Monday, May 08, 2017

North Korea: thoughts

What's going on in North Korea?  The Chosun Ilbo notes that China's Global Times recently had a piece suggesting that China need not become involved militarily if the United States strikes North Korea's nuclear facilities.  I can't find the piece, but I did find another, a collection of four viewpoints, all of which refer to growing hostility between P.R. China and DPRK.   In the first someone (an online commenter, it appears) suggests that China ought to be prepared for war with North Korea, should hostilities break out.

Even more noteworthy is that China has cut gasoline shipments to North Korea leading to sharp price increases and rationing.  China could shut down the North Korean economy if it wished.

What to make of the apparent shift in Chinese position on North Korea? It would be interesting to know what was discussed at that Trump-Xi meeting, and it would be interesting to what intelligence analysts actually know about North Korea.  Some defense experts have been suggesting that North Korea already may have placed nuclear weapons in orbit, in its two KMS satellites.  James Woolsey and Vincent Pry argue that these could be used for an EMP attack on the United States.  In a Townhall interview, Pry recommends the U.S. shoot down North Korea's satellites, the sooner the better.  (That interview is the most interesting and important link in the blog post.  Read it, if nothing else.)  Pry also thinks DPRK might already have working nuclear armed ICBMs.

What to make of all this?  This is the kind of issue in which citizens are at an enormous informational disadvantage.  I conjecture that Trump, and Xi, and Mattis, and Tillerson, know things about North Korea that are changing the calculus, and that they regard Kim Jong un's regime as more dangerous than previously, enough so that they are willing to contemplate pre-emptive war, perhaps through strikes on nuclear and missile facilities, perhaps through shutting down of the DPRK economy.

The trick would be to avoid a crazed retaliation against Seoul and an all-out war on the Korean peninsula.  I hope they can figure out how to pull off such a trick.  At the very least, though, I think the U.S. should knock out North Korea's satellites ASAP, and not permit any to orbit in the future.

Military technology is getting cheaper and more powerful.  We are getting close to the point where the world cannot tolerate belligerent rogue states such as North Korea, Iran, and the like.  We're on the verge of transitioning to a Type I civilization, a dangerous moment.  We get through this period, or we destroy our civilization, and perhaps ourselves with it.  When the world includes people like Kim Jong un, it's doubtful we can transition without bloodshed, and certainly not without muscle.

Picture: Simulated nuclear strike on Washington D.C., from a recent North Korean propaganda video.

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