Friday, August 11, 2017
When any attack is an existential threat
There is no such thing as a measured military response. And that is the point where the reckless testing of Kim Jong Pudge and the insupportable bluster of Cheeto Mussolini has gotten us.
North Korea’s threat on Thursday to test-fire ballistic missiles soon near the American territory of Guam deepened the challenge confronting the Trump administration: how to defang Pyongyang’s missile programs without risking all-out war.When the shooting starts there is no way to controlwhat will happen next. So does Cheeto move them or sacrifice them, because North Korea knows that in the event of any attack, they are going down and they are determined to take as much as possible with them.
President Trump has made clear that his goal is to deny North Korea the capability to field a long-range nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the United States.
And though the Pentagon still hopes for a diplomatic solution, highly classified military options are at the ready, last seriously debated when the Clinton administration pondered pre-emptive action to try to thwart North Korea’s nuclear program.
Even a limited strike against a North Korean missile on its launching pad or the shooting down of a missile in midair would pose risks that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, might retaliate, setting off a spiral of escalation that could plunge the Korean Peninsula into war.
“In the event of a first strike against Kim, even a non-nuclear option, it is highly likely that Kim would retaliate at least conventionally against South Korea,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star admiral who is now dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. “This almost certainly would create an upward spiral of violence which would be extremely difficult to manage or to mitigate.”
On Thursday, however, North Korea raised the stakes by saying that it was considering a plan to test-fire four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles in international waters near Guam, home to American air and naval bases as well as a Thaad antimissile system.
Mr. Trump hinted broadly later in the day that he has his own military options in mind. “Obviously we’re spending a lot of time looking at, in particular, North Korea,” he told reporters, “and we are preparing for many different alternative events.”
But few of the military options are straightforward, and some former Pentagon officials involved in war planning for North Korea pointed to the complexities.
A major consideration would be whether and when to evacuate American and other allied civilians, which is no small feat as Seoul, a city of about 10 million, is within range of North Korea’s rockets and artillery and the North Korean military is also armed with chemical and biological weapons.
“With all this talk, what I worry about is a serious miscalculation,” said James D. Thurman, a retired Army general who served as the top United States commander in South Korea from 2011 to 2013. “Before we start talking about all these military options, we have to decide what are we going to do with the U.S. citizens over there.”
He estimated that at least a quarter-million Americans would have to be moved.
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This brings to mind an image that I find hilarious, but frightening. Imagine that Kim Jong Un actually fires a test missile in the direction of Guam. The U.S. tries to shoot it down and fails. Now here's where I have to go to fiction, because in the real world that failure would never be reported in America, but let's say it did somehow get out and get widely reported. How many Americans do you think would accept the report of the failure as true, and take the appropriate conclusion that the whole Star Wars thing has been a scam and a fraud from the get go and that there is no anti-ballistic missile defense? An even more ethereal question, how many of the neoconservative cabal currently agitating for war with Russia would suddenly realize that their dream of being unscathed in a nuclear exchange is just a dream?
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