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April 28, 2004

Comments

"Then, send a carrier task force slowly steaming in the general direction of the Korean pennisula."

Ummmm, isn't the military a bit busy elsewhere at the moment?

Appreciate the resoluteness of the response, Von...think the tone is spot-on. Agree with double-plus-good about the perception problem militarily, though...we may have stretched ourselves so thin that a token demonstration of strength would be laughed at until proven serious...meaning, we'd actually have to do something, no?

And since it's impossible for the US to do anything right now (or without considerable warning, since major withdrawal from Iraq would be necessary first)... so North Korea has no reason to pay attention to any "warning" the US delivers. Just another example of the Bush administration making the world less safe for everybody.

I despite being an optimist, I tell you!, suspect that North Korea would be well able to conceal a few nukes, and probably production facilities, from the IAEA, and that if they couldn't, crisis would break out at that time, but I certainly don't have a better plan to put on the table -- well, there is the crawl under the kitchen table, cover one's eyes, and whimper fallback -- and, besides, I might be being insufficiently optimistic.

Are you aware, by the way, that at the moment we only have one, count it, one, aircraft carrier task forces in operation? The G. Washington is in the Gulf. That's all we got.

Every single other one is tied up being refitted or retrained, although the Stennis is about to come back online.

It would be ludicrous to try to bluff the North Koreans militarily any time in the next two years. We essentially have no Army available any more. And there's no possible way, given the time necessary to restock, re-arm, and re-train, that we will for another two to three years. (See here.)

Slight revision; I was working under faintly dated info; Kitty Hawk has come back since I last looked, and is presently in the Indian Ocean.

But we still have no significant invasion threat against NK. We could bomb them, sure.

But since we can't knock out their nuclear facilities, since we don't know where they are, this wouldn't seem advisable.

I highly recommend Phil Carter's article here. I also highly recommend reading his blog regularly.

Ummmm, isn't the military a bit busy elsewhere at the moment?

The air war in Iraq is largely over, and a carrier task force should be available. 'Course, I'm not in charge of Navy logistics, so, admittedly, this is a bit of speculation.

George balks at the Security Guarantee, reserving the right to liberate oppressed people anywhere, anytime.

Actually, I ain't crazy about guaranteeing Kim's survival either. But Kim, no longer trusts in Bush's good intentions, and will make that a demand. And Bush won't go for it. This has been the main stumbling block, and why NK now has nukes.

(Since this will make the fire-breathers mad, I ask this? Would Kim be scared of Clinton or Gore invading? And so he didn't need nukes.)

My own preference? Tell South Korea to start building shelters.

Von, play a scenario. Say we whip a few carriers out of training. Say we send six off North Korea. They make threats and don't cooperate. Then what?

"Would Kim be scared of Clinton or Gore invading? And so he didn't need nukes."

Er, then why did they have that separate uranium processing program, which they subsequently admitted to and bragged about (and then retreated into being coy about) going?

Mind, much as it's regrettable, I don't see any alternative to granting the security guarantees (although I'm also not clear they'd really do any good -- but it's hard to see that they'd make matters worse).

Shelters in South Korea are a good idea. So is moving away from Seoul, down south. On the other hand, while Kim is a bit crazy, he's shown no signs of seriously desiring war, either.


Folks, you are forgetting the first law of Bush foreign policy: don't ever look like Clinton. Clinton actually cut a deal with NK so, whatever Bush does, he doesn't ever want to do something like that....even if it would be better that the nothing he is doing of late.

Nah, I think the administration is betting on the Illmatic's regime collapsing.

However, that was also the Bush41 strategy regarding Saddam. A lot of the same players are involved this time around.

Awfully hawkish squawking from Edward and Jesurgislac. If we had troops available now you wouldn't be talking about an invasion of North Korea, so I don't see why we should let you pretend to care about it now.

And Gary Farber's approach strongly suggests that we should have been threatening war in 1999, 2000, or 2001. Which is all well and good, but I don't think that would have won much support either.

And von: "In response, put the following on the table, do it publicly, say (and mean) that it's non-negotiable, and get your allegedly-compliant Republican Congresspeople to push the necessary legislation through: "Done, on the condition that North Korea fully and completely opens itself to inspections by IAEA, in the manner that South Africa did when it gave up its nuclear arsenal. If you fail to follow through and/or renege in any part of the agreement, all guarantees are off and all non-essential food aid is immediately suspended."

This would put us in a different position than today how? We have cut off aid already. It already isn't causing change. Why should a piece of paper with the words "security guarantee" on it be a better motivator than the oil and food aid. That is a lot of trust in a piece of paper--especially considering that North Korea doesn't respect pieces of paper like the Agreed Framework. And why wouldn't we cease ALL aid? The UN workers already admit that the food goes to Kim's army and not the people. Why is it good for us to feed his army?

The only good thing is that it would put off the day of reckoning another couple of months, assuming that the IAEA is capable of saying the word 'noncompliant', which I seriously doubt. And of course putting off the day of reckoning in 1994, before they had nuclear weapons, is what allowed North Korea time to get nuclear weapons in the first place.

If you believe that North Korea will use the time to do something other than build more nuclear weapons (with the oil and food aid propping up the regime so that it has the energy and manpower to do so) please explain what you think has changed.

If we had troops available now you wouldn't be talking about an invasion of North Korea, so I don't see why we should let you pretend to care about it now.

Personal foul mindreading. Fifteen yards.

North Korea will never cooperate with inspections, or any other international agreements. The only course of action available is to wait for the regime to fail.

It wouldn't matter if the U.S. had a half-million more soldiers there and a couple of carrier groups. The Norks know that we do not want to fight them, mainly because of the South Korean civilian casualties.

Awfully hawkish squawking from Edward and Jesurgislac. If we had troops available now you wouldn't be talking about an invasion of North Korea, so I don't see why we should let you pretend to care about it now.

Since you have only my opposition to the Iraq invasion to base that on, let me do the comparison/contrast thing for you, Sebastian.

Iraq: no WMD, no military of any note, no nuclear weapons, completely sanctioned containment

North Korea: WMD, military of note, nuclear weapons, no containment of any use

Where there was no threat from Iraq, I see one from North Korea...not saying that means we invade as soon as troops are ready, but it does mean we stop pussyfooting around and pretending we don't have a major problem there.

Noticeably missing from your comment, though, is an alternative plan.

Well, I for one hope that the South Koreans took this opportunity to include a couple assassins in any group of aid workers they sent to help with the recent explosion there.

That would seem to me to be the best alternative plan.

"If we had troops available now you wouldn't be talking about an invasion of North Korea, so I don't see why we should let you pretend to care about it now.

Personal foul mindreading. Fifteen yards."

Whatever, you don't even bother to deny it. The mindreading fould is only applicapable if one is wrong about it. Are you seriously advocating invasion of North Korea? If so, please state and I will withdraw my comment. Hell, I'll withdraw it if you say that the MAIN reason you aren't advocating invasion is that you think we are currently overstretched. But otherwise you are acting like this is a debating game where the only important thing is games played, points scored.

Same goes for you Edward. Though at least you are honest enough to admit that you wouldn't be advocating invasion. Your pussy-footing comment is typical, however. You want STRONG ACTION, FORCEFUL ACTION. But as usual you don't want to talk about what form that might take because then the fact that it is weak non-action becomes quite evident.

And who has been pretending that we don't have a major problem there? Bush cut off the oil aid BECAUSE it was revealed that the NK government had pursued and obtained nuclear weapons despite the Agreed Framework. Continuing the aid would have pretending there wasn't a major problem.

Alternatives? We can't deal with North Korea without China coming on board because they are the main ones propping up North Korea with oil. If anyone can help with North Korea (and honestly that isn't a sure thing) The thing they want least is a nuclear Japan and South Korea. Inform them that our allies are getting nervous about a loose nuclear regime. Suggest that they help bring NK under control. If they refuse we will have to suggest that we are forced (purely for security reasons) to help Japan and South Korea gain nuclear weapons.

The other problem is that the only non-invasion plan likely to work is going to require resolve from the international community. We know that our food aid goes to the military while the population starves. We have to be willing to cut off FOOD AID and bear the inevitable pictures of the already starving population which will become popular because instead of hurting the North Korean case, as it would now, the government will suddenly be happy to release them to get leftist groups on their side. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to throw your rhetorical skill behind such an effort to convince the left to come along?


Whatever, you don't even bother to deny it.

No, you're right: the accusation is too absurd to deny, so why give myself the trouble? Especially when I know you're capable of doing better.

Gary Farber claims © for the mindreading line, by the way.

Inform them that our allies are getting nervous about a loose nuclear regime. Suggest that they help bring NK under control. If [the Chinese] refuse we will have to suggest that we are forced (purely for security reasons) to help Japan and South Korea gain nuclear weapons.

So your cunning strategem boils down to...

1) Trying to arm-twist China into playing ball by threaten to give nuclear arms to the entire region.

2) Then, if that fails, ACTUALLY ARMING both S Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons.

I want to make sure that I'm reading you right; it'd be terribly unfair if I were to unload on a strawman.

Good lord...you're mindreading mechanism needs a tune up Sebastian.

I am not arguing for "STRONG ACTION, FORCEFUL ACTION"...I'm arguing for realism...the same thing Von is arguing for.

I believe he's right. North Korea wants aid and is building weapons as a bargaining chip to that end. We obviously can't play this game forever with them, so coming to the table, giving them some money, taking away their nukes, and making sure we're setting up better safeguards they won't just starting making a new batch seems the best way forward.

It's an opinion. You can argue against it, but you really can't leap from a disagreement about it into rubbish like "you don't want to talk about what form that might take because then the fact that it is weak non-action becomes quite evident" without suggesting what action looks like, which up until your last comment you had not done. Now that you have, let's talk about that...

I don't like the idea of South Korea or Japan being armed with Nukes because it sets a potentially dangerous precedent...what if China responds by giving North Korea more technology or whatever...new arms race, different players...

Starving people is never going to fly, despite the reality...even the military getting the food are people...they're not machines...much like here in the US, I suspect North Koreans join the military because there are no viable alternatives for making a decent living....shutting off all aid might starve their military, but that has broader humanitarian implications...don't like it.

I say: more tactical nukes! More tactical nukes!

"We have to be willing to cut off FOOD AID...."

Same scenario question I asked Von, Sebastian. Say we do that. Say a ways down the pike, the regime does the usual insane denouncing and rationalizing, the some of which is "resume food aid by noon, oneweek from today, or we launch our nuclear weapons at the South Korea puppet regime."

We can't strike their nuclear weapons and production facilities when we don't know where they are. Do we begin launching pre-emptive strikes in general, trusting that we'll be able to find any nukes ready to be delivered as they are in the process of being made ready or being delivered? We rush missile defense there, of course. Maybe we can manage to prevent any trucks from driving up to the border and detonating. Maybe Seoul will just have to put up with artillery bombardment for a while, and then we'll prevail, and have prevented any serious nuking of South Korea. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

A lot of maybes. Awfully messy, no matter what. Maybe that's the least bad result.

Of course, then someone has to take over responsibility for feeding and organizing 22 million North Koreans (minus however many die in the war, of course). Shouldn't be complicated or expensive, that.

Is that what you're suggesting? How do you see it likely (not ideally, likely) playing out?

I say: more tactical nukes! More tactical nukes!

Lucky for you, President Bush is raising our nuclear budget to 1980s levels, a full 50% higher (in real dollars) than the Cold War average. [Link via Body & Soul.]

South Korea and the U.S. are constantly on a war footing in the DMZ. That fact has not changed since the end of the Korean war. NK has one of the world's largest armies. A ground invasion has never been the backbone of the U.S. strategy there.

In a war, Seoul would be obliterated and much ground would be given up in the initial attack by the U.S. and South Korea. Currently, NK has way too many bombs pointing south. I think that is pretty common knowledge. (Unless of course we had a real missile defense system and that could explain the fixation the Bush administration has with missile defense.)

We know we don't want to fight NK directly, but if we could eliminate their missile threat to South Korea then we could bomb the heck out of them instead.

It's sort of interesting to examine the dynamics of NK in light of what is going on in Iraq. We could have nipped this one in the bud a long time ago. But hindsight is 20/20. Anway, all this helps to explain why the U.S. is more than willing to move our soldiers down south. Why sacrifice the guys on the front line when you know they won't win.

To Clinton's credit he upped the ante quite a bit after he was elected the first time. We were flying both overt and covert missions over NK continuously. I assume we are still testing them pretty much 24 hours a day. Granted their systems are old and we learnend how to defeat them in Iraq in the first Gulf War and then just applied it to NK. (Actually, it was pretty unfair we acquired all the Russian systems from East Germany. Conveniently for us, the Russians also supplied Iraq and NK. We exploited them here and then invaded Iraq and started really annoying the NK's.

All this didn't really make that much news for some reason, but it did motivate NK to sign the deal with Clinton along with their economic hardships.

Then of course they broke the deal. Is this the same strategy that we want to apply again? It didn't work the first time. What would be different about it this time?

It would be a very poor military and political plan to try the same strategy with NK as with Iraq. I don't see what the similarities are between the two countries from an analytical perspective???

Yes, they are both bad guys who violate treaties. But, the comparisons really fall apart after that fact.

Edward, respectfully, what would happen if I snuck into your dwelling and removed the ellipsis key from your keyboard?

:-)

BTW, I see only one really attractve option with NK... somehow we have to get China on our side and enable them to solve the problem. War with them and starvation aren't good solutions. Missile defense will take another 10 years...

Edward, respectfully, what would happen if I snuck into your dwelling and removed the ellipsis key from your keyboard?

as I noted on my very first post, Gary:

....(oh, yeah, I'm addicted to ellipses...call it Dowd Disease)...

you wouldn't want to see me go into withdrawal now, would you?

Where has containment actually worked?

Was the Cold War really a containment strategy or was it war through proxies?

Edward; "...taking away their nukes...."

But there's no way to do that. Their promises aren't trustworthy, and inspections, we learned post-1991, won't find things.

So how is this something that could actually happen if they don't want it to?

and inspections, we learned post-1991, won't find things.

Worked in Iraq, as we've just seen (rather expensively) demonstrated.

On the other hand, Iraq is a rather different case from North Korea: Iraq in 1991 had just lost a war and taken major damage to infrastructure.

re: taking away their nukes

as Von pointed out

"Done, on the condition that North Korea fully and completely opens itself to inspections by IAEA, in the manner that South Africa did when it gave up its nuclear arsenal. If you fail to follow through and/or renege in any part of the agreement, all guarantees are off and all non-essential food aid is immediately suspended."

When IAEA is satisfied (and we're satisfied) that the nukes are gone and the programs dismantled, then we sign the check.

"Missile defense will take another 10 years..."

If I were Japan or South Korea, I doubt if I would ever trust my existence to intercepting an ICBM in what, three minutes?

And, for America, if the economies of South Korea and Japan were to completely disappear, well I guess we would survive, at least until the ripples ran through China and the rest of the far east.

Island America don't work anymore, and missle defense is pretty well pointless.

"...you wouldn't want to see me go into withdrawal now, would you?"

By no means. But with proper treatment, good drugs, and other rewards, I'm sure de-toxification could be successful!

(I'm also available for paid-copyediting work. ;-))

What can I say, I've spent... a fair amount of time... in my life working... in publishing, and editorial... work, and there are... specific ways it's legitimate to use ellipses, and simply using... them... randomly... ain't one of them.

No, more,. :than---any; other ]form,,,,, of [?random punctation[[[ is

I'll try not to pick on you about it. It's just that I've experienced a very great many writers in slush who misuse ellipses so, and it affects me the same way the previous paragraph would; that is, it drives me bonkers (more than normal). Not saying you should change for my sake, you understand; I just Needed To Say at least once. I'm done now.

"North Korea wants aid and is building weapons as a bargaining chip to that end."

Is this really what you believe?

Why?

North Korea already got huge amounts of aid out of Clinton under the Agreed Framework in exchange for agreeing to not build, maintain, develop or keep nuclear weapons. If aid was the reason they built the weapons they already had it. They don't just want aid. They want aid and the ability to build whatever nuclear weapons they can. And that seems likely a stupid policy for the US to play into.

"Say we do that. Say a ways down the pike, the regime does the usual insane denouncing and rationalizing, the some of which is "resume food aid by noon, oneweek from today, or we launch our nuclear weapons at the South Korea puppet regime."

This is exactly the problem with giving North Korea more time before we take action. In 1994 they worst they could do was threaten to shell Seoul. (Which is awful). By 2000 they could credibly threaten to use their one or two nuclear weapons. By 2010 they are going to have a whole nuclear arsenal. That is why we can't afford to play the Agreed Framework game again. And BTW I'm all for von's plan, except you have to plan past it. You have to plan for what happens when North Korea doesn't allow real inspections. Because that denial (and let us put realistic percentages on it 85%? 95%?) will put us in the same situation as now, only it gave North Korea more time to build nukes. So go for it, but Edward don't play tough and 'realistic' if you aren't willing to plan on what will happen afterwards when the proposed action fails, as it is likely to given the history of North Korea.

And BTW, you apparently aren't even willing to cut off aid, so if someone like you were President he wouldn't even have the pathetic bargaining power that Bush barely has.

What leverage do we have if we are going to provide food aid no matter what they do? Especially with China providing oil?

Your approach provides ZERO incentive for North Korea to stop making as many nuclear weapons as they want, and with each one they make we are in an even worse bargaining position. And apparently I'm the one not being serious?

Just so you don't think I'm ignoring this thread, I'm not. I just don't have an answer, here.

If we don't have any idea where any of their facilities are, it would take a truly huge invasion to find them and secure them before they have time to do anything. That option, I believe, is out, even if we're not in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On the other hand, if we do know exactly where they are, we don't even have to get a carrier in the area.

If we only know approximately where they are, we'd still have to mount a relatively large (but doable) invasion, and do it completely covertly. Then we'd have to support it with a LOT of firepower.

Have I covered all the choices? Rest assured that you're not going to get enough information to second-guess what we ought to do until after it's done (if it's done at all), if ever.

"When IAEA is satisfied (and we're satisfied) that the nukes are gone and the programs dismantled, then we sign the check."

Have you been paying attention to the last six months of negotiations with North Korea? This is exactly the kind of 'inspections first, aid afterwards' that Bush has been proposing almost the whole time. This is exactly what North Korea has already rejected. Why are you proposing the very thing which North Korea has repeatedly rejected?

Still sounds very similar to what Clinton tried... and didn't work.

Who is going to patrol their whole country to make sure they don't get back in the game and for how long?

Are we going to let them have all the precursors to WMD like have been found in Iraq?

If precursors are found would that justify putting a stop to the food?

Is there any proof of NK keeping their deals?

Does anyone think NK gov't really cares that much about its people that some can't starve?

Does anyone really believe that IAEA is competent?

Does anyone really believe that our own intelligence would be that competent?

Does anyone really think that we can trust NK in a way that we trusted South Africa?

Are those two countries really comparable?

What if we get them the food they need and when they get back on their feet they tell us to go jump in a lake?

Do we trust NK not to do that?

Admittedly, not offering solutions... but alot of questions

"Worked in Iraq, as we've just seen (rather expensively) demonstrated."

I'm not following you; we should invade North Korea, and then we can inspect to our heart's content?

"On the other hand, Iraq is a rather different case from North Korea: Iraq in 1991 had just lost a war and taken major damage to infrastructure."

And? Again, I'm not following your intended point, I'm afraid.

Based upon the post-Gulf War I inspections in Iraq, the US and everyone concerned was shocked to find out that a vast nuclear and chemical program in Iraq, along with some bio programs, had been completely missed by years of intelligence. Prior to Gulf War II, it was impossible for inspections to ever confirm that Iraq was not concealing programs and weapons without the full cooperation and voluntary compliance of Iraq (such as South Africa contrasts to, or apparently now Libya, I hope).

It's conceivable that the NK regime would agree to allow 100% right of inspectors to go everywhere and anywhere, to take whomever we want out of the country to interrogate, to maintain permanent inspection facilities wherever necessary, but even so, it's quite a large, mountainous, country, and I'm not clear how we could ever be fully sure they're clean.

That might all work out. But it seems to involve about as many maybes as Sebastian's "starve them" plan, or von's "they'll be intimidated by our carriers" plan.

Perhaps I'm just not being optimistic enough.

"And BTW, you apparently aren't even willing to cut off aid, so if someone like you were President he wouldn't even have the pathetic bargaining power that Bush barely has."

Excuse me? Please quote the words from which you derive this belief.

Responding to quoting me, Sebastian continues: "Your approach provides ZERO incentive for North Korea to stop making as many nuclear weapons as they want, and with each one they make we are in an even worse bargaining position. And apparently I'm the one not being serious?"

My approach? I said you weren't serious? Sebastian, are you mixing up comments and who you're responding to?

"So go for it, but Edward don't play tough and 'realistic' if you aren't willing to plan on what will happen afterwards when the proposed action fails, as it is likely to given the history of North Korea."

Okay, we "plan on" and "plan past it."

What does that mean? What is the "plan" after NK announces they'll attack if food aid isn't restored?

OK, here's a question.

If North Korea is so pathetic that they need international aid after a train accident (albeit a large one), how good can their military actually be? Logistics, battlefield healthcare, etc.

I mean, I suppose artillery is simple enough that any old army can use it to devastating effect. And maybe they have 8 nukes. Fair enough.

But setting all that aside, you have to believe that we'd be able to kick their asses in pretty convincing fashion.

Bob,

I wouldn't want to put all my eggs in the missile defense basket either.

But to say it is pointless, I think is exaggerated. It is integral to an overall strategy. But, arguable not the crux.

We had some successes with Missile Defense in both the first and second Gulf Wars. The technology is improving as we speak.

Remember that we are fighting this Iraq war with 10 and 20 year old technology. After the first Gulf war I worked on a project related to UAV. Look how far that has come in 10 years.

I just read an article about liquid kevlar...

MD is viable...

er, second Gulf War maybe. But most of the stuff about the Patriot missile from the First Gult War was latter proven to be made up.

asdf,

There is no doubt that we would beat them senseless. They do have a professional army, but the soldiers have less contact with the outside world than just about any other country in the world. They are trained to think of us as evil. More so than the Iraqi RG. I am not sure what the impact of that is...

The question is how many South Koreans are willing to allow us to do that.

Seoul has over 10 million residents. If we could sneak them southward without NK firing of a weapon...

This is rather out of date; you can bet that the US intelligence community has clamped down on what's publicly available since 1997 or so.

There were definite successes and failures with the Patriot in the first Gulf War. The success rate in the first Gulf War was near 30%. Or the failure rate was around 70%. (Whichever way you want to look at it.)

The Patriot that was in the first Gulf War (70 to 80's tech) is not the same that was in the second. That is the real point. That was 10 years ago and the first real attempt at MD.

I could be wrong, but honestly that seems like a pretty good start.

It is a completely different discussion to ask if it is economically viable. Atleast for 30% of the people on the receiving end of a scud, I imagine it is.


OK, so we arm South Korea and Japan, cut off all aid to NK, and then?

We have a starving, desperate, despotic NK with nukes...

that's some plan alright.

I apologize for being away -- and I don't have time to respond to each argument. I do want to respond to an important point made by Gary Farber, though:

Von, play a scenario. Say we whip a few carriers out of training. Say we send six off North Korea. They make threats and don't cooperate. Then what?

In the short term, of course, the idea is to send a message to the Chinese w/o escalating the situation. But this is a fair question -- what if there's no response to the implicit threat? Is the threat empty?

Depends on what your definition of "empty" is, I suppose.

If the carrier task force reaches North Korea without a deal being reached, it will represent a significant escalation. In the past, NK has responded to such an escalation by escalating itself -- it's been a fairly consistent threat response. In the past, an escalation by NK has resulted in significant pressure on NK from China; so far, this pressure has been for naught. But there's hope that, with a proposed deal on the table, this time 'round it'll be different.

Would it be utterly insane to attack NK? Sure. Am I advocating a Paper-Tiger style strategy? Yes. IS it the best we've got? I think so.

_____


Sorry for not responding to all the other comments -- many of which are lucid, thoughtful, and deserve further analysis. If I can, I'll take a second pass through this evening.

Odysseus, if the military lied in the 90s about the Patriot Missile, do you trust them now?

asdf,

Interesting question... but the issue of whether the military lied or not is open to debate.

Just some background info... just in case.

Missile Defense isn't necessarily a head on collision. As a matter of fact, the primary objective with some missiles is to get close and then just blow up. This is true for many Ground to Air and Air to Air systems.

For example, you fire a missile at me... I respond by firing a Patriot...

Your missile goes off course... how do I determine if it was a kill on my part? Did your guidance system take it off course? Did it just blow up too early? Does your missile just suck?

Answering these questions can be very difficult. Even when you are doing it in a controlled environment sometimes it is difficult to reach an accurate conclusion. Making that determination in a battle field environment is even more difficult.

I don't think the military lied out right. I think they reached optimistic conclusions during battle that were later found to be wanting.

Contractors built and designed the system and contractors figured out what went right and what went wrong.

So, I think the assumption that the military lied is not accurate of what actually happened.

I trust people in the military as much or as little as I trust anyone else. There are good and bad. I have seen both. I support checks and balances in just about everything related to the gov't.

Gary, I quote you, and talk about it and then I segued into a discussion about the Edward points. I don't think I made the segue super-clear. Perhaps I should have responded to each of you in separate posts.

"Gary, I quote you, and talk about it and then I segued into a discussion about the Edward points. I don't think I made the segue super-clear. Perhaps I should have responded to each of you in separate posts."

The last isn't necessary. But in every online fora I've seen in the last ten years, and the scattershot ones I saw in the ten years before that, when one quotes someone, and responds below, one is responding below until they make clear they are not doing so any longer.

You can respond to ten, or however many, posts, in a single post. But you do need to indicate, either graphically or with words, that you are switching to responding to something else, yes.

Threaded response mechanisms are useful, but primarily only if one has a choice of one's own program to do so. This is a huge drawback to web BBS systems.

Gary Farber: You can respond to ten, or however many, posts, in a single post. But you do need to indicate, either graphically or with words, that you are switching to responding to something else, yes.

...and imo, the above demonstrates the formatting of one way to do that. For those with slightly less high tech abilities than I (and that's low), here's how to do that:

<b>Gary Farber:</b> <i>You can respond to ten, or however many, posts, in a single post. But you do need to indicate, either graphically or with words, that you are switching to responding to something else, yes.</i>

Remember to preview before posting...

...and imo, the above demonstrates the formatting of one way to do that.

Or one can blockquote the quote.

Where'd everyone go?

von: Would it be utterly insane to attack NK? Sure. Am I advocating a Paper-Tiger style strategy? Yes. IS it the best we've got? I think so.

What on earth makes you think the North Koreans will choose to sacrifice face when confronted with a (fairly obvious) Paper Tiger?

Actually, the big surprise for me was not that Patriot was successful, but that anyone at all expected it to be. It was designed so as to nearly preclude success in intercepting missiles moving at decent velocities. Patriot emplacements were almost exclusively psychological cover more than anything else, and the operators had to be aware of this.

PAC-3, of course, is a completely different beast, and has been extensively flight-tested against just this sort of target. With high success rate, too.

Who's this "the military" guy, and why isn't he in jail?

Oh, and here's a decent report to Congress on the Patriot story. There's even a decent explanation why the military said one thing, when later it turned out to be a bit different. I do have a little...not exactly second-hand, but maybe a hand and a half, knowledge of what the issues were, and although this brief doesn't go into (for obvious reasons) a lot of detail, it's mostly right on.

And BTW, PAC-2, in production in 1995, incorporated some fixes to address the issues exposed in the Patriot defense during GWI. In case anyone's interested.

Also, there's a rather compelling dissection of Ted Postol's claims that Patriot was a total failure here.

And even more here.

thanks, Slarti

Let's quit the nonsense. North Korea wants aid and a security guarantee from the United States and, in exchange, claims that it will relinquish its nuclear weapons (current and future or just current).

Now Vonhow good are North Korean Claims given there overall history. And with eight bombs in hand, you figure they would blow one up to prove they have the bomb.

Von, I did like your barracking for a Kerry plan though, course lovely Clare asked why I was on the floor laughing.

I exist only To Serve Man, asdf.

Emergency italics closure.

ARGH! Finally a thread in which I have at least some degree of credible authority; and, here I am jumping the train at car #63. Anyway, here goes...

First, if the political environment in Japan changes enough to make the idea of wielding nuclear power acceptable to the Japanese populace, that would almost certainly make the region far less stable, regardless of the intentions of either Korea, China, or even the U.S.. These same conditions (a rapid escalation in the current comeback of nationalist sentiment and policy on the part of the Japanese government) would also likely bring about the end of any significant American military presence in the archipelago.

Turning to Mr. Kim's regime (an absurd communist monarchy of sorts: "Someday, son, all this will be yours"), I would put forth a more complex hypothesis of the Dear Leader's motivations and long-term vision. I don't see any nuclear strike against the south. NK needs the south, its technology, its agricultural capacity, its gold, and so on. Desperately. I think Lil' Kim has been very shrewd in exerting whatever influence he can on world events to bring about conditions in which a successful takeover of the south is feasible.

These conditions, in my view, are principally one: non-interference from regional powers. The long-running arms yard sale not only pays for his own military, but has the bonus effect of destabilizing other regions. If things continue to fall apart along the lines of Islamic revolution in a few (currently, tenuously stable) middle eastern regimes, Pakistan, or even south Asia/Oceania, a brand of chaos could erupt that could (conceivably) render the U.S. unable to cope with an invasion of the south.

This is not augury of any kind, just an interpretation of what the man might be thinking.

Should the conditions described above manifest themselves, Kim would be capable of wrecking the world economy by delivering those few nukes to their most likely targets in Japan (and Los Angeles, should he prove to be as mad as many suspect). An unlikely scenario as that would radically shift the defense priorities of Japan and the U.S. away from anything else (blowing the non-interference idea). This would wreck the global economy, though, to his advantage. (If Pakistan goes to hell, they might accomplish this without his needing to bother.) Also, having subdued the south, it might not be unreasonable for Kim to think that he could hold the peninsula against any outside force (at least any conventional force.) From his (highly insulated) p.o.v., it might also be realistic to think that even the citizenry of a newly conquered south might prefer Korean fascism to Japanese interference (I wonder at this, myself).

It's not unlikely that China would come to the rescue. After all, China's interests have certainly shifted away from propping up a neighboring communist regime to protecting the markets that it threatens. Although, (again, from Kim's perspective) trouble in Pakistan and India could conceivably involve and weaken the Chinese military. At the same time, a global economic crisis could easily push China back to its old ways with an eye towards riding out a near-global state of war by shutting the gate, circling the wagons, closing the store, pick your metaphor.

Solutions? If there's some validity to what I've just put forth, it will be of utmost importance for the U.S. to prioritize its military commitments and protect the potential to respond to a crisis on the peninsula. (Consider that a plug for scrapping myopic unilateralism.) At the same time, though, if things get bad enough outside of the peninsula, the U.S. might just have to rely on Japan and China (how's that for an absurd alliance?), and basically write off the peninsula with a sincere apology.

(An aside: Japan and China have fought over Korea before, and Japan currently regards China as its number two threat militarily, and number one threat, economically. China is regarded as just as prominent a justification for strengthening its own conventional forces as is NK.)

The only thing of which I'm confident is the great potential (probability?) that current international conditions/relations are in the midst of rapid change, likely for the worse. It has been in the best interest of the U.S. for about fifteen (or, perhaps, sixty) years to protect the status quo. So far, so good... but how much longer will that last? I'm not optimistic.

If you're still reading, I'm impressed and grateful. This set of hypotheses deserves a good deal of research and analysis, neither of which I have the time or energy to accomplish. Anyway, two cents.

Cheers. (BTW, I'm rather fond of elipses, myself... it's a blog, for cryin' out loud.)

couldn't China just yank the Illmatic's oil anytime they want?

You got me, there. I previewed the post and thought, "There's gotta be a hole in that... I guess I'll put it up and find out."

"...it's a blog, for cryin' out loud...."

No offense intended, but there are always people interested in putting forth an excuse for writing badly; it's always remarkable to see them doing it in a written forum where the only means of communication is through skill in writing.

It's not as if it's harder to write well than to write badly. We're not talking about writing sestinas, or pantoums, after all. Just basic English.

Slart, do you have anything more recent than 1992? Conventional wisdom in my neck of the woods is that the Postol criticism of the Patriot performance has been widely accepted, not just in the physics community, but in the military as well.

No. I'm not saying everything Postol said was wrong, just some of it. He did makes some points that Patriot had this tendency of just chopping the spent motor casing off of the Scud, allowing the warhead section to impact fairly intact, and that was a valid point (although he wasn't the first to make it, nor did he make a very solid case). And, to be complete, there were some things that he missed completely.

His analysis of the video, though, was deeply flawed. And of course the one thing he talked all the way around (but never explored, as far as I can tell) is that Patriot wasn't actually designed for that mission, and so expectations of high success rate in that role were never reasonable.

Hey, if you've got something that shows blanket acceptance, please do link to it. The reason nearly all of the material dates to 1992 is that was when all of the media and congressional interest peaked. I'd certainly be interested in seeing post-1992 data, but I'm too lazy to go looking. At one point I was involved in the threat community, and of course the Gulf War lessons were still being reviewed eight years after the fact.

One thing I've noted from looking at the Missile Defense discussions is that the table-pounders get media attention. The people who are doing seminal work rarely get noticed.

Past the fluff is info on the Patriot...

Really now... some of you guys seem to be a little too focused on style and not content... not everyone has the time nor desire...

For me posting is more like a conversation than an English paper. And a rushed conversation at that.

My work pays me money... posting on a blog doesn't... maybe Gary can take a little comfort in the fact that where I make money get's alot more attention with respect to my writing style.

Gary, what are you an English teacher or journalism junkie? ; -)

Also, when (or if) you read my posts would you please insert dramatic pause when you see... ...


Okay... the Patriot...

Could we please get a recant of "the military lied" meme?

Ironically, the website below seems to be very opposed to Missile Defense, yet the info it contains seems to support the successes even if their conclusions don't... which is... the irony.


http://www.cdi.org/missile-defense/technology.cfm#update

Assessment of the Patriot's performance thus far
According to CENTCOM, Iraq has launched 13 short-range missiles against U.S. and Kuwaiti forces: Eight of the missiles were reported to have been intercepted by the Patriot missile defense system; three of the missiles were on azimuths that did not seem dangerous and were allowed to fall unmolested into the desert or the Persian Gulf; one of the missiles blew itself up shortly after launch. The 13th missile, however, scored a hit, landing near Kuwait City's biggest shopping mall (more about this later in the update). Has the Patriot been performing to the best of its abilities? The short answer is: it's too early to tell. But in "The Patriot: Its Performance So Far," CDI Research Associate Victoria Samson examines what has been reported of the Patriot and explains why we should be leery of jumping to conclusions about its lethality. The analysis is available at http://www.cdi.org/missile-defense/patriot-performance.cfm

Odysseus, given my line of work - data analysis - there's a phrase that comes to mind when I read the CDI update: "insufficient data". Thirteen data points - and that's including the missiles that command didn't bother with - isn't enough information to allow us draw strong conclusions. At this point, the CDI is on the money: "[r]ight now, it is too early to tell: only analysis months, if not years, after hostilities are over will provide an accurate assessment of the Patriot's performance."

It's also worthwhile to note that the Patriots aren't taking down the Ababils one-on-one; by all accounts that I can find, multiple Patriots are launched at a single incoming missile in order to improve the Patriots' lethality. On the other hand, it's true that this was pretty much the way the Patriot was designed to be used, so I'm not sure how to read that.

Again, only time will tell.

Incidentally, the Federation of American Scientists has a good technical-information page on the Patriot missile here.

As far as style goes, Odysseus, I don't think anyone is focusing on style to the detriment of content. I do think that it's important to maintain a certain commenting style, however, if only to keep your comments legible. To me, and to a lot of people, what comes across if you don't format your text in some way is that the discussion isn't really important to you; otherwise you'd be willing to take the time to make your argument readable.

One more thought, and then I'm through:

For me posting is more like a conversation than an English paper.

One of the points of writing all of those English papers is to teach students how to write properly in everyday dealings. Just a thought.

EDG,

As someone who has worked with alot of that type of data I agree that the verdict is still out. That is my real point. Earlier it was claimed that the military lied. I don't believe they did.

But, in support of Missile Defense if one the 8 were headed toward you right now would you want a Patriot in between you? I imagine you would.

As I have said before... it is a valid debate about where to spend dollars... unless of course you are on the receiving end of a Scud or some other missile, then I think I know the answer we would all choose.

Many say it is not viable... but I stand by the conclusion that their own site supports its viability.

Odysseus - to be honest, yes, if I knew a missile was headed my way I'd want something between me and the missile.

On the other hand, if I knew where a hostile launch point was before it launched a missile at me, I'd rather spend the money on neutralizing the launch point than on defending me from potential hostile launches.

(I was originally going to say "I'd rather spend the money on dropping a large bomb on the launch site" until it occurred to me that that might not be the optimal way to neutralize the launch site. Afterwards, when I remembered that although I don't support the war in Iraq but I'm in full support of things blowing up, I decided to include this paragraph. ;)

I'd say that many of the questions regarding the Patriot's abilities have been obsoleted by the upgrade to PAC-2, and have been fully addressed by PAC-3's record in flight test.

JMHO, but I think I know a bit more about this sort of thing than most.

This is not to say that if we had China launch all of its CSS-4s at us, that we could all feel safe and snug. This is a different breed of cat than a Scud, and we don't have anything fielded that's specifically designed to counter it. Why not? It has to do with that ABM treaty that many were shrieking about when Bush decided to terminate it.

(Continued, 'cos I was dumb and hit "Post" instead of "Preview".)

The point is, the Patriot system is intrinsically a defensive weapon. I tend to prefer proactive defenses, assuming we have the information to use them effectively; in other words, yes, it's nice to have the defensive missiles in place, but I'd rather never have to use them if I can help it. Note that I'm not saying This Is How The Military Should Be - I'm just stating a personal feeling on the matter.

I can't really speak to the "the military lied" point; I don't know enough about the situation to make a judgment one way or another.

Slartibartfast, just to clarify, when you say "the upgrade to PAC-2", do you mean PAC-2 or PAC-2 GEM?

EDG,

We are in agreement that neutralizing a source is a nice way to go.

Like any good firewall we should put up multiple defenses...

To be honest, I'd forgotten that PAC-2 deployment had been accelerated, and that the GEM was a later upgrade to PAC-2.

And I actually worked here when we were shipping directly to the theater. Just not on Patriot. Shows you what happens when I rely on memory for this kind of thing.

So, to be clear, what was used in theater was PAC-2. The GEM was an upgrade to PAC-2 that addressed some of the problems seen in GWI. The PAC-3, now, is a completely different beastie. It's much smaller than Patriot (so you can get more of them on a given cargo plane) and it's autonomously guided rather than command-guided. Oh, and it's hit-to-kill, rather than a fuzed blast-fragmentation warhead.

"Patriot wasn't actually designed for that mission, and so expectations of high success rate in that role were never reasonable."

However, and not to be nit-picking, that's not the way it was portrayed to the general public in the mass media.

However, and not to be nit-picking, that's not the way it was portrayed to the general public in the mass media.

I don't read the mass media much, especially when they make so many mistakes when dealing with technology. Can you give me an example?

"As far as style goes, Odysseus, I don't think anyone is focusing on style to the detriment of content. I do think that it's important to maintain a certain commenting style, however, if only to keep your comments legible."

Not just legible. "Intelligible."

There is no separation between "style" and "content" in writing when the only "content" is in words, and how they are arranged. Either it's more readable, or less readable. If it's more readable, more people will read and understand what you say. If it's less readable, fewer people will read and understand what you say.

That's all there is to it. If people want to write in a barely intelligble way, they'll find that they can't make their points, and fewer people end up bothering to try understanding them. That's a choice.

Myself, I find that life is short, and that if people can't be bothered to put in a few seconds to try to write intelligibly, but desire instead to write in private code, I'll skip their posts. Others won't. We'll all carry on.

An analogy is that you can try speaking to a group of friends with marbles in your mouth, and when others say they are struggling to understand you, maybe you might take some of those marbles out, and you complain that you like marbles, they should just get used to struggling to make sense of what you're saying, you shouldn't be surprised if anyone stops listening to you. Who is being rude and thoughtless there?

Never mind, Gary. I just found a report outlining the history of kill effectiveness.

Here's the problem: for the most part, early analysis of flight data will give you the wrong conclusion. Even with a great deal of data (high-bandwidth telemetry) it can take weeks to find out what really happened. The Patriots didn't have that; they had some rather simplistic kill assessment criteria that, it later turned out, were completely unsuitable. Another problem is that for the most part, Army analysts are much less likely to look more deeply into a problem, because they simply don't know enough about how the system works (other than from a user standpoint). A third problem is that the program manager (typically an Army officer) and his chain of command are extremely prone to overinflating effectiveness, because it's what they want to believe and (possibly) because it makes them look good.

All of this led to the government getting bad information, and relaying that bad information to the press. So, did someone lie? I'd want to see some evidence that someone knew better, and made the claim anyway, before I advanced that claim. I've also seen theories aired that it was deliberate propaganda, but I'd want some evidence before latching onto that as well.

Slart said: "So, did someone lie?"

I just want to make clear what I'm sure you realize, which is that I never said anyone lied.

What I, as opposed to others, said was: "However, and not to be nit-picking, that's not the way it was portrayed to the general public in the mass media."

Which you confirm is true. Your account is in no conflict with my understanding, as well.

My only other observation is the obvious: it's a bad thing for the Army (or anyone else, public or private) to relay bad information to the press, because, of course, one's credibility takes a dive.

Donning my turban and gazing into my crystal ball I predict we will do nothing with respect to North Korea for the foreseeable future. Why? Sebastian Holsclaw is correct--China is propping North Korea up and as long as the Chinese leadership sees it as being in their interest to do so they'll keep right on doing so.

In order to convince the Chinese leadership that it would be in their best interests to stop propping North Korea up we'd either have to be willing to do something or withhold something from China that's different than we'd otherwise do. We don't have the guts to do that and both the Chinese and the North Koreans know that.

So we'll do nothing.

"So we'll do nothing."

Respectfully, I'm having trouble finding the information content in this post. The thread has, essentially, been about what we could and might do about North Korea.

What is it you think we could do that we're not going to do?

"...we'd either have to be willing to do something or withhold something from China that's different than we'd otherwise do. We don't have the guts to do that and both the Chinese and the North Koreans know that."

What are you saying? We should "do something"? There's no information in that. Do what?

You seem to be saying that we don't have the guts to do "[null information]." As I said, this leaves a reader blank as to what you are attempting to convey. Other than "we lack guts." Which isn't useful information. Getting guts isn't a plan; it's a pose.

I want to make clear what I'm sure you realize, which is that I never said anyone lied.

Actually, Gary, that was advanced by asdf way upthread, and was part of an ongoing discussion. I probably ought to be a bit more clear about whose arguments I'm addressing.

And while I do agree that the government ought to be a bit more careful about relaying claims made by the military to the newspapers, they really don't know any better; they're at least one level more removed from the facts than the military is. Here's what I think might be more effective: begin actively discouraging misleading statements made by high-level military officers to the press regarding the performance and effectiveness of their pet program. I could point to a number of...unusually favorable claims made by one General Kadish, but I'm far too lazy.

On the other hand, the opposition (UCS, for one) is at least equally guilty of (hopefully) deliberate inaccuracy. Hopefully, because the alternative is that they're not very smart.

China is propping North Korea up and as long as the Chinese leadership sees it as being in their interest to do so they'll keep right on doing so.

I heard a rumor recently that the US is offering China a bribe of some American nuclear power plant technology if they finally get serious and get tough with the DPRK.

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