Sunday, May 28, 2017

North Korea fires a SCUD missile over the Sea of Japan.

Kim Jong Un inspects defenses. Reuters. 

North Korea has launched yet another short range missile into the Sea of Japan. Reuters. The missile is believed to be a Russian made SCUD and if flew 280 miles. It is the third such launch since South Korea elected a new president. It is believed that North Korea is conducting these tests in order to research missile technology in order to build intercontinental ballistic missiles. Japan protested the missile launch as the missile landed in their exclusive economic zone. The United States, Japan, China and South Korea are all working together to stop North Korea's nuclear program. 

My Comment:
I think the news media is completely misinterpreting North Korea's actions here. The Reuters report makes it seem that the North Koreans are acting from a position of strength. To them this is an action of defiance. A way to show the rest of the world that North Korea is strong and powerful.

To me I see the exact opposite. North Korea is incredibly weak right now and this pathetic launch is just more proof of it. Instead of doing something that would actually advance their missile program or intimidate someone. Launching a short range missile won't do much of anything. 

What would have really impressed and frightened people would have been another nuclear test or even a long range missile aimed near US bases in Guam or even Hawaii. Doing so would have been a major escalation and might have forced either a military confrontation, which would have been bad for everyone, or force the rest of the world to accept negotiations on North Korea's terms. One of those outcomes would have been good for North Korea as they desperately need sanctions to be lifted and for foreign aid to pour in. 

The fact that North Korea hasn't tested a long range missile or a nuclear weapon tells me that they are afraid. The pressure that Donald Trump and China seems to be working. The North Koreans are in a position of weakness and I think they are realizing that the old ways of launching missiles and testing nukes to force people to negotiatie. Right now they know that won't work and they worry about what the consequences of a real missile test or a nuclear test could have. Those consequences include potential military action from the United States or further sanctions from China. 

Launching these short range SCUD missiles are likely a face saving measure. The North Koreans know that if they were to launch long range missiles or conduct a nuclear test they would likely face severe consequences. But doing nothing would weaken them domestically. Remember, a large part of the North Korean regime's legitimacy is defiance of the west. What the North Koreans are trying to do is split the middle. They want to show defiance while at the same time not pissing the United States and China off enough that they do something to punish them. This is just a token gesture to hopefully placate the hawks in the regime and give the general populace some propaganda. 

That is not the action of a regime that is secure. They are weak enough that they can't actually defy the rest of the world in any meaningful way. But they are so weak that they have to do something to keep power domestically. This tells me that the North Koreans are as weak as they have been. 

This might be a major problem. The weakness of the North Korean regime could force them into doing something stupid. A cornered animal is very dangerous and right now North Korea is under extreme pressure. If they feel they are losing control they might lash out against South Korea... 

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