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Two National Security Developments

In the past couple of days, two important developments with significant implications for US national security have occurred. Namely:

1. North Korea has tested its fifth nuclear device. At this point, these tests have become routine and the explosive payload has increased significantly with each one. Given the status other states had achieved with their fifth tests, the state media claims that North Korea can arm its missiles with nuclear warheads are much more credible. Previously, it was believed that North Korea's crude atomic bombs were similar to those used by the US against Japan at the end of WWII. Notably, those weapons had to be dropped from airplanes, they were too large to be used with a ballistic missile. This meant that an effective air defense could limit the use of North Korea nuclear weapons, but not anymore. Combined with recent tests of conventional ballistic missiles and it is quite apparent that North Korea has upped the ante and promises to make life very difficult for whoever succeeds Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

2. Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry have announced a new joint Russian-American plan to bring peace to Syria. The essence of the plan is to take focus away from the civil war between Assad and Syrian rebels and to instead focus upon elimination of DAESH. Thus, Russia and has promised to stop bombing anti-Assad rebels and the US has promised that it will stop promoting Islamist rebel groups such as Fath al-Sham, an al-Qaida-linked group previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra. A key weakness of this plan is that it leans heavily on concessions from Assad and the rebels fighting against him even though neither participated directly in the deal's formation. If Assad's air force continues to bomb his opponents or anti-Assad rebels refuse to disentangle themselves from Islamist affiliated groups, this whole plan may very well fall apart. Lastly, there is a great deal that is still unknown such as the role Turkey and the Kurds will play. Personally, I don't think this truce will amount to much but I hope I am wrong.

Posted by Warren Porter at September 10, 2016 7:44 PM
Comments
Comment #407338
Lastly, there is a great deal that is still unknown such as the role Turkey and the Kurds will play. Personally, I don’t think this truce will amount to much but I hope I am wrong. Posted by Warren Porter at September 10, 2016 7:44 PM

Biden was the only person that I recall making any sense on this years ago. Kurdistan should have been recognized as independent back then. The Kurds are now semi-autonomous. The Turks don’t like that, and may now act in concert with the Russians because they fear their own Kurdish minority. Iran and Syria also have Kurdish minorities. Kurdistan also contains a Yazidi minority, not part of Islam, who are in danger from DAESH. These people are going to be in conflict with each other for a long time. We need to support the people who have been on the same side with us for the longest time, the Kurds.

North Korea may blow itself up for all we know. The biggest problem there is that Seoul is so close to North Korea that our hands are tied on a military solution. Only China can help us there, applying pressure, or opening their border to allow refugees to escape, who would be welcomed in South Korea.

The next President, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has the experience to deal with all these problems. Hopefully, her clownish opponent won’t try to create more problems in either of these areas.

Posted by: oraoghaile at September 10, 2016 9:38 PM
Comment #407339

oraoghaile,

I hear you regarding Kurdistan. There also happens to be a lot of Kurds living in Iran too, which may have advantages given the complicated geostrategy with that state. Honestly, the Turkish contribution to NATO is the only thing that has allowed them to get their way in suppressing a Kurdish state. Now, with the recent failed coup and kerfuffle regarding the possibility of extraditing Fethullah Gulen to Turkey, Turkish-American relations seem to be in a critical state. Erdoğan has already made such vast changes to what used to be a free secular democracy. Going back to the Mavi Marmara incident, which completely upended Turkish-Israeli relations, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Turkish-American alliance disintegrates further. If so, a Kurdish state would be inevitable.

North Korea may blow itself up for all we know. The biggest problem there is that Seoul is so close to North Korea that our hands are tied on a military solution. Only China can help us there, applying pressure, or opening their border to allow refugees to escape, who would be welcomed in South Korea.
China’s role will be critical. Right now, President Obama has deployed THAAD to protect South Korea from North Korean missiles. Of course, neutralizing North Korea’s offensive capabilities also neutralizes China’s abilities and they are not pleased about that. If we are lucky, this will give China extra impetus to resolve the North Korea situation on their own. If not, it would lead to further breakdown in Sino-America efforts to prevent nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. The good news for you and me is that North Korea still does not have the ability to strike the United States. Nevertheless, Japan and South Korea are our allies and deserve our support. Posted by: Warren Porter at September 10, 2016 11:02 PM
Comment #407343
Nevertheless, Japan and South Korea are our allies and deserve our support. Posted by: Warren Porter at September 10, 2016 11:02 PM

And I’m sure they will get what they need, without any ramping up of tensions through further development of offensive weapons by such technologically advanced countries. North Korea has no other way of getting attention than through saber rattling. They don’t function on the world stage as anything other than a perennial troublemaker. Ultimately, I believe they will destroy themselves. Executing people who fall asleep during the “supreme leader’s” speeches is not going instill confidence in his regime. It’s an example of what happens when child-like irresponsible individuals are given power over others. The odd thing is that we probably know more about what has happened in North Korea than China does, because defectors will tell us more readily than them. It worries me to give national security briefings to Presidential candidates here. Information could leak out from people whose only desire is short term “winning” and that believe that our security is a partisan matter.

Posted by: oraoghaile at September 11, 2016 12:13 PM
Comment #407345
And I’m sure they will get what they need, without any ramping up of tensions through further development of offensive weapons by such technologically advanced countries

The current controversy that is simmering is about the deployment of THAAD to South Korea, which has angered China quite a bit.

Ultimately, I believe they will destroy themselves. Executing people who fall asleep during the “supreme leader’s” speeches is not going instill confidence in his regime. It’s an example of what happens when child-like irresponsible individuals are given power over others.

The same could have been said of Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China 80 or 50 years ago and both of those nations were quite potent adversaries for many decades before destiny took its course. I think there is reason to be somewhat worried about North Korea and being able to balance the competing interests of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China will be a very delicate problem for the next President. Intelligent observers should keep an eye on the situation here.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 11, 2016 12:32 PM
Comment #407346

In the era of Stalin, and even Mao, it took much longer for information to travel around the world. Now, we know what’s going on closer to real time, and so can everyone else who has access to unblocked uncensored information. South Korea’s importance in the dissemination of information is vital.

China may be glad to have attention taken away, by North Korea, from their own aggressive actions. There may be some kind of crackdown in Hong Kong coming soon, which will result in a new wave of emigrees from there. (My Doubles Tennis partner years ago was from there.)

Posted by: oraoghaile at September 11, 2016 1:15 PM
Comment #407402

AP

The United States on Tuesday sent two nuclear-capable supersonic bombers streaking over ally South Korea in a show of force meant to cow North Korea after its recent nuclear test and also to settle rattled nerves in the South.

The B-1B bombers, escorted by U.S. and South Korean jets, were seen by an Associated Press photographer as they flew over Osan Air Base, which is 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the border with North Korea, the world’s most heavily armed. The bombers were likely to return to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, without landing in South Korea.

Such flyovers are common when always high animosity rises on the Korean Peninsula

Posted by: oraoghaile at September 13, 2016 4:54 PM
Comment #407413

oraoghaile,

Thank you for calling attention to the spam comment.

It’s definitely great that Obama refuses to back down and has intensified military training exercises near Korea as has been our tradition. I trust he has the resolve to maintain the THAAD in Korea. Hopefully, the technology can be transferred to the South Korean military soon.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 13, 2016 9:27 PM
Comment #407416

In that AP article, they wrote a little about the locations where North Korea is testing those bombs. I still say they’re going to blow themselves up before they manage to attack anyone else. Also, there’s some major flooding in the North, close to their borders with China and Russia. Aside from a blockade, which would be provocative, I don’t know what else could be done at this time. China would have to cooperate.

There’s an interesting video on the BBCnews channel on YT
about a railroad trip, Crossing Siberia, talking Trump - BBC News:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOF0visASag

Posted by: oraoghaile at September 13, 2016 9:48 PM
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