1) “North Korea now has the ability to hit almost anywhere in the world with an intercontinental continental ballistic missile (ICBM), U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Tuesday. The comments came in response to what the U.S. Department of Defense has assessed to have been DPRK intercontinental continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch earlier in the day,” NK News reports.
2) A researcher at the London School of Economics’ Systemic Risk Centre writes that
“The North Korean regime is completely committed to its nuclear program, and no diplomatic option will lead to North Korea freezing or disbanding it. This being the case, North Korea is and will be capable of launching a nuclear strike at the U.S. and its allies (either on purpose or by accident). To deal with this risk, the U.S. can either: i) limit North Korea’s incentives to launch a nuclear strike through deterrence; or ii) eliminate North Korea’s ability to launch a nuclear strike by means of a preventive war that eradicates the Kim regime and North Korea’s WMD program….
“[B]y choosing deterrence rather than preventive war, the U.S. would be taking a gamble that the benefit of avoiding a war now is greater than the risk posed by the chance of accidental nuclear war in the future. Is this a wise or a foolish gamble?
“I find that gambling on deterrence will lead to 7.5 million U.S.-South Korean-Japanese deaths on average (under optimistic assumptions) while a preventive war now will lead to 1.4 million deaths (under pessimistic assumptions). So, not only is deterrence a gamble, it is a reckless and foolish one. Preventive war is the wise and prudent response to North Korea’s nuclear threat.”
North Korea decision time
3) On November 15th, former UN Ambassador John Bolton published the following comments in The Hill:
“With time having nearly run out, more rhetoric from China, similar to the past several decades, is simply unacceptable. China must use its unique economic leverage over North Korea now, either facilitating a controlled collapse of Kim’s regime to reunify the peninsula under an extended South Korean model, or replacing Kim with a new government that can unquestionably be made to hand over the nuclear weapons program. Although fraught with difficulties, this approach is now actually the “easy way” for China to achieve what it has said for decades is its policy, namely, eliminating Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.”
That was two weeks ago, and it’s now clear that China will not act. It has foreclosed the “easy way.” What then? Here’s how Ambassador Bolton described the alternative:
“The hard way is to stand by while the United States uses military force to destroy that program before North Korea has the capacity to retaliate, also a risky strategy, especially for South Korea. America’s failure to act effectively, however, over 25 years and three presidents, frankly acknowledged in a recent opinion piece by Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security advisor, has brought us to this unhappy point.
“If North Korea achieves deliverable nuclear weapons, it will be able to extort and coerce the United States, Japan, South Korea and others, not to mention opening a vast emporium of nuclear technology for the likes of Iran, other aspiring nuclear weapons states, and even terrorist groups. Arguments that Pyongyang can be contained and deterred as the Soviet Union once was are frank invitations to a new system of international terror, under terms and conditions far different from the Cold War.”
US enemies place hope in The Resistance
The enemies of the US — China, North Korea, Russia, Iran — suppose that the Trump administration, paralyzed by the Democratic Party’s Resistance, will be unable to take any decisive action in the East Asian theater. By way of example,
1) At the University of Connecticut last night a credentialed White House correspondent attempting to speak to campus Republicans was shouted down and the text of his speech forcibly seized by a protester. The response of the university and local police was to arrest not the assaulting protester but the speaker. He “was charged with breach of peace and released on $1,000 bail,” the Washington Post reports.
2) In a second incident, also reported by the Post, “Anti-fracking activists and anarchists are blocking rail tracks in Olympia, Wash. They don’t plan on leaving.”
The activists expected to be ousted by the police, as had happened a year before. But instead, Olympia’s police chief decided he was not going to enforce trespassing laws. That would be unpopular, and besides, he’s sympathetic to the trespassers:
“‘I don’t want my department to be the scapegoat for the decisions the port is making,’ the chief told Olympia’s city council, the Olympian reported. ‘I have spent the last five years empowering our department to build trust and build relationship with our community. I don’t want to lose those efforts. It angers me to have to put our officers in combat gear and face off with members in our community over something I don’t believe in myself.’”
The administration gained two important victories yesterday, however. The President’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney to head the CFPB was ratified by a Federal judge, and the Senate Budget Committee released the Senate version of the tax reform bill to the full Senate for a possible vote this week.
Yesterday, President Trump was briefed on the North Korean ICBM flight while it was still in the air. The President’s comment later: “It is a situation that we will handle.”
As we suggest above, it looks like that will have to be “the hard way.”
Click here for yesterday’s Founders Broadsheet (“Moore defeat jeopardizes administration’s judicial gains”)