Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Of sequester and North Korea

NPR has been spending much effort to broadcast stories demonstrating that Sequester has NOT had any of the adverse effects predicted by critics of the Obama administration.  Fair enough except after I had finished listening to NPR, I then read this on my Facebook timeline;

"Air Force officials will begin to stand down active-duty combat units starting April 9 to ensure the remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year. The stand down is the result of cuts to Air Combat Command's operations and maintenance account, which must be implemented in part by flying approximately 45,000 fewer training hours between now and Oct 1."  U.S. Air Force

I can only assume that NPR had not read this story.

In keeping with this "Baghdad Bob" moment, yesterday a professor from a university that shall remain nameless appeared on a local morning news show to state emphatically that all of this concern about North Korea was totally unfounded.  As the Wizard of Oz famously says, "Ignore the man behind the curtain" or Pyongyang.  He is an expert on North Korea and has written at least one book on the subject so he definitely has the credentials that I don't.

Except then I read this on the New York Times; "North Korea warned foreigners on Tuesday that they might want to leave South Korea because the peninsula was on the brink of nuclear war — a statement that analysts dismissed as hyperbole — the American commander in the Pacific expressed worries that the North’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, might not have left himself an easy exit to reduce tensions.NY Times

The whole sentence is amazing example of towing the party line.  The NY Times manages to call it hyperbole on one hand but then quotes the PACOM commander as if to hedge their bets.  I think the professor may have been consulted.

The two nonsequiturs are in fact part of a continuum of delusion.  Sequester is most assuredly going to impact the United States (contrary to the assurances of the NPR pieces), minimally by causing the Department of Defense to furlough personnel and to eliminate routine training missions.  In-turn this may emboldened our favorite North Korean madman to increase the threats.  What the professor and NY Times both miss is Kim Jung Un is a young, unknown tyrant who believes his father and grandfathers dreams are his destiny to fulfill.  He is not going to behave the same as his ancestors.

North Korea has loaded nuclear missiles on to the launchers.  North Korea shut down access for South Koreans to cross the border to work in their factories.  North Korea has just told foreigners in the South to "get out".  Despite all of this, experts on North Korea are calling for calm.

Secretary of Defense Hagel seems to have a different opinion.  The F-22s are now back in air (after having being grounded for continued problems with the oxygen generators).  They are performing combat air patrols (CAP) in South Korea.  The US, along with Japan and South Korea, have dispatched seven radar equipped destroyers.  The destroyers are the best choice for countering the missile threats.  A good move by the US but one that could drive the North Korean leader to actually launched some type of attack (mortar or artillery strikes) to prove he is serious and not afraid.

Here is what is real question that is going unasked, why now?  North Korea and South Korea seemed to be on the verge of normalizing relations when suddenly ended.  What does North Korea have to gain by potentially escalating things to the point where one side or the other feels compelled to launch a first strike?

China has massed troops on the border with North Korea as I've previously stated.  That would appear to signal that China is not in support of hostilities.  Why then is North Korea escalating?  The only conclusion is there is more being discussed then we are aware of.  Perhaps China or Russia want a destabilized Korean peninsula for some grander strategy and unfortunately, the new North Korean leader is not experience enough to know he is being duped.

The latest report is the missile will be launched tomorrow.  Let's hope that the professor and NY Times are right.

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