Archive for the ‘North Korean H Bomb test’ category

Our Rhineland moment

September 17, 2017

Our Rhineland moment, Israel National News, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, September 17, 2017

Just as the Neville Chamberlains of 1939 were so paralyzed by fear of a replay of World War I that they preferred to ignore or explain away Nazi Germany’s rearmament and Imperial Japan’s naval build-up, their U.S. counterparts in 2017 are so fearful of facing a nuclear-armed North Korea that some would like to pretend a nation that has the H-Bomb cannot build a simple reentry vehicle or make an EMP attack.

Our elites cling to the fantasy that China and economic sanctions can save us, that North Korean denuclearization can be achieved peacefully.  But the evidence is now overwhelming that China and Russia have helped build the North Korean nuclear threat as part of their New Cold War to force the United States out of the Pacific and out of its role as the world policeman.

When the U.S. and its allies must seek security from North Korea by appealing for help from Beijing and Moscow, as we are doing now, the world order is already being transformed.  The Nuclear Axis seeks our acquiescence to their domination, peacefully if possible, if necessary through war.

North Korea’s nuclear Hitler has entered the technological Rhineland of H-Bombs and ICBMs.  We must strike.

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North Korea’s successful test of an H-Bomb on September 2 has been preceded by many years of denial behavior by U.S. statesmen, intelligence experts, academics and the press about the sophistication of Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program. Again?

Is the naivete and willful blindness that helped begin World War II on September 1, 1939, being repeated in the response of the U.S. and its allies to North Korea’s nuclear missile program, that apparently tested a thermonuclear H-Bomb warhead on September 2, 2017?

Parallels are striking between what psychiatrists describe as “denial behavior” by western elites that contributed to the Second World War, and “denial behavior” toward the North Korean nuclear threat.

As everyone used to know, when history was taught in schools, prior to 1939 Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan ruthlessly violated international treaties to arm themselves for a major war of conquest, that would become World War II.  Berlin and Tokyo were ineffectually opposed by the League of Nations and the western democracies, who would become their victims.

Less well known is that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were helped, unwittingly, by western statesmen, military experts, academics and the press, who could not believe any rational actor would risk replaying the holocaust that was World War I, still recent in many memories.  Complex rationalizations were invented to explain away the words and deeds of Adolph Hitler and Imperial Japan, including their treaty violations and aggression.

Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan’s growing military strength, when it could no longer be denied, was dismissed by confidence that the horrors of a new world war would be sufficient to deter.  Mutual Assured Destruction was an article of faith before World War II, expressed in different words, as when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain opined, “The bomber will always get through.”

Underestimation of German and Japanese military capabilities set up the allies for near defeat when war came.

North Korea’s successful test of an H-Bomb on September 2 has been preceded by many years of denial behavior by U.S. statesmen, intelligence experts, academics and the press about the sophistication of Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program:

–Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was primitive and tiny, perhaps as few as 6 A-Bombs.  Now the intelligence community estimates North Korea has 60 nuclear weapons.

–Just six months ago, many experts thought North Korea’s ICBMs were fake missiles, only for show, and most experts thought, if they were real, they could not strike the U.S. mainland.  Now the intelligence community estimates North Korea’s ICBMs can strike at least as far as Chicago, and probably hit anywhere in the United States.

–Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea was many years away from developing an H-Bomb.  Now the U.S. intelligence community assesses that North Korea has the H-Bomb, with a yield tested at 140 kilotons (Japan estimates160 kilotons), about 14-16 times more powerful than the A-Bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, comparable in power to sophisticated U.S. two-stage thermonuclear weapons.

–Just six months ago, most experts claimed North Korean ICBMs could not deliver a nuclear warhead, because Pyongyang had not yet “demonstrated” it could miniaturize an A-Bomb to fit inside a reentry vehicle, or design a reentry vehicle capable of penetrating the atmosphere.  Now the intelligence community assesses North Korea has miniaturized A-Bombs and H-Bombs, and reentry vehicles for missile delivery, including by ICBMs that can strike the United States.

Perhaps the most extreme denial behavior is over North Korea’s capability to make a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack-that could destroy the United States with a single weapon.  The blue ribbon Congressional EMP Commission has warned for years that North Korea probably has Super-EMP weapons.

North Korea confirmed the EMP Commission’s assessment by testing an H-Bomb that could make a devastating EMP attack, and in a public statement: “The H-Bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multi-functional thermonuclear weapon with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals.”

Pyongyang also released a technical report accurately describing a Super-EMP weapon.

Just six months ago, some academics dismissed EMP Commission warnings and even, literally, laughed on National Public Radio at the idea North Korea could make an EMP attack.

Amazingly, Sig Hecker, a respected scientist and former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is still in denial about the North Korean EMP threat, claiming it must be disinformation.  But since their H-Bomb is undeniably real, so too is North Korea’s EMP threat.

Amazingly, some academics are still bending over backwards to deny North Korea has miniaturized warheads, reentry vehicles, and ICBMs that can strike the U.S., inventing preposterous theories to escape reality, just like their brethren who paved the way to World War II with denial.

Just as the Neville Chamberlains of 1939 were so paralyzed by fear of a replay of World War I that they preferred to ignore or explain away Nazi Germany’s rearmament and Imperial Japan’s naval build-up, their U.S. counterparts in 2017 are so fearful of facing a nuclear-armed North Korea that some would like to pretend a nation that has the H-Bomb cannot build a simple reentry vehicle or make an EMP attack.

Another factor that helped bring on World War II was the western democracies were undergoing a civilizational crisis, as we are today.

Elites and peoples lost faith in themselves and their institutions as a result of the Great Depression and World War I.  Many believed the false narrative that the First World War resulted from a conspiracy by “merchants of death” among the industrial and political elites to become wealthy by war profiteering.  Nationalism was condemned by many as the root of war.  Globalists of the 1920s and 1930s fantasized that a Kellogg-Briand Pact and League of Nations could outlaw war, just as globalists today fantasize that the United Nations, international treaties and sanctions can achieve a world without nuclear weapons, while doubting the nationalist values and institutions that made the United States, and the Free World, great and free.

Indeed, economic sanctions against Imperial Japan, viewed as a peaceful way to stop Tokyo’s aggression against China and Manchuria, instead resulted in Japan’s surprise attack against the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Most dangerous, the Neville Chamberlains of 1939 believed that because “the bomber will always get through” they could deter World War II.  The Neville Chamberlains of 2017 are so fearful of nuclear weapons that they are ready to surrender to the fantasy that we can learn to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Those like Susan Rice, former national security advisor to President Obama, who are willing to make the world, in President Kennedy’s famous words about protecting freedom, “pay any price, bear any burden” to stop Global Warming, are all too eager to surrender our children to a future of Mutual Assured Destruction with Kim Jong-Un.

The new rationalization for doing nothing militarily is it is too late, would cost too many lives, and we can learn to live with nuclear North Korea as we did with the USSR during the Cold War.  But North Korea is not the USSR, and the nuclear-armed Caligula in Pyongyang is not  Moscow’s Politburo, dangerous as it was.  And the Cold War is no good paradigm for survival.  The world barely escaped a thermonuclear holocaust at least a dozen times. (See my book “War Scare: Russia and America on the Nuclear Brink.”)

The U.S. and allied elites have so educated themselves about the horrors of nuclear war that we are self-deterred, and will not act militarily to save ourselves.

Our elites cling to the fantasy that China and economic sanctions can save us, that North Korean denuclearization can be achieved peacefully.  But the evidence is now overwhelming that China and Russia have helped build the North Korean nuclear threat as part of their New Cold War to force the United States out of the Pacific and out of its role as the world policeman.

When the U.S. and its allies must seek security from North Korea by appealing for help from Beijing and Moscow, as we are doing now, the world order is already being transformed.  The Nuclear Axis seeks our acquiescence to their domination, peacefully if possible, if necessary through war.

If Russia and China’s North Korean nuclear gambit works in the Pacific, look next to Iran going nuclear, creating another nuclear crisis for the United States and its allies in the Middle East and Europe.  Iran’s nuclear missile program has been and is being helped by Moscow, Beijing, and Pyongyang, because Tehran is part of the Nuclear Axis waging the New Cold War against the still unwitting democracies of East and West.

U.S. abject surrender to a nuclear-armed North Korea by accepting Mutual Assured Destruction with Kim Jong-Un for ourselves and our allies, after proclaiming for 25 years that this is impossible, will destroy our credibility.  Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran will see such weakness as an invitation to aggression in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and against the United States.

Just as the Neville Chamberlains of 1939 brought World War II on themselves, the Neville Chamberlains of 2017 are on the verge of bringing on World War III.

Most historians agree that World War II could have been prevented and 60 million lives saved if the Allies had crushed Hitler when his military was still weak in 1936, but he seized the Rhineland anyway to test their political will.

Right now, North Korea has two satellites and fewer than a dozen ICBMs that could threaten the U.S. homeland.  These the U.S. could assuredly destroy in a very limited surgical strike using conventional weapons.

Kim Jong-Un would not likely retaliate massively as his regime would remain in power and retain nearly 1,000 short and medium-range missiles armed with conventional, chemical, biological, and nuclear warheads.  Nonetheless, the U.S. should be prepared to promptly launch a large-scale disarming strike against North Korea using all means necessary-including nuclear weapons.

If Kim is so aggressive that he would bring on himself a nuclear holocaust over the loss of a dozen missiles and two satellites, we had better deal with him now, before he has 100 ICBMs.

North Korea’s nuclear Hitler has entered the technological Rhineland of H-Bombs and ICBMs.  We must strike.

Sent to Arutz Sheva by the author. A version of this piece also appeared on http://www.newsmax.com/

FULL MEASURE: September 10, 2017 – Korean Conflict

September 11, 2017

FULL MEASURE: September 10, 2017 – Korean Conflict via YouTube, September 10, 2017

 

FDR’s ‘Rattlesnake’ Rule and the North Korean Threat

September 6, 2017

FDR’s ‘Rattlesnake’ Rule and the North Korean Threat, Gatestone Institute, John R. Bolton, September 6, 2017

(FDR may have honored his “Rattlesnake Rule” vis a vis Germany. He did not do so vis a vis Japan. We should honor it vis a vis North Korea and its enablers. –DM)

“When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.” By these words in a Sept. 11, 1941, fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt authorized US warships to fire first against Nazi naval vessels, which he called “the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic.”

Roosevelt’s order applied whenever German or Italian ships entered “waters of self-defense” necessary to protect the US, including those surrounding US outposts on Greenland and Iceland.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Image source: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons)

Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt’s words still resonate. North Korea’s sixth nuclear test last weekend, along with its significantly increased ballistic-missile testing, establishes that Pyongyang is perilously close to being able to hit targets across the continental United States with nuclear warheads, perhaps thermonuclear ones.

The Nazi threat to US shipping, both normal commercial traffic and war supplies destined for Great Britain, was undeniably significant, and the Axis powers’ broader totalitarian threat was existential. Nonetheless, right up to Dec. 7, 1941, many American leaders urged caution to avoid provoking the Axis and thereby risking broader conflict. Pearl Harbor followed.

In his chat, Roosevelt observed that others had “refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it actually had them by the throat.” We shouldn’t commit that mistake today. North Korea’s behavior, and its lasting desire to conquer the South, have created the present crisis.

Letting Kim Jong-un’s bizarre regime “have America by the throat,” subjecting us and our allies to perpetual nuclear extortion, is not an acceptable outcome.

We have endured 25 years of US diplomatic failure, with endless rounds of negotiations, presenting North Korea with the choice between economic incentives or sanctions. During this time, which certainly constitutes “not looking the danger squarely in the eye,” North Korea has repeatedly breached commitments to abandon its nuclear-weapons program, often made in return for handsome compensation.

Nonetheless, we hear echoes from Roosevelt’s day that “there is no acceptable military option” when it comes to Pyongyang. This means, as Susan Rice said recently, “we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea,” as we did with the Soviets in Cold War days. The US should not accept such counsels of despair, based on dangerously facile and wildly inaccurate historical analogies.

Why accept a future of unending nuclear blackmail by Pyongyang, whose governing logic is hardly that of Cold War Moscow, and which would entail not that era’s essentially bipolar standoff, but a far-more-dangerous world of nuclear multipolarity?

If Washington lets Kim retain his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, his regime will happily sell these materials and technologies to Iran, other rogue states or terrorist groups for the right price. This is another key difference from the Cold War; Moscow was substantially more worried about nuclear proliferation than Pyongyang now is.

It would be, as Roosevelt understood, “inexcusable folly” to ignore North Korea’s pattern of behavior over the last quarter century: “We Americans are now face to face not with abstract theories but with cruel, relentless facts.” For America in 1941, hope of sheltering behind the oceans was fast disappearing, forcing Roosevelt to extend our maritime defense perimeter effectively across the Atlantic to Europe.

In the age of ICBMs, there’s no “perimeter”; we are at risk in agonizingly short time frames of a missile’s flight launched anywhere, whether from North Korea or Iran. It is completely unacceptable to say we must await a first strike by Pyongyang before we will resort to military force. Roosevelt dismissed such arguments peremptorily: “Let us not say: ‘We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and passengers are drowned.’ ”

The remaining diplomatic options are few, and the time to exercise them dwindling fast. Convincing China that its national interests would be enhanced by reunifying the two Koreas, thus ending what Beijing itself believes is a threat to peace and security in northeast Asia, remains possible. Unfortunately, this is increasingly hard to accomplish before North Korea becomes a fully mature nuclear-weapons state.

We’re moving rapidly to the point where Roosevelt said squarely, “It is the time for prevention of attack.” George W. Bush spoke equally directly in 2002: “Our security will require all Americans to be . . . ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.” The alternative is potentially global proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the attendant risks lasting beyond our power to calculate.

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

This article first appeared in The New York Post and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

SKorea to deploy more THAAD launchers Thursday

September 6, 2017

SKorea to deploy more THAAD launchers Thursday, DEBKAfile, September 6, 2017

South Korea will add four more launchers to its advanced missile defense system on Thursday amid heightening tensions with North Korea, the South’s Defense Ministry said. The step came after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday. Two launchers from the US-made Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system were deployed in April to counter rising threats from the North.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Vladivostok to discuss the North Korea nuclear issue.

When nothing deters the clever brutal tyrant

September 5, 2017

When nothing deters the clever brutal tyrant, Washinton TimesWesley Pruden, September 4, 2017

(Words, words, I’m so sick of words.

Yep. But not in the same context — DM)

Kim Jong-Un

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If words were bullets, the crazy fat kid in Pyongyang would have been dead a long time ago, with his ample carcass on display now within a shrine of marble, plaster and tears. But under that goofy haircut there’s a brain that is not so crazy at all.

Words, words, words. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says North Korea is “begging for war,” which suggests that North Korea will get it if the begging continues. “Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited.”

President Trump telephoned President Moon Jae-in in Seoul and they agreed that the fat kid’s explosion of a hydrogen bomb, underground or not, is not only a grave provocation, but “unprecedented,” too.

One after another, diplomats of America’s more or less reliable European allies, Britain, France and Italy, renewed demands for Kim Jong-un to behave himself, or else be sent to his room without supper. They demand that he halt his nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile scheme, or else — “else” being more of the sanctions that so far haven’t worked.

Francois Delattre, the French ambassador to the U.N., proposes “new” sanctions by the U.N., implementing the sanctions already in place, and new and separate sanctions that also might not work by the European Union. Words, words, words.

Sebastiano Cardi, the Italian ambassador, repeats the chorus as if he were singing the grace notes in an aria from Verdi: “Pyongyang poses a clear threat challenging the global nonproliferation regime.” Mr. Cardi is chairman of the U.N. North Korean compliance committee, and observes that North Korea is the only country to have tested a nuclear device in the 21st century. Mr. Cardi imagines this might shame the fat kid, but Kim takes it as a compliment. He has the toys that the other kids can only envy.

Japan and South Korea have unique critical concerns, sharing a neighborhood with the villains in the North. “We cannot waste any more time,” says the Japanese ambassador, Koro Bessho. “We need North Korea to feel the pressure, that if they go down this road there will be consequences.”

All true, all to the point, but Kim can count it all as just more yada, yada, yada from those he torments. He has his neighbors, and the lord protector the United States, backed into a corner, and he has never had so much fun. He doesn’t mind being the international pariah. He knows the United States dare not put the American boot with its hobnails on his neck, where it could squash him like a bug on the sidewalk, for fear of inviting massive retaliation on Seoul, killing upwards of a million innocents.

Nikki Haley suggests spreading the pain of sanctions, punishing nations that do business with Pyongyang, whether in contraband food and oil, or textiles, the profitable North Korean export so far untouched by the sanctions in place. Tighter limits on exporting North Korean laborers to other nations have been suggested, too. Much of the money these laborers earn is confiscated by the Pyongyang government, and important to the North Korean economy.

Russia and China, always eager to be helpful, suggest bartering Kim’s nuclear threat against the American guarantee of South Korean national security. Eliminate both and every conflict would be resolved, every rough place made smooth and plain. Both Russia and China know this is unacceptable to both Washington and Seoul, and it’s not a solution offered in good faith, anyway.

Some diplomats, pundits and other speculators argue that since nothing else works, returning to “diplomacy,” that vague and formless cure-all that usually cures nothing and invites only more yada, yada, yada, is the way to go. “Jaw, jaw beats war, war,” as Mr. Churchill said, but jaw, jaw has its limits, too.

Doing nothing is what brought the United States — and its allies — to the present moment. Bill Clinton, distracted by staining Monica Lewinsky’s little blue dress and spending the rest of his attention on the hot pursuit of other passing skirts, imagined that sending groceries to North Korea would transform the Kim family into small-d democrats, eager to make the world a happy place. They took the groceries and continued work on splitting the atom. Barack Obama, itching to reduce America’s size in the world, was always ready to make another speech, but not much else.

No one disputes that the way forward is hard, but the threat of an out-of-control regime armed with nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them to faraway places, is real and the hour is late. The strategy of three presidential administrations seems fashioned by Mr. Micawber, the Dickens character who could never quite succeed at anything but was always sure that “something will turn up.” Something must, and soon.

• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.

Fat Kim threatens Trump (again)

September 5, 2017

Fat Kim threatens Trump (again), American ThinkerGary Gindler, September 5, 2017

(This is the most fascinating, and best, suggestion on dealing with North Korean nukes I have read thus far –  force China to take care of the problem. Please see also, Chinese Official Says China Might Invade Taiwan If “Peaceful Reunification Takes Too Long.” — DM)

It’s time for Trump to make an unconventional move – a move no one expects.

It is better not to increase the U.S. military potential in the region.  On the contrary, it is better to completely withdraw all American troops from both South Korea and Japan.

In fact, American troops need to be relocated not into the continental U.S., but to Taiwan.

This move by Trump will make China stop playing the role of an outside observer.  China will be faced with a choice – either China joins Trump on this issue, or she will never get back Taiwan, where the headquarters of the 7th U.S. Navy Fleet will now be located.

Of course, America’s allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, in the face of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, will quite justifiably demand new guarantees of protection from the U.S. government.  America should renew its lend-lease program from the Second World War and lease over to Japan and South Korea, for a term of 99 years, all the nuclear weapons they will ask for.  The military budgets of these countries will skyrocket.  China’s inaction toward the Fat Kim regime will lead to the fact that in addition, China will get two unfriendly nuclear powers armed to the teeth at her own border.

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After Kim Jong-un tested his hydrogen bomb, everything in the world went just as we could expect.  Someone started saber-rattling, and someone insisted that the problem of nuclear North Korea cannot be solved by military means under any circumstances.

Both use very serious arguments.  Those who support appeasement of Kim quite reasonably note that the capital of South Korea, with its 25 million-strong population, is at an artillery salvo distance from the border with North Korea.  Even a limited volley from the north will lead to hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties.  Supporters of a massive blow to North Korea argue that it is better to have thousands of casualties among Koreans than to wait until the hydrogen bomb explodes over San Francisco and Americans become the victims.

Both sides have numerous supporters in the highest echelons of power in Washington.

Meanwhile, Fat Kim does not present a threat to the United States at present.  Fat Kim is a threat to President Trump.

Fat Kim is not a dumb bump.  He’s just one of the players in the next political show of the Axis countries.  The North Korean crisis allows others hostile to America – countries such as Iran, Russia, and Syria (i.e., Axis countries) – to check Trump’s resolve.  China is not a member of this Axis, but it watches Trump with great pleasure as he tries to get out of this entrapment.

All the Axis countries are linked by longstanding nuclear technology ties.  Of all the Axis countries, only Syria lacks this technology (the Syrian nuclear reactor, which was built by North Korean engineers, was bombed by Israel in 2007).

The Axis countries are waiting for Trump’s move.  A standard geopolitical analysis shows that there are many options for Trump, but they all range from bad to very bad.

It’s time for Trump to make an unconventional move – a move no one expects.

It is better not to increase the U.S. military potential in the region.  On the contrary, it is better to completely withdraw all American troops from both South Korea and Japan.

In fact, American troops need to be relocated not into the continental U.S., but to Taiwan.

This move by Trump will make China stop playing the role of an outside observer.  China will be faced with a choice – either China joins Trump on this issue, or she will never get back Taiwan, where the headquarters of the 7th U.S. Navy Fleet will now be located.

Of course, America’s allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, in the face of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, will quite justifiably demand new guarantees of protection from the U.S. government.  America should renew its lend-lease program from the Second World War and lease over to Japan and South Korea, for a term of 99 years, all the nuclear weapons they will ask for.  The military budgets of these countries will skyrocket.  China’s inaction toward the Fat Kim regime will lead to the fact that in addition, China will get two unfriendly nuclear powers armed to the teeth at her own border.

If Trump adds to this the ban on trade with all countries that have trade relations with North Korea, then China, with four fifths of its economy dependent on the U.S. market, will suffer the most.

There is every reason to believe that China will make a reasonable choice.  Most likely, she will do this much earlier than the first transport from Japan with the U.S. Marine Corps docks in Taipei.  It is unreasonable to assume that China does not have a well conceived plan for rapid regime change in North Korea.

If wisdom escapes the Chinese communists, then as the icing on the cake, they will get a united Korea at their side.  Capitalistic.  And nuclear.

 

North Korea’s Ultimatum to America

September 5, 2017

North Korea’s Ultimatum to America, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, September 5, 2017

(We should strike North Korea and eliminate it as a nuclear threat. We have first-strike capability which, if used can eliminate the danger to South Korea and Japan as well as to America. Perhaps we should wait — but not long — until North Korea “tests” a missile directed toward Guam. Then we should act immediately and without warning. We can even do it successfully without using our own nukes. On the other hand, we have a new option. Please see also, How to neutralize the North Korea threat. It might, or might not, work. If it works as advertised, great. If it fails, we will have lost very little. –DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

If the US strikes North Korea in a credible manner and successfully diminishes its capacity to physically threaten the US, America will have taken the first step towards rebuilding its alliances in Asia.

On the other hand, if the current round of hostilities does not end with a significant reduction of North Korea’s offensive capabilities, either against the US or its allies, then the US will be hard pressed to maintain its posture as a Pacific power. So long as Pyongyang has the ability to directly threaten the US and its allies, US strategic credibility in East Asia will be shattered.

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The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.

If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.

In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.

The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.

First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.

Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.

Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.

The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited.

In an interview Sunday with Fox News’s Trish Regan, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was asked about the possible repercussions of a US military assault against North Korea for the security of South Korea.

Regan asked, “What are we risking though if we say we’re going to go in with strategic military strength?… Are we going to end up with so many people’s lives gone in South Korea, in Seoul because we make that move?” Bolton responded with brutal honesty.

“Let me ask you this: how do you feel about dead Americans?” In other words, Bolton said that under prevailing conditions, the US faces the painful choice between imperiling its own citizens and imperiling the citizens of an allied nation. And things will only get worse. Bolton warned that if North Korea’s nuclear threat is left unaddressed, US options will only become more problematic and limited in the years to come.

This then brings us to the third lesson of the current round of confrontation between the US and North Korea.

If you appease an enemy on behalf of an ally then you aren’t an ally.

And eventually your alliance become empty of all meaning.

For 25 years, three successive US administrations opted to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear program in large part out of concern for South Korea.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sought to appease North Korea’s aggressive nuclear adventurism because they didn’t believe they had a credible military option to deal with it.

In the 1980s, North Korea developed and deployed a conventional arsenal of bombs and artillery along the demilitarized zone capable of vaporizing Seoul.

Any US military strike against North Korea’s nuclear installation it was and continues to be argued, would cause the destruction of Seoul and the murder of millions of South Koreans.

So US efforts to appease Pyongyang on behalf of Seoul emptied the US-South Korean alliance of meaning. The US can only serve as the protector of its allies, and so assert its great power status in the Pacific and worldwide, if it prevents its allies from being held hostage by its enemies.

And now, not only does the US lack a clear means of defending South Korea, and Japan, America itself is threatened by the criminal regime it demurred from effectively confronting.

Regardless of the means US President Donald Trump decides to use to respond to North Korea’s provocative actions and threats to America’s national security, given the nature of the situation, it is clear that the balance of forces on the ground cannot and will not remain as they have been.

If the US strikes North Korea in a credible manner and successfully diminishes its capacity to physically threaten the US, America will have taken the first step towards rebuilding its alliances in Asia.

On the other hand, if the current round of hostilities does not end with a significant reduction of North Korea’s offensive capabilities, either against the US or its allies, then the US will be hard pressed to maintain its posture as a Pacific power. So long as Pyongyang has the ability to directly threaten the US and its allies, US strategic credibility in East Asia will be shattered.

This then brings us to China.

China has been the main beneficiary of North Korea’s conventional and nuclear aggression and brinksmanship.

This state of affairs was laid bare in a critical way last month.

In mid-August, Trump’s then chief strategist Steve Bannon was preparing a speech Trump was set to deliver that would have effectively declared a trade war against China in retaliation for its predatory trade practices against US companies and technology. The speech was placed in the deep freeze – and Bannon was forced to resign his position – when North Korea threatened to attack the US territory of Guam with nuclear weapons. The US, Trump’s other senior advisers argued, couldn’t declare a trade war against China when it needed China’s help to restrain North Korea.

So by enabling North Korea’s aggression against the US and its allies, China has created a situation where the US has become neutralized as a strategic competitor.

Rather than advance its bilateral interests – like curbing China’s naval aggression in the South China Sea – in its contacts with China, the US is forced into the position of supplicant, begging China to restrain North Korea in order to avert war.

If the US does not act to significantly downgrade North Korea’s offensive capabilities now, when its own territory is being threatened, it is difficult to see how the US will be able to develop an effective strategy for coping with China’s rise as an economic and strategic rival in Asia and beyond. That is, the US’s actions now in response to North Korea’s threat to its national security will determine whether or not the US will be in a position to develop and implement a wider strategy for maintaining its capacity to project its economic and military power in the Pacific in the near and long term.

Finally, part of the considerations that need to inform US action now involve what North Korea’s success in developing a nuclear arsenal under the noses of successive US administrations means for the future of nuclear proliferation.

In all likelihood, unless the North Korean nuclear arsenal is obliterated, Pyongyang’s nuclear triumphalism will precipitate a spasm of nuclear proliferation in Asia and in the Middle East. The implications of this for the US and its allies will be far reaching.

Not only can Japan and South Korea be reasonably expected to develop nuclear arsenals. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other inherently unstable Arab states can be expected to develop or purchase nuclear arsenals in response to concerns over North Korea and its ally Iran with its nuclear weapons program linked to Pyongyang’s.

In other words, if the US does not respond in a strategically profound way to Pyongyang now, it will not only lose its alliance system in Asia, it will see the rapid collapse of its alliance system and superpower status in the Middle East.

Israel, for one, will be imperiled by the sudden diffusion of nuclear power.

Monday morning, North Korea followed up its thermonuclear bomb test with a spate of threats to destroy the United States. These threats are deadly even if North Korea doesn’t attack the US with its nuclear weapons. If the US does not directly defeat North Korea in a clear-cut way now, its position as a superpower in Asia and worldwide will be destroyed and its ability to defend its own citizens will be called into question with increasing frequency and lethality.