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The Next Likely Escalation in USA vs North Korea Conflict: Sep 12, 2017

As regular readers of this blog know, I have written a few posts about the ongoing ‘situation’ between USA and North Korea over the previous year. For those who are relatively new to this blog, here are a few examples: On the Inability of USA to Stop North Korean Nuclear Weapon Program; Reports of Cyberwar against N. Korean Ballistic Missiles are Likely False; A Quick Analysis of the First North Korean ICBM Test: July 5, 2017 and most recently Continued Inability of USA to Stop N.Korean Nuclear Missile Program.

I have also written a few posts about the factors behind the genesis and continuation of this particular confrontation: The West Has Always Lost Against Determined Adversaries Since WW2; Why was USA Unable to Win Korean War in the 1950s: Apr 22, 2017 and How Racism and Magical Thinking Could Lead to War with North Korea.

To make a long story short, it is my opinion that a mixture of american ego, hubris, racism and magical thinking have been the main factor which created and then sustained this conflict. Now this does not imply that the North Korean regime (especially the Kim Dynasty) are great human beings, to put it mildly. But it is quite clear that their behavior and actions over the previous seven decades have been consistently and highly rational.

I should also point out that USA never had any qualms being super friendly with despots, assholes and mass murderers such as the Saudi dynasty and other Gulf Emirs, Saddam Hussein (before 1989) and Bin Laden (before 1993). In other words, the idea that USA cannot get along with the Kim Dynasty and North Korean regime because of personality cultism and totalitarianism is utterly ridiculous since there is tons of evidence that USA has no problems with despotic regimes, as long as those relationships are profitable to american corporations.

But back to the topic at hand. As you might have heard, yesterday the USA has gotten the security council to approve one more in a seemingly endless series of economic sanctions against the North Korean regime. Of course, these sanctions which were not vetoed by China and Russia were significantly diluted from the first drafts. They do however pose an open challenge to Kim Jong-un and the NK regime, in the wake of their successful hydrogen bomb test.

Based on how things have unfolded till now, I think that North Korean regime will respond in a somewhat unique way. To be more specific, they will test an ICBM at almost-full range such that its warhead will land in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of USA (or Mexico) just outside the Exclusive economic zone of either country. In other words, they will test an ICBM which will overfly Japan (something they have already done) to land about 250-300 miles of the west coast of USA- likely near its southern border with Mexico.

But it gets better.. I think there is a real chance that they will use a live nuclear warhead (likely a H-bomb instead of a A-bomb) and make it go off over the target area. Yes.. you heard that right. I think that there is a pretty good chance that North Korea will test a nuclear warhead tipped ICBM off the west coast of USA in a way such that it does not violate any of the maritime boundaries and zones of either USA or Mexico.

Here is why I think they will do it..

1] The North Korean regime understands that its survival is linked to the possession of a credible nuclear deterrent- specifically one that can wipe out at least a few large cities in USA. Perhaps more importantly, they know from their previous interactions during the Bill Clinton presidency that the USA cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, treaty or promise it makes with the North Korean regime. So far the USA has been able to bullshit and lie to its citizens that North Korean nukes cannot reach the mainland of USA.

A live nuke-ICBM test will show that all anti-ballistic missile systems deployed by USA are expensive boondoggles. Also, the american government and its “credentialed experts” will no longer be able to claim that North Korean ICBMs and Nukes are not technologically advanced enough to work reliably. After that, USA will not be able to hide behind “expert” techno-babble and other linguistic sophisms designed to minimize the nuclear capability of NK in the eyes of its citizens.

2] As long as the warhead explodes 50-100 km outside the exclusive economic zone of USA or Mexico, neither country can credibly claim that it was an act of war. A nuke going off over the ocean 50 km outside the economic zone of USA is legally no different from a failed satellite or spacecraft crashing into the same point on ocean. Also, the regime in NK has withdrawn from any international treaty which would limit its ability to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test. While the fallout from such a test might reveal some details about the nuclear device being used, it will only bolster previous claims made by North Korea about their nuclear capabilities.

At this stage, the government in USA will be in a pretty odd situation where they cannot really go to war over a test which did not violate the legal boundaries of their country while having to simultaneously face the majority of their angry and scared citizenry. Perhaps more importantly, its vassal governments in South Korea and Japan will realize that any military action by USA will result in the destruction of at least a couple of their major metropolitan areas (example – Seoul Capital Area and Greater Tokyo Area) and the death of tens of millions of their own citizens.

3] While China and Russia have tried to play both sides of the conflict, their recent willingness to vote for economic sanctions against North Korea (even if they are watered down) has pissed off the regime in Pyongyang. Conducting a live Nuke-ICBM test puts both countries in a situation where they have to choose sides. As far as China is concerned, unwillingness to respond to any unprovoked military action or attempt to occupy North Korea would be perceived as extreme humiliation by a western imperialistic country- something that would seriously screw up the public image of the ruling party in that country. Also China has no interest in a refugee influx from North Korea in the event of a war or, even worse, having an american puppet regime on their borders.

Russia, too, has appeared a bit too willing to please the USA even after all the attempts by the later to humiliate it and besmirch its name. The risk of a nuclear conflict and a potential american puppet state on their eastern borders would force them to choose sides. Basically, they are put in a situation where they, like China, would have to side with North Korea to protect their own interests. All that talk about international solidarity, arms control treaties and reestablishing normal relations with USA will mean squat once the moment of truth arrives. In other words, North Korea can force China and Russia to side with it by conducting such a provocative but legally acceptable test.

The clincher, in my opinion, is that it closes off every time delaying option used by USA to prolong this conflict and hope to win by economic attrition. The only option available to USA after such a test are as follows: declare war against North Korea and expose tens of millions of people in South Korea, Japan and USA to almost certain death, in addition to drawing China and Russia into the resulting conflict OR accept that North Korea is a nuclear power and start negotiating with it. The stark and binary nature of choice in the aftermath of such a test is precisely why I think Kim Jong-un and the regime will go for it.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. azn
    September 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    AD if u r correct (& I hope u r), I will owe u one in the future.

  2. webej
    September 12, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    It would still be a very risky strategy, one that facilitates “mishaps”, during the mercurial Trump’s watch; also open to question is how much control Trump actually has over the pentagon. In Syria we have several times seen CIA and pentagon proxies fighting each other, as well as pentagon strikes which sabotaged diplomatic cease fires and severely undercut Obama’s authority and standing.

    Do you think that the NK regime would have kept on developing ICBMs and H-Bombs if they were afraid of such empty posturing and “threats”? So if they were not afraid to push those boundaries, what would stop them from pushing further? They understand that the ability of USA to put on such empty posturing would be fatally compromised once the american and western public understands that their nukes can reach USA. Also, South Korea and Japan would be far more careful about backing USA as they have a lot to lose in the event of such an exchange.

    • webej
      September 16, 2017 at 11:46 am

      No, they are clearly not impressed by the bluster. Nevertheless, a live nuke detonation off the coast of California is stepping things up to another level. There is always the possibility of a political miscalculation. We know that during the cold war the crew commanders actually had the possibility of deploying a nuke. Some Dr StrangeLove scenario in which the chain of command doesn’t work cannot be excluded. We also know that there were numerous incidents during the cold war where counter strikes would have been launched if individuals had not deviated from protocol because they were uncertain and feared the possibility of mistakenly ending the world by nuclear exchange.

  3. warondrugs
    September 12, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while. Very insightful posts. I am terrified with how the US has handled the NK situation. They have provoked NK all the way to this point, creating this dangerous situation. I was hoping to move to the West Coast. What are the chances NK goes all-out and strikes a city like LA? They probably would not do that as it would lead to their destruction. I think NK wants to show the US that they will not be controlled, but they don’t want a full-scale nuclear war.

    While it is super unlikely that NK will strike first, I would not rule out them responding with nukes if they thought that such an attack by USA was imminent or ongoing.

  4. P Ray
    September 13, 2017 at 1:00 am

    The interesting thing is, by the very nature of being isolated, North Korea has managed to pursue its own ambitions.
    Now, what I think the US is very likely going to do, is a false flag operation – it’s not a stretch to believe that there are plenty of Koreans willing to do a job for money, the question is how the US intends to tie up loose ends (read: murder) after the job is done.

    Similar to the movie Team America: World Police, they might try to get a “terrorist” to confess that they were financed by North Korea.

    Except that NK will flatten a few large American, Japanese and south Korean cities even if USA attacks first. That is also why USA has not tried that sort of shit against hostile nuclear powers in the past.

  5. Thegenius
    September 14, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Wikipedia: Israel–North Korea relations

    Israeli-North Korean relations (Korean: 이스라엘-조선민주주의인민공화국 관계) are very hostile,[1] and North Korea has never recognized the state of Israel, denouncing it as an “imperialist satellite”.[2] Since 1988 it recognises the sovereignty of the State of Palestine over all of Israel, except for the Golan Heights, which it recognises as part of Syria. Israel considers North Korea and its nuclear missile program as a major threat to global security. It has called for international action on the issue. At times, Israel has been the subject of fiery threats from North Korean state media.

  6. Thegenius
  7. Thegenius
    September 16, 2017 at 9:44 am

    If US try to choke north korea with sanctions, nk may sell its h-bombs to the highest bidder

  8. Thegenius
    September 16, 2017 at 10:09 am

    North east asians, persians and arabs also formed alliance against crusaders over a thousand years ago

    • webej
      September 16, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Calling the Seljuk Turks North-East Asian, like Koreans, is a bit of a stretch, though I don’t doubt they could form an alliance. An uneasy alliance, with Sunni, Shi’ite, and atheist ideology.

  9. Thegenius
    September 16, 2017 at 10:31 am

    US didnt think NK can successfully develop nuke and ICBM shows that NK is an information blackhole, no other country can obtain any intelligence from inside NK, no one have a clue who NK nuclear scientists are.

    • webej
      September 16, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Yes, almost everything that is said about N Korea is speculation, and much of what comes out turns out to be not quite true, not representative, not the whole truth, very slanted, etc.

  10. P Ray
    October 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    W00t, looks like some hawks in the US are making the case for war against North Korea, because they have EMP weapons:

    Of course, ignoring the reality that anti-missile systems are not 100% accurate, and attacking North Korea on the basis of “what-if” creates a certainty of retaliation.

    That it does, but Trump and the delusional generals around him might think otherwise.

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