• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

North Korea Launches Another Ballistic Missile Test

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

With tensions on the Korean peninsula already high, North Korea has fired off another test of its intercontinental ballistic missile:

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Tuesday that it had successfully conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, claiming a milestone in its efforts to build nuclear weapons capable of hitting the mainland United States.

The announcement came hours after a launch that the United States military said sent the missile aloft for 37 minutes. That duration, analysts said, suggested a significant improvement in the range of the North’s missiles, and it might allow one to travel as far as 4,000 miles and hit Alaska.

In initial statements, the United States Pacific Command and the State Department described the weapon as an intermediate-range missile rather than an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The missile took off from the Banghyon airfield in the northwestern town of Kusong and flew 578 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement.

The Japanese government said the missile landed in its so-called exclusive economic zone off its western coast. It was the first missile test by the North since it launched land-to-sea cruise missiles off its east coast on June 8. Under a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions, North Korea is prohibited from developing or testing ballistic missiles.

While the North is believed to have made significant progress in its weapons programs, experts believe it still has a long way to go in miniaturizing nuclear warheads for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The missile test adds a volatile new element to the Trump administration’s efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, which have included naval drills off the Korean Peninsula and pressure on China, Pyongyang’s longtime ally. In a blunt phone call Sunday, President Trump warned President Xi Jinping of China that the United States was prepared to act alone against North Korea.

If the missile took 37 minutes to fly 578 miles, that would mean that it had a highly lofted trajectory, probably reaching an altitude of more than 1,700 miles, said David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Such a missile would have a maximum range of roughly 4,160 miles, or 6,700 kilometers, on a standard trajectory, he said. North Korea said the missile, which it identified as the Hwasong-14, flew for 39 minutes.

“That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska,” Mr. Wright wrote in a blog post.

The missile looked like the longest-range missile that North Korea had ever tested, and its long flight time was “more consistent with an ICBM that can target Alaska and perhaps Hawaii,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

“It’s a very big deal — it looks like North Korea tested an ICBM,” he said by email. “Even if this is a 7,000-km-range missile, a 10,000-km-range missile that can hit New York isn’t far off.”

But analysts also cautioned that although they have been impressed by the rapid and steady progress in the North’s missile programs, the long flight time itself did not suggest that North Korea had mastered the complex technologies needed to build a reliable nuclear-tipped ICBM, such as the know-how to separate the nuclear warhead and guide it to its target.\

By lofting some of its recent missiles to higher altitudes and letting them crash down toward the Earth at greater speeds, North Korea has claimed that it tested its “re-entry” technology, which can protect a nuclear warhead from intense heat and vibrations as it crashes through the Earth’s atmosphere. But it is still unclear whether the North has successfully cleared that technological hurdle, missile experts said.

Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said that the Hwasong-12, which the North tested in May, flew 489 miles in 30 minutes, soaring to an altitude of 1,312 miles. Such a missile could deliver a standard 1,430-pound nuclear warhead over a range of 2,800 miles, not enough to reach Hawaii and Alaska, as North Korea claimed at the time.

North Korea’s test on Tuesday may have been intended to prove that its missiles could reach Hawaii and Alaska, Mr. Kim said.

The test came at the same time that President Trump is telling Chinese officials that the United States may act alone if Beijing is unable to restrain its North Korean allies:

WASHINGTON — President Trump, frustrated by China’s unwillingness to lean on North Korea, has told the Chinese leader that the United States is prepared to act on its own in pressuring the nuclear-armed government in Pyongyang, according to senior administration officials.

Mr. Trump’s warning, delivered in a cordial but blunt phone call on Sunday night to President Xi Jinping, came after a flurry of actions by the United States — selling weapons to Taiwan, threatening trade sanctions and branding China for human trafficking — that rankled the Chinese and left little doubt that the honeymoon between the two leaders was over.

After returning from his weekend getaway in Bedminster, N.J., late Monday, Mr. Trump noted on Twitter that North Korea had launched another ballistic missile, which landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan. He suggested it was time for China to act.

“Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” Mr. Trump wrote.

American officials, who would not be named talking about the continuing dialogue with the Chinese, said they hoped the tough steps by the United States would spur Mr. Xi to reconsider his reluctance to press the North. But Mr. Trump, one official said, now has fewer illusions that China will radically alter its approach to its reclusive neighbor, which is driven more by fear of a chaotic upheaval there than by concern about its nuclear and missile programs.

That leaves the president in a familiar bind on North Korea as he prepares to leave for a Group of 20 meeting this week in Germany, where he will meet Mr. Xi as well as the leaders of Japan and South Korea, nations Mr. Trump has also turned to in navigating his approach to the North.

Without the full weight of China, pressure tactics are unlikely to force North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to change course. Yet diplomatic engagement — which Mr. Xi continues to push, according to officials — is not a step that Mr. Trump is ready to consider, after the death last month of an American college student, Otto F. Warmbier, who was held captive in Pyongyang for 17 months, then freed in a coma.

A go-it-alone approach by Mr. Trump would also further antagonize China, since it would require blacklisting multiple Chinese banks and companies that do business with the North. The United States began doing so on a modest scale last week by designating four Chinese entities and individuals.

The precarious state of United States-China relations was captured by the way the two sides characterized the call. The White House said only that Mr. Trump had raised the “growing threat” of North Korea’s weapons programs with Mr. Xi. The Chinese, in a more detailed statement, said the relationship was being “affected by some negative factors.”

The latest of these — and perhaps the most grating to the Chinese — was a naval maneuver in which an American guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed territory claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea. The movement by the warship, the Stethem, off Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago prompted a furious response from China’s government, which called it a “serious political and military provocation.”

As noted, Trump tweeted about the situation:

Realistically speaking, it’s unclear exactly what the United States can do short of actions that have the potential to provoke a military response from Pyongyang, something that Trump’s Defense Secretary General James Mattis has correctly described as being unthinkable due to the severe consequences that could be inflicted on innocent civilians. Additional sanctions could have an impact on North Korea’s inner circle of power, especially if they are backed up by the international community, but we’ve already imposed severe sanctions on the DPRK for decades now with limited apparent effect. Additionally, sanctions are unlikely to work unless China gets involved by taking steps to cut off trade across the Yalu River and limiting the coal trade, which helps North Korea obtain hard currency it can use to make purchases elsewhere in the world. We could also take steps to make it harder to do business beyond their borders, such as by closing off their access to the international banking system. The problem is that economic sanctions don’t seem to be enough to nudge the North Koreans into sanity. If anything, they’ve pushed them to become more and more reckless in their behavior over the years. While that’s not an argument for ending the sanctions regime we already have in place, it does suggest that we need to realize the limits of sanctions when it comes to dealing with this regime and its single-minded quest to preserve itself by establishing itself as a nuclear power capable of inflicting serious damage on not only its neighbors but also on China, Russia, and the United States.

Additional sanctions could have an impact on North Korea’s inner circle of power, especially if they are backed up by the international community, but we’ve already imposed severe sanctions on the DPRK for decades now with limited apparent effect. Additionally, sanctions are unlikely to work unless China gets involved by taking steps to cut off trade across the Yalu River and limiting the coal trade, which helps North Korea obtain hard currency it can use to make purchases elsewhere in the world. We could also take steps to make it harder to do business beyond their borders, such as by closing off their access to the international banking system. The problem is that economic sanctions don’t seem to be enough to nudge the North Koreans into sanity. If anything, they’ve pushed them to become more and more reckless in their behavior over the years. While that’s not an argument for ending the sanctions regime we already have in place, it does suggest that we need to realize the limits of sanctions when it comes to dealing with this regime and its single-minded quest to preserve itself by establishing itself as a nuclear power capable of inflicting serious damage on not only its neighbors but also on China, Russia, and the United States.

Another possible response would be to increase our military presence in the area as a means of sending a signal to Kim Jong Un of the potential danger he’s in if he continues down this path. That has happened recently with the decision to move a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, into an area of the Sea of Japan within striking distance of North Korea. Several weeks later, it was announced that another carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, would join the Vinson for a series of joint exercises over the summer. More recently there have been reports that the USS Nimitz would also be sailing to the area with its carrier battle group. While it seems unlikely that all three carriers would be staying in the area for an extended period of time, the presence of three aircraft carriers plus their support ships all within striking distance of the DPRK certainly isn’t coincidental. Additionally, the U.S. continues with the deployment of an anti-missile system designed to protect South Korea and Japan from North Korean attack, as well as its regular series of joint military exercises with the South Korean and Japanese defense forces.

Militarily, our options seem to be even more limited. As Defense Secretary Mattis, and numerous military analysts before him, has said, a military attack on North Korea would be potentially disastrous. While the United States and whatever allies joined us would eventually be victorious in a war on the Korean peninsula due to the superiority of our forces, especially in the air, the consequences in the short-term could be disastrous. In addition to a substantial manned presence, the North Koreans have massive amounts of artillery placed just on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone, all of which is within ten minutes or less striking distance of Seoul, a city of some ten million people. Additionally, the DPRK has rockets and other ordinance capable of hitting other areas of South Korea, including American and South Korean military facilities and other major cities such as Inchon and Busan, both of which have populations in excess of one million people each. It also has weaponry capable of hitting military and civilian targets in Japan. All of these targets would likely be considered viable targets in an all-out war and could be targets of a retaliatory attack in the event of a more limited U.S. attack on the North’s missile or nuclear research programs.

Keeping all of this in mind, it’s hard to predict where things are headed with regard to North Korea. For better or worse, the United States under President Trump appears to have concluded that the policies of the recent past have done little to restrain the DPRK from continuing its nuclear and missile programs, and that the combination of these two programs represent a threat to the United States, American national interests in the area, and to our allies. There is plenty of evidence to support the idea that this is a correct conclusion, but it’s unclear what we can do differently going forward.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I’m just happy that we have one of the great diplomatic minds of our time as the POTUS.
    He’ll be able to solve this complicated issue in no time.
    Just as soon as he is done insighting violence against the press.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  2. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    I hope I’m wrong, but unless Trump is simply bloviating on the same mental track as “grab ’em by the pussy” (always a viable possibility, fortunately), I would predict the start of Korean War, Part 2, sometime in the next 18 months. If Mattis quits or is fired, look for someone who will say “yes” to the unthinkable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. Gustopher says:

    We are on the path for a very stupid, very costly, and very bloody war, which has every chance of dragging us into direct conflict with the Chinese. Not to mention a smattering of nuclear weapons in the hands of the North Koreans (I expect that neither the US nor the Chinese would be foolish enough to escalate to a nuclear conflict). And, the longer we wait, the worse it’s going to get.

    That really is the baseline at this point. This administration’s voice of reason on the subject is someone called “Mad Dog”, and god help us if he ever goes on vacation.

    So, we should try for something less bloody, at least — Increasing tariffs on China until they cut off the North Koreans.

    Yes, this would start a trade war. Yes, it would suck for our economy. But, it’s a lever we have, and it’s not a war that’s going to kill millions.

    Other options less worse than a war on the Korean Peninsula include, but are not limited to: inviting Little Kim to the White House and coming to an agreement; inviting Little Kim to the White House and having a false flag “terrorist” incident blow up his motorcade; training dolphins to assasinate Little Kim; shipping massive amounts of foi gras (sp?) to Little Kim and hoping he has a heart attack.

    I’m supportive of pretty much any option that steers us away from stupid, costly and bloody war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  4. MarkedMan says:

    If Trump and the Republicans attack NK without a formal request from the South Koreans and Japan at minimum ( which won’t happen) we will suceed in making China the most powerful nation on earth. For twenty years they have been telling all who would listen that the US is wreckless and they stand for solidity and careful thinking. If we end up with significant casualties in SK, Japan or any where else in the reason we will have lost Asia completely, as well as ANZ. And further isolated us from Europe. In fact, with Trump and the Republicans obvious racism to all brown people and non-christians we literally won’t have a friend in the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  5. CSK says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I wouldn’t be too sure he’ll be addressing this issue anytime soon. All his attention is taken up with trying to prove that 3 million illegals voted for Hillary Clinton.

    First things first, you know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  6. Slugger says:

    Luckily our good friends in Bejing and Moscow have a deal in mind.
    https://www.rt.com/news/395244-north-korea-nuclear-us-drills-stop/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Slugger: you realize RT (Russia Today) is a propaganda site? Why on earth would the Chinese seek the Russians out for help? This is a Putin-sequel equivalent to Trump’s Time Magazine covers – fake news to stroke an inflated ego.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  8. MarkedMan says:

    I should add that of course we would take that deal and if China could get it that would be fantastic. But Russia has zero influence on anyone involved except Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Why on earth would the Chinese seek the Russians out for help?

    I dunno, maybe because Russia shares a terrestrial border with North Korea and so their cooperation would be needed to implement any sanctions on North Korea?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Slugger says:

    @MarkedMan: Yes, RT is a Putin marketing utility. I was being sardonic. This represents their initial offer. Unfortunately, the US holds very few cards. We are not going to go to war with North Korea. Japan and South Korea have less appetite for war than we do. Sanctions and economic pressure will not do much to a country that does not have an import/export world trade economy in the first place. Our only chance to affect them is through Russia and China. I doubt that those nations will act out of pure motives of love. We have to give them a little something or accept a NK with nukes and missiles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The Russians have been helping NK to develop nuclear weapons. Why would they suddenly turn on their NK clients?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Atlantic Monthly has an article in its latest issue, in which Mark Bowden reviews the options, finds them all bad, and suggests that living with a nuclear-armed NK may be the least-worst choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Scott says:

    told the Chinese leader that the United States is prepared to act on its own in pressuring the nuclear-armed government in Pyongyang, according to senior administration officials.

    I think that there is nothing the Chinese would like better than the US to act on its own. The question is why the US would act on its own. For most of the Obama Administration, the attitude was to ignore that screaming child that is NK. Now they are getting all the attention and are screaming even louder.

    We act as if we are immortal danger from North Korean. Just look at the lands that are in suspected range of this new missile (China, Russia, India, Australia, among others). Yet we are the ones who are most concerned and belligerent. Doesn’t seem to me to be the rational approach.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott:

    I think that there is nothing the Chinese would like better than the US to act on its own.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/north-korea-launches-another-ballistic-missile-test/#ixzz4lxsFcHd0

    FWIW, I think the Chinese populace would view a US intervention in NK as a failure by the Chinese government, and that would be a big problem for the Party. But who knows. The Chinese strategy for a couple decades now is to portray themselves as the keeper of peace in the region. Having the US screw up NK may be worth it to them, as it reinforces their narrative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    OT, but did anyone catch the sequence of events related to that silly Trump / CNN wresting meme thing?

    It appears that CNN ferreted out the identity of the guy who created the meme & contacted him, resulting in an immediate public mea culpa and evidently the frantic deletion of his posting history on Reddit (most of which was quite vile).

    Not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, it’s a tad extortionary in a way.

    On the other, nobody ever said that the internet comes with a guarantee of anonymity, and neither CNN nor anybody else is under any obligation to shield a poster’s identity.

    Indeed, I’ve often thought to myself that 99% of the rancor and bile which characterizes the internet would simply evaporate were that veil of supposed anonymity to be removed.

    Imagine an internet where your identity was exposed as a matter of policy & attached to every single word you write on it … Maybe good, maybe bad, probably a little of both.

    But I’d support it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  16. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s a propaganda site, but BBC is also reporting that China and Russia are basically speaking with one voice on this topic.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40509441

    This is getting rather dangerous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Jen says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Adding to your off-topic…a couple of months ago, The Daily Beast did some cyber-sleuthing and figured out that one of the “men’s rights” forums on Reddit was established and moderated by a NH state rep (he has since resigned). They tracked his entire comments history, etc. It certainly is doable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. Matthew Bernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Imagine an internet where your identity was exposed as a matter of policy & attached to every single word you write on it … Maybe good, maybe bad, probably a little of both.

    Honestly, this is exactly why I have committed to posting under my real name. I realized very early on that posting under a pseudonym — even a relatively easily decoded one — was causing me to shift my tone and post things that I wouldn’t even want my name to be connected to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Imagine an internet where your identity was exposed as a matter of policy & attached to every single word you write on it…

    #Publius…imagine that!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen:

    China and Russia are basically speaking with one voice

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/north-korea-launches-another-ballistic-missile-test/#ixzz4lyNX8bju

    This sort of boilerplate talk can be had anywhere. What I’m objecting to is the notion that China is looking to Russia as an equal in the NK moving disaster. China could only lose with such a public relationship and Russia would only gain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Gavrilo says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Indeed, I’ve often thought to myself that 99% of the rancor and bile which characterizes the internet would simply evaporate were that veil of supposed anonymity to be removed.

    Imagine an internet where your identity was exposed as a matter of policy & attached to every single word you write on it … Maybe good, maybe bad, probably a little of both.

    But I’d support it.

    So says the anonymous douchebag who posts bile like this:

    I suppose it’s too much to hope for that the entire Republican congressional caucus and the 30% of the electorate who’d vote for Hitler as long as he was running on a Republican ticket drops dead between now and November, 2018 …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Gavrilo:

    So says the anonymous douchebag

    “Hey, Pot! You’re looking awfully black today.” – Kettle.

    who posts bile like this

    Do you need a safe space to keep your delicate snowflake fee-fees unhurt?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  23. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Gavrilo:
    Note that Gavrillo has no comment on the fact that his Dear Leader said that he could easily solve the N. Korea problem…and that they wouldn’t get an ICBM…and that now they have one and Gavrillo’s Dear Leader has absolutely no plan to deal with it.
    So yeah…the country would be far, far, better off if Gavrillo and the rest of the 30% of the nation that were stupid enough to vote for this incompetent snow-flake, and still support him despite his near complete failure to date, were extinct before the mid-terms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Jen:

    This is getting rather dangerous.

    And it’s getting dangerous because President Snowflake is dangerous.
    N. Koreans have always been crazy, but the US has always been sane for the most part. That’s different now. Snowflake is bound to do or say something that makes N. Korea think they have to escalate immediately.
    Or, Snowflake twitters and lies himself into a corner where his only choice is to start a war. If Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and those guys could convince themselves that Iraq was going to be a cakewalk…Snowflake and Jared and Ivanka will have no trouble convincing themselves that N. Korea is a cakewalk.
    Dangerous, indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  25. Gavrilo says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    You’re mistaken. I’m not offended by Harvard’s comment. That’s pretty much par for the course around here. I’m just pointing out the level-11 hypocrisy of someone claiming the he supports lifting the veil of anonymity in order to combat the bile and rancor (his words) on the internet just two days after anonymously posting that he wishes death on the entire Republican Caucus. It really does take a special kind of douchebag to be that clueless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  26. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Gavrilo:

    It really does take a special kind of douchebag to be that clueless.

    Pot, meet Kettle.
    You voted for a Real Housewife of NYC…and you’re calling anyone clueless?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    N. Korea is nothing…Snowflake is going to get rolled by Putin, at the G-20.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    It really does take a special kind of douchebag to be that clueless.

    As opposed to the regular bags that believe Republican President Pork Chop Pud is going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. R. Dave says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl wrote: And it’s getting dangerous because President Snowflake is dangerous.
    N. Koreans have always been crazy, but the US has always been sane for the most part. That’s different now. Snowflake is bound to do or say something that makes N. Korea think they have to escalate immediately.

    I detest Trump, but this is absolutely wrong. The responsibility – moral and practical – for the situation with NK rests 100% on the shoulders of the NK regime. They have singlemindedly pursued nukes, chem/bio weapons, and delivery systems with an ever-expanding range for decades no matter what the US policy has been at any given time. Nothing Trump has said or done has altered or accelerated their behavior in any way from what it has always been. The current spike in danger is purely the result of NK pushing things to the point that the US mainland is coming into range. We would be in exactly the same situation if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders was President instead of Trump, and our options would be just as bleak.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  30. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @R. Dave:

    We would be in exactly the same situation if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders was President instead of Trump, and our options would be just as bleak.

    Our options would be just as bleak…that hasn’t changed since Bush terminated Clinton 42’s agreement with N. Korea…but the danger wouldn’t be the same…because Clinton and Sanders are not delusional, impetuous,nut jobs with thin skin, the maturity of a pre-teen, and the intellect of a rock.
    Trump will fwck up and make an already bad situation far worse. If you cannot successfully run a casino…a business where the house always wins… you cannot begin to execute complex foreign policy at this level.
    Mark my word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    Clueless!?!?
    Regular Bag or Special Bag? You be the judge!

    Republican President Pork Chop Pud can’t find his ass with both hands!
    …oops! I mean his own limo!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Moosebreath says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    “As opposed to the regular bags that believe Republican President Pork Chop Pud is going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.”

    Or the ones who get outraged at NPR tweeting the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @R. Dave:

    The responsibility – moral and practical – for the situation with NK rests 100% on the shoulders of the NK regime.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/north-korea-launches-another-ballistic-missile-test/#ixzz4lzEOgC6t

    This is true. The Kims have been a six decade nightmare for NK and are illegitimate rulers in the most basic sense. So Trump is not responsible for their actions or history. But given that the US is the guarantor of peace on the Korean Peninsula, he is responsible for how he responds to the criminal acts of a mad dictator. A good analogy is holding the police accountable for how they react to a criminal brandishing a gun in a crowd. They are not innocent bystanders, instead they willingly accepted the job of being first on the scene in such situations. If they wildly open fire and kill dozens of innocent bystanders they should be held accountable. And if Trump miscalculates how to handle this situation, well, he willingly pursued the job, promising specifically that he would deal with this better than anyone else.

    Personally, I more or less feel that Trump himself is a “situation”. He is not a rational actor and he has always been obviously unfit for this job. So in a sense the ultimate responsibility for any situation he needlessly drives sideways should go to the people who are members of or support the Republican party, and to an equal extent, everyone who voted for someone so transparently incapable of controlling his urges.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    We’ve spent decades now announcing to one and all that what just happened was absolutely unacceptable. And yet, it happened and unless we aim to get into a major league war which would dwarf Iraq 1, Iraq 2 and Afghanistan infinity combined, we’re going to accept it.

    Remember how Republicans were hysterical over Obama’s Syria ‘red line?’ Look how quiet they are now as Kim waddles right over Trump’s red line.

    Every Republican has a core belief that 90% of problems could be solved by ‘toughness.’ They love toughness. Toughness will take care of everything. This is macho nostalgia and historical ignorance. Wars are not actually won by toughness, they are won by logistics, strategy, training and technology – all things requiring years of study and dedication.

    And peace is maintained by American power tempered by American soft power. Toughness, ‘America First’, bluster, strutting, magic formulas and the rest are bullshit that do nothing but alienate allies and entrench enemies. For seven decades we’ve kept world peace not just because we were powerful, but because we were trusted to use that power reasonably.

    The world no longer believes we will use our power reasonably, and the United States is significantly weaker as a result. Can you imagine Trump rallying the Brits, French and Dutch to join us as they did in Afghanistan? No one believes or trusts Trump. No one fears him except as a random mischief-maker.

    Trump’s an international laughingstock, the ridiculous little real estate hustler who though he could Art Of The Deal the Chinese and the Arabs, two people not known for their ignorance of the art of negotiation. The Chinese patted him on the head and gave him nothing. The Saudis laughed as they made him curtsey and dance and stroke their orb, and dragged us into the middle of the Sunni-Shia fight on the wrong damn side.

    As for Korea? All options are bad. The only way to stop Kim is to launch a war that could get very out-of-control in a heartbeat. So in the end we’re going to accept the ‘unacceptable.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  35. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Every Republican has a core belief that 90% of problems could be solved by ‘toughness.’ They love toughness. Toughness will take care of everything.

    The problem for Snowflake is that if you talk tough, you have to back it up. Otherwise you look like a feckless old fool. Snowflake is a feckless old fool. All you have to do is look at the lawsuits he threatens and then never follows thru on. He can stiff workers for money he owes them. But that crap ain’t gonna play on the world stage.
    Angela Merkel is probably going to give poor Snowflake a stroke.
    The Putin is going to have him for lunch, on Friday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    And it’s getting dangerous because President Snowflake is dangerous.
    N. Koreans have always been crazy, but the US has always been sane for the most part. That’s different now. Snowflake is bound to do or say something that makes N. Korea think they have to escalate immediately.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/north-korea-launches-another-ballistic-missile-test/#ixzz4lznpU3yR

    Letting North Korea arm itself with progressively deadly weapons is like watching your mentally unstable neighbors become gun rights enthusiasts. At any point, intervening is going to be a problem, but the longer you wait the bigger the problem is. North Korea is basically like the open carry freaks, but more willing to shoot someone with an antiaircraft gun.

    North Korea has also probably learned the lessons of Gadaffi and Saddam Hussein — if you don’t have nuclear weapons, the US can depose you with little or no consequence. The invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake that we will be feeling the consequences of for decades to come (Thanks, George W. Bush!), and Libya was a more minor mistake (we really just sped things up)

    Maybe Kim Jung Un is actually extremely disciplined, and is playing the madman theory. Or maybe we should take him at his word, and assume he really is a madman.

    I’m not going to say that Trump isn’t going to make things worse, but this mess is partly created by the US being “reasonable” and kicking the can down the road, decade after decade.

    We need a more aggressive, flexible, hands-on policy for North Korea, rather than just waiting until it becomes a crisis every six months to two years, otherwise we will be at war within the next few years. Maybe a more proactive policy will fail, and we will be at war anyway — the limits of what is possible is pretty obscured by the North Korean’s provocative behavior — but it is better to try to change course than continue to stumble towards war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  37. MarkedMan says:

    this mess is partly created by the US being “reasonable” and kicking the can down the road

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/north-korea-launches-another-ballistic-missile-test/#ixzz4m0spv7PV

    Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a really good summary of how we got to where we are with NK. As you point out, this is a really difficult issue. Back in the 90’s Clinton did a lot in terms of combining toughness with flexibility, and NK halted the ongoing plutonium cycle program, in exchange for aid. The Repubs saw this as weakness and did everything they could to sabotage the deal. The NKs also probably started up a separate uranium enrichment project. George W. came to power and the Repubs got to enact their tough “policy”. No more aid no more capitulation, just show them how tough we are. No actual plan though, just typical guy-at-the-end-of the-bar tough guy talk. And within a few years the NKs had tested their first nuke. As Mike points out above, the Repubs love themselves some “toughness” but if you don’t have an actual plan to back it up we just look weak when our bluff is called.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    North Korea has also probably learned the lessons of Gadaffi and Saddam Hussein — if you don’t have nuclear weapons, the US can depose you with little or no consequence.

    Allow me to play the Devil’s Advocate for just a few minutes. The story of Korea is a roughly 5000 year history (according to the Korean sources I had contact with during my 8 year stay there) of periodic invasions by various Chinese, Japanese, and pre-Russia-in-Siberia dynasties, shogunates, and satrapies. It is also a history of internal conflicts interspersed with significant periods of single-family/dynasty rule–one (the Silla) of roughly 1000 years. Modern Korean history begins either with or after 35 years as a Japanese protectorate, depending on one’s view of the time line.

    It is easy for the Kims to perceive their situation as that of a small country surrounded by enemies that seek to destroy their country and its future. Both Kim Il-sung and Seungman Rhee were adverse to the armistice of 1954; the difference being that Kim was basically instructed to approve the armistice or Stalin would replace him with someone who would while in the South, the United States signed on as guarantor of the armistice and signed the cease-fire on behalf of both the UN and the ROK.

    History lesson complete, it is not unreasonable–especially given Gustopher’s cogent observation at the beginning of this comment–that North Korea is reluctant to trust its safety to the good graces of those who it sees as its enemies. I imagine that the US might make the same choice in similar circumstances. Indeed, I would hold that the various arms limitation/reduction talks show the US making almost the exact same choice (but I’m just an ig’nint cracker, you are free to disagree).

    Understand, I know that NK is a failed state on a spectacular level of failure. The fact that the geography of the region would have predicted that NK would be the modern industrialized nation while the South would have had difficulty even feeding itself is a sign of how amazing the failure has been. (Another telling point is that in James Church’s first Inspector O novel, the grandfather of the main character–an inspector in the People’s Security Ministry headquartered in Pyeongyang–tells his grandson during an argument “I know more than you realize; do you think we died for this?”) Failed state status not withstanding, NK pursuit of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons is not all that irrational. Juche is unfortunate, but it drives the policies and they make sense in that context.

    Finally @ Daryl, if all we would have to confront is the PANK, the war might well be a cakewalk–the estimates of how long NK can wage war without running out of food and bullets stand at about 30 days based on the best South Korean intelligence I heard during my stay. Unfortunately, there’s the matter of, eventually, being opposed by the Chinese People’s Army and some Russian forces, too, possibly. Those are the game changers. The other problem is that the estimates of the South on the cost of “winning” is that collapse of the NK government and assumption of that responsibility by the South would suck a minimum of one trillion (with at “t”) dollars per year out of the Korean economy until it didn’t any more. As cakewalks go, I agree with you–I’d pass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. R. Dave says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl wrote: Our options would be just as bleak…that hasn’t changed since Bush terminated Clinton 42’s agreement with N. Korea…but the danger wouldn’t be the same…because Clinton and Sanders are not delusional, impetuous,nut jobs with thin skin, the maturity of a pre-teen, and the intellect of a rock.

    Fair enough, but I think the crux of our disagreement – or at least our different emphases – is over what “the danger” is that we’re talking about. If “the danger” is that we end up in a war with NK that results in lots of dead SK and Japanese civilians as well lots of dead American military personnel, then I agree, that danger is much more likely to become reality with Trump in power instead of Clinton or Sanders. However, if “the danger” is that we end up in a situation where NK has nukes capable of hitting the US mainland, I don’t think it matters much who the President is, because that’s been the clear goal of NK policy for decades, and at this point, I don’t believe anything short of the aforementioned war is going to prevent it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. cnk guy says:

    If China had not stepped in and saved North Korea back during the war, we would not be in this situation today.
    http://freedomnews.today/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  41. Mister Bluster says:

    President Trump Gets The Respect He Deserves In Poland
    freedomnews

    TripAdvisor shows one-way fare DFW to Warsaw $884US.
    Take a hint.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0