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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Korea, Again

The news coming out of the Korean peninsula these last few days is not good . . . but it's not new. I, for example, would note that this humble blog alerted its six seven readers back in April 2013 that some news reports based on info coming out of the DIA indicated that Little Kim seemed to have achieved the miniaturization of a nuclear warhead suitable for a missile. That info seems to have been recycled.

A bit earlier that same month in 2013, I posted a piece about Korea and the cost of unfinished business. I noted that a
[T]ruly stunning example of half-measures and unfinished business coming back to bite us is the Korean War. We, once again, see the consequences as Kim Jong-Un, a gangnam-style Pillsbury doughboy with a bad haircut, threatens to rain nuclear weapons on our Pacific bases and even our cities. Little Kim is the dictator of a decrepit country of zero importance to the world. This repellent little communist monarchy stands across the DMZ from the Republic of Korea, one of the truly great political, economic, and social success stories of the past seventy years. North Korea's leaders, however mad and absurd they might appear, know how to play with Western reluctance to apply total solutions. They look at the current leadership in Washington, and what do they see? The most anti-military President, Secretary of State AND Secretary of Defense in our history, i.e., the Three Stooges of the Apocalypse. They see us babbling about nonsense, and openly vowing to destroy our own military in order to provide free stuff to people who vote for Obama. We have a pompous, lying, rich boy, blowhard as Secretary of State who vows to do "whatever is necessary"( Note: In a style reminiscent of "Genghis Khan," eh?) but who has a record of opposing whatever is necessary, and has committed public acts of treason. We have the irony of having the very liberal Democrats who so opposed anti-missile defenses now being forced to move into place those very systems they sought to abort. The same bunker buster bombs which the Democrats opposed developing are being loaded into B-2s and would play a critical role in case of war against North Korea. The military which the Democrats have for years sought to cut and make into a playground for their social experiments now stands as the defense for Los Angeles, and other Democratic-governed urban centers. The ironies go on and on. 
This is what happens when you go hunting to wound the bear.
In those two cited pieces I naively wondered how Obama would handle a nuclear threat to the United States--remember this was a couple of years before he funded the Iranian nuclear program. He "handled" it by ignoring it, acting as though it were not there.

Obama left the Nork Nuke mess for his successor. That successor is handling it as well as can be expected. What remains shocking--perhaps it shouldn't--is that the progressive mau-mau machine seeks to make Trump's, properly, stern rhetoric is response to Kim a greater threat than Kim's popping off missiles and bragging about incinerating the USA. This is not unlike blaming Churchill's anti-Hitler rhetoric for Hitler's actions in Europe.

I am no expert on Korea, and don't play one on the internet. It, however, seems to me that dismissing Kim as insane does not get us very far. He might be a psychopath, but he ain't stupid or suicidal. He knows that a war with the United States would end very badly for him and his regime. He is clearly testing the new administration and probably looking for deal like the one his granddad and dad got from Clinton and, even better, the deal the Iranians got from Obama.

The solution? Not an easy one, but sooner or later it will end in war unless there is a dramatic change inside North Korea, perhaps fostered by China working with some element or another of the Nork military.

Frankly, if we're going to have a war, and this is a brutal thing to say, sooner is better than  later. Just as it would have been much better to confront Hitler in 1935 than in 1939, so it is now. It would have to be an overwhelming, quick, and brutal attack. I am glad I don't have to make that decision.

44 comments:

  1. There is a commenter at Ace of Spades who says that at one point GWB "... launched a multi-lateral initiative (Poliferation Security Initiative) that was aimed at all troublesome aspiring proliferators, but really focused on NK and Iran". But then this was dropped due to a "sudden policy reversal". Do you know anything about this?

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  2. NK is very useful to China as a test of American will. China is beefing up its army Already pretty beefy-( and no social experiments with the PLA).

    proxy war is fashionable right now.

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  3. Can't we get one of the fat kid's Swedish hookers to sacrifice her life for the rest of humanity?

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  4. What's worse is Iran is sitting back & watching how this plays out. They may choose to use NoKo's actions as a template if POTUS doesn't play this right (whatever that might be).

    We will need Russia's help post-Syria to deal with Iran. Let's hope 2018 elections & nature give us a more grounded Congress

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    Replies
    1. The present policy of the US Establishment is to make as many countries as possible into enemies. I can't help but think that it might prove to be unwise.

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    2. Ach! DM, always so rash and bombastic. Try, try to tone it down a bit. ;)

      MFA

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    3. The present policy of the US Establishment is to make as many countries as possible into enemies.

      No, they are enemies and you're blaming us because that's how you roll.

      Delete
  5. Commenters at Neo-Neocon make a good point about the military option: any military officer who acted in support of it could expect to be brought up on charges and convicted (not necessarily in that order) by the left once they regain power. So moving against NK would also require moving against the left as part of the same option.

    Military officers smart enough to be effective against NK will know this,

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    1. You occasionally hear leftoblabbers and palaeotrash chattering about John McCain or Richard Cheney as 'war criminals'. Weaponized as the Department of Justice was during the Obama regime, they never attempted to make that crazy case in a court of law. I don't think the professional military are in any danger from Chomsky admirers in the Democratic Party.

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  6. What will be done about NK? As of today, I predict pretty much nothing directly against the country itself. Our modern delicate western sensibilities will not stomach the kind of casualties an all out war would bring. Seoul, SK is in the balance and won't be sacrificed because of Kim. Our military at the DMZ won't be sacrificed either. What about China? It will do nothing for us as Kim is a useful proxy. Russia? What a joke...we pass stupid sanctions against them and they will help us?

    The US will most likely continue to refine our anti missile program as well as give anti missile capability to our allies in S.E. Asia as well as nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea. It is many years too late to stop the NK regime directly.

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  7. More of Clinton/Albright and Obama/Clinton/Kerry's chickens coming home to roost, dammit!

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    Replies
    1. You missed out the third two-term twerp of the three in a row: W.

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  8. Mayhap this saber rattling will result in a scene I have held
    close with little hope for years.

    Kim signing a piece of parchment on the deck
    of USS PUEBLO. Old Glory flying and Armistice ended.

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  9. Obama didn't just do nothing: he repeated Clinton's N. Korea folly with Iran. So Trump is talking to Iran as much as to Norks. Imo, Syria strike was just as much about N. Korea and Iran as Syria, and a very smart move, despite wailing from Coulter and others.

    What is Congress going to do as threats mount? Continue to bring Trump down? Yep. Can anyone seriously call McCain a patriot anymore?

    Diplomad, I don't understand why Trump put Haley at UN. Lightweight with no foreign policy experience. Is she actually negotiating anything? Seems to me Trump's foreign policy multi-faceted with energy and trade and finance sticks and carrots what got sanctions. So far, it sees brilliant to me, although I don't know what goals have been Decided for Afghanistan. But back to Haley: Am I wrong about her, is she actually relevant to anything? She is certainly taking credit for sanctions.

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    1. Msher: your doubts about Hale seem totally unfounded and wrong. She is proving to be a real ass kicker and representing the US like no oe since Bolton. She's doing a better job than Mcmasters at NSC so far.

      S

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  10. I wonder if a "headshot" would do the trick. There is no clear line of ascension within NK, so if Kim were to be removed, what would happen?

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    1. I'm certainly no expert on foreign policy, but I would imagine that if you don't know what will happen after a head of state dies, that it's better to deal with that person than risk destabilizing it - especially if they're a nuclear power.

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    2. SalvorHardin

      There must be reason that that hasn't been done. If it were doable and no consequences of concern, wouldnt you assume it would have been done? Just a hypothetical example: N. Korean army has orders to nuke S. Korea if Kim taken out.

      Delete
  11. I regard NK as a large infected boil. It will be messy, but it is probably best lanced.

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    1. "it is probably best lanced." Best for whom?

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    2. Best for the body it is on - and that body is the planet that I live on, and presumably that you do as well.

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    3. The puss that comes out could kill half of South Korea. It's hard to see the US armed forces as possessed of the surgical skill to avoid that.

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    4. One can take a metaphor to far dearieme- lol. I suspect that our forces in Korea are largely there to prevent the South Koreans from attacking the north. I wish i knew what the Japs are counseling. Is India still at china's throat?

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    5. The puss that comes out could kill half of South Korea.

      No, but they might kill a six or seven digit population in Seoul.

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  12. Maybe it's time to just get real. We're being pestered by a chihuahua that happens to have very sharp teeth, and unfortunately our ankles aren't armor-plated.

    I wonder what would happen if, through very secret back channels, we made it clear to China that we would actually be quite happy if the Chinese army were to march into North Korea and occupy it all the way down to the DMZ.

    it wouldn't take too much imagination to come up with a pretense under which this could be seen as a defensible action by the Chinese. And Little Kim would know that if he threatened to use his nukes on China, the Chinese response would be a lot more resolute than the United States'.

    We would, of course, assure the Chinese that while there would be the ritualistic concern around the world, including Washington, about Its "expansionism" and what it meant for the future, we would be quite happy with their action, even if we felt constrained from publicly expressing our enthusiasm.

    As a sweetener, we might even mention, sotto voce, that official U.S. policy would give China a pass on trade and even the South China Sea islands for a year or two.

    Give a little, get a lot. And who wouldn't rather face Chinese soldiers than the Norks across the Korean DMZ? At least the Chinese aren't lunatics.

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    Replies
    1. Nk IS China, IMHO. If China wanted to invade NK they would have done so years ago. NK is China's tool

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  13. Back when he was simply a businessman, President Trump also followed the conventional wisdom that you had to negotiate with the DPRK, treat it as a country with interests, and perhaps it would behave in a civilized manner. I suppose his angry noises at this point show that he has learned something from the failures of the Clinton, Bush II, and O administrations.

    My hope is that this will not turn into war; but also, the next time NorK has a manmade famine like the one in the 1990's, we will keep the sanctions in place in exchange for ALL of NorK's nuclear weapons [to be destroyed], and if NorK doesn't comply, let its hungry peasantry eat Communist cadre instead of its own children.

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  14. Back in 1952, Synghman Rhee warned then US Ambassador Ellis Briggs that if the Communists were not beaten decisively in Korea (including the absorption of the northern part of the Peninsula by the RoK), the whole thing would have to be fought over again somewhere else in Asia. Synghman Rhee proved right.

    While we probably have to make pious noises about "no regime change", maybe it is wiser to keep in mind that history is going to happen whether we like it or not.

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    Replies
    1. Very perhaps Gen. MacArthur was right when he wanted to nuke the Chinese hoards invading NKorea across the Yalu River and killing Americans. This was 14 years before Red China got the bomb and it might have radically changed the arc of history. Truman lost his nerve.

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    2. If the risk was that the USSR would nuke the US that was surely a wise decision by Truman. Or even if the USSR had only nuked the US army in Korea.

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  15. the lefties always say: "Of course they're going to pursue nukes.. it's the only thing that guarantees they won't be invaded by the US!"
    Umm... no.. what guarantees that they won't be invaded, is that they haven't invaded or threatened US interests.... dprk has been left alone by the US for roughly 70 years now... they did not have nuclear weapons during that time and nobody 'invaded them because they don't have nukes'.
    They have now chosen to move into uncharted territory.

    - reader #1482

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    1. "what guarantees that they won't be invaded, is that they haven't invaded or threatened US interests": are we agreeing to overlook Gaddafi? Or Assad?

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    2. Good points, dearieme. Frankly, my own preferences towards the DPRK tend towards just waiting (while being watchful) until its peasantry finally wakes up in the middle of a famine and figures it can get more nourishment from Communist cadre than from their own children.

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    3. fair point... but they're still moving from an area of 'highly unlikely to be invaded' into 'nobody has been here before'.

      I like the idea of not having to do anything about it. But I'm also pretty sure this problem is going to continue getting bigger and bigger. Maybe it's time to have potus issue some 'red line' statements. :)

      - reader #1482

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  16. Why do I suspect that NK is just being used by the Chinese as a stalking horse to distract from what they are doing in the China Sea?

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  17. A quibble. Kerry had collateral (maternal-side) relatives who were old-money wealthy. His family of origin was fancy middle class, not rich. Also, Kerry's not a blowhard. Critics in the Massachusetts political establishment described him in 1984 in a way a reporter for The New Republic summarized as 'sententious oaf' and 'the sort of prig who gives speeches to his friends'. Tiresome, yes. Blowhard, no.

    The thing about John Kerry is that he's expanded - like a gas - to fill the offices he's held. He's never been much of legislator or policy maven. Investigations are more to his liking. (Which isn't bad per se; someone in Congress has to take an interest in oversight). Underneath it all, he's a rank-and-file Boston lawyer who had a brief shining moment (four months) in a hazardous combat posting. There's nothing wrong with Kerry per se. It's just that he's spent his life dining off the latter and never acknowledging the import of the former.

    He does have the disconcerting habit of marrying women with 8-figure sums of money behind them. However, that's Teresa's money ("you have to have a prenup").

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  18. Kim Jong Un is not an idiot. You don't get to where he is now by being dumb. He knows as well as the rest of the world that in a war with the United States, North Korea will lose and he'd be out of a job and probably a good deal more. He also knows that all he has to do to avoid a war is tone down the rhetoric a bit and stop throwing missiles in the general direction of the US and her allies. Instead, he seems to be doing all he can to actually start a war he knows he can't win. The question is, why? May I suggest one possibility. Kim knows the chances of him dying in bed of old age if he stays where he is are pretty low. He also knows that if he tries to do a runner now his own people might be less than impressed, to the extent that it may be difficult for him to actually even leave the country despite being Dear Leader. However, if you couldn't care less how many other people die, and his past suggests that's our boy, why not start a war and slip away under cover of the ensuing chaos, while still being able to claim you tried your best but...? Then he can spend some quality retirement time with his sure to be legion Swiss bank accounts, Iran looks nice, and maybe take along a USB stick of nuclear secrets to sweeten the deal. Richard from Oz.

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    1. I thought his only qualification was "viewed by Kim Jong Il as his 'least untrustworthy child'" I'm sure Jong Il can't have fathered more than a few hundred children... so the competition wasn't fierce.

      - reader #1482

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    2. Be fair, Trump's only qualification is being less untrustworthy than Hellary.

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    3. Be fair, Trump's only qualification is being less untrustworthy than Hellary.

      No, his qualification was having run a business with 22,000 employees and $9.5 bn in annual revenue. His predecessor's 'qualification' was that he could be marketed like Spam-in-a-can by the likes of David Plouffe.

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  19. Give South Korea and Japan nukes...problem solved.

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    1. Hi William. Yes I'd thought about that as a solution myself. The trouble is if the USA starts handing out nukes to its mates then it's on a bit of a slippery slope, apart from all the international law, treaties etc. obligations. For starters, the Koreans were more or less supporters of the Japanese in WW2, so it'd be a bit like giving Germany nukes and expecting Poland to say, "That's a good idea!" Other S.E. Asian countries haven't forgotten WW2 and I'm afraid they would be a bit upset, to the extent they'd probably start their own nuke programs and say some very nasty things about the USA. It'd open up a can of worms you really don't want to open. Shame, because at first sight it does seem to be a good idea. Richard from Oz.

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  20. Well written!

    Don't know what contacts you still have at State. Would be interested in angst and gnashing of teeth going on there. Also, wonder if State and other agencies still maintain psychological profiles of potential enemy leaders. It's certain Russia does it, they had Obama pegged to a T.

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  21. We will need Russia's help post-Syria to deal with Iran. Let's hope 2018 elections & nature give us a more grounded Congress

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