When then-President-elect Donald Trump said on Twitter in early January that a North Korean test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States “won’t happen!” there were two things that he still did not fully appreciate: how close Kim Jong Un, the North’s leader, was to reaching that goal, and how limited any president’s options were to stop him.
The ensuing seven months have been a brutal education for Trump. With North Korea’s Tuesday launch, the country has new reach. Experts believe it has crossed the threshold — if just barely — with a missile that appears capable of striking Alaska.
The Trump administration Tuesday evening confirmed the missile test was with an intercontinental ballistic missile.
A North Korean ability to reach the U.S., as former Defense Secretary William Perry noted recently, “changes every calculus.” The fear is not that Kim would launch a pre-emptive attack on the West Coast; that would be suicidal, and if the 33-year-old leader has demonstrated anything in his five years in office, he is all about survival. But if Kim has the potential ability to strike back, it would shape every decision Trump and his successors will make about defending America’s allies in the region.
I'm sitting here wondering why then something needs to be done.
For years, the North has been able to reach South Korea and Japan with ease, and U.S. intelligence officials believe those medium-range missiles are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
I've long ago stopped believing in them, sorry.
But this latest test suggests the U.S. may already be in range as well, and that, as one former top U.S. intelligence official noted recently, would color every military decision and put enormous pressure on U.S. missile defenses that few trust to work.
Don't give him an excuse to launch then.
Trump still has some time. What the North Koreans accomplished while Americans focused on Independence Day celebrations was a breakthrough, but not a vivid demonstration of their nuclear reach.
Their missile traveled only about 580 miles, by itself no great achievement. But it got there by taking a 1,700-mile trip into space and re-entering the atmosphere, a flight that lasted 37 minutes by the calculation of the U.S. Pacific Command (and a few minutes longer according to the North Koreans).
Flatten that out, and you have a missile that could reach Alaska, but not Los Angeles. That bolsters the assessment of the director of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Adm. James D. Syring, who told a congressional hearing last month that the U.S. “must assume that North Korea can reach us with a ballistic missile.”
When you assume you make an..... never mind.
Perhaps that is why Trump has not issued any “red lines” that the North Koreans cannot step over.
He has not even repeated the policy that President George W. Bush laid out in October 2006 after the North’s first nuclear test: that he would hold the country “fully accountable” if it shared its nuclear technology with any other nation or terrorist group. Trump’s advisers say they see little merit in drawing lines that could limit options and they would rather keep the North guessing.
So what are Trump’s options, and what are their downsides?
There is classic containment: limiting an adversary’s ability to expand its influence, as the U.S. did against a much more powerful foe, the Soviet Union. But that does not solve the problem; it is just a way of living with it.
As long as we all live.
He could step up sanctions, bolster the U.S. naval presence off the Korean Peninsula — “we’re sending an armada” he boasted in April — and accelerate the secret U.S. cyber program to sabotage missile launches. But if that combination of intimidation and technical wizardry had been a success, Kim would not have conducted the test Tuesday, knowing that it would only lead to more sanctions, more military pressure and more covert activity — and perhaps persuade China that it has no choice but to intervene more decisively.
They can sabotage missile launches, huh?
So far, Trump’s early enthusiasm that he had cajoled China’s president, Xi Jinping, to crack down on the North has resulted in predictable disappointment. Recently, he told Xi that the U.S. was prepared to go it alone in confronting North Korea, but the Chinese may consider that an empty threat.
He could also take another step, and threaten pre-emptive military strikes if the U.S. detects an imminent launch of a intercontinental ballistic missile — maybe one intended to demonstrate the potential reach to the West Coast. Perry argued for that step in 2006, in an op-ed in The Washington Post that he wrote with a future defense secretary, Ash Carter. “If North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy” the missile on the pad, the two men wrote.
But Perry noted recently that “even if you think it was a good idea at the time,” and he now seems to have his doubts, “it’s not a good idea today.”
The reason is simple: In the intervening 11 years, the North has built too many missiles, of too many varieties, to make the benefits of a strike like that worth the risk. It has test-flown a new generation of solid-fuel missiles, which can be easily hidden in mountain caves and rolled out for quick launch. And the North Koreans still possess their ultimate weapon of retaliation: artillery along the northern edge of the Demilitarized Zone that can take out the South’s capital, Seoul, a city of approximately 10 million people and one of the most vibrant economic hubs of Asia.
In short, that is a risk the North Koreans are betting even Trump, for all his threats, would not take. “A conflict in North Korea,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in May, “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
Okay, that means in the current context of things Mattis and Tillerson are the ones we need to cling to if we are to avoid catastrophe. That's what it looks like, God helps us all.
And you know, I was thinking, something that hasn't been mentioned yet as an option, but you know, maybe we could start TALKING with them?
Which leads to the next option, the one that South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, talked about in Washington on Friday when he visited Trump: negotiation. It would start with a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in return for a U.S. agreement to limit or suspend military exercises with South Korea. Xi has long urged that approach, and it won an endorsement on Tuesday from President Vladimir Putin of Russia, after he met with the Chinese leader.
Wow, all this stuff going on that I'm only seeing now.
That, too, carries risks. It essentially achieves the North Korean and Chinese goal of limiting U.S. military freedom of action in the Pacific, and over time erodes the quality of the U.S.-South Korean military deterrent.
Maybe the Empire should die a slow death. It will hurt the least amount of people that way.
Negotiations with the North are hardly a new idea: Bill Clinton tried it in 1994, and Bush in the last two years of his term. But both discovered that over time, once the North Koreans determined that the economic benefits were limited, the deals fell apart.
Moreover, a freeze at this late date, when the North is estimated to have 10 to 20 nuclear weapons, essentially acknowledges that the North’s modest arsenal is here to stay.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said as much when he visited Seoul in mid-March and told reporters that he would likely reject any solution that would enshrine “a comprehensive set of capabilities” in the North. He has since softened his public comments. Administration officials now suggest that a freeze would not be a solution but a way station to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula — in other words, an agreement that Kim would give up all his nuclear weapons and missiles.
Why would he do that?
But it is now clear that Kim has no interest in giving up that power.
So we all, God willing, live with it.
As Kim looks around the world, he sees cases like that of Col. Moammar Gadhafi of Libya — an authoritarian who gave up his nascent nuclear program, only to be deposed, with U.S. help, as soon as his people turned against him. That is what Kim believes his nuclear program will prevent — a U.S. effort to topple him.
You forgot Hussein.
He may be right.
I'm sorry, what?
So what side of history will Trump be on?
"Experts: North Korea’s missile was a ‘real ICBM’ — and a grave milestone" by Joby Warrick Washington Post July 05, 2017
WASHINGTON — The North Korean missile that soared high above the Sea of Japan early Tuesday was a most unwelcome surprise: a weapon with intercontinental range, delivered years before most Western experts believed such a feat possible.
Another intel failure?
They are too busy creating and running false flag operations, that's the problem!
Related: Philippine Supreme Court upholds Duterte’s martial law edict
Another arrogant Asian, and the coverage in my pre$$ of the uprising by militants linked to the Islamic State has faded.
The United States confirmed Tuesday that the latest missile launch was indeed an intercontinental ballistic missile. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called it a ‘‘new escalation of the threat’’ to the country.
In a show of force directly responding to North Korea’s provocation, US and South Korean soldiers fired ‘‘deep strike’’ precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters on Tuesday, US military officials in Seoul said. The missile firings demonstrated US-South Korean solidarity, the US Eighth Army said in a statement.
At the request of the United States, Japan, and South Korea, the UN Security Council scheduled an emergency session on Wednesday afternoon.
‘‘Global action is required to stop a global threat,’’ Tillerson said. ‘‘Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.’’
He said the United States ‘‘will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.’’
Hours after the test, intelligence agencies continued to run calculations to determine precisely how the missile, dubbed the Hwasong-14, performed in its maiden flight. But the consensus among missiles experts was that North Korea had achieved a long-sought milestone.
Alaska is within its range.
Can Palin see North Korea from there?
While US intelligence officials have sought, with some success, to disrupt North Korea’s progress, Pyongyang has achieved breakthroughs in multiple areas, including the development of solid-fuel rocket engines and mobile-launch capabilities, including rockets that can be fired from submarines. Early analysis suggests that the Hwasong-14 uses a new kind of indigenously built ballistic-missile engine, one that North Korea unveiled with fanfare on March 18. Nearly all the country’s ballistic missiles up until now used engines based on modifications of Soviet-era technology.
That's called independence.
‘‘It’s not a copy of a crappy Soviet engine, and it’s not a pair of Soviet engines kludged together — it’s the real thing,’’ said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. ‘‘When they first unveiled the engine on March 18, they said that the ‘world would soon see what this means.’ I think we’re now seeing them take that basic engine design and execute it for an ICBM.’’
The Soviets had crap?
They also talked to Victor Cha, a former director of Asian affairs for the George W. Bush administration’s National Security Council.
On Wednesday morning, North Korea delighted in the international furor created by its launch, vowing to never give up its missiles or nuclear weapons and to keep sending Washington more ‘‘gift packages’’ of weapons tests.
The North also seemed pleased that its test came as Americans celebrated Independence Day. Kim reportedly told ‘‘scientists and technicians that the US would be displeased to witness the DPRK’s strategic option as it was given a ‘package of gifts’ incurring its disfavor by the DPRK on its ‘Independence Day.’ ’’ The North has a history of conducting its weapons tests on or around July 4.
That's strange because the last paragraph of print read like this:
In announcing the test in a special TV broadcast, North Korean officials proclaimed that the country had achieved an ICBM capability that would safeguard the communist government from attacks by the United States and other adversaries. According to US analysts, leader Kim Jong Un has long calculated that nuclear-armed ICBMs are the best deterrence against threats to his survival, as any perceived aggression against him could trigger a retaliatory strike targeting US cities.....
Maybe things got muddled in translation.
Believe it or not, North Korea now more powerful than China:
"China rocket failure likely to set back next space missions" by Christopher Bodeen Associated Press July 04, 2017
BEIJING — The failure of China’s Long March 5 rocket deals a rare setback to China’s highly successful space program that could delay plans to bring back moon samples, and it may offer rival India a chance to move ahead in the space rankings.
It's an ‘‘opportunity for India.’’
Experts say the still unexplained mishap shows that for all its triumphs, China’s space program is not immune to the tremendous difficulties and risks involved in working with such cutting-edge technology.
Seems odd to me given that there is a space station now and the lunar programs are more than 40 years old.
‘‘China’s approach has been slow and prudent, trying to avoid this kind of ‘failure,’ even though they knew it was going to occur sooner or later,’’ Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert on China’s space program at the US Naval War College, wrote in an e-mail.
How interesting that they talked to an expert at the War College.
Was this disabled the same way they have disabled Korean launches?
Authorities say the Long March 5 Y2 that took off Sunday in the second launch of a Long March 5 rocket, suffered an abnormality during the flight after what appeared to be a successful liftoff from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern island province of Hainan. The incident is under investigation and the authorities have yet to comment on possible causes, or any effects on the program as a whole.
In a testimony to the high respect China’s program now commands, the failure drew widespread commentary in the space community, including from SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, who tweeted Sunday: ‘‘Sorry to hear about China launch failure today. I know how painful that is to the people who designed & built it.’’
His blew up, too, a while back.
No one has returned to the since 1976, and that fact alone makes you start to wonder, is it all fake? Why would everyone else just stop? Once the U.S. got the nuclear bomb, did other nations just say oh, they got that, forget it? And consider this also: if China is getting in on the hoax, it wouldn't pay to blow the whistle on them lest they also expose themselves. Think about it.
Then again, there could be an alien colony up there.
"EU to unveil outline of trade deal with Japan on eve of Trump visit" by Jack Ewing and Jonathan Soble New York Times July 04, 2017
NEW YORK — The European Union and Japan have signaled that they plan to announce a broad agreement on trade Thursday, a pointed challenge to President Trump, who is scheduled to attend a meeting of world leaders in Germany the next day.
Related: Arrogant Abe
The timing of the announcement — on the eve of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany — was a clear reaction to the United States’ protectionist stance the last time the G-20 met. During a meeting in March of Cabinet-level officials in Baden-Baden, Germany, Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, refused to endorse a statement in favor of free trade.
By forging ahead with their own accord before the meeting with Trump and other heads of state, Europe and Japan threatened to isolate the United States in important industries like automobiles.
The gig is up.
“Ambitious free and fair trade deal in the making,” Donald Tusk, president of the European Union, tweeted Monday.
The European Union followed up with a statement saying that the bloc would announce at a summit meeting with Japan in Brussels on Thursday that they had reached a political agreement on a deal. That means that the two sides have agreed on the broad outlines of a pact but still have to work out the details — often the most difficult part of trade agreements.....
Oh, okay. This is just a piece of $h*t to throw in his face.
What a joke:
"EU chief to EU Parliament leader: ‘You are ridiculous’" by Raf Casert Associated Press July 04, 2017
BRUSSELS — The head of the European Union’s executive body denounced the bloc’s Parliament as ‘‘totally ridiculous’’ during a spat over the meager attendance at Tuesday’s plenary session for the prime minister of tiny Malta.
After EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker thanked the few dozen of the 700-plus legislators in the huge atrium for showing up, he insisted that the ‘‘Parliament is not serious’’ since lawmakers failed to attend the day’s keynote debate in larger numbers.
The session centered on Malta’s six-month presidency of the European Union, which ended last weekend. Malta has 415,000 people in contrast to the European Union, which has half a billion.
EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani chided Juncker and asked for ‘‘a more respectful attitude.’’
The Commission prepares rules and regulations for the bloc and runs its day-to-day business. Juncker is considered a key leader of the 28-nation bloc. The Parliament has increased its clout over the past year but many EU decisions are still made by the leaders of the member states or by the commission, not by the European Parliament.
For many, being an EU legislator is still perceived as an easy job for politicians without a big national portfolio or veterans seeking a leisurely path to retirement.
So THAT is why it was created!
The exchange at the legislature in Strasbourg, France, was even more amazing since Juncker and Tajani belong to the same EPP Christian Democratic group.
EU Vice President Frans Timmermans said the two men discussed the incident and ‘‘then it was off the table again.’’
The views of the Parliament bore out Juncker’s assertion, with row after row of empty seats. Philippe Lamberts of the Greens groups, one of the few to show up, was seen applauding the rebuke of Juncker.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was attending the plenary.....
Macron the War-Monger
Chanel aims high with starry ‘Eiffel Tower’ Paris show
Wasn't she a Nazi sympathizer?
Globe’s poll omission leaves Asian-Americans invisible and unheard
Well that stinks!
(Blog editor's heart broke when he saw this Talking Point)
"A boiler explosion at a garment factory in Bangladesh owned by export-oriented Multifabs Ltd. has killed 10 people and injured 50, officials said Tuesday. Police Chief Aminul Islam said the explosion occurred Monday evening at Kashimpur in Gazipur district, outside the capital, Dhaka. By Tuesday afternoon, 10 deaths had been reported. Islam said the search for more victims was continuing. Relatives said about six people remained missing. The injured were being treated at hospitals, Islam said. Authorities have ordered an investigation into the cause of the explosion. The company’s website says it produces about 140,000 pieces of knitted apparel a day for export."
It's time for lunch, and didn't Bangladesh used to be part of Pakistan?