Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Gates: North Korea will pose direct threat to US
First Iran and now North Korea, the United States seems unable to determine which threat it wants to stare down. Furthermore, Sec Def Gates record for correctly assessing the capability of our potential adversaries seems woefully lacking. The Chinese are fielding the J-20 prototype a full decade ahead of his predictions. The Chinese have also built an anti-shipping missile that seems capable of knocking the snot out of a carrier battle group. Now his assessment is that North Korea is a direct threat due to long range missiles. Well North Korea did not just go out and get that technology.
To be fair, the Secretary is not making these assessments by rather a whole staff of advisors who are presumably pulling intelligence from throughout the Department of Defense. I have the feeling that intelligence that was not consistent with the Sec Def's strategic vision were either filtered or ignored. I suspect Gates' vision is one of a stable world situation that would allow a drawn down of the forces that have grown over the last 10 years. Such a view is one driven more be the economics of waging a two front war than of the reality of the world. North Korea really is undergoing only its second change of leadership since its founding. Iran is rediscovering its Persian Empire roots at a time when the US superpower is waning. China and Russia have just completed an oil pipeline that will give both the needed resources to continue to be major players on the world front.
The US has relied on coalition forces to wage military operations in the last two decades. Support has come primarily from European nations but those nations now face a failing Euro. The United Kingdom is getting rid of its aircraft carriers and is talking with France about forming a joint self-defense force. It is unlikely that should the US find itself in a shooting war with Iran or North Korea (or worse, both at the same time) that it will be able to turn to a coalition of European forces for help.
The US only has Japan and South Korea as military allies in the Pacific. Neither country has a power projection capability. A war on the Korean Peninsula will almost assuredly guarantee and attack by North Korea on Japan. The casualties on the peninsula will be unimaginable, even if it doesn't go nuclear, since there is a huge population densely packed on a small land mass.
Perhaps Gates will prove to be again be wrong, only this time it means we won't be facing a threat.