Is war with North Korea inevitable?

Like many of my readers, I’ve been following developments in North Korea with great interest and growing concern.  I think Kim Jong-Un is not so much deranged, as living in an alternate reality.  He’s surrounded by a party political apparatus that, through a bizarre cult of personality, seeks to semi-deify him in the eyes of the North Korean people, just as it did his father and grandfather.  That means the only feedback he receives on a regular basis is fawning approval and approbation.  He hears few, if any, voices that dare to “speak truth to power” – and those few that have tried, have died.  He has little or no idea of US determination to prevent him putting his outrageous nuclear threats into action.

Perhaps the best summation of the current situation is provided by Larry Lambert.

The fat little dictator, Kim Jong Un, playing his ‘mouse that roared’ scenario is over-playing his hand, but there’s nobody close to him who can explain it in a way that he will understand.

. . .

North Korean leaders have prepared for only one kind of warfare and have no experience fighting it. There is a grave danger that North Korea will misperceive or misinterpret US and Allied intentions.

. . .

Chinese leaders have fundamental differences with the US about the nature of the crisis, who must take the lead in a confrontation with North Korea and about the aims of sanctions. In short, the Chinese leaders do not trust the US leaders to behave in a way consistent with Chinese best interests.

The Trump Administration is not the Obama Administration and SECDEF Mattis is not some jumped-up political appointee. I still anticipate a kinetic war that will likely go nuclear on the Korean Peninsula within the next 5-6 months. The Norks are increasing hysterical and emotional and as stated above, their naive world view would likely cause them to react to something that is not intended as ‘preemptive action’. When missiles are flying back and forth, China, on the border with North Korea has far more to lose than they do by sanctioning North Korea and starving them into backing down — but they’re still very slow to do that.

My own personal judgment is that the Norks themselves are past the point of no-return.

There’s more at the link.  Recommended reading.

I agree with Mr. Lambert.  North Korea absolutely refuses to back down;  but the United States absolutely cannot accept that so unstable and xenophobic a regime should be allowed to possess nuclear weapons that can strike US territory.  The irresistible force has run headlong into the immovable object, and the pressure between them is increasing by the day.  Since I see no peaceful way to relieve that pressure, I believe that military hostilities are inevitable in the short to medium term.

The trouble is, those hostilities are likely to be devastating to at least the Korean Peninsula.  If nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are used, the devastation may well spread to other countries, too.  North Korea is insanely over-armed for its size, even though many of its weapons systems are outdated or obsolete.  Its military forces would likely destroy much of South Korea in any conflict, deliberately aiming to maximize civilian casualties.  It’s the nature of the North Korean beast.  Equally, I believe that rather than commit hundreds of thousands of troops to a conventional war, the US will almost certainly use nuclear weapons.  North Korea has amassed a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and now has nuclear warheads as well – and it’s publicly stated its willingness to use them.  The US has no logical, rational choice but to accept those statements as real, and – in the absence of any other alternative – forestall them by a preemptive counter-strike.

Folks, if any of you are in South Korea, or have family or friends there, you need to get the hell out of there.  RIGHT NOW.  In my judgment, this has gone beyond the point where peaceful resolution is still possible.  If you stay there, you’re putting yourself (and perhaps your loved ones, too) in the line of fire.  That’s not a good place to be.

For those so inclined, I suggest urgent prayers for peace.  It’s about all that is left to us.



  1. I'm afraid that the Norks are not capable of backing down and there's not much chance that we can, either.

    I hear tales that Kim is like a Pharaoh – considered a God. He supposedly never does anything wrong, never even defecates. Anyone who has tried to guide or correct him has been killed off, which tends to limit the amount of guidance he gets!

    It seems to me that one of prime lessons of the 20th century is that once you have nukes, no other country "effs" with you. Their only value is in the threat of using them. I've been wondering how long that can hold for most of my adult life.

  2. Judging by accounts of people who've escaped North Korea, the entire country is living in an alternate reality. Or was.

    It would be interesting to know whether cell phones, internet, smuggled DVD's or television have had any impact on this alternate reality. Can the censorship really be that all-encompassing?

  3. I think you are wrong on one item. I do not think the USA will launch nukes on anything short of a crippling strike, and NK does not have nearly the arsenal to cripple our nation. We would certainly invade and wipe his regime off the map if he launches at us, China be damned, but it would be a conventional war. Even after 8 years of Obama an unfettered US military can clean out the NK army in days. Just look at how easily we wiped out the Iraqi Army both times. We are great at conventional warfighting. Insurgency, not so much, but the first week or 2 of conflict would be devastating and non-nuclear. We simply would not have to resort to such and the worldwide political fallout from going nuclear would be too much for even Trump to consider.

  4. I could see a 2-part strike with one being intensive bombing along the border to suppress the artillery aimed at Seoul, and the second attack aimed at the leadership in the capitol. Along with a clearly worded note to the Chinese that Fat Boy has crossed a line and is getting his knuckles rapped so please stand by. On your own side of the border.

    Kims nukes seem to be hand made in someones garage so I don't see him having any to hand to use and we shouldn't need any.

    No nukes required and done fairly quickly.

  5. I believe they will take it to the brink, and make a last minute decision… I have NO idea which way they will actually go…

  6. trump is surrounded by traitors in the national security apparatus telling him lies. independent intel and foreign (israeli) intel says kim has no miniaturized warheads, no guidance and the range of his missiles are greatly exaggerated. last week said 5 nukes, all of a sudden they say 60. last week intel said 3 to 8 years to get a intercontinental capability, now boom, they are supposedly ready to smoke the heartland. i don't buy it. the deep state wants us in a war, any war will do. they failed to lure us into iran, then russia, then china, now korea. they are willing to murder millions of us for their aims, mostly the dollar. i wouldn't put it past them to blow up the white house and call it kim's doing. trump surprised me somewhat in syria in that he didn't fall for the "assad is gassing his people" bullshit. trump put on a show of believing them, but it ended there in the desert. God help us!

  7. I hope the N. Koreans back down at the last minute, but again maybe they won't. Kim has NO real world experience, and no one in his own govt. will tell him he is wrong. N. Korea has never been in a war in (almost) living memory. I am afraid there is a good chance that they believe their own propaganda. I hope that it occurs to Kim that if he launches nukes and he survives, he will be a ruler of nothing. US policy since WWII has called for an nuclear attack to be answered with same. If Kim doesn't back down, I see the only alternatives as (in house) assassination, China taking come sort of action, or another Korean war.

  8. Nope, nope, nope. Pete's most likely right, and everyone that says it's going to be a cake walk like Iraq, or that we can bomb the norks enough to protect the ROK is just flat wrong, if not delusional.

    1. When you think of the north side of the DMZ, think of it like the Maginot Line was, except it's us and the ROKs in Germany's place and we have no Belgium to swing around through to take it from behind. Nevermind the fact that we're talking 200 plus miles of hidden, hardened fighting positions and shelters. Nevermind that we're talking about terrain that all up or all down with nary 6 foot of flat ground to be found in between.

    2. We've already run out of long-tom barrels to make bunker busters out of. Nevermind that we never had, nor manufactured all that many of them in the first place. IIRC, our total production of deep, hard target penetrator bunker busters never reached more than a couple of hundred…and we're going to need THOUSANDS just for the hardened artillery positions that are in range of Seoul. And at least some of those positions have been built with multiple blast doors and dog-legs designed to defeat EXACTLY the types of air attacks we would be trying to deliver.

    3. Just a couple of months ago, DoD published a report that out of 13 BCT's, we have 1 or 2 that meet all of the qualifications to be considered "combat ready".

    I'm going to stop with that and just add this comment: When the DPRK pops chem or a nuke, the US is going to pop a nuke – just like our LONG standing policy has stated we would. And the US is going to become even more of a Pariah because of it, but do NOT expect the US to start with nukes. Nor should you expect that one or two, or even a dozen, nukes are going to end things with the DPRK. It's going to be bloody. And we, as a nation, do not have the stomach to absorb, nor sustain, the losses we are going to experience.

  9. Not to put too fine a point on things, but we've been at war with North Korea for quite some time now – the armistice just is a cease-fire, though one that has been repeatedly violated by the Norks.

  10. I agree with Anonymous above. We don't know where all their nukes are nor do we have the tools to dig them out.

  11. The reason why the DPRK is hell bent on getting a credible nuclear deterrent is to prevent the U.S. from doing what we've done all over the middle east and around the world which is meddling in another sovereign nations internal affairs and encouraging "regime change" or failing that, invasion. The U.S. hasn't, for obvious reasons, invaded a nation with the ability to deliver nuclear weapons to the CONUS. Would it be preferable that the DPRK not have nuclear weapons? Of course, but our own actions have pushed them into a position where they must or they'll either be overthrown, invaded or sanctioned into famine and poverty. You think they weren't watching Iraq, Syria, Libya and everywhere else?

    This is exactly the kind of thing most of the people voting for Trump were voting against. No more foreign adventurism, entangling alliances or meddling everywhere and anywhere and the spending of U.S. blood and treasure on ginned up wars based on neocon lies, delusional generals and avoracious defense contractors.

    Suppose the DPRK develops a credible, deliverable nuclear deterrent of a few dozen weapons in the 5-40 kt range. The U.S. has about 4000 in the current stockpile most much larger and also possesses the systems to deliver them with pinpoint accuracy. Just as importantly the US still maintains a robust command and control system for those weapons designed to fight a protracted all out global thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union and later Russia and or China. In other words we could, if necessary, take the entire DPRK arsenal on the chin and still be able to incinerate the northern part of the Korean peninsula.

    This overwrought pant soiling hysteria coming out of the US government is sort of perplexing. It doesn't make sense. The DPRK has no desire to start lobbing nukes or even go to war. Their aims are to prevent meddling in their affairs, get sanctions loosened and to eventually get the US to move its military presence from the ROK. All those aims are fairly reasonable and would actually be good for the US. We shouldn't be meddling in their affairs. We shouldn't have troops in the ROK when they are perfectly capable of defending themselves. As for sanctions WTF cares.

    I get the impression that we're being maneuvered into something by the Deep State. I'm damned disappointed that Trump is letting it happen. You can bet that Donald jr or his other kids aren't gonna be the ones coming home in body bags as a result of this madness. The Clinton, Bush or Tillerson progeny aren't gonna have to worry about getting shelled on the DMZ or deployed yet again for another decode or three.

  12. Anonymous at 5:47,

    Yes, people voted for Trump to stop rampant military 'adventures.'

    But due to actions of the previous administration and the media's malfeasance in covering up and out-and-outright lying about said administration's actions and actions of enemy foreign governments (insert NORK here) we are now faced with something that should have been more forcefully handled by said previous administrations.

    It's like the chickens have come home to roost, with nuclear weapons.

    Same can be said for Iran.

    This crap should never have allowed to develop to this level.

    But we have been at a state of war (whether people believe it or not) with North Korea since they first started their little adventure in border expansion. We have only had a semi-cease fire situation, with deaths on both Korean sides and some American servicemen caught up in it as well.

    North Korea is a tumor. It has been malignant, now it has entered Stage 4 and is trying to metasticize.

    And I never expected, in my worse nightmares, that 8 years of "Hope and Change" would bring us to a new (Insert crazy socialist regime name) Missile Crisis.

    Please, for the love of God, may we all survive this and learn from it.

    Otherwise, if you have any family in Asia at all, China, Japan, Guam, SK, et al, get them out now. Have them head west or south if possible (away from the prevailing winds.)

  13. What if in the mind of Fatboy Kim, it isn't the U.S. that's Enemy No.1 — but China? For evidence, consider that he had his own brother assassinated in Malaysia, fearing that the Chinese were grooming him as his replacement after a coup. The Chicoms, instead of being pleased that he's annoying the U.S. endlessly, are well tired of the pudgy little clown. He's a distraction and a nuisance to them. They would much prefer seeing a puppet they control in his place. So, while ostensibly building nukes to deter the U.S., he is in fact doing it to deter the Chinese — not by threatening them directly, but by signaling that any attempt to remove him could become messy quickly and escalate to use of nukes with untold ramifications, something the risk-averse Chicoms want to avoid.

  14. OK, I'll toss in my two cents:

    NK is, and has been for decades, dangerously isolated. Very little goes out, almost nothing comes in (except for what TPTB desire and approve of, and so little of that from western sources as to be non-existent), so there's no awareness of what the rest of the world is like, even at top levels.

    This could be a complex version of saber rattling, but I suspect the extreme lack of awareness (above) has led to delusional thinking and behavior, which could very well lead to the taking of (ill advised) action. If for years and years you have been told the earth is flat, and the farthest you can see is the horizon, you'll probably accept the concept as gospel; you certainly won't have any data to contradict it.

    Which is where I think we are. There is no question that, should things go kinetic, NK will cease to exist, and there's high probability of other geopolitcal areas ceasing as well, or nearly so.

    For example: SK is a very close target – NK doesn't need to go nuclear to economically cripple SK, it can be done with standard-tech artillery tubes (Hyundai and Kia owners are advised to start stocking spare parts now), and Pyongyang-to-Tokyo is 800 miles; Hitler's V-2s were nearly capable of that 70+ years ago, and it's a couple hundred shorter to most of the rest of Japan (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Sony, Toshiba, et al, owners are also advised to stock up on parts). To Guam it's 2K miles, and that arc includes the Phillipines; add 1K and it includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand. FYI, a LOT of the integrated circuits in our TVs, radios, Fords, Chevys, Whirlpools, etc. come out of semiconductor fabs in Malaysia and Indonesia. Another 1K covers northern Australia, which, while not technically a target of great strategic importance – there's not a whole lot more than kangaroos and dirt there – the political impact of Darwin becoming a smoking crater would be beyond severe.

    So Kim doesn't need to hit San Francisco, Dallas or Boston to Burn It All Down. A 4,000 mile radius would move a huge portion of world population back to the Stone Age (when large markets disappear, not only does all assistance and development in Africa stop, South and Central America America shrivels up – they'll always have coffee and cocaine to sell, but no markets for very much else, including the auto plants Ford, VW and Toyota have in Mexico – and the shock wave from the Dow and S&P dropping 70% overnight will metastasize to Yurp the next day; much of Germany, France and England could start looking like GoT in a year).

    Would North Korea survive such activities? Of course not. It would take a while, and a lot of troops would require NBC gear to do it, but after Western Civilization showed Kim what real nuclear weapons are, mere "scorched earth" would be mild in comparison.

    Since there's nothing in NK that could be termed "real civilization" eliminating it as an entity would be like bombing the Sahara. Unfortunately, at that point there probably would be huge gaps in "real civilization" in South Korea, southern Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.

    And, if all that weren't bad enough, what the myopics in China would do during all this is truly a wild card.

    The fault for all this lies squarely on a pair of Bushes, Bill Clinton & Co., and the Obama Gang. There were many squandered opportunities to rein in NK but The Voters decided concentrating on Facebook, SnapChat, American Idol and their Starbucks stock was more important.

    Best path to success? There isn't one, but an icepick (or several) in the ear(s) at midnight holds possibilities, except Frank Church and his buddies castrated the CIA and the concept of extremely covert boots on the ground 40 years ago, and politics and social boot-licking in Langley finished the job.

    Buckle up, folks, the next 6-9 months are going to be a wild ride with no good options, only a very few less-worse ones.

  15. At work it's 50/50 war with the NOKRs this year.

    My money is on the ChiComs removing Little Fat Boy before the shooting starts. They won't tolerate a nuke exchange on their border.
    They will also not tolerate US troops in North Korea.


  16. I worry most about our troops stationed in South Korea, and also the good people of South Korea, who stand directly under the mouth of the dragon cave. There aren't enough words to adequately describe my loathing of the NORK dynasty. Nor can I describe my pity for the North's citizens, who have lived a lifetime under the the boot of the Communists.
    We have a moral responsibility to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our loyal ally, and for a second time to endure the grievous bloodshed that will accompany war when it does again to Korea.
    Words also fail to describe the loathing of previous administrations who failed to nip this crisis as it developed.
    Between the proverbial rock and hard place is an awful place.


  17. I'm less concerned with the NK ICBMs than I am of shipping containers containing crude nukes that could already have been pre-positioned here, just waiting for a detonation signal.

  18. I think Anon@5:40 might have a point about Kim being more worried that the Chinese will decide he's outlived his usefulness than he is about the U.S. Kinda like how Saddam made a big show about his stockpile of chem weapons because he was afraid of the Iranians coming back for revenge, and not because he liked provoking America.

  19. To those who advocate controlling North Korea via conventional warfare:
    Given the time required to logistically prepare for conventional warfare ( ie.,build up troops and supplies), North Korea would have considerable time to whip up themselves, their allies, and the rest of the world into a frenzy. Given the psychological instability of the North Korean leader and the inability of his gov't and military leaders to gainsay him, the launching of a nuke is a given. Under those circumstances, even if the missile does not reach the US or a US Protectorate like GUAM or ally like Japan, the US would have NO alternative but to launch a responding nuclear attack.
    China is the key. They have more to lose from a radioactive Korean peninsula than any one else. If we can engage them into gaining some form of control over Kim the Megalomaniac there is a hope of peace. What the Chinese will want for that kind of effort is anyone's guess.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *