Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pucker Factor to Eleven

Is an American-led attack on North Korea imminent? Despite tensions and reasons to do something to keep North Korea from going nuclear, this hasn't been on my radar screen for near-term action.

Uh oh:

Speaking Monday to a rapt audience at the 2017 Strategic Investment Conference in Orlando, Friedman said that while it was unlikely the US would take action before President Donald Trump returns home at the weekend, North Korea's actions appeared to have "offered the US no alternative" to a clash.

According to Geopolitical Futures analysis, evidence is mounting that the enmity between the two is escalating to a point where war is inevitable.

Friedman said that on May 20, the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier and USS Ronald Reagan were both within striking distance of North Korea.

Additionally, more than 100 F-16 aircraft are conducting daily exercises in the area, a tactic that foreshadowed the beginning of Desert Storm in 1991.

F-35 aircraft have also been deployed to the area, and US government representatives are expected to brief Guam on civil defense, terrorism, and Korea on May 31.

All of these strategic moves telegraph one outcome — conflict.

How does this work out? I assume a successful war requires American and South Korean active participation. South Korea especially needs to be involved to advance into North Korea to seize artillery positions that threaten Seoul.

Does Friedman mean America will attack unilaterally?

Although I disagree with the claim that China can't deal with North Korea and only America can do the job. China may not be able to unleash an aerial campaign the way America can, but America can't send in ground troops as easily as China can.

China managed to push to Seoul against the American-led UN forces in Korea. If China wants to gather the forces, they can defeat the North Korean military that remains forward deployed in the south facing South Korea.

In an ideal world, America launches the air strike campaign and China launches the main invasion to take Pyongyang while South Korea's military makes a limited thrust north to establish a no-launch zone to protect Seoul while Japan helps with air and missile defenses and perhaps limited offensive strikes.

The American-South Korean division focused on WMD then makes the dash into a collapsing North Korea to neutralize key North Korean nuclear facilities.

I also disagree with the idea that failure to get a declaration of war means America isn't bound together to fight. We had that in 2002 for Iraq yet Democrats bailed on that war pretty rapidly when the going got rough.

Of course, if we really want to put pressure on China to deal with the problem or lose face seeing America tame their little pet psycho regime, our efforts to attack have to look real.

So I have no idea what is going on.

UPDATE: I see that it is clear that China and America have different objectives in Korea:

China said on Wednesday no one had the right to bring chaos to the Korean peninsula, a day after it pushed for full implementation of U.N. sanctions against neighboring North Korea for its missile and nuclear tests and called for dialogue.

China doesn't want chaos and America doesn't want North Korean nuclear weapons. That's quite a gap to bridge.

UPDATE: So Trump "lets slip" that we have two cruise missile subs near North Korea?

Who didn't assume we have 2 or 3 there? A month ago we visibly showed one of them (which I noted).

And if we want China to deal with North Korea before we have to, this is helpful.

Or it fits with preparing for war, of course.

Oh, and Trump didn't let it slip, he told it to a fellow head of state in private. Someone else let that information slip when they leaked the contents of the conversation.

UPDATE: Leaking is being done to harm Trump, and collateral damage to our allies and foreign policy be damned.

UPDATE: This doesn't sound like we are getting ready for imminent war:

"President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed their teams would cooperate to enhance sanctions on North Korea, including by identifying and sanctioning entities that support North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs," the White House said after the two men held a one-on-one meeting in Sicily.

Unless it is misdirection, of course.