March 30, 2013

The United States and the two feuding Koreas could blunder into a real war unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease provoking one another.

Last week, two nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew non-stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These ‘invisible’ aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb that is said to be able to blast through 70 meters of reinforced concrete, putting North Korea’s underground nuclear facilities and its leadership’s command bunkers under dire threat.

Earlier this month, US B-52’s heavy bombers staged mock attack runs over South Korea – within minutes flying time of the North – rekindling memories of the massive US carpet bombing raids that devastated North Korea during the 1950’s Korean War. US-South Korean-Australian war games in March were designed to train for war with the North. The US media ignored these provocative exercises, but, as usual, North Korea went ballistic, foolishly threatening to attack the US with long-ranged missiles it does not yet possess.

We have grown jaded over the years by North Korea’s threats and chest-beating. But its recent successful nuclear test and work on a long-ranged missile have begun to add muscle to Pyongyang’s threats. No sooner was the new young North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in power than the US, South Korea and Japan began testing him.

More important, the US-South Korea defense treaty calls on Washington to militarily intervene if war erupts between North and South Korea. Given present tensions, a border fight on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), commando raids by North Korea’s 110,000-man special forces, air or naval clashes could quickly lead to full war.

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to flatten parts of South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, using 11,000 heavy guns and rocket batteries hidden in caves along the DMZ. North Korean commandos and missile batteries are tasked with attacking all US airbases and command headquarters in South Korea. The 28,500 US troops based in South Korea will also be a primary target.

North Korea’s medium ranged missiles are aimed at US bases on mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam. North Korea’s tough 1.1-million man army is poised to attack south. Massive US airpower would eventually blunt such an advance, but that would mean moving US warplanes from the Gulf and Afghanistan. The US Air Force’s stocks of bombs and missiles are perilously low and its equipment showing heavy wear and tear.

The US has become accustomed to waging war against small nations whose ‘threat’ has been wildly overblown: Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Libya. The last real war fought by the US, against Vietnam, was an epic defeat for American arms. North Korea is not an Iraq or Libya.

North Korea’s air force and navy would be quickly destroyed by US and South Korean air power within days of war. But taking on North Korea’s hard as nails army will be a serious challenge if it fights on the defensive. Pentagon studies show that invading North Korea could cost the US up to 250,000 casualties. So the US would be clearly tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons. But North Korea vows to nuke Japan if the US goes nuclear. And there is the threat of Chinese intervention.

The US would be wise to back off from this confrontation and lower tensions with North Korea. America’s empty Treasury can’t afford yet another war, having already blown $2 trillion on the lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. America’s armed forces, bogged down in the Mideast and Afghanistan, are in no shape to fight a real war in Korea. Just moving heavy armor and guns there would take months.

Now might be a good time for Washington to ease rather than keep tightening sanctions on North Korea. Pyongyang’s real objectives are to gain a non-aggression treaty with the US and direct, normal relations. Washington won’t hear of this, though it deals with other repellant regimes. American neocons are determined to overthrow North Korea’s regime, fearing it will send advanced arms to Israel’s Mideast foes.

Military forces on the Korean Peninsula are on hair-trigger alert. Flying B-2’s near the North is almost daring it to attack. Diplomats, not air force generals, should be running this largely manufactured crisis.
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copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

This post is in: Asia, China, International Politics, North Korea, Soviet Union

6 Responses to “WAR RISK RISES SHARPLY IN KOREA”

  1. George Rizk says:

    We are acting like a bully who is looking for a fight! The Korean people do not wish to fight each others. The neighbors China, Japan, India, South Korea are all happy, and not interested in wars. We twisted S. Korea’s arms to start military maneuvering at the North’s boarders just to piss them off. Now that we got a rise out of them, it is time for our PRESTITUDE to call their leader a mad man, a dictator,….. So as to start a war. What are we benefiting from such violence? Destruction of the South Korean economy? Enriching our war machine and the money changers? I am so frustrated at a country that is so much in debts, yet looking to get even more in debt! Perhaps the only beneficiary is the Feds who will make money on the loans to fund the war effort. Where are the Feds going to get all the trillion dollars needed?

  2. solum temptare possumus says:

    So what do you do with an errant child.

    Tough Love or Hugs and Kisses.
    .
    Do you produce a Sociopath or a World Citizen!

    ad iudicium

  3. This has certainly has escalated to the point where just one tiny error or miscommunication can start an all out war.I have posted my opinion many times here about NKorea and believe that this situation is not as dangerous,in reality,than what the media is making it out to be.

    The US will come to the rescue and find the usual bribe money to settle Pyongyang down that they will be able to continue feeding their people.This has happened many times before and why should this time be any different.When there are nuclear powers involved on BOTH sides,then the risk of an actual nuclear confrontation is highly unlikely…at least that’s the way I sincerely hope things turn out.But I’m not willing to bet my last dollar on this.This comes as close as it gets when the Cuban missle crisis emerged back in the 60′s.It was averted…but by the Russians and not Kennedy,as is often reported.I totally agree with Mr. Margolis that NKorea is no Iraq or Libya….let’s just hope that cooler heads prevail.

  4. If this weren’t such a serious matter, with serious people involved… this whole Korean thing could be right out of a Monty Python skit…

  5. Mike Smith says:

    ” Diplomats, not air force generals, should be running this largely manufactured crisis. ”

    Sadly these things are not being ran by ” Generals ” in the old school sense. By this I mean a career military professions trained in the application and use of armed forces to achieve objectives assigned by the civilian leadership in the most efficient manner possible.
    We do not have ” Generals ” anymore, what we have are political operators who have been co-opted by the system which driving the really stupid decisions being made ( not necessarily by the civilian leadership, but but the groups that control the information being seen by that civilian leadership… ie the Intelligence Community, the Military Industrial Arms Complex, AIPAC, among other groups who seem to exert a crazy amount of influence behind the scenes.
    For example look at the Airforce Chief of Staff Mark Welsh… 2 years with the CIA
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Welsh
    When the CIA was formed, it was suppose to be an independent intelligence gathering service separate from the armed services allowing an unbiased, non partisan stream of information to the ones making the decisions. Now the CIA conducts para military operations that have nothing to do with intelligence gathering, has its own airforce of drones, has developed its own political agenda which it defends by controlling the information going to the civilian leadership, influencing who is appointed to sensitive posts and positions, and shady deals in support of their friends / backers / supporters who maintain that influence no matter which party is in power or who wins any election.
    Really what we have is similar to a Stalin era Politburo, with the intelligence services playing king maker. Makes you wonder what dirt they have on Obama, because if their wasn’t any I doubt he would have made it as far as he did.
    But my original point… it is not the military running this crap, they are just caught in the same political / money / power game the rest of us are riding down the toilet.
    One would think criminal mastermind / long time Bond villain Kissinger is involved somehow….. and wait. There he is co-ordinating with the Chinese.
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-03/25/c_132261208.htm

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