Category ►►► North Korea Nastiness
March 9, 2011
The Pulse of the Axis of Evil
Nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NEMPs): In a single explosive EMP flash, detonated 400-500 km above the surface and thus impervious to most of our ballistic missile defenses (BMDs), we could lose nearly the entire communications network -- including broadcast television and radio, cable and satellite channels, shortwave and microwave broadcast, and cell phones (which are simply UHF radio phones); all modern unshielded electronic devices -- including computer microprocessors, the internet, hard drives, video- and audiotape, televisions, radio receivers, radar installations, missiles that use sophisticated guidance systems, and microprocessor implants in cars, microwave ovens, thermostats, and the like (some vacuum-tube technology would be spared); and even the nationwide power grid.
All it takes is an enemy ruthless enough, and little-enough concerned about retaliation, to get his hands on such a device, mount it on a missile, and "pull the trigger."
And according to ABC News, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is just this close to developing an NEMP; and North Korea has already used non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NNEMPs) against American and South Korean forces in the Korean peninsula... and shows interest in exporting such weapons to radical Islamist countries and organizations:
The North is believed to be nearing completion of an electromagnetic pulse bomb that, if exploded 25 miles above ground would cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, radio and radar, experts say.
"We assume they are at a considerably substantial level of development," Park Chang-kyu of the Agency for Defense Development said at a briefing to the parliament Monday.
Park confirmed that South Korea has also developed an advanced electronic device that can be deployed in times of war.
The current attempts to interfere with GPS transmissions are coming from atop a modified truck-mounted Russian device. Pyongyang reportedly imported the GPS jamming system from Russia in early 2000 and has since developed two kinds of a modified version. It has also in recent years handed out sales catalogs of them to nations in the Middle East, according to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo.
(This post is dedicated to all those on the Left -- and the "Realists" on the Right -- who mocked George W. Bush for including North Korea with Iran and Iraq in his original "Axis of Evil" speech.)
Detonating an NEMP high above North America would devastate not only power and communications but the economy (obliterating internet-based financial transactions and electronically stored financial data), transportation (disrupting electronic monitoring and control of everything from traffic signals to freight-train switching to commercial air traffic control), and even our military, much of which relies heavily on GPS navigation and site determination -- though United States forces do still train extensively in low-tech navitation and warfare. The electromagnetic pulse would wash across the entire continental United States, plus the southern part of Canada and northern Mexico, like a tidal wave of voltage-lava, melting all the circuits in its path unless specially shielded.
Such a strike would be utterly devastating, resulting in trillions of dollars in damages... and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths, both direct (from crashes) and indirect, from loss of medical records, the inability of emergency services to respond to life-or-death situations, utility and power shutdowns, and economic dislocation. Recovery would likely take decades. And there is absolutely nothing we can do at this time to prevent or even mitigate it; shielding every electrical circuit in the U.S. heavily enough to resist an NEMP would dwarf the cost of all natural disasters and terrorist attacks of the last century combined.
A nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack starts by detonating a nuclear warhead in the high atmosphere; this produces a burst of gamma radiation, which triggers beta rays -- that is, high-energy electrons moving at more than 90% the speed of light -- between 20 and 40 km altitude. The gamma radiation is deflected at right angles by the Earth's magnetic field to create an oscillating electric current in the atmosphere. And this oscillation in turn generates a pulse or burst of electromagnetic energy. [Beta-ray correction per commenter Count to 10 on the Hot Air rogues' gallery cross-post. Thanks!]
When this EM firestorm strikes the surface, it will have a peak power density of 50,000 volts and millions of megawatts, easily enough to fry most modern transistors and microcircuits. Since the pulse from detonation to peak value takes only 5 nanoseconds (five billionths of a second), and the entire first component (E1) of the EMP effect is over at about 1 microsecond (one millionth of a second), protection technology -- designed for much slower lightning strikes -- generally cannot react quickly enough to save the delicate printed circuitry that run our electronic devices these days. Any modern device without thick passive shielding will likely be destroyed or severely damaged.
There are additional secondary effects of an NEMP, dubbed E2 and E3, that are respectively similar to lightning strikes (E2) and electromagnetic storms caused by very severe solar flares (E3); surge-protectors can ordinarily handle those -- unless they are compromised, damaged, or destroyed first... which is exactly what phase E1 of a Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse attack accomplishes. Thus the E2 and E3 phases are often much more devastating than are natural lightning strikes and EM storms.
So far, the North Koreans have not detonated any NEMP device; the EM pulses they have used to jam or damage our GPS and other electronic devices are non-nuclear, and their range is much more limited; but the principle is the same. NNEMP weapons (non-nuclear) use a non-nuclear method to generate the initial burst of energy, generally chemical explosives; the energy front is sent through wave-shaping circuits or microwave generators, thence through an antenna:
This is the second time North Korea has sought to interfere with military communications. Pyongyang is thought to have been behind a failure of GPS receivers on some naval and civilian aircraft during another joint military exercise in August.
South Korea's minister of defense at that time had reported to the Congress, warning that the North poses "a fresh security threat" capable of disrupting guided bombs and missiles by sending signals over a distance of up to 60 miles.
However Russia, which sold North Korea the non-nuclear devices that it has used against South Korea and its allies (including the United States), also has an arsenal of the nuclear version; the only force we have to rely on to safeguard against North Korea getting its hands on an NEMP is the basic "decency" and "good sense" of Putin's post-Soviet paradise. Color me unreassured.
The effect of an NEMP detonated over the United States would be catastrophic; but what would be our response? More appropriately, what are we doing to prevent it from happening in the first place?
I'm sure nuclear scientists have tackled the technological aspect of the threat; but we could also begin shielding vital systems, switches, and lines; infiltrating our own Korean-speaking and -looking agents into the DPRK to find out how far they've gotten, rather than overrelying upon intelligence-sharing from the Republic of Korea (South Korea); and even using backchannel communications to warn North Korea's sponsors (mainly Russia and China) that if Kim Jong-il actually utilizes one, we will consider it to be a nuclear attack on the United States -- and we will respond appropriately, both against North Korea and anyone we believe helped them. Or might have helped them.
Obviously, much of the anti-EMP research is heavily classified, and I have no idea how far we've gotten. Is there a wide-area techie defense against an electromagnetic pulse? But I'm far more worried about the political aspect: Simply put, I do not trust the Obama administration to do anything effective on either front. I don't believe they are taking the threat seriously; President Barack H. Obama surely believes that his peerless "smart diplomacy" with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, coupled with his slavish kow-towing to Red China and Russia, will induce the DPRK dictator to back away from his threats to wipe America out via a nuclear EMP.
And even if Kim -- or his looming successor, Kim Jong-un, a.k.a. "Lil' Kim" -- committed the unthinkable against us, what would the Obamunist do about it? He has shown himself incapable of responding to a military threat, incompetent at running a war, and averse to the point of revulsion to defending the United States or retaliating upon our attackers. More than likely the president would issue a very stern diplomatic communique through the proper channels (once radio communications, television broadcasts, word processors, and teleprompters were brought back online); file a criminal and civil complaint in the International Court of Justice at the Hague; and furiously tingle his bell.
And even more likely, that is what Kim believes Obama would do (and not do); which makes it ever so much more probable that North Korea will go right ahead and use the first NEMP they acquire against us... or at least threaten to use it unless Obama capitulates and gives Kim -- well, whatever he demands, again and again. Nothing works better than nuclear blackmail, when you have an anti-American coward and weakling in the White House.
If there is a God, and if He believes we're on His side, then let's hope He ensures that the DPRK does not get a nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon; at least not until we have a president who takes seriously the primary duty of the office: to protect American territory, the American people, and America itself from violent attack by foreign princes and terrorists.
Otherwise, "American exceptionalism" will take on a new and very tragic meaning.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 28, 2009
Obamic Record-Setting Achievement
In the early days of the presidency of George W. Bush, shortly after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan a month later, Friend Lee and I speculated how many vile "thugocracies" Bush would manage to overthrow, by hook or by crook -- or at least leash -- during his presidency.
The final count was six, as I recall: Afghanistan (under the Taliban) and Iraq (Saddam Hussein) were invaded and dismantled as terrorist states; Libya was cowed further (building on the hide-tanning that Reagan administered after the Lockerbie terrorist bombing); Syria was muzzled; Iran was kept nervous and fairly quiet -- though they actively participated in killing American soldiers and Marines in Iraq, we also seized a number of Qods Force personnel; and North Korea was pretty much stymied, unable to get extortion negotiations off the ground.
Not too shabby for a supposedly "failed" presidency.
Now we have a new president... and I propose a new game: By the end of Barack H. Obama's (single) term in office, how many thug nations will he have un-leashed? That is, appeased, allowed to go nuclear, and/or let alone to threaten, extort, and even "assimilate" (in a Borg sense) Western nations and allies.
I think B.O. already has George W. Bush "beat" hands down -- and hands up, and hands middle. Consider...
Afghanistan: Obama is dragging his heels deciding whether to accede to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's urgent request to switch to a COIN operation there, and his request for a significant troop increase; if Obama fails to approve this plan, McChrystal more or less says we'll lose the war in Afghanistan, and the Taliban will return in force -- along with al-Qaeda.
(Recall that this is the war all the Democrats have been saying we should be fighting, instead of Iraq, ever since -- well, since 2003.)
As Power Line's John Hinderaker concludes, "The moral of the story seems pretty clear: when President Obama announces that he doesn't intend to accept General McChrystal's recommendation, we will all understand that this is the prudent course advocated by most knowledgeable military and civilian leaders" (meaning Obama's own political staff, of course).
- Costa Rica: See Honduras.
- Georgia: See Russia.
- Honduras: If the One has his way, Honduras will cease to be a democratic state and will instead become a "Chavezian" despotic dictatorship, run by delusional socialist thug Manuel "Mel" Zelaya. Costa Rica is already trending that way, as are several other Latin American nations. We'll just stick with these two.
- Iran: Obama has strongly signaled to the mullahs and President Ahmadinejad that we not only intend to do nothing to stop them getting nuclear weapons capability, we will eagerly seek their input in what to do with Iraq; we will release all Qods Force operatives captured in Iraq under the Bush "regime;" and our president will crawl on his hands and knees, if that is what it takes to get a desperately desired face-to-face meeting, in order for Obama to appear "presidential" before 2012.
- Iraq: Obama still wants a quick pull-out, before the country and its fledgling government is secured against a hostile merger by Iran..
Israel: It seems increasingly clear that Obama, swimming in a sea of Jew hatred since he was a young adult, has decisively sided with the Arabs who call themselves "Palestinians" and against the Jews of Israel.
He is allowing himself to be pushed by his top Middle-East foreign policy advisors -- the antisemites Samantha Power (of the National Security Council) and former President Jimmy Carter (antisemitic qualifications too numerous to enumerate here), along with such "luminaries" as antisemite Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), who "supervised" the Durbin Jew-bashing hatefest in 2001.
If they have their way, Israel would be pushed into a catastrophic "peace" treaty with Iran-financed Hamas; this could even lead to the destruction of Israel... an event that would be wildly celebrated by a disturbingly large percentage of Democrats, liberals, and members of the Obama administration.
- Lebanon: See Syria.
- North Korea: Like Iran, Obama is busy sending signals, communiques, and "gestures" that he has accepted the "inevitability" of a nuclear DPRK. I'm sure the denizens of South Korea are ecstatic.
Russia:As the bear surges under Prime Minister (formerly President) Vlad "the Impaler" Putin, Obama has reneged on the the ballistic missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
the Soviet UnionRussia that we have lost all interest in defending the hard-fought freedom of those two countries, along with other border countries that were once utterly dominated by the USSR but became free after the collapse of Russian Communism, including Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Khazakhstan, Uzbekistan -- and perhaps even Hungary, eastern Germany, and Finland. In the interests of brevity, let's just call this a serious threat to the two countries that Russia has invaded or blockaded recently: Georgia and Ukraine.
- Syria: President Obama has made it clear we will not pursue the persistent claims and stubborn facts that point to Syria being behind the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Such discretion is a green light informing Syrian "king" (in all but formal title) Bashar Assad that he has carte blanche to retake Lebanon.
- Ukraine: See Russia.
The United States of America: The economy; energy production; health care; taxes; federal regulatory regimes; rule by "Czar," with no meaningful congressional oversight; permanent taxpayer funding of partisan leftist advocates; nationalization of banking, automobile manufacturing, newspapers; federal control of all executive salaries in the United States; a return of Woodrow Wilson's Sedition Act and the criminalization of dissent -- with the eager cooperation of those who dissented against George Bush.
This coven of cravenness is a rather impressive, even remarkable beginning for a community organizer who has only been in office for eight months and eight days. Keep plugging, man! You may yet eclipse the record set by your idol, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who with the stroke of a pen at Yalta consigned hundreds of millions to the famines, tortures, and gulags of the Evil Empire.
September 12, 2009
Obama Admin Begs North Korea for One on One Talks
...Just like Bill Clinton did in the 90s!
From Jake Tapper at ABC -- on the eighth anniversary of 9/11:
The US shifted its policy today, saying it is now willing to meet one on one with North Korea if that is helpful to bring Pyongyang back to the nuclear negotiations....
Speaking on background, a senior US official said: “Our assessment, after consulting with the other parties in the six-party process, is that if a bilateral discussion can be an effective mechanism to get North Korea to come back to the six-party process… so that we can remind them of what their obligations are and to push them to take affirmative steps… then that would be a potentially useful step.”
North Korea has recently said it will never return to the nuke talks… so is there an expectation now that they might?
“We’ll wait and see,” the senior official said.
Obamic negotiating will talk the North Koreans out of their nuclear program. Maybe if we, you know, offered them an inducement? Acquiesced to all their demands? Crawled on our hands and knees, if that's what it takes to get them to talk to us?
What could possibly go wrong?
August 4, 2009
Quid Pro... What? UPDATED
Look up the phrase "quid pro quo," and you discover that it literally means "something for something." To distinquish, let's rewrite that as "this for that."
We know the "this" -- Kim Jong-Il released a couple of journalists that North Korea had kidnapped in June then threatened to hold captive for twelve years (claiming they committed a "grave crime," never specified). Since they were released, and this is North Korea we're talking about, there must likewise be a "that" -- the Dear Leader must have got something in return.
Some argue that what Kim got was merely publicity, a propaganda coup -- having a former American president crawl to Pyongyang, hat in hand as the Beggar President, pleading with Kim to release the hostages (at least, that's how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will portray it) -- and a chance to pretend to magnanimity. John Bolton, among others, pointed this much out; and yes, Kim got all that.
UPDATE: Evidently, if CNN can be believed, Bill Clinton also confessed on behalf of the captives to the ludicrous charges leveled against them by their captors; in fact, he apologized for them:
"Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the news agency reported. "Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.
I can only add... well, nothing. Clinton's loathsome obsequiousness speaks for itself.
That would be bad enough; but judging from Kim's prior behavior, I am convinced that he must have got something else, a more concrete and explicit "that" than the fuzzy-bunny, feel good gestures enumerated above. So what is it? What quo did President Barack H. Obama, via Bill Clinton, give him to balance the quid of releasing the two hostages? After all, Kim already knew he could have kept them indefinitely without any fear of retribution or punishment from the One.
I suspect what we offered Kim is itself a grave crime: I believe the only thing that would tempt Kim Jong-Il into releasing his bargaining chips is if he got the very bargan he wants... to be treated as leniently as Obama treats Iran on the same issue, the development of nuclear weaponry. I believe that what the One promised Kim is that he would turn a blind eye to North Korea's future nuclear program, the same way he has turned the other blind eye to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (If you're keeping count, that's two blind eyes.)
I'm sure that "talks" will ensue; but they will be show talks, like a show trial -- a farce to allow the United States to save its face, with the result predetermined. The talks will not be unconditional; they will commence with a major concession by the American side: That in the end, we will allow North Korea to have nuclear missiles capable of striking Japan, India, and even Australia (let alone South Korea).
My only question is whether that's the entirety of the second "something." Did the Obamacle, speaking ex cathedra through the Mouth of Sauron, promise something more... say, sweatboxing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Han Seung-soo into adopting the "reunification" policy of insane former President and recent suicide Roh Moo-hyun? Roh's "sunshine policy" amounted to complete appeasement... leading many to believe Roh was even willing to reunify the two Koreas under Kim Jong-Il's rule.
Did Obama and the Clintons negotiate with a terrorist state to sell South Korea down the river, as part of their effort to restore the primacy of "diplomacy" and gain a propaganda coup of their own -- the release of the captives? Or did they merely bargain away any small hope we had of forcibly stopping the Communist thugocracy from gaining a full nuclear arsenal, with which to threaten the entire Asian region, from India to Mongolia?
I fear we won't know the full extent of Barack Obama's capitulation to the Dear Leader until it's much too late to do anything to mitigate it.
April 12, 2009
Time to Fish or Get Off the Pot
While President Barack H. Obama tries to make up his mind how to respond to the Somalian pirates (the larger group, not just the ones who were holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage), he's not wasting any time... he's simultaneously dithering about how to respond to a Somalian Islamist "extremist" group, al-Shabab, that is allied with al-Qaeda. Neither dilemma appears close to resolution; in fact, the paralysis and refusal to use swift retaliatory force reminds me more and more of the 444 days of national humilitation in Jimmy Carter's first term in office.
His second term -- under his standby, Barack Obama -- seems no more decisive on the foreign-policy front than the first term, back in the late 1970s. This stands in bizarre contrast to Obama's firm resolve in his domestic agenda to remake America as a socialist country.
But why not launch a massive attack on the pirates in their lair, to punish them for having attacked an American vessel in the first place? We note with some interest that the entire "community" of Somalis in that modern-day Tortuga (the eighteenth-century pirate island) appears to be on the side of the pirates:
Talks to free [Capt. Phillips] began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer. The pirates had threatened to kill Phillips if attacked....
Before Phillips was freed, a pirate who said he was associated with the gang that held Phillips, Ahmed Mohamed Nur, told The Associated Press that the pirates had reported that "helicopters continue to fly over their heads in the daylight and in the night they are under the focus of a spotlight from a warship."
He spoke by satellite phone from Harardhere, a port and pirate stronghold where a fisherman said helicopters flew over the town Sunday morning and a warship was looming on the horizon. The fisherman, Abdi Sheikh Muse, said that could be an indication the lifeboat may be near to shore.
The district commissioner of the central Mudug region said talks went on all day Saturday, with clan elders from his area talking by satellite telephone and through a translator with Americans, but collapsed late Saturday night.
"The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.
Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.
Fine; then the "clan elders" of "the central Mudug region," which contains that "port and pirate stronghold" of Harardhere, are clearly not with us... they are with the pirates. So what is to stop us from launching a series of devastating retaliatory strikes against these strongholds? Nothing, evidently, but Barack Obama's infamous inability to make a decision. (This disability applies even to ongoing wars; in Iraq and Afghanistan, he simply decided not to decide, accepting the Bush doctrine in both theaters by default.)
In fact, Obama is so indecisive that he's not even sure he's ready to commit to criminal charges yet:
U.S. officials said a pirate who had been involved in negotiations to free Phillips but who was not on the lifeboat during the rescue was in military custody. FBI spokesman John Miller said that would change as the situation became "more of a criminal issue than a military issue."
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said prosecutors were looking at "evidence and other issues" to determine whether to bring a case in the United States. The pirate could face a life sentence if convicted, officials said.
Well, that will certainly put the fear of the Judeo-Christian God into Long John Somali!
But back to the problem of al-Shabab. It appears that Obama is not only unwilling to attack pirates, he's also unsure whether we should attack militant Islamist terrorists in Somalia; from the Washington Post article:
Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.
The organization's rapid expansion, ties between its leaders and al-Qaeda, and the presence of Americans and Europeans in its camps have raised the question of whether a preemptive strike is warranted. Yet the group's objectives have thus far been domestic, and officials say that U.S. intelligence has no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia.
An attack against al-Shabab camps in southern Somalia would mark the administration's first military strike outside the Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan war zones. The White House discussions highlight the challenges facing the Obama team as it attempts to distance itself from the Bush administration, which conducted at least five military strikes in Somalia. The new administration is still defining its rationale for undertaking sensitive operations in countries where the United States is not at war.
Yes, that's a toughie that would stump even a leader as decisive as Carter, let alone our current President Hamlet; it's especially tough when the president acts as if there never was any discussion in the previous administration about the rationale for launching strikes against terrorists -- and when the most important criterion of the brand new Obamaic rationale is whether such an attack would make the current administration look too much like the Bush administration.
In the meantime, a decision must be made, and the clock is ticking: Do we attack a terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda, which runs terrorist training camps full of domestic and foreign Moloch worshippers (including Europeans and Americans, who could presumably fly under the radar into the United States), which is trying to violently overthrow the current Somali government that we helped install (by supporting the Ethiopian invasion that overthrew the previous, al-Qaeda-friendly government), because we have "no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia?"
Of course, neither did the Taliban; they isolated themselves, completely fixating upon Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they also leased their country to the demonic Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, offering them safe haven from which they could launch the September 11th attacks, and aiding and abetting them in other, more tangible ways. Somalia looks ready to do exactly the same... for exactly the same group. And say what you will, bin Laden is not an isolationist.
I suppose the alternative course under consideration is to make it "more of a criminal issue" and "determine whether to bring a case in the United States." We might even file an indictment with the International Criminal Court at the Hague... though we'd probably have to agree to give them jurisdiction over American citizens as well.
(No matter -- the ICC's first action against Americans would doubtless be to put George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Douglas Feith, John Yoo, Mark Steyn, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of thousands on trial for crimes against humanity, such as advocating war against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying on al-Qaeda without a world search warrant, and lowering taxes on the rich. What's not to like?)
What is the argument against striking at al-Shabab? Primarily that other countries in the world might object:
Some in the Defense Department have been frustrated by what they see as a failure to act. Many other national security officials say an ill-considered strike would have negative diplomatic and political consequences far beyond the Horn of Africa. Other options under consideration are increased financial pressure and diplomatic activity, including stepped-up efforts to resolve the larger political turmoil in Somalia.
That is, all those heads of government who praised Obama to the heavens at the G-20 might instead accuse him of being just like George Bush, and the president's self image would be shattered. Not that those same leaders respected him enough to acquiesce to any of the three major policies he wanted them to implement -- stronger sanctions against Iran and North Korea, stimulus spending, or enlarging the NATO commitment to Afghanistan; but at least they said really nice things about Obama personally.
The most recent discussion of the issue took place early this week, just before the unrelated seizure of a U.S. commercial ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates who [were] holding the American captain of the vessel hostage for ransom.
But are these two questions -- what to do about al-Shabab and what to do about the Somalian pirates -- truly "unrelated," as the Post declares? And even if they are discrete today, how long will they remain so? It stands to reason that terrorists, who oppose the new government of Somalia for being insufficiently Islamist, and pirates, who oppose it for cracking down on piracy, may very well make common cause against their shared enemy.
Barack Obama already fumbled his first test on foreign policy -- the debacle in London at the meeting of the G-20. He appears to have flunked on every measure except cordiality (the leaders all liked him as a person, so long as he kow-towed to China, Russia, the Arab countries, and Europe). I suggest that how we respond to the two Somalian threats represents Obama's first big military-policy test: If he cannot even muster up a military response to pirates and terrorists in the Horn of Africa, then how will he ever respond to the subtler but far deadlier perils of Iran's centrifuges, North Korea's missiles, the Palestinians' pratfalls, Red China's increasing economic dominance, and a resurgent "Soviet Union?"
The answer, I fear, will be even grimmer, and the damage even longer lasting, than his response to the economic crisis.
April 6, 2009
Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child
Well, I think we all knew, somewhere in the back of our collective minds, that Barack H. Obama was planning it; most of us just thought it was so ludicrous, so retro, that he would never really propose it.
But now he has. Great leaping horny toads, it's Dr. Helen Caldicott's unilateral nuclear disarmament all over again:
Just hours after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, President Barack Obama called for "a world without nuclear weapons" and said the United States has a “moral responsibility ” to lead the way, as the only nation ever to use them....
The president directly addressed the Cold War history of this former Soviet bloc city, calling the remaining nuclear weapons “the most dangerous legacy” of that era.
He again pointed to history to say that America must lead. “As a nuclear power -- as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon -- the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” he said.
Obama proposed doing so by reducing America’s arsenal, if not altogether eliminating it; hosting a summit on nuclear security; seeking ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and pursuing a new agreement aimed at stopping the production of fissile materials.
Also, he proposes gathering up all vulnerable nuclear material -- or “loose nukes” -- within four years. That’s an issue Obama also worked on in the Senate, with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).
As we all know, the only reason that Russia, Red China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and soon to be North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons is self defense against the United States... and if only we would unilaterally eliminate our nuclear arsenal -- ¡ Si, su puede! -- these other countries would no longer fear us -- and they will surely follow suit. As the New York Times succinctly sums up the theory:
Mr. Obama said that his administration would “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” in its national security strategy, and would urge other countries to do the same. He pointed to the agreement he reached last week with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to begin negotiations on reducing warheads and stockpiles, and said the two countries would try to reach an agreement by the end of the year. He also promised to aggressively pursue American ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which in the past has faced strong opposition in Congress.
It is a strategy based on the idea that if the United States shows it is willing to greatly shrink the size of its atomic arsenal, ban nuclear testing and cut off the worldwide production of bomb material, reluctant allies and partners around the world will be more likely to rewrite nuclear treaties and enforce sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
That is, if America weakens itself by unilaterally dumping its nuclear weapons, then other nations will feel more empowered to aggressively enforce already existing sanctions against rogue nations. But why? By definition, "already existing sanctions" already exist; if our allies are not willing to enforce them now, why would they be more willing if we become weaker? Does Obama truly believe that the world defies us because we're too powerful? Does he believe that we're evil, imperialist warmongers oppressing the world, causing them to resist us the way that the Jedi knights resisted the imperial storm troopers of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader?
This is magical thinking at its most emblematic: There is no obvious connection between the United States eliminating its nuclear arsenal and Pakistan following suit -- the latter is far more concerned about India (and vice versa) than about us -- or North Korea and Iran abandoning their own nuke hunt; they see nuclear weapons as their route to power in their own regions or protection against their own enemies. It's silly storytelling, jaw-dropping narcissism, and childish "wishing on a star" to imagine that every other country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons is only driven by fear of America's nuclear arsenal.
But if there is any other reason why they want to be members of the nuclear club, then our reduction or even complete nuclear disarmament will have no effect upon them at all... except perhaps to encourage them tenfold: It's easy for third-world countries to believe that if they have nukes and we don't, they will no longer be third world -- they will be the first world; they will be the masters!
The childishness of this Obamic policy betokens an equally childish worldview, full of good guys (who are always good) and bad guys (eternally bad), superficial understandings, a view of history based more upon melodrama than reality, and magical thinking.
Heroes and villains as world actors
The One is the Lightbringer, whose devoted acolytes are trying to spread the "good news" around the globe (America alone is too small a stage). There is no "in-between," only a vast sea of unenlightened souls awaiting but a touch, a glance from the Obamacle to fall into the rapture.
The Bad Guy in Chief is George W. Bush, of course; and all Republicans are his henchmen. We are consciously evil, in that we sit around and cackle about our latest evil plans, perhaps chewing on the odd pinky or two. (Note that there is another shadowy group of conspirators who may be the real villains in this piece, "working the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan put it; we'll get to them in a moment.)
The great advantage of such hero-villain thinking is that it forces an automatic devaluing of opposing viewpoints: Of course you don't think government should take over the economy... you're a Republican! You want to kill and eat the poor anyway.
Superficiality as a guiding principle
Obamunism is centrally focused on a series of superficial and (upon analysis) meaningless catch phrases, slogans, and jingoisms: hope, change, the One we have been waiting for, audacity, coming together, post-partisan, post-racial, diplomacy, an end to torture, and so forth. While each of these words or phrases could impart meaning in other contexts, as Barack Obama and his apostles use them, we have no earthly idea what he means. Hope for what? Change from what to what? The One we have been waiting for -- to do what?
Even "diplomacy" is an empty concept by itself: Gandhi practiced diplomacy; so did Hitler.
Bear in mind, the more superficial a policy, the more ill-defined and vague, the less able critics are to attack it. It assumes radically different dimensions in the mind of each person who hears about it... and each tends to envision it in a way that resonates with him, personally, satisfying that specific individual's wish-fulfillment fantasies. It's very, very tough to tell someone that his dreams are unrealistic and unattainable; he tends to react emotionally -- and sometimes violently.
The heroic epic as public policy
When Obama and his fellow Democrats recount history (particularly the economic history of the United States and the history of the conflict in the Middle East), it's clear their "understanding" is based not upon what actually happened but upon what should have happened to make things more coherent and plot-driven, like a novel.
We didn't have a financial crash because of foolhardy (and bipartisan) government policy to encourage poor people to buy houses they couldn't afford, regulation and oversight that was badly written by Congress and poorly implemented by several administrations, and increasingly complex financial instruments that few people understand, including those who invented them. No, it's much more gripping if there is a vast banking conspiracy -- or as a disturbingly large number of Obama appointees would see it, a vast Jew-banker conspiracy). The conspiracy (or "lobby") controls everything behind the scenes, like a bad John Grisham melodrama (sorry for the redundancy).
This reductionism is signalled by the use of capitalized terms beginning with "Big," personalizing the enemy without actually naming them: Big Tobacco, Big Carbon, Big Business, Big Money.
And the continual conflict among Arab countries is not driven by a religious interpretation of Islam that demands constant "jihad;" that's boring... and it smacks of racism, too. But if everything bad in the entire region is driven by a single rogue villain (Israel) which causes all the problems for the sole purpose of "taking over" -- an alien presence that exploits the traditional peoples of the region -- well then we have an enemy we can focus upon, a much tighter plot to follow, somebody we can actually defeat!
Conspiracy mongering is always based, at core, on a sense that the universe should really be more coherent, more linear, and more dramatic than it actually is. It should follow literary rules of plot development, causality, a climax, and a satisfying denoument. Here is where Obama's man-crush on Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers becomes the synecdoche of his worldview. It's not very satisfying if blacks are doing badly because they have a lousy culture, or if kids aren't being educated because they have egregious work habits and have never enjoyed thinking. It's much more thrilling if Republican big business has busily been suppressing children's education because they need more worker-drones for capitalist imperialism -- and Whitey has been holding down "people of color" for a thousand years.
(By a curious coincidence, among much of Obama's inner circle, it appears that both plots have the same conspirators, the same villains: Jews. As antisemitism rises across the rest of the globe, it now finds a sympathetic ear at the highest levels of the American government.)
The Childe Left hate and fear complexity and constructive chaos more than anything in the world (just as literal children do); they also project this fear onto the Right, pretending that it is conservatives who embody "black and white" thinking, and liberals are the ones who understand shades of gray... but the Left's actions and policies belie the proclamations of maturity and wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle as grand strategy
Obamunism, and its larger parent New Leftism, deeply believe in the "magic bullet" theory of governance: For every intractable problem, there is a single, simple solution that will solve everything -- which has been missed by generations of previous, unenlightened souls, leaving its discovery to the hero of the saga. Some hitherto unsuspected connection exists between (seemingly unrelated) events A and B; Doing A will, as if by miracle, bring about B:
- Many times in our past, and currently in the rest of the world, governments tightly control the economy via wage and price controls, overtaxation, heavy-handed regulation, union boosterism, and "five-year plans." This has never resulted in an economic renaissance, but generally recession and depression. But wait -- that's because it wasn't done by the One! This time, under the encyclical circulated by Barack Obama, when the government seizes control of the economy, it will cause the greatest economic boom in American, nay world, history... and the world will forever revere Obama as its champion eternal. (Don't ask how; it just will. And of course you're skeptical... you're a capitalist.)
- Unlike all previous diplomatic overtures, when the great man just sits down and talks to his fellow world leaders (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Raul Castro, Ayman Zawahiri) -- when he explains to them that, unlike the previous regime, the current administration doesn't want to conquer and annex their lands, kill their children, and violate their women -- then the light from his heart will shine through, and these national leaders will realize that they need fear America no longer. They will all fall into each other's arms (in a manly way, I mean), have a good cry and a wonderful laugh, and all will be well. Nuclear warheads will be beaten into solar-power plants, war will be obsolete, the Jews will be driven into the sea, and all will live happily ever after. "And guns and swords and uniforms lay scattered on the ground." Barack Hussein Obama is, quite simply, the One that Ahmadinejad has been waiting for.
- Due to stubborn resistance and ignorance, generations have closed their ears and stopped their eyes to the deadly, global peril of man-made climate change. But as soon as Congress enacts the divine vision of the Obamacle -- instantly, the world will cool, the seas will subside, the harvest will be bountiful, and disease and famine will be driven into the void. The word of the king is the blood of the land. We won't even have to wait for the policies to take effect... directly the word is uttered, the Earth will shake, the sky will brighten, and peace and plenty will rain upon all -- equally -- like manna from heaven.
Achievement without effort; success without setback or disappointment; like a Michael Jackson video, Captain Eo points his finger and a bolt of lightning obliterates the bad guy in a puff of CGI. It's magic!
Obamunism - through the eyes of a lizard
It took me a while to realize it, but it's the childishness of Obamunism that irritates me more than any other element... its reduction to heroes and villains, its soap-bubble superficiality, its melodramatic story telling, and the magical thinking that underpins all the rest. Our country is ruled by the inmates of an excessively permissive and progressive preschool.
The entire Obama administration needs a long time-out. Alas, what we're more likely to see is a time-out from history for the entire country... followed by a very rude and deadly awakening.
April 5, 2009
North Korea Launches Missile Over Japan - Japan, U.S. Just Watch
Quoth the Associated Press:
North Korea fired a rocket over Japan on Sunday, defying Washington, Tokyo and other world leaders who suspect the launch was cover for a test of its long-range missile technology. President Barack Obama warned the move would further isolate the communist nation.
Liftoff took place at 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) from the coastal Musudan-ri launch pad in northeastern North Korea, the South Korean and U.S. governments said. The multistage rocket hurtled toward the Pacific, reaching Japanese airspace within seven minutes, but no debris appeared to hit its territory, officials in Tokyo said.
Japanese missile-defense batteries, which could easily have shot down the missile, did not fire. Prime Minister Taro "the Potato" Aso (a.k.a., "Single Digit") just sat and watched it fly over his country (yet again).
American Aegis and BMD (ballistic missile defense) ships were in the region; they too could have splashed the missile with near certainty -- they too just observed as it flew overhead. Almost certainly, orders came from the Commander in Chief to make no move to intercept, no matter where the missile was aimed... to just let it pass overhead and hope it didn't hit anything.
But I don't want to leave you with the impression that we did nothing; heavens no! The Coalition of the Whining did plenty, bub:
- Chief Japanese Cabinet spokesman Takeo Kawamura announced that he was "highly concerned by this matter."
- Japan demanded an emergency meeting of the U.N. to discuss the provocation.
- President Barack H. Obama urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to "abide fully by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council" and not to be so "provocative."
- Red China, North Korea's primary patron, "urged all sides to maintain calm and exercise restraint."
- And U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo "regretted North Korea's move."
But at least Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has laid down the law to North Korea. Well, not Hillary as such; she was too busy. But she sent a trusted subordinate to make the point that we will not tolerate being threatened in this way:
State Department spokesman Fred Lash called the launch a clear violation of Resolution 1718, adopted five days after North Korea carried out a nuclear weapons test in 2006. The U.S. will "take appropriate steps to let North Korea know that it cannot threaten the safety and security of other countries with impunity," he said late Saturday in Washington.
It comforts me to know that the security of the United States against the existential threat posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea is in such stalwart, courageous, and decisive hands.
March 10, 2009
Kim Jong Il has evidently threatened massive retaliation against the United States if we intercept his peaceful satellite launch in flight. No, really:
"We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army as saying.
If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out "a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the countries, it said.
Wait, I don't get it. What exactly is North Korea going to do again?
The North's armed forces have been ordered to "deal merciless retaliatory blows" should there be any intrusion "into the sky and land and seas of the DPRK even an inch."
Or to put it another way:
Monday's warning -- the latest barrage of threats from the communist regime -- came as U.S. and South Korean troops kicked off annual war games across the South, exercises the North has condemned as preparation for an invasion. Pyongyang last week threatened South Korean passenger planes flying near its airspace during the drills.
Analysts say the regime is trying to grab President Barack Obama's attention as his administration formulates its North Korea policy.
You see, after Obama's al-Arabiya apology for America's relentless and unprovoked insulting and offending Moslems for the past thirty years, and his kow-towing to Russia and China, he turns right around and tries to stand up, in a minor way, against the demented scion of the House of Kim. Outrageous!
Obama's special envoy on North Korea again urged Pyongyang not to fire a missile, which he said would be an "extremely ill-advised" move.
"Whether they describe it as a satellite launch or something else makes no difference" since both would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution banning the North from ballistic activity, Stephen Bosworth told reporters after talks with his South Korean counterpart.
But how exactly is North Korea going to "deal merciless retaliatory blows" against our strongholds... will they hire moonlighting Saudi and Egyptian terrorists to do it for them?
What an absurd ultimatum. Only a somewhat dim, inexperienced, overwhelmed naif who is so focused on domestic issues he has neither the time nor the stomach for a foreign-affairs fight, and who is afraid even to face down the top members of his party in Congress, government-employee unions, or the fierce and righteous anger of gas-guzzling global-warmingistas and embryo-hating feminists, could possibly be cowed by such a ludicrous threat.
February 25, 2007
The Pentagon's New Map - Simplified
I just realized I can boil down much of what Thomas P.M. Barnett writes in his book the Pentagon's New Map to a single pair of sentences. This drops all the fine detail, of course; its advantage is that it makes the central point as clear as a nutshell.
Barnett divides the world into two regions: the Functioning Core and the Non-Integrating Gap. And I can define those two thus:
- The Functioning Core comprises the nations whose people say "We love life." This includes all those countries that are taking advantage of globalization to interconnect their economies, their communications, and their legal systems to the rest of the civilized world, hoping to "immanentize the eschaton" -- or at least create la dolce vita.
- The Non-Integrating Gap comprises the nations whose people say "We worship death." This includes all jihadist states, of course, but also places like Rwanda-Burundi, Congo, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Haiti... places where life is a flickering spark, and murder is a negotiating tool or an expression of tribal triumphalism.
I use the verb "to worship" with great deliberation: it's not an abstract love of death that animates these cultures; rather, it's almost like human sacrifice -- as if they must appease a dark and terrifying Chaos Lord by feeding him blood and souls.
Although the details are important, it's also critical to understand that our Grand Strategy over the next few decades (what replaces the Cold War) is the fight between the culture that loves life and the culture that worships death. Our task is to shrink the geographic area that comprises those nations that are members of the latter... to deny our enemy territory.
December 6, 2006
First, on the home front: you guys aren't pulling your end. We've been doing our part, publishing good blogposts about exciting topics (Iraq, Iran, the GWOT, Mark Steyn)... but our hits are down.
The way Sitemeter works is that all visits by the same IP address within a 30-minute window are counted as a single visit: that is, if you visit once at 8:00 am and again at 8:27 am, it's not counted as two visits... just one.
But if you wait, twiddling your toes and filing your teeth, until 8:31 am, then visit -- that is counted as a second hit on the old greeter-meter.
Thus, in order to get our count up, so advertisers will rush to pay us money to keep this site flowing through the interether (whenever BlogAds regains consciousness), please to start visiting multiple times per day. You needn't stay long; for example, if you're headed from Captain's Quarters to Power Line, all you need do is first go to Big Lizards, and then continue on to Power Line. Simple as Simon!
If everybody did that, oh, four or five times a day, it wouldn't cost you much time (10 seconds per visit, maybe) -- but we'd be a powerhouse again in no time.
So let's see if we can't raise the bar up to 2,200 or 2,300 per day... and give those lefty bloggers a hiding they'll never remember!
North Korea is currently playing the roll of gangster state: they've been counterfeiting our money, extorting us by threatening to go nuclear if we don't pay them off, and now they seem to be engaged in "massive insurance fraud" (to the tune of $150 million or more).
Well, two can play at that game, Filstrup: I suggest we set the Bureau of Printing and Engraving to produce hundreds of billions of counterfeit North Korean "won" and start passing them all around Southeast Asia. Sure, some currency speculators will also take a hit -- please, God, let it be George Soros! -- but maybe we can completely collapse the DPRK's economy, make their currency worthless... and send a brutal message to the Dear Leader: don't mess with il capo di tutti capi.
I'm wending my way through Mark Steyn's America Alone. On page 78, I found a couple of thought-provoking passages. Here's the first:
Indeed, co-existence is what the Islamists are at war with -- of, if you prefer, pluralism; the idea that different groups can rub along together within the same general neighborhood. And even those who nominally respect the idea tend, on closer examination, to mean by "pluralism" something closer to "subjugation."
This is actually an old conundrum: if a society's greatest principle is tolerance, then are they obliged to tolerate the intolerant?
- If the answer is Yes, then the society will quickly become an intolerant one, as it's taken over by those who will not tolerate the tolerant;
- If the answer is No, they will not tolerate the intolerant -- then they're not very ruddy tolerant, are they?
Then there is this one, which is somewhat meatier:
The Islamists incite jihad from American, Canadian, British, European, and Australian mosques, and they get away with it. The West's elites lapse reflexively into twittering over insufficient "respect" and entirely fictional outbreaks of "Islamophobia." The Mounties, the FBI, Scotland Yard, and others are reasonably efficient at breaking up cells and plots, but they're the symptoms, not the disease. It's the ideological pipeline that needs to be dismantled. Through their network of schools and mosques, the Saudis are attempting to make themselvs into a Muslim Vatican -- if not infallible, at any rate the most authoritative voice in the Islamic world. We might have responded to the Wahhabist challenge by distinguishing, as William Tayler did, between Sunni and Shia, Sufi and Salafi, and all the rest, and attempting to exploit the divisions. But as proper Western multiculturalists, we celebrate diversity by lumping them all together as "Islam."
So far (through page 89, at least), Steyn hasn't developed this theme; but I think it points us towards one more way we can fight the war of Jihadism vs. Americanism.
Steyn is correct that there are many radical mosques in the United States; I've heard it said (I don't know if this is true) that there are more militant mosques in America than any other Western nation. These radical mosques contain radical imams who preach violent jihad as a matter of course.
Thus, for national security reasons, we should be surveilling every last one of these militant mosques, determined by our own intelligence operations (that is, sending loyal American Moslems into the mosques to listen to the sermons). From what I understand, they hardly hide their inflammatory opinions under a burning bush: it shouldn't be hard to decide that a mosque is "radical" if the imam says the congregation should financially support Hamas and encourage their children to become mall-martyrs.
Get warrants when there's court-level evidence; but do it under the president's plenary power as Commander in Chief when the probable cause is military level but not civil-court level.
Regardless of how we justify it, let's tap their phones, bug their conference rooms, tail their employees. Let's read their mail, ghost their hard drives, and track their bank accounts.
We should have been doing this for the last five years -- and maybe we have and the New York Times just hasn't gotten that leak yet. But somehow I doubt it.
Sure, the Democrats will fly up out of their seats, full nine feet high and higher. They're rush to commit savage acts of "oversight" on those clandestine agencies that are engaged in this "domestic spying."
Heh. Excellent... we send administration representatives (like Tony Snow) out to the Sunday talk shows to say that they neither confirm nor deny that we're doing this -- wink -- but really, Mr. and Mrs. All-American, don't you think we should be? And why are the Democrats so concerned about the "right" of fire-breathing Wahhabi imams to call for assassinations and bombings in Amerca, but not so much about your rights not to be blown up at work, at the mall, and not to have your kids blown up at school, like in Beslan?
I can just see Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI, 100%), sweating bullets on Anderson Cooper 360° or being grilled by Chris Matthews on Hardball, trying to explain why the Democrats don't want to know whether there are any terrorist mosques in America. Maybe the Superglue would break, and those blessed glasses would finally slip off his bulbous nose!
It can only help us to get a fight going between Bush and the congressional Democrats on just how far we should go to protect the American people. It's a heck of a lot better than drawing a line in the sand over minimum wage.
Oh, and by the way... we might just learn enough to be able to deport some of these Saudi-funded imams, or maybe stop a terrorist plot or two. That's almost as good as putting Democrats on the spot!
October 19, 2006
Dear Leader Regrets...
Evidently, the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il, "regrets" the nuclear test. That's what he told the Chinese.
In fact, he regrets the test so much, he's even willing to return to the six-party talks... provided the United States grants unilateral, pre-negotiation concessions of, well, every concession North Korea has demanded in the past before returning to the table:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.
Of course, they've always returned to the six-party talks anyway, even without such concessions. But only long enough to leave again and commit some provacative act: test-firing a missile (that topples over and crashes into the ocean), setting off a nuclear bomb (that fizzles faster than Democratic electoral hopes), or shooting an old missile they bought from China right across the Japanese mainland. Then they offer to return. In exchange for, shall we say, a few concessions?
So what specifically does the Democratic People's Republic of Korea want this time? Why, it's quite simple; painless, really:
North Korea has long insisted that the U.S. desist from a campaign to sever its ties to the international financial system. Washington accuses Pyongyang of complicity in counterfeiting and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction.
No big deal. What's a little counterfeiting and chemical warfare among chums? After all, he is the Dear Leader.
Big Lizards sincerely hopes that Secretary of State Condoleezza "Football" Rice picks up on the head-fake and rejects the Devil's deal. Any loosening of restrictions on North Korea must come about as part of the negotiations, not before negotiations even begin! And it must be in exchange for better guarantees against cheating, such as on-the-ground inspections by American-led inspection teams (we all still remember how Saddam punked UNSCOM and UNMOVIC).
I anticipate that when Dear Leader fails to get the pre-talk concessions he wants, his contrition will disappear faster than civility from a losing Democrat. But maybe I'm misjudging the fellow (he opposed the Iraq war, so that's a plus, as far as the nutroots is concerned).
October 13, 2006
On Provoking Ponderous Ponderings of Pyongyang and Palestine
Paul Mirengoff of Power Line has a great post up, "On Talking With the Enemy." Paul takes up the question of whether "I believe in talking to your enemies," as James A. Baker III, co-chair of the newly formed Iraq Study Group, likes to say, is a workable policy -- or just a mindless liberal slogan. Sorry for the redundancy. Paul's conclusion:
We should, of course, make an effort to find out the real views of our enemies. And if those views indicate the possibility of negotiations that hold a reasonable promise of a beneficial outcome for us, we ordinarily should hold such negotiations. But it's pointless at best, and dangerous at worst, to hold publicized negotiations when we know that the enemy's bottom line is one that we cannot accept. Indeed, while critics of the Bush administration like to remind us that we talked with the "evil empire" Soviet Union, we actually learned through bitter experience to avoid holding major summit-style talks unless there was reason to believe they would succeed in advancing our interests.
Paul considers this point in the context of the bilateral talks with North Korea that many Democrats, including Republican Baker, demand the Bush administration undertake, hoping for the same wonderful outcome we had when the Clinton-Carter team agreed upon the Agreed Framework (hence the name) with Kim Jong-Il in 1994. The net effect of the Agreed Framework, along with South Korea's Sunshine Policy of "engaging" North Korea, was described in the Washington Times by Dr. Yearn Hong Choi (and quoted in yet another Power Line post) thus:
North Korea kidnapped South Korean fishermen from the open sea and Japanese citizens from the seashore of Japan, and bombed a South Korean plane. The DPRK sold opium and produced counterfeit U.S. dollars. It has been starving its own people. But it has produced nuclear bomb(s) and long-distance missiles in order to threaten South Korea, Japan and the United States....
The appeasement policy and Sunshine policy just helped the North Korean dictator sustain his power, rather than have his country go bankrupt.
I really like Paul's criterion: no negotiations with the enemy if his bottom line is utterly unacceptable. It leads to quick resolution of a lot of thorny issues. Here's one:
- The bottom-line position of both ruling Hamas and opposition Fatah in the Palestinian Authority is the destruction of Israel and expulsion of the Jews;
- This is clearly unacceptable to Israel and to the United States;
- Therefore, negotiations between Israel and the PA, or between the United States and the PA, are utterly pointless and should be broken off.
I have long agreed with the Power Line crew that President Bush's "Roadmap to Peace" is a farce, his worst foreign-policy program... and not coincidentally, completely at odds with his stance on all other terrorist organizations, including, oddly enough, Iran's proxy, Hezbollah: Bush does not demand Israel commence negotiations with Hassan Nasrallah on how much of northern Israel should be ceded to Hezbollah.
What could change the climate on negotiations with the PA? Only a change in their bottom line. If something forces the PA to drop the idea that they will ever be able to destroy Israel -- perhaps a horrific war, such as the civil war now looming in Gaza -- and they truly accept the inevitability of a two-state solution, then and only then would negotiations be feasible.
But you cannot negotiate your way to useful negotiations. You cannot negotiate your enemy's unacceptable bottom line into being acceptable, thus permitting negotiations. They have to change the goals first; and they will certainly need an external event to do so.
Until then, let the Palestinians stew in their own juices.
October 10, 2006
Vote for Dems to Beat North Korea!
The funny part is, I think the Democrats have started to believe their own bullroar. In their unintentionally hilarious hysteria, they blurt out arguments the GOP has made for years:
Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the president's rival in 2004 and a potential 2008 candidate, assailed Bush's policy as a "shocking failure," and said, "While we've been bogged down in Iraq where there were no weapons of mass destruction, a madman has apparently tested the ultimate weapon of mass destruction."
Hm... who was it who mocked the inclusion of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the list of the "Axis of Evil?" Democrats said then that President Bush included North Korea only to prevent the list from being entirely filled with Moslem.
Previously, for six years under Clinton, the Democrats snoozed, confident that tossing a few tens of billions of dollars (and a nuclear reactor) to Kim Jong Il would placate the "madman."
Then when Bush initiated his policy of trying to line up allies for sanctions against the DPRK, the Democrats (especially including Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, 100%) fought it hammer and fang, every step of the way. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight Ashbury, 95%) hooted at the preposterous idea that we would ever need ballistic missile defense, and she led the fight -- successful during the Clinton Go-Go 90s -- to zero out the research on it.
So, Mr. Kerry and Mrs. Pelosi... do you finally, at long last, support missile defense? If so, then at least one good thing has come out of this piffle of a detonation.
"The Bush administration has for several years been in a state of denial about the growing challenge of North Korea, and has too often tried to downplay the issue or change the subject," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"We had the opportunity to stop North Korea from increasing its nuclear power, but George Bush went to sleep at the switch while he pursued his narrow agenda in Iraq," added Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat in a tough campaign in New Jersey.
Wow, tough stuff! I presume Sens. Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) and Bob Menendez (Temporary D-NJ, 100%) can point to a long history of pushing for much harsher treatment of North Korea... for example, by conducting direct, face-to-face negotiations with them so we can settle how much tribute to pay and how many more reactors to send to appease that failed Stalinist state.
Reid is of course "changing the subject" from his obsession with the internet peccadillos of former Rep. Mark Foley, which have occupied about 137% of Reid's always-limited attention span since September 29th.
The Democrats' main argument seems to be that North Korea's now suspect claim that they have detonated a nuke actually helps the Democrats in the upcoming election... after all, Democrats have long been known as the party of cold warriors who come down hard on Communism.
(The nuke announcement really is producing some major-league skepticism. Bill Gertz reports in today's Washington Times:
U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday.
But remember... you read it here first!)
My worthy co-conspirator, Brad Linaweaver, informs me that he just saw Dr. Helen Caldicott on some screamfest -- anybody besides me remember that energumenic refuge from Bedlam? She opined that the North Korean nuclear (?) explosion leaves America with but one option in response: we must unilaterally disarm our nuclear arsenal!
Freeze now! The survivors will envy the dead! (Probably so, for they don't have to listen to Helen Caldicott speak.)
Let's see what happens to the polls, which jumped from 0 to a 65-point advantage for Democrats in 3.4 seconds (want to buy a slightly used Dyson sphere?) But that may flip right back, now that the conversation is no longer about Gary Condit.
Oh, wait -- my mistake. That was the last congressional sex scandal, which was front-page news in every newspaper and TV broadcast in America... on September 10th, 2001. (So I reckon at least one Democrat actually cheered when the twin towers were struck.)
October 8, 2006
So Did They Or Didn't They?
So North Korea claims that it has actually set off a nuclear explosion.
Was it really a nuke? Or was it a huge mass of conventional explosives designed to simulate a nuclear explosion?
(On the bright side, as Friend Lee points out, Mark Foley is off the front pages. Somebody recently noted that the top story in every newspaper and news broadcast on September 10th, 2001, was -- Gary Condit!)
U.S. and South Korean officials could not immediately confirm the North Korean report but the U.S. Geological Survey said it recorded a seismic event with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2 in northeastern North Korea that coincided with the country's announced nuclear test.
The Colorado-based agency said it was unable to tell whether the event was the result of an atomic explosion or a natural earthquake.
We'll have to determine that pretty darned quickly. I think it should be possible to do so: in order to get a big enough explosion to create "a seismic event with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2," you'd need one heck of a lot of explosive material. All of that material has volume... which means you cannot pack it all into the same tiny space that a nuclear bomb occupies.
I imagine that the explosion, viewed microsecond by microsecond, would take a long time (relatively long) in the case of conventional explosives: first the core detonates, then the layer immediately surrounding the core, then the next layer, and so forth. I would expect such a chain-reaction explosion to be seen as sort of a rolling eruption.
But a nuclear explosion should be nearly instantaneous, since the entire bomb is smaller than a truck. I suspect the seismic signature of the two would be quite distinct. So we should know in a matter of hours whether Pyongyang really did explode a nuke, or whether they're trying to scam the world.
But how should we respond in each case?
If we determine it really is a nuclear bomb
We would know the following:
- The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) has nuclear-bomb technology;
- The DPRK has long-range missiles;
- The DPRK, speaking through Kim Jong-Il's "unofficial spokesman," Kim Myong Chol, has said that the purpose of their nuclear weapons is to turn American cities into "towering infernos."
So what should we do? Certainly we cannot give in to nuclear extortion: the same "rambling editorial" that Captain Ed links to in his post suggests that America will flee the Orient as soon as the DPRK threatens to nuke our bases. Obviously we will not, cannot do that.
But we also can't just sit there, waiting on the will of a madman whether tens of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will be obliterated. We can hope that our ballistic-missile defense (BMD) works; but I don't know if relying totally on defense is good strategy.
(And while we're on the subject, thank God and Ronald Reagan the Democrats were unsuccessful in killing off strategic and theater missile defense!)
So if we are directly threatened by the DPRK with nuclear attack if we don't instantly "redeploy" our troops (to Iowa?), I think our only realistic option is to launch an immediate strike on North Korea -- albeit a conventional one. Unlike Iran, the North Korean population is not incipiently pro-American, so we needn't worry about offending them by a coordinated strike.
Even if we choose the second option, sitting tight behind our BMD shield wall until and unless the DPRK makes good its threat -- then if they really do try it, our only possible response would be a full-scale attack. However, if it's clear that the strike actually sent against our troops (and, one hopes, thwarted by our defense) really was nuclear, then the nuclear gloves are off.
We must demonstrate to the world that if we're attacked with nuclear weapons, we will respond with nuclear weapons. Else, our entire atomic arsenal is no more a threat than a pistol in Michael Dukakis's hand.
There are several "admittedly regrettable, yet nevertheless distinguishable" scenarios arising out of our determination that the explosion today really was a nuke. Our job is to choose the one that best serves America's national-security needs.
If we determine it really is not a nuclear bomb
This would leave us in a very peculiar position. If the world believes it was a nuke, and we're the only ones saying it wasn't, will everyone think we're just in a state of denial?
And suppose we're able to convince everyone that we're right: what kind of a maniac would fake a nuclear explosion, knowing what reaction that might provoke from the real nuclear powers? I've said for a long time that Kim Jong-Il is mentally ill... but this would convince the entire world.
What happens next? What sanctions can one put upon a nation led by a crazy man? It's the Ahmadinejad problem, in spades and doubled.
The correct response in such a case might also be a major conventional strike. Winston Churchill (or someone else, like Georges Clemenceau or Robert Benchley) once said something along the lines that, if you're not willing to attack your enemy when he's weak, what makes you think you'll be willing to attack him when he's strong? (Ten points to the first person who can supply the actual quotation.)
And the winner is... Navyvet, who supplied the following, which I've slightly corrected (the sentence begins with the word "still") and attributed:
Ten points to the Navy!
If the DPRK simultaneously demonstrates vast insanity and extreme weakness by trying to fake having nuclear weapons, I think it's time to squash the bug.
They also serve...
For the moment, there is nothing to do but wait for word from American scientists whether that really was a nuclear weapon or not. After that point -- well, enough to say I'm glad I'm not in the White House, Pentagon, the CIA or State Department, in Seoul, in Tokyo, or for that matter, in Beijing. A lot of folks are going to be getting very little sleep for quite a few days.
June 21, 2006
To Bag Or Not to Bag
And the Democratic People's Republic of Korea already appears to be getting cold feet and sweaty palms:
North Korea wants talks with the United States over its planned missile test, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, a sign Pyongyang might be ready to step back from the mounting crisis.
But Washington ruled out any special talks over the issue which it, along with South Korea and Japan, says poses a grave danger to a region already deeply worried by North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
Rule Number One of negotiations: when your opponent wants a meeting more than you, that's the time to demand concessions. Fortunately, we have a businessman in the White House... rather than a career politician who believes that when your opponent is anxious for a meeting, you should surrender to him.
I think it pretty clear that Pyongyang is more worried about a successful intercept by our BMD system than are the Democrats and some American military analysts, such as perennial Fox News commentator Gen. Thomas McInerney (who only gives us a 60% chance of hitting the Taepodong missile).
So far as I know, McInerney has not had any particular connection with BMD in many years, though I think he had some command responsibility over it at one point in his military career. I'm not sure how qualified he is to make such precise estimates, or what his basis is for doing so; I'd rather see a somewhat more current source -- except of course that would require leaking, which I don't want to see!
[Correction: McInerney said 60% chance with one shot, near certainty if we fire two antimissiles; but I still want to know what his basis is for saying either of these.]
One of the reasons I hope they do try to splash the Taepodong is to gainsay the chorus of screams already emanating from the penumbra of LiberalLand. From the AP story above:
Although shooting down a North Korean missile is a possibility, the Pentagon also must consider factors that would argue against such a response, including the risk of shooting and missing and of escalating tensions further with the communist nation....
Robert Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said a U.S. shootdown of a North Korean missile on a test flight or a space launch would draw "very strong international reaction" against the United States. He saw only a small chance that the U.S. would attempt a shootdown....
At the time of the 1998 launch, the United States had no means of shooting down a long-range missile in flight. Since then, the Pentagon has developed a rudimentary system that it says is capable of defending against a limited number of missiles in an emergency - with a North Korean attack particularly in mind....
David Wright, a senior scientist at the private Union of Concerned Scientists, said he strongly doubts that the Bush administration could back up its claims of having the capability to shoot down a North Korean missile.
"I consider it to be rhetorical posturing," Wright said. "It currently has no demonstrated capability."
The last time the Pentagon registered a successful test in intercepting a mock warhead in flight was in October 2002. Since then, there have been three unsuccessful attempted intercepts, most recently in February 2005.
The temptation to buck this finger-wagging, "it'll end in tears" whining is nearly irresistable.
The reality is that if the NoKos believe there is a good chance we'll shoot the missile down, they won't fire; they have far more to lose by a hit than we have by a miss. Curiously, there is a strange congruence of interest between the North Koreans and the American Democrats: both would love to prove that the much-vaunted BMD system is just "rhetorical posturing" by the military; but both are too frightened by the possibility that it isn't a fraud even to try.
Hence, the hellish chorus demanding we do nothing.
June 20, 2006
What Goes Up Must Come Down... But How?
So here is the syllogism; you supply the conclusion:
- North Korea insists that it has "the right" to launch a test of its new ICBM, the Taepodong-2.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has no intention of abiding by any treaties it may have signed against the proliferation of missile technology; and they are known to be working hard on a nuclear warhead (with a lot of help from the mad Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan) and may indeed already have a few. Now they say they have a right to missiles that can carry those warheads thousands of miles:
North Korea declared Tuesday it has a right to carry out long-range missile tests, despite international calls for the communist state to refrain from launching a rocket believed capable of reaching the United States.
The bristling statement from North Korea to Japanese reporters in Pyongyang came as France and the U.N. secretary-general raised the alarm over what are believed to be the reclusive nation's preparations for a test of the Taepodong-2, with a range of up to 9,300 miles.
In a totally unrelated move, the United States has decided to make a minor change in our defense posture:
- The United States has just activated our ground-based ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, in addition to the sea-based Aegis BMD system.
We have tested the Aegis extensively, and it has been considered fully operational for a long time now... despite not having been used yet in actual combat, so far as I know:
Two Navy Aegis warships are patrolling near North Korea as part of the global missile defense and would be among the first sensors that would trigger the use of interceptors, the officials said yesterday.
The U.S. missile defense system includes 11 long-range interceptor missiles, including nine deployed at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The system was switched from test to operational mode within the past two weeks, the officials said.
All right, so they launch; but where do they launch? What direction, and over what countries?
- The DPRK is not likely to launch an ICBM -- even as a test -- west across China or north across China and Russia; that leaves only east over Japan (which they have done before) or south over Taiwan and the Philippines, all three strong and vital American allies.
So put the three together, and what conclusion do we draw about our course of action? You guessed it:
One senior Bush administration official told The Washington Times that an option being considered would be to shoot down the Taepodong missile with responding interceptors....
White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to comment when asked if shooting down a launched missile was being considered as an option.
I suspect the only real question here is how likely we are to succeed: attempting to shoot down the Taepodong-2 and missing would be much worse than not trying in the first place; but trying and succeeding might reap huge dividends, as the generals behind North Korean leader Kim Jong Il probably think our BMD system is "all chopstick and no rice" (much like the DPRK food supply).
Proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that we really have it and it actually works might shock them out of their nutty idea that they can threaten us with nuclear missiles and back into at least a working definition of sanity.
But it's a gamble; let's not kid ourselves. Our tests so far have been controlled, in that we've been shooting at American missiles launched by American troops as part of a controlled engineering experiment -- as we should be; that's the correct way to develop a new weapons system. But making the shift to knocking down an actual enemy missile is a whole 'nother layer of complexity.
I believe it will work, so we should do it; still, none of us has access to all the classified data the president does.
But jeepers, would I love to see the collective gasp of a billion people if the NoKos were to launch -- and we were to swat their Taepodong out of the sky like it was a slow-moving fly. It would make my decade!
Sometimes the best thing to do in a "no-win" situation is to give the box a vigorous shake and see how the pieces realign themselves.
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