Friday, May 25, 2018

North Korea

I should be back later today with a longish piece about Roger Stone, Russiagate, and related matters. In the meantime, a brief note about North Korea: I am quite certain that talks will resume -- and that there will be a breakthrough.

But it will happen closer to election time.

Donald Trump wants to brag that his party gained seats in the mid-terms. And yes, I really do think that the "blue wave" is actually going to be a red victory parade.

According to this story, the summit ended because Kim Jong Un said insulting things about Mike Pence. The tale is more complex than that, of course, but in the end, the deal-breaker came when Pence's feelings were hurt. But if Trump was willing to forgive being called a "dotard," he surely could have forgiven a gratuitous remark about Pence being "ignorant and stupid."

And why on earth did Kim make such a gratuitous remark, anyways? I think that someone told him to do so.

It should never be forgotten that North Korea's program is, in a very real sense, of Russian origin. You may recall this post from October of 2017, in which I linked to some important background information.
North Korea's rapid advance in nuclear development owes much to Russian aid. See here:
Elleman has analyzed North Korean medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Hwasong 12 and 14 types, whose extended range holds the potential to hit the United States. He concluded that the surprisingly fast development in the last two years has only been possible with the help of foreign suppliers, meaning countries from the former Soviet Union. Even the German missile expert Robert Schmucker from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) agreed with Elleman's analysis, although he avoided any explicit accusations.

Experts believe that the one-chamber engine used in the latest Hwasong missiles is reminiscent of the Soviet RD-250 rocket engine, which had two chambers and was developed in the 1960s.

It is difficult to prove whether the RD-250 was also manufactured by Yuzhmash. Vitaly Zushtchevski said that they received these engines from Russia, where they were "produced in low quantities." Elleman suggested that they were also made in Ukraine. In his IISS study, he wrote that "hundreds, if not more" RD-250 engines have remained in Russia, as well as in Ukraine, adding it is also possible that Moscow is Pyongyang's supplier.
Also here:
After intensive study, Elleman, a former consultant at the Pentagon, and other specialists would report that they had detected multiple design features in the new North Korean missile engine that echo those of a 1960s-era Soviet workhorse called the RD-250.

There is no record of Pyongyang's obtaining blueprints for the Russian missile engine, and experts disagree on whether it ever did so. But the discovery of similarities has focused new attention on a question that has dogged US analysts for at least the past two years: how has North Korea managed to make surprisingly rapid gains in its missile programme, despite economic sanctions and a near-universal ban on exports of military technology to the impoverished communist state?

Many weapons experts say North Korea's startling display of missile prowess is a reflection of the country's growing mastery of weapons technology, as well its leader's fierce determination to take the country into the nuclear club.

But others see continuing evidence of an outsize role by foreigners, including Russian scientists who provided designs and know-how years ago, and the Chinese vendors who supply the electronics needed for modern missile-guidance systems.
When I first posted these words, I was thinking in terms of Russia engineering a nuclear exchange between North Korea and the United States. Perhaps that particular theory was a little too apocalyptic. But it is not unreasonable to suggest  that Russia pressured Kim and Trump to hold off on the summit.

A successful summit now would certainly help the GOP's chances in the fall, but a successful summit in September would have much greater impact. If Trump can pull off a last-minute coup, his party will gain a windfall in the election.

The current "spygate" canard should also be seen purely in terms of the mid-term elections. Do not think for one minute that Trump truly believes the nonsense he has been spewing.

This administration is all about the manipulation of democracy, and Putin is helping.

Not only rapid advances in missile technology, but they suddenly had a miniaturized hydrogen bomb to outfit the missiles! And don't forget Kim's recent trip to China. In the photos he looked like a humbled little boy standing next to Xi Jinping. Xi has as much power over Kim as does Putin. And Xi and Putin are working together in opposition to the United States.

In all of this we should remember that a stand-off between the North and South Koreas has been the United States' justification for having nuclear warheads in the Southeast Asian theater (for actual use against Russia or China) for the last 65 years. There is an element in the US power structure that doesn't want to lose that strategic advantage. This long time arrangement has now changed.

By acting like a maniac, Trump drove the Koreas to join together in a mutual effort to avoid nuclear annihilation at the hands of the US. It's a whole new ballgame.
Thanks Joseph for the reminder of the Russian contribution to the Korean situation.

I think Putin's aim is destabilization and weakening of the US. Actual nuclear war? Let's hope not. At this point there's not much reason for hope, but Putin's long term goals include his survival as president for life.

And Anonymous 12:19 calls attention to salient details. To restate a few things, "There is [a most powerful military & intelligence] element in the US power structure that [requires] that strategic advantage. This long time arrangement has now [been challenged].

This entire situation reminds me of the Cuban Missile Crisis, only instead of having another Cuba in American Waters, this time a small county was picked that is near both China and Russia.
Please explain
Where does china fit in considering a change in the balance of power (cold war Dynamics vs multi power poles).
I am not sure that I see a parallel once you intruduce China into the mix or figure in the EU or Japan.

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