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16 May 2017


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When NoKo recently launched that new missile the news did not even make it into the top ten on South Korean social networks. From people there (civ expats) I talked to the South Koreans do not think a war will happen - unless the U.S. does something crazy and starts one.

The U.S. does not want a re-unification (said Hillary in her Goldman Sachs speech). It does not want to lose that foothold in that part of Asia. It tries to bring Japan and Korea together but that is hopeless. The Koreans hate the Japanese and hardline Japanese imperialists think Koreans are just apes.

NoKo (the DPRK) has made a clear offer to the U.S. - "stop the yearly maneuvers that are threatening us and we will stop (verifiable) our development of missiles and nukes." It has made that offer three years in a row now. Would the U.S. have agreed to the first offer, NoKo would never have had an IRBM or sub-launched S-MRBMs. As long as the U.S. blocks any such talks NoKo will continue to work on and test intercontinental missiles. In five years (latest) it will have crossed the point.

What will the U.S. do then? How will it respond when NoKo uses the next U.S.-SoKo maneuver to rattle the cage (by sinking some ship)? Retaliate against a state it does not understand and that can nuke U.S. cities? Or will it (have to) stop the maneuvers?

It will be checkmate then. Lets hope that the recent "unofficial" talks in Oslo reach some better solution.

John Minnerath

I have no direct experience with Korea either. A close friend was with the permanent SF team in South Korea for some time.
The PRNK has been allowed to develop a massive military presence on the peninsula for far too long.
It should really be no surprise that their missile program has advanced to where it is now.
Besides the nuclear and missile capability they also have large batteries of emplaced conventional along the DMZ, especially covering Seoul and surrounding areas.
A powder keg with a very short fuse under the control of some seriously out of touch individuals.
It'll be interesting to read the comments that should come here.

Willy B

I only know what I've read in the statements from the principles involved and what's in the news. There's an interesting analysis in the South China Morning Post that purports to explain what Kim Jong-un wants which seems to boil down to regime survival.

"Launching missiles is akin to stirring the proverbial pot. It is not aimed at creating a diplomatic stink that would hurt North Korea economically and politically. It is to get all stakeholders – especially the 29 leaders who gathered in Beijing for the Belt and Road summit – to see that their fate, too, hangs in the balance, if North Korea isn’t given some slack."




The US will not allow its forces and territory to be held at risk by North Korea. This is not like establishing MAD with the USSR. North Korea may or may not be deterrable. How much risk do you think we imperialist Americans should accept? Personally I think the US should withdraw its forces from South Korea. The South Koreans could and probably would then develop their own nuclear weapons. The same thing would be true for Japan. Of course that would destroy the non-proliferation treaty, but at least the US and its allies would be disadvantaged, right? pl


The London Review of Books agrees with you Colonel. This excerpt is from their latest edition, available for free online, authored by Bruce Cummings:



But if American commentators and politicians are ignorant of Korea’s history, they ought at least to be aware of their own. US involvement in Korea began towards the end of the Second World War, when State Department planners feared that Soviet soldiers, who were entering the northern part of the peninsula, would bring with them as many as thirty thousand Korean guerrillas who had been fighting the Japanese in north-east China. They began to consider a full military occupation that would assure America had the strongest voice in postwar Korean affairs. It might be a short occupation or, as a briefing paper put it, it might be one of ‘considerable duration’; the main point was that no other power should have a role in Korea such that ‘the proportionate strength of the US’ would be reduced to ‘a point where its effectiveness would be weakened’. Congress and the American people knew nothing about this. Several of the planners were Japanophiles who had never challenged Japan’s colonial claims in Korea and now hoped to reconstruct a peaceable and amenable postwar Japan. They worried that a Soviet occupation of Korea would thwart that goal and harm the postwar security of the Pacific. Following this logic, on the day after Nagasaki was obliterated, John J. McCloy of the War Department asked Dean Rusk and a colleague to go into a spare office and think about how to divide Korea. They chose the 38th parallel, and three weeks later 25,000 American combat troops entered southern Korea to establish a military government.
It lasted three years. To shore up their occupation, the Americans employed every last hireling of the Japanese they could find, including former officers in the Japanese military like Park Chung Hee and Kim Chae-gyu, both of whom graduated from the American military academy in Seoul in 1946. (After a military takeover in 1961 Park became president of South Korea, lasting a decade and a half until his ex-classmate Kim, by then head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, shot him dead over dinner one night.) After the Americans left in 1948 the border area around the 38th parallel was under the command of Kim Sok-won, another ex-officer of the Imperial Army, and it was no surprise that after a series of South Korean incursions into the North, full-scale civil war broke out on 25 June 1950. Inside the South itself – whose leaders felt insecure and conscious of the threat from what they called ‘the north wind’ – there was an orgy of state violence against anyone who might somehow be associated with the left or with communism. The historian Hun Joon Kim found that at least 300,000 people were detained and executed or simply disappeared by the South Korean government in the first few months after conventional war began. My own work and that of John Merrill indicates that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people died as a result of political violence before June 1950, at the hands either of the South Korean government or the US occupation forces. In her recent book Korea’s Grievous War, which combines archival research, records of mass graves and interviews with relatives of the dead and escapees who fled to Osaka, Su-kyoung Hwang documents the mass killings in villages around the southern coast. * In short, the Republic of Korea was one of the bloodiest dictatorships of the early Cold War period; many of the perpetrators of the massacres had served the Japanese in their dirty work – and were then put back into power by the Americans.



Of interest is China's stake in the North Korea, South Korea division. Roughly speaking, North Korea seems to be China's "Israel," a legacy of an earlier period of conflict, and now acting like the tail that wags the dog.
How would the "West" react to a Chinese backed "regime change" in Pyongyang?
America might be an Imperialist power now, but the Chinese have been playing this game a lot longer.



Bill Lind (receiving Sage Advice via telephone cca. Operation Iraqi Liberation from Kaiser Wilhelm II - who now resides in Hellenic Valhalla with other notorious fellows from Occident past) ponders about what chances the Norks might have an ace up their sleeve...

P'raps the equivalent of a von Manstein in their echelons?


Clinton handled the Norks like everyone else - he bent over.
Bush kicked the can to Obama who was too busy kissing Iran on the lips - and giving them money - to worry about the Norks.
Now, we get Trump.
Uh oh....

Babak Makkinejad

NPT is already dead.

iowa steve

I don't know how reliable it was but I recall recently reading an article focusing on how Kim Jong Un has been purging the North Korean elite of those thought to be too friendly to China, and that the assassination of his brother was part of this.

Norbert M Salamon

With great respect Colonel:
The US does allow that her forces and territory be at risk by both the Russian Federation and by China, for the USA is doing everything around the Eurasian land mass (and in it) to get both Russian Federation and China to fear being attacked. Without doubt the only thing (for now) holding the neocons and 2R2-s in check is the certainty that the US is in danger of retaliation; though some idiots in these two groups hold the opinion that a nuclear war is winnable. One must hope that these idiots never gain ascendency.


Isn't the NPT defunct anyway? I thought we had killed it long ago. You can have punitive sanctions against Iraq & Iran on accusation absent proof and post IAEA inspection. While Israel refuses to sign the NPT (claiming they do not have a weapons program is akin to Holocaust denial, in terms of probability of being true) and gets advanced weapons technology. India develops nuclear weapons, despite being a signatory, and suffers what?

Why should one worry more about NPRK nukes than Israeli? In the event of hostile forces making serious inroads into the territory of either country is there any difference in the likelihood of either going nuclear if they felt the threat existential. The difference I see is from the perspective of the potential hostile force. For us NPRK looks worse for the Muslim world Israel.


"under the control of some seriously out of touch individuals."

Amen. I still recall the articles about Kim Jong Un having his half brother Kim Jong Nam brutally murdered with XV in Kuala Lumpur. Beyond the simply ruthless brutality of Kim Jong Un, it shows clear indications of a psychologically unstable mind in his rotten head.


Reading that reminded me of all the nasty details on the stuff that I learned in the army twenty years ago. I had emergency readiness on the day the US did operation Steel Box and withdrew their chem cocktails to ships and removed them from Germany. That stuff was nasty and I am thankful that nothing happened.



It sounds like the new S. Korean president Moon is interested in talking with Pyongyang. Also there have signs that North Korea are interested in such an engagement and have given indications that they are willing to negotiate over their possession of nuclear weapons. But they are not willing to give them up without something in exchange. From my reading over the past 20 years what the North wants is a treaty formally ending the Korean War. Plus there is some indications they are looking for secure sources of energy (guaranteed oil deliveries or possibly the right to build nuclear reactors). During the Clinton administration Jimmy Carter initiated some contacts with the North that led to talks. At the time it looked like some kind of deal had been worked out but for reasons that have never been clear to me, that fell through. Since then both Presidents Bush and Obama had policies of not even talking with the North.

If this were a rational world it seems that there are many pieces in place right now where some serious negotiations could begin. Obviously, it is in the interests of China, Russia, the US and especially the Koreans to avoid war. China and Russia would be very cooperative if the US was willing to put that THAAD system on the table. It would cost some some serious money that would have to come from the US, China and South Korea but considering the war alternative it would be a good bargain for all.

Of course, the Borg would throw a hissy fit and is likely powerful enough to prevent any such deal. As I said above - if this were a rational world.

Old Microbiologist

I agree with you entirely and given the recent change in government in S. Korea may become a reality. North Korea has now three separate times offered to disarm their nuclear program completely if the US and South Korea would stop their offensive practice invasions and more recently practicing targeted assassinations. They have been refused every time which is strangely opposite the US claims. It is not exactly similar as it is in Iran who actually do not have nor are likely to develop their own nuclear weapons. North Korea or Pakistan might sell them some though and there was some evidence Iran actually had three nuclear devices obtained from Ukraine which they removed several years ago back to Ukraine. But Iran is another story as is Pakistan.

North Korea is a serious threat and given the offensive actions the US had done over the past 17 years against other countries (and I am also referring to the strange deaths of anti-US presidents) I think their paranoia is justified. They do have a very large but outdated diesel electric submarine fleet several of which are undergoing (possibly completed) refit to launch a single nuclear missile. It would be relatively easy to launch a suicide mission against the US from the coastal waters of the US. If they have successfully completed a SLBM capability then yes, they are a real threat which will grow. It is insane for the US to think they can change anything in the Korean peninsula. We are still officially at war and North Korea is considered a protected state by China. Russia is also nearby and shares a border with North Korea so has skin in the game as well and has assisted North Korea with older Russian weapons systems in the past.Technically, we are still at war there as it was only an armistice and not a peace treaty. Worse, North Korea has a substantial amount of artillery zeroed in on Seoul which no missile system can prevent. Both China and Russia might (as they are both being actively assaulted by the US) provide more sophisticated weapons systems. So, things might get very interesting if the US keeps escalating the tensions with North Korea. IMHO we have 2 mad men facing off against each other. Maybe China or Russia (or both together) can cool it down? The only logical ways for this to end relatively peacefully is if the US and South Korea back down substantially or the very remote possibility that China goes all in and replaces Kim.


This is of tangential relevance perhaps: http://tinyurl.com/lq2hnhl It refers to the possible North Korean involvement in the ransomware attack that hit many servers last week.

Several of the banks that we use here in Greece were hit, but, fortunately, we managed to avoid it by recognizing the phishing expeditions unleashed.


I agree - the U.S. should withdraw its soldiers.

But there is no way now the U.S. can hinder North Korea from holding it at risk (at least in Japan and Guam). Siegfried S. Hecker, who knows the most in the west about NoKo nukes, says it is now impossible for the U.S. to get all NoKo warheads and missiles with a first strike. NoKo has crossed that threshold.

Nonproliferation expert Josh Pollack says, like me, that the U.S. should negotiate NOW about stopping its maneuvers and other threatening moves to at least limit (if possible) the North Korean missile capability.

In my view the U.S. created so much damage during the Korea war that it will never be trusted in that country. It failed to hold to the agreements Clinton signed. It killed Ghaddafi after he gave up nuclear ambitions. For all these reasons any chance to completely de-nuclearizing North Korea by negotiations is gone. Doing it by force means a nuclear war.

Even if the U.S. military just leaves South Korea that does not mean (in my opinion) that SoKo will want to have nukes. Only a certain conservative circle of the SoKo politicians (Park followers) will want those. At least as long as only NoKo has nukes.

Japan may be different case because:
- the U.S. very effectively promotes Japan's neo-imperialists like the current PM who wants to re-militarize the country;
- the Japanese neo-imperalists are seen as dangerous in and to Korea;
- Japan has tons of Plutonium stored for nuke purpose and is has missile technology. It could be, practically over night, become a nuclear capable country.

If Japan gets nukes then, and only then, will SoKo follow up (or arrange itself with the north and thereby have nukes). It will be up to the U.S. to prevent that.


Two websites with relevant information about North Korea are:


and for nuclear/missile issues: http://www.armscontrolwonk.com

One example from ACW to show the detail/expertise available is:


That describes early US nuclear deployments in Korea and Carter's (unsuccessful) attempts (due to inside leaks intended to stop/slow his attempts - sound familiar?) to fully withdraw US nuclear weapons form Korea.

There are typically very well informed commenters on this site.


There will never be a solution to the North Korean issue so long as the US remains there because the US goal is to maintain forces in S Korea to encircle China. The premise that North Korea is a threat and menace is an absurdity when the complaint comes from the US and its allies. North has invaded no one and dropped nukes on no one. The US has and does. The only country that has used nukes has a very developed missile and nuke program. Why can't North Korea? There is a valid complaint regarding the way NK tests missiles but they have the right to defend themselves.

Really the issue is America's wish to maintain its might makes right foreign policy. NK's missiles and nukes challenge that.

The premise that America must remain in Korea and everywhere to stop nuclear proliferation is equally absurd. The precise opposite has occurred. Furthermore, South Korea does not need nukes to protect herself from the north as S Korea had substantial conventional military resources and any nuke in the south could contaminate the north.

scott s.

Of course historically China has treated Korea as a vassal state, particularly since the Mongol invasion of Goryeo and subsequent dominance of Korea by Yuan, then the alliance of Yi Seong-gye with Ming leading to his establishment of Joseon under Ming. In popular culture China seems to be often portrayed as harsh dictators, or alternatively Koreans were important figures at court but not recognized. (OTOH, Japan is routinely portrayed as the source of ruthless raids against Goryeo or later Joseon with no redeeming qualities. Japan does serve, though, as the foil for Admiral (or General more correctly) Yi Sun-shin and his "turtle" ships.)

Japan invaded Korea on the pretext of protecting Korea from Qing, meanwhile orchestrating the assassination of the Queen (Empress) who seems to have been interested in soliciting American support in modernizing Joseon as a counter to Japan.

There is a belief, at least among some Koreans, that the US sold out Korea to Japan via the agency of Teddy Roosevelt and subsequent Taft - Kitsura Agreement which is said to have traded Korea to Japan in return for Japan not interfering in the Philippines.

Note that US involvement in Korea dates back to the Grant administration and RADM John Rodgers' expedition resulting in the Battle of Gangwha (for which 15 pre-WWI reform Medals of Honor were awarded). The Korean Commanding General's flag captured there was on display at the US Naval Academy for many years, until only recently in 2007 returned.

Dave Schuler

We should withdraw from South Korea. In addition to getting our troops out of the line of fire it would free the hands of the Chinese. Presently, they're being forced to choose which they like least: a nuclear-armed wild card North Korea, a North Korea in a state of collapse with refugees streaming across their borders, or a unified Korea allied with the United States complete with U. S. troops.

Bill Herschel

South Korea is the Asian Israel and North Korea is the Asian Iran. Unfortunately, North Korea toward having a nuclear arsenal that if it is not capable of hitting the U.S. is certainly capable of hitting the South.

What is more the "Korean War" ended in a armistice unsigned by any government, just some generals. So the U.S. is technically at war with North Korea and China, the other two armies who signed the armistice.

Somebody better make nice with North Korea right now. We made nice with Germany after WW II. It's time to make nice with North Korea. Talks, talks, talks. Get the barriers down. There is no other way.

Please note that there is now a very serious attempt to impeach Trump, led by Israeli intelligence. He doesn't have much time left to make nice with NK. He'd better hurry.

Bill Herschel

So we should get tough with North Korea? Tell me how that works. Conquer their country? Please tell me how to get tough with them. Tell me how to coerce them into doing what we want them to do. I'm serious.



NoKo has not yet demonstrated an ability to hit anything but the South China Sea. "First strike?" the Air Tasking order for Desert Storm had 2,000 sorties listed in chronological sequence. pl



Russia and China appear to be rational actors. NoKo does not. Also, there is a question of scale. We would not want to "ride out" a Russian or Chinese retaliatory strike. NoKo is a presidential decision away from extinction. Of course South Korea would take a major hit but ... pl

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