Escalating


Our boob of a president has now announced that Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, because he’s a blustering incompetent who would love to bomb something to distract from the legal actions creeping up on him.

North Korea is happy to call his bluff. They’re spreading the news about their attack plan, and they’re willing to be specific: they’ll launch missiles at Guam.

North Korea said under its attack plan, four Hwasong-12 rockets would fly over Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures in Japan, hitting waters 19 to 25 miles from the island, the Associated Press reported. The plan could be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval within a week or so.

They’re threatening to fire a warning shot. So we’re at the next step in the nuclear poker game: they’ll launch a few missiles at us, just to let us know they have the ability. What shall we do next? Do you think our madman would possibly back down and negotiate at some point? I don’t think so.

A prediction: If Kim Jong Un lobs a few bombs in our general direction, Trump will use that as an excuse to target and destroy the missile launching sites…and then the shooting war begins.

Comments

  1. cartomancer says

    Well that’s not at all worrying or anything. My brother’s wife is from Nagasaki, and he works for a company based in Tokyo and has friends in Seoul. I can see now why he volunteered for a promotional trip to Germany later this month, rather than one to head office.

  2. says

    I wish I thought you wrong. I’d even bet they don’t contain more than conventional warheads, because he wouldn’t waste four of his small number of nuclear warheads on missing. And Trump will blow his stack – the only question will be whether he attacks with nukes himself, or will he try special ops first. He’s not really unpredictable at all: he’s every blowhard bar bully you’ve ever known. You could script how to set him off – like calling him senile and weak, for instance (which NK has already done).

  3. Saad says

    It’s only a matter of time now.

    And thanks to these two fucks, people in South Korea will suffer horribly. Once it starts, Kim Jong Un will probably quickly target Seoul with all they have ready near the border.

    And China has issued a statement saying if U.S. strikes first, they’ll take North Korea’s side.

  4. Sakura No Seirei, Zoë, born into the purple says

    I’m surprised you think Trump would limit himself to strikes against the launch strikes. I fear that Trump’s irrationality leads him to believe that the Bombing of Dresden was a good thing and that he would seek to recreate with modern nuclear weapons and Pyongyang as the target.

  5. blf says

    Can North Korea’s weapons reach any target in the USA?

    Possibly. The last two missile tests demonstrated a hypothetical capability to reach Alaska (first test), and further (second test — don’t recall the estimated range now, sorry). Consensus opinion apparently is N.Korea doesn’t have a nuclear warhead — yet — small / light enough to be launched, and there are severe doubts about any N.Korean payload / warhead’s ability to survive atmospheric reentry.

  6. jefrir says

    Can North Korea’s weapons reach any target in the USA?

    Guam is part of the USA.
    Otherwise, they have made credible claims to be able to hit parts of mainland USA. We can’t be absolutely certain, but it doesn’t seem like a bet worth taking.
    And killing a whole bunch of people in Korea and surrounding areas isn’t less of an issue just because the US doesn’t take a direct strike.

  7. thirdmill says

    “Do you think our madman would back down and negotiate at some point?” The problem with negotiations is that in the past, North Korea has negotiated a good deal for itself and then refused to keep its part of the bargain. There’s no real point to negotiating with someone you know up front can’t be trusted to do what they say.

    Which does not mean I think we should start a war. Unfortunately this is a situation in which there are no real good options.

  8. Kaintukee Bob says

    There’s really no good solution here, except to understand that the situation will (at best) remain a stalemate.

    The problem with that is that Cheeto Mussolini is so very easy to goad. He’s going to let any petty insult thrown at him by the NK leadership get under his skinsuit. He’s going to want to strike back.

    Unfortunately, he’s going to strike back stupidly. I sorta get the feeling that he’s going to want to fire the first shot, because he gets most of his ‘military strategy’ from the old GI Joe cartoons. He almost certainly truly believes that a handful of special forces/commandos with silly codenames will launch from a ‘secret base’ from a standing start and end any conflict within 22 minutes (plus time for the stinger, where we all learn a valuable lesson about being nice to our friends).

    Unfortunately, he has likely never learned anything about logistics. His businesses have generally been failures, and the actual logistics required to build what was built were handled by people far removed from His Orangeness (people who likely never got paid, but that’s beside the point). By the time he realizes that reality isn’t like his cartoons, we will have troops dead and dying on the battlefield, materiel poorly positioned with no clear lines of support, an angry superpower nearby, and tens of thousands of civilian corpses in South Korea.

    I have absolutely no doubt that the US could emerge ‘victorious’ from any confrontation – NK is not likely to have sufficient long-range weaponry to effectively strike at the mainland USA, and we can (and will, as demonstrated recently in the Middle East) throw bodies and bullets at a place until it stops effectively fighting back. That said, the cost will be too high. North Koreans will never see us as liberators (and we would not arrive as such, anyway). They will fight against us tooth and nail, and they will be the ones who suffer from any pressure we put on NK’s leadership. China has already said they will come in on NK’s side if there is a pre-emptive strike, and they DO have the resources to carry a war to the mainland US if they so desired. The end result, even if China sat out the whole conflict, would be a situation where South Korea, ravaged by the war, will have to somehow effectively govern a rejoined Korea, despite the issues that will be caused by such a thing.

    In short, it will be a needlessly long and bloody conflict whose end is never in doubt, and the survivors will think the dead lucky.

  9. nickrud says

    That Chinese paper’s editorial also said that China should make it clear that any attempt to change the ‘political pattern of the Korean Peninsula’ would cause China to ‘prevent them [US and South Korea] from doing so’. If that paper is parroting the actual thinking of the Chinese government that means that if Trump chooses to retaliate with anything more than a tit for tat attack, it threatens to draw in China.

    They launch at Guam, we launch at some point off the Korean coast. What next?

  10. specialffrog says

    thirdmill: Arguably the US (under the Bush administration) were the ones who killed the Agreed Framework. They claimed NK violated first it but their antagonism towards the AF was made pretty clear by the whole “axis of evil” speech.

  11. unclefrogy says

    I heard an interview yesterday in which they discussion was about the use of one or more of the anti-missile technology that are or could be positioned in the vicinity of Guam. There was no idea of what the outcome of a successful intercept would be. A slower escalation maybe but nothing more than that I would think.
    As for China there problem is very complex they have ever more connection with the rest of the world economy and war is not very good for world trade. They have some leverage on both sides but do not have a lot of successful experience using it.
    uncle frogy

  12. raven says

    There aren’t many brakes on the escalation process here.
    No adults in the room with any sort of power.

    South Korea is probably the closest thing to a brake.
    Since they might well disappear in the aftermath of a new Korean war,
    they have a lot to lose here.
    But who cares what South Korea thinks right now?

    China, is like us. They have no good options here either.
    Trump seems to be completely ignoring them.

    The Russians have a huge amount to gain from a war between North Korea and the USA.
    They could care less about North Korea but such a war would seriously harm the USA in many ways.

    This reminds me of World War I. It started with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. And like an avalanche starting small and getting larger, in the end a few tens of millions were dead.

  13. robro says

    Can North Korea’s weapons reach any target in the USA?

    According to a writer for the Union of Concerned Scientists (citing other sources), their last test on July 28th was reported to have the potential to reach 10,000 km which puts US mainland cities in range, including the West Coast, Denver and even Chicago. As with some of their other tests, they launched a high lofting shot that reached 3,700 km with reentry about 1,000 km down range in the Sea of Japan. It’s also believed that the missile burned up on reentry. It isn’t known if the missile carried a payload, so a version with a warhead might have less range.

    All of this is now. If they keep at it, they will have the ability to launch missiles to anywhere in the world. While it is “rocket science,” that’s not such a high bar any more. The same is true with nuclear warheads. They are reported to have a small device now, though probably not many. It could be some years before they could do anything effectively. However, it would only take one to give Trump an excuse. Even the threat of a splash down 35km from Guam is causing the nut cases to become more unhinged.

    China is reported to have told Kim he’s on his own if he provokes the US into an attack. Russia (Putin) has been more equivocal. Russia voted for the UN resolution on August 5th, but it’s not clear how they might react to a US strike with their longtime ally.

    It’s a safe guess that Putin is trying to use the situation as leverage, just like Trump.

  14. raven says

    Wikipedia WW I
    The trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia,[10][11] and entangled international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.
    On 25 July Russia began mobilisation and on 28 July the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia. Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Being outnumbered on the Eastern Front, Russia urged its Triple Entente ally France to open up a second front in the west. Over forty years earlier in 1870, the Franco-Prussian War had ended the Second French Empire and France had ceded the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to a unified Germany. Bitterness over that defeat and the determination to retake Alsace-Lorraine made the acceptance of Russia’s plea for help an easy choice, so France began full mobilisation on 1 August and, on 3 August, Germany declared war on France. The border between France and Germany was heavily fortified on both sides so, according to the Schlieffen Plan, Germany then invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France from the north, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on 4 August due to their violation of Belgian neutrality.

    I thought to look up exactly how WW I started.
    It was a chain reaction starting with some guy getting assassinated in Sarajevo.

    The Vietnam war wasn’t much different.
    We sent a few people in as advisers.
    Then a few more.
    Then some combat troops.
    Then some more plus the air force and navy.
    At the peak, there were over 1/2 million US soldiers in Vietnam itself and
    we were bombing North Vietnam back to the stone age.
    Ironically, we still ended up losing.

    You can see how the North Korean-US war might start.
    A chain reaction between two loony leaders, that escalates pretty rapidly.
    Once things reach the Point of No Return, the correct strategy is to be first to hit
    hard with everything they have.

  15. robro says

    Raven — It was indeed a long process, but one that predated the assassination of the Archduke (and his wife, Sophie, btw). The assassination followed years of wrangling between Austria and former Ottoman territories in the Balkans. Interesting that the piece describes Princip as a “Yugoslav” because Yugoslavia didn’t exist until after WWI. He was a Bosnian Serb, emphasis on Serb because it was the emergence of an independent Serbian state that was the source of considerable tension in the region.

  16. thirdmill says

    Specialfrog, No. 11, I very much doubt that. Which side benefited the most from the AF being shelved? Not the Bush administration, which then had the continued headache of North Korea continuing to escalate its nuclear program, and which, despite its other failings, at least recognized the folly of another war on the Korean peninsula. No, the beneficiary was North Korea, which could then take the benefits of the AF before it was shelved, and then resume its nuclear program anticipating in the future that it would eventually get a better deal later on.

    The mystery to me is why China *wouldn’t* want regime change in North Korea. I don’t see that China benefits from having a crazy person with nuclear weapons on its doorstep, especially given the risk that if there is a war, millions of refugees would then pour over the border into China. While North Korean regime change would give the US a political victory, the Chinese have always struck me as being realists, and reality is they’re much, much better off without the dear leader.

  17. blf says

    And the head of the NRA wants North Korea to nuke California.

    Eh? Citation needed!
    The (to-date only) report I’ve seen on this says it was Grant Stinchfield, “a host for the National Rifle Association’s online TV network”, who tweeted. This eejit is not “the head of the NRA”, who would presumably be Pete Brownell or Wayne LaPierre.

  18. doubtthat says

    Charlie Pierce says keeps your eyes on Mattis. If and when he resigns, make a bee-line for the nearest fallout shelter.

  19. KG says

    There’s no real point to negotiating with someone you know up front can’t be trusted to do what they say.

    So you’re saying there’s no point North Korea negotiating with the USA?

  20. emergence says

    blf @20

    That’s not much better. That rancid sack of monkey shit wants me and my fellow Californians dead because we don’t agree with his moronic ideology. He may try to pass it off as a joke, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he really does want us to get nuked. If a progressive joked that we should tell North Korea that Guam was in the middle of Texas, he’d be shrieking his head off and calling it terrorism.

  21. thirdmill says

    KG, No. 23, actually the US has a pretty good track record of keeping its international agreements. There are probably exceptions. But since the US has appointed itself world diplomat-in-chief, it would have a lot to lose by not keeping its agreements, since at that point it wouldn’t be able to successfully negotiate with anyone.

  22. specialffrog says

    Thirdmill: The Bush II administration didn’t always act in their own interests. They appear to have thought they could get a better deal through threats rather than what they saw as “appeasement”.

    I think it at least reasonable to suspect a lack of good faith on their part.

  23. KG says

    The mystery to me is why China *wouldn’t* want regime change in North Korea. – thirdmill@19

    Quite possibly they would welcome, say, a straightforward military coup. But they have no means of bringing it about that would not cause a massive refugee crisis, and risk a unified and potentially hostile Korea.

  24. KG says

    KG, No. 23, actually the US has a pretty good track record of keeping its international agreements. There are probably exceptions. But since the US has appointed itself world diplomat-in-chief, it would have a lot to lose by not keeping its agreements, since at that point it wouldn’t be able to successfully negotiate with anyone.

    No, it doesn’t, particularly if you include implicit agreements. There was at least an implicit agreement with Russia not to expand NATO to the east after the collapse of the USSR. There was an implicit agreement with Gadhafi not to have him overthrown when he gave up his chemical weapons and nuclear programme. And there was an explicit agreement, known as the United Nations Charter, not to wage war except in self-defence or with the approval of the UNSC, which was blatantly violated in the invasion of Iraq. That’s just off the top of my head. The Libyan and Iraqi examples are particularly relevant to North Korea’s situation.

  25. blf says

    emergence@24. Agreed. My concern at Alverant@18’s description of presumably the same incident is that it appears to use “alternative facts”. Leave that shite to hair furor & teh dalekocracy, please.

  26. emergence says

    I’m really hoping, however unlikely it might be, that Trump’s retainers in the whitehouse realize how fucking dangerous this situation is and manage to talk him down. The best way this could turn out is if Trump gets fitted with a ballgag and plays with his G.I. Joes while someone with a functioning brain tries to make sure we don’t get blown up.

  27. says

    The N Korean launchers are mobile and the rockets are solid fuel (can launch in 15 min). While Americans laugh at the fake rockets the Koreans parade in their military marches, they don’t realize that they’re decoys: which launcher has a real missile and which missile has a nuclear warhead? The THAAD batteries have the same problem. The N Koreans are not dumbasses or crazy at all – their military budget is 1/50 of the US’ and they’re following a rational strategy for their situation. The US’ strategy is to hanker after the status quo and bluster and delay. After the US demonstrated what happens to small powers that don’t have WMD, we can’t expect them to trust us (assuming they forgot the 1.5 million the US killed with bombs in the 1950s) We created a problem we can’t solve with force.

  28. Dark Jaguar says

    My prediction is that this time tomorrow the military will inform us that Trump never actually spoke with them before stating that.

  29. howardhershey says

    Does anyone think that Trump is at all concerned about millions of South Korean civilians dead and a significant world economy in ruins? I don’t. He might even think it would benefit the U.S. economy. Bet our ally (the one without an ambassador even nominated) doesn’t think it would bother him either. either.

  30. archangelospumoni says

    I think I already know the answer, but have any readers here spoken about this with their Drumpfheteer friends and acquaintances? Have any such Drumpfheteers actually thought about this crud?

    Let’s hope beyond what public statements exist that the military top level guys have taken some sort of oath sorta like in the last days of Nixon’s time when got drunk and walked around the White House, talking with the presidential portraits. The generals agreed NOT to carry out any crazy military orders.

  31. jrkrideau says

    At the rate this is going, Trump may be the cause of Korean re-unification if there is time. I can imagine South Korea joining North Korea in self-defence against the mad Americans and I am not really being fallacious.

    When my “ally” wants to get my capital blown to rat-shit, I may not be all that fond my putative ally. If this mess gets calmed down, I suspect the South Koreans are no going to be all that trusting of the USA. Well, they probably were not, before, but after this, assuming survival, they are going to be a lot less trusting of a country that is willing sacrifice a few 100Ks of their citizens and Seoul.

    Oh, and btw, about the USA living up to its agreements. Reportedly the International Atomic Energy Agency and US intelligence have confirmed that Iran is complying with all conditions of the seven party agreement. The US president refused to sign the certification and, supposedly, it took a full day of argument/cajoling to get him to sign. He says he definitely will not sign the next one in roughly 90 days. At the moment, no country in its right mind is going to trust the USA. The Mafia’s track record is not any worse.

  32. pipefighter says

    It would appear trump won’t rule out an intervention in Venezuela either. So let’s see, he wants to get in a fight with Iran, then North Korea, and now Venezuela, haven’t I heard this somewhere before?

  33. unperson says

    @Marcus Ranum: Solid fuel? The photos that I saw in the news all had big clouds of reddish smoke, indicating a nitrogen-rich fuel mixture. Probably involving something like IRFNA or N2O4 as an oxidizer and something like UDMH as fuel. Those are all liquid. However, they *are* storable (ie, non-crypogenic), so they can presumably still be launched on short notice.

  34. KG says

    The generals agreed NOT to carry out any crazy military orders [from Nixon]. – archangelspumoni@34

    AFAIK, this is pure myth. I have certainly never seen any evidence it is true.

  35. says

    The nokos have been digging in since 1953. The military can stay under solid rock. the ‘launch sites’ are very low sig targets and easily reconstituted. We had trouble finding Sadam’s scuds in a flat treeless desert. The noko population is completely indoctrinated. Kim averages 8 holes-in-one per 18-hole round. A war with them–even if the Chinese sat it out–would kill millions of civilians, probably 100 for every officer. Think Okinawa. Then the rest would finish the process of starvation they began at birth.. The noko army would pop out of their tunnels in 60,000 armored vehicles and roll over Seoul in five days, if they don’t nuke it. The survivors would belong to us, along with their psychoses and their inhospitable and piteously primitive country.

    A better, simpler, more economical plan would be to offer to trade Kim and his 5000 best friends say forty billion bucks and a couple of Bahamas for the whole country. A buyout. If they decline start flying b-52’s over them dropping small care packages full of rice and spam and surplus butter and Coke and back copies of Sports Illustrated and Vogue. Maybe parachute a bunch of satellite internet sets and bundles of iPhones with unlimited data. We could do that for ten years and get nowhere near the blood and treasure and fallout that would flow from even a brief ‘limited’ police action against a nation of 25 million paranoid, belligerent dwarves.

    Ice

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