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No Real Military Option.
July 5, 2006 2:30 AM   Subscribe

The biggest concern in striking North Korean nuclear facilities is the threat of North Korean counter-attacks. When considering the text of the "strong statement" promised by President Bush in response to yesterday's missile tests by North Korea, military planners face a grim tactical situation. Seoul, the South Korean capitol and home to 10 million, lies within easy range of North Korean long-range artillery. Five hundred self-propelled 170mm Koksan guns and thousands of mobile multiple-launch rocket systems could hit Seoul with artillery shells and chemical weapons, causing panic and massive civilian casualties. North Korea has between five and six hundred Scud missiles that could strike targets throughout South Korea with conventional warheads or chemical weapons. North Korea could hit Japan with its 100 No-dong missiles. Seventy percent of North Korean army ground units (approximately 700,000 troops, over 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks) is postured within 90 miles of the demilitarized zone positioned to undertake offensive ground operations. These units could fire up to 500,000 artillery rounds per hour against South Korean defenses for several hours. So forget about forcibly dismantling North Korea's nuclear-production facilities.
posted by three blind mice (46 comments total)

 
Here is the url for the last link.
posted by three blind mice at 2:35 AM on July 5, 2006


And again. (Matt's link button doesn't render in Opera and my HTML, obviously, needs improving.)
posted by three blind mice at 2:38 AM on July 5, 2006


sucks to live in korea i guess. they should sort that out for themselves somehow.
posted by jimjam at 2:40 AM on July 5, 2006


Kudos to a well crafted frontpage post that you clearly put some time and effort into but I still think it belongs in this still active discussion.
See the comment jaduncan
posted by geekyguy at 2:43 AM on July 5, 2006


Well, have a nap. Then fire ze missles!
posted by loquacious at 2:46 AM on July 5, 2006


I recently heard Dr John S Park speak on his interviews with people involved in the six party talks and analysis of the talks progress. There's an interview with him on this page but I also recommend reading his paper: Inside the MultiParty Talks - 18 page pdf
posted by quarsan at 2:51 AM on July 5, 2006


--Empty posturing by Bush and the US causes Iran and/or other countries or militaristic groups to see how we bluff, leading them to disregard the US.
--The fact that we are bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq leads Iran and others to disregard the US.
--The fact that most of the world now see the US as more disgraceful than they already had prior to our invasion based on false/faulty knowledge, and/or lies leads Iran and other countries to disregard the US.
--The fact that we are fumbling our way through Afghanistan looking like fools there too, doesn’t help the matter much either.

So, basically, because of Iraq+, if the US doesn’t do anything (I’m not counting sanctions, etc. as anything) it’ll make the world a more dangerous place because it’ll be even more evident that we are impotent. If they do something, then God help us all.
All in all, another Win Win situation.

I think I noticed somewhere that there is some mega poker championship coming up soon. Vegas I believe. I think that Bush & Co. should maybe give it a look see. If that is too much info to take in for them, perhaps Kenny Roger’s song might be more their style.

“You got to know when to fold ‘em, know when to hold ‘em...yadda yadda yadda."
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 3:15 AM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


If they do something...
"They" meaning, the US.
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 3:18 AM on July 5, 2006


hahahahahahaha....

It's not my hysterical laughter that bothers me;
It's the Inability to stop...
posted by Unregistered User at 3:38 AM on July 5, 2006


I keep thinking of this. [previously on MeFi here.]

[and a young hae-chang flash on MeFi about MeFi here.]

[posted this same thing in another thread]
posted by exlotuseater at 3:54 AM on July 5, 2006


I seriously doubt the lack of a very strong response to the test firing will make a difference in the world. Anyone but the uninitiated can look at North Korea and recognize already long standing problems with reacting with anything but non-military means. They're simply not an option, at least from the American side of the equation.
posted by Atreides at 4:28 AM on July 5, 2006


OK let' see today memo

1. keep drumbeating Korea has the weapon, Korea has the weapon , Korea has the weapon , Korea has the weapon, Korea has the weapon

2. Did I mention Korea has the weapon ? OMG Korea , they killed Kenny !

3. See if you build enough consensus with China, Russia. Mhhhh what do I have to offer ? Access to oil ? No way ? Yes way ? O'Rly ?

4. Present UN with a vial of VX..oh shit no we used that already.


People with a memory, those pesky people remember most russian missle were rusty and decaying...the big threat was a threat, but not that big after all. I can only wonder the shitty condition in which the completely starved NK must be.

OMG North Korea has a rusty knife RUN RUN ! We also need to monitor your bank account, KOREA !
posted by elpapacito at 5:06 AM on July 5, 2006


NORTERRORIST KOREASSAIN RUN RUN RUN !
posted by elpapacito at 5:07 AM on July 5, 2006


The trouble with the boy who cried wolf is that eventually people will disbelieve anything he says, even when it's true.

It's not a new story, or a particularly difficult one to "get". Or so I've always thought, anyway.
posted by clevershark at 6:12 AM on July 5, 2006


No one I know here in Seoul is worried about this, except for the unfortunate possibility that Washington will start a war that will lead to our deaths. If war happens, Seoul will be a burning crater very quickly.

I am not in favor of that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:17 AM on July 5, 2006


Meanwhile NK is stealing China's trains, forcing China to stop aid shipments.
posted by PenDevil at 7:35 AM on July 5, 2006


Didn't we go through this about thirteen years ago, and didn't it end with a big ol' aid package to North Korea? Maybe Kim Jr.'s pantry and treasury are bare again. Jeez, just give him the equivalent of a month's spending in Iraq already and you won't hear another peep out of him for another decade (about the end of Jeb's second term in the Oval Office).
posted by hangashore at 7:37 AM on July 5, 2006


No one I know here in Seoul is worried about this, except for the unfortunate possibility that Washington will start a war that will lead to our deaths.

This puzzles me. It seems to me it's almost like being in a hostage situation and saying "Oh, no worries, just stay away from the crazy guy and assent to his demands and I'll be just fine."

Not that if I were in a hostage situation, I'd be in favor of aggravating my captor. I just don't understand the idea that the danger comes only from the U.S. and other than that it's just fine that NK was all these weapons pointed at Seoul.
posted by weston at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2006


Ok. Kok-san guns, No-dong missiles, Type-O-Dong missiles...

Is there any non-freudian weapon in DPRK's arsenal?
posted by qvantamon at 9:38 AM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Joseph Gurl writes: "No one I know here in Seoul is worried about this, except for the unfortunate possibility that Washington will start a war that will lead to our deaths. If war happens, Seoul will be a burning crater very quickly."

I can't tell if you're being facetious, but I'd suggest that what you're describing is closer to fatalism than not caring, i.e., South Koreans know they have a madman to the north of them, and thousands of conventional military tubes aimed at Seoul which would be obliterated in about 15 mintues if a war broke out, and millions dead even without the DPRK using a few of their nukes.

Which is to say, I guess I don't blame South Koreans for being cynical about the situation, and about the ability of the US to actually achieve any meaningful diplomatic gains with the DPRK, but jimjam has a point--the US can contribute nothing but saber-rattling to the discussions and should pull out of them, if only to force South Korea, Japan, and China to wake up and take some responsibility for their genocidal neighbor for themselves. Frankly, it's about freakin' time.
posted by bardic at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2006


This puzzles me. It seems to me it's almost like being in a hostage situation and saying "Oh, no worries, just stay away from the crazy guy and assent to his demands and I'll be just fine."

I think, if I understand correctly, that the relationship between North and South Korea is more of a familial relationship than of an "aggressor-aggressee" type. I don't think the Stockholm Syndrome applies here.

South Korea wants to bring NK "back into the family", and at times sees what the US is doing as heavy-handed — sometimes contrary to SK's cultural interest.

The US wants to defend its economic and military interests in the region, and is happy to present the conflict to neighboring countries and the world in the light of the black and white, "axis of evil" arrangement.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:39 AM on July 5, 2006


I think, if I understand correctly, that the relationship between North and South Korea is more of a familial relationship than of an "aggressor-aggressee" type.

Probably because many (most?) South Koreans literally have immediate and extended family members north of the DMZ that they haven't seen for decades, and vice versa. It might give some grim satisfaction to see Dear Leader and his henchmen nuked to oblivion, but if those same bombs would bring harm to your parents, siblings, grandparents, and cousins you'd be far less likely to want the ICBMs and cruise missiles launched.
posted by hangashore at 11:12 AM on July 5, 2006


Whatever happened to the Sunshine Policy? Oh, yeah, that's right... Bush was elected president.
posted by Doohickie at 11:14 AM on July 5, 2006


Looks like the NK folks are stealing trains now... not exactly confident of the accuracy of this - but it wouldn't be out of character for NK to 'restate' the terms under which they get aid from China.

As they state: The Chinese have tried to talk the North Koreans out of these pointless fantasies, and for their trouble they have their trains stolen. How do you negotiate under these conditions? No one knows.

It does make things a bit more difficult.
posted by JB71 at 11:34 AM on July 5, 2006


Looks like the NK folks are stealing trains now...

Pendevil beat ya to it above.


As for North Korea, there is no military solution to deal with it until you can some how protect the millions of South Koreans. I've always wondered if North Korea would attack South Korea if China invaded, though.

Realistically, only internal change will create any change in North Korea. The Sunshine Policy, while at times naively bold in its approach, seems to be the best answer for this. Don't get me wrong here, I don't expect any type of peasant revolt or revolution, that simply will not happen. Change will have to occur at the behest of the leadership and from thousands of years of experience, greed has been a prime motivator for rulers.

The more an enemy is integrated into the economies of others, the less likely it will be to act in an non-beneficial manner. The more pressing an argument that negative actions (military) result in negative results (economic) the more likely a country will opt to avoid such actions.
posted by Atreides at 12:09 PM on July 5, 2006


Atreides -

Sorry, I missed that. My bad. :(


You posted...

The more an enemy is integrated into the economies of others, the less likely it will be to act in an non-beneficial manner. The more pressing an argument that negative actions (military) result in negative results (economic) the more likely a country will opt to avoid such actions.

That's why I think we don't have much (if anything) to worry about from China. It's the little wierd dictatorships who want to come up with nukes that can really knock the hell out of the global economy... and NK is just one of those problems.
posted by JB71 at 12:41 PM on July 5, 2006


Korean missiles are fucking joke. N Korean technology is a joke. They need about 20-30 more tests to make them viable. And at, what, 2 tests every three or four years? NK is decades away from being a strategic threat to the US or even Japan.

They do this missle test shit to extort money from the US because everybody screams panic. And so we pay to shut up our allies. No matter what Bush claims - he pays NK off.

Their artillery is a real threat to SK, true. They could erase Seoul from the map. Maybe they could rig up some suicide device or a ship launched VX missile to hit Japan.

Japan is not as vulnerable as some would have you think. A great deal of that alarmist talk is the Japanese wanting to militarize themselves - and their own domestic defense industry smelling cash.

Still. I am reminded of Louis Black's comment:

"North Korea is where the monkey's from the Wizard of Oz came from. Plus they all know Karate. You don't FUCK with that kind of evil."
posted by tkchrist at 1:29 PM on July 5, 2006


No one I know here in Seoul is worried about this

to me that just means you don't know anyone with insight or access.

tkchrist, many intelligent people do not share your opinion and that includes those in the six party talks. dprk certainly does have the technology to turn Seoul into a smoking crater - and with no warning.
posted by quarsan at 1:40 PM on July 5, 2006


many intelligent people do not share your opinion and that includes those in the six party talks

Interesting. Because I derived my opinion from statements made by the intelligent people in the six party talks.
posted by tkchrist at 1:51 PM on July 5, 2006


U.S. missile defense system has been hit and miss
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on July 5, 2006


Of course the DPRK isn't a strategic threat to the US, in the same way that a suicide bomber is no danger to topple the government of Israel. That's not the point. Seoul, a city more populous than NYC, turned into a moonscape, even as Pyongyang and every DPRK military base is levelled, and some stray missiles hitting Japan, possibly nuclear-tipped--that's the fucking problem.

To get all Matthew Broderick on you, if you decide to play this game, you've already lost. Should we give the DPRK everything they want? Of course not, but it would take a relatively minor amount of economic aid to contain them. I realize this doesn't jibe with Bush's cowboy rhetoric, but guess what? Diplomacy worked for decades to topple the USSR without a nuke being fired. It wasn't perfect, but it got the job done.

Let's pray that Cheney hasn't purged every adult from the State Department. Actually, it's the South Koreans and Chinese and Japanese that have the most to lose, and they have every right to tell the US to politely fuck off if they're willing to step up and take care of this problem on their own, as they should.
posted by bardic at 2:11 PM on July 5, 2006


Kim's Catastrophe
posted by homunculus at 2:11 PM on July 5, 2006


And by take care I don't mean *solve*, since there is no solution, but rather set up the appropriate carrots and sticks for DPRK to behave a little better until the blessed day when Kim Jong-Il finally kicks the bucket, and there's enough internal unrest for some sort of coup. Of course, that would take a long-term investment in intelligence and diplomacy as well at a time when Bush has purged the CIA and State Department and Pentagon of anyone but "magic bullet" true-believe types.
posted by bardic at 2:14 PM on July 5, 2006


Man, I wish I had a Type O Dong... the universal donor.
*runs*
posted by aws17576 at 3:04 PM on July 5, 2006


What would the North Koreans achieve by bombing South? Nothing. There is no reason for the North escalate the crisis any further.

Dispite the common belief that the North Korean leadership is nuts, imho they are acting as rationally as possible in their current situation.

They are not looking for a war that they'll surely lose. Remember what good'ole Clausewitz once wrote...
posted by hoskala at 3:20 PM on July 5, 2006


Bardic is right. Paying them off is the not the solution but it's the best option we have.

But Bardic. Just so you know. Bush HAS been paying them off in spite of his rhetoric. It's just... They need more. They are Stalkers, man. They need attention not just cash. They have this obsessive need to feel relevant in the lives of nations.

But I hate to tell you Seoul going down in flames would not effect the US all that much. Not long term. And there is no way they can arm a missile with a nuke and hit Japan yet. Not yet. No way. The people that keep the canard going are the ones who want to build missile shields. NK would have to put the thing on a ship or on a plane to reliably hit Japan. So I don't think there is any real threat from NK. That's why they work so hard to claim they ARE a threat.

The real reason we should care is NK is a nation of virtual slaves held hostage to crazy ideas that are killing them. Those people deserve a better future.
posted by tkchrist at 3:30 PM on July 5, 2006


To anyone with more knowledge on the Korean situation than me, isn't NK on the verge of economic collapse, and is only sustained through foreign aid? If so, gives some support to the "wait 'em out" approach. Won't they eventually have to engage in Chinese or Russian style economic reforms? What's NK's alternative? Give us aid or we invade South Korea? That would effectively end North Korea as a nation.
posted by Nquire at 4:00 PM on July 5, 2006


North Korea is indeed on the virge of economic collapse, and a full economic breakdown is only prevented by foreign aid. Nukes make people nervous. Nervous people provide aid to make you happy. Government continues.

Yeah, they look *real* irrational.
posted by jaduncan at 6:17 PM on July 5, 2006


I think Seoul is just more realistic. The linked article above showing that Seoul recognizes pyongyang as a house of cards and a paper tiger is accurate (apologies for the trite metaphors)
posted by subaruwrx at 7:22 PM on July 5, 2006


I had more. I dont know why I hit post. I wasnt even happy with that sentance. Damn my fast clicking speed.
posted by subaruwrx at 7:42 PM on July 5, 2006


To Weston and Bardic:

No, I'm not being facetious, nor are my friends and neighbors being fatalistic or stockholm-syndromey. Kim Jong-Il is not a "madman," he's just a second-generation dictator.

Only in the US media is it taken as a given that he's a lunatic with a suicidal distaste for American pie. South Corea right now is just about his best friend.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:01 AM on July 6, 2006


Anybody remember the reporter hounding Rumsfeld about plans to test "bunker buster" nuclear bombs? The don't do as I do, do as I say syndrome once again.

Why is their so much outrage against tests and hardly any about what's happening in Gaza?
posted by juiceCake at 8:54 AM on July 6, 2006


Joseph Gurl : "Only in the US media is it taken as a given that he's a lunatic with a suicidal distaste for American pie."

Well, I don't know what "suicidal distaste for American pie is", but regarding the "he's a lunatic" bit, it certainly isn't only in America. He's been considered a lunatic in Japan since long, long before even the first Taepodong launch years ago.
posted by Bugbread at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2006


The lesson of history: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Either way, we pay -- and the payment almost always comes in the form of lives lost.

If the rest of the world (the U.S. or the U.N. or whoever) attacks DPRK now, lives will be lost on both sides.

If the world waits ... Kim builds workable long-range nukes, he invades the South (believing that military retaliation won't come as long as he possesses nukes), the world fights back anyway, nukes go off, many more lives are lost on both sides.

So the question is: Do we want to lose the lives now or later? Do we want to lose few in the short term or more in the long term?

I am not a warmonger. It would be nice if a diplomatic solution could be reached. But realistically, that's not very likely to pan out. Still, it's nice to hope. Unfortunately, while we're hoping, we're very likely moving toward an outcome that will be bloodier than the one that would occur were the world to act decisively now.

Appeasement doesn't work. Doing nothing is appeasement. It's an encouragement for the "wrong-doers."
posted by Possum at 10:57 AM on July 6, 2006


Ok. Possum.

But you go first.

Don't worry. I got your back.
posted by tkchrist at 3:05 PM on July 6, 2006


"It should make people nervous when non-transparent regimes, that have announced that they've got nuclear warheads, fire missiles," Bush said.

It does, yes.
posted by 6am at 3:26 PM on July 6, 2006


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