Friday, March 15, 2013

'Oh, How Do We Solve The Problem Of Korea' ?


Not exactly the sound of music, is it?

Now that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has announced that the armistice that ended the Korean War is over and is openly making threats to attack the U.S. and 'other enemies', the Obama Administration is springing into action.

New Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the U.S. would move 14 new ground-based missile interceptors to Alaska in response.

The new interceptors will be based at Fort Greely, an Army launch site about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, and are projected to be fully deployed by 2017, Hagel said. The additions will bring the U.S.-based ground interceptor deployment from 30 to 44, including four that are based in California.

That will boost U.S. missile defense capability by 50 percent and "make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression," he said in a briefing at the Pentagon.



After four years of downgrading U.S. missile defense, the Obama Administration appears to have decided that it's a useful bugger to have around after all. The reason it's going to take until 2017 is because we still have to build them and their launch sites.

Kim, meanwhile,  isn't waiting.Today he essentially fired a shot across Japan's bow by conducting another weapons test and launching some short range KN-02s into the Sea of Japan.

North Korea already has missiles that can reach America's West Coast, although such an attack is at the limits of their current technology as far as we know.U.S. Ally Japan is just short hop by comparison, and as Scott Kirwan points out in this article, Japan might end up proving to be the target Kim has in mind:

The North Korean regime would really like to hurt the United States. An attack on the US would contain the element of surprise, and is ideologically the best target. But it’s also the hardest to hit. The continental US is over 9000 km away, meaning the North would have to rely upon its longest range missile to fly in a suborbital trajectory, providing ample time for the US to determine its trajectory and likely target and to employ its anti-missile defense systems. It has tested such a missile twice, and neither test was a complete success as far as our intelligence has learned, so not only would the missile have to survive US countermeasures, it would also have to avoid falling apart.

If the North Koreans are rational even in their apparent craziness, the only target is Japan – likely a sprawling metropolis such as the Kanto containing Tokyo and Yokohama or the Kansai area where Nara, Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka sit. These areas would not require precision guidance systems beyond current North Korean capabilities and fall well within range of its Taepodong 1 missile that North Korea fired over Japan in 1998. An attack on Japan would temper the response by both China and South Korea: China would be hard pressed to punish the regime for attacking a foe China itself is threatening war against over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and both North and South Koreas hold deep historical animosities towards Japan for its treatment as a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945.

If Japan was nuked by North Korea it cannot retaliate. It lacks nuclear weapons and its conventional forces do not have the capability for an invasion. Japan would therefore have to rely upon the United States. Would the US launch a nuclear attack against North Korea on Japan’s behalf? It’s not a given, and such uncertainty increases the risk of an attack on Japan.

The entire Korea situation is an example of how weakness and appeasement in response to aggression only brings on more of the same..and always at a higher cost.

There was no reason for the West to agree to a partition of Korea after WWII, just as there was no reason not to demand that the Soviets pull their armies out of Eastern Europe after the Nazis were defeated.In Europe, President Roosevelt,steered by Soviet agents like Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Curtie and Alger Hiss chose to believe Stalin's assurances, and so did Harry Truman, who kept the Roosevelt advisers in place after FDR's death.

There's no question that America, as the sole Atomic Power after WWII couldn't have sent the Red Army packing back to Russia and freed Eastern Europe.The Soviet victory in WWII would not have happened without substantial U.S. aid, and even Stalin knew that the Red Army was not ready for another war.

The rationale for allowing a partition of Korea was similar. It was a bribe to the Russians to aid the U.S. in what Truman supposed was the prospective invasion of the Japanese home islands. Once that proved unnecessary after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was no reason to allow the partition of Korea and had Truman stood up to Soviets, they would have had no choice but to withdraw.

Truman later compounded the error by ignoring South Korean leader Sygman Rhee's frantic request for heavy weapons, artillery and increased military assistance as Rhee watched the Nork's Soviet sponsored military  buildup on his borders. When the North Koreans invaded, our troops on the ground in South Korea lacked even enough basic ammo, let alone anti-tank weapons and they were completely overwhelmed.

Korea has been called the Forgotten War, but it was also an unnecessary one.

Even after the war started and General MacArthur had pushed enemy forces back to the Chinese border, Truman declined to take the steps that would have enabled victory - diplomatic negotiations with the Chinese that would have resulted in clear borders and a united Korea. That solution was possible even after the Chinese came in (as China always has when what they consider enemy forces are too close to their borders), although it might have required a few strikes on Chinese military installations as necessary once that happened to underline the need to Mao Tse Tung for a diplomatic solution.

It's worth remembering in this context that China only came in after Soviet assurances that they would back them..assurances which later proved as empty as the ones Stalin made to Roosevelt and Truman.

Instead of that, we settled for an armistice that left a poisonous regime in place.

The Kim regime has been gaming the West ever since...seizing the odd U.S. ship here and there, making agreements it had no intention of keeping, issuing numerous threats, attacking South Korean ships and territory, and acting as a major nuclear weapons proliferator - all without any significant action by the West,and especially by the U.S.


Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang on 14 July (L) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Phuket on 22 July (R)(Photo: Reuters)

It's the Iranian story all over again.Aside from enabling the Kim regime to survive in the first place after blatant aggression, we've never made the North Koreans suffer any significant cost for their actions since. Is it any wonder they're upping the ante? Or that they have no fear of U.S.response whatsoever?


B.Poster said...

If your assumptions about US power and the lack thereof with regards to NK, Russia, and China are correct, then your strategy may well be spot on, however, if your assumptions are not correct, the strategy you propse may be unworkable.

First of all given the penchant that US leaders and US intellegence services have for underestimating the capabilities and willingness of adversaries to undertake actions that are counter to our interests coupled with their tendencty to overestimate our capabilities with regards to our own abilities it should be assumed that NK not only has the capability to hit the US west coast and likely all of the US instead of the assumption that they probably don't have this capability yet.

Furthermore your understading of WWII very respectfully is flawed. Even had the US not been invloved in WWII, the allies, as long as Russia was on their side, still would have won the war. Without American assistance it would likely have taken longer and the casualties on both sides likely would have been higher due to a war of longer duration but Germany still looses. In contrast, America's involvement was not mission critical to the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Soviet/Russian involvement was.

If Stalin in fact "knew" the Soviet army was not ready for another war, perhaps he meant that it was not ready for another world war at the time, however, America's conventional forces would have presented only a minimual challenge to his forces at best. Even though America was the sole atomic power at the time, its nuclear arsenal would not have been sufficient to defeat the Soviet Union nor did it have the conventional forces to defeat the Soviet Union.

Essentially this is why the US had little real choice but to allow the Eastern Bloc to fall into Soviet hands and it had to allow for the partition of Korea. Throughout the Cold War the US was always checked by vastly superior conventional Soviet/Eastern Bloc forces. The only thing keeping the US and Western Europe essentially functioning as soverign countries was the US nuclear deterrent. Without this deterrent the US would have had very little chance.

We face a very simillar situation today as during the Cold War where we face adversaries whose conventional military capabilities and industrial capabilities far exceed our own. As such, its the height of absolute folly for some to propose a reduction of our nuclear deterrent!! This is the most important part of our national defense that at least might give us a fighting chance.

During the Cold War and throughout the situations you mentioned the US and its allies were always checked by more powerful enemies. The situation is not much different today. It's with that reality in mind that foreign policies must be charted.

A missle defense system that will be ready by 2017 would be downright comical if it were not so serious. I'd suggest that SK and Japan develop nuclear arsenals straight away. Given that the US lacks the capacity or even the willingness to defend them, such an approach would give those great nations a fighting chance at defending themselves.

It's long past time for the US to recognize its limitations as well and redeploy its military assets to sensible positions that maximize the potential for defending America's vital interests. This redeployment and the devlopment of viable nuclear arsenals for Japan and SK could be coordinated with the US and such a move would greatly serve the interests of each of these countries. This presents a wonderful opportunity for the US, if only its leaders are smart enough to sieze it.

With all of this said it is not impossible to defeat a more powerfu adversary. The US thwarted the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This means it can be done again!! In order to do so, it will likely require an honest assessment of the situation. Overly optimistic assessments of our own power or lack thereof with regards to adversaries or potential adversaries get us nowhere productive.

Rob said...

I've ceased trying to talk to you about what amounts to this fantasy of yours about the almighty Russian military. No nation with Russia's demographic problems and innate disruption is going to go to war, especially over North Korea. China is likewise a developing nation without a real blue water navy at this point, not to mention that their social stability and economy depends on exports to America.
They would be insane to flush almost one trillion in Chinese held U.S. debt down the toilet by going to war with us, not to mention what the loss of exports would do to their economy.

In other words, the Chinese are rational actors.

As for the Soviets being more powerful during the Cold would have to have seen Russian sailors in Mexican ports marveling over things like refrigerators and electric irons that worked, let alone markets that actually were fully stocked with goods and food to really get a sense of how far ahead of them we were.

(continued below)

Rob said...

WWII? Let's review some history.

It was the Soviet-Nazi non-aggression pact in 1939 that freed Hitler up to go to war, knowing that his Eastern front was secure. Not only did they divide Poland up between them, but Stalin became a major supplier of goods to the Nazis, right up until Barbarossa was launched in June of 1941.

Stalin made the same mistake Putin is making today with the Muslims and was caught totally by surprise.He had purged the Red Army of most of its capable and experienced leadership, and not anticipating war, Soviet stocks of artillery, ammunition, tanks and aircraft were no match for Hitler's Wermacht. Even more to the point, the captive populaces in Ukraine, Byelorus, and the Baltic Republics welcomed the Nazis as liberators, cheerfully helped them round up the Jews, produced for them and served in their armies.

The Soviets were retreating. utilizing a 'scorched earth' policy which meant they destroyed anything they could before skedaddling.They were moving whatever they could in the way of stocks and factories past the Urals.

At that point, we weren't in the war although we were supplying the allies with war materials. In America, the Communist Party, 'progressives', and the Soviet agents in FDR's admin changed their tune overnight.From being isolationists who wanted the US 'not to fight a war for imperialist Britain' they became insane agitators for us to get into the war once their precious Stalin was endangered.

FDR promptly put the USSR on the Lend-Lease gift list and we ran convoys into Murmansk and other ports to supply the Red Army. While the distances and the winter helped, without U.S. aid the Russians would never have been able to push back at Hitler effectively, and certainly could not have rolled the Nazis back the way they did.The great Soviet victory at Kursk would never have been won without US steel and ball bearings for tanks and US tank shells.

Proof of this, if it were needed can be found in Stalin's (and American communist's) constant, hysterical demands for a Second Front. Without our supplying them, without our landing in North Africa,(late Nov. 1942) Sicily (July '43) and Italy( late '43, early '44), and without D-Day (June 1944) to divide German resources and attention, the Russians would have never dislodged the Nazis.

After the war, the USSR was devastated. Soviet military losses were between 9 and 11 million, and civilian losses totaled another 13 to 15 million, a number of whom were killed by the Soviets themselves. That works out to between 13 and 14% of the USSR's population.The destruction of the USSR's infrastructure, farms and industrial base was even greater.

Our losses, by comparison in both Europe and the Pacific were 418,000...0.32%. And America was never invaded or devastated.

Also we had a relatively fresh, well supplied and battle hardened army in place in Europe as well as the A-Bomb which Stalin lacked.And the Brits and Churchill as allies.

You seriously think if we had insisted on Stalin keeping his word and told the USSR to get their behinds out of Eastern Europe, Korea and elsewhere they would have stood up to us?



B.Poster said...

I'm familiar with your analysis of the post WWII period and WWII. It's generally not mentioned so much because it wildy contradicts the conventional of America as an empire built on world domination. Also, it is clear that America then as now has been heavily infiltrated by enemy agents.

Personally it appears to me that acting to get America invovled in WWII was one of the few strategic blunders that Soviet leaders made. They would have won WWII without American assistance. A number of analysis point to this fact. Of course history worked out a certain way. We cannot "know" for certain what would have happened if different decisions were made.

The Russians likely would have stood up to us. They knew we were in no mood to take the kind of losses we would have taken to dislodge the Soviets. Some estimates put an estimate of 10 million lives this would have costs. Also, the culture of the Eastern bloc was/is radically differnt than our own. As such, they are not going to want us as guarantors of their security even if we were willing and able to do it. This would have resulted in a colossal insurgency.

As for Russia going to war, there is nothing like a foreign devil to bring disparate groups together. The Russians could be looking for such a situaion. Also, such a war likely would not likely take long. A Russian sneak attack would likely eliminate America's retalitory capabilites within hours. America would lack the capacity to respond after an all out Russian nuclear attack. Also, expect a cyber attack perhaps to occurr simaltaneously. The Russians and Chinese appear to have already penetrated key systems.

America needs Chinese imports more than china needs to export them. As such, a war harsm us more than it does them at this point. Furhtermore America's blue water Navy would suffer serious losses at the hands of Russian and Chinese anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.

None of this is necessarily meant to be alarmist. All the issues America faces are solvable but we are simply going to have to engage in realistic assessments of our strengths and weaknesses and chart policies accordingly.

Rob said...

It's not just 'my analysis'.

Read Churchill's history of WWII some time, or Eisenhower's 'Crusade in Europe'. In particular, pay attention to Stalin's cries for more and more U.S. aid convoys and pressing for a second front. Why were Stalin (and his American agents and dupes) so insistent on a second front and on U.S. aid if they were doing just fine without it?

There is absolutely no empirical or factual evidence that the Soviets would have won WWII without American assistance, and quite a bit to the contrary.

You're simply wrong about this one, Poster.

You also have no evidence that the Russians 'would have stood up to us.' In fact, every time we drew a line in the sand during the Cold War, they backed off. Berlin's a good example. In spite of war threats, they didn't do anything but maintain a blockade that they eventually dismantled once we started making noises about clearing a road to besieged Berlin.

And you'll notice that when it came to Korea, the reds instigated it and armed the Norks, but never came in themselves..they got the Chinese to do it.

Likewise, your assumptions that China could go along happily writing off almost a trillion of U.S. debt they hold and doing without U.S. exports is, well, naive, frankly.

China has no reason or rationale to go to war with us at this time, and if you think they trust the Russians as allies when push comes to shove, you need to learn a lot more about the history between th two nations IMO.

Ditto with your assumptions that our blue water Navy and our superior armed conventional forces would not be a factor. China is still a developing nation with severe demographic problems.

B.Poster said...

When I wrote this was "your analysis", I mis-wrote. I should have written the "analysis you present" or something to this effect. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

Why were Stalin and his supporters calling for US aid and for the US to open a second front? I've thought about this for a number of years and I'm really not sure. My first thought was it was one of the few strategic errors on their part, however, perhaps it was not. The Soviet/Russians have typically been much better at long range planning than and strategic thinking than the Americans or Western Europeans have been. As such, they may have recognized that if they had to fight the Nazis without US assistance, while they would have won, they would have suffered such losses they would not have been able to be a major world power after the war was over. By getting the Americans involved they were able to get assistance in defeating an enemy without harming themselves as much as they would have.

Also, I'm not sure they anticipated the Americans would develop nuclear weapons before they did. Without those weapons kicking the Americans out of Europe after the war would have likely been a fairly simple matter.

There are a number of commentators who have come to the conclusion the Soviets would have prevailed without American assistance. The massive edge in resources, fighting tactics, and leadership possessed by the Soviets is empirical enough for me to have figured this out a number of years ago. Admitedly most of the commentators who finally caught on are leftist loons who aren't right about much else. To this the saying "a broken clock is right twice a day" seems to apply.

I may be "simply wrong." Since history happened a certain way, there is no way to "know" what would have happened had it happened differently. I think a likely scenario is without American invlovement the war goes on longer with mroe casualties on all sides and Hitler has more time and is able to devote more resources to killing Jews.

All in all, getting involved in WWII was probably the right decision for the reason of stopping holocaust all by itself. Wtih that said America's role in allowing the holocaust against the Jews and aiding and abetting in it has never had a full accounting.

B.Poster said...

It seems highly unlikely the Soviets would have simply backed off simply because we decided to stnad up to them. What seems more likely is we gave up some things and they gave up some things allowing each side to save face and claim a tangible benefit. America's nuclear arsenal made it possible for America to neutralize other Soviet advantanges and this combined with good leadership at times enabled our nation to thwart a stronger adversary essentially by guile, determination, and probably more importantly divine intervention.

An example of both sides getting something is during the Cuban missle crisis. The Soviets gave up missle sites and the US agreeed not to interfere in Cuban affairs allowing Cuba to be a thorn in our side ever since. A clear victory for the Soviets here it would seem. I suspect the Berlin example resulted in the same dynamic. I would see no practical reason for the Soviets to back down simply because America said so or "drew a line in the sand." They'd need a good reason to do so.

As for getting the Chinese to go into Korea, the Russians/Soviets have always been good about getting proxies to do their bidding. Our people could learn a great deal from studying this. I'm not sure I suggested they "trust" each other. Simply the Russians and Chinese agree they have a common enemy and act under the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

I don't recall suggesting that China would be "happy" about writing off US debt or losing exports. Such an event, would hurt the US far worse than it would China. With the proper leadership and economic policies we could wean ourselves off of Chinese imports within 15 years and we could give ourselves some leverage when dealing with them within 5 years.

Maybe you lack familiarity with Chinese and Russian anti-ship missles. Since a direct conflict has not occurred yet between them and the US, it may not be possible with 100% certainty to know how it would come out but I think it is more likely than not that the US blue water Navy would suffer significant losses. This combined with superiorities elsewhere that the Chinese and the Russians have would make victory for the US problematic at best.

Any military plan to confront North Korea, Iran, or Syria would have to assume the Russians and the Chinese will come to the aid of their allies to the fullest extent possible. Any thing else is to be negligent in planning and would suggest gross incompetence on the part of the planners.

As for demographic problems, the US has murdered up of 30 million unborn babies since Roe v Wade. This combined with massive national debt makes America's future challenging at best. At least China and Russia appear to be recognizing the need to change course on these types of policies. In contrast, America appears to be doubling down on these types of policies. In any event, even if America suddenly gets perfect leadership the damage done makes America's demographic problems much worse than those faced by China and likely Russia as well. In any event, nothing like a foreign devil to bring disparate groups together. For these countries, America seems to fit the bill perfectly. America's leaders need to understand this.

Rob said...

There's an interesting difference in our last two back and forths.I'm stating an empirical fact, that Stalin and his U.S. agents screamed for a second front and increased U.S. aid.

You, OTOH, are speculating and trying to twist that fact to bolster a premise you really have no facts to back up IMO, that the Soviets could have won WWII without U.S. help.

...the Soviets would have prevailed without American assistance. The massive edge in resources, fighting tactics, and leadership possessed by the Soviets is empirical enough for me to have figured this out a number of years ago.

Poster..a lot of the Soviet resources that were easily transferable to the European front had been destroyed in Stalin's scorched earth policy, and a lot of the rest had been purloined by the Nazis. The Soviets also had to occupy hostile people like the Hungarians,Poles and Ukrainians behind their lines who hated them.

Leadership? Tactics? Did Zhukov or any other Soviet general come close to matching Patton, Bradley, Montgomery or Eisenhower in accomplishments? They had straight forward land battles, not amphibious landings against defended coasts like D-Day, Anzio and Sicily. And when you examine Stalingrad, Kursk and other Soviet victories, they were bloodbaths that would have been impossible without U.S. aid.

Sorry, no sale sir.

And BTW, Roosevelt told Stalin at Yalta that we were working on 'a bomb of never before seen destructive power'. Not to mention the spies he had in FDR's administration.

After the A-Bombs were dropped in Japan and Japan surrendered, the Red Army would have retreated had we been resolute. They would have had no choice.


Rob said...

Actually Poster, the death toll from Roe V Wade is more like 60 million plus.

But our birthrate has replaced at least some of those numbers. Hispanic immigrants tend to have families.

You're perhaps unfamiliar with China and Russia's real demographic problems. In China, they had (and may still have) a one child policy. Most Chinese families opted for boys, aborting girl babies until they got one. The result is a massive shortage of fertile available women and a plummeting birthrate. China is scheduled to get older and a lot poorer before it gets richer.

In Russia, there are 13 abortions for every 10 live births.

Both China and Russia are no longer reproducing at even close to replacement level.

We still are. Numbers don't lie.

And you really think that losing a trillion dollars and the export market they depend on for their prosperity would hurt us more than China? How are they going to afford the oil needed to keep their economy going?


BTW, those vaunted anti-ship missiles don't work too well after a JDAM a tactical nuke or Blockbuster has been dropped on them Poster. Not to mention our own ship to ship and ship to shore missiles, our wqrplanes and our nuclear subs. Do you really think our Navy is just going to stand there as a target? And how is China going to import the oil it desperately needs from the Middle East with no $$ to pay for it, no control of the sea lanes and the US Navy on the prowl? And don't tell me 'pipelines'. In the event of war, don't you think we'd take them out?

And why would you even imagine that Russia or China would go to war over Korea with the U.S. anyway? Let alone flush centuries of history and trust each other as actual allies?

I'm honestly trying to be respectful, but I don't think you've thought a lot of this out.