North Korea

North Korea Fires Another Missile Over Japan, to Predictable Responses

The cycle can be most easily broken by a U.S. push to resume six-party negotiations.

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KCNA

The missile North Korea fired over Japan last night is being treated by that country, President Trump, and the U.S. media as an event of consequence.

"A missile launch across Japan is an outrageous act that poses an unprecedented, grave and serious threat, and significantly undermines the peace and security of the region," Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

"Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world," President Trump said in a White House statement. "All options are on the table."

The rattled reactions have become as predictable as the missile test launches that are sound and fury signifying nothing. The launch over Japan is at least North Korea's 14th missile test launch this year. The U.S. and its allies should stop swinging their rhetorical dicks and insist on a resumption of talks with as few preconditions as possible.

While North Korea's weapons capability has very slowly improved, they remain light years behind the U.S. military and would remain so for a long time, even if the U.S. suddenly stopped its massive military spending.

North Korea's launch is not the first of its kind—the regime fired a missile that flew over Japan in 2009. Unlike yesterday's missile, which Western intelligence services say was an intermediate-range ballistic missile, North Korea claimed the 2009 missile carried a space-bound satellite (it crashed far east off the coast of Japan instead).

Then-prime minster of Japan, Taro Ase, called that launch a provocative act, in spite of North Korea having given Japan prior notice. The launch prompted increased sanctions that effectively killed the possibility of restarting multi-party negotiations.

North Korea gave no notice this time. Now as it did then, Japan did not try to shoot the missile down. "The risks of trying to intercept one of these missiles and failing is extremely high," the Hoover Institution's Michael Auslin told The Atlantic. "Unless you knew for certain that either because it was an intentional launch towards a population center or an accident, these decisions have to be made in an extremely short period of time… Japan at least has the ability to attempt to act—whether it is actually prepared to do so is entirely different."

This concern raises the question of what, exactly, is accomplished by all those U.S.-Japanese military drills. The two countries launched what they called the largest joint drill of its kind just earlier this month. If these drills, which North Korea insists are provocative, too, do not increase the readiness and ability of regional powers to defend themselves, what exactly is the point of them?

A pre-emptive strike is largely a bluff, and one Trump is unlikely to be committed to. North Korea's terrain would make it an even harder country to invade. Given its history, North Korea would be an even tougher challenge than a place like Iraq to affect regime change and nation building.

North Korea does not pose an existential threat to the U.S., nor to its allies. The time for its missile launching for the benefit of TV cameras ought to come to an end. If, in the worst case, the North Koreans launched a nuclear missile that could be shot down by the U.S.'s expensive missile defense system, North Korea would find itself on the business end of a one-way Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) policy. Trump's "fire and fury" comments about the North Korean threat signaled, in Trumpian fashion, that here MAD was still in play.

Trump has spent much of his first year reaching out to China, a country he believed before taking office could force North Korea to act in a certain way. He's found out, maybe, that the reality is more complex.

Perhaps only Trump can go to Pyongyang. But even if he can't, China ought to still be capable of bringing North Korea back to the table for six-party talks that collapsed in 2008. Negotiations involving North Korea, South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan, and Russia, over the security and future of the Korean peninsula represent the best hope for a positive resolution to the crisis.

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  1. Negotiations involving North Korea, South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan, and Russia, over the security and future of the Korean peninsula represent the best hope for a positive resolution to the crisis.

    Why? What makes you believe that? Can I borrow a favorite among some Reason writers and say ‘it never worked before so it won’t work now’?

    1. Because we didn’t have the right negotiators before. This time will be different. And there’s no moral hazard to paying of kim jung dumbass. He’ll honor the next agreement. Pinky swear.

      Or we could sell a new defense package to taiwan “in light of recently revealed dangers to the region from north korea” and make the chinese realize that they have something to lose by not yanking on their mutt’s chain.

      1. If we only were to threaten China enough, they would sort out our difficulties with North Korea. Your willingness to fight the Chinese down to the last Taiwanese would not go down well in Taibei. Alabama, or wherever it is you hail from, no doubt it’d be a hit.

        1. According to China, the ‘Taiwanese’ are Chinese. Recall their soldiers bludgeoning and shooting all those monks to death as they invaded? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

          1. “According to China,”

            According to both Chinas, you mean. The Republic of China, as the Taiwanese like to refer to themselves, also think of themselves as Chinese, however crazy that may sound to you. Anyhow, Taiwanese, Chinese, whatever you want to call them, the ingrates won’t be willing to sacrifice themselves for Uncle Sam.

            1. So Taiwan wasn’t violently subjugated by China after all. Ok. So you take Chinese propaganda at face value. That tracks with my opinion of your general intelligence.

              1. Taiwan was subjugated by the Nationalist Forces under Chiang Kai Shek. It wasn’t pretty. Before that Taiwan was subjugated by the Japanese.

                1. Actually this is entirely my fault, I meant Tibet not Taiwan. Not an easy mistake to make, but there it is.

                  1. The Republic of China, that’s Taiwan, or Formosa if you prefer, is just as keen on subjugating Tibet as the People’s Republic is. Taiwan’s claims on both Inner AND outer Mongolian are even more expansive than what the communists claim. A colonel in the RoC airforce once explained to me the importance of Tibet as a high ground necessary for a credible missile deterrent.

        2. You confuse chinese aggression with attacking them. Then again confusion seems to be your ground state. And since this is a weapons sale to taipei by definition it would go down well with them.

          1. If threatening North Korea doesn’t work, obviously threatening China will. The Taiwanese will learn to accept their role as sacrificial lambs. The talking heads of CNN have assured us so.

            1. You went to the Zoolander school for kids who don’t read good, didn’t you? Be honest.

              1. You’re not gonna go all Sevo, on me now, of all times. More bluster and avoid references to popular culture. We’ve got standards to maintain, and a tradition to uphold. As a fellow conservative, you must understand.

                1. Once you start actually reasoning like an adult you’ll get treated like one.

                  1. Are you offering me a job? No thanks.

                    1. And we’re back to the lack of reading comprehension… You’re not even worth the true minimum wage. I’m certain any work product of yours doesn’t compensate for the damage you do.

                    2. If it’s damage you want, I’m your man.

    2. I agree. Why would North Korea take part in talks which give nations like Japan a say in the shaping of the future of the Korean peninsula? I think they’ve made it clear for some time that they want directly with USA and leave the puppets and proxies out of it. America has avoided one to one talks, probably because of their fear that the talks would ‘legitimize’ the regime, as well as a general desire to stay put and threaten China.

      1. Honest question: Why would we have ‘one-on-one’ talks with North Korea when their opinion doesn’t matter? If not for China and Russia they would not exist, and our ‘one-on-one talks’ would involve their surrender date.

        1. And, for the record, if not for us there would probably be no South Korea because of China and Russia. So it’s a false choice from the get-go and it’s the reason why no one really gives a shit what actual North and South Korea think. They’re both proxies, and no one cares what the proxies opinion is.

          1. “So it’s a false choice from the get-go and it’s the reason why no one really gives a shit what actual North and South Korea think”

            North Korea is not a proxy. They conduct their policy, like the development of the nuclear and space tech that worry Americans so much, independently of China and Russia, or any other country you want to name.

            1. North Korea is and always has been a proxy state. How else can you explain their very existence?

              1. It goes back to WWII. There was no North Korea before then.

                “North Korea is and always has been a proxy state.”

                You and CNN keep insisting that. I don’t see that insisting on this belief improves America’s position in any way. It leads to moronic ideas like Not Another Skippy’s idea that it’s just a matter of piling threat upon threat on China. My advice, if you are concerned with North Korea’s developments, deal with North Korea to address your concerns. Don’t try to palm them off to places like China, which don’t share US interests in the region.

                1. Right. After 20 years of dealing with north korea it’ll be different this time. Who’s the moron again?

                  1. “After 20 years of dealing with north korea it’ll be different this time. ”

                    A credible threat to level Washington might make a difference. That seems to be the North Korean thinking.

                    1. So a credible threat to washington will cause the north koreans to start negotiating in good faith because…

                      You really are a moron (sorry, moran in mtrueman speak).

                    2. “So a credible threat to washington will cause the north koreans to start negotiating in good faith because…”

                      What does your fortune teller have to say about this? Mine tells me we won’t know till we’ve tried.

                    3. And what does your fortune teller tell you about PAST efforts? And since we were talking about the norks negotiating in good faith and you said “we” I guess you just outed yourself. It explains the lack of logic.

                    4. “And what does your fortune teller tell you about PAST efforts?”

                      We’re both alive and communicating over the net. Millions of Koreans are doing the same. These past efforts can’t be all that bad. They simply haven’t been inadequate to the difficult task of coming to terms over the nuclear issue. No need to give up, that’s illogical. Try again, fail again, fail better.

                    5. Why do I think that “fail better” holds a special significance in your life? We haven’t all died yet is not a measure of success. The issue isn’t with US past efforts, the issue is with North Korean past efforts as in they haven’t made any. They negotiated in bad faith –just like your arguments which explains your affinity for them– and broke their end of the agreements. The fact that you’re that historically ignorant is really a personal failing and has no bearing on reality.

                    6. “Why do I think that “fail better” holds a special significance in your life? ”

                      It’s a quote, or misquote, from Sam Beckett. A guy named after a missile.

                      “The issue isn’t with US past efforts, the issue is with North Korean past efforts as in they haven’t made any. They negotiated in bad faith –just like your arguments which explains your affinity for them– and broke their end of the agreements. ”

                      I never claimed that the Koreans, let alone North Koreans, were pushovers when it came to negotiations. It’s a long and frustrating slog ahead of Trump if he decides to pursue negotiations, but the lives, maybe millions of them, that will be saved if the issue is resolved peacefully will make it worth while. Damn sight better than your brilliant plan of selling yet more weaponry to Taiwan, in the hopes of cajoling China into cleaning up America’s mess on the peninsula.

                2. True or false: North Korea would not exist if not for the Russians and Chinese, and only exist at their pleasure.

                  Should I take this to mean that Israel is not a proxy of the United States after all?

                  1. “True or false: North Korea would not exist if not for the Russians and Chinese, and only exist at their pleasure.”

                    Who can say? A divided Korean peninsula is not all that unusual a state of affairs. Koreans trace their history back over 5,000 years, A good portion of that time, the place was divided. Generally, with the north or west going with the Chinese and the west going with the Japanese.

                3. It goes back to WWII. There was no North Korea before then.

                  If you really think the Korean War stalemated because the Norks suddenly found their fighting spirit just as the UN forces were about to take control of the entire peninsula, you’re dumber than I thought.

                  1. It is dumber than you think. MTrueman can’t pass a Turing Test.

                  2. “If you really think the Korean War stalemated…”

                    How is this relevant? North Korea didn’t have nuclear weapons during WWII. They do today.

        2. “Honest question: Why would we have ‘one-on-one’ talks with North Korea when their opinion doesn’t matter?”

          Americans seem worried about North Korea’s progress in space and nuclear technology. At least according to the amount of attention given to the topic by the media. I think there’s only something like 10 countries on the planet that can match the sophistication and capabilities North Korea has achieved. They did it without Russia or China. It’s time you learned to stop underestimating them. They’re not going to surrender to the USA, not without a fierce-some fight that USA has no stomach for.


          1. They did it without Russia or China.

            Blatantly false, which is no surprise coming from you.

            1. What help has China and Russia lent to North Korea’s space and nuclear programmes?

              1. I’ll take rocket motors for $1000, Alex. You really are this stupid, aren’t you?

                1. “I’ll take rocket motors for $1000, Alex. ”

                  Selling a rocket motor to someone doesn’t mean you get to dictate their foreign policy. It doesn’t mean that threatening the seller will change the buyer’s strategy to one you prefer.

                  1. Nice attempt to move the goal posts.

                    1. North Korea is subject to probably the world’s strictest economic sanctions, which both Russia and China have signed off on, and during this period they’ve managed to develop what seems to be a credible threat to the US mainland, or may be on the verge of such a capability. China has its own nuclear ability, and they don’t particularly want to see one of their ‘little brothers,’ as they refer to their smaller neighbours, get one. North Korea has what it has because they wanted it. If their arsenal runs on Chinese rocket motors, we can all pray they were ripped off with counterfeit motors or factory rejects. It’s a jungle out there.

                    2. Nukes, delivery vehicles. Same same. It’s so obvious. How often does the social worker have to visit to make sure you’re OK?

                  2. “What help has China and Russia lent to North Korea’s space and nuclear programmes?”

                    “Selling a rocket motor to someone doesn’t mean you get to dictate their foreign policy.”

                    Might it be considered “help?” Gee, I just can’t decide.

                    1. When a store clerk says may I help you, it means can I sell you something. It’s a business deal. They clerk isn’t offering to cut your grass or anything. Giving something is helping, selling something is just business, as the mafia, or any Chinese arms dealer will tell you. The Chinese are not gonna let the Americans hold their feet to the fire over the actions of any illegal arms dealings. They will put a bullet in the back of the heads of anyone unlucky enough to get caught, sure, but this North Korea problem is America’s baby.

                      Rocket motors are tricky, of course, but North Koreans should be able to manage it given time. Nazis did it, even under war time conditions using slave labour. why should you expect the North Koreans to be incapable?

                    2. When the store keeper sells (actually gives) you something to reverse engineer, it’s help. If I sell you a nuke and you use it did I help you? Surely even your towering intellect of mariana trench proportions can understand that. Then again, I’m probably giving you way too much credit.

                    3. “When the store keeper sells (actually gives) you something to reverse engineer,”

                      How do you know that the North Koreans just up and plum stole those rocket motors? I wouldn’t put it past them. Who’s helping who, then?

                    4. The sad thing is that you’re actually proud of this argument.

                    5. Fine, I’ll agree that Russia and China and all the other bad countries in the world help North Korea. What do you expect from them? They can’t unhelp North Korea out of its arsenal.

              2. Hard to say, when was the last time they had an independent nuclear inspector into their facilities? I’m sure it’s because they were jealously guarding the secret of nuclear weapons from a bunch of countries that already have them rather than an attempt to cover up where they received information, materials, and devices from.

                For all we know, they got their nukes the same way Israel did.

                1. A Q Khan. May that fucker burn for all eternity.

                  1. A country like North Korea needs some version of Prometheus, there is no way they figured out fire on their own. At least not on the timeline they had.

          2. North Korea had Chinese and Russian help over the years. Maybe not on their nuke or ICBM programs but military help nonetheless. Its really not that hard to reverse engineer a SCUD missile and then advance a short range missile into longer and longer ranged missiles.

            The engineering for creating a crude nuclear weapon is not as hard as people think.

            Its getting ICBMs directly on target, miniaturizing nuclear weapons, and increasing the yield of nukes that takes some work.

            1. “North Korea had Chinese and Russian help over the years. ”

              They’ve had American help, too. On their ‘civilian’ nuclear programme, no less.

              1. Yes, in the form of ligh2r water reators completely unsuitable for weapon production and as a result of the direct talks that you think will be different this time (just like ed).

                1. “as a result of the direct talks that you think will be different this time ”

                  Why not? Things change. Nothing lasts forever.

                  1. True, you might actually understand something one of these days. But induction makes that unlikely.

                    1. “True, you might actually understand something one of these days.”

                      Believe me, I understand everything you’ve said till now. You’re not the only one to watch CNN, or listen to the president. Why are you so eager to follow suit on this issue and not showing any skepticism? My guess is you know nothing about China or Korea. It certainly reads that way to me. You want to learn? My advice, start with a little light sex tourism.

                    2. “My guess is you know nothing about China or Korea.”

                      I don’t have to guess about how little you know. You demonstrate it every time you post. And if you think my proposal comes from CNN, I would love to see the link? What’s that? Got nothing? Story of your life.

                      My advice: if you pay people someone will eventually have sex with even you.

              2. Thanks Clinton!

  2. I for one am all in favor of sending Trump to Pyongyang.

    1. Add Dennis Rhodman and we’ll make it a summit.

    2. Putting those two megalomaniacs together in the same country may have some unintended consequences.

    3. Putting those two megalomaniacs together in the same country may have some unintended consequences.

  3. The missile North Korea fired over Japan last night is being treated by that country, President Trump, and the U.S. media as an event of consequence.

    You know, I think I’d consider it an event of consequence. For instance, Air Force general Curtis LeMay did a missile test (among other things) and they were considered extreme provocations.

    At the height of the crisis, sac decided to go ahead with an ICBM test launch which, by all rights, should have been cancelled?”a deliberate provocation,” Rhodes writes. According to a sac wing commander, Rhodes continues, “sac airborne-alert bombers deliberately flew past their customary turnaround points toward the Soviet Union?. The bombers did eventually turn back, but the provocation was clear.” These provocations, combined with a number of “serious command-and-control snafus,” brought us closer to the brink than we needed to be.

    If I were in a dispute with my neighbor and he were firing guns over my roof, I’d get a little jumpy.

  4. At this rate, North Korea is not gonna have any missiles left when the actual war starts.

  5. This just in from Reason:

    If someone fires a missiles over your house that may, or may not, be targeted at your house and may, or may not, be carrying a nuclear payload is nothing to worry about because the guy shooting the missiles may, or may not, be mentally unstable.

    Good to know. Very reassuring.

    1. Unfortunately, this is one reason why Libertarians get ignored. A Non-Aggression Principle stance does not require your country to not preemptively strike if you have been threatened with imminent attack or an attack is underway. The NAP signifies that you are not the aggressor.

      Lobbing missiles at someone else’s country is aggressive.

      1. I absolutely agree, although North Korea has proven that they are an international troll-state in that they didn’t have the balls actually launch that missile over Guam like they said they would and instead launched it over a virtually defenseless Japan.

        That says that they’re not really willing to call Trump’s bluff, but they’re also not willing to stop launching missiles all over the place. Well, in my book a state that’s nuts enough to continue launching potentially nuke-tipped missiles over other people’s countries is pretty god damn aggressive. Maybe if we let Japan start truly defending themselves things would look different.

        …Article 9 declares “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes”.

        Last I checked that’s still in force.

        1. Just as the US Constitution does not create rights, it only recognizes natural rights such as self-defense and freedom to speak your mind, so Japan’s Constitution can’t remove the right to self-defense.

          However, I do not believe Best Korea is much of a danger. I believe their leaders have learned the Libya and Iraq and Iran lesson and bluster about their missiles and nuclear weapons to keep from being attacked, but otherwise, all the leaders want is to remain in power and luxury. I believe they are realists enough to know that if they actually started any war, they would be toast and lose their big fish in a small pond status.

          Thus I do not believe Japan is in any real danger.

          1. That’s not a limit by constitution, although it is limited in that way as well (I think), it’s a limit by international treaty as a result of WW2 that I believe has never been removed as a force of international law.

            Or, in other words, if Japan suddenly built up a military again it would be ‘illegal’ although the question remains if anyone would do anything about it.

  6. “This concern raises the question of what, exactly, is accomplished by all those U.S.-Japanese military drills. The two countries launched what they called the largest joint drill of its kind just earlier this month. If these drills, which North Korea insists are provocative, too, do not increase the readiness and ability of regional powers to defend themselves, what exactly is the point of them?”
    There are a lot of working parts with combining forces, especially forces that have massive language differences. That is why you conduct military maneuvers with allies.

    As to the provocative nature of launching missiles over other countries, let North Korea try that with the USA and see what happens. You cannot be sure if these ICBMs have explosive payloads. It is unreasonable to have to wait to be nuked when a country is testing how to accurately hit your country before you can preemptively strike.

    When will Reason writers admit there is a line that is a de facto threat and the USA will need to deal with it now or later?

    1. To some at Reason North Korea will never be a threat to us because they never have been before even while negotiations, talks, and deals have always failed before but this time they just might do the trick.

      I don’t know if I ultimately care beyond the actual and enumerated threats that North Korea throws our way and the thought that if they perfect their nuclear weapons they might carry them out, but it seems that in some libertarian circles no threat is great enough for self defense.

      I do agree with the assessment that they’re not a large threat yet and that preemptive war is rather stupid generally speaking but I don’t pretend that will hold out long term. They are a potential WW3 cause at some undefined date in the future at worst and impotent sound and fury at best.

      1. So where is that line and what will we do when it’s crossed?

        I am against waiting until North Korea has the capability to actually nuke the continental USA.

        Ending Fat Boy-Un’s capability to nuke the USA soon will just get this whole mess behind us. China is unlikely to intervene, as it would mean the USA cancelling all debt with China and a halt to buying their shit.

        I still have hope that Trump’s administration is quietly getting China to resolve the North Korea problem but I would doubt China wants to go to war with North Korea or the USA. China risking so much over North Korea does not seem like a smart move. China is still Communist, so maybe Commie party leaders are just not willing to let North Korea fall.


        1. So where is that line and what will we do when it’s crossed?

          I certainly don’t know, but I have a feeling China will have something to say about it eventually given that we’re their best customer and once China has something to say about it their land-forces will probably be a bigger concern to the Nork’s than our nukes. There is no Northern DMZ.

          1. Our trade relationship with China is irrelevant to Korea. They only run a perpetual trade surplus with us because they are content to use dollars as reserve currency. IOW – they are buying dollars and sending us whatever cheap shit we’ll accept in return. And the reality is that we depend on that demand for dollars to run a debt-fueled economy.

            If we want to use that ‘trade card’, they will simply stop using dollars as reserve currency – find some other currency to use to buy oil/commodities and sell arms and surplus cheap shit to whatever other countries will secure the trade routes for them. And we will quickly find that countries without a reserve currency have to live within their means and there is no such thing as a sustainable trade deficit. And the side benefit for them is that that will also pressure the SK and Japan economies since they depend on the same commodity flows.

            1. If we want to use that ‘trade card’, they will simply stop using dollars as reserve currency – find some other currency to use to buy oil/commodities and sell arms and surplus cheap shit to whatever other countries will secure the trade routes for them.

              Like what, the Euro? You really think the Chinese wouldn’t care if we suddenly decided to remove all American-based manufacturing from the country and relocated it elsewhere? It’s not like money is the only thing that’s fungible in a global economy.

              1. Well, I mean, even if we did that the manufacturing base is left there as well as the people trained to run it so…they would probably care but less than we think they would. They already got most of what they wanted anyway, in incredibly valuable intellectual property and reverse engineering opportunities.

              2. No not the euro. Whoever they are getting their main commodities from – and whatever countries are willing to build a navy to secure trade routes in the Indian Ocean and SE Asia.
                And the latter doesn’t even need to be significant – just dealing with pirates and such

                You really think the Chinese wouldn’t care if we suddenly decided to remove all American-based manufacturing from the country and relocated it elsewhere? It’s not like money is the only thing that’s fungible in a global economy.

                Didn’t say they wouldn’t care. Just saying that Korea is absolutely NOT fungible and ain’t relocating and will be their neighbor long after the US ceases to exist. IOW – they are gonna be as unmovable about Korea as we would about a hostile Mexico. They will serve their own long-term interests there – not ours – and that’s it. Period.

          2. I certainly don’t know, but I have a feeling China will have something to say about it eventually given that we’re their best customer

            Given Trump’s recent bluster about imposing tariffs on China, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the State Dept is proposing this sort of thing if China doesn’t bring the Norks to heel. China’s one of the worst polluters on the planet, and I doubt Trump would get much opposition to something like a fat environmental tariff unless China told Kim to knock it off.

        2. I am against waiting until North Korea has the capability to actually nuke the continental USA.

          Ending Fat Boy-Un’s capability to nuke the USA soon will just get this whole mess behind us.

          And if a few hundred thousand die in Seoul that’s not your problem?

          1. Jesus, I was starting to wonder if the entire board had gone Warbonertarian.

            Fucking nuts. You’re all insane.

            Korea has been playing the same game for 65 years. They’ve certainly killed fewer people in unprovoked acts of aggression in that period of time than have Russia or China or the US.

            They’re a starving, holdout cult state on the perpetual border of total economic and political collapse as a state, with 1/100th of our military capacity. But yeah, let’s litter their peninsula with 50,000 American teenagers and a couple million Koreans, because we all of a sudden have a President who is too fucking stupid to learn the North Koreans the way a 19 year old private does by his second week in Dongduchon.

            Un went to school in the west – he has no delusions he can touch us militarily. He’s playing the exact same game his family has since the 50s. The Japanese are certainly capable of defending themselves.

      2. negotiations, talks, and deals have always failed before

        What are the standards for success? If the aim is not to rekindle the Korean War, they they have been successful so far.

    2. When will Reason writers admit there is a line that is a de facto threat and the USA will need to deal with it now or later?

      I suspect they will do that the moment the dick-waving crowd realizes there is no solution except a continued standoff forever. IOW – never.

      The only option I can see is if both Japan and South Korea develop nukes. That’s the only thing that will put pressure on both the Chinese and Russians. And methinks that a 5-nuke-power (+US if we stay there) region is likely to lead to more problems than fewer.

      1. It would suck but unless Fat Boy-Un dies or is couped out of power, the North Korea problem is going to end in conflict.

        A quick destruction of North Korean military assets by the USA is the best military option but if we miss Fat Boy-Un, he will send artillery shells into South Korea.

        Another option is to evacuate all South Koreans 50 miles south of the DMZ but that would alert North Koreans that the USA is preemptively striking them.

        1. Like all the dick-wavers, you’re assuming he’s our problem and only our problem. My option (which prob won’t work anyway) is at least an attempt to turn him into a Chines/Russian problem because they are then concerned about a bigger problem (ie nuclear SK and Japan) to them.

        2. The other concern is that there really isn’t a competitive power in N Korea. There isn’t anybody to REPLACE Fat Boy with outside one of the other members of his idiotic family. Killing him is unlikely to make anything better.

          But ignoring a country that is actively developing nukes AND firing missiles all willy-nilly is a completely ridiculous idea.

        3. “A quick destruction of North Korean military assets by the USA is the best military option but if we miss Fat Boy-Un, he will send artillery shells into South Korea.”

          I’m betting the artillery shells start flying regardless of whether we get him or not. The realization that thousands of rounds of artillery will rain down on Seoul within minutes is why we really can’t provoke anything. I’m starting to think that even Trump understands this.

  7. “When will Reason writers admit there is a line that is a de facto threat and the USA will need to deal with it now or later?”

    Of course there’s a de facto threat. Just like ‘all options are on the table.’ There is absolutely no point in developing nuclear weapons unless your enemies believe you won’t hesitate to use them. This extends to the ability to deliver them. A nuclear weapons programme is worthless without the missiles, aircraft and submarines.

    1. The difference being words and actions.

      The USA is letting North Korea know that we are willing to use everything in our arsenal, including nuclear weapons if attacked.

      North Korea has threatened to nuke the USA and lobbed 14 missiles east toward the USA, including directly over our ally Japan.

      1. Lets just ignore the fact that a parabolic line drawn from North Korea over Japan ends at California.

        1. I would also bet that the 14 missiles tests are to test the USA’s reactions, capabilities, and get the USA to strike first.

          Draw the line in the sky and if North Korea crosses it, fucking obliterate them. You lose the moral high ground for non-aggression when you threaten the USA. Plus, technically the USA and North Korea are still at war. We only have a cease-fire agreement that has been rescinded by North Korea numerous times over the years.

          1. There is absolutely no way North Korea wants us to launch first. I don’t care how insane Kim Jong Un is, unless he’s crazy enough to want to die in a nuclear holocaust there’s no way it’s true.

            That said, never underestimate the madness of tyrants. If you truly end up believing you’re a God-Emperor, you tend to do stupid shit like try an invite Russia in the winter.

            1. Just conventional USA first strike.

              I agree with you on the USA first strike nuclear attack.

              1. Of course, the problem there is that it didn’t work in 1950 either.

                1. It worked until China stepped in.

                  I am less convinced that China would send in hundreds of thousands of troops this time.

                  1. True enough. If China and Russia will stay out of it or side with us it’s no contest at all.

            2. Invite Russia to what in the winter? Tea?

              1. Phone autocorrect hates me.

                *invade Russia in the winter.

                ^_^

          2. “Plus, technically the USA and North Korea are still at war.”

            Technically not true. The U.S. was part of the UN response group. North Korea and South Korea are technically at war.

      2. “North Korea has threatened to nuke the USA and lobbed 14 missiles east toward the USA, including directly over our ally Japan.”

        The threat to use Nuclear weapons needs to be credible in order to justify their existence.

        1. So in other words, if you make 20 threats and launch the 21st time it doesn’t count?

          1. “So in other words, if you make 20 threats and launch the 21st time it doesn’t count?”

            Once you’ve launched, all bets are off, according to the mutually assured destruction doctrine.

        2. So, attacking South Korea in 1950 and killing Americans then never signing a peace treaty…
          So, lobbing ICBMs toward the country that you publicly said you would nuke…
          So, sending ICBMs directly over a USA allied country which has Americans stationed there…

          is not a credible enough threat?

          What would be credible enough threat for you?


          1. What would be credible enough threat for you?

            Just before the shockwave hits, turning him into ash, MTrueman says ‘ok, now that’s a threat’.

            Which, in all fairness, since mtrueman probably grew up on MAD theory this is actually about the only time that nuclear arsenals should be fired; when they’ve already been fired at you.

            And for the young, MAD stands for Mutually Assured Destruction which I believe is still the prevailing line of thought on nuclear arsenals legitimate use.

            1. As a corollary to this, armaments that can effectively intercept nuclear ICBM’s are frowned upon because they upset the balance of MAD theory which is highly ironic in this niche scenario.

          2. “What would be credible enough threat for you?”

            I don’t think we’re there yet. We’ll know when Trump starts treating North Korea like any other hostile nuclear power.

  8. “North Korea does not pose an existential threat to the U.S., nor to its allies”

    I agree with the gist of the article, but this is patently false, especially if you correctly consider South Korea to be an ally. You may think Kim Jong-un is unlikely to launch an attack and that he’s not as crazy as he seems, but for fuck’s sake they say they’re going to invade or launch an attack like every week and have nuclear weapons. That’s an “existential threat” if there was ever one.

    You can argue against military intervention and downplay the threat without denying there is any threat at all.

    1. To end the whole “Fat Boy isn’t crazy enough…”

      He had an assassination done on the soil of one of the few allies that shithole has. He is absolutely crazy enough.

      1. Nothing that the Kims have done suggest that they are suicidal. Which is exactly what they would commit if they deployed weapons of mass destruction against any of our allies in the region.

        1. They’ve assumed nobody would stand up and stop them. They’ve kidnapped Japanese and S Korean citizens. They assassinated people in the countries of allies. They are willing to risk everything because they don’t think anybody will ever try and stop them. They are the stereotypical yappy dipshit behind a bruiser who protects them.

    2. They pose an existential threat to S. Korea and maybe Japan. Not to the US, though. Even if they were insane enough to nuke US territory, they aren’t anywhere close to MAD capabilities and the US would continue to exist, possibly short a city or two.

  9. The U.S. and its allies should stop swinging their rhetorical dicks and insist on a resumption of talks with as few preconditions as possible.

    How exactly does one insist on anything with Best Korea? Threaten to insist again?

    What everyone ought to do is ignore the fuckers. Japan went full retard over this launch, AIUI, shutting down bullet trains, sound civil alert alarms, and in general acting like a panicy little snowflake.

    Ignore them, wait for them to commit actual harm. All this bluster just makes them giggle and do it again.

  10. 1) The six party talks failed for a reason. They had no influence over North Korea’s decision making process.
    2) The North got help from Dr. Kahn of Pakistan, not primarily the Chinese or Russians.
    3) The North will sell any WMD they develop to third parties to keep their regime funded (article just this week about WMD sales to Syria).
    4) We should expect hi bidders would be non-state actors where mutually assured destruction doctrine would be hard or impossible to apply.
    5) Only three variables matter. Does N Korea keep racing toward a deliverable nuke? Does the US/Japanese/S Korean alliance remain firm? Is China is unwilling or unable to affect change in N Korea? If answers to all three is yes then there will be a war.
    6) The N Koreans care about only one thing – regime survival. The threat of a US preemptive strike is actually the only leverage the west has because whatever other carnage there would be, there would be a zero percent chance of regime survival.

    1. 2 applies to nukes only. The north got help (and continue to get help) on rocket motors from the russians and chinese.

  11. Negotiations involving North Korea, South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan, and Russia, over the security and future of the Korean peninsula represent the best hope for a positive resolution to the crisis.

    Been tried.

    Repeatedly.

    Look where we are now.

    I see no reason to expect anything to change.

    1. When Americans are convinced that North Korea can inflict serious damage, things will change. If not before then.

      1. Oh, the US hasn’t given ENOUGH to date? That seems to be what you’re arguing.

        Intriguing take.

        And if we’re convinced they can cause us serious damage — what is the issue with us, you know, pre-emptively beating the shit out of them?

        1. “what is the issue with us, you know, pre-emptively beating the shit out of them?”

          There’s some 30,000 US troops stationed throughout the south who might be killed or injured in the wake of such an attack. There’s millions of Koreans too.

          1. I don’t think a single person here has suggested a preemptive nuclear strike, yet this is continually what you assume their argument to be.

            Odd, that.

            1. “I don’t think a single person here has suggested a preemptive nuclear strike”

              Damikesc mentioned a pre-emptive strike and I responded, neither of us mentioned a nuclear strike in particular and you were the first person to raise the issue. What I said holds true for a US conventional strike on Pyongyang as well.

              You may not have realized it but Trump raised the spector of a nuclear first strike when he said the words “all options are on the table” which is president speak for a nuclear first strike. Presidential candidates are usually required to utter these words during their debate performances to be taken seriously as a candidate by those who matter. Unless I’m mistaken Trump never said those words, even going so far as to say “I don’t do first strikes” or something along those lines. This may be the first time Trump has said these words, for what it’s worth.

              1. “You may not have realized it but Trump raised the spector of a nuclear first strike when he said the words “all options are on the table” which is president speak for a nuclear first strike.”

                No, this is mtrueman speak for “I’m a dumbass.” All options is a vague and nearly meaningless term except that it is frequently used to indicated that military options are on the table. The little hamster running in your skull immediately thinks that means nukes. It doesn’t.

                1. All means all. All includes the option of a nuclear first strike. What’s more, a nuclear first strike IS a military option, though rather extreme, I’ll give you that.

                2. All options is a vague and nearly meaningless term except that it is frequently used to indicated that military options are on the table.

                  Well, that’s flatly bullshit.

                  In military terms, when talking about a problem state, “all options are on the table” is understood to specifically mean nukes are an option. That”s the entire purpose of the phrase – to threaten nukes without mentioning them.

              2. What I said holds true for a US conventional strike on Pyongyang as well.

                I’m not seeing this “mighty” North Korean military machine. I’ll remind you that Saddam had, allegedly, one of the 5 strongest armies on Earth at the time of the Desert Storm and he was routed in, what, a month? We don’t know their capabilities, but given the shit condition of the country overall, it is foolish to assume “Well, they can’t even provide power to most of the country…but the military is totally bad ass”.

                I don’t want to invade because that means we have to fix North Korea and, seriously, fuck that noise six ways from Sunday…but actually wiping out the N Korean military wouldn’t be an issue.

                You may not have realized it but Trump raised the spector of a nuclear first strike when he said the words “all options are on the table” which is president speak for a nuclear first strike.

                No, it absolutely is not. It is a statement that we won’t rule out anything. Is a nuclear first strike a first option? Nope. Second? Nope. Anything but dead last? Nope. But saying “Well, we won’t do that” is simply saying that we’re not serious.

                1. “I’m not seeing this “mighty” North Korean military machine. I’ll remind you that Saddam had, allegedly, one of the 5 strongest armies on Earth at the time of the Desert Storm ”

                  What is your estimation of the American military machine? Seems as long as they are pitted against an enemy who’d rather run than fight, as in Iraq, they do well. If the enemy prefers to fight, our pampered warriors do poorly, as in Afghanistan where they face a lightly armed militia of part time goat herders who don’t enjoy the benefit of an airforce or navy, or having their frozen pizzas airlifted to them.

  12. North Korea does not pose an existential threat to the U.S., nor to its allies.

    South Korea and Japan aren’t our allies?

    1. “South Korea and Japan aren’t our allies?”

      That’s debatable. Do allies sit far off on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs for a decade or more while while hostile neighbours develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them? I imagine both these countries are re-examining the terms of this relationship before they get dragged into some conflagration.

  13. DJT to Un: I “see” your missile, and “raise” you two.

  14. Existential threat? well, yeah, even in a full blown exchange with the Soviet Union in the 80s, the US would likely have existed in some form, even if it’s just some guys in a bunker.

    North Korea likely will be able to nuke the West Coast. A hit on LA or Silicon Valley would likely have disastrous effects on the rest of the country (world, even)

    But there is no peaceful resolution. Or even resolution. After Libya, no dictator is ever giving up nukes or the threat of having a nuclear program.

  15. You know what always seems to go unmentioned in any Nork-related news? The people of DPRK’s unimaginable suffering.

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