Monday, October 09, 2006

Duck and Cover

I had planned to write on another matter entirely this morning, but your regularly scheduled weblog entry has been interrupted by a drunken, sex-craven lunatic with a nuclear weapon. The President has said that the U.S. will "honor the full range" of U.S. security commitments in Asia. I certainly agree that we should honor these commitments, especially since North Korea is a continually evolving threat to America and to the nations in the region.

The great problem with this situation is the fact that the U.S. has significantly diminished its capability to respond to this crisis in the way that it needs to be responded to because our military forces are quite busy dealing daily with the war in Iraq and cannot be readily deployed to the Korean Peninsula to act as an appropriate deterant to the Stalinist threat. Unlike some people who were mere pacifists without rhyme or reason, my problem with the war in Iraq has been that it diverts our military from far more immediate threats. Here is the problem we are facing: Old alliances and nuclear power.

Red China does not want a nuclear war, and they desperately want even more expanded trade relations with the West. However, they do have an old alliance with North Korea. If the North launches a nuclear attack (or any attack) against South Korea or Japan, the United States is compelled by agreement to respond as if the U.S. had been attacked on its own soil. China has traditionally had a similar arrangement with North Korea-so what happens if the U.S. is forced to respond to a North Korean attack on the South or Japan-does China respond to the inevitable American attack by joining in the fight? China may have a technologically inferior military force, but they'll throw every man they have into any conventional fighting that may result-it would be a population reducer.

In the meantime, Iran is promising that sanctions will not deter it from developing nuclear abilities, and you can be sure that North Korea is itching to share its information with Tehran.

If the U.S. needs to fight North Korea and China conventionally, we may not have the manpower to do it-that manpower is in Iraq.



At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 3:54:00 PM, Blogger Chucko said...

Trust me Dave, we have the capability. Besides that, the NPRK has pretty much slapped China in the face with their nuclear test. The US, intending well (to cease the spread of Communism) helped dictatorships come to rise in Central America. Simply because they weren't Communists doesn't mean we'd want a nuke in their hands. I fundamentally believe that Red China and Russia want no part of a nuclear NPRK.

At least you have thought out your opposition to the war... I'd expect no less from a true conservative. :)

At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 5:31:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

The trouble is, Chuck, that if we needed to take on the DPRK in any sort of conventional fashion, we don't have the manpower...we are already too heavily reliant on Guard and Reserve in Iraq...we don't need to close bases and cut the roles, as many have argued, including a great many Republicans-we need more bases, more troops, more equipment, and then we need to use those resources wisely.

At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 6:38:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

I hate to be the Negative Nellie here, but we simply must assume that one of these terrible weapons will be used sometime in the future. Probably in the near future. And quite possibly on our own soil. It's simply an inevitability. As technology spreads and extremist groups become more and more unified and emboldened, something will happen.

I refuse to believe, and really can't believe (even if I wanted to) that these weapons can exist on this Earth but will never be used.

While how we react to North Korea and nations like it now is important, it is equally important to prepare for the inevitable and to consider how we will respond once it happens.

The safety and future of all humanity depends on the latter.

At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 11:01:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

David, and everyone else for that matter ...
Relax, take a deep breath and let it out slowly ... (repeat as needed)
First)That the DPRK have a nuke (or 6 - 10) isn't much of a problem. It's a problem, yes, but not a nail-biter, end of the world, Planet of the Apes, Mad Max get your Thunder Dome on type problem. Simply put: The DPRK has NO second strike capability! The capacity for delivering a second strike is what kept the USA and the USSR from going at it in the 50's, 60's and later. Neither side could guarentee that the other side wouldn't be able to hit back after an initial strike exchange and, thus, "win" (if that's what you want to call it). The DPRK only has FIRST strike ability and to use that is suicide. For them it's like firing the first shot in a gun fight with Wyatt Earp and then having to switch to a knife.
Secondly) The DPRK has NO viable tactical (let alone strategic) delivery system. This is far more important than you'd think. They have no reliable air force, no missle (short or long range) capable of carrying a nuke, no nothing to get the nuke from it's storage site to it's target, except, perhaps trucks. What they have is, at best, a half dozen or so, small yield tactical nuclear devices, that's all. They have bragging rights, that's it. Their total stockpile is dwarfed by what is contained in one Trident Missile.
Third) Simply put; they shoot, they die. And they know that.

This is about bragging rights and barginning position, nothing more.


At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 3:50:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Steve, Matt, and all;
I think North Korea's statement today that it considers any U.S. pressure (and obviously UN sanctions are counted as US pressure) on it to be an act of war shows that this is more than about bagaining position-it is about whether we will cave to the wishes of a madman.

They may not have second strike capability, but there is one problem: Since Nagasaki, the world has not known a first strike, let alone a second. It is quite possible that a single strike by North Korea could trigger a wider war. That wider war may not be all nuclear, but I wouldn't put it past Kim Jong-il to start it.

At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 7:18:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

The atomic strikes on Japan that ended WW2 do not apply. So you would be in error to use them here. At the time of those strikes we (the USA) were the only ones in possession of nuclear weapons. The nuclear strike paradigm I was refering to came into being only after the USSR (and later others) gained an equivelent capability.
You are right, in that any hostile action by the DPRK would be enough to start a war that might escalate into nuclear war (however limited) but that has been a possibilty since the early 50's.
Remember the first rule of power: Keep power. Si it would not be in Kim Jong-il's interest to start a war - he would lose (possibily at great cost to others). It might be in his interest to bluff and puff up to that point and therein lies the danger; that being that one (or all) the allies takes him too seriously and initiates a first strike (nuclear or not) and then it's off to the races, so to speak.
What he is, is basically, the village idiot with a zip gun challenging the Crips & Bloods.
Keep that in mind and you'll rest easier.
Most (if not all) the hystria, is just that hystria. I remember when India got the bomb - the world was going to end - war with Pakistan, war with China and so on. I remember when Pakistan got the bomb samething. Remember, newspapers want to sell newspapers, politicians want to make speeches and get elected, arm merchants want to sell guns. It's a major concern but no cause for hystria.



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