The North Korea situation

PHOTO BY CT-Sent as WAGNER MUG 11-27.



A number of people I have spoken with lately have been very concerned about this North Korea situation and how it might affect American interests.

The fact of the matter is that North Korea has two things in abundance — starvation and weapons. They also have very little in the way of a functional economy with cold and cold running water for the majority of the population who essentially live in one giant labor camp.

The country’s “Beloved Leader” is the only person I see in any state video who is plump and he has a haircut even worse than our own governor. He is clearly crazy.

That being said, there is potential for real harm from this turbulent little nut job controlling a country where satellite images two years ago showed people were apparently eating bark from trees.

Any kind of outrageously aggressive act on the part North Korea threatens the stability not only of the South but of its close neighbor Japan and places a huge burden on its patron, China, to deal with any irrational act.

We seem to be overly focused on the missile threat, as that is the showiest piece of provocation the North Koreans have been able to come up with in conjunction with their possession of nuclear weapons.

However, successfully getting the weapons to a chosen target with likely detonation is a lot more complicated than media reports would have you believe.

Just getting a missile to stay upright or at the desired angle is extremely difficult and is generally referred to as attitude control. To get a feel for the difficulty, go to your yard and throw a broomstick in the air until you can keep it straight and it falls back to earth with the proper orientation.

When you can do that — throw it to Wisconsin. Distance makes control massively more complicated. Maintaining the flight of a missile are complex gyroscopic systems to correct the rockets posture, demanding remarkably swift and accurate responses to changes in orientation.

The North Korean system is a bit antiquated as near as we can tell and is probably some version of a technology transfer that took place in 1996 from the American-based Loral Corporation, working with the Chinese government on satellite launches.

The owner of Loral, Bernard Schwartz, was coincidentally a large Clinton campaign donor.

That same year, according to the Washington Post, the Defense Technology Security Administration “….approved an Air Force intelligence finding that technology transferred by Loral to the Chinese … could have allowed China to improve the guidance systems on their intercontinental ballistic missiles…”

American intelligence believes that of the missile arsenal in possession of the North Koreans only the Taepodong 2, which is still under development, could even theoretically have the range to reach any American assets. Given the distance and Korean track record for accuracy, such a launch could just as easily end up landing in Vladivostok as Waikiki or blowing up on the launchpad.

What is perhaps more worrisome is that Pyongyang has an estimated 50,000 pieces of artillery pointed towards Seoul, which is only 121 miles away width a regional population of 22 million.

Even a relatively small number of the larger artillery pieces striking near the South Korean capital would cause massive loss of life in the densely populated area and result in a devastating counterattack by South Korean forces.

At that point the possible use of a ground-based nuclear device is much more likely as a tactic but it is almost impossible to imagine that China would allow a nuclear exchange on its doorstep, seriously disrupting trade and providing an excuse for United States and perhaps even multinational intervention.

Moreover, it would result in the one thing they most certainly do not want — millions of refugees pouring across the Yalu River into China — which is partly why they have been providing food to the Korean regime for years.

The hard truth is that this bellicose behavior will continue until some leadership change occurs. The present family dynasty remains in power only by cutting the population off from access to news of the outside world — justifying the economic strangulation of its people — and by manufacturing a threat from the United States and the other, successful Korea.

In the end, China will probably decide it’s better to have a provocative but more controllable surrogate stirring things up the Sea of Japan.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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