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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #350 on: November 08, 2017, 01:32:50 PM »

South Korea’s Bow to Beijing
Seoul caves on Thaad missile defenses and a democratic alliance.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-In speaks during a joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Nov. 7.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-In speaks during a joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Nov. 7. Photo: jim watson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By The Editorial Board
Nov. 7, 2017 6:17 p.m. ET
145 COMMENTS

Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Moon Jae-in for “great cooperation” on containing the threat from North Korea and said there has been “a lot of progress.” The South Korean President also made a show of unity after their summit in Seoul, but Mr. Moon’s recent actions suggest he is an unreliable friend.

Mr. Moon favors appeasing Kim Jong Un to lower tension on the Korean Peninsula, including direct talks even as the North continues its nuclear and missile tests. He wants to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Zone that provided Pyongyang with about $100 million in hard currency a year. That’s bad enough, but Mr. Moon is also working against U.S. policy in the wider region. Last week he caved to Chinese pressure on missile defense, rewarding Beijing for its bullying behavior and support for the Kim Jong Un regime.

Earlier this year, the missile threat from the North caused Seoul to deploy the U.S.-made Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), which can shoot down missiles in a range of more than 200 kilometers. Beijing objected forcefully, claiming that the system’s powerful radar could monitor China’s nuclear missile sites. Thaad also meshes with other U.S. missile defense systems at sea, in Japan and on American territory.

China’s larger fear is that South Korea will be drawn into a closer relationship with other U.S. allies. A key theme of Mr. Trump’s trip is cooperation among the region’s democracies to protect a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” building on past efforts to deepen ties between South Korea and Japan. If South Korea were to put aside its reservations about working with Japan, it would deal a serious blow to China’s bid for hegemony in Asia.

Beijing unleashed a diplomatic and economic assault this year to convince newly elected President Moon to back down on Thaad. Official spokesmen and state-run media blamed Seoul for harming relations. Beijing closed South Korean-owned stores in China, stopped Chinese tourists from visiting, and even blocked the broadcast of Korean television dramas.

Last week Mr. Moon folded. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announced a deal to settle the Thaad dispute on Chinese terms. South Korea promised not to deploy more Thaad radars and launchers, leaving South Korea vulnerable to future North Korean attacks, since the six current launchers don’t cover northern South Korea, including the capital Seoul. Without more launchers, North Korean missiles could overwhelm the system.

Seoul also agreed not to join America’s regional missile-defense system, which will limit the effectiveness of the defenses in South Korea and Japan. And South Korea agreed not to join a military alliance with the U.S. and Japan in the future. So Beijing achieved its goal of stymieing the U.S. agenda of collective defense in Asia along the lines of Europe’s NATO.

What did Seoul get in return? A meeting between Mr. Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of this week’s APEC summit in Vietnam, as well as a trip to Beijing this year. China tacitly agreed to stop its embargoes on South Korean products. No word on whether it will stop supporting Pyongyang with oil and food, but don’t count on it.

Mr. Moon has called for “balanced diplomacy” between the U.S. and China. But his willingness to compromise the security of his own country and its allies in the face of Chinese pressure is anything but balanced. It’s understandable that the U.S. and South Korean Presidents showed a united front Tuesday, but Mr. Moon’s actions have undermined the alliance against Kim Jong Un.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #351 on: November 09, 2017, 12:06:51 PM »

What Trump Really Said in South Korea
Nov 9, 2017
By Jacob L. Shapiro

The importance of any speech is tricky to gauge. Occasionally, they can have great significance, like when Secretary of State Dean Acheson left South Korea out of the U.S. security umbrella in a speech to the National Press Club in 1950, an omission that, in a way, helped start the Korean War. But mostly they reside in the garbage bin of history. There’s a wide gulf between rhetoric and reality, and what is said for political purposes often has little to do with the impersonal forces that shape action. I remember watching then-Secretary of State John Kerry thunder away at a State Department briefing about Syria’s use of chemical weapons in August 2013, thinking to myself that surely a U.S. military strike on Syria was imminent. (I even went on television and said as much. Thankfully, the internet saves all things, so I can always look back and relive my mistake.) At the time, I couldn’t see how else Kerry’s severe language could be explained. But of course, the U.S. decided not to strike, despite then-President Barack Obama’s red line and despite Kerry’s fiery speech.

On Nov. 8, U.S. President Donald Trump gave us a new speech to consider. Addressed to South Korea’s National Assembly, it had three main objectives. First, to convey to South Korea the gravity of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the depth of the United States’ commitment to preventing North Korea from acquiring nukes that threaten American soil. Second, to begin building a case to the American people for the U.S. to fight again on the Korean Peninsula. And third, to scare Kim Jong Un, and any country that may support his regime, into capitulating before a war starts. The odds of Trump achieving the third objective are slim at best, which means he will soon face a grave decision. What he decides will define his presidency and shape the balance of power in East Asia for years to come.

Peace Through Strength

Trump’s remarks to the National Assembly were effusive and complimentary, but the content of the message was no different from his prior comments about South Korea. In September, he took to Twitter to criticize Seoul for what he called appeasement of the North Koreans. Many feared at the time that Trump’s comments may poison relations between Seoul and Washington. The tweets, however, were only an expression of frictions that already existed. The problem in the relationship started May 9 with the election of President Moon Jae-in, whose administration opposes a pre-emptive U.S. strike on North Korea.

 U.S. President Donald Trump (R) addresses the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 8, 2017. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

This threw a wrench in U.S. plans. From an operational perspective, attacking North Korea without South Korea’s help makes an already difficult operation close to impossible. There had been several signs in the first half of the year that the U.S. was preparing for military action against North Korea. In fact, at one point in May, three U.S. aircraft carriers had converged on the Western Pacific, and the U.S. seemed poised to strike. But Moon’s election forced the U.S. to slow its preparations and devote additional time to diplomacy. From a political perspective, Seoul’s defiance of Washington suggested weakness. Pyongyang intuited that there may be a split in U.S.-South Korean relations that it could exploit to bring about one of its long-cherished goals: the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula.

Despite Trump’s lofty rhetoric in Seoul, little has changed since the September tweets. South Korea and the U.S. still don’t see eye to eye on what should be done about North Korea. As long as that is the case, the U.S. will find it difficult to convince the North that it should fear American threats. So although Trump was far more gracious speaking to the South Korean National Assembly than he was on Twitter, his message was the same: Peace in our time can be achieved only through strength. Trump’s entire visit to Asia is symbolic, an attempt to shore up U.S. relations with key allies in the Pacific. But no ally is more important and more skeptical right now than South Korea, and no speech is going to allay South Korea’s concerns.

The Other Audiences

Other parts of Trump’s speech focused on the nature of North Korea’s dictatorship. These remarks were directed not at South Korean lawmakers – they are plenty familiar with their neighbor’s woeful economic situation and strict societal controls – but at the American public. That Trump’s speech was delivered at 11 a.m. Seoul time meant that it aired during prime-time hours in the United States. Trump laid out the reasons it is important for the United States to ensure that North Korea does not acquire nuclear capabilities. He made his argument from a security standpoint, an ethical standpoint and even a religious standpoint.

But the two men Trump was speaking to most forcefully were Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump’s words for Kim have been consistently bellicose, and that trend continued in Seoul. But Trump also went out of his way to criticize China in the speech. At one point, he told a story about a baby born in North Korea whose father was Chinese. The baby, according to Trump, was killed and taken away in a bucket, deemed undeserving of life because of its ethnic impurity. He finished the story with a rhetorical question: “So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?”

Trump is now in China, meeting with Xi. Publicly he has said nice things about the Chinese leader – that he has been very helpful on the North Korea issue and that there are many areas where the U.S. and China will be able to cooperate, such as the much-ballyhooed but insignificant business deals that will be signed during the trip. But make no mistake – the main topic of conversation between Trump and Xi is North Korea, and here, Trump has very little to be happy about. The U.S. president will demand to know why China has been selective in its enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, and why China is trading more with North Korea in 2017 than it was in 2016, even if it has abided by restrictions on importing North Korean coal. Xi will continue his charade of looking helpful on North Korea without actually helping.

The obstacles that have blocked an attack so far are still in place. South Korea, the critical ally, remains unconvinced that the U.S. can protect Seoul from North Korea’s artillery. The U.S. electorate favors an attack right now, according to recent polls, but once the fighting starts, support in the U.S. would decline faster than North Korea’s resolve. And U.S. diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the peninsula are being stymied by China and Russia, both of which have an interest in seeing the U.S. bogged down and distracted with what is, from their perspectives, a side issue. It wouldn’t take much to watch Trump’s speech and come away thinking the U.S. is readying for an imminent attack on North Korea. (After 2013, I should know.) But it is more likely that this is a continuation of the U.S. attempt to cow North Korea into submission, not a cry to let slip the dogs of war.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #352 on: November 28, 2017, 09:50:20 AM »

China is sending a message on the Korean Peninsula. On Nov. 24, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced it would temporarily close the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge. The ministry stated that the bridge, which carries anywhere between 50 and 70 percent of the trade between China and North Korea, will be reopened after repairs have been made, possibly as soon as Dec. 4. The decision follows a Nov. 21 announcement that Air China would suspend flights between Beijing and North Korea, citing a lack of demand. Although both suspensions are justifiable, Beijing appears to be using these subtle maneuvers to signal displeasure with Pyongyang.

In the past, economic considerations alone have rarely dictated a decision to suspend the sensitive airline route, carried by China's most important state-owned airline. In addition, China's previous maintenance on the bridge typically stopped at the structure's halfway point, and don't seem to make a full closing of the bridge necessary. Despite anticipation that a four-day visit to North Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping's envoy earlier this month might improve bilateral relations, the recent announcements indicate a strained relationship.

The envoy visit — the first such communication between the two countries in at least a year — was ostensibly done as part of the Chinese Communist Party's tradition of sending diplomats to neighboring communist countries to inform them of leadership changes following the Party Congress. However, North Korea reportedly made several requests for China to ease sanctions during the envoy's visit, and the widely speculated meeting with Kim Jong Un didn't take place. In the end, Beijing seemingly snubbed the requests for leniency.

Instead, Beijing appears to be stepping up its enforcement of economic measures to comply with U.S. sanctions more closely. The Chinese government is reportedly conducting a thorough investigation of all companies trading with North Korea, as well as entities and individuals targeted by U.S. sanctions earlier this year. The authorities have also arrested the head of a major shipping company operating cargo ships linking North Korea and China, resulting in the suspension of nearly all shipping lines between the Chinese port city of Dalian and North Korea.

Beijing's decision to increase pressure on Pyongyang serves multiple purposes: to relieve U.S. pressure on China to cut economic ties with North Korea and to deter a U.S. military intervention on the Korean Peninsula. But China doesn't appear ready to change its fundamental policy toward North Korea. China has never been convinced that sanctions will alter North Korean behavior or stop the country from pursuing its nuclear program. Instead, China has argued sanctions will only further provoke North Korea and leave China to bear most of the consequences. Unless China's interests on the Korean Peninsula are guaranteed, the country will likely remain unwilling and unable to pressure North Korea enough to satisfy the United States.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #353 on: November 29, 2017, 10:23:37 AM »

Seven Crucial Truths About North Korea
 

North Koreans reacting to footage of a ballistic missile test being shown in a public square in Pyongyang this July. Kim Won-Jin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

You’re an Interpreter subscriber, so you weren’t surprised that North Korea would test another intercontinental ballistic missile, as it did on Tuesday. Nor were you surprised by its range, which appears to be potentially greater than in any previous test.
Still, it’s worth reviewing some of the basic truths that inform the grizzled — yet stoic — pessimism we’ve all developed together on this issue. If only for the sake of friends and family members to whom you might want to forward this, who can join you in being unsurprised by the next test.

(1) It’s over. We failed. North Korea is a nuclear power now.
Policymakers will debate for years the precise moment at which the door closed to preventing or rolling back North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. But that door is closed.  The North Koreans have little reason to give up their weapons programs, which bring them security against their otherwise vastly superior adversaries, and we have no way to make them.

Well, there’s one way: an invasion. But North Korea’s missiles are mobile, so it could fire off at least one or two before we were able to take them out. This means full-on war is virtually guaranteed to bring a North Korean nuclear strike against a major American city. (This assumes North Korea can mount a warhead on a missile, but we have little reason to doubt that they can.)

In technical terms, that is described as a “credible deterrent capability.” In non-technical terms, it means we have no options but to accept their nuclear status as a fact of life.


(2) North Korea can strike Washington and New York now.

Past tests demonstrated that North Korea can strike major West Coast cities in the U.S. This test, according to analysts, showed that it can reach East Coast cities now, too. That includes Washington and New York.  Alex Wellerstein, a professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology, put together some maps, using a tool he designed, showing the likely blast and radiation radius of hypothetical North Korean strikes on those cities. It’s disturbing stuff:




 

The blast and radiation radius of a hypothetical North Korean nuclear strike on New York Alex Wellerstein



The blast and radiation radius of a hypothetical North Korean nuclear strike on Washington. Alex Wellerstein



(3) North Korea is rational, which means it won’t start a war.

The “good” news is that North Korea has no intention of starting a war, which it would surely lose. In other words, no, North Korea is not going to nuke your city out of the blue.  This often gets lost in portrayals of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, as a wild-eyed lunatic. But as we’ve written many times, Mr. Kim might be eccentric, but he has repeatedly proven himself to be rational. Ruthless and morally reprehensible, but rational.

There is just no other plausible way to explain how he has won and held onto power in a country with such ruthless elite politics. Nor is there any other way to explain how he’s kept his country from succumbing to its enemies or the forces of history. And no rational leader invites national suicide, which is all Mr. Kim would achieve by provoking a war.

And the United States has its own nuclear weapons, as well as overwhelming conventional military superiority, to deter North Korea. And deterrence works. It’s how we’ve lived for decades with the threat of Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons. That same logic applies to North Korea.

(4) China isn’t going to solve the North Korea problem for us.

American leaders have, since North Korea’s nuclear program began, invested their hopes and their strategies in China. If only Beijing were properly motivated, the conventional wisdom goes, it could rein in its North Korean ally and neighbor.

But maybe it’s time to consider why this strategy never seems to work.

North Korea is convinced that giving up its nuclear weapons would invite an American invasion, as happened to Libya after it surrendered its own warheads. China can put a lot of pressure on little North Korea, but nothing that will scare Mr. Kim more than the threat of national destruction.

In any case, North Korea and China have been increasingly at odds. North Korea’s weapons tests often seemed timed to humiliate and defy Beijing. China has imposed its own sanctions in response. So while Americans sometimes perceive China as supporting North Korea’s provocations, in fact the opposite is true.

(5) North Korea can probably endure almost any level of economic punishment.

Even the most severe sanctions probably wouldn’t impose anything that North Korea hasn’t survived before. In the 1990s, the country’s economy and food supply collapsed simultaneously, setting off  a famine that killed up to one-tenth of the population.  Since then, North Korea has improved its agricultural practices. So while it would rather avoid another economic collapse, it probably believes, with some reason, that it could survive one if it had to.

(6) North Korea’s goal isn’t war, but it’s still scary.

No one knows for sure what Mr. Kim wants except for Mr. Kim, of course. But North Korea’s actions still speak pretty loudly. And they suggest one of two long-term strategies. Analysts disagree about which is more plausible; we see the case for both.

What these strategies have in common is a desire to secure North Korea’s place in the world.

Theory one, most widely held among experts, says that North Korea wants to use its nukes to pressure the world into accepting it as a legitimate member of the international community. This, the thinking goes, would bring trade and normalization while keeping Mr. Kim’s government in power, sort of like China’s opening in the 1970s. That’s scary because it means Mr. Kim isn’t giving up until we accept his government as it is — cruel, provocative and nuclear-armed.

Theory two, more controversial, says that North Korea ultimately wants to reunify with South Korea. The North can never be truly secure, in this view, as long as the freer and more prosperous South remains independent, implicitly undermining the North’s reason to exist as a separate state. This doesn’t mean invading and conquering South Korea outright, but rather slowly building ties between the two Koreas — and breaking the South away from its American protectors — until they reunify bloodlessly.

(7) Worry, but don’t burst a blood vessel.

The greatest risk, analysts tend to say, is from an accident or miscalculation that might send North Korea and the United States into an unintended conflict. That’s how war would start.  Maybe, for instance, the United States sends a bomber near North Korea as a symbolic threat, but the bomber veers off course toward Pyongyang, which North Korea perceives as the start of a war, leading it to fire off its missiles in perceived self-defense.

These sorts of scenarios are unlikely, and require a whole bunch of things to go wrong. But the odds aren’t zero, and if it happened, entire cities could be destroyed. It’s hard to know how to conceptualize that sort of high-risk, low-probability event. It’s worth worrying about. But you’re still at far greater risk from, say, smoking. Or a car accident. Or not having sufficient health care.




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DougMacG
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« Reply #354 on: November 29, 2017, 11:05:43 AM »

What do folks here think of this?  I don't quite get what changed with one test, greater range?  As it flies higher and further, aren't we better able to shoot it down?

A merger with South Korea is absurd.  Un would have to conquer S.K. to rule them or give up power to be part of an economically advanced democracy.  Peaceful reunification is what our side wants, I thought.

Should Japan, S.K., Taiwan, others now go nuclear?  Should the US support that?

Does anyone remember when non-proliferation was our policy?
------------------------------------------------------------------------
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/could-north-koreas-missile-test-lead-to-talks-some-see-a-slight-opening/2017/11/29/412e4b78-d509-11e7-9461-ba77d604373d_story.html?utm_term=.8a579b7605f0

This could lead to talks?  What is there to talk about?  How about unilaterally assured destruction.

If I believe the NYT article, does this now free us to just contain them and ignore them, except for the military team in charge of shooting down whatever they launch and destroying them in a second strike situation.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #355 on: November 29, 2017, 11:17:53 AM »

Well, if I have it right, the gist of it was if we were going to stop them we would have to do so BEFORE the Norks had the capability they now assert they have proven themselves to have.

IMHO the idea of "No worries,  we now have the stability of MAD" misses that the Norks, who have military superiority over the Sorks,  (double check me on this) may now believe themselves free to act in ways that they would not have acted previously free of concern that were push to come to shove the US would go nuclear.

I've seen some quibbling that the Norks have yet to prove they can make a warhead that would survive re-entry, but in my opinion this is glib, facile, and stupid because re-entry is irrelevant to an EMP attack.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 11:23:51 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #356 on: November 29, 2017, 11:30:38 AM »

"But North Korea’s missiles are mobile, so it could fire off at least one or two before we were able to take them out. This means full-on war is virtually guaranteed to bring a North Korean nuclear strike against a major American city. (This assumes North Korea can mount a warhead on a missile, but we have little reason to doubt that they can.)"

This also neglects to say that we have no idea ( and I doubt) they have the guidance technology to explode over Manhattan.
 
So they are shooting missles due East .....   to blow up over the Ocean.  Hitting the Pacific Ocean is no great guidance feat.

And what logic.  If their getting nucs is really no biggie - that is unless some grave miscalculation - then what the hell we worrying about this for the past 25 yrs (while doing nothing but talk)

And so what if Iran gets nucs - they are rational - they do not want unilaterally assured destruction - so what.

Logical rationalizing away a gigantic threat does not make it go away

Magical thinking  - like all Democrats.



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DougMacG
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« Reply #357 on: November 30, 2017, 11:36:30 AM »

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/nikki-haley-to-china-cut-off-oil-to-north-korea-or-else.html

I will put this in the Nikki Haley thread as well.   wink
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #358 on: November 30, 2017, 11:37:35 AM »

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/29/china-bank-sanctions-north-korea-missile-response-/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTjJVMU56bGxOV00wTURoaiIsInQiOiJKV3F2ZzBCOENPbCtqOUZlSWF3XC9OdGpxNXNkRHY3NzBJZG1GazhnZE8ySDFzd2ZCZFpVSjdVWFRkc0xmZ0RmNVNGUVpBU1BXUlI1Smowb3hzamcxZUNPcFZ5blRrZ1NQejNqOTBralU2dXdHWEI4N0c3UEZ1am5Lb3lNdklLaCsifQ%3D%3D
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #359 on: December 02, 2017, 09:33:49 AM »

Items from Nov. 29

North Korea: DailyNK, an online newspaper based in South Korea, reported that the North Koreans’ command-and-control system is limited in mountainous areas. According to the report, residents in these areas say they get orders from authorities in Pyongyang a week later than people living in other areas. What does the command-and-control system look like in North Korea’s south, where the bulk of the country’s artillery is located? What is the source of this report, and why would this media outlet release this information now?

•   Finding: North Korea’s military command structure is highly centralized, relying heavily on orders issued directly by the supreme leader. Its military doctrine has a rigid chain of command that is meticulously followed. But there are signs that decentralized command is possible during an attack. Each infantry regiment consists of three infantry battalions, each with its own artillery, which helps to ensure that regiments can act independently on the battlefield. We also know that, in the past, North Korea has had a number of unit-level storage depots throughout the country. The existence of these depots suggests that isolated emplacements are expected to continue to fight even without direction. On the other hand, North Korea’s behavior during artillery offensive fire in 2010 suggests that the military operated with a strong centralized command structure. The North successfully used “time on target” tactics. This is when rounds from different units, at varying distances, arrive at the same time on the same target. North Korea also demonstrated a high degree of inter-service coordination, with simultaneous, smooth operation of artillery, the navy and the air force. In preparation for the attack, North Korea laid new communications cable, and it was apparently a high-priority assignment – the work was obviously done using a mechanized trencher.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #360 on: December 04, 2017, 12:42:51 PM »

https://twitter.com/NorthmanTrader/status/877240223129882624
2 minute video

DONALD TRUMP on North Korea, in a 1999 interview with the great Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: RUSSERT: “You say … as president, you would be willing to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear capability.” TRUMP: “First I’d negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy. And I’d make sure that we tried to get the best deal possible. Look, Tim. If a man walks up to you on a street in Washington, because this doesn’t happen, of course, in New York … and puts a gun to your head and says give me your money, wouldn’t you rather know where he’s coming from before he had the gun in his hand?

“And these people, within three or four years, are going to be having nuclear weapons, they’re going to have those weapons pointed all over the world, and specifically at the United States, and wouldn’t you be better off solving this really … the biggest problem the world has is nuclear proliferation … If that negotiation doesn’t work, you better solve the problem now than solve it later, Tim … Jimmy Carter, who I really like, he went over there, so soft, these people are laughing at us.” …


RUSSERT: “Taking out their nuclear potential would create a fallout.” TRUMP: “Tim, do you know that this country gave them nuclear reactors, free fuel for 10 years. We virtually tried to bribe them into stopping and they’re continuing to what they’re doing. And they’re laughing at us, they think we’re a bunch of dummies. I’m saying that we have to do something to stop.” RUSSERT: “If the military told you, ‘Mr. Trump, you can’t do this’”. TRUMP: “You’re giving me two names. I don’t know. You want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place, every one of them pointing to New York City, to Washington and every one of our -- is that when you want to do it? Or do you want to do something now?
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ccp
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« Reply #361 on: December 04, 2017, 01:26:53 PM »

https://twitter.com/NorthmanTrader/status/877240223129882624
2 minute video

Clinton, the schmooze king thought he could charm the tyrant family, and he and we got taken for a ride.  W. kept putting it off while dealing with Iraq which we all know what happened with that .  And up next was the worse one of all O.  Who quietly decided behind all our backs Korea  was a fait accompli and just jived us all along that he was actually  serious about it.

Now we have the first man who is serious about it.  After, just as he predicted, the damage is done and the problem is 10 times as bad.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2017, 05:20:04 PM by ccp » Logged
DougMacG
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« Reply #362 on: December 04, 2017, 02:14:51 PM »

"Clinton, the schmooze king thought he could charm the tyrant family, and he and we got taken for a ride.  W. kept putting it off while dealing with Iraq which we all know what happened with that .  And up next was the worse one of all O.  Who quietly decided behind all our backs Korea  was a fait accompli and just jived us all along that he actually  serious about it.
Now we have the first man who is serious about it.  After, just as he predicted, the damage is done and the problem is 10 times as bad."



Worse than not doing anything about the threats, our Dem Presidents made threats worse while calling bad agreements accomplishments, Clinton and Madam Halfbright on NK and Obama with Iran.  If you believed them, these threats were dealt with.  George W and Cheney didn't strike NK nuclear facilities, but at least we knew these terrible threats were left behind, growing to haunt us later.

Our form of government (4 year Presidential terms) is great but not well-suited for dealing with long term threats these multi-generational, dictatorial enemies who can fight longer wars.  Harry Truman, a Democrat, didn't use his 4 year term as an excuse for inaction.  He ordered the use of atomic weapons less than 4 months after learning of that capability. but that situation was different - we were already at war with Japan.

Pre-emptive action is difficult to take in our system, but leaving threats in place to grow is far worse.

North Korea is not an isolated threat.  They are proliferators.  They aren't going to sit still during another 4, 8, 16, 32 years of inaction. 

We took no action against the Iranian regime after recovering our hostages and then thousands of Americans were killed in Iraq with Made in Iran IEDs.

Trump said to China what I have been asking him to say.  It is in their own best interest to put down the nuclear threat of North Korea.  Why does the Chinese inner circle want Japan, S.K, Taiwan and others, Vietnam, Australia, all nations to be nuclear armed?  If an NK missile can now reach halfway around the world to Washington DC, it can reach anywhere on earth.

Does Russia want Japan and the whole region to be nuclear armed?

I am so old that I remember when even Democrats were anti-proliferation, and the Chinese and Russians too.

We stopped Saddam.  Isn't it someone else's turn?  If not, Mr. Trump, do something, and do it now - while we have resources in the area and before their capabilities grow further.
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« Reply #363 on: December 05, 2017, 11:04:08 AM »

http://havokjournal.com/national-security/evacuation-order-things-are-getting-real-in-korea/?utm_source=Havok+Journal&utm_campaign=a7325e126e-Havok_Journal_Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_566058f87c-a7325e126e-214571297
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« Reply #364 on: December 05, 2017, 11:08:06 AM »


This is a clue!
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« Reply #365 on: December 05, 2017, 08:53:32 PM »


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/05/threat-real-millions-tokyo-take-part-north-korean-nuclear-attack/

This too.

You'd think they wouldn't need the drills, given all their experiences with constant Kaiju attacks.

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« Reply #366 on: December 07, 2017, 06:42:54 AM »

In North Korea, Is the United States’ Loss Russia’s Gain?
Dec 7, 2017

 
By Xander Snyder
Last week, North Korea conducted yet another missile test, and yet again the world clutched its pearls in horror. The thing is, North Korean weapons tests are, by their nature, provocative, so we shouldn’t be too surprised when they incite condemnation among countries whose security they would impair. What is sometimes surprising, though, are what the reactions reveal about a country’s intentions – and therefore how that country means to use the North Korea crisis to its advantage.

Leverage

Russia is a case in point. On Dec. 5, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Moscow was prepared to “exert its influence” on Pyongyang to resolve the brewing conflict. In fact, he had outlined a three-part strategy even before the missile test. The first part would require the United States to halt military drills with South Korea. North Korea would, in turn, stop testing its missiles. The second part would entail direct negotiations between North Korea, South Korea and the United States. The third part would involve a process where “all the involved countries [would] discuss the entire complex of issues of collective security in Asia.” The implication, of course, is that Russia would have a role in creating the agreement.

The deputy foreign minister’s proposals are hardly novel, but they raise some important questions. In what ways and to what degree does Russia have leverage over North Korea? What outcome would best advance Moscow’s interests?

The answer to the first question likely begins and ends with oil. Russia has long been suspected of supplying North Korea with oil (international sanctions limit such activity), but recent reports from a collective of journalists called Asia Press International claim that the price of oil there has fallen by 40 percent. We have not yet confirmed the amount of oil Russia has exported to North Korea, and so we have not verified the fall of the price of oil, but it’s easy to see why Russia would want to help Pyongyang. Doing so creates dependency, and dependency creates leverage that Russia could use in future negotiations with China or the United States.

Keeping the oil flowing, moreover, serves Moscow’s interests by helping to preserve the power of Kim Jong Un. Russia may not be a particularly close ally of North Korea, but its shared border means that its security is, to an extent, tied to North Korea’s. If Pyongyang and Washington go to war, how long would Russia tolerate the presence of U.S. troops so close to its border? How many North Korean refugees would it allow in its territory? The Kim regime, for all its faults, insulates Russia from the devil it doesn’t know.

This helps to explain why some 1,000 Russian marines are conducting live-fire exercises in Primorye, near Russia’s border with North Korea, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Military exercises in Russia’s east are not unprecedented, but they are uncommon. (The last time Russia conducted military exercises in the Far East was February 2016.) The U.S. and South Korea, meanwhile, are conducting exercises involving 230 warplanes and 12,000 troops. For its part, China is performing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, having alluded in a state-supported newspaper that South Korea could become a major rival.

Valid though Russia’s reasons for helping Pyongyang may be, Moscow’s peace plan suffers from the same flaw that every other proposed plan suffers: compliance. The U.S. wants North Korea to suspend its nuclear weapons program entirely. The only way to ensure that that happens is on-the-ground inspections to which Kim would never agree.

The plan also ignores North Korea’s technological advancement. It’s true that North Korea had not tested its missiles in more than 70 days, and it’s true that the U.S.-South Korean military exercises may be to blame for the tests’ resumption. But the most recent test showcased significant improvements in range and in deliverable payload weight. If North Korea can improve its missiles without live-testing them, then clearly a moratorium won’t arrest the program. The Russian proposal, if implemented, would fail to resolve this issue.

Damned If It Does, Damned If It Doesn’t

As for the United States, Washington has no good options. Failing to prevent North Korea from acquiring a deliverable nuclear weapon – which it can then use, with impunity, to make demands of its neighbors – undermines the credibility of the United States’ security guarantee in the Pacific. Executing a pre-emptive attack that forces South Korea into a war risks undermining the same credibility. A security guarantee isn’t a security guarantee if a country has to fight and die in a war it didn’t want.

Faced with this impossible situation, the U.S. has through some media leaks shown it is considering unconventional ways to disarm North Korea without invading it. On Dec. 6, two anonymous U.S. officials leaked details about a microwave weapon that could be delivered on a low-flying missile to destroy electronics that the North would need to launch its intercontinental ballistic missiles. Whether these technologies would work, let alone if they exist, is beside the point. Creating the appearance of viable alternatives gives the U.S. some maneuverability in a world full of red lines.

The U.S. is also focusing on ballistic missile defense, reportedly now scouting for additional locations on the West Coast to erect systems. But ballistic missile defense systems are simply not yet reliable enough to provide the surety needed to construct a dependable strategy around them. In fact, on Dec. 4, The New York Times reported that U.S.-supplied BMD systems may have failed as many as five times in preventing missile attacks on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni rebels.
 
(click to enlarge)

North Korea will soon possess a deliverable nuclear weapon – if it does not possess one already. The speed with which it has developed its program has exceeded expectations, including ours. Some analysts believe Pyongyang will have one in only a few months. The window for U.S. intervention, if it even still exists, is rapidly closing. But even if the U.S. were to attack North Korea, there is no guarantee it would destroy the nuclear program entirely. And there’s nothing to stop the survivors from starting from scratch in the event their program were, in fact, annihilated. This time they would have even more effective propaganda to galvanize the public.

The United States, then, is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. It can bet the lives of soldiers on the uncertain prospect of taking out North Korea’s nuclear program. It can conduct a pre-emptive nuclear attack. Or it can live with a nuclear North Korea. It’s an unenviable position, to say the least.
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« Reply #367 on: December 11, 2017, 06:24:29 AM »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinchon_Museum_of_American_War_Atrocities
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« Reply #368 on: December 15, 2017, 06:00:31 PM »

https://www.newsmax.com/politics/lindsey-graham-donald-trump-attacks-north-korea/2017/12/14/id/831860/

Of course I am no expert but I have feeling that NK is not all its cracked up to be and will fold with less damage then might be thought.

Just a hunch .
Like Saddam's army ..... though he did not have nucs........ undecided
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« Reply #369 on: December 15, 2017, 07:12:50 PM »

Impure Attitudes in North Korea
Dec 15, 2017

 
By George Friedman
Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong So, a senior North Korean military commander, is presumed to have been executed in North Korea. He was head of the General Political Bureau, which oversees the military. According to South Korean intelligence, the bureau was being “audited,” and Hwang and his deputy were being “punished” for their reportedly “impure attitude” toward the Kim Jong Un regime.

Reports of tension between Kim and Hwang, and Kim and the General Political Bureau, were leaked by South Korean intelligence in mid-November. At the time, it was not clear how true it was or why South Korea was leaking it. We assume that South Korea was trying to show there was political tension in North Korea, and that exploiting that tension made more sense than striking North Korea.

That the General Political Bureau is being audited (whatever that means) is more important than the apparent execution. Tension between the body that carries out Kim’s wishes and Kim could imply serious dissent. Even if Kim carries out a series of executions, he needs the bureau to oversee the system. If he loses its loyalty, or its leaders lose their lives, running North Korea becomes that much harder. The weakness of any dictatorship is that the leader must still rely on others to carry out the orders. It therefore matters a great deal whether Hwang’s apparent death is the end or the beginning of the purges.

 Hwang Pyong So, director of the North Korean military’s General Political Bureau, gets into a car as he leaves a hotel at Incheon on Oct. 4, 2014. BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images

Hwang was accused of having an impure attitude, a concept that is ambiguous at best — although evidently it was enough to get him killed. Newer reports say that he and his deputy had accepted bribes in exchange for promotions, but if true, they could hardly be alone in this transgression. There is probably more to the story. The implication here is that Kim and Hwang had a disagreement, and that Hwang’s view extends to some in the General Political Bureau. Kim reportedly called for punishment as “a warning to others.”

At this point, political strategy comes into play. For the North Koreans, the obvious political and strategic question is this: Should they move forward on intercontinental ballistic missile development and create a missile that could strike the United States with precision? This would require completing work on the guidance system, which the North Koreans presumably can do. But North Korea is most vulnerable in the time between making the decision and actually having an ICBM in a position to deter a U.S. attack. It is in the gap between the decision and deployment that U.S. intelligence might detect North Korea’s action and strike. And for all the concern of what such an attack might do to South Korea, the North Koreans must be dreading the consequences for them.

If opposition to a strategy occurred, it would come from the military. Senior military officers are obsessed with the weakness of their own side. They know everything that is wrong with their capabilities because that’s what they live with daily. They tend to assume the other side has far greater capabilities and are therefore much more cautious than their civilian counterparts. At critical times, civilian leaders tend to overestimate the military in order to justify the strategy they have locked themselves into.

In the United States, it was civilians such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who advocated going into Iraq, while the former chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Eric Shinseki, warned against it unless the force was much larger than what was available.

Assume for a moment that Kim thinks the military can whip up a guidance system in a couple of weeks and that the military is uncertain whether it is doable. In that case, Kim, who might be betting a busted flush, might think of them as having an “impure attitude.” Sometimes civilians are right and the military is wrong, and vice versa, but the military tends to be more cautious.

The South Koreans relayed this information to show that there was tension inside North Korea, and that, given time, this tension might result in a shift in policy. It’s possible that the military wants to push ahead and Kim is resisting, but I tend to doubt that. Or it may be that the military is having doubts about Kim’s policy, and Kim took action before resistance to his policy became resistance to him.

Always put yourself on the other side of the hill. The North Koreans view the United States as a massive military power. Pushing the U.S. hard might beget an unpleasant response, and President Donald Trump has broadcast that he doesn’t want to talk and has hinted that he is ready for war. If you are a North Korean general and you know that you are not ready for a war on multiple levels, that would tend to increase your caution. In that case, more threats and feints by the United States make sense — unless the General Political Bureau has been cured of its impure attitudes.
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« Reply #370 on: December 29, 2017, 02:50:34 PM »

 

South Korea: With Oil Tanker's Seizure, Seoul Shows Its Displeasure With China

Relations between Seoul and Beijing continue to erode. South Korea revealed Dec. 29 that last month it had seized a Hong Kong-flagged tanker involved in an at-sea transfer of refined petroleum products to a North Korean vessel, a violation of sanctions against North Korea under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2375. The announcement comes as the United Nations is considering a list of 10 ships to sanction for illicit trade with North Korea, and follows the U.S. Treasury Department's release of images of Chinese vessels transferring petroleum products to North Korean ships at sea in contravention of U.N. sanctions. The incident will strengthen U.S. criticism of China's support for North Korea.
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« Reply #371 on: January 02, 2018, 12:54:23 PM »

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/2/china-covertly-offering-north-korea-missiles-aid-t/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiT1dVNFl6WXdNVFE1TURGbSIsInQiOiJPcndLZzN3WE5NajZCMnBqa21sWGhXUlNHTzJXSzBreDF0QlU0WEx4eW5CMzVBQnZReER2RjhZVHhEOGlMdGc3YUxmMExtZEduZ2h5VFU1aFdjMkVTaEhUWDgxZjFmdFViK3lpcG5NRHFkdjFXR2xHalkxU0NVellqYmJsYjI1cCJ9
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« Reply #372 on: January 03, 2018, 07:38:03 AM »



North Korea
If Iran is coming to grips with its geographic constraints, then North Korea is a case study in how a geographically weak country can turn weakness into strength. Defiant as ever, Kim Jong Un raised the possibility Jan. 1 of easing tensions with South Korea during the same speech in which he threatened the entire continental United States with nuclear weapons. Kim’s statement could be read two ways. The first would be that North Korea is looking for a way to extricate itself from the cycle of escalation while still saving face. The second would be that North Korea believes the U.S. has bluffed on a military strike and so is looking to split South Korea from the United States. The second interpretation appears more likely.
 
(click to enlarge)
The story here is not North Korea – where bellicose threats and strange diplomatic overtures are normal behavior – but South Korea. The South, which would bear the brunt of a war on the peninsula, understandably doesn’t want the U.S. to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear program. South Korea’s imperative is to prevent that from happening at all costs. It’s one thing for South Korea to urge the U.S. not to undertake an attack in private. It’s quite another to do it in public, which South Korea has done repeatedly. It betrays a distrust between Washington and Seoul, and alliances are built on a certain degree of trust.

Consider the following developments in the six weeks leading up to Kim’s announcement. On Nov. 17, the chairwoman of South Korea’s ruling party contradicted U.S. President Donald Trump, insisting that war with North Korea was not on the table. On Dec. 14, South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to China, and when he left, Seoul and Beijing’s positions on a strike against North Korea were aligned. On Dec. 19, Moon suggested delaying major annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises until after the Paralympics in March. Moon has already enthusiastically responded to Kim’s proposal of discussions over a North Korean delegation at the Winter Olympics, and South Korea’s state-run Institute for National Security Strategy has already said it believes the North will ask for the South to remove certain sanctions against Pyongyang – to which it said Seoul’s agreement “cannot be ruled out.”

Of course, the U.S. doesn’t want to attack North Korea either. Washington has been hoping that a combination of sanctions and impressive military threats would cow Pyongyang into submission. South Korea’s public and repeated resistance to a U.S. strike undermines the most important part of a nonviolent U.S. strategy to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons: a credible threat of military action.

Kim Jong Un seems to have learned from a mistake that his grandfather made. In 1950, Kim Il Sung ordered an invasion of South Korea. The overt act of aggression, especially in the context of the Cold War, provoked a U.S. response, which caught North Korea by surprise. This time around, Kim Jong Un has no intention of trying to conquer South Korea by force. He is instead biding his time, betting that Washington will not ignore Seoul’s pleas. If it does, the U.S. will have done the hard work of destroying the U.S.-South Korea alliance without North Korea having to do much of anything. The goal is to split the U.S. off from South Korea, and eventually to get the U.S. to withdraw its military forces from the peninsula.
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« Reply #373 on: January 03, 2018, 08:27:53 AM »

http://www.aei.org/publication/three-surprising-things-about-the-north-korean-threat-i-learned-on-a-recent-trip-to-south-korea/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTVdNM05UY3lOV1JpWldVeCIsInQiOiJndTRaQnZCYTZQUVlvUVV4K2I3RXgxa0VDVmVzM2Q1dG1OdE9Tc3RNXC9mQ0pjbThQTVA4QVwvaVhjMlkzN09oaDJzeFE5TXdMamhZTHhqVU5SRG03SWVQaW5KdjRDc1Y5Vk1TdEdZQlVzWWpINmpXUWltc2t6Y0E1bWdxcTlISkR6In0%3D
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« Reply #374 on: January 03, 2018, 08:32:38 AM »

Third post

North Korea: Hollow Words Ring in the New Year
Jan 3, 2018
By Phillip Orchard

In his New Year’s Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for direct talks with South Korea and expressed interest in North Korea’s participation in February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The following day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for urgent measures to ensure the North’s participation in the games, and Seoul’s unification minister proposed that the two sides meet at the Demilitarized Zone for direct talks over the matter on Jan. 9.

Fresh off its longest-range ICBM test to date in late November — a missile theoretically capable of landing a nuke in the lap of Lady Liberty in New York Harbor — North Korea is trying to portray itself as a country negotiating from a position of newfound strength. In combination with the apparent olive branch to Seoul, Kim insisted that the North has completed its nuclear deterrent and ordered mass production of the new missiles, but also said nukes would be used only to repel invasion. In effect, the North is probing for opportunities to gain relief from international sanctions, gain recognition as a responsible and confirmed nuclear power, and potentially drive a deeper wedge in the U.S.-South Korean alliance. However, the underlying fundamentals of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula have not changed. Pyongyang can neither make substantive concessions nor cash in on the success of its nuclear weapons program to reshape the regional security landscape to its liking.

A Dangerous Window

Despite the leap in nuclear and ballistic missile development made by the North over the past few years, Pyongyang is still, in most ways, acting out of vulnerability. This is primarily because it still cannot conduct a nuclear strike on the mainland United States with any high degree of certainty. It is true that the North has now demonstrated the ability to fly a ballistic missile the 13,000+ kilometers (about 8,100 miles) it must travel to strike the U.S. east coast. But it has yet to publicly demonstrate a mastery of the technology to keep the missile intact and on target as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere — by far the most difficult part of ballistic missile development. Without it, the North doesn’t have a deliverable nuclear warhead capable of threatening the U.S.

In short, the North still does not appear to have the capabilities to force the U.S. to negotiate with it as nuclear equals. Despite periodic back-channel talks between U.S. and North Korean officials over the past year — and despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement in mid-December that the U.S. would be open to direct talks without preconditions, which the White House walked back shortly thereafter — the U.S. has shown no indication that it’s willing to ease off its demands for complete denuclearization.

The problem for the North is this means it remains firmly within the most dangerous window of its nuclear development: where it has demonstrated a high probability that it will achieve a full nuclear deterrent but hasn’t yet done so. The likelihood of a U.S. military operation to address the North’s nuclear program is highest in this window. This doesn’t mean the North’s conventional deterrent is any less powerful. The artillery the North has amassed within easy striking distance of Seoul (not to mention uncertainty surrounding the North’s arsenal of biological and chemical weapons) may very well be enough to keep the U.S. from attacking. And the North may very well think it has the U.S. backed into a corner. But the possibility of war remains high enough that the North has little choice but to play every card it has to try to forestall the Americans.
Moreover, the North has come under unprecedented sanctions pressure. Sanctions alone will not be enough to force the North to capitulate. The North’s sophisticated capabilities for cheating sanctions, along with its ongoing lifelines to China and Russia, continue to give the North some breathing room. But by all accounts, the international sanctions effort has inflicted no small amount of pain on the North. Notably, Kim’s New Year’s address focused heavily on the sanctions; he even admitted that the North needed to improve its “ability to be self-reliant,” hinting that the pressure may be getting to Pyongyang. This heightens the potential for resistance to the regime’s policy from within elite circles in Pyongyang or the possibility that discontent among the military’s rank and file will lead to a substantive erosion in readiness.

Pyongyang may see an opening to use Seoul to potentially gain some sanctions relief and keep the Americans at bay. South Korea still very much fears that the U.S. will decide it is necessary to undertake unilateral military action that puts tens of thousands of lives in the capital at risk. Given its desire to avoid a military confrontation in which it would suffer far more immediate casualties than its allies, the administration in Seoul is keen to replicate the “Sunshine” engagement policies of South Korean
administrations of the late 1990s to mid-2000s. By opening direct talks with Seoul and attending the Olympics, Pyongyang thinks it may be able to strengthen the doves in South Korea and potentially widen the distance between Seoul and Washington — or, if the U.S. supports Seoul’s engagement strategy, then the distance between Washington and Tokyo, which would like the U.S. to decisively end the North Korean threat.

At minimum, it will put a more positive spotlight on the North internationally and undermine efforts to isolate Pyongyang as an illegitimate pariah, potentially weakening interest in expanding or even enforcing the sanctions. If Pyongyang can succeed in gaining even minor concessions — whether in the form of sanctions relief or a brief freeze in U.S.-ROK drills as proposed by Moon Jae-in — then it can demonstrate to skeptics within the regime that its strategy is paying off and will herald even greater benefits once its nuclear deterrent is complete. If none of this comes to pass, then it will have come at the cost only of sending a pair of figure skaters to Pyeongchang.

Small Advantages

Regardless, this apparent opening doesn’t herald a major strategic shift from the North or change the trajectory of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. There are two primary reasons for this: First, for the foreseeable future, Pyongyang can do little to weaken the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The main thing that could shatter the U.S. security guarantees to South Korea is if the U.S. decides that sacrificing Seoul is an acceptable price to pay for mitigating the North’s nuclear threat to the U.S. homeland. Even if such a scenario were likely to lead to an irrevocable long-term loss of trust and strategic rationale for the alliance, the South would have little choice but to cooperate with the U.S. in an effort to minimize the damage as much as possible during operations.

We think this scenario is unlikely. But Seoul’s strategy in lieu of war still relies heavily on the power only the U.S. can bring to bear. In the short term, Seoul gains negotiating leverage the more a unilateral U.S. attack appears imminent (even if it undermines this somewhat by repeatedly insisting that it will not allow a U.S. pre-emptive attack). Over the long-term, Seoul is betting big on deterrence, for example by investing heavily in anti-missile and anti-artillery capabilities. But the South does not yet have the conventional military capabilities, much less a nuclear arsenal to fully deter the North without U.S. support. Its biggest long-term security challenges come not from the north, but to the east and west, from China and Japan, respectively. Thus, whether or not the U.S. chooses the military option in regard to North Korea, Seoul still needs the Americans. This means the South Koreans and the Americans need to continue conducting the sorts of joint military drills Pyongyang so loathes.

The second reason is similar: North Korea cannot yet suspend its missile and nuclear tests indefinitely without giving up on a fully formed deterrent and thus remaining
uncomfortably within the window where the probability of a U.S. attack is highest. It is no longer pursuing the strategies of the 1990s and 2000s, when it was willing to delay its nuclear progress by a few years in exchange for sanctions relief and economic support. This time around, it’s too close to realizing its nuclear dream. And with an inevitable resumption of testing will come a resumption of sanctions pressure, U.S.-ROK drills and doubts about the viability of Seoul’s “Sunshine” policies, and thus a return to the status quo.

The major shift in the crisis on the Korean Peninsula will come only when Pyongyang convinces the U.S. that the costs of attacking the North are steeper than those of living with a nuclear North — or vice versa. Until then, we’re in a phase of North Korean posturing to its audience in Pyongyang while probing for small advantages abroad.
The post North Korea: Hollow Words Ring in the New Year appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

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« Reply #375 on: January 06, 2018, 06:15:55 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-missile-intelligence.html?emc=edit_ta_20180106&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
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« Reply #376 on: January 06, 2018, 06:19:31 PM »

second post



January 3, 2018

The underlying fundamentals of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula have not changed.

By Phillip Orchard

In his New Year’s Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for direct talks with South Korea and expressed interest in North Korea’s participation in February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The following day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for urgent measures to ensure the North’s participation in the games, and Seoul’s unification minister proposed that the two sides meet at the Demilitarized Zone for direct talks over the matter on Jan. 9.

Fresh off its longest-range ICBM test to date in late November — a missile theoretically capable of landing a nuke in the lap of Lady Liberty in New York Harbor — North Korea is trying to portray itself as a country negotiating from a position of newfound strength. In combination with the apparent olive branch to Seoul, Kim insisted that the North has completed its nuclear deterrent and ordered mass production of the new missiles, but also said nukes would be used only to repel invasion. In effect, the North is probing for opportunities to gain relief from international sanctions, gain recognition as a responsible and confirmed nuclear power, and potentially drive a deeper wedge in the U.S.-South Korean alliance. However, the underlying fundamentals of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula have not changed. Pyongyang can neither make substantive concessions nor cash in on the success of its nuclear weapons program to reshape the regional security landscape to its liking.

A Dangerous Window

Despite the leap in nuclear and ballistic missile development made by the North over the past few years, Pyongyang is still, in most ways, acting out of vulnerability. This is primarily because it still cannot conduct a nuclear strike on the mainland United States with any high degree of certainty. It is true that the North has now demonstrated the ability to fly a ballistic missile the 13,000+ kilometers (about 8,100 miles) it must travel to strike the U.S. east coast. But it has yet to publicly demonstrate a mastery of the technology to keep the missile intact and on target as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere — by far the most difficult part of ballistic missile development. Without it, the North doesn’t have a deliverable nuclear warhead capable of threatening the U.S.

In short, the North still does not appear to have the capabilities to force the U.S. to negotiate with it as nuclear equals. Despite periodic back-channel talks between U.S. and North Korean officials over the past year — and despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement in mid-December that the U.S. would be open to direct talks without preconditions, which the White House walked back shortly thereafter — the U.S. has shown no indication that it’s willing to ease off its demands for complete denuclearization.

The problem for the North is this means it remains firmly within the most dangerous window of its nuclear development: where it has demonstrated a high probability that it will achieve a full nuclear deterrent but hasn’t yet done so. The likelihood of a U.S. military operation to address the North’s nuclear program is highest in this window. This doesn’t mean the North’s conventional deterrent is any less powerful. The artillery the North has amassed within easy striking distance of Seoul (not to mention uncertainty surrounding the North’s arsenal of biological and chemical weapons) may very well be enough to keep the U.S. from attacking. And the North may very well think it has the U.S. backed into a corner. But the possibility of war remains high enough that the North has little choice but to play every card it has to try to forestall the Americans.

Moreover, the North has come under unprecedented sanctions pressure. Sanctions alone will not be enough to force the North to capitulate. The North’s sophisticated capabilities for cheating sanctions, along with its ongoing lifelines to China and Russia, continue to give the North some breathing room. But by all accounts, the international sanctions effort has inflicted no small amount of pain on the North. Notably, Kim’s New Year’s address focused heavily on the sanctions; he even admitted that the North needed to improve its “ability to be self-reliant,” hinting that the pressure may be getting to Pyongyang. This heightens the potential for resistance to the regime’s policy from within elite circles in Pyongyang or the possibility that discontent among the military’s rank and file will lead to a substantive erosion in readiness.

Pyongyang may see an opening to use Seoul to potentially gain some sanctions relief and keep the Americans at bay. South Korea still very much fears that the U.S. will decide it is necessary to undertake unilateral military action that puts tens of thousands of lives in the capital at risk. Given its desire to avoid a military confrontation in which it would suffer far more immediate casualties than its allies, the administration in Seoul is keen to replicate the “Sunshine” engagement policies of South Korean administrations of the late 1990s to mid-2000s. By opening direct talks with Seoul and attending the Olympics, Pyongyang thinks it may be able to strengthen the doves in South Korea and potentially widen the distance between Seoul and Washington — or, if the U.S. supports Seoul’s engagement strategy, then the distance between Washington and Tokyo, which would like the U.S. to decisively end the North Korean threat.

At minimum, it will put a more positive spotlight on the North internationally and undermine efforts to isolate Pyongyang as an illegitimate pariah, potentially weakening interest in expanding or even enforcing the sanctions. If Pyongyang can succeed in gaining even minor concessions — whether in the form of sanctions relief or a brief freeze in U.S.-ROK drills as proposed by Moon Jae-in — then it can demonstrate to skeptics within the regime that its strategy is paying off and will herald even greater benefits once its nuclear deterrent is complete. If none of this comes to pass, then it will have come at the cost only of sending a pair of figure skaters to Pyeongchang.

Small Advantages

Regardless, this apparent opening doesn’t herald a major strategic shift from the North or change the trajectory of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. There are two primary reasons for this: First, for the foreseeable future, Pyongyang can do little to weaken the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The main thing that could shatter the U.S. security guarantees to South Korea is if the U.S. decides that sacrificing Seoul is an acceptable price to pay for mitigating the North’s nuclear threat to the U.S. homeland. Even if such a scenario were likely to lead to an irrevocable long-term loss of trust and strategic rationale for the alliance, the South would have little choice but to cooperate with the U.S. in an effort to minimize the damage as much as possible during operations.

We think this scenario is unlikely. But Seoul’s strategy in lieu of war still relies heavily on the power only the U.S. can bring to bear. In the short term, Seoul gains negotiating leverage the more a unilateral U.S. attack appears imminent (even if it undermines this somewhat by repeatedly insisting that it will not allow a U.S. pre-emptive attack). Over the long-term, Seoul is betting big on deterrence, for example by investing heavily in anti-missile and anti-artillery capabilities. But the South does not yet have the conventional military capabilities, much less a nuclear arsenal to fully deter the North without U.S. support. Its biggest long-term security challenges come not from the north, but to the east and west, from China and Japan, respectively. Thus, whether or not the U.S. chooses the military option in regard to North Korea, Seoul still needs the Americans. This means the South Koreans and the Americans need to continue conducting the sorts of joint military drills Pyongyang so loathes.

The second reason is similar: North Korea cannot yet suspend its missile and nuclear tests indefinitely without giving up on a fully formed deterrent and thus remaining uncomfortably within the window where the probability of a U.S. attack is highest. It is no longer pursuing the strategies of the 1990s and 2000s, when it was willing to delay its nuclear progress by a few years in exchange for sanctions relief and economic support. This time around, it’s too close to realizing its nuclear dream. And with an inevitable resumption of testing will come a resumption of sanctions pressure, U.S.-ROK drills and doubts about the viability of Seoul’s “Sunshine” policies, and thus a return to the status quo.

The major shift in the crisis on the Korean Peninsula will come only when Pyongyang convinces the U.S. that the costs of attacking the North are steeper than those of living with a nuclear North — or vice versa. Until then, we’re in a phase of North Korean posturing to its audience in Pyongyang while probing for small advantages abroad.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #377 on: January 09, 2018, 11:57:10 AM »



https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/08/its-time-to-bomb-north-korea/
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DougMacG
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« Reply #378 on: January 09, 2018, 04:13:15 PM »


This makes sense to me, of course it depends on what the most trusted military and intelligence experts would say in private.  No one seems to weigh the risk of non-action against the risks of taking action.  I can't believe China wouldn't rather take apart in the plan rather than be blind-sided and be left to neighbor the aftermath. 

Russia also shares a coastal border with North Korea.  Are they better off with a nuclear armed, rogue regime, dark economy next door to their biggest eastern sea port, or would they be better off with an emerging, vibrant, natural resource purchasing, free economy next door?

This is a great opportunity for the largest powers in the world to do something right.  They won't fight back as hard or as long if we come at them from 5 or 6 sides, China, US, SK, Russia, Japan, and whoever else is threatened by them IMHO.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #379 on: January 10, 2018, 12:38:24 PM »

Rumor has it that McMaster entertains some sort of first strike and that Mattis opposes.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #380 on: January 15, 2018, 06:32:58 PM »

Military Quietly Prepares for a Last Resort: War With North Korea
 

By HELENE COOPER, ERIC SCHMITT, THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF and JOHN ISMAYJAN. 14, 2018
 


WASHINGTON — Across the military, officers and troops are quietly preparing for a war they hope will not come.

At Fort Bragg in North Carolina last month, a mix of 48 Apache gunships and Chinook cargo helicopters took off in an exercise that practiced moving troops and equipment under live artillery fire to assault targets. Two days later, in the skies above Nevada, 119 soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division parachuted out of C-17 military cargo planes under cover of darkness in an exercise that simulated a foreign invasion.

Next month, at Army posts across the United States, more than 1,000 reserve soldiers will practice how to set up so-called mobilization centers that move military forces overseas in a hurry. And beginning next month with the Winter Olympics in the South Korean town of Pyeongchang, the Pentagon plans to send more Special Operations troops to the Korean Peninsula, an initial step toward what some officials said ultimately could be the formation of a Korea-based task force similar to the types that are fighting in Iraq and Syria. Others said the plan was strictly related to counterterrorism efforts.

In the world of the American military, where contingency planning is a mantra drummed into the psyche of every officer, the moves are ostensibly part of standard Defense Department training and troop rotations. But the scope and timing of the exercises suggest a renewed focus on getting the country’s military prepared for what could be on the horizon with North Korea.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both argue forcefully for using diplomacy to address Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. A war with North Korea, Mr. Mattis said in August, would be “catastrophic.” Still, about two dozen current and former Pentagon officials and senior commanders said in interviews that the exercises largely reflected the military’s response to orders from Mr. Mattis and service chiefs to be ready for any possible military action on the Korean Peninsula.
Continue reading the main story

President Trump’s own words have left senior military leaders and rank-and-file troops convinced that they need to accelerate their contingency planning.

During the 82nd Airborne exercise in Nevada last month, Army soldiers practiced moving paratroopers on helicopters and flew artillery, fuel and ammunition deep behind what was designated as enemy lines. Credit U.S. Army

In perhaps the most incendiary exchange, in a September speech at the United Nations, Mr. Trump vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if it threatened the United States, and derided the rogue nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, as “Rocket Man.” In response, Mr. Kim said he would deploy the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States, and described Mr. Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has since cooled, following a fresh attempt at détente between Pyongyang and Seoul. In an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump was quoted as saying, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un,” despite their mutual public insults. But the president said on Sunday that The Journal had misquoted him, and that he had actually said “I’d probably have” a good relationship if he wanted one.

A false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday that set off about 40 minutes of panic after a state emergency response employee mistakenly sent out a text alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack underscored Americans’ anxiety about North Korea.

A Conventional Mission

After 16 years of fighting insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, American commanding generals worry that the military is better prepared for going after stateless groups of militants than it is for its own conventional mission of facing down heavily fortified land powers that have their own formidable militaries and air defenses.

The exercise at Fort Bragg was part of one of the largest air assault exercises in recent years. The practice run at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada used double the number of cargo planes for paratroopers as was used in past exercises.

The Army Reserve exercise planned for next month will breathe new life into mobilization centers that have been largely dormant as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down. And while the military has deployed Special Operations reaction forces to previous large global events, like the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, those units usually numbered around 100 — far fewer than some officials said could be sent for the Olympics in South Korea. Others discounted that possibility.

At a wide-ranging meeting at his headquarters on Jan. 2, Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., warned the 200 civilians and service members in the audience that more Special Forces personnel might have to shift to the Korea theater from the Middle East in May or June, if tensions escalate on the peninsula. The general’s spokesman, Capt. Jason Salata, confirmed the account provided to The New York Times by someone in the audience, but said General Thomas made it clear that no decisions had been made.


By U.S. ARMY/82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION

The Army chief of staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, in several recent meetings at the Pentagon, has brought up two historic American military disasters as a warning of where a lack of preparedness can lead.

Military officials said General Milley has cited the ill-fated Battle of the Kasserine Pass during World War II, when unprepared American troops were outfoxed and then pummeled by the forces of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel of Germany. General Milley has also recently mentioned Task Force Smith, the poorly equipped, understrength unit that was mauled by North Korean troops in 1950 during the Korean War.

In meeting after meeting, the officials said, General Milley has likened the two American defeats to what he warns could happen if the military does not get ready for a possible war with North Korea. He has urged senior Army leaders to get units into shape, and fretted about a loss of what he has called muscle memory: how to fight a large land war, including one in which an established adversary is able to bring sophisticated air defenses, tanks, infantry, naval power and even cyberweapons into battle.

Speaking in October at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army, General Milley called Pyongyang the biggest threat to American national security, and said that Army officers who lead operational units must prepare to meet that threat.

“Do not wait on orders and printed new regulations and new manuals,” General Milley told the audience. “Put simply, I want you to get ready for what might come, and do not do any tasks that do not directly contribute to increasing combat readiness in your unit.”

His concerns have drifted down to the Army’s rank and file. And troops at bases and posts around the world routinely wonder aloud if they will soon be deployed to the Korean Peninsula.

But unlike the run-up to the Iraq war, when the Pentagon had already begun huge troop movements in 2002 to prepare for the invasion that began in 2003, military officials insist that this is not a case of a war train that has left the station.


“This could be as simple as these guys reading the newspaper,” said Derek Chollet, an assistant secretary of defense during the Obama administration, referring to the rush by military officials to get ready. “You’re not seeing any massive military movements” that would indicate that a decision has been made to go to war, he added.

There have been no travel warnings advising Americans to stay away from South Korea or Japan, and no advisories warning American businesses to be cautious.

It is unlikely that the Pentagon would launch military action on the Korean Peninsula without first warning Americans and others there, military officials said — unless the Trump administration believes that the United States could conduct a one-time airstrike on North Korea that would not bring any retaliation from Pyongyang to nearby Seoul.


Some officials in the White House have argued that such a targeted, limited strike could be launched with minimal, if any, blowback against South Korea — a premise that Mr. Mattis views with skepticism, according to people familiar with his thinking.

But for Mr. Mattis, the planning serves to placate Mr. Trump. Effectively, analysts said, it alerts the president to how seriously the Pentagon views the threat and protects Mr. Mattis from suggestions that he is out of step with Mr. Trump.

“The military’s job is to be fully ready for whatever contingencies might be on the horizon,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, a top Pentagon official in the Obama administration and co-founder of WestExec Advisors, a strategic consultancy in Washington.

“Even if no decision on North Korea has been made and no order has been given,” Ms. Flournoy said, “the need to be ready for the contingency that is top of mind for the president and his national security team would motivate commanders to use planned exercise opportunities to enhance their preparation, just in case.”


In the case of the 82nd Airborne exercise in Nevada last month, for instance, Army soldiers practiced moving paratroopers on helicopters and flew artillery, fuel and ammunition deep behind what was designated as enemy lines. The maneuvers were aimed at forcing an enemy to fight on different fronts early in combat.

Officials said maneuvers practiced in the exercise, called Panther Blade, could be used anywhere, not just on the Korean Peninsula. “Operation Panther Blade is about building global readiness,” said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a public affairs officer with the 82nd Airborne. “An air assault and deep attack of this scale is very complex and requires dynamic synchronization of assets over time and space.”

Another exercise, called Bronze Ram, is being coordinated by the shadowy Joint Special Operations Command, officials said, and mimics other training scenarios that mirror current events.

This year’s exercise, one of many that concentrate on threats from across the world, will focus extensively on underground operations and involve working in chemically contaminated environments that might be present in North Korea. It will also home in on the Special Operations Command’s mission of countering weapons of mass destruction.

Beyond Bronze Ram, highly classified Special Operations exercises in the United States, including those with scenarios to seize unsecured nuclear weapons or conduct clandestine paratrooper drops, have for several months reflected a possible North Korea contingency, military officials said, without providing details, because of operational sensitivity.

Air Force B-1 bombers flying from Guam have been seen regularly over the Korean Peninsula amid the escalating tensions with Pyongyang — running regular training flights with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets that often provoke North Korea’s ire. B-52 bombers based in Louisiana are expected to join the B-1s stationed on Guam later this month, adding to the long-range aerial firepower.

Pentagon officials said last week that three B-2 bombers and their crews had arrived in Guam from their base in Missouri.

But unlike the very public buildup of forces in the run-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf war and the 2003 Iraq war, which sought to pressure President Saddam Hussein of Iraq into a diplomatic settlement, the Pentagon is seeking to avoid making public all its preparations for fear of inadvertently provoking a response by Mr. Kim, North Korea’s leader.

Last week, diplomats from North Korea and South Korea met for the first time in two years in a sign of thawing tensions. On Tuesday, Canada and the United States will host a meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, of foreign ministers from countries that supported the United Nations-backed effort to repel North Korean forces after the 1950 invasion of South Korea. The ministers are seeking to advance the diplomatic initiative forged by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.

It is a balance that Mr. Mattis and senior commanders are trying to strike in showing that the military, on the one hand, is ready to confront any challenge that North Korea presents, even as they strongly back diplomatic initiatives led by Mr. Tillerson to resolve the crisis.

An exchange this month illustrated perfectly the fine line the Pentagon is walking, as an Air Force three-star general caught her colleague emphasizing military prowess perhaps a tad too much, and gently guided him back.

During a briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill, Lt. Gen. Mark C. Nowland was asked whether the Air Force was prepared to take out North Korean air defenses.

“If you’re asking us, are we ready to fight tonight, the answer is, yes, we will,” General Nowland, the Air Force’s top operations officer, responded. “The United States Air Force, if required, when called to do our job, will gain and maintain air supremacy.”

The words were barely out of his mouth when Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson, the Air Force’s top intelligence officer, interrupted.

“I’ll also add that right now, the Defense Department is in support of Secretary of State Tillerson, who’s got a campaign to be the lead with North Korea in a diplomatic endeavor,” General Jamieson said.

General Nowland quickly acknowledged in a follow-up question that the military was in support of Mr. Tillerson’s diplomatic push.
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ccp
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« Reply #381 on: January 15, 2018, 06:37:49 PM »

Trump and Haley know full well this latest N Korea overture with the South is a phony dog and pony show. 

S Korea which has more to lose then us of course are playing  alont probably wringing their hands ready to beg for N Korea to be nice
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