Patterico's Pontifications


Kim Ordered Torpedo Hit on S Korean Ship

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 1:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A “senior American official” claims North Korea’s Kim Jong-il ordered the torpedo hit on a South Korean warship:

“A new American intelligence analysis of a deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship concludes that Kim Jong-il, the ailing leader of North Korea, must have authorized the torpedo assault, according to senior American officials who cautioned that the assessment was based on their sense of the political dynamics there rather than hard evidence.

The officials said they were increasingly convinced that Mr. Kim ordered the sinking of the ship, the Cheonan, to help secure the succession of his youngest son.”

Nevertheless, American officials are reluctant to say anything negative about Kim or his government and have looked to China for a solution:

“On Monday, South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, who has moved cautiously since the assault, is expected to call for the United Nations Security Council to condemn the attack and is likely to terminate the few remaining trade ties between North and South that provide the North with hard currency.

But those steps have little chance of proving meaningful unless China, which hosted Mr. Kim two weeks ago, agrees to join the condemnation and refuses to make up whatever revenue North Korea loses from any trade embargoes. China, North Korea’s last true ally, has traditionally been reluctant to pressure the North too much, even when the North Koreans conducted nuclear tests, for fear of toppling the government and sending a flood of refugees across its border.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Beijing when the South Korean action is announced, leading a delegation of 200 American officials, including roughly half of the Obama administration’s cabinet, in an annual “strategic dialogue” with Chinese leaders on a variety of economic and political issues.

So far, at least in public, both American and South Korean leaders have been careful never to link Mr. Kim to the sinking of the Cheonan in March, which killed 46 sailors. Officials said that was in part because of the absence of hard evidence — difficult to come by in the rigidly controlled North — but also largely because both countries were trying to avoid playing into Mr. Kim’s hands by casting one of the worst attacks since the 1953 armistice as another piece of lore about the Kim family taking on South Korea and the West.”

The Obama Doctrine advocates international efforts to help “nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and face consequences when they don’t.” Will North Korea face the consequences of its action? Not likely. Instead, the Obama Administration is relying on “renewed engagement of our diplomats” with China.

That dog won’t hunt.


21 Responses to “Kim Ordered Torpedo Hit on S Korean Ship”

  1. this use of “smart power” is both unexpected and unprecedented…..

    in other news, the First Failure went golfing.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. what so proudly we used to hail

    happyfeet (c8caab)

  3. It’s South Korea’s call.
    But Obama?

    Obama is the spokesperson for the progressive movement.
    Not a leader.
    He gives speeches and looks good. He’s black and Democrat, so any criticism is called racism.

    I am beginning to think we are better of when Obama is golfing than when he is speaking, but that is just me…

    Steve G (7d4c78)

  4. “…we are better off when Obama is golfing..”

    Steve G (7d4c78)

  5. Playing poker with pennies and nickles is so much more civilized than playing poker with the lives of millions of people.

    avoid playing into Mr. Kim’s hands by casting one of the worst attacks since the 1953 armistice as another piece of lore about the Kim family taking on South Korea and the West

    So, did Kim do it just to show he could, and claim how scared the West is of him when there is no retaliation? Is he really on his way of eventually provoking renewed fighting against the South, thinking that the US will repeat a Vietnam and run this time?

    Counter strategy could be to soft-pedal it and let it be a hollow victory for Kim,
    use it to provoke a regime change in NK, telling the country that the irresponsible and foolish behavior of their leader in making a material breech of the armistace puts their nation at risk of renewed widespread conflict.

    North Korea barely keeps itself fed and the lights on until bedtime. It would not take much to totally disintegrate it. Are there enough people with enough respect, power, and sanity to pull it off?

    [Released from filter — DRJ]

    MD in Philly (cb8efe)

  6. renewed engagement with murderers, you mean.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  7. “It’s South Korea’s call.”

    Actually, it is the US President’s call. UN Resolution 84 places South Korea’s military under the UN “Combined Forces Command” flag, commanded by the USFK commander, US Army General Sharp.

    South Korea has limited latitude to protect themselves. This organization was scheduled to change to a more independent and sovereign command, something Jimmy Carter also preferred, but in the wake of this situation with Cheonan, they actually are asking to continue the current structure, with the US Military in charge of any continuation of warfare.

    I honestly don’t blame Obama for this aside from his general lameness. He and Bush had extremely little to work with. Bush had to abide by the Albright/Clinton disaster agreement, where we give them wealth in exchange for their ridiculous promise not to build nukes. This is more of that ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ philosophy that Clinton left the world with.

    Now that they have some kind of nuclear capability, have flagrantly admitted to lying, and are sinking ships, we either go ahead and engage North Korea and deal with the hundreds of thousands of casualties, or we wait for some miracle to save us from that. It’s not clear to me that nipping North Korea away today would be the right move, because it’s just incredibly destructive. Especially in today’s world where Iran or China could make moves when we’re focused on some huge mess.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  8. Nevertheless, American officials are reluctant to say anything negative about Kim or his government and have looked to China for a solution:


    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (78c9e7)

  9. If NK wanted to push it, I think it would be a slaughter. I would be surprised if they actually have functional long range missiles with nuclear warheads (but it would be one heck of a surprise you wouldn’t want to find out). Short of that, S. Korea/US air superiority should devastate NKorean capabilities, no need for protracted on the ground counter-insurgency.

    But what is the saying, something like you have all of your battle plans then the first shot is fired and everything then gets improvised(?). Who knows what mischief China and Russia would do elsewhere once assets were committed to Korea. I’m sure China would sacrifice N. Korea in a heartbeat if it could win a bigger prize elsewhere. There may be a form of honor among some thieves, but no such thing among totalitarians.

    MD in Philly (cb8efe)

  10. It’s rather simple. ROK sub waits for a large NK patrol boat to enter the disputed waters- fire One! Fire Two! Slip away to pre-established sub line and deny everything. If NK subs or surface xraft follow into ROK waters, game on. NK has sabre rattled plenty when playing in their own yard or disputed areas but are pretty peevish when their agents are caught or killed in ROK.

    USMC_me (698aae)

  11. Some things never change. Bullies and appeasement are one of them. Anyone in here ever heard a fable about a man named Hitler and another man named Neville Chamberlain? (I didn’t think so.)

    man_in_tx (ae51fd)

  12. MD in Philly – NK would not hold out for long. The main problem is that they have more than 10,000 artillery pieces within range of Seoul and it is pretty clear that their plan is to keep up sustained fire at the civilian population for as long as they can.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  13. there is also the issue of the Inmun Gun having previously undetected tunnels they can use to get under the DMZ and past the MLR.

    given advances in science over the years, it would be hoped that they have all been located, but i know that digging them used to be a national sport for the north, so who knows?

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  14. On a dark note, an artillery attack by the NoKor’s against Seoul would give our arty counter-fire battery’s a real-world test – see if that radar actually works to detect the source of incoming.

    AD - RtR/OS! (bb1c62)

  15. more likely, see if it lasts long enough to get a read on anything… and who says our arty’s not going to get pasted right out of the box too?

    there are only so many places to hide, and they can read maps as well as we can. if it’s far enough back to not get hit, its too far back to fire counter battery.
    granted, there will be areas that are “dead ground” because the shell trajectories can’t be manipulated to make them land there, but that’s “Arty 101″ and they will know where they are as well as we do.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  16. Sorry guys – you can’t fire enough counterbattery missions to take out all of the Norks guns fast enough. I once ran several sims trying to figure how many Stratcom missions it would take to atrit a significant portion of the NK artillery in range of Seoul. Even using SDB’s (and assuming they could take out heavily bunkered NK gun positions) it just translates into too damn many missions and not enough time.

    Plus the NK’s have implied that they would consider any attempt to evacuate the population of Seoul away from the DMZ a de facto act of war.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  17. Our artillery and air force have superior range and drastically superior accuracy, but Have Blue ius right.

    We have, what 72 MLRS on the entire Korean peninsula? They have hundreds of Stalin’s organs, which are ridiculously inferior except they actually can just aim generally. They have many thousands of cannons. And Kim Jung Il has palaces deep below the earth. He’s seen that some of our enemies are able to hide. He has ties to Iran, which does hide enemies. Does he care that more of his subjects would die? 1 in 6 of them has starved to death since he took power. And many are brainwashed enough to fight to the death.

    The ROK army is one of the best in the world. They would ‘win’ the war, but that’s simply not good enough. Seoul would see hundreds of thousands of casualties. It’s no comfort and not enough deterrence that we or the ROK would ultimately win the conflict (assuming China stays out). And this isn’t in a vacuum. It would be a great time to make a bid for Taiwan, for Iran to attack Israel, for Russia to amend their borders, etc. It would be bad enough that I suspect it would end with another armistice agreement with some of the same bastards remaining in place, a la the UN and Saddam. I think that’s more likely than the UN or US engaging in total war and actually rooting out the communists.

    I’ve always assumed the Nork military gets weaker each year, aside from the WMD issue. And I’ve always had a ‘they might use it while they have it’ worry.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  18. “I would be surprised if they actually have functional long range missiles with nuclear warheads”

    Those Taepodong or whatevers are very much like the missiles Iran miraculously uses. They have missiles that work. Nothing that can hit Hawaii, but Tokyo and Seoul is realistic. Remember they fired *over* Japan a few years back.

    But that’s not the real threat. They have old-school 170mm cannons that have a range of about 40 miles (enough to threaten millions of people). Believe it or not, but North Korea actually has the industry to make their own. Basically a Soviet naval gun on a T59 Chinese tank body. These are battle proven and effective, as Iran used them (built in North Korea and exported) to repel Saddam. Thousands of these are near the DMZ.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  19. kinda what i was getting at: between the regular arty, the rockets (mlrs, FROG/Scud, etc) and the mortars, it’s gonnna be raining steel from the FEBA to the max effective range of whatever the longest ranged weapon is.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  20. Do we still have Neutron bomb in the stockpile? Maybe it is time to make Kim Mentally Il do the Neutron Dance.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  21. PCD – I don’t believe any “neutron” (or enhanced radiation weapons) were ever produced for the US government. They would be of marginal utility here as the objective of such a weapon is to attack enemy troops without damaging critical or friendly infrastructure. There is nothing in NK that anyone would rationally want to preserve, so if you are going to try and kill the people at the target you might as well use a “conventional” nuke if you are going to go that route. The problem with trying to hit the artillery with nukes is that they are very dispersed and very close to friendly populations.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

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