, but can create havoc on the suburbs. It can only hit Soeul with rocket assist, whatever that is. Clinto (vir) & Ash (in his first SecDef incarnation) were going to take the DMZ artillery till the South Koreans talked them out of it, so the press reports.
    Don’t know if counter battery radar or satellite data, or even a neutron bomb could take them out. After MOAB, guess nothing is off the table for The Donald. Another question: Will China allow North Korea to be defeated? After NATO expanded right up to Russia’s border, will they allow U.S. bases on their border in a unified Korea?
    This isn’t quite the article T was looking for, but it says basically the same thing about the Koskan artillery range.

  15. FB Ali says:

    There is a distinct possibility that, if Kim believes a US attack is imminent, he may launch a pre-emptive strike against the US carrier group(s) (and other US allies in the region). And, if his nuclear LRBM is functional, against the US mainland.
    Trump has no concept of the risks he is running (and subjecting US allies such as South Korea and Japan). But the US military leadership should be able to discern them better. Unless they are equally stupid – which is quite possible considering their blind belief in superior military might being able to solve all problems.
    I think China’s recent words and actions, ostensibly against North Korea, are more for the US’s benefit, and designed to head off any such stupidity by Trump.
    On a personal note, until recently I used to think that at least Trump would be better than Hillary, but I am not sure any more. She, at least, would have understood the strategic calculus better than this buffoon.
    What a mess the US has got itself into! (And, sadly, dragged us all into as well).

  16. Razor says:

    Sam Peralta, there is no left – right divide on the topic of war. At least not in respect of what is called left in the US. They are all screaming and plotting for war, with honourable exceptions for a handful of paleoconservatives. There is only one party: the War Party. He’ll I’m not American and I can see that.

  17. Leonardo says:

    I’ve recently come across what I think might be an interesting theory about Trump’s aggressive stance towards North Korea. I’m gonna share and file it under the label of “food for thought”. No idea about its accuracy, but I find it plausible.
    Since the former South Korean President was impeached and compelled to resign – because of the corruption scandal she got involved into – new presidential elections will be held in South Korea on the 9th of May.
    According to most polls, the next South Korean President might be the Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in. He runs on a political platform that includes a softening of the stance towards North Korea and a delay in the installation of the THAAD missile defence system, officially meant to protect South Koreans from Pyongyang, but obviously part of the installations the US are building with the intent of encircling China.
    That is: the next South Korean President might be a man who intends to shift the South Korean foreing policy in a direction that would weaken the country’s ties with the US, while stabilizing and improving relations with North Korea and – most importantly – China.
    If something like this were to happen, Washington’s plans and strategy in the far-east might face an obstacle. To prevent such a development the US may have decided to act so as to force a worsening of North and South Korea already tense relationship, making it much more difficult for the new President to pursue a rapproaching policy and – as a consequence – justifying the construction of a military installation that the US perceive as a vital strategic asset for the containment of China, while at the same time keeping the South Korean ally in check.

  18. Peter AU says:

    US gov DoD site had posted an article on Carl Vinson strike group to head north from Singapore and report on station in western pacific, rather than continuing to Australia.
    If a ruse, what are the advantages to Trump admin?
    I would guess China/Russia would be constantly aware of the strike force location at all times, especially in busy waterways in that part of the world.
    A ruse directed at domestic audience?
    Another thought, hardly mentioned in the NK issue is Russia, who also border onto NK. I believe Tillerson had a two hour meeting with Putin around this time. Putin/Tillerson meeting April 12?

  19. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    I don’t think the PDRK could do much to the carrier groups. pl

  20. AEL says:

    There is a South Korean election in May. The current leader in the polls is a dove and talks about returning to the sunshine days where North and South talked to each other.
    This will likely stick in the throats of the Washington Warhawks.

  21. turcopolier says:

    The Iranians used the Koksan for harassing attacks against the island that Kuwait owns NNE of Kuwait City. We calculated the range and it fit with use against Seoul. pl

  22. Will.2718 says:

    i need to clarify the above with “purported Stratfor fact.” If the Col. says Soeul is in range of the Norko guns, then that’s what I go with. Just wanted to share what is out there.

  23. Will.2718 says:

    I have more confidence with your range estimate than that of Business Insider relying on STRATFOR, for sure.

  24. b says:

    Thank you Pat. I know how the war in Korea started. Indeed the north started the shooting.
    But it did not happen out of the blue. The U.S. had abrogated its agreement with Russia that Korea would become a united, democratic and independent state. Nationwide elections would likely have given the majority to Kim Il Sung and his nominally communist resistance fighters (against the Japanese). The U.S. did not want to risk that. It installed a U.S. aligned person Syngman Rhee (Christin, spoke English, U.S. educated) as quasi dictator in the south under “democratic” camouflage (92% of votes!). Rhee didn’t purge the “elite” nor the police. Those who had helped the Japanese occupiers were back in power.
    The former resistance leaders hoped they had still enough support in the south and invaded. Bad idea in hindsight but understandable from their point of view.
    The UN at that time was just a U.S. tool. Neither Russia nor China were, at that time, part of it.
    I think Trump is smarter than it seems. I do not think that even the warhawks are crazy enough to risk the obliteration of Seoul for no serious gain.

  25. Kooshy says:

    One shouldn’t forget, beside China and SK, the only other country NK has a tiny border with is Russia near the very important port of Vladivostok

  26. Chris Chuba says:

    The pity of this is that in theory, this war is avoidable. All Kim wants is to survive, all we want is for him to give up his Nukes. He could be persuaded to give up Nukes if we made him feel secure enough by offering something tangible, like withdrawing from S. Korea. S. Korea should be able to defend themselves.
    We had an agreement with him under Bill Clinton. It didn’t fall apart until Axis of Evil Bush got tough with him and was on the path to invading Iraq. N. Korea kicked out inspectors at the start of 2003, restarted their heavy water reactors and tested their first Nuke late in 2006. According to Neocon theory, this is when N. Korea should have been quaking in their boots and seeking ways to accommodate us. Instead, it looks like Kim decided he better have Nukes so that he wouldn’t be next.
    Kim is a really bad guy but his only purpose is survival. If we try to take him out, there is no way that we can stop him from doing significant harm to S. Korea and we have a large number of troops there.

  27. mauisurfer says:

    you say
    1. North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, not the other way ’round
    I think the historical record is not as clear as you state.
    Park and Kim were both intent on destroying each other’s governments and uniting the entire peninsula. Russia was restraining Kim and USA was actually restraining Park. And Mao made it clear to Kim that China would not enter unless USA pushed north of 38th parallel.
    Which gunfighter drew and fired first is really just a blame game, not really the historical lesson.
    Congressman Howard Buffett (Warren’s father) contented that the secret testimony before Congress of CIA director Admiral Hillenkoeter proved US responsibility for the war.
    Buffett, Republican anti-interventionist from Nebraska, went to his grave demanding the declassification of that crucial testimony: alas, to no avail. And yet what we do know is this: the US government had ample warnings of the pending North Korean invasion, via intelligence reports sent to top cabinet officials well before the June 25 commencement of large-scale hostilities. Yet Washington took no action, either diplomatic or otherwise, to deter the North Koreans.
    An excellent piece appeared on this topic recently which explained a lot of newish material from Stalin archives.

  28. mauisurfer says:

    a little more:
    As to who did in reality fire that shot, Bruce Cumings, head of the history department at the University of Chicago, gave us the definitive answer in his two-volume The Origins of the Korean War, and The Korean War: A History: the Korean war started during the American occupation of the South, and it was Rhee, with help from his American sponsors, who initiated a series of attacks that well preceded the North Korean offensive of 1950. From 1945-1948, American forces aided Rhee in a killing spree that claimed tens of thousands of victims: the counterinsurgency campaign took a high toll in Kwangju, and on the island of Cheju-do – where as many as 60,000 people were murdered by Rhee’s US-backed forces.
    Rhee’s army and national police were drawn from the ranks of those who had collaborated with the Japanese occupation during World War II, and this was the biggest factor that made civil war inevitable. That the US backed these quislings guaranteed widespread support for the Communist forces led by Kim IL Sung, and provoked the rebellion in the South that was the prelude to open North-South hostilities. Rhee, for his part, was eager to draw in the United States, and the North Koreans, for their part, were just as eager to invoke the principle of “proletarian internationalism” to draw in the Chinese and the Russians.

  29. maningi says:

    Have to say, I am not a fan of North Korea (NK), even less so of their leaders, but history is far more complicated, than saying NK is guilty like hell because they attacked South Korea (SK) first, with all due respect. Actually, war planning started already in 1942, by the States, as we are told by historian Bruce Cumings (then Chairman of the Department of History at the University of Chicago), author of the book “The Korean War: A History”. So it went down the path, it was meant to go and it did so, with two regimes on both sides, one could not tell, which was better or worse. Not to forget the more than painful bloody memory of the Japanese occupation 1910-45.
    Anyone who is interested to get an closer picture of Korea at that post 1945 era (and before and after) I recommend to watch the following conversation between Bruce Cumings and the Dean of Massachusetts School of Law, Lawrence R. Velvel.
    Part 1: >
    Part 2: >
    It is important to remember the time 1994-2002, when Clinton (with the kind help of Carter) succeeded to freeze the plutonium production in NK. At the same time a deal was made with NK to buy all their medium- and long-range missiles in exchange for oil and food. Clinton also signed an agreement with Gen. Jo Myong-rok stating that henceforth, neither country would bear “hostile intent” toward the other.
    The next Bush administration promptly ignored both agreements and set out to destroy the 1994 plutonium freeze, declaring NK part of the “Axis of evil” and in September 2002 announcing his “preemptive” doctrine directed at North Korea and Iraq, among others.
    And so on and so on it goes for the worse.
    I assume that there are also some hidden reasons for the US administration to act like they do, considering the upcoming elections in SK may 2017.
    More details here:

  30. Alaric says:

    From William Blum’s “Killing Hope:”
    “The two sides had been clashing across the Parallel for several years. What happened on that fateful day in June could thus be regarded as no more than the escalation of an ongoing civil war. The North Korean Government has claimed that in 1949 alone, the South Korean army or police perpetrated 2,617 armed incursions into the North to carry out murder, kidnapping, pillage and arson for the purpose of causing social disorder and unrest, as well as to increase the combat capabilities of the invaders. At times, stated the Pyongyang government, thousands of soldiers were involved in a single battle with many casualties resulting.2”
    Excerpt From: Blum, William. “Killing Hope.” Common Courage Press.

  31. jjc says:

    The North Korean negotiating position – stop threatening us, stop war games on our border, finally end Korean War – does not seem unreasonable. The US position – do what we say, no negotiations – is unreasonable.

  32. Philippe says:

    Dear Mr Lang,
    on point 2 : as a layman observer I do remember the year 2007, when the hawks targeted Iran for the so called technology of “shaped IED”, and when, suddenly a lot of top brass publicly said stop ! one intractable war is enough ! So we have, according to you, a month for the professional cool headed to prevail (Let us hope so)
    on point 3 : Big question : are we two, or just one, bad decision away from THE real big mess ? Does the “agent orange” of WH needs an alibi (i.e. a naval incident/test like the Iranians where delighted to provide in these years), or will he be just trapped in his newly established “kinetic diplomacy” rules ?
    Well, sadly, that’s way too long time that we, occidentals, foolishly play with fire. Like Publius Tacitus reminds us, we have grown up with “never again” in mind, but we could soon find ourselves searching explanations for being unable to prevent the aftermath we already pressent and dread.

  33. Walrus says:

    what is America going to do with a defeated north korean army containing 1 million plus indoctrinated young men? what is going to happen to the NK population if the harvest isn’t brought in during august? war with NK has the capacity to make the holocaust and WW1 look like sideshows in terms of deaths in my opinion. President Trump should be thinking of the huge downside military victory may produce if humanitarian disaster follows.
    ….and that isn’t even factoring in the damage to the south, nor the economic damage to the world economy.

  34. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    That may well be so. But, even if he thought so, it may not stop Kim from acting.
    It’s the old “deterrence conundrum” – if you realise it has failed, do you just be a good boy and take your medicine, or do you go down fighting?
    In this case, he has South Korea and Japan in his sights besides the US and its fleets. I doubt if these two countries would be able to escape his counterattack.

  35. Keith Harbaugh says:

    On April 3. 2017 Pat Buchanan asked the question:
    “Why Is Kim Jong Un Our Problem?”
    Here is some of what Buchanan said on that subject (with my emphasis added):
    [W]hy is North Korea building a rocket
    that can cross the Pacific and strike Seattle or Los Angeles?
    Is Kim Jong Un mad?
    He is targeting us because we have 28,500 troops on his border.
    If U.S. air, naval, missile and ground forces
    were not in and around Korea, and
    if we were not treaty-bound to fight alongside South Korea,
    there would be no reason for Kim to build rockets
    to threaten a distant superpower
    that could reduce his hermit kingdom to ashes.
    While immensely beneficial to Seoul,
    is this U.S. guarantee to fight Korean War II,
    64 years after the first wise?

    Russia, China and Japan retain the freedom
    to decide whether and how to react, should war break out.
    Why do we not?
    Would it not be better for us if we, too,
    retained full freedom of action to decide how to respond,
    should the North attack?

    The United States is in rising danger of
    being dragged into wars in half a dozen places,
    because we have committed ourselves
    to fight for scores of nations
    with little or no link to vital U.S. interests.

    My (Keith Harbaugh)’s response:
    “AMEN!” to that last sentence.
    In any case, I think Buchanan raises some very real questions
    that seem to go unaddressed by the media/political “elite”.

  36. charly says:

    Europe is a) not needed in Korea and b) not bankrupt.
    But the greater fear for the US should be that Korea does a Pinoy.

  37. wisedupearly says:

    Shit, we are about to stick our heads down a crapper of immense size. I started to write that the Chinese might draw an explicit red line around NK but then realized that Xi has just met with Trump, after which Trump starts acting all rambunctious.
    Here is my WAG. China is prepared to let NK be attacked. A NK with atomic weapons and accurate delivery systems is a threat to the entirely-for-profit China. China will disable its hardware installed in NK medium and long-range missiles and ring-fence its border with NK.
    We are, in effect, being invited to clear up the Chinese problems of NK (too dangerous) and SK & Japan (strong commercial competitors). We will be the ones triggering war, we will be the ones invading, and we will held responsible for the deaths of millions of Koreans. The cost of rebuilding Korea is beyond us both politically and economically so a long-term PR bonanza for China. You could argue that China would emerge the benefactor of the new unified Korea.
    We lack the manpower and the will to occupy N/S Korea and attempt to build a new Korea. Shades of Iraq.
    Taiwan will be absorbed w/o fuss.
    Will a Korean war forge a new patriotic community of “us”? No, it will merely add to the contention.
    China emerges far stronger while we are weakened.

  38. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    I should make it clear that I am completely against a pre-emption against the PDRK unless they demonstrate an ability to put a missile on target near S. Korea, Japan or the US. If they do that we would not have much choice. We are obligated by treaty to defend those countries and the treaties have the force of US law. The carnage would be frightful. pl

  39. turcopolier says:

    I guess you are addressing the issue of civilian control of the military in the US. Once again, the US military do not dictate to the president/CinC. They advise. They do not control. A president may or may not take their advice. Sometimes they are listened to and sometimes they are not. “Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes he eats you.” The alternative has seldom been employed in US history. In WW2 Marshall occasionally did not fully inform FDR but he knew that was a very dangerous and exceptional thing to do. Martin Dempsey did the same. Bless him. pl

  40. turcopolier says:

    I think you are giving the PDRK far more credit as innocents than they deserve. pl

  41. turcopolier says:

    I was ten years old in June, 1950 and have always thought the invasion was clearly one sided, especially since the PDRK sought to take all the Korean peninsula right down to Pusan where my father was besieged by them until Inchon. I have never been stationed in Korea, nor have I visited the place. I will take your collective word for the complexity of Korean history. As for planning to occupy Korea having started in 1942, why would it not have? This was sovereign Japanese territory. pl

  42. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I don’t think the Chinese would give up North Korea unless they got something at least as valuable in return–specifically, a friendly (or at least a friendly neutral) government in Seoul. Given the way things seem, they might actually wind up getting one after May (all leading candidates are friendly with PRC–so, technically, was Park on personal basis vis-a-vis PRC leaders, but the Chinese clearly saw THAAD as a hostile action. Conspiracy stories abound that the Chinese engineered the “impeachment” against Park as a punishment, much the way they had Taiwan’s Chen Shui-Bian, another of their “enemies,” tossed in jail for semi-trumped up charges–“semi-trumped up” in the sense that allegations of corruption are probably true since both South Korean and Taiwanese politics are notoriously corrupt, but probably not something meriting impeachment and/or imprisonment.)
    Pat Buchanan is right, though, (in reference to his op ed piece linked elsewhere in this thread.) Why is Kim Jong Un our enemy and why do we have to mess with those ungrateful foreigners in East Asia, the Japanese and South Koreans? I’d be happy to see us pull back and respond only if the threats directly affect us.

  43. charly says:

    Rocket assist = Shell with an assist from a rocket (Duh)
    The target (Seoul) has been the target for half a century so the assumption that North Korea has developed the weapons to take it out in the first hours of fighting is probably correct. Western/Warsaw countries did not develop in this direction because they did not need to but Imperial Germany could do it (Paris gun) so i have no doubt NK could do the same

  44. iowa steve says:

    Regardless of the genesis of the war, I took your point as North Korea was completely devastated by the war and thus is fully aware of the capability of the US military to do so.

  45. raven says:

    When I was in Korea, 67-68, I was in a 105mm Howitzer unit of the 7th Infantry Division. 7th Arty was positioned as direct support for the 2nd ID an, hence, our compound was 2 clicks from the Imjin River south of Munsani in the 2nd’s AO. While it as nothing like the actual Korean war that period was fairly intense. In January, 68 the NK’s took the Pueblo and a few days later launched the Blue House raid, and attempt to kill Park Chung Hee and take his head back north. We were part of massive sweeps of the hills near the DMZ and 4 GI’s were killed. The thing that we knew was that, if the balloon went up, we were cooked. The thing that I’ll always remember is that the South Korean soldiers embedded in our unit (KATUSA’s) were just as anxious to fight the NK’s as vice-versa. I also know that the South Korean Army and Marines in Vietnam were ruthless in their treatment of the Vietnamese, Charlie or not. I’m certain that they are not nearly as eager to fight now but one wonders how long they want to live with this threat.

  46. Kooshy says:

    IMO, China would rather to ease up on her trade and her currency than loosing a stratgic threat NK has like a hanging sword over US and her pacific Allies. IMO, If it was not for this value NK has specially after the Tiananmen China would have not let N. Korea become a nuclear state next door to her. Ever since the history, China has been in command and control of north east Asia, IMO US, Russian or Japanese can’t change that although they have tried and will try again.

  47. FederalistForever says:

    Some of the commenters above are citing Bruce Cumings as an authority on the Korean conflict. It’s worth pointing out that many of Professor Cumings’ strongly anti-US conclusions have been called into question by numerous releases of declassified Soviet materials post 1991. See:

  48. turcopolier says:

    Iowa Steve et al
    I wish that my friend, alternate father and mentor, Colonel (ret.) Dr. Robert Sawyer was still among us. he wrote the US Army’s official history of KMAAG and was a great scholar and combat leader. He is mentioned in Blumenson’s “Master of the Art of Command.” pl

  49. Jack says:

    All the more reason why we ought to get out of these treaty obligations. There’s nothing in it for us. Japan and South Korea have the financial and technological ability to defend themselves. It is time we let them and the Europeans take care of their strategic interests on their own. Likewise we should focus on our own defense and stop meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. I recognize it won’t happen in the Pax Americana imperium.

  50. Jack says:

    He doesn’t care about Le Pen. Why should he? In any case even if Le Pen wins she will be largely toothless to get France out of the EU or Euro as that requires a constitutional amendment.

  51. iowa steve says:

    Yes, I agree that there should be a reassessment of our current posture towards North Korea. That posture is of course indicative of the manner that the US has acted towards our “enemies” since at least the invasion of Iraq in 2002. Regardless of the nature of those adversaries what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked in the sense of making us safer.
    Imho, the US and North Korea should engage in negotiations leading to mutual security agreements with the immediate goal of denuclearization of the peninsula. The long term goal of the proper relationship between the two Koreas is left up to those nations, as it should be, with the further goal of removal of all US forces.
    Would these negotiations require bribes or aid to North Korea? Probably, but bribes are imho less immoral than war and far cheaper. If Trump is the great dealmaker he professes to be let him have at it, though I’m not optimistic.

  52. charly says:

    They make their own silkworms etc. so the carrier groups are not treated by NK if they stay far enough which makes them a bit useless.

  53. turcopolier says:

    if you knew anything military about ranges you would be dangerous. pl

  54. wisedupearly says:

    The traditional analysis sets NK as a strategic barrier and border protector to China. Hence, the thought that “NK has immense strategic importance to PRC.”
    This may have been true 20 years ago but things have moved on. China has moved up and in the eyes of China we are looking rather inept. The thought of John McCain with Sarah Palin as POTUS and FLOTUS must have made them smile.
    True that China wants a unified Korea but a Korea grateful to China and resentful of the US must be of immense value.
    The assumption is that China would never accept a border with an American ally. I now feel that the Chinese are now confident enough to live with it if that is the end result in Korea. The key to my argument is that NK is no longer useful to China and indeed is becoming a negative.

  55. kooshy says:

    Yes, that’s the gravy, containing Russia and China on North Pacific

  56. VietnamVet says:

    A war with North Korea is just as stupid as one with Iran. A war with either will play havoc with the world economy. The USA does not have the manpower, tanks or the will to seize Tehran or Pyongyang. If artillery barrages destroy Seoul or intermediate range missiles hit Japan’s cities, millions will die. Ignoring the risk of starting a Korean war by a preemptive strike if North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test is insanity. The “multiple senior U.S. intelligence officers” who told this to NBC News are flat-ass crazy plus incompetent.
    The problem with “mad man” diplomacy is if the principles are not sane then war is inevitable. Human beings in the Southern Hemisphere may shrug off a nuclear war with North Korea but no one will survive if China and/or Russia are drawn into the conflict, intentionally or by mistake.

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is too late; US is now pinned down in Northeast Asia; North Korea having taken Seoul and Tokyo Bay area hostage.
    North Korea is not going to denuclearize, just as Israel will not.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It was not Bush II who bore responsibility for the failure of the Agreed Framework; it was Clinton who wished for a cost-free solution; patiently waiting for the North Korean state collapse so he would not have to pay the costs of the AF; diplomatic, financial, political etc.
    You cannot blame Bush II for that one.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Too late for what you suggest.

  60. Matt says:

    John Kerry, as SOS, negotiated a cease-fire in Syria with the Russians that the Pentagon promptly blew up with their “mistaken” attack on known Syrian Army positions (strangely aiding ISIS). Not so sure about the “advise” role of the Pentagon anymore.

  61. kooshy says:

    I also believe geostrategically speaking, Mr. Trump is a buffoon, I wonder even if he knows why US is there to begin with. But there are geostrategist with good understanding in the system, especially among the neocons, who have often made overstating analysis of US capabilities and have cost US dearly. IMO, US’ political and military strategists do not understand the value of asymmetrical and proxy wars in someone else’s land, they usually get themselves cut in this kind of wars at a loss.

  62. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    To add a different dimension to the discussion, I see a Korean war as very very much not in China’s long-term financial interests, and China has the ability to really make the US currency and financial system hurt bad… against the (I presume crony) interests of the billionaires in the Trump cabinet. I would expect to see some financial warning shots across Goldman Sachs bow if rhetoric shifts towards actions.
    Just watched Trading Places, and there is one thing rich people fear more than anything and that is being poor. I dont see Trumps billionaire coterie taking that risk especially since the global financial system is weaker than it was in 2008.

  63. egl says:

    There are other delivery vehicles for a nuclear strike against the US mainland besides LRBM: shipping containers, for instance.

  64. AEL says:

    The DPRK have already demonstrated the *ability* to put a missile on target in Japan. They regularly drop multiple missiles into the sea at the *exact* range to major American bases in Japan.

  65. Bill Herschel says:

    You’re Donald Trump. You just scored the biggest upset victory in the history of US Presidential politics. Since then things have not been going well. You give a call to cousin George and he says, “Remember the trifecta, Donald…”
    Think how incredibly good Donald feels when he has people guessing what he’ll do next. And how rotten he felt when people were wondering whether he could tie his shoes.
    Wars for Donald and George (and for Ronald) are purely for domestic consumption. Real wars? Never.
    The interesting part is that sometime he’s going to asked the question, “Gee, Donald, looks like pretty soon North Korea is going to be able to put a MIRV onto the Apple campus. Do we have a policy for that?” That’s when all the propaganda folks who have been spinning the story that Kim-un is mental are going to have to explain to their families why the end of the world isn’t so bad after all.
    And please, please don’t forget that the Korean war was a slam dunk for the U.S. until… let me look at my notes… until the Chinese came over the border. That war is still going on. There is no treaty. We didn’t fight the North. We fought China and didn’t win.

  66. BraveNewWorld says:

    Good stuff but I will go one further than Pat Buchanan. Almost every where that the US has pledged to protect a country that country has used that protection as a green light to act like out of control a__ h_les, making the original problem far worse. The South Koreans actually being an exception to the rule.

  67. Brunswick says:

    There’s also 28,500 US Servicemen, women and their families in South Korea .

  68. Will.2718 says:

    Duh- how do you attach a rocket to a shell without it exploding in the breech? A shell is not a multistage device. It gets its impetus at one time, whereas a rocket continues to accelerate. Since all I got was a conclusory answer, then I’ll have to google it.
    “The North Korean M-1978 / M1989 (KOKSAN) 170mm self-propelled gun can use rocket assisted projectiles to achieve a range of around 60 kilometres (37 mi); at one time this was the world’s longest range artillery piece.”
    So, it appears you can incorporate a rocket motor into an otherwise ballistic shell.

  69. optimax says:

    This sentence from The Atlantic article shows Cumings a fool for covering up N Korea’s totalitarianism. ” At one point in North Korea: Another Country (2004) we are even informed that the regime’s gulags aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be, because Kim Jong Il is thoughtful enough to lock up whole families at a time.”
    It’s an excellent article that makes me wish our Dear Leader could read.

  70. trinlae says:

    ” Of course a couple of million Asian people should be more than willing to give their lives for American domestic politics.”
    I think you put your finger on it right there. This whole fiasco would backfire, in that much of Asia such as in SK, Japan, PRC, ROC, Phillipines, Vietnam(s), and so forth who have remained neutral over the past decades to allow thr USA to keep its status quo face would turn against the US, at least in private.
    The oligarchs lost the TPP at the ballot box, despite harnessing the whole MsM to ram it through. Now if they think they can force it on the world through these intl aggressive tantrums, they are sadly mistaken, imo. Asia doesn’t need TPP, it already has the decades of authentic relationship building that is the foundation of business. USA should get off of its high horse learn how it is done.

  71. trinlae says:

    This is false, with all due respect. The true left, small as it is, refused to follow Bernie Sanders pandering to the DNC and just booed DnC in Maine as Sanders is further used by DnC t

  72. trinlae says:

    Probably a fair reading of how the situation is viewed in Beijing and Moscow!

  73. Phil Cattar says:

    Actually Seamus they did attack Us Forces 54 years ago.I was stationed on the 38th parallel from 4/63 to 4/64.In the summer of 1964 “Joe jumped” and crossed the MDL early in the morning.They ambushed a jeep full of US soldiers of the First Cavalry on their way to one of our outposts.I know they killed a few and got away.We were on high alert for days.

  74. trinlae says:

    “unless they got something at least as valuable in return–specifically, a friendly (or at least a friendly neutral) government in Seoul. ”
    Taking care not to confuse superficial power with actual power, or, in other words, looking at the economic culture, Beijing has plenty of friends in Seoul as in Taipei and Hsinchu.
    Nxp (KKR) has been bought by Qualcomm. We all know who is at KKR now.

  75. Poul says:

    If these events from the Korean War is still part of the knowledge that the fat kid base his decisions on I would also think a war is less likely to be started. But that is a big “if”.

  76. b says:

    There is a tendency in U.S. analysis of North Korea to blame everything on one person, Kim whoever.
    Such is always wrong. Iraq wasn’t just Saddam, Libya not only Ghaddafi, Syria is not just Assad and North Korea is not Kim Yong Un.
    Another false believe is that if only that one person would go away all those people below him would be free to let that small American inside them out and would be happy to live under a U.S. proxy system.
    It is far from it. Leaders are comprises that work for and are part of a wider vague elite. The are in general replaceable by other symbolic unifying persons. People are first and foremost tribal or nationalistic. The political system is secondary as long as there is decent food on the table. No one outside of the U.S., besides a few globalist bankers, really wants a U.S. like system.
    Kim Young Un did not plan or arrange the recent parade. Others did and they knew exactly what they were doing. Generals, oligarchs, party elite have to agree on general policies. If they don’t there will be internal fighting. When the head of the relations with China was killed, last year or so, it was done because the NoKo general strategy is to stay somewhat independent of China, not because Kim Young Un had a hangover.
    There is some though that North Korea might try a Myanmar deal with the U.S. – promising distance from China and a somewhat open (gangster) economy in exchange for the end of U.S. belligerence. I wonder if the Trump administration is exploring that – with the whole current hostility being just a cover. I am sure China and Russia are aware of such looming danger to their position and try to counter it.

  77. Peter AU says:

    Although I was looking at this thread for the reason Trump admin + DoD announced Carl Vinson sailing north but ended up south, the NK/SK history is interesting.
    A contested zone at end of WWII. Similar to Vietnam and Germany.
    Say in Vietnam, Russia won. Vietnam now seems to be an independent nation. On good terms with both US and Russia, no foreign forces stationed there.
    In Germany, with the fall of USSR, US won. Foreign forces still stationed there, not on good terms with Russia. Tends to blow whatever way the US wind is blowing.
    Korea. Still not settled from WWII. It seems the tensions, between north and south? or are the tensions between US and north? need to be wound down, to allow a gradual reconciliation over a long period of time.
    A starting point for reconciliation may be, that in return for NK cutting back on nuke development, US/SK would run exercises well away from NK border that concentrate on defence rather than war gaming the decapitation of the north.
    Something along this line has been suggested by China and from what I can make out, also NK.
    Looking at it from the outside, the US will settle for nothing less than total submission of NK.

  78. Fred says:

    Who’s torpedo sank the Cheonan?

  79. Ivan says:

    You are letting your anti-Americanism get ahead of you. What the Americans did or did not do in the 1950s was in the context of the WWII, where casualty figures were mind-boggling. The Norks are evil in spite of the Americans, not because of anything the Americans had done. All you have to do is to compare dispassionately the cases of South and North Korea. While few in South Korea will welcome war, nonetheless all of the Far East are in debt to the Americans for their sacrifices of blood and treasure to keep it free from the Communists.

  80. Ivan says:

    We all know how Communists at that time treated elections. One man, one vote, one time.

  81. eakens says:

    The challenge here is that I have never heard Trump say he has any South Korean tenants in his building, let alone any North Korean tenants.

  82. confusedponderer says:

    “it appears you can incorporate a rocket motor into an otherwise ballistic shell”
    Actually it does … appear so. It looks all the more apparent given that apparently the US (with M549) developed and bought rocket assisted grenades for their artillery … in the 1970s.
    That said, it appears that with the KOKSAN the Nokis have succeeded in building a weapon on 1970s technological level.
    ‘The rocket motor is located in the aft end of the two-piece forged alloy projectile body. The rocket is initiated by a pyrotechnic delay which ignites upon a gun launch and provides a 7-second delay. This delay maximizes the range extension effect of the rocket motor. The copper alloy rotating band is overlay welded to withstand Zone 8S propelling charge launch forces and is protected during storage and handling by a plastic grommet.’

  83. Old Microbiologist says:

    Not with what we believe they have in the way of arms. But, HUMINT in PRK is very shallow and it is mostly guesswork. However, should some “other” countries that have been on the receiving end of sanctions (which everyone except America believes is an overt act of war), might let slip a few more advanced weapons systems. If Iran, China, Pakistan, India, or Russia were to accidentally lose a few supercavitating torpedoes, or some latest model anti-ship missiles, or even some effective jamming systems then the carrier groups are basically floating targets. They always have been so which is the case in modern warfare since it was proven cheap missiles can sink very expensive ships in the Falklands. IMHO, the Navy is a more or less useless commodity. Even submarines are now useless based on space based satellite imaging, gravimetric, or magnetic detections systems. Submarines depend on being invisible but like stealth, this is a false belief. Carriers are used for force projection but only when we have air superiority and even then only when fighting third tier armies or low intensity conflicts. But, heading into Korean waters against an opponent who has strong resolve and quiet backing from countries we have been very hostile towards is stupid.
    That is of course, discounting the conventional artillery focused on Seoul. But, if we want to throw S. Korea to the wolves I suppose this is a good idea but it will also cause economic havoc and be suicidal to the US. We cannot afford even a small wrinkle in the economy as it is all still a house of cards. On top of all of that should we go in there and maybe actually accomplish a win, there is no way China will let us take over the entire Korean peninsula. So, IMHO there is no actual value to any of this posturing if we can’t back it up and even under the best case scenarios it is a disaster.
    Worse still, the PRK has asked politely now 4 times for the US and South Korea to stop war gaming and practicing the overthrow of the PRK. It makes them extremely nervous (much like the US is doing via NATO to Russia in the Balkans). They have offered 4 times now to get rid of all nuclear weapons were we to comply with this request. We have refused them now 3 times under Obama and once under Trump. This seems insane to me. In the meantime KJU is going to keep building his nuclear arsenal and assemble some kind of MAD weapons systems so they can at least have some parity. I would not be surprised at all for the PRK to park a couple of nukes off California some time during the next year assuming they haven’t already done so. They have every reason to believe the US is an existential threat to their existence.

  84. William P. Fitzgerald III says:

    Actually, b, the Soviets were full members of the U.N. with a seat on the security council. However, in June of 1950 they were boycotting over some other issue and no one was in place to exercise the veto which each of the five permanent members has. That raises the question of whether they knew the North Korean plan in advance.
    China also was a member and had a permanent seat on the S.C. but, of course “China” at that time was an island off the mainland and always voted the American way.

  85. LeaNder says:

    He feels pretty unhinged to me too, PA. Watched too much propaganda? What ya think? But maybe I am not a fan of political dynasties, no matter if of the democratically elected or absurdly enough communist variance. With stability exceptions. 😉 Maybe?
    Your response reminds me of an exchange Kao* had with someone here. Was that you? All I recall is, I gave up trying to understand the Korean political context. Just as there seemed to be a deeper underlying clash of opinions.

  86. turcopolier says:

    What is the basis for your description of the anti-Japanese resistance forces as “nominally communist?” I found the following link to then Major Robert Sawyer’s history of KMAG. It is a pdf of the whole book. file:///C:/Users/Pat/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.IE5/SCMYM3J5/military_advisors_in_korea_kmag.pdf
    It seems to me that this would be of interest to all. pl

  87. Morongobill says:

    Recently, China sent the signal that it will not allow U.S. forces near the Yalu. A similar signal was sent during the Korean War which was ignored by the U.S.
    The Chinese weren’t bluffing then and I don’t believe that they are bluffing now.
    The question is what will the U.S. government do this time.

  88. Henshaw says:

    Some interesting observations here from an Australian ex-Ambassador to Korea.

  89. b says:

    They communists in Korea were more nationalists than communists. While some (like Kim Il Sung) had fought in China for Chinese liberation they started pushing off Chinese (communist) influence as soon as possible. Korean tradition of (heavenly) authority and reverence for ancestors does not really fit pure communist thought.
    The north depended on Russia and China and had to sing their tune – thus “communists” nominally following Marx and Lenin but essentially doing their own Korean thing. The industry and much land in the north had been nearly solely in Japanese hand. It was thereby easily nationalized when the Japanese had to leave. There was not much need for a real revolution.
    In modern times the (near) famine in the 1990s led to a change in the agricultural and system. Private farmer markets were allowed. These were not reigned in after the famine was over. Instead they have been expanded. Small private industry is also cropping up. How far that will go is anyone’s guess. For now it helps to market the byungjin policy – the parallel development of the economic and nuclear capabilities.
    (The idea behind byungjin is that a nuclear capability will allow to deter aggressors and lower the horrendous economic burden of a much oversized conventional military. More people could become useful in the economy instead of standing next to some gun in some cave.
    The offer NoKo made, stop of nuke and missile development for a stop of aggressive U.S./SoKo maneuvers, is also based on that idea -> Less military necessity -> more economic development.)

  90. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Bingo. What the next card Bill? Best thought will do.

  91. Virginia Slim says:

    I won’t pass judgment on whether Trump is smart enough to see through the Warhawk faction in DC, but I do think that he sees their support as increasingly necessary for his political survival. When Lindsey Graham goes so far as to declare that he is “all in” for Trump, we probably get a fair idea what the future holds.

  92. Will.2718 says:

    Come on guys, NK is not going to give up their Nukes, and they would be foolhardy to do so. The best deal possible is 1) for them to freeze their missile & nuke program in place, shutting down their plutonium plant, and 2) for the U.S. to get off the Peninsula and stop those ridiculous yearly provocative yuuuge exercises. Our troops do not need to be held hostage in the cold frostbitten place. B1’s, B2’s, B-52, F-22’s can easily reach there if need be.
    S.Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world, has nearly half a million troops under arms, and along with Japan could have nukes probably w/i a month if they so desired. Like Buchanan asks: What the hell are we doing over there? protecting our Imperium? We no longer have a Philippine colony to protect? And the Dutch, British, Japanese, & French have long abandoned theirs.
    N. Korea can best be changed the way Deutsche Demokratische Republik & the Soviets were overcome. By having a preposterously higher standard of living next door, bribery, and a sunshine policy.

  93. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Yeah, I was starting to write that PRC probably would not give up NK, then started to realize that Seoul is full of Beijing’s friends–but also with plenty of people who are wary of suspicious of them, too. It may be that a friend of Beijing may be installed in the Blue House soon enough, but it won’t be a sure thing. Even after the decade of the blue horse government, the new DPP gov’t in Taipei is not going to be pushover for CCP. Park was not, for all the good personal relationships she had with CCP leaders, as accommodating of PRC’s wants after all. If I were CCP leadership, I’d hedge bets and try to hold on to NK, even if I try to expand influence in SK.

  94. Tpcelt says:

    Joe, not necessarily. The Korean War never really ended; there was never a peace treaty. There was an armistice to cease hostilities. N.
    Korea has in the last few years repudiated its participation in its terms.

  95. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Maybe so about NK not being really “communist,” but Korea before 19th century was hardly a nice place. Brutal, totalitarian (in an oddly apt), corrupt, backwards, absurdly insular, and ridiculously full of itself. In a way, NK really does look like how old Korean kingdom looked like circa 1800.
    While Japanese rule over Korea was often brutal, it did force Koreans to open up and see the world for what it is. I always wondered what might have happened if the Japanese were not defeated in World War II, and I imagined that there would have been two Koreas, one that wanted to withdraw back into the old shell and shut out the outside world and the other that wanted to remain engaged via a connection to Japan–nobody would have wanted to remain “Japanese”–and even the Japanese were acknowledging that by 1944, although no one can tell if they’d have kept their promises to give Koreans (more) equal rights (probably wouldn’t have). Then someone remarked that that is exactly what did happen, even with the Japanese losing: the South that decided that there was some value to being connected to the world, even under leadership of a communist like Park Chung Hee (he was widely suspected of being a Comintern agent, and, before the Korean War, was investigated for alleged secret membership in the communist party and was kicked out of the army. He was not reinstated until halfway through Korean War and was never given a fighting command.) The North, of course, retreated into the medieval shell again.

  96. Gene O. says:

    I understood that Kim Il-sung was a Major in the Soviet Army. At least up until 45.

  97. Thirdeye says:

    I agree with Buchanan up to a point. The scenario of the US being “dragged into” a war with PDRK by ROK seems like an inversion of the most likely war scenario. ROK today is not the ROK of Rhee and Park. ROK is the party with the most vital interest in de-escalating the confrontation and IMO they have considerable power to do so if they’re willing to get over some historical baggage with China. There are lots of factors that would drive ROK towards alignment with China in a purely rational sense. The Koreans have at least as much against Japan as they do against China, and they are nominal allies. China has a lot more to offer ROK than does the US, economically and diplomatically. China is understandably reluctant to go to bat for the US on the nuclear issue, but they might be more willing to do it for ROK if it leads to a more neutral stance from ROK and more help from ROK in either carrying or alleviating the economic burden that is PDRK in the current situation.

  98. Bandit says:

    Since when did the US need a credible pretext to start a war? The inordinate number of “false flags” and Gulf of Tonkin incidents, remember the USS Maine in Havana, etc, ad nauseam.

  99. Jack says:

    Will the US attack North Korea without the agreement of the South Koreans?
    Apparently Bill Clinton wanted to do it but Kim Young-sam objected and put an end to that.

  100. different clue says:

    My memory is that USSR actually was in the UN at that time. (China at that time was represented by the KMT government based in Taiwan.)
    I remember reading somewhere that the USSR gov had its delegation walk out of the UN meetings some time before for some reason or other. So when the SC was called to vote on that NorKor invaded SouKor resolution, the Soviet delegate was not present to veto it. So it passed. Is that what you mean by “Russia was not in the UN at the time”? That the USSR representative was not in the room at the moment the SC resolution was passed?

  101. Green Zone Café says:

    China could have a friendly government in Pyongyang, just one with sane rulers and without nuclear weapons.
    The assassination of Kim’s brother by poison in Kuala Lumpur airport was a BIG story in China. The brother was reportedly a friend of China. China would be happy with a change.
    I think a deal is coming, the Chinese will help, but can’t let a lunatic who kills his family with poisons and anti-aircraft guns get staged thermonuclear warheads on ICBMs.

  102. wisedupearly says:

    Let’s hope that we never find out which vision is correct.
    I have lived in S.K. for little under a year and dislike of American troops is very deep in the countryside.

  103. LeaNder says:

    No, I don’t watch N. Korean propaganda
    Not at all my intention to suggest that. Quite the opposite, really. More an attempt to tell you that my knowledge about Korea is close, not completely, but close to non-existent.
    Thanks, for the feedback.

  104. Valissa says:

    Pacifica Advocate, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments on the realities of North Korea. I have long known that I don’t really know anything about what’s going on in North Korea. When any country’s leader becomes the personification of evil, as well as the country as a whole, that’s a clue that information quality is low and highly manipulated.
    The anti-NK propaganda is non-stop in our MSM, and the alternative news sources I go to are not much better. But in the latter case, the NK is rarely reported on.
    Therefore I appreciate your much more sensible sounding and realistic assessment. Very educational.
    Are there any news sites that you know of that do a better job of realistic reporting on North Korea?

  105. confusedponderer says:

    “They don’t have missile-deliverable nukes by most accounts. They have the missiles but not the miniaturized warheads.”
    I don’t believe that that is so critical.
    For a long time many longer range tactical missiles can carry a 500+ kg or so explosive warheads. That is to say that probably they also CAN carry a comparably sized nuke warhead of similar weight.
    US and russian missile developments demonstrated that this is possible rather early.
    The real challenge for a Noki nuke missiles will probably be more complicate than weight and size. It will be about resistance to missile thrust and the g loads of starting and maneuvering.
    The Nokis research on nukes a while. They may just have learned how to keep their big crackers lightweight and smallish. They have an interestet in that. That focus of research would be just for the rockets or missiles and, of course, air dropped bombs.
    What else the Nokis still can do, and that doesn’t so much depend on the size or on missiles, is to design and use a nuclear mine. To do that, they would just have to bury some even largerish nuke thing with some type of fuze in a place. They could target … some area to prevent enemy troups from breaking through … they could try to break or delay a counter attack or try to prevent a circling operation etc. pp.
    What else they can do is to simply drop, very conventionally, a nuke from an aircraft. For that all they need is to build a compact drop bomb, prepare aircraft, train pilots and to learn how to not being shot down by the various south korean and US air defences on ground and the air.

  106. Green Zone Café says:

    I usually agree with you 100%, but the threat from NK is real. The Kims have been crazy, evil and reckless. They have small fission yields now. Still very serious, but big difference between 20 kilotons and 20 megatons.
    The Iranians are rational. Not pursuing a bomb, and if they had one they would not shoot it off while drunk on Hennessy.
    I think a deal is coming with China’s pressure, but if they don’t curb their weapons program, why not a combined military operation with China, Russia, Japan, SK and ANZUS with an agreed-upon political solution beforehand? Could be good for world peace in the long run for China, Russia and the rest of us to work together on this.

  107. Philippe says:

    Thanks for your response Colonel.
    My fault : it wasn’t 2007 but 2008, and after doing some homework, to be more specific, the top brass who seems to have put some restraint on the administration where the admirals Fallon and Muller, the latter saying : “This is a very unstable part of the world and I don’t need it to be more unstable.”, at a time GW Bush & Cheney used to repeat their usual mantra “all options are on the table”.
    So, yes, indeed, the last word is in the White House, but it seems there is a real PR “marge de manoeuvre” for the military, to impede some (very) bad moves, isn’t it ?

  108. Sam Peralta says:

    Good post!
    IMO, the best outcome for the US is to end Pax Americana and focus exclusively on re-building our economy and ensuring that our trade relations with the rest of the world are in our interests.
    The consequence would be that the East Asians and the Europeans and the ME will have to take care of their own security and other interests. Of course that would likely mean that the Chinese will dominate the Asian sphere where they will no doubt throw their weight around. But should that be our problem?

  109. Akira says:

    The North Koreans have a “cold start” plan to go to war, that will be activated at the first sign of any military strike. This plan is large and complex, but the first part is very, very simple: Fire all the Nuclear Weapons.
    Since North Korea has enough short and medium range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads to reduce Japan & South Korea to ashes, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?”
    Well, do ya, Trump?

  110. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I think all the attempts by the PRC to manipulate the leadership in Pyongyang has been at the root of the awkward relationship between Chinese and NK. Before the assassination of Kim Jongnam, there was the crackdown on Chang and others, who were also deemed to be the pro-PRC faction. It seems that the pro-“independence” faction beat out and killed off the pro-China guys back then and the death of Kim Jongnam basically finished off that prospect, for now.
    I always thought of the relationship between NK and China like that between Austria-Hungary and Germany in late 19th century. China may not like the North Korean regime and, whenever possible, would prefer to have them replaced with someone more compliant–but Kim Jong Un and his people would not go quietly just because the Chinese would like them to. If anything, they’d simultaneously cause more trouble while killing off potential Chinese agents among their midst. (somewhat like Ante Pavelic and his faction did vis-a-vis the Nazis, I think: very crazy, even for the Nazis’ tastes, but they were the only people the Nazis had in Zagreb because Pavelic killed off all the other alternatives.) In the end, China is forced into a non-choice: put up with a regime that they don’t like upping ante to no end, or risk having Americans across a fairly narrow sea from Beijing. The NK provocations, in other words, are a blackmail against China as much as to US, Japan, and SK, but they can get away with it b/c of the rivalry between US and China–as long as China would rather have a crazy regime in NK rather than Americans there. The caveat is that NK leadership has to guard against a pro-China coup, which, for what it is worth, they have been quite good at last few years.
    I sure hope that this does not follow the same path as the Autria-Hungary and German relationship circa 1914, though.

  111. Mark Kolmar says:

    North Korea has demonstrated an ability to lob projectiles. Leaders should presume that the North Korean regime is likely, suited, and well-equipped to lash out on its neighbors with maximum spite against any serious attempt to disturb its dominance of the territory and ostensible control of the mindset of the population.
    Could the North Korean military spray radiological material on the southern part of the pennininsula, on Japanese islands, or render a plot of China uninhabitable in similar way? I wish I could be more confident that defiance by the N.K. regime, against the ego and wilfulness of Donald Trump or Rex Tillerson, weighs with due moderation against the cost to North Korean people under which their society waits for a more patient solution.

  112. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    The origins of the Korean war are indeed a bit more complex then “the North invaded for no reason”. While they did invade, they could and did claim a number of pretty solid Casus Bellori. South Korea was engaged in pretty massive massacres of their compatriots, it did engage in sizable cross border raids (the North Koreans meanwhile where of course very busy in supporting guerillias and insurgents in the South).
    You could kind of compare it with the Vietnamese Casus Belli for invading Khmer Rouge Kampuchea, with the distinction that South Korea was backed by the US and not China, and with the distinction that the Park regime was not quite as bad or as militarily inept as the Khmer Rouge.
    The devastation visited upon South Korea by the invading North Koreans did quite a lot to harden the attitudes of everyday South Koreans vis a vis the North. In addition, any former pro Japanese in South Korea could reasonably expect to be either hanged or “reeducated” upon a Northern victory, so these people had to win or die.
    The typical South Korean soldier in the 70s, especially if he was in the crack expeditionary forces (the 2 Korean Divisions in Vietnam were not simple conscripts where pretty ideologically hardened, iirc you had to volunteer for these units), typically lost family in the Korean war.
    Pyeongyang has exactly one house that got through Korean war 1. It is now a museum. North Korea is quite aware of the USAs destructive capabilities.
    They also believe that the only way to forestall their destruction is to deter the USA by imposing high costs.
    Given how denuclearisation worked for Ukraine (Both USA and Russia broke their respective pledges of noninterference and protection, and both did so very blatantly), and given that North Korea has a lot more enemies then Ukraine, denuclearizing would basically be stupid.

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