Monday, November 06, 2017

Not All Trump's Malfeasance And Bungling Is Reversible: Korea


Sunday, Nick Kristof, wrote that Korea experts estimate that the chance of a war between the U.S. and North Korea are between 20 and 50%. "Yet," he wrote, "we’re complacent: Neither the public nor the financial markets appreciate how high the risk is of a war, and how devastating one could be. The Congressional Research Service last month estimated that as many as 300,000 people could die in the first few days of war-- and that’s if it remains nonnuclear. If there is a nuclear exchange, 'there easily could be a million deaths on the first day,' says Scott Sagan, an international security expert at Stanford. Sagan says the odds of war 'are certainly greater than is widely recognized by the American public.' ... Almost no expert believes that sanctions will force Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons or halt his missile program. That puts us on a collision course, for North Korea seems determined to develop a clear capacity to target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, while the White House hints that it would rather have a war than allow the North to become a nuclear threat."
“Our president has been really clear about this,” H. R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said on Fox News. “He is not going to permit this rogue regime, Kim Jong-un, to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon. And so he is willing to do anything necessary to prevent that from happening.”

The whispers in Washington are that “anything necessary” includes airstrikes on North Korea, such as a strike on a missile as it is being prepared for launch. When I asked North Korean officials what would happen in those circumstances, they answered unambiguously: war.

Tammy Duckworth, a former military pilot who is now a Democratic senator from Illinois, says that from what she hears, the chance is greater than 50/50 that the president will order a strike.

“I see a change in posture,” she told me. “I am extremely worried that we’ve moved beyond ‘Let’s prevent war’ to ‘It’s acceptable to do a first strike.’”

Duckworth and other Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that would prevent the president from making a pre-emptive strike on North Korea without congressional approval, barring an imminent threat to the U.S. or its allies.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, has said that Trump told him he’d choose a war with North Korea over allowing it to continue on its course.

“There is a military option: to destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself,” Graham told the Today show, relaying a conversation with Trump. “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here-- and he’s told me that to my face.”

Graham said that if North Korea continues to test intercontinental ballistic missiles, a war is “inevitable.”

This may be a bluff, but, if not, war is coming, for almost every expert believes that North Korea will continue its testing.
Arizona congressional candidate Mary Matiella (AZ-02) was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Army by President Obama, the Pentagon civilian equivalent of a Brigadier General. This morning, she told me that "another war is unthinkable. A war with North Korea will result in more casualties and deaths than Viet Nam. I hope that there are enough sane thinkers in Congress and the Pentagon to keep us out of North Korea. But, the President has power, so the President can start a war even without congressional support and can tell the Department of Defense what to do."

Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), both military veterans, asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to give them a picture of how a war North Korea would unfold and what the military consequences would be. Lieu told Newsweek that they were "trying to get the administration to explain to the American people what a war in North Korea would look like. People need to understand if there is military conflict in North Korea we would be going to war against a nuclear power." Defense Secretary Mattis' and the Joint Chiefs' response was chilling. "The only way to 'locate and destroy-- with complete certainty-- all components of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs' is through a ground invasion... 'North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons as an option' in the event of a conflict, adding, 'It has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents, and it likely possess a [chemical weapon] stockpile.'"
North Korea and the U.S. have been enemies for decades, but tensions have reached new heights in recent months as Pyongyang has ramped up its long-range missile tests in pursuit of a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the mainland U.S. North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in early September and has threatened to conduct a seventh over the Pacific Ocean. Amid all of this, Trump and Kim Jong Un have been engaged in a global rap battle, frequently trading insults and threats.

Trump's top advisers have publicly championed a diplomatic approach to North Korea, but the president has exhibited a preference for military options. Over the summer, he said North Korea would experience "fire and fury" if it didn't stop threatening the U.S. During his first address to the United Nations in late September, Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it forced the U.S. to defend itself or its allies.

A recent Pew Research Center survey showed a strong majority of Americans (84 percent) feel Trump is "really willing" to go to war with North Korea and less than half (39 percent) were confident in his ability to handle the current heightened tensions.

Given the potential consequences of a military conflict and President Donald Trump's apparent aversion to diplomacy, Lieu is not satisfied with the response he received to his letter. He wants the Trump administration and the Pentagon to offer far more details about the potential consequences of a war with North Korea.

The California congressman and U.S. Air Force veteran is not only concerned about what might happen during such a conflict, but also once it's concluded.

"There’s no plan for the aftermath. What about refugees? What would happen with China?" Lieu said. "South Korea would basically take over after the shooting stops. I imagine we would still need ground troops there. How long would that take? We’ve been in Afghanistan for 16 years. We have not won that war. And you’ve got a brainwashed North Korean military that could continue to cause problems."
Lieu, an Air Force Reserve Colonel, has been working with other congressional military vets-- from both parties-- to urge restraint. This week he and 16 other vets currently serving in Congress-- Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Pete DeFazio (D-OR), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Walter Jones (R-NC), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Del. Gregorio Sablan (D-Mariana Islands-- issued a joint statement on a potential ground invasion. The statement follows a letter from the Joint Chiefs addressing the questions raised by Lieu and Gallego about the Pentagon’s plan for military action against North Korea.

The statement warns that since the letter from the Joint Chiefs confirms that the only way to destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is through a ground invasion, the result could be "hundreds of thousands, or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting."
As Veterans, we have defended this nation in war and we remain committed to this country’s security. We also understand that entering into a protracted and massive ground war with North Korea would be disastrous for U.S. troops and our allies. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, it appears, agree. Their assessment underscores what we’ve known all along: There are no good military options for North Korea. Invading North Korea could result in a catastrophic loss of lives for U.S. troops and U.S. civilians in South Korea. It could kill millions of South Koreans and put troops and civilians in Guam and Japan at risk. The Joint Chiefs said they have no reason to believe North Korea would resist using their stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. It is our intent to have a full public accounting of the potential cost of war, so the American people understand the commitment we would be making as a nation if we were to pursue military action.

A nonpartisan report by the Congressional Research Service indicates conflict on the peninsula could impact as many as 25 million people on either side of the border, including more than 100,000 U.S. citizens. We must pursue every other option before even considering a massive ground invasion. The Administration has also failed to articulate any plans to prevent the military conflict from expanding beyond the Korean Peninsula and to manage what happens after the conflict is over. We’re still engaged in the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan with no end in sight.

With that in mind, the thought of sending troops into harm’s way and expending resources on another potentially unwinnable war is chilling. The President needs to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put American troops further at risk.

The Joint Chiefs’ assessment and the CRS report clearly demonstrate that every diplomatic and economic option must be exhausted before military options are considered. If President Trump does intend to pursue a military option against North Korea, he must come to Congress as required by our Constitution. The stakes are too high and the potential outcome too grave for President Trump to violate his constitutional duty to come to Congress to authorize and oversee use of force.

Over the weekend Trump arrived in Japan and his stance-- recognized as the bluster of a babbling imbecile in Pyongyang-- was aggressive and destabilizing. A new poll published by the Washington Post on Saturday, emphasizes that Trump, with an abysmal 37-59% approval rating, does not have the confidence of the American people. 53% of Americans say that under Trump America's leadership in the world has gotten weaker; only 26% say it has gotten stronger. And 59% of Americans say he's not a strong leader. 58% say he's a bad deal maker. In terms of the North Korea situation most Americans are very wary of his abilities:

Now that Trump has failed to get China to help solve the Korea problem for him, he's trying with his pal Vlad Putin, who helped him on another matter last year, to come to his rescue. Putin is expected to grant him an audience in Da Nang on Thursday or Friday.

Doug Applegate, the progressive Democrat likely to end the disgraceful political career of Darrell Issa next year (CA-49-- norther San Diego and southern Orange counties), is a former Marine Colonel. His own perspective is that "Trump can only offer the rhetoric of a tin horn dictator who would never go In Harm's Way himself. Worse yet, he abandons diplomacy, intelligence and coordinated economic leverage with the rest of the world."

Tom Prigg, a military vet running for Congress in western Pennsylvania against corrupt Trump rubber stamp Keith Rothfus, would have been the 18th signature on Lieu's letter. "Conservative estimates of casualties," he told us, "in a ground offense are in the tens of thousands in South Korea alone, where at least 100,000, and as many as 500,000, Americans reside. If combat were to expand beyond Korea’s borders, massive casualties could push casualties into the millions." He has a far more rational approach than Trump does"
The report does maintain that there are other alternatives to a ground offensive, and highlighted seven possibilities, though this is not an exhaustive list of possible actions:
1- Maintaining the military status quo.
2- Enhanced containment and deterrence.
3- Denying DPRK acquisition of delivery systems capable of threatening the United States.
4- Eliminating ICBM facilities and launch pads.
5- Eliminating DPRK nuclear facilities.
6- DPRK regime change.
7- Withdrawing U.S. military forces.  
North Korea is not an imminent threat. We’ve faced nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union and have exercised diplomacy down to the 11th hour during the Cuban Missile crisis. North Korea doesn’t have the nuclear arsenal that the Soviet Union once had. They don’t have the technological advancements that the United States possesses. The United States has active cyber operations against their nuclear programs that can cause their missiles to blow up on take-off. 

Despite the nuclear threats we faced against the Soviet Union, which actually did invade other countries, we never resorted to a ground offensive. The Soviet Union fell through peaceful means, and so can North Korea.

Goal ThermometerIn an all out war, the United States would not only face a nuclear threat and prolonged ground offensive, it would face possible Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attacks from at least two North Korean satellites. Such an attack could cause planes to crash, hospital equipment to fail, among a myriad of other catastrophes.

As a veteran, I stand behind the policy that war should always be the last option, and only used when absolutely necessary. The Trump administration has approached war with North Korea as the first.

In these difficult times, we need leaders with compassion and foresight who can think beyond the simple mentality of smashing nations we label enemies, and can recognize the virtues of diplomacy and the long-term value of avoiding wars started for the sake of bravado.

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At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Americans have seen nothing yet about the devastation Trump has coming down the pike for us with the climate, health care, economics, and war let alone our democracy, which may wind up in shambles. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg thus far. Complacency is surely our enemy in these times and there is plenty of complacency going around. The Republican party should be held accountable for whatever horrors Trump brings on us and the world. And the Americans who support Trump continue to be deplorable. Hillary sure had that right.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are no good outcomes here. The least worst? Who the fuck knows? Kim is gambling that we won't kill everyone to keep them from having a first-strike capability so he can stay in power for life in his little shithole of a nation. And with a few nukes in his hand, he might just try to go all in against our imbecile in chief.
And trump with both thumbs up his ass is almost sure to sit on the red button sooner or later. He might even mean it.

This one might not be our fault. We've had a historic run of dreadful leadershit from both sides of the dollar bill. But I don't know what any of them could have done differently except surrender.. and nobody thinks we should just surrender.

As the world now knows wrt our shithead in chief, you can't negotiate with liars and sociopaths. All you can do is render them irrelevant or kill them.

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trump doesn't feel like a real man because he believes that only war leaders are real men. But because he's such a poor excuse for a human being, if he did go to war against DPRK he'd want to turn on Iran next. And after Iran, most likely he'd want to dominate the world. And if he was to somehow succeed at this endeavour, he'd still not feel like a man. But only he can't see this.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm imagining it's hard to "feel like a man" with a dick the size of a small melanoma.


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