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12 August 2016


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Although the spectre of NK arms exports to ME has been a concern from time to time.


Need to think about Japan when discussing both situations. There used to be a saying that under every Japanese Self-Defense Force officer was a samurai waiting to burst out. Japan will figure in both the ROK and Chinese scenarios, however they evolve.

Then there is the India-Pakistan standoff- don't forget that one. If there is ever going to be a war using nuclear weapons, the odds are that it would be between these two.

Chris Chuba

This is one of my favorite websites in general and they regularly discuss N. Korea and China ... http://journal-neo.org/

They are not pro-North Korea but will publish articles suggesting that certain allegations are over done which is probably true given that we tend to overdo everything but of course N. Korea is extremely dangerous. Strategically, they mentioned that China considers the U.S. deployment of THAAD, to counter N. Korean missiles, a threat to their national security because it could neutralize their deterrent ICBM's. I was surprised to learn that China only has about 250 nuclear warheads which is a pittance compared to either us or Russia. A THAAD deployment in S. Korea could be used against China, especially in a west coast trajectory.

I have a very strong feeling that GWB mismanaged the nuclear issue with N. Korea. He played hardball but didn't follow through with an attack. Perhaps he believed the Neocon premise that our demonstration of force in Iraq would frighten them, it didn't. Every gram of Plutonium that was used in their first nuclear weapon was produced under his Administration. Here is the timeline, it is pretty concise.
From the kicking out of inspectors to their first nuclear test was from 2003 to 10/9/2006

I have read about the South China Sea issue and believe it to be way overblown but will not comment on it now.

Babak Makkinejad

War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable


Disclaimer: I do not agree or disagree with the contents of the .PDF document. I am supply this link for the purposes of further discussion.

A Pols

The South China Sea is something I don't have much to say about.
North Korea on the other hand is, despite all the crazy bombastic talk (for NK domestic consumption I think), probably a rational actor under the hood and their development of Nuclear Weapons likely intended as an "antibiotic of last resort" against an externally mounted regime change war.
The blatherskites in Congress and the punditry have talked for ages about such an operation and the NK leadership would be foolish not to take some of it seriously.

Stalin's push to provide the bomb was motivated the same way and they held their breath at the time, just waiting for our B29s to cross the Urals...


there are a few articles around that the North Koreans want a nuclear deterrent so they can shrink their conventional forces. With some 20K artillery pieces on the DMZ that could pulverize Seoul in a few minutes, why would they need it.

interestingly in Ash Carter's first incarnation, he and Bill Clinton thought they could take out the artillery units on the DMZ, the S Koreans talked them out of it as deadly dangerous provocation. One of these days, Korea will be reunited and it will be an awesome economic powerhouse.

The US should get out of Korea. The S Korean army is huge and their industrial capacity is proven. What do they need us for? S Korea could have a nuke in a couple of days if they thought they needed one. Ditto Japan.

The Pakistani's claim that majority muslim Kashmir should be able to join them. The Indians counter that would lead to a mass expulsion and/or a repression of the Hindu population. One fact forgotten is that India is the world's third largest Muslim population country. A joint administration could serve both their interests, b/ it ain't gonna happen. The Russians are strategic partners and sell arms to both India and China, but the latter don't get along. How will that develop? Can they keep both as allies?


1. North Korea has the declared(!) policy to build a nuclear deterrent for the purpose of minimizing defense costs. A lot of NoKo's GDP has been going into unproductive, conventional defense especially the huge number of conscripts. The aim is to develop the economy better and faster. So the three step program is:
a. build nuclear deterrence
b. decrease conventional deterrence
c. use money saved to develop (consumer) economics.
I see no reason to doubt that this is indeed the long term policy of the ruling party. NoKo has neither the capability nor the ideology to go beyond that.

2. South China Sea

It is not that China "evidently wants to be a maritime power". It does not want to (yet) and there is no evidence that it ever wants to. What it wants is to be safe and to keep its life lines to the world open. To control the SCS is for that purpose.

One must look at the South China Sea with two perspectives:
- SCS is the location where Chines nuclear submarines with second strike nukes are habituated and can be most easily fought. China must secure the area to keep its second strike capabilities valid.
- SCS is where China's trade lifeline runs through.

The SCS is China's weak point. That is the reason why the U.S. is bugging around there.

Indeed all the "freedom of navigation" talk the U.S. issues is nonsense. 90% of all SCS traffic goes from or to China! (see maps here: http://chinamatters.blogspot.de/2016/01/good-news-world-you-can-stop-worrying.html) It is China, not anyone else, who has to fear problems in the area.

Every country in the area has build on this or that island. Vietnam is just now moving mobile rocket launcher onto one of the Spratly Islands. I haven't heard the DoD warning about THIS militarization of the SCS. It is no exception or wonder that China is doing the same.

The U.S. pressure on China and Russia is just pressing China and Russia to unite their capabilities. The U.S. navy will then learn that the two biggest landpowers of the world, sitting on the biggest landmass with all resources on might ever want, can not be beaten by Mahan seapower nonsense.

3. Japan
The current prime minister Abe is one of the top man of the revisionist, fascist sect Nippon Kaigi. The new governor of Tokyo is also near to that group as is the defense chief. The U.S., for its own purpose, is pushing Japan to be more aggressive towards China and to abolish its anti-war culture. The Japanese population does not want to but Abe will.
Does the U.S recognize how dangerous it is to stoke such fires? Japan is for practical purpose a nuclear power (it as the material and capability to build lots of nukes as well as delivery vehicles). Nippon Kaigi are racist. They hate the U.S. for their defeat in WWII. I do not understand what Washington thinks it is doing in urging them on.


I don't think China wants to dominate all seas. But their strategy seems to be linked with their economics strategy of the "maritime silk route".

Lot of Chinese energy and raw material supplies are from Africa and Middle east. But these supplies needs to pass near considerable number of hostile and unfriendly countries before they reach China.

My guess is Chinese are "fortifying" this maritime route through various means.


It was Clinton who negotiated a deal with NoKo and immediately broke it. Two civil nuclear reactors were promised to NoKo for ending its Pu program but not even the foundations were finished.


Whoever controls Kashmir controls the Indus river system which is Pakistan's lifeline. Behind all the ethnic and religious blabber it is pure geographic fate that makes Kashmir such a point of strife.


If I were NK I would certainly be rushing to develop a nuke that could range Japan at the very least. After witnessing what happened to Gaddaffi and Saddam I don't think they will ever see disarming as an option. Then there's the constant poking and jabbing with military drills close to the borders - I think it would be best for the US to leave S Korea completely and deescalate the situation asap.

different clue

Chris Chuba,

I continue to suspect that a primary driver of ChinaGov behavior in the China Sea is to extract all the undersea gas, oil and fish in and under all parts of the China Sea.


"and other things" - SOG nasty boat rides?



Define "nasty?" pl


In reply to Peter 12 August 2016 at 02:53 PM

"After witnessing what happened to Gaddaffi and Saddam I don't think they will ever see disarming as an option."

I think a lot of people all around the world learnt that lesson.


"The Influence of Sea Power on History." I'm a Clausewitz man.

I am too, but I wouldn't reject Mahan out of hand--he wrote what then, in that technological paradigm, seemed as a sensible thing. After all, Unites States themselves were born out of sea (power). As later, CNO Admiral Zumwalt reiterated--United States is a "world's Island", which it is. No doubt, Mahan Doctrine is moribund today. But, it is also a very useful "doctrine" for US navalism since provides a steady cash flow for places such as Newport News Shipyard, among many.


SOG's "navy" -- "The most potent of SOG's Maritime resources were the PTFs, the so called "Nasty" Class motor gunboats built by Batservice Verft A/S in Mandal, Norway"


I had a Marine friend who did a tour on these out of SOG's "Maritimes Study Group's" Danang operations base.



"better than drinking champagne out of your best girl's formal evening slipper." pl


part of the link is bad, but this will work



Ah, you are a navy guy. Actually I do not reject him "out of hand." Interestingly, his father was Dennis Hart Mahan who played some role in teaching the WP grad CW types about Napoleon by way of Jomini. pl


Right on the money.


Informed speculation by open source arms control analysts suggest that North Korea may have the technology to lob one of their nuclear weapons all the way to Washington D.C.



I am a navy guy (wrong navy, of course). Another matter that Lenin loved Clausewitz and good ole' Carl was properly presented in a number of philosophy and military history courses. In the same time, naval infantry (marines) tactics and combat was duly taught and later it turned out very handy and not for me only.


THAAD situation is peculiar.

I don't think, realistically, THAAD or any other system can protect South Korea against North Korean attack. Too close, especially the major population centers. Too little time to react. The real purpose behind THAAD is to protect Japan, whether against North Korea or China. This is where China gets unhappy...although I think not unhappy enough.

There was a lot of shuttle diplomacy where South Koreans went back and forth between Washington, Beijing, and Tokyo for a long time over THAAD matters. The impression I got was that, in a sense, the Chinese kinda stuffed South Koreans and put nothing or very little on table. ROK agreed to the THAAD deployment only after a great delay. Their reluctance is understansdable, even in recognition of the fact that the deployment is not very popular in South Korea--they are not getting much out of the deal, at least on surface. I am curious what exactly went on under the surface.

This is one point where I think Trump, if something weird does happen, could surprise by pulling THAAD out of South Korea altogether. Personally, I don't think that's a bad idea at all: it's not really our business to get into a possible fight with China for sake of Japan or South Korea. Trump might stiff the Chinese on economic matters, but I don't think he is eager for a military escalation. Yes, this will likely mean that the Japanese will have to "normalize" their military--but that only involves putting new insignia on their uniforms, so to speak. Not a huge deal--just a rectification of correct names, as BM might say.

The more likely path, though, since HRC victory is significantly more likely, is worrying: we seem poised for an accidental collision with the Chinese, over silly uninhabited islands that the Japanese, the Vietnamese, and the Chinese (on both sides of the Taiwan straits--on the same side) are quibbling about--i.e. none of our damn business.


Did Clausewitz not serve with the Imperial Russian Army in the 1812-13 period? Surely, he must have left a favorable impression then....

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