Big stick?

Secretary of State Tillerson's brief comment:
North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.


Grim said...

If they decide for the stick with the DPRK, they'd better use a big enough one on the mountains near Seoul.

Tom said...

That whole city is a hostage.

I really don't think there's a good ending to be had over there. If the regime falls, even just under its own weight, I expect a massive humanitarian disaster. With a war, who knows?

Grim said...

I have a good friend who is there on deployment right now.

jaed said...

That... does not sound good.

(Tillerson's remark, not your friend.)

Matt said...

The most optimistic interpretation I can think of for Tillerson's remark is that they're trying to take a "do not feed the trolls" attitude towards North Korean provocations. The question is, when you don't respond to attention-seeking behavior with attention, do they give up, or ratchet up the intensity until you have to respond?

Grim said...

The DPRK has put itself in a position in which they physically depend on the capacity to extort aid shipments. I'd expect the ratchet.

E Hines said...

If they decide for the stick with the DPRK, they'd better use a big enough one on the mountains near Seoul.

Of course. But surrendering the hostage to the hostage taker is more foul than the hostage taking.

And Pyongyang, and its military facilities, are far more vulnerable than anything in the Republic of Korea. As is the case for anything anywhere in northern Korea.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

Sure, but they seem to have a lose-lose attitude about this. I have no doubt we could topple NK quickly, but ... well, the population of Seoul is about 10 million, with more than 20 million in the metropolitan area. I've read the NK guns have chemical rounds. If we didn't get them in the first strike, they could potentially cause massive civilian casualties, as well as hit our own and SK forces stationed there.

On the other hand, the South Koreans have probably done a lot of thinking about that. Maybe there are good plans & preparations to avoid such a catastrophe. I hope so.

Or, the Norks could use nukes on Seoul.

It's a pretty messy situation.

E Hines said...

... the population of Seoul is about 10 million, with more than 20 million in the metropolitan area.

So what's your solution?

Eric Hines

Eric Blair said...

I am hoping that Trump makes some sort of deal with the Chinese over Kim.

I've been saying for years that if the Chinese were smart, (but I don't think they are), they'd overrun North Korea and then give it back to the South on the proviso that the South tells the US "Thanks, go home, we don't need you anymore".

Ties up South Korea for a generation, and at the end of it, it will be firmly in the Chinese sphere of influence, just like it always.

Texan99 said...

Couldn't agree more.

Tom said...

I don't have a good solution. If we solve the problem, it gets very messy very quickly. We win, but it could easily be a Pyrrhic victory.

Really, I think Mr. Blair's is the best I've heard. If China solves the problem, it'll still be messy, but there are two advantages for us.

First, the Chinese may be able to solve it without getting us or South Korea involved, and their position as a key ally may allow them to solve it without an all-out war.

Second, whatever happens, it won't be our fault.

E Hines said...

the Chinese may be able to solve it without getting us or South Korea involved

No, Mr Blair's solution explicitly surrenders the RoK to the PRC. And that most assuredly would be our fault.

Separately, I've had a belly-full of avoiding action because somebody might blame me for taking it.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

You're right on both scores.

I assumed his solution doesn't surrender it as a free nation, just pulls us out. I also assumed, although he doesn't actually say it, that South Korea would be party to the agreement and stand up for their own interests.

On the second, I guess I mean it won't be our problem; someone else would be solving this bloody, filthy, preposterously stupid problem, at the expense of their young military men and women, and their treasury.

I understand your feeling about avoiding action to avoid blame. You're right; that's not a good reason. However, I'm disgusted by the turn of many Republicans / right-leaning folks against Bush's wars and their adoption of some of the left's rhetoric about them. If the right is now turning that way, our nation is not capable of fighting wars properly anymore.

"Properly." I don't know what adverb I mean there, I'm tired, and my thoughts on all that are fairly uncivil, so I'll retire for the evening.

Tom said...

Apologies for the incivility. I think frustrations from my analog life were bleeding through into my commenting yesterday.

I don't know of any good solutions to the Nork problem, but some solutions seem worse than others. As long as South Korea remains free, I'm open to a Chinese solution. They encouraged the problem for so long it is probably largely their responsibility to solve it. If they did so and set up a puppet state in NK, leaving the situation in SK the same but without the insane dictator to the north, then that would be much better than what we have now.

But what are the odds? I really have no idea how the Chinese view this problem.

E Hines said...

I hadn't noticed any incivility. We all wax...enthusiastic...on occasion.

I really have no idea how the Chinese view this problem.

A PRC solution does nothing to protect either the RoK or Japan. Or more broadly our friends, allies, or those who might like to be one or the other around the South China Sea. The PRC views all of this, not just their clients in northern Korea, from the purview of their Warring States period. They're asking after our cauldrons, and we're not, yet, answering in any adequate fashion.

And that's a problem.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

That's true, the PRC solution doesn't help our allies, but neither does a nuclear-armed NK. It is a problem that our answer has been inadequate. What would be an adequate one?

E Hines said...

Much broader than military strikes against northern Korea's rocket and nuclear production facilities (which would require, of necessity, strikes against Pyongyang-located rocket and artillery facilities). That's a piece of cake, though, as far as it goes.

Without specifying an order of events, what's also necessary is the rollback of the PRC from its occupation of the South China Sea and its aggression in the East China Sea, along with a retry at something related to the TPP (since international trade has little to do with economics and much to do with politics), plus up the ADB, talk to the 'Stans about their positions vis-a-vis the PRC and its new Silk Road, talk with (gasp) Russia about the PRC's colonization of Siberia under the guise of helping Russia develop its oil, gas, and timber resources there, etc, etc.

The PRC views us as the hegemon and itself as the secretly usurping lesser state. We need to take them at their word, and smack the lesser state back down. Which their own Tsun-tse tells us does not necessarily mean a military smack.

Focusing on only one thing at a time--which itself seems to tax the attention span of politicians too much--is a fool's game. This is a system effort.

So is expecting quick results, although we are running out of time with northern Korea in particular, and military strikes are becoming an increasingly major part of a shortening list of options. But doing nothing regarding northern Korea will bring disaster.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

I think your view of China makes sense, though the "how" part is an interesting question.

I think NK is a slow motion train wreck and we're just waiting for impact. It's going to be a disaster regardless of whether someone does something or not. It's unsustainable, so even if no outside forces intervene, at some point it will fly apart on its own. I think the big question is how specifically the train comes off the tracks and what happens then.