Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dark clouds in the Far East

The day, Saturday April 15th, opened with news from multiple sources about a confrontation, in words at least, between the U. S. And North Korea.

Trump ordered an aircraft carrier and its supporting fleet to the Korean penisula. In Trump’s Cruise-Missile Diplomacy, Iran and North Korea Could Be Next. “The president has steadily increased the use of force, relaxing the rules of engagement and giving his generals free rein.”

That might be fine on the battlefield, but as a foreign policy? Do “my generals” get to decide on whether to use nukes? Whether to unleash a preemptive strike?

AZBlueMeanie had words of warning about how North Korea – U.S. tensions could spin out of control this weekend unless cooler heads prevail.

All of this macho posturing reminds me of a line by John Wayne (Jacob McCandles) in Big Jake (1971): “And now you understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all… your fault, my fault, nobody’s fault… it won’t matter – I’m gonna blow your head off. No matter what else happens, no matter who gets killed, I’m gonna blow your head off.”

This is now where we are at with North Korea. It is those who are in harms way who will ultimately pay the price should anything go wrong.

The people in harms way, “no matter who gets killed”, those who pay the price? Our own military forces aside, think 20,000,000 in Seoul. Think Japan. Does anyone doubt that the supreme leader of North Korea will launch a retaliatory attack against South Korea?

You gotta remember that this is the country that goes dark at night: North Korea: it’s not a problem that our country goes dark at night. Satellite imaging produced a “Picture [that] is often used as a demonstration of the problems in the country — but North Korea says that the ”essence of society is not on flashy lights". That is, the North Korean leaders really don’t care. Their investment has been purely military to the detriment of their own populace.

By the end of the day, it seemed clear that North Korea had held a big parade showing off its long-range missiles, but was not going to run a nuclear test. That’s a mixed bag. Their increased missile technology is worrisome to some, North Korea’s display of new missiles is worrying, analysts say, and scary to others, North Korea Probably Can’t Strike the US Yet—But It’s Still Plenty Scary.

On the other hand, the NY Times reports that a North Korean Missile Launch Fails, and a Show of Strength Fizzles.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning from near its submarine base in Sinpo on its east coast, but the launch was the latest in a series of failures just after liftoff, according to American and South Korean military officials.

The timing was a deep embarrassment for the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, because the missile appeared to have been launched to show off his daring as a fleet of American warships approached his country to deter provocations.

Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the United States Pacific Command, said the military had “detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15.”

The missile blew up almost immediately, and the type of missile involved is still being assessed, he said.

Over the past three years, a covert war over the missile program has broken out between North Korea and the United States. As the North’s skills grew, President Barack Obama ordered a surge in strikes against the missile launches, The New York Times reported last month, including through electronic-warfare techniques. It is unclear how successful the program has been, because it is almost impossible to tell whether any individual launch failed because of sabotage, faulty engineering or bad luck. But the North’s launch-failure rate has been extraordinarily high since Mr. Obama first accelerated the program.

In an unusually worded statement that left hanging the question of whether the United States played any role in the latest launch’s failure, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said: “The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment.”

Even so, the Times’ report describes the efforts of North Korea to develop ICBMs carrying a nuclear warheads.

The “dark clouds”

As the U. S. fleet approached and a nuclear test seemed imminent, and the confrontation was punctuated by threats of preemptive strikes on both sides,China Warns of ‘Storm Clouds Gathering’ in U.S.-North Korea Standoff. Then the world seemed to take a deep breath as, along with the missile failure, the anticipation of catastrophic war fizzled. However, the dark clouds remain. Yesterday Dr. Matt Heinz spoke at the Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area and characterized the U. S. - North Korea confrontation as one unstable person provoking another unstable person. Dark clouds indeed.

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