What the US response will mean for stability in Asia and beyond.

The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.

If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.

In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.

The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.

First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.

Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.

Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.

The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited.

In an interview Sunday with Fox News’s Trish Regan, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was asked about the possible repercussions of a US military assault against North Korea for the security of South Korea.

Regan asked, “What are we risking though if we say we’re going to go in with strategic military strength?… Are we going to end up with so many people’s lives gone in South Korea, in Seoul because we make that move?” Bolton responded with brutal honesty.

“Let me ask you this: how do you feel about dead Americans?” In other words, Bolton said that under prevailing conditions, the US faces the painful choice between imperiling its own citizens and imperiling the citizens of an allied nation. And things will only get worse. Bolton warned that if North Korea’s nuclear threat is left unaddressed, US options will only become more problematic and limited in the years to come.

This then brings us to the third lesson of the current round of confrontation between the US and North Korea.

If you appease an enemy on behalf of an ally then you aren’t an ally.

And eventually your alliance become empty of all meaning.

For 25 years, three successive US administrations opted to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear program in large part out of concern for South Korea.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sought to appease North Korea’s aggressive nuclear adventurism because they didn’t believe they had a credible military option to deal with it.

In the 1980s, North Korea developed and deployed a conventional arsenal of bombs and artillery along the demilitarized zone capable of vaporizing Seoul.

Any US military strike against North Korea’s nuclear installation it was and continues to be argued, would cause the destruction of Seoul and the murder of millions of South Koreans.

So US efforts to appease Pyongyang on behalf of Seoul emptied the US-South Korean alliance of meaning. The US can only serve as the protector of its allies, and so assert its great power status in the Pacific and worldwide, if it prevents its allies from being held hostage by its enemies.

And now, not only does the US lack a clear means of defending South Korea, and Japan, America itself is threatened by the criminal regime it demurred from effectively confronting.

Regardless of the means US President Donald Trump decides to use to respond to North Korea’s provocative actions and threats to America’s national security, given the nature of the situation, it is clear that the balance of forces on the ground cannot and will not remain as they have been.

If the US strikes North Korea in a credible manner and successfully diminishes its capacity to physically threaten the US, America will have taken the first step towards rebuilding its alliances in Asia.

On the other hand, if the current round of hostilities does not end with a significant reduction of North Korea’s offensive capabilities, either against the US or its allies, then the US will be hard pressed to maintain its posture as a Pacific power. So long as Pyongyang has the ability to directly threaten the US and its allies, US strategic credibility in East Asia will be shattered.

This then brings us to China.

China has been the main beneficiary of North Korea’s conventional and nuclear aggression and brinksmanship.

This state of affairs was laid bare in a critical way last month.

In mid-August, Trump’s then chief strategist Steve Bannon was preparing a speech Trump was set to deliver that would have effectively declared a trade war against China in retaliation for its predatory trade practices against US companies and technology. The speech was placed in the deep freeze – and Bannon was forced to resign his position – when North Korea threatened to attack the US territory of Guam with nuclear weapons. The US, Trump’s other senior advisers argued, couldn’t declare a trade war against China when it needed China’s help to restrain North Korea.

So by enabling North Korea’s aggression against the US and its allies, China has created a situation where the US has become neutralized as a strategic competitor.

Rather than advance its bilateral interests – like curbing China’s naval aggression in the South China Sea – in its contacts with China, the US is forced into the position of supplicant, begging China to restrain North Korea in order to avert war.

If the US does not act to significantly downgrade North Korea’s offensive capabilities now, when its own territory is being threatened, it is difficult to see how the US will be able to develop an effective strategy for coping with China’s rise as an economic and strategic rival in Asia and beyond. That is, the US’s actions now in response to North Korea’s threat to its national security will determine whether or not the US will be in a position to develop and implement a wider strategy for maintaining its capacity to project its economic and military power in the Pacific in the near and long term.

Finally, part of the considerations that need to inform US action now involve what North Korea’s success in developing a nuclear arsenal under the noses of successive US administrations means for the future of nuclear proliferation.

In all likelihood, unless the North Korean nuclear arsenal is obliterated, Pyongyang’s nuclear triumphalism will precipitate a spasm of nuclear proliferation in Asia and in the Middle East. The implications of this for the US and its allies will be far reaching.

Not only can Japan and South Korea be reasonably expected to develop nuclear arsenals. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other inherently unstable Arab states can be expected to develop or purchase nuclear arsenals in response to concerns over North Korea and its ally Iran with its nuclear weapons program linked to Pyongyang’s.

In other words, if the US does not respond in a strategically profound way to Pyongyang now, it will not only lose its alliance system in Asia, it will see the rapid collapse of its alliance system and superpower status in the Middle East.

Israel, for one, will be imperiled by the sudden diffusion of nuclear power.

Monday morning, North Korea followed up its thermonuclear bomb test with a spate of threats to destroy the United States. These threats are deadly even if North Korea doesn’t attack the US with its nuclear weapons. If the US does not directly defeat North Korea in a clear-cut way now, its position as a superpower in Asia and worldwide will be destroyed and its ability to defend its own citizens will be called into question with increasing frequency and lethality.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

North Korea, Iran, and the Militarization of the United States

President Donald Trump’s tweet last week after the UN Security Council voted to put new sanctions on North Korea held within it loads of information that should have alarmed both the President’s most dedicated followers as well as most Americans. Here it is again:

While the UN Security Council vote was important, the idea that more sanctions would cause North Korea to simply just roll over is pure fantasy.

At the same time as the UN Security Council vote North Korea’s “Number Two” headed to Iran for ten days to strengthen ties between the two countries.  These ties have been covert for years, but now with official sanctions having been increased, Iran’s backing to the North Korean regime becomes key in allowing the nuclear progress to continue at an increased pace.

Furthermore, as long as the world believes Iran is abiding with the Nuclear Deal then cash will continue to flow into Iran.  These investments by Russia and China are no doubt now being channeled back into North Korea for nuclear weapons development.

A Soft Coup in the US by the Generals?

With the take over of Gen. Kelly as White House Chief of Staff and the growing influence of Generals McMaster and Mattis, the alt-right has been abuzz with the rumors of a soft coup. No matter the exact terminology, there is a growing sense that all the President has is his Twitter feed.

Anytime there is military personel involved with the day to day running of the government, especially when war is on the horizon, the chances for direct conflict can and will increase.

While Trump has ratcheted up his rhetoric against North Korea, the real question on why he has allowed Generals who have either bent over backwards to support the Iranian nuclear deal or at least have been complacent with the Persian expansion to continue to strengthen their control over America’s foreign policy.

By not tackling the growing partnership with Iran, the US has forfeited their ability to shut down the orth Korean threat in a peaceful manner.  The world’s money is pouring into Iran and thus enabling Kim Jong Un to move beyond theatrics.

General McMaster, the head of the NSC has not only been one of the biggest supporters of the Iranian nuclear deal, he has cleared the NSC of any opposition to that deal. By creating an atmosphere where Iran gets a free ride and thus empowers a situation where North Korea can trigger a nuclear war is not only negligent, but downright dangerous. The current situation has lead to a militarization of the American government in both day to day thinking and actual action.

The following Tweets from Trump hold an ominous tone:

The world has every right to be nervous. Afterall the Executive branch is being run by three generals and they have not only choked off President Trump’s closest friends, but have left him with only a Twitter feed to vent.

Buckle your seat belt, the World is about to get very rocky!

While North Korea Draws the World’s Attention, Iran Closes in on Israel

With the Russian, Chinese, and American armed forces now converging on North Korea, another front long thought of as the probable catalyst for a potential world war has seemingly grown quiet. Or has it?

While most of the world awaits some sort of climax to the North Korean standoff, there is something precarious growing around Israel’s Northern border.  The Russians have used the North Korean crisis to allow the Iranians and Hezbollah to tighten their grip on Israel’s Golan border. It is no accident that while everyone is focused on staving off a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, the Turks, Russians, and Iranians have agreed to create safe-zones in Syria.

The Southern most safe zone buttresses the Golan heights allowing for Iranian troops to reach Israeli territory unhindered. Furthermore the agreement which was struck in Kazakhstan last week ensures that US air coverage cannot fly over these zones.  Israel is now essentially on its own.

As we reported in April, the long known alliance between North Korea and Iran has become more apparent as President Trump seems intent on stopping the North Korean regime from creating havoc in Asia. When North Korea starts, Iran always follows.  With the bellicose statements of Kim Jong-un growing more war like by the day there is a distinct possibility, that this has been a pre-planned diversion.  After all Iran seems has been keeping the North Korean economy afloat through the buying of its nuclear technology.  The Obama administration’s cash infusion into Iran has been moved over to North Korea in order to make sure both programs develop without hindrance.

The noose is tightening with Russian approval around Israel.  Putin of course wants Israel to beg for his protection.  Israel seems intent on going it alone. After Trump’s trip to the Middle East expect the shoe to drop. When Trump moves to take out Kim Jong-un, Israel will be on its own.

North Korea, Iran, and the War Against Israel

With reports flying across the web that the Trump administration is considering the use of force against the North Korean regime, Seal Team 6 and F-35’s are set to participate in the annual Foal Eagle military drills between the US and South Korea.

South Korea’s Joon Gang Daily reports the following:

“The U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, better known as the SEAL Team 6, will arrive in South Korea soon for joint military drills and take part in an exercise simulating the removal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to the Ministry of National Defense Monday.”

A report at the Yonhap News Agency went further:

“A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities,” the official told Yonhap News Agency asking not to be named.

As the North Korean regime gears up for further ballistic missile tests, the Trump administration appears determined to preemptively stop them.

What Changed?

Successive American Presidents have all considered North Korea to be one of the most dangerous countries around.  A nuclear armed Kim Jong-Un with what looks to be an upcoming ICBM test puts the US in direct harm.  Most observers consider Kim to be mentally unstable, which complicates any policy in handling him. This is precisely why a military confrontation is far more likely now. Trump cannot allow to develop an accurate way of delivering nukes against the USA let alone Japan or South Korea.

The Iran Connection

It has been known for some time that Iranian missile technology was developed in North Korea.  Both regimes see the USA as their number one enemy and have worked together to build a situation where they would pose a serious threat to the USA. To most observers North Korea and Iran are in constant coordination as can be seen from last week’s ballistic missile test in Ira, which followed North Korea’s launch of four missiles near Japan.

Researchers from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a research paper (.pdf) in January 2016 outlining Iran’s past and present military dealings with North Korea, concluding that “the signs of military and scientific cooperation between Iran and North Korea suggest that Pyongyang could have been involved in Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile program, and that state-run trading companies may have assisted in critical aspects of Iran’s illicit nuclear-related activities.”

War Against Israel

It should not be lost on anyone that the same Obama administration that failed to curb Kim Jong-Un’s race towards a nuclear arsenal also actively empowered the Iranian regime in its own nuclear development.  The outcome of this is a nuclear Middle East whose Shiite Crescent with Russian backing threatens to engulf Israel. Trump’s move against North Korea must be coordinated with Israel, because when the war starts on the Korean peninsula the Iranian regime will act aggressively against the Jewish state.

In the coming weeks and months expect American forces to ready themselves to invade North Korea before Kim Jong-Un achieves delivery breakout, because if he does, the world as we know it will look very different.

Donald Trump Sending B-52 NUCLEAR BOMBERS to South Korea warns North of “Overwhelming Response”

With tensions rising daily between America and North Korea, the US has finally had enough and is sending B-52 Nuclear Bombers to South Korea in preparation of what some analysts believe could be the opening shots in a war with North Korea.

Capt David said: “He further emphasised that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming.”

The trigger for this build up was North Korea’s firing of four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.  The Japanese do not have a serious army due to agreements after World War 2 and rely heavily on the US East Asian Security Umbrella. With tensions rising, some Japanese lawmakers wanted to amend their constitution to allow for a more aggressive army.

Will There Be War?

With the Trump administration willing to serously bolster up its forces in South Korea, the theory is Kim Jong-un is a paper tiger and will back down due to his own generals not wanting to “commit suicide” against the United States. Yet, it could very well be that the State Religion has poisoned the minds of the upper staff to the point where they  are all willing to die.

Because of the real possibility of direct conflict, the USA is sending  F-35B stealth fighters from its marine corps base in Japan to South Korea.  These fighters jets can easily evade North Korean radars to deliver devastating strikes on the North.

Connection to Iran

Most analysts and observers admit that Iran and North Korea have been working very closely together for some time. North Korea develops the technology that Iran uses for its ballistic missiles and nuclear programs.  Iran then fine tunes the technology for its needs.

It is no accident that Iran just launched its own ballistic missiles test in the last few days.  With this in mind the looming North Korean conflict may develop into something far larger, which is why Trump and his team want to give a quick knock out blow to the Northern regime.