North Korea

White House Statement on North Korea Missile Test Name Checks Russia. Good!

North Korea poses a greater threat to other major powers like China and Russia than it does to the U.S.

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KCNA

Last night, the North Korean regime tested yet another missile which, according to the Japanese ministry of defense, reached an altitude of more than 1,200 miles (the International Space Station, for comparison, is only 250 miles up), and traveled 500 miles in 30 minutes before dropping 250 miles outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Despite the longer range of the missile, U.S. Pacific Command said it could not reach the U.S.

"The type of missile is being assessed and the flight was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile," said a statement from Pacific Command spokesperon Maj. Rob Shuford.

In its statement, meanwhile, the White House invoked Russia, pointing out that the missile dropped even closer to Russia than it did to Japan. The president "cannot imagine that Russia is pleased," the statement read, before moving on to standard boiler-plate about North Korea being a "flagrant menace for far too long" and about the U.S. maintaining its "ironclad commitment" to the security of South Korea and Japan.

"Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea," the statement concluded.

Many in the foreign policy and political commentariat reacted predictably, calling the reference to Russia "unusual," as Toronto Star foreign correspondent Daniel Dale did. But Russia is one of the six countries in the six-party talks (along with North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., China, and Japan) that China is trying to restart, and has a significant portion of its territory within the range of putative North Korean missiles.

For more than a decade, the U.S. has assumed primary security responsibility for North Korea—taking the lead on diplomacy, on saber-rattling, and on developing missile defenses. But North Korea poses a more significant threat to countries far closer to it, and not just U.S. allies either.

Since the beginning of his term, Trump has appeared to be trying to draw China into a more active role in containing North Korea. Drawing Russia in too is also a good idea. Eventual disengagement by the U.S. in favor of China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea assuming more responsibility would be even better.

No doubt the mention of Russia in the North Korea statement piqued the interest of those peddling or buying into Trump-Russia conspiracies. Trump has done his part in fanning these flames too—allowing talk of a Trump-Russia investigation to influence his thinking process far more than it should. Referring to such an investigation in explanation of terminating the widely unpopular FBI Director James Comey was a spectacular own-goal.

Yet Trump's thin skin aside, there's little evidence of "collusion" between Trump and Russia or that the former is somehow in the latter's pocket. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has bombed the Russian-allied government in Syria, demanded Russia return Crimea to Ukraine before sanctions are lifted, and rejected Exxon-Mobil's request to continue business in Russia. If Putin paid for Trump (and there's no real evidence to suggest that), he should get his money back.

In the meantime, Democrats who have become Russia hawks should look back to 2012, heed the advice of President Obama, and stop treating Russia like it's still a Cold War boogeyman.

One of Trump's most consistent messages in an often confusing and contradictory campaign was that the U.S. could no longer afford to be the world's policeman. On NATO, Trump buckled quickly, sending Defense Secretary James Mattis to urge Europe to spend more on its own defense but then allowing European leaders to call his bluff and eventually embracing NATO as no longer "obsolete." On Syria, Trump volunteered U.S. military power to act as the enforcement mechanism for the convention on chemical weapons, without any international body even asking him to do so, let alone with him demanding payment for it.

On North Korea, there is still the opportunity for a non-interventionist solution. The Trump administration can still succeed in pulling other countries together to cooperate on regional security while reducing its own security commitments. Knee-jerk reactions about working with or calling on Russia, which is far more threatened by North Korea's missile program than the U.S., discourage efforts at cooperative, non-interventionist solutions.

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  1. Reason gets a mainstream media shout-out!

    …in an article about a white supremacist

    Half a loaf i suppose. At least they never mentioned the holocaust denial.

    1. They barely mentioned Reason. Interesting article, anyhow.

      1. They barely mentioned Reason

        It was mentioned in the first sentence that the author spotted proto-hitler-Spencer @ a Reason magazine Christmas party.

        I would call you obtuse, but that’s already been done 1000 times before.

        1. “It was mentioned in the first sentence that the author spotted proto-hitler-Spencer @ a Reason magazine Christmas party.”

          It wasn’t mentioned after that, although I’d have to read again before I swear to it. The author appeared more interested the guests Spencer and Hitchens than Reason magazine, his hosts, as one would expect of a writer for the Atlantic.

          It’s not obtuse. Mention of Reason was merely to set the stage of the encounter between the Nazi and the Trot. Nothing more. I did not mean to offend.

          1. “It’s not obtuse.”
            YOU, not IT, and he was trying to be kind.

            1. “and he was trying to be kind”

              Don’t think I didn’t notice that. GILMORE has shown sensitivity and humility. You may want to add your own voice in acknowledging his linking to the worthy article, or you can just continue in the same vein telling the world about my failings.

  2. Given the Trump administration’s statements that relations with Russia is at an all time low, those pictures that came out of the White House meetings with Lavrov looked pretty chummy..

    1. The Very Smart Outsider Businessman? just wants you to think he is incoherent and quite possibly demented. All part of his plan, you see. Keep ’em Guessing — a term General Cheeto actually invented one day while playing golf.

      1. At least he’s go you fooled.

  3. Donald J. Trump
    ? @realDonaldTrump
    Kim Jong-un better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking missiles to the west! My pump is primed, believe me, believe me.
    4:10 AM – 14 May 2017

    1. Gee, how…………
      pathetic.

  4. “Despite the longer range of the missile, U.S. Pacific Command said it could not reach the U.S.”

    What if it were launched from one of North Korea’s submarines? They might sneak up and get within range of the U.S.

    1. Well

      1. They’d have to rebuild a submarine to be able to launch it. That can’t be hidden and they can’t afford it. And all their boats are small – as in less than 6 m diameter compared to 12m + diameter of everyone else’s missile boats. There’s not a lot of room for a launch tube for a missile that is 15 m long.

      2. They’d have to have a submarine capable of ‘sneaking’ anywhere – Romeo’s (their big ones) are 1950’s era boats, Sang-O’s (little ones and their newest) are still 1990’s era boats. None of that shit is sneaking anywhere.

      1. “None of that shit is sneaking anywhere.”

        Famous last words. According to Wikipedia, The Peoples’ Navy has at least one ‘whale’ class sub capable of launching ballistic missiles and more are on their way, as one would expect of a nuclear power.

        1. I would hope that the US Navy has our attack subs stationed in the area to monitor any NK sub leaving their brown water and follow it.

          The goal is to sink any ballistic missile sub before it launches toward the USA.

          Only a few countries can recover sub wrecks from deep in the ocean and NK is not one of countries. The mission to sink the NK sub would be classified, so nobody would know.

        2. mtrueman|5.14.17 @ 5:26PM|#
          “…According to Wikipedia, The Peoples’ Navy has at least one ‘whale’ class sub capable of launching ballistic missiles and more are on their way, as one would expect of a nuclear power.”

          Arm-waving and un-supported assumptions. Yep, trueman is here.

          1. Of course the notion that a nation like North Korea could ever pose a threat to the U.S. is offensive and preposterous and must be dismissed in the harshest terms. North Koreans are clowns and lunatics and besides are starving. Yep, CNN and Sevo is here.

  5. ” Eventual disengagement by the U.S. in favor of China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea assuming more responsibility would be even better.”
    At this point I have very little hope that Trump will pursue a policy of disengagement anywhere on the planet. The only positive press he’s gotten since taking office was in response to pointlessly dropping bombs in Syria. Is he really willing to play the long game with Russia, China and NATO knowing in advance that the MSM, the neocons and the Democrats will shit all over him no matter what he does? Or will he go for the ratings and just start dropping bombs?

  6. “…Eventual disengagement by the U.S. in favor of China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea assuming more responsibility would be even better.”

    This might also suggest to France, Germany, Austria, Poland, etc that they ought to figure out a way to pay for their own defense.

  7. Why can’t we say that North Korea isn’t our problem? If they ever hit US territory with a ballistic missile we will slag them. Anything less is not our problem.

    Suitcase dirty bombs might be a different issue but their ballistic missiles just aren’t our problem.

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