Open thread number 2

Here’s your second discussion question of the morning; this one is political:

What do we do about North Korea?

You probably heard that yesterday North Korea launched what seems to be a two-stage Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).   Here’s a photo of it released by the DPRK:

(from NYT): A photograph released by North Korea’s official news agency on Tuesday that is said to show the intercontinental ballistic missile being launched. Credit Korean Central News Agency

As the New York Times reports;

The North Korean missile departed the Banghyon airfield in the northwestern town of Kusong and flew 578 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement. The American military said it remained aloft for 37 minutes.

While the North has made significant progress in its weapons programs, experts believe it cannot make nuclear warheads small enough to be mounted on ICBMs. Still, American policy makers have long seen just the development of an ICBM as a critical threshold the North should not be allowed to cross.

Now the missile was launched more or less vertically, but had it been aimed horizontally, it could have traveled much farther, making the U.S. worry that it could reach Alaska, and all of us worry it could reach Japan. But we needn’t worry about South Korea, for that’s a done deal: the North already has enough missiles aimed at their neighbor to destroy Seoul (just 35 miles from the border) and other cities.

The North Korean launch was a violation of UN Security Council regulations, and that body will have an emergency meeting this week. But of course nothing will happen. The only thing that can have an influence on the DPRK is China, which has already imposed some minor sanctions on thje North. But given their increasing alliance with Russia, I don’t think China is very willing to go to bat for the U.S. or its Western allies.

A military attack, which Trump has made noises about, is useless.  If we tried a preemptive strike, it would not only kill thousands of innocent and oppressed North Korean people, but would result in a massive counterattack on South Korea, with DPRK missiles raining down on Seoul and the millions of soldiers in North Korea’s huge army pouring over the border. It would be a debacle, with millions killed just because the DPRK is building missiles that it probably wouldn’t use (they’re not suicidal!). Those missiles are a threat and a bargaining chip, but few people believe that Kim Jong-un is dumb enough to launch a unilateral attack on the U.S.—or anyone else.

Sanctions aren’t working; UN resolutions aren’t working; and the threat of a preemptive strike isn’t working. What can be done?

My view is: nothing. All we can do is importune the Chinese to crack down harder on North Korea, but you’re a fool if you think that will stop the DPRK’s missile program, which will soon produce nuclear warheads. Their missile program is the only bargaining chip the DPRK has, but it’s not working that well for them unless they think it’s deterring a U.S. attack (it isn’t: the real deterrent is the North’s missiles and soldiers threatening South Korea).

Is there anything we can do? Discuss.

120 Comments

  1. Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Nothing.

  2. Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I’d have to say nothing too. For all sorts of reasons that would take more than a comment here to discuss, I’m sure.

  3. stephajl
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    sub

  4. Joseph Stans
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    offer open prayers that the lift of the rocket never gets great enough to launch large quantities and critical amounts of kimchi into orbit.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Kimchi story:
      My sister worked for a number of years for an automobile test track in Baudette, Minnesota. Auto engineers from all over the world come there each winter to test their products under cold and icy conditions. The Korean engineers had the bad habit of preparing kimchi in their rooms even though it was forbidden. When they left, the rooms had to be completely hosed down, scrubbed and repainted.

      • Posted July 6, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        Kimchi is wonderful and healthy. I eat it all the time. Though I imagine that its manufacture would stink up the location.

  5. Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I just created a whiteboard animation video for The Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation pointing out the problems with the intercepting missiles developed to blast their missiles out of the sky.

    They wrote the narration, recorded the Voice Over themselves, I created the images at their direction:

    • BJ
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Very cool, and excellent job! It’s shocking to me that money is still being poured into the GMD. For over a decade now, it has never shown any signs of being a viable solution for missile defense. And before the modern version, we had other stupid ideas for similar programs like Reagan’s idiotic Star Wars.

      • Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the compliment, BJ! It does seem like a folly to pour more money into something so unreliable. So I’m glad that message came across.

        • Jan looman
          Posted July 5, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          I remember listening to the radio once, years ago when one of these tests had failed. The reporter had asked one of the people involved in the test what this failure meant and his reply was something like “we will have to keep working to improve the system. This actually IS rocket science you know”

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Great video. Really makes the point. Is GDM the successor to Reagan’s star wars or whatever he called it?

  6. BobTerrace
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Sub

  7. Dave
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I imagine that very few people thought the Japanese would be dumb enough to launch a unilateral attack on the USA in 1941 – but they did.

    Having said that, I think you’re right that NK is building these weapons as the ultimate insurance policy against any attempt to topple the Kim regime, rather than with the aim of actually using them. Allowing them to go all the way to full ICBM capability (which they surely will, given time) still runs the risk that a nuclear war could break out accidentally, as a result of some runaway escalation or imagined “provocation”. There’s also the danger that NK might be tempted to boost its income by selling the technology to countries or groups that would be crazy enough to use it, e.g. the next version of ISIS wherever it may crop up.

    I don’t see any better options than to accept the inevitability that they will become a full-fledged nuclear power not too many years from now. The opportunity to take military action to stop their programme and topple the regime (with an acceptable level of death & destruction) has passed – it could have succeeded in the 1990s, but it’s too late now. However, I’m not confident that Donald Trump that knows this.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      “I imagine that very few people thought the Japanese would be dumb enough to launch a unilateral attack on the USA in 1941…”

      I could be wrong, but I don’t believe this is true. Japan had been threatening widening its war in China that began in 1937. The attack in 1941 was an extension of that war. Conflict was expected, but perhaps not that particular attack. The Japanese were upset because the U.S. sided with China and provided aid. They also saw the U.S. as the number one threat to their dominance in the region, (this was an accurate assessment), which at the time they were keen to expand.

      But the Japanese saber rattling began long before 1937 as a natural outgrowth of Japanese militarism that began in the 1880s culminating with the Sino- and Russo- Japanese wars in the 1890s. Tin the 1920s, under the Giishi government, then again in the early 1930s, Japan waged essentially an ongoing war with China and the region with attacks on places like Shanghai and Manchuria with the U.S. mostly siding with their enemies. By 1941, Japanese conquests and attacks had spread through the region and it was clear a confrontation with the U.S. was about to bloom. Indeed, Japan had been threatening U.S. interests the entire time, once attempting to blockade Philippine oil exports to China – a direct threat to the U.S. (the Philippines were, at the time, a U.S. possession). I think, in fact, the Japanese ambassador was in Washington D.C. on Dec 7th 1941 precisely because the U.S. had called them in to confront them about an expected attack.

      I think about the only thing that surprised anyone was the choice and timing of the target. And that the U.S. fleet at Honolulu wasn’t prepared.

      • Historian
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        My recollection (I would have to do research to be sure) concurs with your analysis. Tensions between Japan and the United States were rising for several years prior to Pearl Harbor. The Roosevelt Administration considered war a distinct possibility, particularly in the months leading up to December 7, 1941. As you note, the Japanese target was unclear with the Philippines being a likely place. Of course, the Philippines were attacked shortly after Pearl Harbor.

      • colnago80
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese fleet was, in reality, the biggest mistake that the Germans made in that, had they convinced the Japanese to attack into Siberia instead of at Pearl Harbor, the Soviet high command would have been unable to recall Siberian forces from Siberia which were instrumental in stopping the German assault in the Ukraine. An example of overconfidence by the Wehrmacht high command that such an attack was not needed to force the former Soviet Union out of the war.

        • David Coxill
          Posted July 6, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

          Don’t think it was the Ukraine ,it was the counter attack at Moscow where the troops from Siberia were used .

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      I know. We are totally and truly screwed.

    • dogugotw
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Will and Ariel Durant wrote a series of books called ‘The Story of Civilization’. One of them was focused on the Orient. The end of the book was on Japan and the tensions between Japan and the West. A line near (or at the end) of the book was something along the line of ‘We can either trade with Japan or go to war with them.’
      I immediately checked the copyright date and it was prior to the beginning of WWII.

      Based on examples like pre-WWII Japan and Cuba, I think the only logical thing to do is open an actual dialog with NK and try and bring them into the larger world. When countries trade, the chance of armed conflict goes down. That was kind of the idea of NATO and it seems to work.

      Side note: war in NK will be horrid for our military, specifically the aviation community. The entire country is one giant surface to air missile site and if we try and send in fighter jets or bombers, they’re going to be decimated.

      • phil
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

        The appeal of missiles is that they are relatively cheap and don’t use human pilots, pilots who are expensive and time consuming to train, and difficult to replace. That doesn’t mean they are effective though. Many countries, including the US, have various methods intended specifically to neutralise missile threats, such as RADAR avoiding aircraft (e.g. B2 bomber and F-22 fighter), SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) air teams tasked specifically to destroy or disable missile and RADAR sites, and EW (Electronic Warfare) units, such as the The Growler, primarily jammers intended to blind RADARs essential for missile guidance. Attack planes carry their own systems for defeating missiles, such as laser jammers, RADAR jammers and flares.

        The first task in an air war is to blind the enemy you are attacking, something the Germans failed to appreciate or accomplish over Britain during WW2. That more or less ensured their failure in the second most important task, achieving air superiority over Britain. And lets not forget the availability of drones, which cost a small fraction of equivalent piloted aircraft and which don’t put their pilots at risk. Some drones are intended to merely distract and confuse enemy air defence units so other “assets” can get in and out unmolested, or to provoke the enemy to turn on RADARs so they can be targeted by RADAR seeking missiles. Some drones collect intelligence, and some drones are equipped to attack. The US is also developing unpiloted combat aircraft.

        That’s not to say that any of these systems, missiles or countermeasures, will work as hoped, but South Korea, Japan, the US, Russia and China all have more sophisticated and more effective armaments than Nth Korea. Nth Korea already has something more deadly than its missilies, as far as Sth Korea is concerned. It has many many thousands of artillery tubes pointed at the south, and it is probable they could do much more damage more easily and cheaply than Nth Korean missiles. Also I understand there is quite extensive tunneling under the DMZ and beyond into Sth Korea. A strategically placed nuke that is too big to fit on a missile can easily be carried into Sth Korea on a mine truck, undetected, and detonated with devastating effect. Assuming it works of course, and reliability has not been a hallmark of Nth Korean weapons tests, missile or nuke. AFAIK by comparison the US conducted only one weapon test before successfully nuking Japan with two significantly different weapons in 1945.

        All that aside, I suspect that doing nothing overtly military is probably the best way to deal with Nth Korea, and yes, trade might be the most effective way to engage.

      • dogugotw
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Just ran across this in my feed.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/democrats-north-korea/532770/

  8. keefer
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Let’s tell ISIS North Korea has been making fun of the prophet…

    • David Duncan
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Let’s tell North Korea ISIS has been making fun of Kim Jong-un’s hairstyle…

  9. BJ
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    “My view is: nothing. All we can do is importune the Chinese to crack down harder on North Korea…”

    Exactly. There is literally nothing to be done beyond what the world has already been doing: continue to pour as much economic punishment on the regime as possible, while trying to nudge China into doing the same and to the same level (and China has become increasingly tired of the DPRK’s BS over the last few years). Every other option will result in the deaths of millions — perhaps even tens of millions — and enormous economic destruction as well. There are no other options beyond those already exercised.

    This question isn’t nearly as complicated as the first, despite dealing with a precarious political situation 🙂

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. North Korea needs China. China really doesn’t need North Korea (except possibly as some sort of distraction). NK is useless as a buffer state (between them and whom? South Korea? China could crush South Korea like a bug if it should ever come to that (and I hope the chances of that scenario arising are vanishingly remote). Russia? China has thousands of miles of borders with Russia already, NK just accounts for a trifling few miles.

      If NK just imploded in a puff of (non-nuclear) smoke tomorrow, I doubt China would lose a night’s sleep over it.

      cr

  10. claudia baker
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I don’t have any answer to the question, but I do worry about the NK threat. It is surprising to me that no one in NK has assassinated the Dear Leader yet.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      … or from outside NK. I wonder if there are plans in some secret vault somewhere for giving him the OBL treatment

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      Where are the CIA and their exploding cigars when you really need them?

  11. DrBeydon
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Nothing we can do except convince the leadership of North Korea that if they start something, neither they nor their political beliefs will survive. The problem is not that they now have nuclear weapons, it’s that for decades they have held Seoul as a hostage to fate.

  12. Phil Rounds
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The key to N.K. is China…But Trump and the Republicans are so infirm in their foreign policy that the Chinese will never take them seriously. Right now every country is at once our ally AND our adversary. That crap might play well on third rate reality TV shows, but in actual international relations it’s a formula for doubt and distrust.

    So the answer seems to be “nothing”. But here’s what i’d like to see;
    The Chinese squeeze the little dictator’s economy until his military begins to starve and they overthrow the regime. North Korea makes an alliance with the South and they unite economically in a 2 state union.

    China gains an economically successful regional trading partner and gets rid of Kim Jong-Loose Cannon. The world sees China as becoming more progressive and so they get points for that. It’s a win/win for China and no one gets shot at.

    • BJ
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      “The key to N.K. is China…But Trump and the Republicans are so infirm in their foreign policy that the Chinese will never take them seriously.”

      This situation is not something you can blame on Trump. There is not a single administration one could point to that shows a more diplomatic President/cabinet could somehow convince China to stop helping NK. It has never happened before, so it can’t possibly be Trump’s fault now.

    • Chris Swart
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      It would be a win for China, IMO too, but I’m not sure that China sees a resurgent united Korea, a strong USA ally, on it’s border, as an asset.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Yes. While NK is probably an embarrassment to China, they would (I think) not be overjoyed to see South Korea expand into NK, OR for that matter for Russia to take over. They probably wouldn’t be so upset as to go to war over it, but while they can keep Kim Jong-whatever more or less under control and under their influence it’s to their advantage to do so.

        cr

        • Posted July 5, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          …. and according to President Donald China’s trade with Nth Korea has increased by 40% this year. Hmm is this a lie?
          The US trade deficit with China may keep China playing both sides for some time to come.
          China is walking on glass, for one day they may have to open a box to find out who’s side they are in alignment with.
          I see also China doing the panda diplomacy with Germany… a force on the up and at the expense of the US.

  13. Historian
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    In today’s NYT, Nicholas Kristof discusses the poor choices the U.S. and the world face in dealing with North Korea. He concludes that diplomacy is the only hope to get North Korea to limits its nuclear and missile programs. I doubt that this will work either because North Korea believes these programs are what gains it respect in the world. The only real hope is that over time North Korea can be drawn out of its isolation and paranoia so it realizes that an attack against it is not imminent. Unfortunately, I don’t think Trump will help this process. If and until this happens the world will have to live with the notion that a cataclysm can erupt at any moment.

    https://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/five-blunt-truths-about-the-north-korea-crisis/?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

    • BJ
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      “I doubt that this will work either because North Korea believes these programs are what gains it respect in the world. The only real hope is that over time North Korea can be drawn out of its isolation and paranoia so it realizes that an attack against it is not imminent.”

      NK is, in many ways, correct about their standing in the world and how their missile and nuclear programs help them: nobody has respect for them (they’re the Rodney Dangerfield of countries, with the difference being that NK doesn’t deserve any respect), everyone would like to see them overthrown, and if they wish to maintain the type of completely hermetic dictatorship they possess now (which the elites who control the country do), such programs are likely the only way to do so. A regime that has been dealing with the entire world wishing its overthrow for decades and which has demonstrated paranoia beyond any modern equivalent will never be coaxed out of its shell. Trump or no Trump, having even the most skilled diplomats in the world at the helm will not change the situation. In the past, when NK has actually come to the table to “negotiate,” it has turned out every single time to be a ploy to prolong their defense and nuclear programs, and wrangle concessions from others without providing any of their own. Diplomacy should continue as an effort just because, but it will never be effective.

  14. rickflick
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I agree that not much can be done. I think the diplomats should try to arrange direct discussions with NK. Find out if they can be appeased without giving away too much. It looks like they actually want only to be acknowledged and given some respect. It would cost very little to give in to some of their demands to get some cooperation on weapons. It’s very unlikely they well ever initiate war.

  15. Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Well, we could, for starters, formally end the Korean War with a full peace agreement supplanting the cease-fire. Both sides fought long and hard enough; the time for war is past and the time for peace at hand.

    And we could then follow the peace agreement with a normalization of trade. Let the money and goods flow across the border where bombs and bullets once flew.

    To help kick-start the economy, we could pay cash for all their nuclear weapons. As a gesture of friendship, we could give to them enough industrial-scale solar photovoltaic generating capacity (that we buy from China) to replace their nuclear power generators.

    That won’t solve all the problems, but it’d solve the worst of them and set us on the path to take care of the rest.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Ah, a positive and historically aware reply. I was just wondering before I read this why NK is so “bad”. Also, I tend to smell a rat whenever a foreign leader is demonized to such an extent. Remember Hussein and Ghadaffi, to name but two.

      One can also question the historical reasons that China supports NK so much. Of course they have ever since the Korean War … didn’t end, as Ben says.

      • phil
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 2:01 am | Permalink

        Yeah I remember Hussein and Ghadaffi. I remember Pan Am Flight 103 and the Halabja chemical attack too.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      This is, or something like it, I think the only solution.

      Some part of me wonders why this has never been tried before* – helping the people of erstwhile enemies by empowering them to change from within. It usually only happens after they are mostly slaughtered. First choice is always war. Only after the war is there an attempt reconstruct a society and – hey PRESTO!- it works! Mostly, anyway. The nasty government and dysfunctional society in place before is transformed.

      So perhaps it’s tine to try this strategy first, before lots of people die. In this case I do believe it would succeed spectacularly as once the people of NK see what the rest of the world has they are going to want it too. No government opposed to a people so motivated today would stand (I believe).

      *But then I remember we’re just naked apes and I think; “oh yeah, that’s why”.

      • phil
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        It has probably never been tried before because it would be seen as rewarding immoral behaviour.

        Germany and Japan were rebuilt after WW2 to serve as a bulwark against communism, partly for geographical reasons but also to serve as examples of how wonderful capitalism is (that’s not intended as an endorsement). Remember the Morgenthau Plan, and don’t forget that humiliation of the defeated nations was implemented before reconstruction commenced.

    • Historian
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      A peace treaty would be nice, but it is easier said than done, considering that 64 years have gone by since the armistice without one. It would be very difficult to negotiate a treaty that both sides would feel provides them with security, particularly considering North Korea’s paranoia. I doubt that North Korea would sell their nuclear weapons and even if they did, they could always build more. A peace treaty may come someday, but that day is decades away. Maintaining the status quo, i.e., no war, is the best we can hope for in the short and medium terms, such as was the case with the Cold War.

      • Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        I agree that ending the war and working toward normalizing and expanding relations would put us in the right direction, but this cannot be done unilaterally. I would expect that Kim Jong-un would strongly resist such a move since his position and the general leadership position depends on the status quo.

      • Posted July 5, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        It takes two to tango. We’ve been as unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with the Kims as they’ve been to negotiate with us.

        The path to peace isn’t even complicated; it simply involves in putting to official paper exactly that which everybody is saying over and over again.

        North Korea stands unbowed and unbeatable against the greatest military empire the Earth has ever seen. We can’t conquer them; they’ll never be conquered. Even should we try to obliterate them, our own destruction would be practically assured.

        And, at the same time, we can’t be conquered, either — though the North sure as hell can bloody the fucking shit out of us, maybe even destroy us.

        Also at the same time, we all want to see peace reign on a reunited Korean peninsula.

        It’s also clear that the terms of reunification desired by each side are incompatible with each other…but, at the same time, we can take baby steps on that path that everybody would be happy with and leave the question of reintegration for a later day.

        Those steps?

        Stop pointing all those fucking guns at each other, start trading goods and services.

        Just imagine the sort of manufacturing powerhouse North Korea could become overnight if they ordered some of their laborers to start making shirts and car parts and what-not. The regime could seriously undercut the prices of everybody else around, including China — and there’s no shortage of disciplined workers. And we already know that the North is desperate for cash.

        Once the economies are integrated, we can worry about the political map. At that point, it won’t be any harder than East and West Germany.

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

        • phil
          Posted July 6, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

          It might take two to tango but there are at least six dancers on the floor: Nth & Sth Koreas, Japan, US, China and Russia. Getting everyone to agree is a bit more complicated.

          The two Koreas might see unification as the desired end goal but with completely different and incompatible conditions, whereas the US and Japan want to see demilitarisation of the north as the primary goal. China probably wants a compliant, manageable neighbour which acts as a buffer against Sth Korea and at the same time doesn’t generate a humanitarian crisis that would see millions of Nth Koreans pouring over the border.

          “And, at the same time, we can’t be conquered, either — though the North sure as hell can bloody the fucking shit out of us, maybe even destroy us.”

          So you’re saying “we” can’t be conquered but maybe “we” could be destroyed? Who are “we” btw?

          The US is currently under no significant military threat from Nth Korea, unless it invades Nth Korea and even then the threat is only to US military personnel and US prestige. The latest missile has enough range to just barely reach Alaska. Sarah Palin might just be able to see it coming from her front porch but her house is probably safe. Northern Australia is under greater threat, though there is not a lot up there worth hitting, except perhaps the port in Darwin which coincidentally is owned or leased by a Chinese company so maybe it is safe.

          • Posted July 6, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

            So you’re saying “we” can’t be conquered but maybe “we” could be destroyed?

            If there’s any hotspot on the globe most likely to kick off WWIII, it’s the Korean peninsula. And if you think any global power is going to survive global thermonuclear war….

            No, North Korea itself can’t destroy the US or any other major power. But they sure as Hell can ignite the spark that sends us all to Hell.

            …in case I have to spell it out: North Korea, for whatever reason, detonates a nuclear bomb in a civilian population center, most likely Seoul or Tokyo. Drumpf orders a B-52 to nuke Pyongyang; China intercepts the bomber. Or Drumpf orders a nuclear missile attack, and China sees our missiles headed their direction and launches. Or our nuclear attack against Pyongyang succeeds and China has its fleet attempt to “escort” all remaining US forces far, far away from its territory…

            …or any of countless other scenarios. Basically, there’s almost no path that opens with North Korea nuking a city that ends without everybody nuking everybody else in an orgy of nuclear retaliation.

            Cheers,

            b&

            >

            • phil
              Posted July 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

              I would have thought that if “we” are destroyed by any process “we” would have been conquered.

              I don’t dismiss the broad reach of any of your scenarios, except (1) that a B-52 strike would be most inappropriate (there are more appropriate assets available), and (2) an ICBM strike against Korea is likely to alert the Russians first, (3) as powerful as China is militarily I doubt very much that seeing off the US Navy would be any easy task for it, especially if alliances with SK and Japan hold (bear in mind that the US spends more on their military than just about the rest of the world combined).

              Also, I don’t consider it impossible that NK could piss off everybody just enough that nobody comes to their aid if they were attacked. In neither World War did the US show up at the start: WW1 was nearly over by the time the US became involved, and in WW2 it took a direct attack on the US to get them to the party.

              To finish, I have never heard or seen an explanation of why nuclear release anywhere would necessarily result in global nuclear war. I can think of scenarios where it might, but also scenarios where it wouldn’t.

  16. Veroxitatis
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Agree nothing. The weaponry and sabre rattling is all for domestic consumption. I fear however that Dump may be looking for his Falklands moment.

    • Historian
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Since North Korea is not Argentina, this war would never be a Falklands moment. I hope Trump realizes this.

  17. Craw
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I am less sanguine than you about the rationality of ideological (or theocratic) governments. I don’t know if a regime decapitation is possible, but it’s worth thinking about.
    It might indeed be too late to do anything now. It was not too late 8 years ago.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Everybody who fantasizes about “regime decapitation” or other euphemisms for the apocryphal short and victorious war…

      …is overlooking the fact that Seoul is within easy artillery range of the border. And, as soon as the grunts on the north side of that border learn that the Dear Leader is under attack (or worse), they obliterate Seoul…and we’re off to WWIII as the South responds in kind.

      No, I don’t give a damn what sort of path your fantasy takes. The North Koreans are more than smart enough to implement redundant always-open lines of communication with dead-man switches and what-not.

      However you think your script plays out, page two is always Seoul get destroyed, and page three is WWIII.

      And, until world leadership is ready to accept that that’s reality as it is, never mind how much they might wish it were otherwise or could have been, we’re not going to have peace on the Korean peninsula.

      So it’s a moral outrage that the Kims are an absolute dictatorial dynasty? Tough shit. Grow up and stop waving your dicks back at them.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • BJ
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Agreed on everything you’ve said, except the end. The world accepted long ago that war with NK isn’t a viable solution. Beyond economic sanction, which have been carried out to the greatest extent possible, there is nothing else but dick-waving left. You proposed a cascade of solutions in your comment #15, but I don’t see how the process you laid out is possible. It all starts with NK accepting an end to the war/peace process, which will never happen. NK still wants reunification of the two Koreas, naturally under their dictatorial regime and ideology. SK will never accept that, nor should they. Further, the idea that NK is always at war with the world is one of the biggest foundations for the continued existence of the NK regime, as it’s their number one propaganda tool among the populace over which they rule.

        Furthermore, NK will never trust the rest of the world enough to believe that it actually wants a peaceful resolution, and will never sit down and negotiate such a resolution in good faith. And even if an “end” to the war is reached, normalizing trade would simply be pumping money into the most brutal and dangerous government in all the world. Nobody can know what the NK government would do with such an enormous influx of money, but the best guess would be that they would pump it into furthering the danger they pose to their neighbors and the rest of the world with better missiles, better nuclear programs, and better overall defensive and offensive capabilities. It’s not like the regime will ever allow real inspections to take place within the country.

        • BobTerrace
          Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          I agree.

        • Chris Swart
          Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Yes.

        • Leigh Jackson
          Posted July 6, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          Yes. Whether or not there is a regional or global WWIII with or without nuclear weapons depends on Trump, Xi Jinping, Putin and Kim Jong-un.

          Can any of these men be absolutely trusted not to launch the first attack?

          Are they not all a moment of insanity away from doing it?

          • Posted July 6, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            Xi is the adult in the room — as shocking as that is to Westerners.

            Putin is a power-mad tyrant. Kim has a tiger by the tail; whether or not the tiger is going where he wants is immaterial. And Drumpf is an ass and an idiot whose balls are being so gently cradled by Putin’s iron fist.

            Can a lone adult protect the other three from themselves? It seems unlikely, but it does help that they’re all at least as much afraid of the fire as they’re fascinated by it.

            Cheers,

            b&

            >

      • phil
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 2:27 am | Permalink

        Maybe we could fart in their general direction.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      What are the options you think existed eight years ago? N. Korea has long had massive artillery massed just north of the de-militarized zone. (The DPRK has approximately 8,000 pieces of heavy artillery there, and has over 5,000 mobile missile launchers at its disposal. It’s capable can putting a shell in every square meter of Seoul in a matter of hours.)

  18. Steve Gerrard
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Ignore them. There is nothing else to do, and nuclear weapons in general are an idle threat.

    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      “…nuclear weapons in general are an idle threat.”

      The problem with this theory is nuclear weapons are generally held by rational actors. NK isn’t just a country, it’s a nationalistic cult ideology that has a military. Does the dear leader believe much of the nonsense his propaganda department tells his people? It’s impossible to know, but he wouldn’t be the first. The structure of his society, the constant fawning, applause and affirmation by underlings (and severe punishments for those who displease) only serve to reinforce irrational thinking.

      We have heard from people who escape from NK that many believe the propaganda. NK has all the ingredients for a regime to go insane, (if it can’t be described as such already) like so many cults have. To suggest cult like leaders won’t take others with them also ignores history. It’s what egomaniac cult leaders often do.

  19. David Duncan
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Nothing. Just leave them alone. They want attention, aid, etc. Don’t give it to them.

    Even a nuclear attack on their C&C structure, sub bases, southward pointing artiliry, etc won’t be effective enough. Let them know they’ll be annihilated if they launch a major pre-emptive attack. Otherwise just ignore their posturing.

    I think China can play a useful role, as any sort of war in NK will be very bad for them. We should all stop trying to buy them off/threaten them.

  20. busterggi
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Well how about we remove all the sanctions & give NK a sweetheart economic deal that will allow even the poorest NKean citizen a chance to enter the ’90’s?

    Kim can rule a subjugated population but can he rule one that has a large taste of freedom?

    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      This assumes that the people of North Korea would see any freedom or improvement in their situation. It’s just as likely any improvements in the economy would be siphoned off by the leadership and the military, as is already being done.

      The North Korean leadership appear to care very little about the general population and most certainly don’t want them to get a taste of freedom.

  21. David Harper
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    “Now the missile was launched more or less vertically, but had it been aimed horizontally, it could have traveled much farther, making the U.S. worry that it could reach Alaska, and all of us worry it could reach Japan.”

    I’m not a rocket scientist, but I suspect that all ICBMs fly vertically during the first part of their flight, since they need to get above the densest part of the Earth’s atmosphere as rapidly as possible to reduce drag forces. Then the angle of flight is adjusted to give them some horizontal velocity to take them down-range, but they would never be horizontal during powered flight.

  22. John J. Fitzgerald
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Ben Goren #15 makes sense. I think we need to extend diplomatic recognition to NK. We might want to help them clear out the unexploded ordinance that we dropped on them from 1950 to 1953. Open trade and relations with NK and SK and sell some of our surplus food to NK. If weapons are bargaining chips then we should start bargaining. The same policy that Obama used with Iran might be relevant here. NK has a military dictatorship for a government. They might want to continue the status quo.Talking to them seems the wisest course. There are elements in the Pentagon that support the status quo.
    John J. Fitzgerald

  23. docbill1351
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Nothing can be done. The North Korean people’s revolution will have to happen internally and the chances of that are zero.

    Think about it. Generations of North Koreans have been raised to work, obey and revere Dear Leader. Their life is what they know. What aspirations does a North Korean have other than to avoid prison?

  24. J. Quinton
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I think we should foment rebellion among N. Koreans. Maybe give free wi-fi to everyone on the peninsula

    • Historian
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      I trust you are jesting.

      • Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Indeed…the West has been broadcasting radio and TV into North Korea for forever. The North is well practiced at jamming the broadcasts and killing those of its own discovered to be receiving them. Their families, too.

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

  25. Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    If “we” still had republicans like Nixon (!) one could hope for a “Only Trump can go to Pyongyang” moment, but …

  26. Otternaut
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Diplomacy, with sanctions regime agreements if achievable. Planned retaliation only if/when North Korea launches first strike against any ally (which I truly believe they never will).

  27. Pliny the in Between
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Once NK has a sufficiently mature ICBM program, they may have an additional source of hard currency to develop it further. How many regional powers will line up to acquire both missiles and access to the warheads. Since none is an enemy of NK there would be little downside.

  28. Frank Bath
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    A sustained propaganda campaign aimed at informing the North Koreans about South Korea and its standard of living would be a good thing. I don’t know how this could be done or how much is already being done, but we should in every way try to separate the NK citizenry from its masters.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      As I just noted in another reply, we’ve been trying just that since the bullets were flying during the war. The North knows how to jam broadcasts, as well as how to kill those who receive them — along with their families.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Mark R.
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        What about dropping millions of leaflets? Would the regime kill anyone who picked one up and read it? Don’t know if the populace can read. Leaflets with photos?

        Re. South Korea…they are highly prejudiced against the North. I don’t think they would welcome them with open arms. They sure don’t do it now.

        • Posted July 5, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure leaflets have been tried…but the planes (drones / whatever) used to distribute them today would be assumed hostile, shot down, and possibly replied to with a similar excursion substituting explosives for paper.

          b&

          >

          • phil
            Posted July 6, 2017 at 2:56 am | Permalink

            What about stealth drones!

            Coincidentally they are replaying MASH over here and last night (I think) they played the ep when a CIA “bomb” lands in the compound. It was full of leaflets urging Nth Koreans to surrender.

  29. Babbington
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    A lot of support here for ‘do nothing,’ but I don’t think it’s much preferable to war. The three main problems I see are (1) at some point, there’s some kind of coup against the Kim dynasty, and the leaders, seeing all is lost, give the US a nuking; (2) some border dispute gets out of hand, leading to the US getting nuked; or (3) NK selling the tech to other Very Bad Places like Iran or Saudi Arabia. We should be very, very worried about (3), too – nuclear proliferation is hugely dangerous, and increases the chances of the wrong people getting their hands on the wrong things. It only takes one bomb going missing (or being sold clandestinely) to wipe out a US city. Could be your home. My understanding is that more could be done diplomatically, and I don’t think there will ever come a point at which there’s a clear necessity for the US to start this war, but I certainly would not begrudge any president who decided that this tumor simply has to be excised.

    Also, if NK is allowed to get away with doing this, it’s (another) huge encouragement to others wanting to do the same. Some day nukes will go off in cities, whether by government action or loss of control by governments, and when that happens it’s highly likely that it will not be in Ghana or Paraguay, but in major first world countries that it happens.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      A lot of support here for ‘do nothing,’ but I don’t think it’s much preferable to war.

      War with North Korea means tens of millions of civilians dead in Seoul, and very likely millions dead in Japan as well — and that’s just on the first day. The global economic cost, if the war lasts just that one day, would be counted in the multiple trillions of dollars, making the recent recession (never mind 9-11 / Fukushima / Katrina / Chernobyl / etc.) look like peanuts.

      If that’s not enough deterrence for you, consider that odds are good that you yourself will likely lose your job, whatever it is, in the resulting economic chaos…and, if that happens, you’ll almost certainly wind up homeless without health insurance.

      Are you eager to die of heat stroke under a freeway overpass for the sake of excising the tumor that is Kim? And how do you justify sacrificing the life of, say, my wife’s best friend in Tokyo? Is it worth her dying from a Korean missile attack just so Drumpf can try to prove that his dick is bigger than Kim’s?

      The astute will note that I’ve not mentioned the millions of lives in North Korea that will assuredly be lost in war as well. That’s because nobody in the West even stops a moment to include them in such calculations, as they’re clearly perfectly worthless. Not even up to the level of livestock, it would seem.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Babbington
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Fair enough – I’m not saying war is an attractive option at all, or even the preferable one. But our current course could quite easily bring everything you just listed, but on the streets of Chicago and Washington as well as Seoul and Tokyo. What we have at the moment looks very much like a slow-motion car crash. And I’m inclined to think that a very big bonus indeed goes to the side that strikes first in Korea – i.e., we might be able to save your wife’s friend in Tokyo but only if we strike first.

        There are no good options here; I just think the current direction is far worse than most of the ‘do nothing’ crowd think. We are losing control and are less safe all the time.

        • Posted July 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          Maybe the match will be lit tomorrow, and, should it be lit, the fire will be terrible.

          But the fire will be just as terrible if we light the match today.

          And, if we light the match today, there is no question but that there will be a terrible fire.

          If we don’t light the match today, we will at least have another day without the terrible fire, plus the possibility that the fire might not get lit tomorrow after all.

          Lastly, for the fire to never to be lit…only requires us to not light it today, on every day when that day is today.

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

          • Babbington
            Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            …and yet if we act now, we might be able to limit the scale of the fire, and keep it from our own houses. Otherwise, it might turn out to be all-consuming.

            No good choices.

            • Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

              No.

              You’re standing in a puddle of gasoline and your shoes are soaked.

              You’re worried that, if you keep standing there, your pants will get soaked, too, so maybe you should light the match and drop it in the puddle before that happens.

              The wise person will not light the match, encourage everybody else to refrain from lighting the match, and work together to shut off the gas pump and clean up the mess before a random spark sets off the fire.

              Cheers,

              b&

              >

              • Veroxitatis
                Posted July 5, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

                +10.

              • Colin McLachlan
                Posted July 6, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

                Well put.

              • phil
                Posted July 6, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

                I think you are neglecting the fact that NK has yet to demonstrate that it has a nuke that it can deliver by any means other than a large truck. They are probably working on that, but my point is that they will be much more dangerous then than they are now.

                Without a nuke tipped missile they don’t pose much of a direct threat to Japan or the US. They don’t have naval assets that present any credible threat to the US Navy, nor Japan’s for that matter, so long as the US and Japan stay away from the Korean coast. Even if they launch a missile, SK, Japan, and the US Navy all have anti-ballistic missile systems. Their performance is not proven, any more than NK ballistic missile are, but right now it is unlikely NK has an arsenal that really presents a serious threat, although that is likely to change as I say. I reckon a more accurate picture might be that you’re standing in a puddle of petrol but your boots and trousers aren’t soaked yet.

                Bring back the Nike Sprint I say! I’m not serious, but the Sprint certainly was a serious piece of gear for something that was not an offensive weapon.

          • Rita
            Posted July 5, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            +1

      • Posted July 6, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        The “That’s because nobody in the West even stops a moment to include them in such calculations, as they’re clearly perfectly worthless” is one of the reasons why they are so angry (and belligerent) – the treatment of the N. in the war (including, from what I understand, bombing of dams) was horrible.

    • phil
      Posted July 6, 2017 at 3:01 am | Permalink

      “…when that happens it’s highly likely that it will not be in Ghana or Paraguay, but in major first world countries that it happens.”

      …like Santa Fe, although it will probably be due to incompetence and not malevolent intent.

  30. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    There’s an article by Mark Bowden at The Atlantic with an overview of this situation with the DPRK.

    • Chris Swart
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for posting.

  31. Curtis
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    We need to look at what we did with Soviet Union and repeat it as best we can. This means increasing openness and helping their dissidents. Obviously, the Kim dynasts know history and do their best to prevent this but it’s about all we can do.

    This is not a good answer but better than “nothing”.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      The Soviet Union isn’t the example to model.

      Germany is the example to model.

      You’d be hard-pressed to find a more successful, powerful, and largely independent country than Germany today — and, yet, they were every bit as torn and divided and set upon as the Koreas.

      If Germany can go from a bombed-to-hell wreck after WWII to its position today as the foundation of the EU mostly carrying the weight of the rest of the continent on its shoulders — and do it all in a generation — why can’t Korea do the same for Asia?

      The South is well on its way, but can’t do it without the North. The North has already demonstrated its ability by withstanding the American military; just imagine if they put the same determination and resources into building the Korean economy.

      Make money, not war.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Germany? Germany had just unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. How would you administer a North Korean Marshall Plan without control of the government?

        • Posted July 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          Of course the implementation is going to be unique; some of what worked in Germany will work elsewhere, some won’t.

          If the Korean peninsula is going to have a peaceful future, the Kim dynasty is going to live long and prosper.

          It may not sit well with people, especially those who feel the urge to retributive “justice” and are consumed with bloodlust and the “need” to exact revenge.

          Nevertheless, a peaceful future for the peninsula is going to have to be peaceful for everybody, whether or not they “deserve” it, whether or not you want them to have it. By definition: deny them peace, and you have war — a war that you yourself likely ignited.

          Once you can come to peace with yourself over the fact that the Kims aren’t going anywhere, you can envision a future for their lineage, a future that the West helps bring to fruition, wherein they eventually become the same sort of titular monarch as in England and Japan. Initially, the closer model would be Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

          If you recognize that, in terms of internal political organization, it’s not that far of a leap from North Korea to Saudi Arabia…you should also be able to recognize that such a regime would, indeed, be quite capable of implementing the mechanics of reconstruction and modernization.

          If you’ve read much of what I’ve written on Jerry’s site, you’ll know that I see Saudi Arabia today as worse than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and just about the single country towards which I have the greatest contempt and disrespect. And, yet, they’re not as bad as North Korea — and a world in which North Korea was lifted to the level of Saudi Arabia would be a much better place, and headed in the right direction. (Contrasted, of course, with Iraq, which went from being as much better than Saudi Arabia as Saudi Arabia is better than North Korea, to Iraq being about on par with North Korea and headed further down.)

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

      • phil
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

        “Make money, not war.”

        Hard to argue with that.

        “The North has already demonstrated its ability by withstanding the American military”

        When did they do that? As I understand the sequence of events the north invaded the (US supported but dodgy) south, and SK collapsed. Then the US with UN assistance got involved and stomped on the NKs. Then China got involved, supplying large numbers of troops. As I recall the North Korean army wasn’t much use by that stage, and if anything it was the Chinese army, with Russian assistance, that the UN coalition did not defeat, so everybody settled on a sort of peace and went home.

        I agree with your earlier point that Germany is an example to follow, and similarly Japan and Sth Korea. The major problem is that Germany wasn’t rebuilt out of the goodness of anybody’s hearts. The original plan was to make Germany into an agricultural backwater without the capacity to rebuild its armed forces, but the rise of the USSR convinced those in power that it would better serve as a buffer against communist expansion in Europe. I can’t see the same motivation would pertain so while it is a worthy idea I doubt it would have as much support.

  32. Kevin
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t South Korea just surrender to North Korea? Have the best and brightest from South Korea move to US, Japan, China, Malaysia, Europe, Australia, etc. A slow peaceful takeover.

    Just the physical takeover would conceptually overwhelm citizens of North Korea. Even if every person left South Korea, they would leave marks of democracy and ideologies so orthogonal to anything North Koreans are use to their society would crumble.

    • Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The current Kim would be far too brutal to the South for outright surrender to make sense.

      …but something drawing inspiration from Hong Kong might not be the worst idea: set a date a century from now for the handover to take place, contingent on various factors such as economic output, demilitarization, and so on.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

  33. RossR
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Kim may or may not be certifiably insane, but the problem is surely that he (and his people) believe he is a God. I wouldn’t credit him with any instincts for self-preservation – he has no need of them – and he certainly places no value on anyone else’s life.

  34. Hempenstein
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    In a perfect world, China is prevailed upon to invite Kim for a visit, and he either disappears or they impound him.

    • Posted July 6, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      And that will likely provoke the massive retaliation described. I imagine that the NK regime already portrays the Chinese as partially evil because they work with the US on trade and such. (If this is acknowledged at all.)

      • phil
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        On the plus side, if NK attacked China who would take NK’s side? They are already pariahs on the world stage. Hell, even the US might see some value in coming to China’s aid.

        Having said that, Kim is part of a dynasty and there is likely to be a successor in the wings to take over.

        Personally I think our best hope is for the Kims to just die out or kill each other off, or an internal revolt, although the latter is unlikely to be without repercussions for the outside world.

  35. Vaal
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I am equal parts frightened about the threat of NK’s nuclear program, AND about the fact we have Donald Trump in power during such a crises. (Or any crises. Or any time…but this really makes me wish an adult was in control of the USA more than ever)

  36. Charles Sawicki
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Ignore them other than to apply sanctions. There is no good solution. I think that the N. Korean leadership is far more rational than many believe when it comes to their personal survival. In the past we relied on MAD with the Soviets. On several occasions we came very close to nuclear war, but thru luck avoided it. In the case of war with N. Korea destruction would hardly be mutual. China wont cripple the N. Korean economy to stop the nuclear program as they don’t want millions of refugees on their border.
    NK won’t give up their nukes since they have good reason to distrust the USA. The bombing of their irrigation dams,in the Korean war,(considered, by many, to be a war crime) leaves a lasting impression. Similar illegal targeting of civilian infrastructure resulted in the execution of Nazis at Nuremberg.

  37. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Our real peril here is in having a commander-in-chief of the US military who is completely unprepared — by experience, by learning, and by temperament — to deal with this situation. Our president loves to talk tough, but has no apparent plan to back it up. Donald Trump’s tough talk will not deter Kim Jong-un.

    My fear is that Trump’s fragile ego will compel him to make good on his threats. Or that, as the Russiagate noose tightens around him (as it quite likely will), he will make a military move to divert the nation’s attention.

  38. nicky
    Posted July 6, 2017 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    Give 35 million smart phones to NK, + free Wifi, and lace the Champagne the rulers order with oxytocin!

    • nicky
      Posted July 6, 2017 at 4:00 am | Permalink

      I mean, put flippantly above, buying them off might be much cheaper -even just in money terms- than fighting a devastating war.

  39. somer
    Posted July 6, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I agree on really theres nothing we can do = all the options are bad and we certainly don’t want to escalate tensions. Having the military rocket shooter in South Korea now probably isn’t a bad thing tho
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/the-worst-problem-on-earth/528717/?utm_source=twb

  40. Posted July 6, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    What North Korea is trying to do is to increase its bargaining chips as much as possible by developing the ability to attack the United States. Of course, the status quo is less dire than that of Cold War as North Korea isn’t powerful enough to fulfill the condition of a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). You can be assured that North Korea sees the fulfillment of this condition as ideal because it would mean getting the most concessions out of this deal. The U.S President, as much as he is oblivious to statesmanship, understands this geopolitical ploy because it is about making a deal. No one knows if Kim is sane, but if he is, he will yield and cease brinkmanship when US provides a real ultimatum. If he isn’t, then Japan and South Korea will suffer what they must. Delaying this any further would be irresponsible, just as Donald Trump himself had accused of his own predecessors. The consequences of dealing with North Korea will only be on an upward trend. This must be dealt with swiftly using threats and force. The diplomatic approach has shown that Kim isn’t going to settle down on a deal without a genuine ultimatum. The politicians and geopolitical pundits need to stop living in the denial that a diplomatic method is still a worthy solution to consider at this stage.

  41. Posted July 6, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    We can’t do nothing. We must oppose North Korea and subvert its horrible regime. War is premature but there must be things we are not doing enough of now. We need to ramp of funding for dissident groups, and apply maximum pressure on China to assist.

    Jerry – do nothing! really?? This is not how the west won the cold war.

  42. Bill
    Posted July 6, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Here is a radical suggestion: How about if we try and make peace with them? It is now 64 years after the cease fire in 1953 and we are still trying to fight that war. Let’s swallow our pride, sign a peace treaty and take away the reason they wanted nukes in the first place. There are certainly many more important things on our agenda than NK. The same applies with Cuba although Obama took some good first steps there.

    • nicky
      Posted July 6, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I think that is the best thing to do.
      The war in Iraq cost us somewhere between 30 and 80 trillion (that is 30 to 80.000 billion, 30 to 80 million million),
      With a few trillion we can do a lot.
      Come with a gambit: we bury the tomahawk, so to say, you keep your Nukes and Missiles for now, you succeeded in convincing us we can’t win, but nor can you.
      We will finance some state of the art factories for, say, smart phones, intra-ocular lenses and some ‘genetic products’ (the list could be expanded during negotiations). Help you to become an Asian Tiger.
      In return we do not ask for what we consider ‘free elections’, we ask just a stop to further development nukes and missiles, we know they are bad for us, but in the end you know they are also bad for you. And maybe a slight loosening of the border (DMZ)? initially only for family reunions?
      Basically you won this bluff and we are giving in, which in the end is better for all of us. And we will- as a gesture- add a shipload of French Champagne (without oxytocin).
      no /s,
      [This maybe seen as the Chamberlain type of policy, but NK is not Nazi Germany (the technological differences were negligible there). And apart from ultimate reunion, there are no direct territorial claims by NK]

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted July 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        The sort of deal you are proposing (trade links, family meetings, reopening of the joint industrial complex in NK, etc) is not a million miles away from what the new SK President is proposing.

        I think we should let them have a go. It can’t be any worse than where we are now. And it would be a whole lot better than continuing to ratchet up the tension.

        • nicky
          Posted July 6, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          I wasn’t aware about Moon’s proposals, but I think it might indeed be the ‘least bad’, if not even a good, option. Trying to create a win-win scenario.

  43. David Jorling
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I agree nothing can be done except diplomatically, which is a long shot as well. I read Mark Bowden’s article in the Atlantic and agree with it. Here is the link: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/the-worst-problem-on-earth/528717/.

    My concern is our president. He is so unhinged, racist and tied to corporate interests that he may see a war on the Korean peninsula as a handy way of riding American industries of competition from South Korean industries such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai. And perhaps a few Japanese industries thrown in for good measure.

  44. Posted July 8, 2017 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    This is such a difficult conundrum and I have no logical answer. The West should strive for a diplomatic solution (i.e. continue to make overtures towards a lasting detente or even peace). At the same time, I am wondering if persuading Japan to become a nuclear-armed nation might not be a good foil against China who cannot/will not control their runt. This is a detestable suggestion, but I can’t see any short-term way out of this NK problem that leads to detente.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      I doubt the Japanese would go for it.

      • Posted July 10, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the very thought is anathema to them, and I cringe at having even thought of it.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: