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Obama and North Korea: Damned If He Does, Doesn’t

As Kim Jong-Un of North Korea engages in a series of provocative but mostly pointless “threats,” some Republicans are calling for a first strike and criticizing Obama for not taking decisive action. The Worldnutdaily, on the other hand, is criticizing Obama for taking any action at all. They know the real reason Obama has shifted military resources to the Pacific in light of those threats and, of course, it’s something nefarious.

It is difficult for most seasoned observers to explain why Obama is suddenly responding to North Korean aggression when the White House did little in 2008 when North Korea refused to allow United Nations inspectors into its nuclear plants.

The Obama administration also took little action when North Korea in 2009 carried out at least two nuclear tests, one of which is believed to have been the cause of a magnitude 4.7 seismic event.

The White House did not allow the U.S. military any significant response when in 2010 North Korea torpedoed a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 sailors. North Korea then shelled a South Korean island with little U.S. reaction.

Now, purportedly in response to aggressive action by North Korea’s new leader, the White House is sending to Singapore a new class of warship designed to fight in coastal waters.

The Pentagon also announced that it will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack. This after the Obama administration largely canceled a similar defense system intended for Europe.

U.S. warplanes, including fighter jets, U-2 spy planes and an A-10 attack jet, were seen flying in South Korea yesterday as part of a massive joint military exercise.

The U.S. says it stands “poised to respond” at the border of North and South Korea, where American troops are on high alert amid possible further Pentagon build-up in the region.

Really? They’re at a loss to explain the change of stance? I bet I can explain it. There’s now a new guy in charge in North Korea and we know little about him and how he operates. We knew a lot about his father because he was in power for a long time and the Obama administration correctly did not respond to his provocations because they knew they were designed for the purpose of getting us to the negotiating table to give them something in exchange for ending their provocations. Kim Jong-Un brings greater uncertainty and therefore greater risk, so we are responding appropriately.

But to the Worldnutdaily, it’s all about a “new economic world order,” or something. They never really spell out that mysterious “real reason” for it or why it would be bad. Insinuation, it seems, is enough. And you know damn well that if he had done none of those things, they’d be hammering him for showing weakness. Hey, whatever it takes.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    Re theschwa @ #1

    Hey, I must have missed something but when did Israel become a Pacific Rim Nation?

  2. says

    I clicked over there for some reason, and I see that the comment “Obama is not a commander, he is a destroyer. As an obedient Muslim he is required to destroy America, and is doing his job systematically and very well.” has 144 likes and 2 dislikes. And as Ed’s last point suggests, no doubt we’d see this same comment on a post complaining about the administration not taking the NK threat seriously.

  3. says

    No, the real reason is to punish China for helping True Patriots bust those evil unions and revive the Middle Class with lots of cheap imports!1111!!1!!!

  4. jamessweet says

    Oh man, I hadn’t heard GOP lawmakers calling for a preemptive strike. That’s a terrible idea! While I agree that KJU is an unknown factor, the most likely explanation is that he’s just trying to look tough to ward off the possibility of (another?) coup attempt. Cautious monitoring is the appropriate response here. OTOH, if we attack, there’s a serious chance that KJU will say “fuck it”, and that would be a Very Bad Day.

    (Note: I do not believe DPRK has nuclear capability, and I think their missile capability is pretty pathetic. Doesn’t matter. All they need is to lob a dirty bomb at Seoul, or maybe even just a bunch of conventional weapons, bomb the dams upstream, and it would be a Very Bad Day.)

  5. Artor says

    @SLC1
    Do you imagine that WND readers have even the vaguest clue about geography? Israel shares a border with North Korea, doesn’t it?

  6. dogmeat says

    I do not believe DPRK has nuclear capability, and I think their missile capability is pretty pathetic. Doesn’t matter.

    While their nuclear/missile capability is minimal (if it exists at all), their chemical weapons arsenal is acknowledged to exist along with evidence that they have some biological weapons capability. Their missile systems appear to be rather archaic and lack effective guidance, but if your “fuck it” scenario were to pass, and they were utilizing chemical and/or biological weapons, they wouldn’t really have to hit anything to cause some serious problems in the region. Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, all within range, all rather densely packed civilian populations. Very Bad Day indeed.

  7. steve oberski says

    Since 1995, the international community has donated over 12 million MT of food aid to North
    Korea to help North Korea alleviate chronic, massive food shortages that began in the early
    1990s. A severe famine in the mid-1990s killed an estimated 600,000 to 3 million North
    Koreans.

    Multiple sources have asserted that some of the food assistance going to
    North Korea is routinely diverted for resale in private markets or other uses. However, it is likely
    that food aid has helped feed millions of North Koreans, possibly staving off a repeat of the
    famine conditions that existed in North Korea in the mid-late 1990s, when 5%-10% of the
    population died due to particularly severe food shortages.

    The only credible threat from North Korea is against their own people.

    It is patently obvious that the US could neutralize North Korean nuclear capabilities, such as they are, in an eyeblink using only conventional weapons.

    Obviously the real negotiations are taking place between the US, China and South Korea.

    North Korea is that crazy uncle who has been locked in the upstairs bedroom who periodically escapes and runs around the neighbourhood waving his penis around.

    It’s a tough decision to make, how many millions more North Koreans have to die before the gang of criminals in control of North Korea are ousted ?

    Source: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40095.pdf

  8. erichoug says

    IF you haven’t already, you should read Victor Cha’s excellent book “The Impossible State” Cha was a Bush era state department employee working with North Korea. He gives a unique and surprisingly balanced look at successive administrations dealings with North Korea culminating in the Obama administration’s “Strategic Patience”

    “Aquariums of Pyongyang” is another excellent book on the labor camps and penal system in N. Korea. Though my favorite one and the one that still has a spot in my heart is “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea” by Barbara Demick.

    The N. Korean regime is nothing more than a gang of criminal thugs that have held hostage an entire country. You can tell everything you need to know about the Kim family by understanding that N. Korea was the single biggest customer of Hennessy Cognac during the famine where around 2 million ordinary citizens starved to death. If Jong-Un had a shred of humanity in his body he would walk barefoot from Pyongyang to Mt. Paektu, fall down on his knees and beg forgiveness from the Korean people and then kill himself.

  9. Doug Little says

    You can tell everything you need to know about the Kim family by understanding that N. Korea was the single biggest customer of Hennessy Cognac during the famine where around 2 million ordinary citizens starved to death.

    Wow what a bunch of asshats, I’ll take tyrannical dictators for 1000 Alex. So I’m assuming that if you are in the military and swear complete fealty to this dickhead you at least get to not starve. This is probably how he maintains power, but you would think that even people in the military would eventually get sick of seeing their countrymen starve to death.

  10. caseloweraz says

    The WND: “It is difficult for most seasoned observers to explain why Obama is suddenly responding to North Korean aggression when the White House did little in 2008 when North Korea refused to allow United Nations inspectors into its nuclear plants.”

    Allow me to resolve the difficulty. Barack Obama did not take office until 2009.

  11. slc1 says

    As with Iran, there is nothing wrong with North Korea that a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs won’t cure.

  12. says

    The NK government is likely doing this for domestic reasons. Nothing to tamp down on disssent by playing up the foreign threat. At least some of the people in the NK government have to know that if they started a war, it would result in their own destruction.

  13. says

    Dave Maier,
    If one starts with the premise that Obama is a Muslim/Nazi whose only goal is destroying ‘Murka, then by definition ANY action he takes proposes. Therefore, advocating for the opposite of whatever Obama wants is patriotic and protecting our freedoms.
    Is everything that black and white for the fRight wing? Why, yes. Yes it is.

  14. chilidog99 says

    Dog meat @7, Beijing is also in range. Which would explain why China publicly told Thomas to Steele down the other day.

  15. chilidog99 says

    Stupid iPhone auto correct

    “Publicly told him to settle down the other day. “

  16. erichoug says

    @Doug Little

    So I’m assuming that if you are in the military and swear complete fealty to this dickhead you at least get to not starve

    Actually, that’s not entirely true. There have been reports of N. Korean officers selling their men’s equipment, uniforms, shoes and food and keeping the money for themselves or using it to grease palms for advancement. Keep in mind how incredibly fucking cold it gets to be in N. Korea in the winter and you get a true grasp of the ass-hattery involved. Also, the soldiers are not allowed to marry until they get out of the military, around 30 and then they are often assigned to work at hard labor in the coal mines.

  17. some bastard on the net says

    …Obama is suddenly responding to North Korean aggression when the White House did little in 2008…

    2008, when Obama wasn’t president?

  18. freemage says

    Steve Oberski @8: Don’t forget the key element of WHO will do the ousting? The U.S. can’t really commit to yet another round of nation-building; I doubt that South Korea is anywhere near as strong in comparison to the crisis as was, say, West Germany when unification happened; giving China that much more control over their most dysfunctional puppet-state is unappealing; none of the neighbors trust Japan that much because of all the bad blood from the last century.

  19. Doug Little says

    Also, the soldiers are not allowed to marry until they get out of the military, around 30 and then they are often assigned to work at hard labor in the coal mines.

    Wow, so tell me again why there hasn’t been a military coup?

  20. Ben P says

    Wow, so tell me again why there hasn’t been a military coup?

    It’s standard totalitarian regime tactics.

    The population and low level military are kept in line by brutal discipline and with the carrot of access to things like…food and water…

    The elite including officers in the military are lavishly compensated but also typically stuck in a godfather “lead or silver” type scenario. They can support the regime and enjoy all the benefits of doing so, but if they rock the boat too much, they get a bullet in the back of the head and a shallow grave.

  21. D. C. Sessions says

    There’s now a new guy in charge in North Korea and we know little about him and how he operates.

    And we’ve had recent experience with what happens when a son takes power and tries to prove he’s fit to follow his father in office. That has the potential to turn out really badly.

  22. noastronomer says

    @Doug Little

    In some respects you have to admire the Kim regime. They’ve perfected the art of the military dictatorship. Saddam was close, but the Kims have it nailed.

    Mike.

  23. Francisco Bacopa says

    As with Iran, there is nothing wrong with North Korea that a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs won’t cure.

    slc1. As I understand, the multimegaton air drop bombs are on inactive alert. Minitueman 3 warheads are 400kT max and Tridents are around 300 kT. That’s 12-17 Nagasakis.

    Don’t quote numbers when you don’t know what you are talking about.

  24. Doug Little says

    Ben P @21.

    So I wonder what it would take then. would the military carryout an order that would assure their destruction or would it push them over the edge into regime change for self preservation reasons. Kim is performing quite the balancing act when you think about it, he has to look just the right amount of crazy to keep the military in check.

  25. slc1 says

    Re Francisco Bacopa @ #24

    As Dingo the bingo has pointed out, the high yield H bombs (up to 15 megatons) have been phased out and dismantled; further the B52′s that were designed to deliver them have been reconfigured for carpet bombing and, as we sit here today, no longer have the capability to deliver high yield H bombs. However, high yield H bombs could be fairly quickly assembled and a few of the B52s could be reconfigured to deliver up to 4 high yield bombs, as originally designed. However, Bacopa is correct and accurate, as we sit here today, this capability does not exist, although it did at one time.

  26. slc1 says

    Re Francisco Bacopa @ #24

    In fairness, it is my information that the US never tested an H bomb to the 15 megaton yield output. The yield was somewhat tamped down and it is my information that the largest yield obtained was about 9 megatons. However, the former Soviet Union tested a 57 megaton bomb (called the Czar bomb) in the early sixties which was dropped from an intercontinental Bison bomber, roughly equivalent to a B52. Actually, the yield was tamped down from a theoretical 100 megatons to prevent the bomber delivering it from being destroyed by the blast. There is actually a Youtube video showing the bomb going off. Quite impressive.

  27. Doug Little says

    There is actually a Youtube video showing the bomb going off. Quite impressive.

    Well that’s one way to describe it. The other way would be holy fucking shit.

  28. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    The right-wingers getting their knickers in a twist over North Korea becoming an existential threat to the US because of their Weapons of Mass Destruction™ is a fascinating psychological exhibition. They’ve had three nuclear tests:

    The first one—nothing happened. Completely consistent with just the high-explosive component going off.

    The second one was a subkiloton fizzle.

    The third one was just an ordinarly failure—6-8 kilotons maybe. If you can’t get at least nominal yield of 20-22 kilotons out of your first test, that’s a failure. (Trying to get smaller yields with smaller quantities of fissile material requires much more advanced design.)

    So imagine they have a deliverable 6 or 8 kT warhead. They have a four-stage liquid-fueled rocket that after a week or so of preparation could deliver a very small payload to the Aleutians or the Alaska peninsula (well short of Anchorage, certainly). Let’s further assume that their nuclear warhead is light enough to be carried by this vehicle (which I would bet a good amount of money against)…so what?

    To what conceivable end would anyone perform such a stunt? What does it say about your mental processes that this has you wetting yourself in fear? These wingnuts are the biggest cowards in the history of the world.

    @ Francisco Baracopa: It was my understanding that the Trident missiles at least had been retrofitted with the W88 warhead, at 475-500 kilotons. It achieves its higher yield by using a prolate primary (cramming more plutonium in), and switching the positions of the primary and secondary, thus making its aerodynamic stability problematic.

    @slc1, the genocidal maniac Likudnik: The Castle Bravo test in 1954 was 15 MT—the largest US explosion in history, but SAC had bombs deployed at one time whose design yield was 25 megatons, I believe. Never tested with an active secondary, of course.

  29. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    @ Doug Little:

    Holy Fucking Shit indeed. It’s noteworthy that even with their happy-go-lucky attitude towards safety, the Soviets replaced the depleted uranium pushers in what I guess you’d have to call the tertiary*—yes, it was a three-stage device, so noteworthy in that regard as well—with lead.

    That had the side effect of making it the cleanest nuclear explosion in history, in terms of fission products per kiloton. 50 MT worth of fission products from an active tertiary would have made a hell of a mess, for sure.

    *Or tertiaries—there are some indications that there were several, all pumped by the initial two-stage device, possibly six arranged like the cylinders of a revolver.

  30. Doug Little says

    @ 30,

    Upon reading, theoretically you could have as many stages as you like and scale up your device to doomsday levels. Wonder what it would take to wipe all life out on the planet with one nuclear weapon? maybe a good question for what if?

  31. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Thanks for that xkcd link! Kind of reminds you of some of the stretches we keep reading about Iraqi or Iranian or North Korean nuclear weapons….

    I think the Tsar Bomba was designed for 100 MT for a reason—this was widely recognized as the largest bomb that made any sense: You could increase the yield to 400 MT, say, and blow off the same plug of atmosphere twice as fast, but you wouldn’t increase the radius of destruction because anything farther away would be protected by the curvature of the earth.

    So like you say, the next step up is a Doomsday Machine that you wouldn’t have to deliver anywhere (you couldn’t anyway) because it wouldn’t matter where you set it off. That’s a big step, though.

  32. iangould says

    “Specifically, is Washington using the North Korean nuclear standoff as an excuse to shift massive military might to Asia just as China and other powers seek to create a new economic order that would rival the Western-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund?”

    So, what?

    “Reduce your lending or we’ll nuke you?”

  33. iangould says

    “the most likely explanation is that he’s just trying to look tough to ward off the possibility of (another?) coup attempt. ”

    People who actually follow the workings of the North Korean media and the internal politics of the Korea Worker’s Party point out that Jong Un just appointed an economic reformer as Prime Minister and has reduced the number of military officers serving on the Central Committee of the KWP.

    He’s sabre-rattling ot keep the hardliners happy.

  34. iangould says

    The other point regarding North Korea is that time works against the North Koreans since missile defense is developing much faster than their nuclear capacity.

    If North korea launched a ballistic missile today it would probably be shot down by the AEGIS ABM system .on one of the US frigates off their coast, if it got past them it’d probably be shot down by the Patriot missile batteries defending Seoul, Tokyo and Guam, the most likely targets.

    Key word being “probably”. Even, say, a 10% chance of a missile getting through is unacceptably high given the likely casualties.

    But that chance is shrinking yearly – so it makes sense to defer any military conflict with North Korea as long as possible.

  35. says

    @6:

    Yes, Artor, Israel does share a border with Korea. Their other borders are with Antarctica, Swaziland and Mars. Yes, I know it sounds silly but it will BE in the WND by thursday.

  36. Doug Little says

    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge,

    Yeah what if? is one of my favorite sites. Make sure that you read all the old entries. A new one gets put up every Tuesday.

  37. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Why doesn’t Obama just send in a SEAL team to spank Supreme Little Shit Kim Jong Un and send him to bed without his supper?

  38. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    slc1. As I understand, the multimegaton air drop bombs are on inactive alert. Minitueman 3 warheads are 400kT max and Tridents are around 300 kT. That’s 12-17 Nagasakis.

    Don’t quote numbers when you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Aww, but he wants to jerk off fantasizing about a REALLY BIG bomb being dropped on civilians who have no control over the situation.

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