Friday, March 22, 2013

North Korea warns that U.S. bases in Guam, Japan are within range

A few comments on deterrence because some have mentioned that perhaps we should put Patriots on Guam to protect the bases and deter north Korea just as we are increasing the interceptors in Alaska to deter north Korea.

I would not think of defensive weapons as a deterrent to north Korea in the same sense that anti-ballistic missile defense would be a deterrent in the Cold War and as part of the nuclear stand off with the USSR.  I am not knowledgable enough to judge the efficacy of using Patriots to defend Guam against north Korean missiles.  However, I think neither Patriots in Guam nor interceptors in Alaska do much for deterrence against the north.  What deters the north is offensive military power (and I use power vice capabilities deliberately).  Defensive measures, while prudent of course from a military standpoint for protecting our forces and the ability to conduct operations, do not alone deter the north.  Demonstrated power and commitment to the Alliance are what deters the north and I am very confident that our B-52 overflights had a very powerful effect on the north's thinking.  Patriots in Guam and interceptors in Alaska can never have the same effect by themselves.

As an aside, I think the north is probably having a chuckle about the controversy it has read about regarding the amount of money spent on the stationing of the interceptors as well as the criticism of the system and the idea that it is not proven and may have little effect.  But more importantly the north looks at our defensive measures (and some might interpret them as desperate defensive measures because we are willing to spend a huge amount of money on a not fully proven system) as a sign of our fear of the north's capabilities.  They think they are they ones deterring us and that their actions are having a positive effect for their strategy.  And our defensive reaction is very important to support their internal domestic propaganda because of course they spin this as the north's nuclear and missile capability is making America tremble.

We should take defensive measures that we judge to be prudent to protect our interests and our forces but we should not consider those defensive measures by themselves as a deterrent.  For deterrence we need to demonstrate offensive military power.  And I would recommend that whenever we judge it necessary to take defensive measures we need to demonstrate offensive military power (and this needs to include Alliance military power so that the Alliance is shown to be strong and not being weakened by the north's actions which is a key part of its strategy) so as to strengthen our position, provide a credible deterrent, and undercut the legitimacy of the regime and the regime's actions.

I would add that where I would really like to see more Patriots is in Korea.  I would like the ROK military to buy Patriot PAC 3's to defend their bases.

North Korea warns that U.S. bases in Guam, Japan are within range
By Jethro Mullen , CNN
updated 8:41 PM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013

(CNN) -- The North Korean military issued a fresh burst of ominous rhetoric Thursday, warning that U.S. bases in Guam and Japan are within its "striking range."

The statement from the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army, carried by the North's state-run news agency, follows the announcement by the United States this week that its B-52 bombers were making flights over South Korea as part of annual military exercises.

"The U.S. should not forget that the Andersen Air Force Base on Guam where the B-52s take off and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa where nuclear-powered submarines are launched are within the striking range of the DPRK's precision strike means," the North Korean military said Thursday.
Despite Pyongyang's rhetoric, no U.S. Navy submarines are based in Okinawa or anywhere else in Japan, although they may make calls at U.S. bases there. DPRK is short for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

Citing what it called the United States' "nuclear blackmail and threat," the North said it that it, too, would "take corresponding military actions."

Pyongyang had already reacted angrily to the B-52 flights, warning Wednesday of "strong military counteraction" if the planes made more sorties over the Korean Peninsula.
Angry words after new sanctions

Tensions have spiked in the region since North Korea carried out its latest underground nuclear test last month, the first under its new young leader Kim Jong Un, prompting the United Nations Security Council to respond by toughening sanctions on the secretive regime.

The sanctions enraged the North further, and during the week when the Security Council was voting on them, it ratcheted up its threats, suggesting it could carry out a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea.

Although analysts and American officials say Pyongyang is still a long way from being able to carry out such an attack on the U.S. mainland, the United States' bases in Japan and Guam appear to be within range of the North's conventional weapons.

In its comments Thursday, "the Kim Jong Un regime is just firing back" at its enemies in response to the B-52 flights and the military exercises of which they're a part, said Lee Jung-hoon, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul.

He said that the U.N. sanctions were also likely to be fueling the North's ire, but that the regime's threats were largely driven by domestic concerns.

"They're doing all this to prop up the regime," Lee said.

The military first strategy

Since Kim took over from his father as the head of the North Korean government in late 2011, he appears to have maintained the pursuit of a stronger military deterrent rather than adopting a more conciliatory approach to relations with South Korea and the United States.
(Continued at the link below)

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