Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trump's Moment of Truth Has Arrived

The moment the United States and the free world has been dreading has finally arrived. North Korea now has the ability to launch an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead that could destroy an American city and kill millions of people. This Tuesday, July 4, it fired off a missile, named Hwasong-14, that flew for roughly 37 minutes, traveled approximately 580 miles and reached an altitude of over 1700 miles before it fell into the Sea of Japan.

David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists believes this missile - a two-stage ICBM - could have a "maximum range of roughly 6,700 km (4,160 miles) on a standard trajectory," not long enough to reach the continental United States, but definitely long enough to reach Alaska. Experts agree it is only a matter of time before North Korea develops a missile that can strike cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

To say this is a game changer would be the understatement of the century. The unthinkable has happened. The most unpredictable psychopath in the world not only has access to nuclear weapons, he now has the delivery mechanism needed to threaten the United States with them. What was once a regional problem has now become a global one. And there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Think about it. If negotiating with Pyongyang, as the Obama Administration attempted to do for eight years, didn't work, then threatening them with a preemptive attack isn't likely to be anymore effective. In fact, it's likely to precipitate the very outcome only a fool would want: an all out nuclear exchange. Bye, bye Seoul, Tokyo and Anchorage. As I wrote in an earlier piece, playing chicken with someone like Kim Jong un is like playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun.

So where do we go from here? Well, for starters, now would really be a good time for someone - anyone - in the Trump Administration to hide Trump's phone or at least suspend his Twitter account. Every time this president types out a provocative tweet about Kim, it may play well with the Neocons who thought the Iraq War would be a stroll in the park, but all it really does is antagonize Kim further. In fact, the more attention this maniac gets - for good or ill - the more it feeds his super-sized ego. Kinda reminds you of someone, doesn't it?

The next thing that can be done is to beef up the current missile defense system, called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD for short. At present, there is only one battery installed in the entire country and it is 135 miles south of the South Korean capital, which means it wouldn't be able to intercept a missile headed for that city since its range is only 125 miles. In order to be a real deterrent, there would have to be multiple batteries set up throughout the country. And if China barks, tell them to go fly a kite. Kim got the technology to build his ICBMs directly from Beijing. That makes them complicit in all this.

And while we're at it, it's way past time for the Trump Administration to appoint an actual ambassador to South Korea. Almost six months into his tenure in office and shit-for-brains still hasn't gotten around to nominating one. I'm sure he'll get to it. After all, he's appointed one to the Bahamas. He's probably just going in alphabetical order.

But apart from that, we appear to be in a no-win situation. Kim has his nukes, he has his missiles, and he's not going to give either of them up. The U.S. can huff and puff all it wants. The fact is we're not going to invade, not unless we want to see Seoul reduced to ashes. And a military strike to try to take out Kim's stockpile won't be successful since most it is scattered throughout the mountainous regions of the country. And I'm quite certain that any attack by the United States on North Korea will not be well received by either China or Russia, both of whom have a considerable nuclear arsenal of their own.

Face it, this day was coming ever since July 27, 1953. That was the date hostilities between North and South Korea stopped. But the War itself never really came to an end. It's been going on for six decades. While the South prospered under the capitalism of the West, the North became more and more isolated, shunned by the world, and buttressed by China. The situation isn't all that different from Cuba. Fidel Castro could've been an alley of the West, but instead he was driven into the Soviet Union's spear of influence. The country has been an outcast ever since.

Of course the main difference between the two countries is that one is broke and powerless; the other a nuclear power and a threat to world peace. If we somehow manage to avoid a direct confrontation with the latter, we might take a moment to reflect on just how our preconceived notions about a nation's ideology can have potentially devastating consequences, not just for us but for the whole planet.

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