North Korean Missiles

June 22nd, 2009

North Korea is reportedly preparing to launch another missile on or about July 4.  There’s speculation that it might be launched in the direction of Hawaii, and U.S. missile defense systems are prepared to shoot it down if necessary.

North Korea’s threats are taken seriously for three reasons:  First, they’ve acted aggressively in the past against U.S. and other interests.  This has included firing missiles across Japanese territory.  Second, despite years of efforts to encourage them to do otherwise, they’ve developed and tested nuclear weapons.  Third, Kim Jong-il is insane.

In addition, the USS John S. McCain, an Aegis guided missile cruiser, is shadowing a North Korean ship that is suspected to be carrying illicit weaponry.  Under a UN resolution, the ship can be followed, observed, and boarded with consent, but it can’t be forcibly boarded.  In case the captain of the ship refuses to be inspected, North Korea is required to submit the ship to inspection at an appropriate port.  The chances of that happening are considered slim at best.

North Korea’s main newspaper states:

As long as our country has become a proud nuclear power, the U.S. should take a correct look at whom it is dealing with. It would be a grave mistake for the U.S. to think it can remain unhurt if it ignites the fuse of war on the Korean peninsula.

President Obama says, in reaction to North Korea’s possible intention to fire a missile in the direction of Hawaii:

First of all, let’s be clear. This administration — and our military is fully prepared for any contingencies. … I don’t wanna speculate on hypotheticals. But I want — I do wanna give assurances to the American people that — the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted in terms of — what might happen. More broadly, I think the international community has spoken. … What we’re not gonna do is to reward belligerence and provocation in the way that’s been done in the past.

What’s the worst-case scenario?  North Korea fires a missile that wobbles its way across the Pacific in the direction of Hawaii or maybe Alaska.  It won’t have a nuclear warhead mated to it because from what open sources indicate, they can’t do that yet.  Even though it might fall out of the sky before it could cause any damage to U.S. territory, we would probably shoot it down.

Why would they fire the missile in our direction?  Three reasons:  First, we followed their ship around and then forcibly boarded it.  That hasn’t happened yet, but it might and probably should.  Second, in their opinion we’ve acted aggressively toward them in any number of ways.  Third, they’re insane.

What should the U.S. response be if they fire a missile that appears to target U.S. territory?  Well, having kowtowed to them, massaged them, paid them off, and generally kissed Kim Jong-il’s offensive little butt for all these years to no effect, it would seem that we have to react forcefully.

What we should be doing now is advising Japan and South Korea that in the event North Korea threatens U.S. territory, we will react with force.  They wouldn’t necessarily have a veto, but we should listen to them and take their views into consideration.  If it becomes necessary to react with force, we should then advise China and Russia that military action is underway.

The minimum appropriate action would be a conventionally-armed cruise missile attack on the facilities from which the missile was launched.  Simultaneously, some key North Korean nuclear research and weapons facilities could also be attacked with cruise missiles.  No aircraft in North Korean airspace, no ships in North Korean waters.  The last thing we need is to lose personnel and equipment to the North Koreans or to have prisoners in their custody.

Once the attacks are completed, we should make a simple statement to North Korea and the rest of the world.  Something like:  “The United States of America seeks nothing more than peace and cooperation in the world.  But do not attack us.”

Meanwhile, it’s reported that residents of Hawaii are aware of the threat but generally stoic.  They’re also not willing to take any crap from North Korea, if the sentiments of one elderly resident are any indication:

Retiree Mae Dong, a Honolulu resident of more than 50 years, said the United States must remain resolute in the face of any North Korean aggression.

“It’s disturbing,” she said Friday. “We cannot run. We have to fight them.”

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2 Responses to “North Korean Missiles”

  1. Harvey |

    I don’t know about Kim being “insane” (at least clinically insane) but he certainly is sociopathic and almost certainly will respond violently (as best as he can) to any defensive actions by the U.S. against him, his missile or North Korea’s military targets. A preemptive strike, as some are suggesting, would probably push him over that edge into total Adolph Hitleresque insanity!

  2. Tom |

    Well, to paraphrase Forest Gump, insane is as insane does. If Kim Jong-il isn’t clinically insane, he’s close enough that it doesn’t make any difference. We have to accept that there are some national leaders that we can’t deal with effectively with reason and diplomacy. That really doesn’t leave many choices if they threaten to attack, or actually attack, U.S. citizens, territory, or key interests.

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