It would seem that the US Pacific Command has let the cat out of the bag. USPACOM released the following statement: “North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.” This declaration tells us three things:
- The United States does not believe that North Korea has a nuclear-capable missile and thus does not see the launch of a ballistic missile as any threat to the United States.
- The US interest is in protecting North America; nothing was said about protecting any allies or even non-North American parts of the United States such as Hawaii or Guam.
- In regard to protecting the United States (or at least the North American part of the United States), clearly the US administration does not see North Korea as a serious threat at this time.
Of course, the North Koreans are launching short-, medium- and long-range missiles, threatening to wipe out Guam, and are showing videos of the US Capitol going up in smoke. But no matter, because the administration of President Donald Trump has now signaled that this is mostly saber-rattling and rhetoric.
Maybe they think this is how Kim Jong-un is keeping himself in power – the classic way, by creating external enemies. But meanwhile his scientists and engineers are at work designing re-entry warheads for their nuclear weapons while, at the same time, working on miniaturization of those weapons.
No one really knows how much progress they are making, or how much help they are getting from outside. What deals does North Korea have both for its missiles and for its nuclear program? All the signals are that it has been getting plenty of outside technology support, some from Russia and China for sure, but maybe from elsewhere too. Iran has a very aggressive and big technology-acquisition effort and probably is lending a hand; others too may be selling equipment and supplies to North Korea.
Technology does not grow out of a hat – it requires a sophisticated industrial establishment, something largely missing in North Korea. So if you connect the dots, then the help is flowing and the US has done very little to intercede and try and stop it. One wonders why.
But notwithstanding the flow of supplies, technology, engineering and outside support, no one doubts progress is being made, and the US says it keeps getting surprised, as for example by North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (which seems the real thing), or by showing off a miniature nuclear device that looks like a miniature nuclear device.
All of this raises questions about the waiting game of the Trump administration. Clearly at some point the North Korean capability will cross a tipping point, and Kim Jong-un could chance a nuclear strike. Would he hit Guam? Alaska? South Korea? Japan? What would the US do? Send humanitarian aid?
Compounding the problem is that US concerns are not focused on protecting an ally, no matter what we may be telling them. That is as clear as it could be from the latest NORAD statement. Sure, we will sell them missile defense equipment, and yes we will try and reassure them with naval and air-force deployments. But the bottom line seems to be that they are on their own.
Which at least for South Korea, and maybe for Japan, is approximately where they want to be. They don’t want to be sucked into an American war, and they don’t want a bellicose America to puff up North Korea’s little dictator. The South Koreans are demanding consultations with the US before any action is taken, including a veto. One can hardly blame them, since they will bear the burden of any widespread war.
But at the same time the agendas are really remarkably different. South Korea, at least its new government, wants reconciliation with the North, of some kind. Perhaps not unification, but in the bigger picture maybe political realignment. You can bet this is also China’s agenda, and maybe Russia’s too. If the idea works, then South and North Korea could realign their mutual interests.
Some years ago the late sociologist and defense expert Fred Ikle said Korean unification would lead to a nuclear Korean Peninsula. He was right, but it may not take reunification, and South Korea might share its military technology if the North shared its nuclear and missile capabilities. Anything is possible, especially now that US power in the Pacific is perceptively far less than it was a decade or more ago.
Indeed, that represents another case of hand-sitting and trying to exploit business opportunities in China in exchange for surrendering America’s dominant role in Pacific affairs and thereby undercutting its security as Chinese power rises.
From the US point of view, hand-sitting does not a policy make. It just kicks the can down the road, hoping something will change to America’s benefit. Of course, if this is the case it is a nasty illusion. The US power base in the Pacific is lower than ever, its missile defenses are full of holes and untrustworthy and even its ability to defend its own territory is open to doubt, because so few missile defenses have been deployed and most of them have a very mixed history of effectiveness.
As I have written elsewhere, in the short term a good policy start would be to push for regime change in North Korea, starting with American sponsorship of the alternative. Not only would this give Kim some more nightmares, it would also signal to both the South Koreans and the Chinese that the US intends to be a strong political player on the Peninsula. If we Americans don’t do this we are largely in a passive political posture from which no good can come.
"A American sponsorship of a alternative"———since you are so smart why not explain what this means and how would you find this alternative. You do realize that before 1909 the Peninsula was one country for more then 1000 years and you think the Americans in there infinite wisdom have the savvy and the smarts to find a alternative——–I guess like the alternatve government that had ready to go in Iraq before the Americans invaded Iraq!
Kim must go now!
Try to use your brain to think
America seems to underestimate kim…the fear and furry that trump is talking about may be over capitol. Kim has nothing to lose as how america does.
You presented your point very clearly and you still think you Americans own the the world. Ask yourself this question,must America get involved in all wars? Your government is the biggest threat to humanity. If only America can practice true isolationism for 10years you would not believe the peace the world will enjoy.
Just like your president, you are a an idiot stephen bryen!
When has your regime changes worked out for the better of anybody?
But then the chaos and misery, as you caused in Iraq and Syria, feeds your war machine and keeps your economy going.
Are you incapable of realising why america is either hated or dispised by the rest of the world?
There can never be a super man on planet earth. At any point in time, there is a David and a Goliath. America must tread estremely catious as David of NK has nothing to loose..
Perhaps most of us have not comsidered the possibility that Kim wants to unify the Koreas not not thru dialogue but thru veiled threats and creating mistrust amongst the South that the US and Japan are not trustworthy allies. All this rhetoric and show of force is a means to send the South a message. I am sure he is aware of the technological capabilities of the South and a united korea under him will be a force to be reckoned with.
I disagree with your view my friend. There can never be any Country like America- accommodating, tolerating and liberal. Closer to Democracy than Oppressive and Autocratic Iran, Russia, and China where every Speech and Move is considered an Offence against either Isam or Communism. Should America give up, this world would be under the armpit of these Antagonistic Regimes. Mark my word.
Emmanuel Adutchay Ahiamadu My friend.You are so wrong ..were in earth is there a countruy name America ..Is the miss reprecentation of America that we do not stand for …The American countries and the US .Make part of America …Costa Rica is a good example OF Freedom and Pace . Guns can only shoot an kill terrorist ..But Educatcion… will exterminate terrorism.Buy those countrys leveling and cratting and nameing Grups …
"If China is not ready to take North Korea why should the US do it?
The US will only respond if they see potential threat to their own country."
I think that’s the policy directive from the Trump administration.
South Korea have already received a lot of military support from the US,.
I agree with trump here, as weird as it sounds
I’m tired of Americans who have consistently terrorised the world, I don’t think American citizens know what their military does in different countries but just know its evil,libya, Iraq, Syria,and many ather countries, wiping out leaders who have different ideologies from them, you laying your downfall as a super power
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