by Robert Carbery
The unpredictable and increasingly dangerous North Korea celebrated the fourth of July by launching its own rocket into the air. But this was far from a firework sent to the sky to celebrate a country’s independence. The North Korean regime has successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching Alaska but not the mainland.
At least, not yet.
North Korea is a growing threat to the U.S. as Trump and his generals ponder what to do. The latest weapons test caught American military officials off guard as it included a new type of missile fired from a mobile launch site. There is now growing concern that the Trump administration and its group of neoconservative generals are moving closer to taking military action.
General Vincent Brooks, the top American military commander in South Korea, said on Wednesday that the U.S. and South Korea were prepared to go to war with the North if given the order. This preemptive strike would be catastrophic for the peninsula, on which 28,500 U.S. troops are still stationed and where over 10 million South Koreans live in the city of Seoul, only 35 miles from the border.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea claim that the forward section of its missile warhead, the one which carries the explosive, can now withstand the heat and pressure when reentering the earth’s atmosphere. If this is true, then that would mean it is getting dangerously close to being capable of hitting a major American city such as Seattle or San Francisco sooner than we thought.
Pyongyang has massed a huge amount of artillery aimed at its neighbor to the south. “A single volley could deliver more than 350 metric tons of explosives across the South Korean capital, roughly the same amount of ordnance dropped by 11 B-52 bombers,” according to a report published last year by geopolitical consultancy Stratfor.
In order to protect the American people from this unpredictable regime that it has promised to strike, the Pentagon has spent tens of billions of dollars developing a comprehensive missile defense system on our West Coast. It has never faced combat or been fully tested and the degree of difficulty of hitting a missile with another missile is astronomically high. The system was tested on May 30 in a mock intercept of an ICBM, but this was far from a realistic scenario.
The Pentagon has 36 missile interceptors in underground silos in Alaska and California and that number is due to increase to 44 by the end of the year. An interceptor would soar toward the missile heading toward the United States guided by radar and other sensors and is supposed to destroy the target by impacting it outside of the earth’s atmosphere. However, hitting a bullet with another bullet that high up in the sky is far from a sure thing.
For all its advances, the Pentagon is still not satisfied with its current defense system while North Korea advances week after week in its missile development in defiance of the new Trump administration.
“The pace of the threat is advancing faster than I think was considered when we did the first ballistic missile defense review back in 2010,” said Rob Soofer, who is reviewing missile defenses, to a Senate Armed Service subcommittee last month. He also said that the classified picture “is even more dire,” without providing further details.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that North Korea’s actions were “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” and the United States was prepared to defend itself and its allies, according to a report in Reuters.
“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction,” Haley told a U.N. Security Council meeting.
She went on to say that the U.S. would propose new U.N. sanctions on North Korea “in the coming days.” She also warned that Washington was prepared to cut off trade with countries trading with North Korea in violation of U.N. resolutions. She is talking of course about China, which is responsible for 90% of North Korea’s trade.
“We will work with China,” Haley said. “We will work with every country that wants peace, but we will not repeat the inadequate approaches of the past that have brought us to this dark day.” But China likely does not want a unified Korea aligned with the West. They want a trading partner and a country they can profit off of.
Haley derided previous sanctions for being insufficient to get North Korea to change its “destructive course” and it’s time to do more.
“We will not look exclusively at North Korea,” Haley reiterated. “We will look at any country that chooses to do business with this outlaw regime. We will not have patience for stalling or talking our way down to a watered-down resolution.”
North Korea needs nukes to ensure its self defense. The U.S. cannot bring peace to the peninsula unless it ceases its military maneuverings in the area and pulls out its troops. Our Congress will not support this move toward peace. Things are ratcheting up very quickly and do not seem to be heading toward a solution absent of many casualties. Trump continues to press China for assistance in reining in its aggressive neighbor giving the middle finger to the international community.
Whatever policies presidents have implemented toward North Korea in the past have obviously proven unsuccessful. Is it time for Trump to try a different and bolder strategy? And does that involve a diplomatic solution? Or is it time to take matters into our own hands and take out the rogue regime by whatever means possible?
There are no good options for the American military to solve the North Korean problem. Trump has done the exact opposite of Obama in just about everything during his six month long presidency so far. Will he actually do something to halt North Korea from completing its march toward being able to launch a nuke toward a major American city? Or will he do nothing like Obama did?
by Robert Carbery