Do You Trust Trump With Nukes? Really... Do You?
In the summer of 1588 Phillip II of Spain decided to try to force Regime change in England by removing Elizabeth I from the throne. He sent his Grande y Felicísima Armada north. Phillip II was lame and it was more his gross mismanagement than the weather that undid the Spanish Armada. Trump is far less capable than Phillip, although I suspect that he's been unofficially removed from the chain of command, unless dishonest tweets and nonsensical babbling on TV is part of the strategy. Trumpanzee, lying to Maria Bartiromo: "We are sending an armada; very powerful. We have submarines; very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you. And we have the best military people on earth." Trump's Armada, though, was headed in the other direction, away from Korea. The show of force, the deterrence? Just more Trumpanzee bluster and bullshit. From the nut in Mar-A-Lago with no credibility,
So when Nick Wadhams' scary Bloomberg headline says Trump Mulls Military Options for North Korea. They're All Grim, he may be correct about "grim," but should have said it was "The Regime" that isn't mulling, not Señor Trumpanzee, who is mulling much outside of enriching himself and settling petty spats with personal and business rivals. Wadhams wrote that "Analysts estimate North Korea may now possess between 10 and 25 nuclear weapons, with launch vehicles, air force jets, troops and artillery scattered across the country, hidden in caves and massed along the border with South Korea. That’s on top of what the U.S. estimates to be one of the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpiles, a biological weapons research program and an active cyberwarfare capability. And with Seoul and its 10 million residents just 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of the border-- well within North Korea’s artillery range-- any eruption of hostilities could have devastating human and economic costs. That’s why the North Korean dynasty founded by Kim Il Sung has long hinged its survival, in part, on a warning that any attack could provoke all-out war." They're not going out the way Qadaffi or Saddam Hussein did.
“Unless you were in a crisis situation where we thought the North Koreans were getting ready to attack us, a preemptive strike against the North Korean nuclear and missile program is simply not a practical option,” said Gary Samore, a former White House coordinator for weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism, who’s now at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. “This has always been the problem for the U.S. and our allies.”Meanwhile, a tragically few members of Congress-- Ro Khanna and Ted Lieu excluded-- have been willing to take Trump and his Regime on about this. I like this short film clip Mike Lux made to emphasize the problem:
After Trump ramped up his rhetoric against North Korea this month, the Pentagon ordered the USS Carl Vinson to head toward Korean waters, where the aircraft carrier is expected to arrive next week after some initial confusion in the administration on when it would go. Trump has warned that if China-- North Korea’s closest ally-- can’t help rein in the regime, the U.S. and its allies will.
Among the war-game scenarios at the Pentagon’s disposal are an airstrike using precision-guided munitions, launched from submarines or stealth aircraft, against the Yongbyon nuclear reactor facility, where North Korea has produced plutonium for its bombs. That was an option weighed as far back as the Clinton administration, according to two former Pentagon chiefs.
“We were highly confident that it could be destroyed without causing a meltdown that would release radioactivity into the air,” Ash Carter and William Perry wrote in a report for the Belfer Center back in 2002. That plan was seen as a worst-case scenario.
Another option would be an attack on facilities at Punggye-ri, the mountainous site in the northeastern part of the country where previous underground nuclear tests have been conducted. 38 North, a website that focuses on North Korea, said satellite images signal recent activity in preparation for another nuclear test. Evading radar, B-2 bombers built by Northrop Grumman Corp. could drop “bunker buster” bombs to try to do the most underground damage.
Or, if the U.S. learned that North Korea was preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile-- and it had confidence in where that missile would be launched-- it could take out the vehicle, or try to shoot it down.
That probably wouldn’t save Seoul from devastation if North Korea responded to such a strike with a barrage of artillery or shorter-range missiles. In its defense, South Korea would go after the artillery that North Korea has massed near the demilitarized zone and use its Patriot missiles and anti-missile ships. In its final months, the Obama administration agreed to deploy a missile defense system known as Thaad to South Korea, but that shield isn’t fully installed yet.
The decision to attack isn’t Trump’s alone. Because South Korea would bear the brunt of any North Korean response, the highest levels of the South Korean military and government would “all have a say in making momentous decisions” like “do we or do we not go to war,” said Bill McKinney, a retired Army colonel who spent more than 40 years involved in U.S.-Korea military relations and planning.
Any unilateral military action by the U.S. would threaten deep damage to its alliance with Japan, which also would be put at risk, and could bring China and the U.S. into conflict.
Yet the overarching challenge in an attack on North Korea continues to be gauging the regime’s response. While the U.S. military might want to do something that sends a message but doesn’t start another Korean War, Pyongyang remains strategically unpredictable. Outside analysts have to scour satellite imagery, state-run media, official regime photos and interviews with defectors to glean the barest clues about life and politics in the “hermit kingdom.”
“Our ability to see into North Korea is so curtailed that we don’t have the ability to make well-reasoned judgments about what’s going on,” McKinney, the retired Army colonel, said in an interview. The U.S.’s ability to know what weaponry is even in North Korea and where it is located “is always a bit of a crapshoot,” he said.
...The situation facing the U.S. grows more dire as North Korea moves toward its goal of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead that could hit the U.S. mainland. But in weighing possible responses, the administration must also decide how urgent that threat really is.
North Korea will need until at least 2020 to develop a nuclear weapon with that reach, according to John Schilling, a satellite specialist with the Aerospace Corp. The country still hasn’t tested an ICBM, though it does have about 1,000 ballistic missiles, Schilling said.
“This isn’t an imminent crisis,” Schilling told reporters Tuesday in a briefing organized by 38 North. “The imminent threat is to South Korea and Japan.”
But Schilling referred to the regime’s unpredictability, saying, “Probably their first response will not be nuclear-- it might not even involve missiles,” Schilling said. “They have several levels of escalation to go before they get to nuclear weapons.”
In taking on North Korea so directly, Trump confronts a problem that bedeviled his predecessors from both political parties. Six-nation talks, direct bilateral negotiations, food aid and United Nations sanctions have all failed to deter the Kim dynasty. Even China, Pyongyang’s ally, has been snubbed by the Kim regime repeatedly over the years.
...Gardiner says events now have born that out. The Trump administration, like those before it, appears to have no clear objective for North Korea, Gardiner says, whether it’s regime change, preventing Pyongyang from getting a nuclear weapon or something else. And he says most options for action could result in all-out war or, short of that, spur the regime to perfect the nuclear weapons it so desperately wants-- and which Trump says he won’t let it get.
“In essence, there is no military option,”’ Gardiner said. Asked what plan of action he would present to Trump if forced to pick one, he responded: “I would resign first.”