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History of Korea as the War Drums Beat

History of Korea as the War Drums Beat - The Libertarian Institute
https://www.libertarianinstitute.org/blog/history-korea-war-drums-beat/

*History of Korea as the War Drums Beat*

April 29, 2017

By Mencken's Ghost

Santayana's warning about not learning from history is valid up to a
point.  As is the case of North Korea today, a point is sometimes
reached in which the history of who did what to whom doesn't matter.

What matters now with respect to N. Korea is what the world is going to
do about a madman with the bomb, albeit a tiny one, regardless of how we
got to this point.

Still, the history of the two Koreas is instructive and important to
know.  Below are two articles on that history that look at Korea from
opposite perspectives.  The first is a book review of a book that gives
the history of how South Korea broke from the North to become an
economic powerhouse in short order.  The book attributes this in part to
S. Korean dictator Park Chung-hee's "guided capitalism" in the 1960s.
The second, which takes an anti-war stance, begins earlier with dictator
Syngman Rhee's butchery and belligerence on the Korean Peninsula and
details the sordid role that the United States played on the peninsula
and how it got mired in the mess, aided and abetted by the CIA.

Neither article goes back further to explain how President Teddy
Roosevelt won the Nobel Prize for brokering a peace between Japan and
Russia in their war by handing over Korea and much of Manchuria to
Japan.  One unintended consequence of this was that Japan thought it had
U.S. support for its imperialism in the Far East, a mistake that led to
Pearl Harbor.

Also not mentioned in the two articles were the claims of U.S. Air Force
pilots captured by N. Korea during the Korean War that they had dropped
biochemical weapons on the North.  The U.S. denounced the claims as
coerced fabrications.   It was uncovered years later that the U.S. Army
and CIA, in conjunction with the Brits, had run a large program to
develop biochemical weapons and had even tested such nerve agents as
Sarin on their own unsuspecting soldiers.  And in an ironic twist on the
movie "The Manchurian Candidate," the U.S. had tried to develop a serum
that when coupled with hypnosis would enable the CIA to take over the
minds of enemy agents.  LSD was developed for this purpose and tested,
once again, on unsuspecting soldiers.  (Yet today both the left and
right trust the government to be competent and ethical in achieving
their respective goals.)

Looking beyond war, the history of S. Korea is instructive about public
education.  The book, /The Smartest Kids in the World/, details how S.
Korea (as well as Finland and Poland) transformed a poorly educated
populace into the well-educated S. Koreans of today.  S. Korea's formula
for success makes the U.S. look silly in its attempts to improve
education by throwing money at the problem, appeasing teachers unions,
and building Taj Mahal schools and sports facilities.  What's the
formula?  Korean kids work their asses off.  Between attending class,
studying, helping to clean their schools, and attending special tutoring
classes after school, they devote twelve hours or more a day to their
schooling.  Imagine a U.S. politician suggesting something like this to
fix American education.  And we wonder why we're producing spoiled
snowflakes.

Here are the two articles.

*How to Go From the Third World to the First*

South Korea is one of only two countries to have managed 5% growth for
five decades. Its economy is now the world's 13th largest. John Tamny
reviews "The New Koreans" by Michael Breen.

/ /

/By/

/John Tamny///

The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2017 6:06 p.m. ET

Devastated by World War II and the Japanese occupation, South Korea
seemed to face a bleak future. On Aug. 10, 1945, American officials had
used a National Geographic map to arbitrarily divide Korea along the
38th parallel—without consulting experts or the Koreans themselves—and
thus cleaved families and communities, sowed political chaos, and set
the stage for decades of hostilities. In the years immediately after the
war, South Korea's disastrous economic policies produced alarming
inflation and food shortages. By 1948, per capita income was $86—a level
of poverty that, according to the United Nations, placed the country's
citizens on a par with the Sudanese.

Analyzing the situation, one U.S. official concluded that "Korea can
never attain a high standard of living." The reason, he observed, was
that "there are virtually no Koreans with the technical training and
experience required to take advantage of Korea's resources and effect an
improvement over its rice-economy status." Such bold predictions are
made to be discredited.

Michael Breen's excellent "The New Koreans," an economic, political and
social history, shows how South Korea went "from basket case to emerging
market" in a period of 40 years. In the process of telling that story,
Mr. Breen, a British-born journalist who lives in Seoul, explodes many
of the excuses frequently used by economists and historians to
rationalize the country's underperformance. "If the Koreans had remained
poor, analysts could have blamed other countries, history, colonialism,
absence of natural resources, lack of appropriate education, lack of
work ethic, lack of democracy, too much democracy, racism, sexism,
something in the kimchi, night soil in the rice," Mr. Breen writes,
"because the Koreans in 1945 had all that and more."

Despite these challenges, South Korea now finds itself impressively
prosperous. It is one of only two countries (along with Taiwan) to "have
managed 5 percent growth for five decades," Mr. Breen reports, and South
Korea's economy is the world's 13th largest. It is one of the biggest
trading partners for both China and the United States and can claim some
of the most prominent global consumer brands. South Korea's citizens
enjoy "the fastest, most extensive mobile broadband networks and the
highest penetration of smartphones in the world."

Mr. Breen describes the South's economy as one driven by exports, but as
economists say, to "carry out" is to ultimately "carry in," and sure
enough it's the world's ninth largest importer. Mr. Breen also suggests
that the South's growth began with dictator Park Chung-hee's "guided
capitalism" in the 1960s, but, as he later acknowledges, the companies
supported by Park "almost all failed."

South Korea's story is nevertheless, as Mr. Breen emphasizes, one of
dramatic turnaround—made all the more remarkable in light of the
decades-long threat posed by its neighbor to the north. Over the decades
approximately 8,000 South Koreans have disappeared or been killed while
on secret missions above the 38th parallel. The South's belligerent
neighbor has kidnapped its citizens, forced into exile more than a
million refugees and defectors, and imprisoned North Koreans deemed
"hostile" because they have family in the South. While Mr. Breen
concludes that reunification with its hostile foe is "inevitable," he
notes that South Korean officials address the idea with a forked tongue.
On the record, they express their desire for the partitioned peninsula
to "become one again"; off the record, they're either against it or in
no great hurry.

One reason for such reluctance may be that the South is in a better
position relative to the North than many would believe. While the North
Koreans have nuclear weapons, Mr. Breen observes, the South Koreans have
the better military. Of greater importance—though unmentioned by Mr.
Breen—is the likelihood that North Korea lacks the resources necessary
to fund a war against what is today a military and economic power backed
at least implicitly by the United States. Mr. Breen claims that the
North was "economically stronger" than the South until the mid-1970s,
but the source data should be met with greater skepticism. After all,
similar statements were made by prominent economists about the prowess
of the former Soviet Union, only for their models to collide with reality.

What the divide between North and South highlights is that past national
trauma does not guarantee perpetual poverty and dysfunction. More than
foreign-aid proponents would like to admit, economies are just people,
and, like people, they gain strength from periods of weakness. In the
1950s, according to Mr. Breen, the Koreans were "angry, dislocated, and
desperate." That condition has driven the South to excel. These days its
success may be reflected most clearly in South Korea's growing cultural
relevance. Pop star PSY's "Gangnam Style" was a global sensation in
2012, and last year Korean author Han Kang won the Man Booker
International Prize. "Wealth and freedom brings artists to the fore,"
Mr. Breen concludes. Today surveys show that, in a country that was once
so poor that mothers were forced to drown their babies, Korean daughters
increasingly dream of acting stardom and "marriage to a chef." When
chefs outpoll doctors and lawyers as ideal future mates, you know a
country's transition to first-world status is complete.

/Mr. Tamny, a senior fellow at the Reason Foundation, is the author of
"Who Needs the Fed?"/

/Appeared in the Apr. 28, 2017, print edition as 'From the Third World
to the First.'/

*How to Go From the Third World to the First*

South Korea is one of only two countries to have managed 5% growth for
five decades. Its economy is now the world's 13th largest. John Tamny
reviews "The New Koreans" by Michael Breen.

/ /

/By/

/John Tamny/

The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2017 6:06 p.m. ET

Devastated by World War II and the Japanese occupation, South Korea
seemed to face a bleak future. On Aug. 10, 1945, American officials had
used a National Geographic map to arbitrarily divide Korea along the
38th parallel—without consulting experts or the Koreans themselves—and
thus cleaved families and communities, sowed political chaos, and set
the stage for decades of hostilities. In the years immediately after the
war, South Korea's disastrous economic policies produced alarming
inflation and food shortages. By 1948, per capita income was $86—a level
of poverty that, according to the United Nations, placed the country's
citizens on a par with the Sudanese.

Analyzing the situation, one U.S. official concluded that "Korea can
never attain a high standard of living." The reason, he observed, was
that "there are virtually no Koreans with the technical training and
experience required to take advantage of Korea's resources and effect an
improvement over its rice-economy status." Such bold predictions are
made to be discredited.

Michael Breen's excellent "The New Koreans," an economic, political and
social history, shows how South Korea went "from basket case to emerging
market" in a period of 40 years. In the process of telling that story,
Mr. Breen, a British-born journalist who lives in Seoul, explodes many
of the excuses frequently used by economists and historians to
rationalize the country's underperformance. "If the Koreans had remained
poor, analysts could have blamed other countries, history, colonialism,
absence of natural resources, lack of appropriate education, lack of
work ethic, lack of democracy, too much democracy, racism, sexism,
something in the kimchi, night soil in the rice," Mr. Breen writes,
"because the Koreans in 1945 had all that and more."

Despite these challenges, South Korea now finds itself impressively
prosperous. It is one of only two countries (along with Taiwan) to "have
managed 5 percent growth for five decades," Mr. Breen reports, and South
Korea's economy is the world's 13th largest. It is one of the biggest
trading partners for both China and the United States and can claim some
of the most prominent global consumer brands. South Korea's citizens
enjoy "the fastest, most extensive mobile broadband networks and the
highest penetration of smartphones in the world."

Mr. Breen describes the South's economy as one driven by exports, but as
economists say, to "carry out" is to ultimately "carry in," and sure
enough it's the world's ninth largest importer. Mr. Breen also suggests
that the South's growth began with dictator Park Chung-hee's "guided
capitalism" in the 1960s, but, as he later acknowledges, the companies
supported by Park "almost all failed."

South Korea's story is nevertheless, as Mr. Breen emphasizes, one of
dramatic turnaround—made all the more remarkable in light of the
decades-long threat posed by its neighbor to the north. Over the decades
approximately 8,000 South Koreans have disappeared or been killed while
on secret missions above the 38th parallel. The South's belligerent
neighbor has kidnapped its citizens, forced into exile more than a
million refugees and defectors, and imprisoned North Koreans deemed
"hostile" because they have family in the South. While Mr. Breen
concludes that reunification with its hostile foe is "inevitable," he
notes that South Korean officials address the idea with a forked tongue.
On the record, they express their desire for the partitioned peninsula
to "become one again"; off the record, they're either against it or in
no great hurry.

One reason for such reluctance may be that the South is in a better
position relative to the North than many would believe. While the North
Koreans have nuclear weapons, Mr. Breen observes, the South Koreans have
the better military. Of greater importance—though unmentioned by Mr.
Breen—is the likelihood that North Korea lacks the resources necessary
to fund a war against what is today a military and economic power backed
at least implicitly by the United States. Mr. Breen claims that the
North was "economically stronger" than the South until the mid-1970s,
but the source data should be met with greater skepticism. After all,
similar statements were made by prominent economists about the prowess
of the former Soviet Union, only for their models to collide with reality.

What the divide between North and South highlights is that past national
trauma does not guarantee perpetual poverty and dysfunction. More than
foreign-aid proponents would like to admit, economies are just people,
and, like people, they gain strength from periods of weakness. In the
1950s, according to Mr. Breen, the Koreans were "angry, dislocated, and
desperate." That condition has driven the South to excel. These days its
success may be reflected most clearly in South Korea's growing cultural
relevance. Pop star PSY's "Gangnam Style" was a global sensation in
2012, and last year Korean author Han Kang won the Man Booker
International Prize. "Wealth and freedom brings artists to the fore,"
Mr. Breen concludes. Today surveys show that, in a country that was once
so poor that mothers were forced to drown their babies, Korean daughters
increasingly dream of acting stardom and "marriage to a chef." When
chefs outpoll doctors and lawyers as ideal future mates, you know a
country's transition to first-world status is complete.

/Mr. Tamny, a senior fellow at the Reason Foundation, is the author of
"Who Needs the Fed?"/

/Appeared in the Apr. 28, 2017, print edition as 'From the Third World
to the First.'/

* * *

*Why the Donald Should Cool It on North Korea*

David Stockman's Contra Corner

April 18, 2017

The realized truth of modern history is crystal clear. Washington had no
business intervening in a quarrel between two no-count wanna-be
dictators (Syngman Rhee and Kim il Sung) on the Korean peninsula in June
1950, and surely has no business still stationing 29,000 American
soldiers there 67 years later.

Yet owing to the institutionalized albatross of that mis-vectored
history, the world is now much closer to the brink of nuclear war than
at any time since the dark days of the early cold war. And the Donald
has become just the latest political tourist in the Oval Office to
succumb to the Deep State's false, self-serving narrative about why the
American imperium remains decamped on the 38th parallel.

For sure, it was never about the real estate. After 40 years of brutal
and predatory Japanese occupation, post-war Korea was an economic
backwater with the GDP of perhaps Cleveland, Ohio. It had been divided
at the 38th parallel by Truman and Stalin as an afterthought at Potsdam
(July 1945). Far from any intent to create separate nations on a
peninsula that had been ethnically and politically unified for
centuries, the line only marked a convenient staging grounds for the
impending final attack on Japan that Stalin had committed to aid.

In fact, Washington's suave original cold warrior, Dean Acheson, had
described the Potsdam demarcation as a mere "surveyors line". But as
US/Soviet tensions heated up in the late 1940s, the US occupation forces
in the south encouraged the puppet government they had established under
ex-pat and Washington dandy, Syngman Rhee, to cleanse the country of
left-wing influences and prepare to eventually rule the entire peninsula.

As Justin Raimondo succinctly chronicled this period:

…….the Korean war started during the American occupation of the South,
and it was Rhee, with help from his American sponsors, who initiated a
series of attacks that well preceded the North Korean offensive of 1950.
>From 1945 to ­1948, American forces aided Rhee in a killing spree that
claimed tens of thousands of victims: the counterinsurgency campaign
took a high toll in Kwangju, and on the island of Cheju­ – where as many
as 60,000 people were murdered by Rhee's US­-backed forces.

Rhee's army and national police were drawn from the ranks of those who
had collaborated with the Japanese occupation during World War II, and
this was the biggest factor that made civil war inevitable. That the US
backed these quislings guaranteed widespread support for the Communist
forces led by Kim Il Sung, and provoked the rebellion in the South that
was the prelude to open North-­South hostilities. Rhee, for his part,
was eager to draw in the United States, and the North Koreans, for their
part, were just as eager to invoke the principle of "proletarian
internationalism" to draw in the Chinese and the Russians.

The last underlined sentence tells the whole story. When hostilities
broke out between the two Korean sides in June 1950, Washington
instantly transformed it into a proxy war against the Soviet Union and
its fledgling ally in China, which had just fallen under Mao's control
the previous year. As Truman baldly put it, he was not going to lose
another country to the "reds".

What we know today, and what staunch non-interventionists like Senator
Robert Taft and Congressman Howard Buffett (R-Nebraska and Warren's
father) knew even then, is that 1950s-style communism could take care of
its own self-destruction. America only needed to militarily secure the
homeland, and then wait out the eventual demise of the wretched states
that had temporarily fallen victim to communist misrule.

That is to say, a vastly different foreign policy would have emerged if
it had been rooted in an understanding of the inherent superiority of
free market capitalism and the inexorable certainty that centralized
socialism would fail. Such a policy would never have been duped into the
folly of a proxy war on this economically and strategically irrelevant
Asian littoral.

As it happened, the Soviet Union did destroy itself from within in a
matter of decades. And just in the nick of time, Mr. Deng discovered
that Mao had nearly destroyed China on the false belief that it could be
collectivized from the barrel of a gun.

Instead, Deng not only rescued Mao's calamity by turning from firing
squads to a hyperactive printing press, but spawned the greatest Ponzi
scheme of borrowing, building, speculation and malinvestment in human
history. It is surely a false and unsustainable prosperity, but for the
moment it rings out a great irony.

Rather than a threat to America's security, Mr. Deng's great Red Ponzi
is considered by Wall Street to be the very engine of "growth" in the
modern world and the suzerains of Beijing the very model of unfailing
prosperity management and economic "stimulus" if, as and when needed.

That begs the question, of course, as to what would have happened when
the Chinese army poured across the Yalu River in November 1950 if it had
not been impeded by American GIs. Would it have made any difference in
the grand scheme of history if China had ended up with 35 rather than 34
provincial-level administrative units. That is, 23 provinces, 4
municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing) and 8 rather than
7 autonomous and special administrative regions.

Would that contrafactual outcome not have been a big "so what!"

After all, had Korea ended up as number eight among China's "autonomous
and special" administrative units exactly why would that imperil the
safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE or Worchester MA any
more today than does the current Chinese rule over Guangxi, Inner
Mongolia, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang or even Hong Kong and Macau?

So if there would be no threat now, why then? Why ever?

The fact is, the seven decade confrontation on the 38th parallel is an
artifact of empire, not a necessity of homeland security. It is the
handiwork of a Warfare State served by a permanent political class that
derives its power, purpose and resources from the faithful pursuit and
stewardship of an American Imperium.

Stated differently, American soldiers are provocatively stationed on the
38th parallel—where on the other side of the line they have kept the Kim
family tyranny in business for seven decades—-because Imperial
Washington, like Rome, needs purportedly imperiled frontiers to justify
its rule and heavy draft of military and economic resources.

As it happened, therefore, 36,500 American soldiers died in Korea not
turning back an existential threat to the homeland—or even in extending
the reach of democracy. As Justin Raimondo further reminds, that is a
fairy tale. The Korean War quickly descended into a bloody slog
essentially to protect the corrupt, authoritarian regime of Syngman
Rhee—-a tyranny that even the Korean people soon rejected:

As for this guff about "democracy": whatever the US was fighting for,
from 1950, when the war broke out, to 1953, when it ground to a halt,
democracy hardly described the American cause.

We were fighting on behalf of Syngman Rhee, the US-­educated ­and
­sponsored dictator of South Korea, whose vibrancy was demonstrated by
the  slaughter of his leftist political opponents. For 22 years, Rhee's
word was law, and many thousands of his political opponents were
murdered: tens of thousands were jailed or driven into exile. Whatever
measure of liberality has reigned on the Korean peninsula was in spite
of Washington's efforts and ongoing military presence. When the country
finally rebelled against Rhee, and threw him out in the so-­called April
Revolution of 1960, he was ferried to safety in a CIA helicopter as
crowds converged on the presidential palace.

This isn't academic history or a wistful exercise in "could have been,
should have been." After 1960, there were numerous times that Washington
could have evacuated the peninsula, but one imperial project after
another prevented the return of the Korean peninsula to the Koreans to
settle their differences as they saw fit.

In the 1960s and early 1970s it was the folly of the Vietnam invasion
that kept the fear of falling "dominoes" alive in the Imperial City and
American forces bivouacked on the 38th parallel in order to keep the two
Koreas divided.

Likewise, during the 1980s the giant and unnecessary Reagan defense
build-up was predicated on the myth of a globally resurgent "Evil
Empire" in Moscow, meaning that the South Korean frontier required
military reinforcement, not the rational course of abandonment.

Indeed, we recall well that the predicate for the massive squandering of
resources in the Reagan build-up was that America needed the capacity to
fight tw0-and-one-half wars simultaneously—–the "half" war part being on
the Korean peninsula.

Yes, China had just been enfeebled by Mao's famines and the madness of
the cultural revolution and the Soviet economy was lapsing into the
entropic decay of over-centralization and militarization. So the
two-and-one-half war fighters never did say who it was that would occupy
the Korean peninsula other than some variant of the Korean people.

That is to say, we never once heard the claim that the vastly more
prosperous, populous and industrially and technologically advanced south
could not hold its own against the goose-steeping Potemkin army of the
north. To the contrary, the "threat" was always a new version of a
theoretical proxy war that had no reason to happen, and didn't really
matter for America's security, anyway.

Then came the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Mr. Deng's massive
shift to export-mercantilism a few years later to save China from an
economic and civil collapse that would have ended the rule of the
communist party. At that point, there was zero chance of a renewed proxy
war.

So surely that was the very time to bring 29,000 American servicemen and
women home, thereby enabling the former Hermit Kingdom to work-out a
21st century arrangement for either the reunification of all Koreans or
at least their co-existence in autonomous zones of self-governance.

But that didn't happen, either. And the reason is not hard to resurrect
from the history of the 1990s.

Bill and Hillary were far more intent on gaining a second term in the
White House than in carrying out the assigned mandate of their 1960s
generation. That is, to dismantle the American Empire and bring the
possibility of general peace to the world for the first time since
August 1914.

So they temporized, thereby precluding a readily available peace
settlement in Korea—the better to keep unreconstructed GOP hawks and
newly ascendant neocons at bay.

After that chance was blown, the South Koreans themselves attempted to
normalize the peninsula and pave the way for an end to the American
occupation. Between 1998 and 2006 they diligently pursued what they
called the "sunshine policy". And it did begin to thaw the tensions
between north and south for the first time in 50 years—including
humanitarian aid from the south, family reunifications and the
beginnings of cross-DMZ flows of trade and investment.

At length, the policy failed, but there should be no confusion as to
why. The bloodthirsty neocons of the George W. Bush administration
killed it in the cradle by naming North Korea to the axis of evil, when,
in fact, it was an accident of history long passed its sell-by date.

Rarely has there been a more stupid act of foreign policy than the
hideous refrain inserted into Bush's 2002 State of the Union address by
a speechwriter twit named David Frum, who apparently invented the "axis
of evil" from wholecloth. That the Fat Boy ended up as an impetuous,
bellicose rogue on the Kim throne in 2011 is as much the responsibility
of Frum and his fellow neocon belligerents than anything else.

Still, after all those blown chances to roll-back what is really an
illicit forward frontier of Imperial Washington, there is still no
reason for any American presence at all on the Korean peninsula. And
that's to say nothing of the massive 350,000-soldier war game rehearsal
for an invasion of North Korea just completed by US and South Korean
forces, as they do annually; or all of the huffing and puffing during
the past week from the White House about the vastly exaggerated Korean
nuclear threat.

Indeed, on the question as to why Washington still has more than 25,000
troops in South Korea, we would add another.

To wit, why does the US maintain a vast armada of warships, bases and
military occupations throughout East Asia 72 years after Japanese empire
was reduced to rubble and cinders; and also after the cold war
disappeared into the dustbin of history a quarter century ago and after
the red suzerains of Beijing hostaged their continued rule (and perhaps
physical survival) to the daily flow of $2 billion of exports to
America's ports.


As to the peninsula itself, here is the latest information. The GDP of
North Korea is $17 billion and that of South Korea is $1.38 trillion. So
the economy of the latter happens to be 81X bigger than the GDP of the
former.

Likewise, the South Korea's population of 50 million is 2X larger than
the North's 25 million. And that's to say nothing as to South Korea's
advanced technology, millions of skilled industrial and tech workers and
absence of the abject poverty and even starvation which is rampant on
the northern side of the DMZ.

So how is it that a nation that has been growing by leaps and bounds for
a half-century cannot defend itself from a two-bit industrial backwater
run by a certifiable lunatic? Why is it that no one in Washington has
bothered to notice that since 2002 South Korea's economy has grown every
four months by more than the entire current GDP of North Korea.

The argument for the huge US presence in South Korea, of course, is that
it provides a trip-wire deterrent that puts the North Korean ruler on
notice that an attack on South Korea is an attack on Washington. But
with respect to a potential conventional attack, that's just plain malarkey.

If South Korea with 81X the economy, twice the population and infinitely
more industrial base and technological sophistication can't or won't
defend itself from the "potemkin" economy and military north of its
border, why should the American taxpayers and soldiers be called into
the breach?

And "potemkin" is the right word for it. Most of North Korea's military
equipment is 40 years old and is more suited to internal repression of
uprisings, not offensive action against the South. Thus, one of the few
new aircraft it has purchased since the 1980s is the Russian Su-25
Frogfoot, which is a ground-attack aircraft similar to the American A-10.

Needless to say, South Korea's modern F-5, F-15 and F-16 fighters would
turn the slow and heavy Frogfoots into an exercise in shooting fish in a
barrel. Then again, the real job of the Frogfoots is not to attack South
Korea anyway; but they are just the thing to put down a coup by other
North Korean forces.

Likewise, the 1,000,000 soldiers in the Korean People's Army spend more
time as conscript construction labor and get far more practice with
shovels than Kalashnikov assault rifles; some of them are also quite
skilled at goose-stepping parade entertainment for the country's
otherwise catatonic masses, as we saw this past weekend once again.

Yes, Kim Jong Un allegedly likes to play with nukes, but even this whack
job must recognize he has a small problem. Namely, North Korea has
tested underground five tiny nuclear bombs so far (2006, 2009, 2013 and
two in 2016). Yet none of them appear to have been even a "boosted"
fission bomb, let alone a thermonuclear (fusion) warhead.

Indeed, the range of estimates put the latest explosion in September
2016 at about 10 kilotons or slightly smaller in size than the bomb
dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, code-named "Little Boy".

Needless to say, Little Boy was not delivered by a sea-based or
land-based intercontinental ballistic missile, and not just because
neither had yet been invented!

In fact, it was dropped from bay of Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber, because,
as is self-evident from the photo of Little Boy below, it was just an
A-bomb, not an H-bomb. It was therefore way too big and bulky to fit in
the nose cone of a missile, even if the US had possessed one.

That is, to miniaturize a nuke sufficiently to get its weight and size
down to missile-riding scale, it needs to be a thermonuclear device.

Here's the thing. The Fat Boy of Pyongyang doesn't have one? he's still
at the Little Boy stage.

In fact, what he has tested so far would have to be delivered by one of
his 50-year-old Soviet era Il-28/H-5 bombers, which amble in the sky at
slow speeds and low altitudes and would be shot down by South Korean
fighters or air defenses in a heartbeat. That is to say, at the moment
the only thing the Fat Boy can actually vaporize is his own country.

There's that, and with respect to the CNN War Channel hyperventilating
about a putative nuke attack on California, there is the further fact
that the Fat Boy is not remotely close to having a long-range
intercontinental missile that could deliver a thermonuclear warhead, if
he had one.

So far, North Korea has developed and tested three longer range missiles
including Taepodong-1, which has an estimated maximum range of about
1,500 miles; and Musudan and Taepodong-2, which have estimated maximum
ranges of 2,000 miles and 3,500 miles, respectively, none of which get
you to the Left Coast.

Moreover, Taepodong-1 has had just one known test flight. Way back in
April 1998, a modified space-launch configuration of the vehicle lifted
off with a small satellite onboard; the launch failed.

The Taepodong-2 failed during a 2006 test flight, its only known
liftoff. Later, North Korea modified that missile into the Unha space
launcher, which lofted satellites to orbit in December 2012 and February
2016, but it is not longer even in military service.

The Musudan has seen a lot more test action. North Korea apparently
tested the medium-range missile seven times last year, and all except
one blew-up at launch, as did the Sunday launch, or within a few hundred
kilometers of flight.

Yes, if you set a thousand monkeys at typewriters long enough, they will
supposedly type the New Testament. But at this stage of the game there
is no urgency whatsoever about any danger to the homeland, or even Japan
or South Korea from a preemptive nuclear attack by Fat Boy.

So instead of 'running out of patience" as the Trump Administration has
proclaimed, now would be the time to do the opposite. That is, recognize
that the Empire's frontier on the 38th parallel has been a needless
provocation for 67 years, and that it is still not too late to abandon
these pointless outposts.

Indeed, if the Chinese are to take the lead in denuclearizing and
politically normalizing the peninsula, getting American forces and
weaponry out of there is the essential first step.

In fact, South Korea is about to elect a new government under Moon
Jae-in, the Democratic Party nominee. Moon has said he would review the
previous South Korean government's decision to host the American THAAD
missile defense system and would seek a meeting with North Korea's Kim
Jong Un in Pyongyang as a priority over going to Washington.

That is, with the distinct possibility of South Korean politics shifting
back to a Sunshine Policy, why should anyone be surprised that the Deep
State is suddenly beating the war drums about a false, imminent threat
of a nuclear attack by North Korea?

The irony is that the Donald should understand this better than most.
After all, it amounts to a blatant attempt by Imperial Washington to
"meddle" in the upcoming South Korean election!

Unfortunately, the Donald is surrounded by generals and national
security apparatchiks who have spent a lifetime defending the frontiers
of the American Empire, and are not about to see the light now. So yet
another chance for peace is being turned into an opportunity for
imperial aggrandizement.

Still, even if US national security did require giving South Korea a
shield of nuclear deterrence, which it doesn't, that still does not
necessitate the 28,500 US military personal stationed there—to say
nothing of the vast US armada on the Pacific rim described above.

The fact is, North Korea could be turned into a parking lot by the
payload of a single Trident nuclear submarine lurking safely out of
harm's way in the deep Pacific.

To wit, each of the Trident's W88 warheads yield about 475 kilotons of
destructive power or about 30 times the yield of the latest North Korean
test.

But here's another thing. Even after accounting for current treaty
restrictions, one Trident submarine can carry 20 missiles with 8
warheads on each missile. That means just one of the Navy's 14 Trident
submarines can deliver 76,000 kilotons (160 warheads X 475Kt each) of
nuclear payload.

That's 4,000 times more than "Little Boy" delivered to Hiroshima in
August 1945. And it's also 4,000 times more than Fat Boy can deliver by
slow bomber today!

In short, if the job is actually deterring Kim Jong Un's nuclear
fantasies, the whole matter could be handled by permitting the South
Koreans to rent the services of one Trident submarine. And that could be
done for far less than the $1 billion per year they are now paying to
help defray the massive cost of the 29,000 US troops stationed there and
the huge infrastructure required to support them in combat ready modalities.

The case of the lonely Trident sub lurking deep in the vast Pacific, of
course, raises an even bigger question. Why in the world is there still
54,000 troops and 50,000 more dependents and civilian contractor
personnel in Okinawa and Japan spread among 85 different military and
other facilities—-since these "hostages" to the whims of Kim Jong Un are
also offered up as reasons for provoking a nuclear showdown on the
Korean peninsula?

After all, the Japanese did agree to unconditional surrender after two
of their cites were fried alive in August 1945. Hardly an ill-word has
been spoken against America in the Japanese Diet or halls of government
since.

So when it comes to the question as to why the American Imperium is
still implanted from Singapore to Okinawa and the Japanese Islands and
why the Seventh Fleet—and its 80 ships, 150 aircraft and 40,000
sailors—- continuously and massively patrols the blue waters surrounding
the eastern shores of the Asian continent, all roads led to an even more
preposterous reality.

To wit, Washington is apparently protecting East Asia from the Red
Suzerains of Beijing, who the Donald is now imploring to help reel in
the Fat Boy of Pyongyang!

Yes, the pursuit of empire weaves a wretched plot, as it has on the
Korean littoral for 67 years running.

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