• More Reasons Why There Will Not Be War with North Korea

    December 26, 2017

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Trump

    Three days after offering to talk to North Korea without preconditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reversed course, insisting – as President Donald Trump has – the North must first stop its nuclear threats. As he backs away from the table, are we closer to war?

    Trump speaks of “fire and fury.” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says the North’s nuclear program is “the most destabilizing development in the post-World War II period.” John Brennan, the former CIA director, estimates the odds of war at 25%. Senator Lindsey Graham says there’s a 30% chance the U.S. will launch a nuclear first strike. The Council on Foreign Relations sees it closer to 50%.

    The idea that war with North Korea is a near-term inevitability is normalized for many. But exactly what calculus is necessary to take Trump, et al, at face value and believe war is coming? On the other hand, what line of thinking suggests the threats are merely a blowhard throwing some Grade-A tough guy meat to his base?

    If one believes North Korea holds nuclear weapons simply as a deterrent, a defense against attack by the United States as happened with Iraq and Libya after they denuclearized, there is no need for America to go to war. The North Koreans won’t use theirs unless we use ours first. It is a classic example of what kept the Cold War from going full-hot.

    The history of North Korea, embodied in its national philosophy of juche, is about survival, keeping the regime alive. The Kim family has been remarkably good at doing just that since 1948. Unlike Cuba, they economically survived the collapse of the Soviet Union. They suffered total war, famine, natural disasters, and decades of sanctions. They haven’t sought reunification by force with the South since 1950, even as stronger and weaker American presidents came and went.

    There is no rational argument why North Korea would destroy itself with the pointless first-use of nuclear weapons against the overwhelming power of the U.S.. If you were the general briefing Kim Jong Un on the risk versus gain of the offensive use of nukes, try and figure out how you’d pitch national suicide as a possible up side. The weapons are defensive. North Korea can’t be the one that starts the war.

    Over in Washington, the only way to believe Trump’s threats are real is to believe the North, in spite of everything you just read, would somehow see its way to using its weapons offensively, i.e., to attack South Korea as part of an attempt at reunification. Only then is a pre-emptive strike justified as self-defense. As part of America’s act of self-defense, potentially millions of Koreans, alongside hundreds of thousands of Japanese, as well as persons on Guam, maybe Hawaii, would die.

    And the strike by America would need to come soon, before they get us first. Sound familiar? This was the rationale used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq — Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, we were told, and it would be fatal to wait for him to use them against us. “Who wants the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud?” then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice warned in 2002. “How long are we going to wait to deal with what is clearly a gathering threat?”

    The trick was that it was almost certain the Bush administration knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction in 2002, and they definitely knew even during Iraq War 1.0, Desert Storm in 1991, Saddam did not use his chemical or biological weapons.

    It is the latter point that’s worth exploring. Saddam didn’t use his chem/bio weapons because the other side would then have no option but to retaliate in kind. In the case of Saddam, as with North Korea, the disparity in firepower with the United States meant total destruction. The only way to win – survive – is not to play the game.

    For the United States to decide on a first strike against North Korea the risk is beyond disproportionate to any possible gain. In a “miracle strike” every U.S. weapon would land perfectly on top of every North Korean target, including the American nukes needed to reach deep into the living rock of the mountains that protect the most important sites. This best case scenario would still leave North Korea under a radioactive cloud, which, given predictable weather patterns, would spread to Seoul and Tokyo. North Koreans not killed outright would trigger a humanitarian crisis unheard of in modern times. And the 1950’s Korean War offers a clear indication of how China would have to respond to an attack near its border, never mind a zombie apocalypse in the form of millions of starving North Koreans.

    And even that best case scenario is fully theoretical, because as any military planner will tell you, a “perfect” strike is impossible. Any American first-use plan includes at least a handful of lucky shots by the North (imagine one of those doomsday shots landing in Los Angeles), plus the activation of sleeper cell special forces almost certainly already in place in South Korea, Japan, and elsewhere.

    On top of the actual destruction, it is unclear if the global economic system would survive nuclear war, if South Korea and Japan could remain American allies if Seoul and Tokyo are aglow, if China would blithely continue to hold their American government debt and not purposefully trigger a crisis on Wall Street, or if any president, especially one already hated by about half the country, could explain away a radioactive Los Angeles was the price of safety from an even worse possible North Korean attack of the future. And those thousands of American troops immolated on their bases in Korea and Japan, sorry about that, hope that won’t negatively influence any votes in 2020.

    If you were briefing the president, could you find the gain in that Strangelovian scenario to balance the risk? We’d certainly get more than our hair mussed up. You’d probably instead say what one person who might actually talk with the president really did say. Rear Admiral Michael Dumont, the vice-director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained “There are no good military options for North Korea. Invading North Korea could result in a catastrophic loss of lives for U.S. troops and U.S. civilians in South Korea. It could kill millions of South Koreans and put troops and civilians in Guam and Japan at risk.”


    To believe the U.S. is headed toward war requires belief that one or more national leaders would destroy themselves and much of their country for no gain whatsoever. Imagine what you want about madmen, but leaders and politicians just don’t think that way.

    Still, anyone can ignore whatever facts they like, and believe whatever they want to believe. After all, some people still believe a fat guy in a red suit is going to come down the chimney later this month; try and persuade them that isn’t true…

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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Such an optimist. Okay, here is one scenario: After Trump fires Mueller, the Dumbocrats retake the House and Senate and immediately begin impeachment proceedings. Madman Trump plays his last strongman card and ratchets up his war of words with NK. The NK responds- throw in a false flag attack that we are expert at- and Trumpie gets his wetdream of using those nukes.

      12/23/17 5:43 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      Phrase of the day.

      ‘Think logically and productively. Put aside the hate. ‘

      So…. Peter…. Did you write this one just to get Bauer all fired up?…. Because…. It worked


      12/23/17 8:59 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      Does it make me a hate mongering nationalist if I don’t see a problem with this???


      Because…. I’m ok with it if it does


      12/23/17 9:01 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      The Bedford Incident film comes to mind. NK could sink one of our subs encroaching upon NK’s territory. An asshole sub commander (what other type of male is there commanding a nuclear submarine?) may want to brag about his clever avoidance skills to various mistresses in sundry ports. Bad stuff can start far down the chain of command.

      12/23/17 9:42 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      True, but I’m under the impression that Nuclear weapons require codes to be issued from DC?????

      And despite what some would say… Trump is not insane. He’s actually fairly logical.
      He’s also a businessman who is used to having what he says being done.

      What he wasn’t prepared for is this….



      12/23/17 10:41 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Trump is a pathological liar. While he may not be clinically insane, he is not someone you want with the launch codes. Besides, insanity gets a bad rap. The world has been fucked forever by people who are “perfectly normal”.

      John Cusack just called Peter insane on Twitter, and I would feel safer with Peter having the launch codes.

      12/23/17 12:20 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Mitch- it wouldn’t have to be a nuke- a couple of Tommyhawks with bio weapons launched at NK leader’s residence. We might go to war with NK and it doesn’t have to be nuclear. America’s CB guys (the
      R guys are well known) are just itching to see how their lab tinkerings can extinguish millions of lives without breaking a single pane of glass.

      12/23/17 1:29 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      Exactly what, other than the hate rhetoric, has Trump lied about?

      Considering that Bill Clinton was impeached for lying….


      12/23/17 2:08 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      That is a VERY good possibility…. I’m hoping and praying… The Military has been VERY well instructed to play it real cool.

      I hope the Military understands the weight history is putting on them.


      12/23/17 2:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Mitch, if you really doubt that Trump is a pathologcal liar, then you are quite insane.

      Anagrams can be traced back to the time of Moses, as “Themuru” or changing, which was to find the hidden and mystical meaning in names. Anagrams used for titles afford scope for some types of wit. Examples: Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an anagram for the Danish Prince Amleth. “Adolf Hitler” should have been a clue what the future held: FILTH ORDEAL, DO REAL FILTH, TRIAD OF HELL etc.

      So let US be forewarned about Donald Trump. His anagram is a real stinker: DAMN TURD POL. What do you expect from someone who only talks shit?

      Eugen Robinson (Washington Post):

      Trump lies the way other people breathe. We’re used to politicians who stretch the truth, who waffle or dissemble, who emphasize some facts while omitting others. But I can’t think of any other political figure who so brazenly tells lie after lie, spraying audiences with such a fusillade of untruths that it is almost impossible to keep track. Perhaps he hopes the media and the nation will become numb to his constant lying. We must not.

      Trump lies when citing specifics. He claimed that a “tremendous flow of Syrian refugees” has been entering the country; the total between 2012 and 2015 was around 2,000, barely a trickle. He claimed that “we have no idea” who those refugees are; they undergo up to two years of careful vetting before being admitted.

      Trump lies when speaking in generalities. He claimed that President Obama “has damaged our security by restraining our intelligence gathering and failing to support law enforcement.” Obama actually expanded domestic intelligence operations and only dialed them back because of bipartisan pressure following the Edward Snowden revelations.

      Trump lies by sweeping calumny. “For some reason, the Muslim community does not report people like this,” he said of Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando massacre. But according to law enforcement officials, including FBI Director James Comey, numerous potential plots have been foiled precisely because concerned Muslims reported seeing signs of self-radicalization.

      Trump lies by smarmy insinuation. “We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” he said of Obama. “There’s something going on — it’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.” He also said of Obama: “He doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other, and either one is unacceptable.”

      You read that right. The presumptive Republican nominee implies that the president of the United States is somehow disloyal. There is no other way to read “he gets it better than anybody understands.”

      Political discourse can be civil or rowdy, gracious or mean. But to have any meaning, it has to be grounded in fact. Trump presents a novel challenge for both the media and the voting public. There is no playbook for evaluating a candidate who so constantly says things that objectively are not true.

      How are we in the media supposed to cover such a man? The traditional approach, which seeks fairness through non-judgmental balance, seems inadequate. It does not seem fair to write “Trump claimed the sky is maroon while Clinton claimed it is blue” without noting that the sky is, in fact, blue. It does not seem fair to even present this as a “question” worthy of debate, as if honest people could disagree. One assertion is objectively false and one objectively true.

      Trump’s lies also present a challenge for voters. The normal assumption is that politicians will bend the truth to fit their ideology — not that they will invent fake “truth” out of whole cloth. Trump is not just an unorthodox candidate. He is an inveterate liar — maybe pathological, maybe purposeful. He doesn’t distort facts, he makes them up.

      Trump has a right to his anger, his xenophobia and his bigotry. He also has a right to lie — but we all have a duty to call him on it. His Shit stinks, no matter how RICH he is.

      12/23/17 3:27 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      I asked for examples.
      You give hate rhetoric and anagram’s…

      So…. Try an easy answer.

      EXACTLY how many terrorists does it take to cause mayhem and destruction?????




      Don’t even start me on “Domestic”… And the 4th amendment….

      PS 2.

      You are completely unable to give a specific example.

      Weaving your new hat???

      Ever thought about coming out of your safe space, echo chamber???


      12/23/17 4:45 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Mitch, we need some guys in the chain of command who will stop an order of total madness. They are there! They have spouses and families. Sadly the guys who work in CBR may not have families or children or even nephews and nieces. Stuff is being cooked up in their labs which could easily extinguish homo sapiens while sparing some other species in the food chain.

      12/23/17 5:50 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      Agreed!!!! And I don’t believe their names are Bush, Cheney, Obama or Bauer, either.

      That’s what I keep shaking my head at now. No matter what you think of Trump, He’s still President of the United States. Argued the most powerful person in the world
      And this delusion of screaming at the sky, spreading as much un-documented lies as possible, etc, etc… Wet your pants… Run for the safe place, grab the tissues to mop up snowflake tears .. Etc, etc… Is not going to change it one bit!!!

      Or, do you think that all of the “metoo ” going on through the “news media” is just happening???
      A few years ago…the was a ‘private’ Matt Lauer ‘Roast’…. Its referred to as ‘three hours of dick jokes”.
      Trump was there… So was Couric… Lack…. Goldberg…All of them…. If you were planning on running for office…. Some might call that “Ammunition”.

      A decent alternative would be work with the guy… For the betterment of all… Rather than this “well Trump said it or wants it… Must destroy all ” BS.

      You know, I saw this “person”… Cashier type in a hardware store… Day after the Vegas ahooting…. His quote… “Well, the man removed a bunch of Jason Aldean fans from the gean pool… I think the man deserves a medal!!!”

      The clown actually Means it.

      That kind of nuts thinking… It goes to a VERY bad place.

      Its barely a year since Trump was elected… He’s had some successes… He’s had some failures… No different than any other President.

      Obama… He did quite a few Extremely questionable things… And so did Bush before him. And Clinton before him.

      Personally, I think Obama’s legacy is this “WAAAAAAH ” way of thinking. This “my way or the highway” thinking. This “We shall destroy you through social media” BS.

      Or…. To put it another way…. You Can’t tell me you have not seen the increased Tensions where your at, everyday…. Just as you can’t tell me…. It started LONG before Trump won.

      When Obama was in… He scared the shit out of “conservatives”… Drove up the price of guns… Made bunker building into an overpriced art form….

      But…. As the tensions increased… Taxes went up… Bottom lines went down…. You did not see the rabid escalations of media hate.

      Or… Did I miss an “agenda” in the UN vote the other day….. OTHER than…. Sure did show a lot of countries that won’t be getting money next year….
      Sure I saw Nine that will be, though.

      Or, what????… Do you think Trump did not pick a devising issue to find out Exactly who the United States friends really are???

      Something to think about.

      Or….. Perhaps…. Now that countries…. That were publicly warned…”taking names, keeping count”…. Who won’t be getting paid next month… A UN that won’t be getting paid…

      Sure makes a tidy sum of money for infrastructure… Walls… Runways… Military… Highways… Upgraded EMP/CME secure power grid.

      There is… After all…. A finite amount of money…. Money had to come from somewhere….
      Looks like Trump found where to get it from.


      12/24/17 12:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      “The RUSSIANS did it!!!! The Russians did it!!!…

      Opps….. No they didn’t ….. Go figure….. Facebook…. (and people wonder WHY I don’t have facebook)



      12/24/17 7:17 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      Yep…. Never saw this coming… Nope… Nada… Nien…


      But…. Trumps stupid….. Nope… Nada… Nien…..


      12/25/17 5:30 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      Merry Christmas, Everyone.

      Don’t worry…. Were going to send Santa some really good Lawyers and Public Relations people.



      12/25/17 6:01 AM | Comment Link

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