I started to write this column yesterday, and so today, as North Korea has fired yet another ICBM, I’m thinking it’s too late to catch the wave of poignancy the missile launch would have provided had I been more expedient. Then again, it has also provided me with a title perfect to illustrate the point. (So much for inverted pyramids.)
So, yesterday’s story goes something like this:
As I was out on my bike today I passed the last turn of inflection that points me in the direction home. An hour and half ride, a nice sunny day with fresh air, and still plenty of thinking time that seems to come easier once you know you’re headed for the barn. Considering all the political news and views that I can assimilate, I frankly dissed the notion of yet another dissertation in regard to healthcare, or the Russians, both of which seem exhausted if not gratuitous from my perspective, even if emotional for the public.
Then it occurred to me that in the amount of time I had already been out on my bike – about an hour – that North Korea could have launched an ICBM wiping out Honolulu, AND the United States could have already retaliated by launching a plethora of nukes onto Pyongyang forever disentangling North Korea – saying “North Korea’s nuclear option” seems obtuse. Maybe I should be listening to the radio while riding.
This seemingly unlikely scenario was underscored as plausible while out on my bike today because I remembered a few years ago when I was out riding, on a somewhat unsettled weather day, that I returned home to turn on the news and find out half of North Alabama has been wiped out by tornadoes. And or course today – the missile launch.
Now, I’m not military and never have been, although my dearly departed dad was civilian DOD. I really don’t have any feedback except from what everyone else sees in the news as well, and so I don’t suppose these musings will seem all that revelatory – except I doubt most folks sit around thinking through such scenarios.
What I mean by that is this. What really are the chances of war with North Korea, would it be nuclear, and would it be soon. Both the United States and North Korea have spewed forth fiery rhetoric asserting that neither shall prevail against the other. The US says they will not be allowed to have nuclear capability and they indicated they intend to decimate the United States. Obviously both can’t be right.
We know in the United States that if it does come down to nuclear war, in the near future, that North Korea has no chance what-so-ever. But, would Kim Jung’un be that insane? And the point remains, the United States has already begun posturing in South Korea for some type of confrontation, and it does seem more likely than not, in spite of our own vitriolic rhetoric, that the US will carefully, gradually back away from instigating outright war – right?
The problems with the scenarios is that Kim Jung’un might just be crazy enough, and isolated enough, and ignorant enough that he actually would launch a nuclear attack. And, as already intoned, the United States would send enough nukes into North Korea with pinpoint accuracy that North Korea would basically cease to exist. This scenario, unfortunately, explains why China has been building up troops along it’s border with North Korea, and why similar activity has been occurring in South Korea. After what would be a very brief nuclear war, the surviving North Korean refugees would be trying to go somewhere, anywhere, and using whatever weapons and artillery still available to them to get there.
But if the United States patiently waits, and North Korea remains restrained – until they have a couple of hundred warheads capable of reaching the United States – what kind of retaliatory strike would really be in our best interest then? And, if Kim Jung’un isn’t crazy enough to attack with limited capability, will he be less than crazy and even emboldened when North Korea has a practical equivalent of nuclear options to use against the United States? Can we afford to wait and find out?
Here’s another part of the equation. It has already been my estimation that Trump’s wide open Wall Street policy will result in another economic crash – just like it did because of previous Republican administrations. Well, I’m not an economic expert, and vectors come with a lot of variables, but it seems to me that economic crashes in this country have gotten successively worse with the next one on track to be a 1929 humdinger – or worse. I also notice that the newest sanctions against Russia not only seem to reinvigorate cold war policy, but that a “shit or get of the pot” attitude was inflected to some of the players on the periphery. Add to that the crushing weight of the unAffordable Care Act, and you suddenly have a lot of motivation for that age old economy drug – war.
And suddenly, you have one hell of a conundrum. Because, while aristocrats have always been willing to let someone else die for their money, you can’t really apply that equation to an all out nuclear war between two countries that is likely to expand to WWIII to include all those secondary players. I guess the trick would be to have a war with North Korea ABOUT nuclear weapons without actually using nuclear weapons, and to somehow contain that in Korea without wiping out Seoul or Pyongyang. Even if that were possible, how long before the North would again develop it’s nuclear capabilities?
I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t think so much while I’m riding my bike. Then again, maybe I should just get home sooner – just to check the news.
© 2017 – Jim Casey
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