Yesterday I raised the question of the reality or lack of it of the present crisis in relations between North Korea and the US. Since then various people have sought to convince me that the statements and actions of the two national leaders have little real meaning because they are both blowhards motivated by personal imperfections and domestic opinion.
There is also the belief in rationality argument in which it is said that Kim Chung Un must be a rational actor who knows that the US can simply turn the PDRK into a glassy place with grease deposits in spots. I find this argument unconvincing having watched Mu'mar Qadhafi convince himself that the US was a paper tiger afraid of war and lacking the courage of the Libyan jamahiriyah His belief proved unrealistic when bombs rained down on Benghazi and Libya (Operation El Dorado Canyon April -1986).
Delusions vary. Saddam's pre-Gulf War nuclear weapons program was within a year or so of having a detonatable nuclear device when he invaded Kuwait. I worked on both El Dorado Canyon and the problem of the behavior of Iraq before they invaded Kuwait. It was generally accepted in US planning circles that if Saddam had waited until his first successful nuclear test, his position would have been greatly different in the extent of his vulnerability to US massive reactions to his invasion. This would have been because in security dominated states like Libya and Iraq it is not possible to know WHAT ELSE you don't know about that these countries have in reserve that will affect the regional situation.
A further argument that is being made is that the armed forces of the US will not accept DJT's order to go to war. I utterly reject that notion. The president/CinC of the US has the constitutional and legal authority to order military action at any level that is needed to defend the US, its forces or its allies. The notion that a silent coup has occurred in the Pentagon is simply absurd.
On these general bases I assert that war between the US/ROK and the PDRK is quite possible. What would such a war be like? I am quite sure that it would not be a war in which the US/ROK alliance sought to match the PDRK man for man, tank for tank, artillery piece for artillery piece. In such a war the US/ROK side would be hopelessly outnumbered.
Because of this obvious truth, think-tank discussions in recent months have been the scene for retired senior officer discussions of the feasibility and necessity of using tactical level yield nuclear weapons in a war with North Korea as assault breakers against North Korea as well as to badly damage their artillery and assault troops in the general area of the DMZ. It was always expected that a NATO-Warsaw Pact war would produce a similar outcome.
Fall-0ut is the wind distributed debris and dust that a surface burst of a nuclear weapon excavates from the crater and throws up in the air to be distributed down wind from the target. The dust is highly radioactive and has a very long half-life. It poisons the ground wherever it falls making it uninhabitable in some cases for thousands of years.
A high air burst in which the fireball does not touch the surface does not produce much in the way of fall-out. Its effects are:
1 - Blast from the tremendous winds and overpressures produced,
2- Heat from the nuclear reaction. This will burn anything on the ground beneath the fireball and for a considerable but varying distance.
3- Direct Radiation from the fireball. This is enormously damaging to tissue but without prolonged contamination outside a small area.
IMO the use of tactical nuclear weapons would be likely in such a war.
I in no way advocating such a war. Analysis is not advocacy.
Some among you will say that the world no longer fear the US because we really ARE "paper tigers," hedonistically weak and without resolve. If you think that you make the same mistake that the Japanese, Germans, Vietnamese, Libyans, North Koreans last time and Iraqis all made. pl