So if you’ve been watching the news as of recent, then you’re probably aware of the North Korean “Missile” threat. You see after the death of their leader Kim Jong-il, his son took the reins of the country. As of recent Kim Jong-Un has been working in quite a dedicated manner to prove his is capable of running his nation. Most recently, despite warnings from all members of the international community, North Korea continued it’s Nuclear Test on February 13th, and not something of the peaceful variety either. This test was very clearly the detonation of a small nuclear device somewhere underground.
This isn’t exactly the first time that North Korean’s have proven that they know how to split the atom, but it would be the first instance under the new leadership of Kim Jong-Un. The North Koreans in fact had not tested a nuclear weapon since May of 2009. So of course the national media outlets decided that outside of the pope, this was the most fascinating thing they could talk about. Nightmare scenarios not called for since the Cuban missile crisis were being thrown around. Listing (against my better judgment) to talk radio this notion that the Koreans would hit the coast of Alaska were thrown around, and as I’m watching CNN today I see they’ve brought on a military expert to talk about the missile defense shield.
That’s when it hit me like a brick wall; because, here’s the thing, The North Koreans are wholly unprepared and incapable of engaging the US in any sort of major conflict. Even being incredibly generous with North Korean artillery placements, they could wage a full scale assault for perhaps three to five hours at worst killing several thousand in Seoul.
I don’t mean to sound dismissive of South Korean lives on this matter, quite the opposite really. The truth of the matter is that even if we assume that all of the 13,000 odd north Korean artillery placements can actually fire (given that the North Koreans can’t keep the lights on, assuming that their military has been maintained is a fragile hope at best), the initial strike would likely cause those citizens not injured during the attack to seek out shelter, and given that Seoul has been preparing for just such an event for the past 50 years we can safely assume the North Koreans might give the South Korean capital a bloody nose, but full scale destruction is highly unlikely.
In the time it would take for the North Koreans to even begin prepping a second round of attacks, a joint operations conducted by US and South Korean forces would decimate the largely untested and poorly equipped North Korean military.
Here’s the thing about the North Korean military that I don’t think a lot of people realize. Even though the North has sunk the majority share hold of whatever amount of profit they can manage into it, it’s ultimately still just posturing. There are also assumptions that China may step in to defend it’s border state; however, this is becoming increasingly hard to justify. Where China once saw the North Korean buffer state as a handy stop gap between the democratic South Korea and itself, the North Korean’s growing tradition of causing unrest is making the Alliance look less and less useful.
The truth of the matter is that the North Korean government simply can’t afford on any level to start or maintain a war. The United States, who would likely be the primary opponent, attacked the much more heavily armed Iraq and decimated it’s ground forces in less then a matter of hours. Even assuming that dense jungles made the North Koreans more difficult to spot, their military capabilities simply are not a match for the far superior US Air Force.
The thing is, there wouldn’t be a ground war in Korea, the US isn’t going to cross the DMZ because it doesn’t need to. The US is operating with Generation 5 stealth aircraft that are more then capable of taking out any ground to air installations and possible airbases. When that is all said and done the US would being using it’s infamous A-10 Thunderbolt II’s to take out the remaining ground forces.
You see, for all the criticism of the US military expenditures, there are advantages to having the single most sophisticated air force on the planet. The only countries on the planet right now that have even the faintest chance against the US in the sky are the nations that compose the EU. Russia and China have both been delayed in rolling out Gen 5 aircraft to counter the US F-22 Raptor / JSF 35 Lightning 2 Programs, not unlikely do serious budget constraints related to the technology.
North Korean Missile Range
So, the North Koreans don’t have a military or even a missile program that can get out of the sea of japan. Even their longest range missile, the Taepodong can barely reach Alaska, and that assumes the missile even works. You see, the North Korean’s aren’t actually stupid enough to test such a missile because they know the moment they have a weapon traveling into the pacific the US will react.
So why is the US media so horny over a Korean Missile attack? Well that’s where the conspiracy theorist in me has to pull out a tinfoil hat. You see, there’s this project called the Patriot Missile Defense system. We began deploying the system in Israel to help them ward off any potential SCUD or similar launches from Iraq and Iran. The problem of course is that it didn’t work… even on the best of days. Continued testing of the defense system revealed that it was incredibly lacking at actually catching missiles.
It was part of this really big project in the US to create a series of “Rings” at which different missile defense systems could be activated. Patriot was part of the long – Medium range, where other projects like the the CIWS systems deployed on carriers currently (also only mildly successful at their jobs). In fact in the case of the CIWS, the one time it managed to be used in combat, it ended up shooting down the Chaff of another ship in the carrier group meant to ward an incoming missile.
Seeing the results of the various mildly successful projects, even the defense spending Pentagon came to the conclusion that the budgets on these projects probably wasn’t worth it. At the time, the US was engaged with counter terrorist / counter cyber terrorism attacks. The chance of a nation with an actual missile system attacking were becoming increasingly unlikely.
Step in the North Koreans. Proudly proclaiming they are in the mood the nuke the US, should they get the chance, the Defense Department’s ears pined happily. Now the US defense department has a reason to roll out those lovely Missile Defense Systems, and thus we can continue the US military industrial complex.
The thing is, the US population has begun to get wind of the fact that US defense spending is egregious. When you factor in growing unrest among the general populace with things like the Occupy Wall Street over there being a shrinking number of social projects, it becomes really tough to justify spending money on a laser to shoot down non existent missiles.
So what you need is something people can be afraid of, you need a threat to justify the billions of dollars you’re continuing to sink into the most advanced military force on the planet.
Thus the North Koreans, a non threat with barely the power to strike at South Korea half most likely any other target on the planet, posturing so someone will pay attention to them, and the US desperately needing a boogyman to continue it’s Military Industrial Complex.