The Jury Talks Back

8/8/2017

President Trump Vows Fire And Fury, And Power Like This World Has Never Seen Before

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 5:41 pm

[post by Dana]

[Patterico and I each wrote a post about this. This is a combination of the two.]

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.

“Lovely,” says our host.

One lunatic faces off against another. Each makes grand pronouncements from which it is difficult to back down.

What could possibly go wrong?

From North Korea to the US:

The president’s comments came as North Korea earlier in the day escalated its criticism of the United States, as well as its neighboring allies, by warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation against the latest round of United Nations sanctions.

The statement, carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, was the strongest indication yet that the country could conduct another nuclear or missile test, as it had often done in response to past United Nations sanctions. Until now, the North’s response to the latest sanctions had been limited to strident yet vague warnings, such as threatening retaliation “thousands of times over.”

“Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation,” the North Korean statement said. “They should be mindful that the D.P.R.K.’s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength.”

Resolution 2371 was unanimously supported in a vote by the UN Security Council several days ago. As a result of its passage, “the regime of Kim Jong Un will be banned from exporting any goods or services. The BBC estimates that the sanctions will reduce North Korean exports from $3 billion to $2 billion annually. That $2 billion will be retained by continued illicit trading with nations such as China”. The sanctions also “ban[s] member countries from importing coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood from North Korea. They also prohibit member nations from hosting any additional workers from the North above their current levels.”

After the president left the golf course to make his tit-for-tat fire and fury threat, North Korea made a threat of their own against Guam, which has two US military bases:

North Korea said on Wednesday it is “carefully examining” a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles…
A spokesman for the Korean People’s Army, in a statement carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency, said the strike plan will be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.

In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the United States showed signs of provocation.

Earlier Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a “severe lesson” with its strategic nuclear force in response to any U.S. military action.

On one hand, while John McCain believes the situation is serious, he warns that the president’s rhetoric is not helpful and that he should instead “walk softly and carry a big stick”. On the other hand, Tom Nichols thinks we all need to take a deep breath:

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Both reactions seem wise.

–Dana

15 Comments »

  1. Realistically this is a situation where Trump and Tellerison should make calls to the PRC and say something to the effect of “Don’t cross the 38th parallel and let us know of the ops near the borders. We won’t attack, but all bets are off if ROK, Japan, Guam, other US territories or allies are struck by NORK WMDs” and let them deal with their puppet.

    Comment by Charles — 8/8/2017 @ 5:56 pm

  2. I don’t see why everyone is so fixated in the NK ICBM issue. NK isn’t quite there yet, in that they haven’t reliably tested a suitable launch vehicle, or the miniaturized warhead it would require. It’s a near term threat, but it’s not there, yet.

    What absolutely is there, right now, is North Korea’s existing ability to get its current cumbersome 1st generation warheads into US cities. They don’t need missiles to do that, they just need to get them here. They can do it via submarine. Even if they don’t have the ability (whether they do is not known) to launch short range missiles of sufficient payload from subs, they absolutely do have the ability to mount a canister containing a warhead to a sub (theirs are diesel-electric, and they have a lot of them – at least 4 Whiskey class and 23 Romeo class) enter a port (or just approach a city beach or shore), and drop it off in the mud with the timer running.

    That might sound preposterous, but it’s not. Diesel-electric subs are actually inherently quieter than nuke boats while running on batteries. They can’t go very far like that, but far enough for these purposes. It’s also worth remembering that US sub detection tech is mostly passive; it listens for noise.

    As for Trump’s bombast, I have mixed feelings. One one hand, it might be the only way to make Kim back off – convince him we’re really serious this time. In that dynamic, Trump being seen as rash and trigger happy is a plus.

    On the other hand, if we really are planning on doing something, being bombastic hurts the element of surprise.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 8/8/2017 @ 6:58 pm

  3. Charles, the reality is that North Korea is being allowed to develop nuclear weapons and ICBM’s by China.

    As Ralph Peters explains: http://nypost.com/2017/08/03/why-china-wants-north-korea-to-be-a-nuclear-threat/

    Frankly, I think that Trump needs to look a bit crazy to knock China off that position. Because making China’s encouragement of NK become more uncomfortable to China is the only way forward other than a very very high casualty war.

    Comment by SPQR — 8/8/2017 @ 7:41 pm

  4. Arizona CJ, we had a difficult time getting a good evaluation of Iraq’s actual threat level in 2003. And Iraq was a country that was far more open, believe it or not, than North Korea.

    North Korea is a very unstable nation that has intentionally created the image of a very violent nation. Countries that are stable have no need of executing political opponents by staking them in a field and firing mortars at them.

    Comment by SPQR — 8/8/2017 @ 7:46 pm

  5. @SPQR,

    I don’t doubt that the PRC is enabling this sabre rattling. I highly doubt that they would authorized an ICBM program. Maybe a theater or tactical program, but not ICBM and sure as heck enabling an SLBM program. That is too destabilizing for the region. Until Kim Jong-il we didn’t worry that much about Korea after Vietnam. Since the stability that was offered by the NORKs playing the PRC off the USSR and vis-a-versa. The long run was that eventually they would collapse under the weight of the cult that was built by the Kims in Korea. Heck look at the number of incidents involving US military and US citizens from 1975 until the 2001 time frame. There wasn’t many until now. In addition there was a NORK freighter captured about a decade ago by the Spanish with Scuds and other large scale rockets into the Saudi Peninsula, all of it being smuggled as humanitarian aid for Yemen and Somalia.

    So I feel confidence is high that the NORKs and the Iranians are working together in their rocket and nuclear programs to achieve a intercontinental defense system for both nations.

    Like I said in post 1 that the Trmup admin should push hard for the PRC to bring a stable entity into Korea and bring peace to the peninsula. Let the split stay and treat it like the divided Germany was for the 50yrs of the cold war.

    Comment by Charles — 8/8/2017 @ 9:06 pm

  6. The funny thing about weapons programs like the NK ICBM is that Germany proved such unreliable weapons (V1) can still cause both mass hysteria and devastation. All it takes is the NK’s proving they have the ability to fit a bomb on a rocket and have another successful test and that’s all it will take to complete the first part of the equation: mass hysteria. As for devastation, all is required is one successful launch out of many failures and millions are dead.

    How much longer are we willing to sit around and poo-poo the NK program as infantile before millions pay for our apathy and the left’s delusional attitude towards tin-horn dictators?

    Comment by Sean — 8/9/2017 @ 5:39 am

  7. @Sean,

    Well to quote the old phrase, “are you willing to trade LA for Pyongyang when the chips are down?” That is the question that needs to be asked even more so with the PRC backing the Kim’s Crazy Eddie act.

    Comment by Charles — 8/9/2017 @ 6:41 am

  8. Charles, you want to suggest that China is somehow not fully supporting the NK program but reality simply contradicts you.

    And your question “are you willing to trade LA for Pyongyang when the chips are down?” assumes that it is the US that is sole control of that decision. Not a rational assumption.

    Comment by SPQR — 8/9/2017 @ 9:46 am

  9. My point (poorly phrased)regarding a NK ICBM vs. the NK sub threat was that an ICBM is not required; there are other ways of delivering a nuke. Subs are one. An airliner (masquerading as a civilian flight) is another. I do take the ICBM threat seriously, but the fact of the matter is that an ICBM is not required. They can already hit us without it. And they very well might do so with no warning.

    As for the original focus of this thread, Trump’s bombast, I note that Sec Def Mattis is joining in on the bombast. I trust his judgement, so I have no problem with the bombast now. Indeed, it might be the only possibility of getting Kim to back off.

    Short of Kim backing off, I fervently hope we’re prepping a surprise strike to hit NK hard.

    As for China, they could end this mess now if they felt like it; just turn off NK’s oil supply (100% of which comes from China). But they won’t. And that, unfortunately, makes war the far more likely outcome.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 8/9/2017 @ 10:59 am

  10. I am going with the idea that Trump is quoting Daenerys Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, called Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons.

    Comment by SPQR — 8/9/2017 @ 1:06 pm

  11. @SPQR,

    I believe that the PRC knows of the nuke and missile program. However, with the palace intrigue that the Kims foster which makes even your best Medieval era politics look like some high school drama. I don’t think the PRC have full knowledge of what is going on in these weapons development programs. Add in how often that the Kims have played the Soviets/Putins against the PRC with respect towards access to weapons, intelligence, cash, minerals, etc. It wouldn’t be a surprise that a number of folks of thr family and generals in the command staff that Jong-Un killed off were in the Chinese camp. That said the PRC and their unwillingness to reign in the antics that are causing the west to dance around, only gives them flexibility in other geo-politics to do things. Yet, reality also seems to suggest that PRC is now recognizing the monster they have allowed to be created. See the recent UN security counsel votes for new sanctions and they actually approved them. The old gambit with the Soviets and the PRC about nations in or near their spheres was to abstain or vote no. This is surprising to some observers.
    As to the LA for Pyongyang comment. If you study international relations with respect towards nuclear sabre rattling, the fear since the ’61 Berlin crisis was that the Kennedy Admin would be willing to make that cold calculus that the lost of Chicago to preserve West Berlin was viable. The general assessment has always been that the US has never been totally control in that decision. Which is why game theory rose as a popular course in geo-politics classes. It supposedly told why and how that calculus and rattling would work. We saw some of that in Cuba in ’62 and only recently saw with the declassified documents about the Andropov reactions to Able Archer ’83 seems to show the fallacy of game theory and rational actors. Yet, to date no one has offered a valid and competitive theory in how to deal in nuclear geo-political relations because as we all know the threat of nuclear attack ceased when Yeltsin seized power and the USSR disappeared .

    Comment by Charles — 8/9/2017 @ 1:40 pm

  12. @CJ
    Yes the threat of a non traditional delivery method has been vexing even as far as opening stages of the Cold War. I would even say that the threat you mention of a civil airliners, I remember finding a report some years ago in the US National Archives about the threat posed by the Tu-104 which was a commercial derivative of the Tu-16 bomber. The intelligence assets wondered of the aircraft could be configured to deliver a nuclear device via gravity bombing in a possible first strike scenario. That idea and the fear of “suitcase bombs” and now Hiroshima/Nagasaki devices in shipping containers seems to have been revived in the post trans-national terror groups era. The threat is there but how to defend against the threat is just as hard as to defend against a suicide bomber with explosives strapped to themselves. It will be, IMHO, a matter of “when” and not “if”. Yet, we will have the post Monday morning QB antics from “pundits” that were either out of their lanes of SME or out of the loop on the intelligence/defense cycle.

    As to the bombast. I would say that since 1991 we have always expressed to everyone in both privileged, semi-privileged and public statements that we view a Chem/Bio/Radiological attack against ourselves or our friends as being the equivalent of seeing NYC nuked and will not respond in kind, but with overwhelming force. Which will include stratgetic nuclear weapons.

    Comment by Charles — 8/9/2017 @ 1:55 pm

  13. Charles, I strongly disagree with you regarding China and its relations to North Korea, and again refer you to Ralph Peters’ piece linked above.

    Comment by SPQR — 8/9/2017 @ 2:32 pm

  14. Sometimes you need to blunt. Trump was blunt. Truman was also blunt (to Japan): “they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth”.

    Comment by Andrew — 8/9/2017 @ 2:37 pm

  15. @SPQR

    And Ralph Peters is a Russian expert who I believe is out of his element here with respect towards the Asian political philosophy and specific to the Chinese and Kim mindsets. Just look at his statements with respect towards the Mid-East and you can see him floundering to find a stable ground for his analysis. From the war is lost in Afghanistan and Iraq to the War is won. Peters can’t decide if it’s time to come or go and when pushed about both his follow ons with respect to regime change on Syria and Iran he doesn’t have any thoughts except to not repeat the mistakes of Iraq. Sorry, but Peters isn’t the expert to cite in what to do here.

    I would recommend review Jasper Becker and his writings on the Kims and Korea and China. His view is that even the experts in Asian thinking are confounded by the Kims and NORKs. That they are a true rogue regime who cant be understood due to the closed nature of the country.
    Another would be Victor Cha who in one of his novel books advocated that the US, Japan and ROK create a tripartite alliance that would best deal with the NORKs.

    Those are just two that I have been directed towards by friends in the international relations studies on Korea.

    Comment by Charles — 8/9/2017 @ 3:05 pm

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