North Korea finally gets our attention (updated)

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  1. Too bad “Dubya” doesn’t take off the gloves – simply repeal (at least temporarily) the Executive Order concerning assassination of foreign heads of state (or at least the real a******s) and send the CIA after him.
    Of course, that is not likely to happen – but I am not sure it will take very much of a nudge to push that whole country off the edge of the cliff.
    And, when that happens, we should all be afraid. Very afraid.

  2. Sadly, of the three nations mentioned in the “Axis of Evil” speech, NK is probably the least stable – and hence the most dangerous, at least from a short term perspective.
    It is said that the two World Wars were what “killed” the British Empire, by draining their supply of both men and money. I wonder if the GWOT will do the same to the USofA.

  3. Polimom,
    The small size of the explosion makes one wonder if it wasn’t just 300-550 tons of TNT rigged to simulate a nuclear explosion. Captain Ed wonders about that too.
    The way the physics of it works, small atomic (or nuclear) explosives are MUCH more difficult to make than mid-sized ones. The Hiroshima fission bomb for example was an explosive equal to ~15,000 tons of TNT. The US did not have the ability to detonate smaller quantities of fissile material for many years.
    Either this represents an alarming degree of technical sophistication on the part of North Korea’s scientists and engineers . . . . . or it represents a massive bluff.
    If it is a bluff, it’s hard to see what North Korea could be trying to accomplish. The last megalomaniacal tyrant of an isolated country who ran a WMD bluff did not get what he was expecting. Perhaps the North Korean regime has reached the point where it believes that only a war will allow it to hold the country together–and itself in power.
    If so, be afraid. Be very afraid.

  4. So they made the Earth shake and then claimed it was a nuke. It could be real, but I haven’t seen any scientific confirmation. All the news stories thus far say that the NKs claim they exploded a nuke. Until they say that the NKs DID explode a nuke, it’s just a neighborhood bully who says he blew up a mailbox. But nobody can remember ever seeing a mailbox where he says he blew it up, and there’s no debris left — which he claims is because his technology is soooo good. His motivation is to create doubts/fear: Could he actually do this thing? Most people are not technically savvy enough to know the answer, so they can be afraid, very afraid. And mass fear might well overshadow the shouts of the few who can clearly see that the Emperor Bully is not wearing any clothes.
    Being the eternal optimist, I’m going with the nekkid Emperor Bully until I see a report without the word “claim’ in it. I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.

  5. Frankly, I think we’re at bigger risk from the Lettuce. Best comment I’ve heard on this subject was one made by a talking-t.v.-head this a.m. on ABC, i.e., it’s a regional problem, let the region solve it. We simply can’t continue 1) overreacting to every regional crisis and 2) playing World Cop.

  6. Glide: Eek! Hitler and his Japanese pals started out as regional problems, too. At the time, that’s how Americans saw it, too, until the regional problem child showed up in Pearl Harbor.
    Not suggesting it’s time to act on NK. But there’s no harm in monitoring other regions’ problems in case somebody needs a smackdown or a stern talking-to.
    I don’t even object to being a World Cop, but we better have a World Search Warrant signed by a World Judge and backed up by some real proof before we go busting in somebody’s doors.

  7. I recall reports this morning from the Russians (their intelligence agency), who claim that it was in fact a nuke. But, it would be nice to get some more independent confirmation (something other than a great big ‘shroom cloud showing up over LA or San Francisco, that is.)
    Glide: given that NK has missiles which can (according to their specs) reach the USofA while carrying a nuclear payload, this has definitely moved beyond being a “regional” issue.

  8. I’m not worried about today’s news on North Korea, perhaps because I am not surprised. What real action was there a danger of happening to them if they did blow one up on their own land? Clearly if it has already happened, whatever reaction from us that is supposed to occur was not going to be automatic. Not very scary when you have to wait on your parents to argue over what should be your punishment, would be more effective if you knew exactly what was about to happen to you, and that it was going to be swift. But that is not the case here, and we all know it.
    A good approach to this would be to make it more of a regional issue, because four politically significant countries are much closer to North Korea than we are, and each of those countries needs to be much more worried, and therefore much more active in efforts to deal with the threat. The odds of us being hit by a missle from them are much less compared to them firing one and having no control over it only to watch it hit some random city. Of course, China cares much less about its own people than we do. Same could be said for Russia at times.

  9. Newsweek sort of left something out in its blame-America-first story. Between Sept. 19, 2005, when North Korea promised to give up atom bombs and Sept. 24, 2005, when the U.S. imposed financial sanctions, there was Sept. 20, 2005.
    On that date, just one day after North Korea agreed to end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for steps toward normalizing relations with the U.S., North Korea abandoned the whole deal and suddenly announced it would not dispose of its bombs unless the U.S. gave it a free nuclear power plant.
    One day, we had an agreement. The next day, we were back to nuclear extortion.
    Funny how Newsweek left that out.

  10. Frank,
    Thanks for the comment. I read your post on the subject, and ran the bbc link. Very helpful. (Your site and perspective were interesting, too.)
    Meanwhile — I’m still not sure that NK had a successful test… or at least, it may not have been any more successful than their missile test a few months ago. If you have a Stratfor subscription, they have put out several analyses… the latest of which isn’t extraordinarily different from this post (link).
    And while I actually agree that the problem is somewhat regional, those neighbors of NK aren’t casual acquaintances of the U.S… nor is China likely to be impressed with an arms race that includes Japan.   But Jack’s right:  North Korea isn’t going to be able to put the United States in its sights, at least for quite some time.
    Furthermore, we cannot do much militarily — and neither can anyone else, probably — because the North Koreans have enough standard weaponry pointed at Seoul to wipe it completely out. As in… all gone.
    If I lived in Seoul, I’d be relocating about now…

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