August 26, 2017

President Trump’s ability to trigger a nuclear war is ‘pretty damn scary’ said former US intelligence director James Clapper this week.  Remember when Trump vowed to ‘bomb the shit’ out of his enemies?

I don’t have much respect for Clapper, who brazenly lied to Congress and is a ringleader of the deep government’s efforts to overthrow Trump.  But this time, Clapper is 100% right.  He’s scared and I am too.

This week, Trump proclaimed he would continue the pointless, stalemated US colonial war in Afghanistan and might ask India to help there – a sure-fire way to bring nuclear-armed India and Pakistan into a terrifying confrontation.

Meanwhile, Trump has backed himself into a corner over North Korea.  His threats and bombast have not made the North’s leader Kim Jong-un stop threatening to launch nuclear-armed missiles at the US island of Guam, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea.  That is, if the US and South Korea keep up their highly provocative annual military war games on North Korea’s borders that each year invoke North Korea’s fury.

The Pentagon insists these war games are just a routine military exercise.  But that’s not the view in Pyongyang, and, as a long-time Korea military analyst, not mine.

North Korea, which faces the 500,000-man South Korean Army (ROK) most of which is just down the main highway, has good reason to be nervous.  I’ve been with the 1st ROK Division up on and under the Demilitarized Zone.  The South Koreans are heavily armed with top line equipment and tough as nails.   They are backed by massive US/South Korean air and naval power.

North Koreans are well aware that Egypt deceived Israel in the 1973 war by using frequent military exercises to mask its plans to storm the Suez Canal.  It worked.  Israel was caught flat footed by the surprise Egyptian attack on the canal.

By refusing a peace to end the 1950-53 Korean War, and by continuing economic and political warfare against North Korea, the US has only itself to blame for North Korea developing nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.  Kim Jong-un saw what happened to Libya’s Khadaffi (thanks to Hillary Clinton) and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

Trump is now in a serious fix over North Korea.  Jong-un has called Trump’s bluff and sneered at the Donald’s fire and brimstone threats.  So Trump’s choices are to back away from the Korean crisis he created or else attack North Korea.  But the North’s weapons and leadership are very well dispersed and deeply dug into the mountains.  A US conventional attack on the North is estimated to cost 250,000 American casualties.

The US can certainly knock out some of Kim’s medium and longer-ranged missiles in a major blitz, but it can’t be certain that a few nuclear tipped N. Korean missiles won’t survive to strike Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, Okinawa or Guam – and maybe even Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It is unlikely that South Korea and the US can decapitate North Korea’s leadership by using conventional weapons – starting with Kim Jong-un.

Unless, of course, Trump, who managed to avoid Vietnam era military service because of a bump on his foot, decides to go nuclear.  This would mean hitting North Korea with a score or more nuclear weapons, large and small, before the North could riposte.  North Korea would be totally destroyed, and its 25 million people left dying, maimed or starving.  Japan, the world’s third largest economy, would also be shattered.

Nuclear fallout would shower South Korea, Northern China, and Pacific Russia – and eventually blow east to the US and Canadian west coasts.  If the Trump administration decided to use nuclear weapons against North Korea, then why not in Afghanistan?   The temptation will be obvious.

President Dwight Eisenhower refused pleas by France to use nuclear weapons to rescue the besieged French garrison at Dien Bien Phu.  Trump may not be as cautious.  He can’t afford to be seen backing away from the Korean crisis.   His aides clearly did not think through the ramification of his bellicose threats against North Korea. Bullies tend to grow lazy.

That’s why I’m as nervous as Lt. Gen. Clapper.


Copyright  Eric S. Margolis 2017


This post is in: North Korea, USA


  1. Mike Smith says:

    I don’t see this as a ” Trump ” problem… I see this as a American problem.

    In just too many cases the US is not only a negative influence in regional disputes, but help blow the dispute up to a crazy disproportional level.

    Sure Kim is unbalanced… but examine his perspective. His country has been technically at war for so long it is bound to produce alot of paranoia, particularly when mouthpiece political figures in the US run off at the mouth in the media about how they are going to do this and that. Then the military exercises and massive shows of force do not exactly calm things down either. Two other things to consider… every example of a leader caving into US pressure it hasn’t exactly gone well for that leader in the long run… and the last time the US negotiated a deal with the North Koreans over Nuclear Inspections ( a Bill Clinton signed deal ) it was trashed by Bush the second when he came into office… How can you have negotiations with the US ? American policy has left North Korea with one option… how can we be surprised that they took it? Trump may not be handling the situation the best, but also blame Obama, Hillary, McCain, Bush, and all the other idiots who have beat their chests, made their threats and made this situation worse over the years.

  2. Just a thought last night; the timing of an attack on North Korea could be perfect to coincide with the American mid term elections… a war always helps improve the popularity of a president, in particular, one that is really unpopular.

  3. It’s gotten more interesting… the Donald tends to find tighter and tighter corners. From Reuters, “U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday dismissed any diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, tweeting “Talking is not the answer,” one day after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile over Japan and drew international condemnation.”

    Looks like he’s not leaving himself any ‘wiggle room’ and, there is only one path forward. The statement “God bless America” has to change to “God help America”.

  4. As Steve Bannon admitted in the interview that is rumored to be the reason behind his ouster, until someone can guarantee North Korean missiles can be intercepted in the event of a first strike, millions of Koreans in Seoul will be killed, till which time the US and the rest of the world can’t risk provoking the Kim regime. The North Korean leader knows this, and successfully played Trump’s bluff.

  5. More ramblings…
    Trump, the Buffoon, has backed himself into a corner that he can not readily extricate himself… he can only repeat himself, “I’m going to bomb the sh*t out of you.” The Kim will take the Donald at his face value, knowing that this is not a likely scenario. There is no way to ‘back out’ of this corner, without the Americans losing ‘face’ to the North Koreans. This is unlikely, and the Donald is in an untenable position.
    The Scottish comedian that noted that Trump and Hitler were different… Trump couldn’t write a book, pretty much summed it up. I share Eric’s concerns that the Donald is indeed one dangerous person.
    Eric seems to not comment on North Korea’s army… a lot bigger, not nearly as well armed, just as tough, and maybe, more nationalistic than that of South Korea… Poorly armed or not, the Northern Army is a force to contend with. North and South Korea will be fighting for survival; this is a real strong motivator. I suspect that they will fight to ‘the last man standing’. The Americans have shown themselves to be poor at fighting… they have the technical skills and a huge stockpile of weapons and wealth to advance a war, but lack real ‘boots on the ground’ skills to bring it to conclusion. Their major involvement since and including Vietnam have shown this to be true.
    My main fear is that the Donald will convince himself that it is possible to launch a ‘blitzkrieg’ type of action and win. With current detection, this preemptive action is not likely possible, and, could lead to WW-III. China, Russia, India and Pakistan would not sit idly by and ‘play spectator’. There are too many ‘old wounds’ that need settling. The South China Sea has great wealth for future development.
    It’s also a little disconcerting that the ‘rest of the Western world’ hasn’t taken him aside and made some comment to the danger he presents. All other Western politicians are frightened by this bully and are not prepared to accept the ‘spiteful’ consequences. If I had a ‘friend’ that was prepared to make a grievous error, it would be incumbent for me to council him… maybe the others do not consider the Americans to be their ‘friend’.
    If the Americans were clever, they would give the Donald ‘fake launch codes’, not trusting him with ‘real ones’.
    Surely someone down there other than Clapper is aware of this potential disaster in the making. No one is saying much, possibly because to do so would be to encourage the wrath of the Donald with a further weakening their position with respect to North Korea. There is too much at stake in the world to allow this to preempt the consequences of climate change.

  6. If the rain keeps up in Texas for another 3 days, I’ll bet the administration and most Americans will be looking longingly at the huge numbers of troops the US has posted all over the world.

    There will be a crying need for them at home.

    John M.

  7. We had a saying when I a kid, “There is nothing more dangerous than a fool with a gun.” Today I am “Yeah there is, a fool with a country.”

  8. It’s getting hard to say who is more unstable: Trump or Kim Jong-un. As scary as the Korean situation is, even more frightening is how much support Trump still has. His hardcore supporters would follow him over a cliff. I’m afraid we’re stuck with him until 2020, unless he resigns because of ill health or if he touches off a nuclear war that wipes out most of us.

    By the way, Eric, don’t forget that you supported Trump very strongly until about the middle of the 2016 election. I could have told you that you’d regret your choice. Obviously Clinton was less than an ideal choice, but she was no doubt the lesser of the two evils.

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