back to article How I nearly sold rocket windows to the crazy North Koreans

The North Koreans are rattling the war drums and claiming that they're about to drop the odd bomb on either South Korea or the US (and possibly Japan as well). And so El Reg asks the resident metals wide-boy (me) to explain it all to you, something that might seem odd until you realise quite how wide this boy is. For I've some …

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  1. Alfred
    Mushroom

    The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

    I trailed up many, many steps to get to a small building on a hill overlooking part of the DMZ. If you squinted you could just about make out the blue UN flag of a UN building.

    The (reasonably senior, although in an army of three million that doesn't mean much, and he was on tour guide duty) military bod at the top highlighted on a map the big giant wall he told us the stooges in the south had built, and at first he seemed quite reasonable. As time went on, he got more and more excited and worked up, and by the end he was declaring loudly that even if the American Imperialists had a thousand nuclear bombs in the south (as I understand it there are zero) the DPRK will vanquish all enemies and the Imperialists need to know that the DPRK can STRIKE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. By the end of it I thought he was going to do himself an injury. He really, really did seem to believe it all.

    1. aBloke FromEarth
      Mushroom

      Re: The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

      Absolutely: I got the same rhetoric on a visit there. Even the civilian tour guides told us they would CRUSH THE ENEMY. They even showed us a desk with a UN flag on it, saying that the US chose to sign the treaties under the UN flag rather than their own because they were humiliated by the loss.

      So, this is a country which shamed the Americans, and is still technically at war with the puppet government of the South.

      Not a pretty situation to be in, really.

      1. Alfred
        Mushroom

        Civ tour guides too?

        Now that's interesting; my civilian tour guides were remarkably sedate on the whole question of conflict with the south/US/imperalism in general, and seem far more level-headed about everything. Maybe their constant exposure to foreigners (and for some of them, trips to Beijing now and then) gives them another view; it must be at least slightly jarring to spend your childhood being told about the evils of the rest of the world but when you start guiding them around they turn out to be thoroughly nice, as everyone on my tour was, barring an alcoholic from central Europe. That said, I wonder if yours were the outliers, or mine? When did you go?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

      "He really, really did seem to believe it all."

      But you didn't need to go all the way to North Korea to see that. Unless you missed Anthony Blair's 45-minute claim, that is.

    3. Michael Xion
      Unhappy

      Re: The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

      Never been there myself, but maybe it was one of the old gents in this picture:

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-06/north-korea-issues-foreign-embassy-warning/4613432

      That picture for me sums up a lot of the issues. Some gormless young ex-playboy being sheparded around by a couple of old soldiers who are still reliving the Korean War in their heads. Look at them. You can just imagine these old geezers thinking that as their clock winds down, they'll take the south with them into the long dark.

  2. graeme leggett

    Mixed lessons from history?

    On one hand, the US dropped nuclear weapons on Japan to avoid a ground war involving lots of military deaths (and also -according to some - to find out if an atom bomb was really as devastating as a British scientist had calculated for them ).

    On the other the US and its allies had a stand-up fight back and forth across the Korean peninsular without using atomic weapons on the enemy.

    So what's an unworldly regime suppose to work out from these two events - that the US hate Japanese facism more than the Asian communism?

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      Technically the Korean War was not the US and its allies vs the North + China but the UN vs the North and China, and maybe some Soviets. So the question of using nuclear weapons was more complicated as you'd have to get UN approval which depending on their mood might include the Soviets.*

      Although to be fair MacArthur was relieved of his command for suggesting it.

      *It's been a while but I seem to remember the Soviets didn't veto the UN getting involved in the conflict, hence it happening, but I can't remember if they played any part in the overall UN strategy regarding North Korea.

      1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        Quite. The Soviets were just then boycotting the UN over the question of whether the PRC should be admitted.

      2. Bumpy Cat

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        Both cases were more complicated than that, which just makes the lesson more mixed.

        In the case of Japan, at the tail-end of a war where at least forty million people had died, killing a couple of hundred thousand to end the war and prevent another five million casualties seemed like a reasonable choice. Seriously, take a moment to think about this - Japan refused to negotiate, and the experiences of Guadalcanal and Okinawa showed that they weren't kidding about fighting to the last round and then the last man. What options did the Allies really have at that stage? Conventional bombing until surrender (which actually killed more people than the atomic bombs)? Invasion? Either one would cause millions more deaths.

        For Korea, neither MacArthur nor Truman had any real preference for using nuclear weapons. Several were put on standby for use, but not under MacArthur's command. It was MacArthur making public statements about overall war policy that got him removed from post, not the specific nuclear weapons issue.

        Returning to North Korea - I concur with Tim that the Norks are fanatical and clueless enough to actually start something. My wife is Korean, and I speak Korean (badly). The Korean character has been warped into something pretty horrible in the North, and those calling the shots really do believe their own propaganda.

        My 16-year-old niece in Seoul is pretty scared. :(

        1. Johan Bastiaansen
          Devil

          scared

          16-year-old nieces are scared everywhere.

          And rightly so!

      3. frobnicate

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        > and maybe some Soviets

        And a lot of British---Mig's were equipped with Rolls-Royce Nenes at the time (which Sir Stafford Cripps was all too happy to provide together with licences).

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

          Re: Mixed lessons from history?

          The story I heard was that the Russians bought one Nene engine (legally) and said, thank you very much, we will copy them, without bothering about licences, but I might well be wrong. Both stories are equally believable: A government cynically copying stuff developed elsewhere or an arms manufacturer cynically selling military gear to anybody with enough cash.

          1. Psyx
            Pint

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            Generally, they didn't worry about licencing anything back in the Cold War.

            The backward-engineered AIM-9 sidewinders even had the serial numbers of the captured original etched onto each and every copy.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Mixed lessons from history?

              At least we had the decency to hire the Nazi scientists and get them to build copies of their rockets instead of doing the copying ourselves.

          2. Andy Dent 2
            Thumb Down

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            It's not at all believable that a modern jet engine can be copied. James Follett wrote a great book "Mirage" about the Israeli theft of the blueprints after France refused delivery of the planes. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mirage-James-Follett/dp/0749300035 It has a nice scene where an engineer explains how hard it is to reverse-engineer something as apparently simple as a cigarette lighter, let alone a jet engine.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        China only got involved when McArthur pursued NPK troops into Chinese territory.

        If the dickhead had stood his ground on the korean side of the river the chinese would have taken care of the problem themselves. They didn't want foreign armies of any flavour on their doorstep. Instead they had to go to the aid of the NPK and they've been honourbound to keep helping them ever since.

        1. fandom

          Re: Mixed lessons from history?

          MacArthur pursued them close to Chinese territory, that was enough.

          After all the Chinese had warned the USA to keep, at least, 20 miles from the frontier, Truman ordered MacArthur to do so, he disobeyed.

          He should have court marshalled and sent to prison but, being a hero, he was simply retired.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Stop

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            The Chinese aren't going to militariliy intervene in North Korea, short of some avowed and impossible South Korean/U.S. ethnic cleansing campaign to drive the North Korean population into Manchuria and then take over the vacated north.

            Right now, if war came basically the North Koreans will have pissed off the U.S., South Korea and Japan. (besides the threats to nuke Japan, the North kidnapped hundreds and thousands of Japanese in some kind of bizarre attempt to understand the Japanese psyche and train sleeper agents to go back into Japan). So now China is uniting and fighting three of it's most important trade partners to save a strategically valuable but economically worthless buffer state.

            Then you have Taiwan, which will jump at the chance to send missions to Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to tell the locals "See! We told you that the mainland are the "evil Chinese" and we are your friends!!" A diplomatic coup for Taiwan that under the best of circumstances will take the PRC decades to recover from.

            Then you have the Aussies, who the Chinese rely on for raw materials. Are the Aussies going to join the war--who knows?? But I can assure you that Canberra is not going to ship mineral ores to China to be turned into tanks and shells to defend the North Korean police state and kill Australia's Pacific friends.

            Then you have the Southeast Asians like India, the Phillipines, Vietnam and Singapore. They probably won't join the war, but they will be happy to do the same thing that Taiwan will do above--portray themselves as the "good Asians" at the expense of the dictator-enabling PRC.

            If it comes to war, the Chinese will give some materials to the North and try to mediate a peace agreement somehwere short of the DPRK being assimilated into South Korea.

            As for Europe, they might send some token military forces under the guise of helping the UN maintain it's 60 year old charter of defending South Korea, but in any case they certainly aren't going to love or support China for intervening to save what is probably the most odious human rights regime in the world and putting at risk a great deal of Europe's Asian trade traffic in the process.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Mixed lessons from history?

              "The Chinese aren't going to militariliy intervene in North Korea"

              I hope you're right. Unfortunately history provides many lessons where parties who have little skin in the game today, and parties who don't particularly want to fight each other, get sucked into conflict on opposing sides tomorrow. Contrary to earlier comments, the North have been making troop movements. The International Institute for Strategic studies points out that thought their army is technologically stunted, they have the fifth ranked army in the world and stand a good chance of being able to overrun Seoul before being stopped. As someone noted above, instability within a country's borders easily translates into the aggressive promulgation of war outside it's borders. The paranoiacs have severed the god damn hotline to the sane external world. Now a small skirmish could all too easily start the domino effect and the result could easily end up with the US and China sucked into the worst kind of situation without wanting to be there in the first place.

              Hypothetical - but this is one possible path to illustrate how it could go wrong.

              1. North Korea shells South Korea, as they are wont to do and have done several times before.

              2. The South have ignored outrages in the past, but have also been very close to retaliating. The North go a little too far. It only takes one image of a fresh faced child bombed to pieces to force a governments hand. The South retaliate with a surgical strike.

              3. The North get a bloody nose, and fat Kim, his fresh young face all red, comes under pressure from the old guard and feels he has to give a show of greater strength. He knows they stand a good chance of being able to take Seoul (using the "secret" tunnels they have dug into South Korea - the South knows they have these but doesn't know where they all are), and is starting to feel he is between a rock and a hard place if he is not to be deposed and end up some generals f**k puppet. He issues instruction to for a rapid storming of Seoul, calculating a comprehensive win will give him all the home brownie points he needs and he calculates, he might be able to get a ceasefire in exchange for a deal on Seoul. Even that foreign body, the International Institute for Strategic Studies points out they have a good chance of success, and his own generals are saying it's near 100%.

              Multiple possible further scenarios a and b now have the domino dynamic.

              4.a. The South are rightly particularly paranoid about scenario 3. They know geographically they are at a strategic disadvantage and facing one of the world's largest armies. Also, though the North may be technologically falling behind, they are well trained and motivated. Additionally the South are aware the North doesn't really have to move troops into position for such a strike, because they have always been there threatening to strike since the last Korean war. Either because they determine 3. is about to happen OR because they think for whatever reason there is a good chance 3 is about to happen, they launch a pre-emptive conventional forces excursion into the North, with the intention of incapacitating the North's own "quick strike" capability.

              4.b. The South plan 4.a and move troops into a defensive position but initiate air-strikes to pre-emptively degrade the North's capacity for a fast strike. Because airstrikes alone won't stop a well dug in army, they need heavy gear only the US can provide.

              So with either scenario 4.a or 4.b there is a high chance the US will provide Stealth Bombers for such air strikes. The US after all have promised to stand security guarantor to the South.

              5. The North are now fully paranoid and ready for action. They are sweating in their bunkers as the reality bites and they know there are nuclear capable Stealth Bombers flying over god knows which parts of their country and that they might be above them at any given moment. There is no dialogue with the outside parties (the idiots severed the hotline remember). They have no sense of proportion, no way of knowing if the conflict is a limited air campaign designed to stymie their capacity to invade, or something more. Those damned stealth bombers could be anywhere. Kim is really feeling the heat - not knowing at any moment if the US are about to use tactical nuclear weapons or other means to attempt to disable his ace card, his nuclear arsenal. Under pressure he goes for broke, and hits the big red button marked Seoul. Now even Apple would be unhappy at how they are about to gain the advantage over Samsung.

              6. The bomb has hit. This is where no matter how friendly or advanced or intelligent the various parties involved are, the playbook has gone out the window and "strike first to ensure survival" takes over. Perhaps the US hits all areas of North Korea with tactical nuclear weapons in an attempt to prevent an even worse nightmare, perhaps the nukes they use aren't of the tactical variety. Whatever, they know they have to strike hard and fast as Japan or even possibly Hawaii are at risk if they don't. Who can say what the playbook is now or what China would do. China itself, though it will have plans, may not even know what it would do come such an eventuality. One day they are worrying about harrying Apple on consumer TV programs and producing cheap Android phones, the next they are in a situation where there is nuclear war on their doorstep with the US, South Korea and Japan a united force attacking a strategically important country on their doorstep they have previously declared a military Ally.

            2. Denarius Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Mixed lessons from history?

              Ah, no. Pre-WW2, prime minister Menzies acquired a nickname Pig Iron Bob because he shipped lots of iron to Japan. As a colony of USA business, Oz has learned to ship anything to anyone if there is money in it. Mea while, Oz governments of any persuation give the USA access to bases locally to keep the local peasants believing the USA gives a stuff about Oz.

      5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        "Although to be fair MacArthur was relieved of his command for suggesting it."

        I dimly recall something about "50 atomic bombs should be enough to get the job done" was his assessment.

        Fat boy would do well to remember the US is unlikely to be on a leash this time round.

      6. elderlybloke
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        SkppyBing,

        The reason that the Russians did not veto the vote on UN gettting inolved was that they had walked out and they were not repressented at the time the vote was taken

        They learned their lesson and never again let having a hissyfit get in the way of being able to throw a spanner in the works.

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      At the time the US dropped the a-bombs on Japan, the US was in sole possession of such weapons. (It had also, for what it's worth, burned out great swaths of Japanese cities with napalm incendiaries during the preceding months.) By the time of the Korean War, Russia had its own bomb, which meant that everyone had to think a good deal harder about the use of them.

      Stalin and Mao had Kim Il Sung's back. But I doubt the Russian Federation cares, and the PRC is now trading partner and creditor to the US. Our generals are also (that I can tell) not quite so self-obsessed as MacArthur, so even in the event of a war I can hardly imagine the RoK and US troops going within a considered difference of the Yalu, or the PLA sending hundreds of thousands of troops south.

      All this is mighty speculative, and I hope and trust that it will remain so.

      1. Psyx
        Pint

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        "Stalin and Mao had Kim Il Sung's back. But I doubt the Russian Federation cares, and the PRC is now trading partner and creditor to the US."

        China has a 1961 agreement with North Korea to back it in a war. Ultimately that still holds a degree of weight.

        However, despite the Norks 'formally declaring war', neither they nor China have mobilised so much as a Division.

        1. fandom

          Re: Mixed lessons from history?

          If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them, there is nothing the Chinese could possibly win in a war that would compensate for the economic losses were they to fight the USA.

          1. Sam 15

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            Really?

            I agree that China would have no wish to fight alongside NK if a war should start, but to jump from that to assume that China would fight against NK is an impossible leap.

            Why on earth would they? What could they possibly gain from this?

            Sit back and let everyone else exhaust themselves.

          2. Denarius Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            Perhaps. It is conceivable that the Norks are being used as a yapping dog irritant to enable the Chinese to do to USA what USA did to USSR. Spend it to exhaustion, fortuitously helped along by the USAs' own lack of currency policy. USA currency is currently inflating. Massive continuing overspending over decades means USA has strong incentive to be nice to China at all costs, whatever the rhetoric.

            For China, the issue is controlling their terrier and walking a fine line on controlling an unstable leadership versus keeping serious pressure on USA. The end goal is ensuring all the other disputes which China has with the rest of SE Asia wont get other external powers involved. No conspiracy, just follow the money and ask who gains from the apparent mess. Or have I assumed that Chinas leaders are unlike the remains of the western democracies, capable of long term thiking ?

          3. JohnG

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            "If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them..."

            ...or the Chinese might just fail to assist North Korea in any conflict. That the Chinese co-wrote the last UN resolution, instead of abstaining in a vote on North Korea suggests that the Chinese government is getting tired of the Norks and their behaviour.

            Perhaps the big question for the Chinese would be what would follow a collapse of the Nork dynasty. They probably wouldn't be too chuffed to have a unified Korea, run from Seoul and friendly with the USA, right on their border. On the other hand, it is questionable whether the South Koreans would want reunification with the North if they have to pay for it.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Mixed lessons from history?

              "Perhaps the big question for the Chinese would be what would follow a collapse of the Nork dynasty."

              I'm sure they'd be more than welcome to readmit North Korea back into the middle kingdom. By force if necessary (and let's admit it, the people would still be far better off than they are now)

          4. Trustme

            "If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them"

            I thought that myself. China wouldn't want the combined armies of the Western World and esp the US to have an excuse to rock up on it's doorstep so it would make sense for them to preemptively and unilaterally invade it, throw out the incumbent govt, and turn it into another "principality", giving it legitimacy to have it's own military presence there.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mixed lessons from history?

            >>> If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them <<<

            On the contrary, China would be forced to go in and occupy the north if the regime were to be attacked, because it most definitely does not want chaos, or worse, a US client state, right on its border.

            The US has consistently failed to stop NK's nuclear and missile activities because, aside from the obvious lack of oil wealth, it knows that China would would be forced to move in. And China is a lot stronger than it was during the last Korean war. And the US is arguably a lot weaker.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Mixed lessons from history?

          China has a 1961 agreement with North Korea to back it in a war. Ultimately that still holds a degree of weight.

          However, despite the Norks 'formally declaring war', neither they nor China have mobilised so much as a Division.

          I wonder if that agreement covers the war between North and South Korea, which technically started in 1950 and still hasn't ended. Any recent 'declaration' of war from North Korea is meaningless in this context, it's a bit declaring that from now on water will be wet, and fire will be hot.

          I would imagine that when the Chinese representatives signed that agreement, it would include clauses limiting them to the defence of North Korea (i.e. not backing them in an offensive war), and would not cover any wars the Norks were nominally already fighting. Obviously, I've not read the document, which is probably written in one or more languages that I certainly couldn't read if I wanted to, but this sort of thing would make sense; diplomats generally aren't stupid.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      "So what's an unworldly regime suppose to work out from these two events"

      That having dropped a couple of nukes and seen the results, the USA is highly reluctant to do it again.

      Which makes it pretty easy for the NPK to be the belligerant clown - up to the point where Beijing tells them to knock it off or they'll shut down the oil and power feeds.

      I'd lay even money on all those millions in the army not having many actual bullets outside the NPK version of the Republican Guard, in case they try to raise a coup - and it's well known by now that much of the hardware in Red Square parades was actually made of cardboard, so it may be safe to assume the same for the NPK.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        But if you remember later footage of say Brehznev in the 1970s or his successors overlooking drivepasts of UR-100 (990 mobile launchers by 1972), or later RT-2PM Topol (288 mobile launchers by 1992) , both had the "necessary" range of about 10,500km.... no need to fake mobile ICBM launchers by that point (which no-one else had anyway), plus they had the world's biggest ICBM in silos: R-36 (1967 to present) and supersonic launch platforms like the bombers Tu-22, Tu-22M and the current Tu-160.

    4. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      No. When the Korean war happened, Russia had nuclear weapons. Japan didn't have any, and Germany was already defeated, when Hiroshima was bombed.

      Atomic weapons definitely would have been used in Korea if doing so wouldn't have invited a Soviet nuclear attack on the U.S..

    5. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      Do we actually have any mixed lessons from history. Trade, folks!!, is the lesson, from history. Cuba is still, I suppose, a communist state, and just because of a trade embargo. Without the quest for trade north america would still be a isle in the sea somewhere between Europe and India, History is a bitch. As far as NK, or whatever, is concerned, there are several alternatives, like do nothing (wait and see), nuke them or trade with them. Trade is a "Trojan horse", the Norks (some) know it too, but there is no way for them to fight it. Simple, no, but it has always worked.

      Cook, what about a Apple factory in NK, you could do it, need some help from McDonalds or ,Schmidt just ask for it.

      Am I kidding or drunk, either, neither or both. The Norks remind me of a lady with the possible fate of becoming a president of the USA (years ago). Scary stuff, Very Very scary, not because of the lack of intelligence perhaps, but because of the total lack of knowledge/education.

    6. elderlybloke
      Mushroom

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      Graeme,

      The Yanks did let off a test Bomb in the Desert to check if a Plutonium Bomb would work.

      They were sure that the Uranium Bomb would work

      The test Bomb was a bit of a surprise, as I think the yield was about 4 times that calculated.

      Don't know if the sums were entirely British.

      Peace be with us all.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed lessons from history?

      The japanese tested their biological weapons on the Chinese a couple of times and never went to full deployment. They never deployed their chemical weapons either. During the UN vs North Korea + China conflict neither biological nor chemical weapons were subject to consideration.

      Thatr is not the case now. By the way, if NORKS use it as someone holding passports from 2 countries with nuclear arsenals I am voting for both of "my" governments to nuke 'em till they glow. As a lesson to others.

      1. fishdog
        Mushroom

        "as a lesson to others"

        Like, as a lesson to the only nation to have ever used nukes on civilian targets? That kind of lesson?

        It may well be a problem that the North Koreans live in an insular fantasy realm, where they are likely to start a war they cannot win purely on the basis of ignorance about not being able to win. What the author misses in this article is that it is also a problem that certain nations in this world KNOW with absolute assurance that they will win any war they start (or at least wont lose in any way that seriously damages them or their political class).

        That, too, is a logic trap the West has fallen into a number of times, and very recently.

        When was the last time North Korea fell into that trap, again?

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Mixed lessons from history?

        The japanese tested their biological weapons on the Chinese a couple of times and never went to full deployment.

        Actually, if you do your research, you'll find that during WW2, the Japanese had an extensive and horrific biological weapons research program based in China, experimenting on the Chinese. I recently attended a presentation by the chief biological weapons expert from the HPA about the history of germ warfare, and a good part of the talk was about what the Japanese got up to, along with the stuff we (the British) had prepared for the Germans if the war had gone on much longer. Nobody came out of it looking particularly good, which is probably why we have treaties against that sort of thing now.

  3. taxman
    Big Brother

    On the other foot ....

    'But once the actual fighting was over it wouldn't take long for normality to return.'

    Might glow in the dark, but hey just think of the benefits that might bring.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Fingers crossed...

    Granted that the norks are crazy as a bag of frogs, I'm still not sure about the bit about 'the Nork Army could do a lot of damage' - it's probably true that they could if they were given free rein, but realistically if they do start getting seriously aggressive and violent what would the Merkins do? Just sit back, or perhaps drop a few little bombs to try and calm them down, or do they decide they can't take any risks with a barking mad nutter with nuclear bombs and missiles? If the latter then the sensible thing is to plaster every possible military or politically important site in N Korea with everything they have short of nuclear - cutting off the head of the army may well rather limit their ability to act further. Proportionate response is rather inappropriate if the loony you are responding to has nukes.

    RIP Nork if they do kick off.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      North Korea has some stupidly large number like 20,000 artillery tubes pointed at Seoul. Although it would be interesting to see where that oft-quoted number came from, and how much maintenance gets done as in a normal army you'd expect to need over 100,000 troops to run 20,000 artillery pieces and that would be a tenth of their army after mobilisation, so a ridiculous chunk of the regular army. Anyway, you don't need much command and control to fire that lot, and basically wipe Seoul off the map. Even with communications buggered up, it would be very difficult to stop the junior commanders on the ground from firing that lot off, and killing a million or so people.

      It's an interesting point whether the only possible defence against that is tactical nukes. You're not going to be able to do enough damage, quickly enough, with conventional weapons. Although first-use of nukes is a no-no, if it's a choice between that and massive casualties, what is the right thing to do?

      It's a particularly nasty situation for the South Korean and US staffs to work on. Stopping North Korea from getting far into South Korean territory is probably easy. Weakening the North from the air, ditto. Attacking into the North on the ground, with lots of bunkers and difficult terrain would be extremely hard. Moving armoured formations and conducting mobile warfare yes, but taking and holding ground would lead to very heavy casualties.

      Unless you get plenty of warning of war, you can't evacuate a place the size of Seoul in time, and even if you did, it's a shame to get your capital city blown up.

      1. Psyx
        Pint

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        "Although first-use of nukes is a no-no, if it's a choice between that and massive casualties, what is the right thing to do?"

        From a humanitarian perspective: Perhaps.

        From a military perspective: Perhaps.

        From a diplomatic and long term perspective: NO WAY.

        And ultimately, long term diplomacy matters more than short-term casualties. South Korea being shelled senseless makes NK the bad guys. NK getting nuked makes the US the bad guys, regardless of the cause being anything less than a NK nuke.

        "Unless you get plenty of warning of war, you can't evacuate a place the size of Seoul in time, and even if you did, it's a shame to get your capital city blown up."

        Fortunately, you tend to get plenty of warning. NK got away with it last time because they faked a military exercise (which is a traditional ploy, and partly why they are making such a stink at present). Mobilising an army and moving up fuel and ammunition is bloody obvious. NK could not 'surprise' launch a sustained war. However, they could just fire off a bunch of shells and either then dig in, or doom themselves. It wouldn't be effective warfare, but it'd be moot to anyone sucking down some 155mm HE.

      2. jabuzz

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        20,000 short range rockets pre targeted at all 20,000 artillery pieces? That said I would expect that most of the artillery pieces are arrange in groups so you would need a lot less than 20,000 rockets. The idea that the North Koreans can unhindered keep pounding Seoul with an artillery bombardment and reduce it to rubble is complete fantasy.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Fingers crossed...

          Jabuzz,

          It may be that the 20,000 number includes Katyusha rockets, possibly without reloads - in which case the numbers get far less scary. But it takes time to finish off an artillery piece, and they get to fire once every few seconds until you stop them, they move or they run out of ammo. If they can get off something like half a million shells in the first 5-10 minutes then we're talking a barrage that would make the Battle of the Somme look like a riverside picnic. And I can't see anything short of a pre-emptive strike with multiple tactical nukes doing much to dent it fast enough.

          Assuming that the South Koreans had perfect intel on where all the artillery pieces were (unlikely), and that they were never moved (very unlikely), and that they weren't entrenched (amazingly unlikely) you could line up lots of missiles to take them out. But that's easier said than done. You'd probably need lots and lots and lots of MLRS, or thousands of expensive cruise missiles. I don't think short range stuff like Hellfire would do the job, as the artillery is probably too far away, and they tend to need guidance (laser or wire) which is unlikely to be possible.

          1. Silverburn
            Facepalm

            Re: Fingers crossed...

            But the norks must know that targetting Seoul does notthing to really dent SK's military potential.

            Yes, wiping out the capital city might be a good fear factor / propoganda trick, but unless you first hit the military airfields, fuel depots, ammo dumps, mobility stores, command structure and the troop barracks, your advantage will not last long.

            1. Psyx

              Re: Fingers crossed...

              "Yes, wiping out the capital city might be a good fear factor / propoganda trick"

              Except you can't even wipe out a concrete city with shrapnel. It would murder a lot of people in civilian clothes, but it would be little more than a vast war crime.

            2. Johan Bastiaansen
              Angel

              Re: Fingers crossed...

              Why do you expect a reasonable tactic from an apparently clueless regime?

          2. Psyx

            Re: Fingers crossed...

            Interesting reading on the whole 'We can shell South Korea' thing:

            http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/weapons/north-korea-conflict-weapons-available

            http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/north-korea-and-flattening-seoul

            They cite 13,000 tubes.

            Of course, North Korea LOVES hardened structures, so you can bet they're well-protected.

            However, it's a fair hike to the DMZ (35-50km, depending on source), and to have 13,000 tubes pointed at the capital, you'd struggle to miss half a dozen with a badly aimed custard pie, if you wanted to keep them all in actually within range.

            Ultimately the big, scary thing isn't 10,000 rounds per minute (rapidly diminishing as they were taken out, break, or run out of materiel) but simply a dozen rounds of biological agent.

            "Assuming that the South Koreans had perfect intel on where all the artillery pieces were (unlikely)"

            The tubes are either static and hardened in which case they know exactly where they are, or mobile and 'soft', and easy to take out. Even if mobile, JSTARS or the like can and has probably pinpointed everything already. Intel-wise, the DMZ is one of the most well-monitored pieces of turf on the planet.

            "You'd probably need lots and lots and lots of MLRS" - one per square km against soft stuff.

            "I don't think short range stuff like Hellfire would do the job, as the artillery is probably too far away, and they tend to need guidance (laser or wire) which is unlikely to be possible." - Huh? Hellfire are air-launched and laser-guided (millimetre wave radar guided in the case of the new ones). You fly Apaches up to stuff before launching them. Why would it be impossible to use them? In reality though, a massive conventional counter-battery barrage, MLRS and air-strikes using longer ranged toys launched from fixed wing craft are a better counter-measure.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Mushroom

            Re: Fingers crossed...

            I think the "20,000 artillery pieces aimed at Seoul" is a combination of rhetoric and a reflection of what the DPRK army might have overall or in the Western sector of their border with South Korea. However, there is no doubt that even relatively modern artillery in hardened positions would take down a lot of Seoul before the arty was killed.

            And tactical nukes which were suggested earlier would not be a solution unless the North went nuclear first. A tactical first strike by the U.S. would be diplomatically and politically disasterous. You'd also need to use tactical nuclear groundbursts to take out large amounts of North Korean artillery in their hardened positions. So now instead of 20000 artillery pieces within range of Seoul you have 2000 surviving artillery pieces and nuclear fallout within range of Seoul--not exactly a great tradeoff.

      3. g e
        Joke

        @Spartacus Re: Fingers crossed...

        I believe around 19,500 of those tubes came from Photoshop

    2. Shagbag

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      And what makes you think NK doesn't have 'jihaddi'-type loyalists operating outside of NK?

      Chemical, biological - possibly even "dirty" nuclear weapons - could all be unleashed by NK "Sleeper Cells" in London, New York and Macclesfield.

      Terrorism/"freedom-fighting" is not uniquely Arabic.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        "And what makes you think NK doesn't have 'jihaddi'-type loyalists operating outside of NK?"

        They have plenty of fanatics. Unfortunately for them most of them get outside for 10 minutes before deciding that a South Korean jail is far nicer than North Korea. Or they are so obviously out-of-sync with the rest of the planet that they are obvious. Imagine an Armish agent trying to pass themselves off in Silicon Valley.

        "Chemical, biological - possibly even "dirty" nuclear weapons - could all be unleashed by NK "Sleeper Cells" in London, New York and Macclesfield."

        Just how small do you think those devices are, and how well do you think anyone wandering out of NK is searched?

        "Terrorism/"freedom-fighting" is not uniquely Arabic."

        In fact North Korea has a nice track record of blowing up civilian airliners via bombs already.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        Yes it's Macclesfield I'd be worried about...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Fingers crossed... Macclesfield

          particularly if subject to a 'Resident Evil' style virus errm and nobody realises

        2. Ally 1

          Re: Fingers crossed...

          £10m of improvements

      3. Philippe

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        Not uniquely Arabic but mainly Islamic. The Norks are Buddhists, we'll be fine

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fingers crossed...

          Like the buddhists who just killed and burned 20 muslim schoolkiddies about 1500km west of korea?

          My wife is buddhist. Theyr'e not all peaceful (Most of Japan is/was Buddhist too).

          1. Psyx

            Re: Fingers crossed...

            "(Most of Japan is/was Buddhist too)"

            Upwards of 95%.

            And upwards of 95% also claim to be Shintao. Nothing like hedging bets when it comes to immortality!

      4. Johan Bastiaansen
        Angel

        And here we are

        worried about the crazy Norks.

      5. Gagol
        Facepalm

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        Their propaganda relies on their people not knowing how the rest of the world operate? Their government is not good for a letter of credit of quarter million?

    3. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      "the norks are crazy as a bag of frogs"

      Way, way crazier than that. Try the translated output of the Korean Central News Agency, available daily at http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm

      "The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. Administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK's sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic... We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified."

      In the same bulletin:

      "In such numbers as female quintet "On High Hills and Rough Roads in This Land", male solo "We Will Never Forget" and dialogic poem "Daily Increasing Pleasure of the People" the performers sang high praises of the boundless reverence for Kim Jong Il, who pursued the original Songun politics, leading the army and people to victory and demonstrating the dignity and might of the country.

      Some numbers gave audience deep impression as they helped the audience look back upon with deep emotion the life-long devotion made by the Generalissimos who dedicated themselves to the country and the people as well as the loyalty and persevering fighting traits displayed by the preceding generation.

      In numbers like mixed chorus "Masters of This Land Say" and female solo "People Are Always Single-mindedly United" the performers sang of the ardent reverence for the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un and reflected the will of officials of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea and agricultural workers to devote their all to the prosperity of the country true to his leadership. "

      Probably not available on iTunes, sadly.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      I'm not so worried about what North Korea might or might not do. What scares me is what the US might do. And then what China might do, in response. FFS, if you see a rabid dog, why go and poke it with a stick? Why fly bombers over North Korea? Seems a bit foolhardy. Hope this won't lead to some humanitarian catastrophe. But you could argue North Korea already is one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        "Why fly bombers over North Korea? Seems a bit foolhardy."

        Indeed, which is why it didn't happen. The US bombers were flown over South Korea. The NORKs took exception to it.

      2. Psyx
        Stop

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        "I'm not so worried about what North Korea might or might not do. What scares me is what the US might do. And then what China might do, in response. FFS, if you see a rabid dog, why go and poke it with a stick?"

        Because there are tens of millions of starving innocent people there being kept in conditions far worse than the jails of even Russia?

        Sometimes humanitarianism is a good enough reason, rather than pure greed.

        "Why fly bombers over North Korea? Seems a bit foolhardy. Hope this won't lead to some humanitarian catastrophe."

        Huh? Nobody has. At all. Where do you get that idea? The USAF bombers flown around were on the South side of the border. If we flew one over the North side, there'd have been a flurry of SAMs and the shooting war would already have started.

        "But you could argue North Korea already is one."

        You'd have to be wilfully ignorant not to.

        1. SteveastroUk

          Re: Fingers crossed...

          FFS, if you see a rabid dog, why go and poke it with a stick?"

          ....I'd get a gun, and from as far away as possible shoot the bastard full of holes.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @SteveastroUk (was: Re: Fingers crossed...)

            Not a dog, a raccoon. One 30-06 shot, to the head, from about 150 yards. Critter dropped like a rock, thankfully. Last week. Rabies confirmed at UCDavis. Not my .fav job as a rancher. I live here partially because I like the wildlife. But it has to be done sometimes.

            ANYway, back to the discussion at hand ... Gut feeling is that there is a Big Button marked "take out NorKs" that'll launch conventional cruise missiles (not nukes) at each & every ranking commissioned officer & ruling party member within seconds of the US getting wind of the Dictator For Life breaking wind. The poor bastard has absolutely zero clue what he's rattling on about, nor what kind of danger he's putting his people into. Brainwashing from an early age is an ugly thing.

            The South and China and Japan and Russia are well aware of this, and will not intervene (outside of whining at the UN), because they won't have to pay a dime of the cost of squishing this roach on the back of humanity into an ugly memory.

          2. Fatman

            Re: ....I'd get a gun, and from as far away as possible shoot the bastard full of holes.

            Are you suggesting the best solution to the Nork problem?????

      3. JeffyPooh
        Pint

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        Yesnomaybe: "Why fly bombers over North Korea?"

        You spelled 'South' incorrectly.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      If there really are 20,000 artillery pieces and they have the ammo to actually fire them then it wouldn't take long to flatten Seoul. If I recall correctly, at the battle of Vimy Ridge around 1,000,000 shells were filed over the week preceding the battle. They only had about 1000 guns and that was WW I technology. Using more modern guns with more powerful shells the damage would be immense.

      But I really doubt they have that much ammo stockpiled, let alone have 20,000 working guns.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        "If there really are 20,000 artillery pieces and they have the ammo to actually fire them then it wouldn't take long to flatten Seoul."

        Yes it would. Dozens of square miles of reinforced concrete don't just fall over.

        "If I recall correctly, at the battle of Vimy Ridge around 1,000,000 shells were filed over the week preceding the battle. They only had about 1000 guns and that was WW I technology. Using more modern guns with more powerful shells the damage would be immense."

        Where do you get the idea than HE shells today in NK arsenals are magically far more devastating than HE shells from 1916? There really isn't that much difference. The actual business end of Arty hasn't changed much for third-tier military nations from what we were packing a few wars ago.

  5. Nigel 11

    Germ warfare

    It's even scarier than you think. A few years back I read an account of their germ warfare development program, which was worse even than what Mengele did for the Nazis. They were systematically and scientifically testing various weaponised diseases on "dissidents" and their children.

    Do we think that they aren't now muking about with GM? If they started a war that they couldn't win, would they then hesitate to unleash whatever germs they have developed onto the world?

    1. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: Germ warfare

      "They were systematically and scientifically testing various weaponised diseases on "dissidents" and their children."

      You do realise that the USA did that too, right? And cheerfully injected hospital patients with plutonium without their knowledge? Let's not even try to be the first to cast those particular stones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Germ warfare

        "You do realise that the USA did that too, right? And cheerfully injected hospital patients with plutonium without their knowledge?"

        I didn't know that. I would be interested to see your sources.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Germ warfare

          and also lied about them being terminally ill.

          http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/19/us/radiation-tests-used-some-healthy-people.html

          1. Andrew Moore

            Re: Germ warfare

            also check out the Tuskagee Syphilis trials

        2. Psyx

          Re: Germ warfare

          "I didn't know that. I would be interested to see your sources."

          Starter for ten: http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/pubs/00326640.pdf

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Germ warfare

        > You do realise that the USA did that too, right?

        You'll never guess who else was playing that spectacularly unpleasant game.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/sep/01/india.military

        "More than 20,000 British soldiers were subjected to chemical warfare trials involving poison gases, such as nerve gas and mustard gas, at Porton between 1916 and 1989."

        We stopped. In 1989.

      3. Mike VandeVelde
  6. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    How to make the world a better place

    Do note this was a couple of decades ago when such shenanigans were indeed legal. Not necessarily moral, but legal.

    It's people like you that screw things up for the rest of us. Greed has no morals and no limits.

    1. Alfred

      Re: How to make the world a better place

      We deliberately live in a system where everything that isn't forbidden is legal. Our morality as a society is what's legal. If you think something that is legal shouldn't be, petition your MP.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: How to make the world a better place

        "If you think something that is legal shouldn't be, petition your MP."

        I think you mean "bribe your MP"

        (you were being satirical though, right?)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: How to make the world a better place

        Our morality as a society is what's legal.

        There are plenty of things that are legal but entirely immoral.

        1. Alfred

          Re: How to make the world a better place

          Immoral according to you. Society's morality is the law.

          1. Tom7

            It's alright

            Mike Philpott agrees with you, 100%. Until your plan goes wrong and your children are burnt to death, of course.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How to make the world a better place

          Everything else causes cancer in rats.

      3. Gary Bickford

        Re: How to make the world a better place

        "Our morality as a society is what's legal."

        Actually that's a fallacy. Unfortunately it's a fallacy that too many believe. It's fairly easy to demonstrate that morality or ethics can not be derived from law. (Or if you prefer to get geeky, consider the legal system as an example of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem). The law must be derived from ethics and morality. There is no way to construct a legal system that can cover all possible cases. A large fraction of human endeavour can be construed either way, and in many cases it is difficult or impossible to determine either legality or morality, such as the classic, "Would it have been moral, ethical or legal to kill Hitler as a child?"

        Just one example, from an actual accounting ethics textbook: In the US, a business that leases something (equipment, a building, whatever) can treat it as a capital lease or an operating lease. The choice affects the way things are depreciated, and otherwise treated with regard to taxes and the balance sheet (and thus profits, assets, etc.). The decision is based on one's intended use. Thus, an accountant can either pick the one that saves the most money, or the ethical choice, which is to determine what the actual intended use is, and choose the appropriate method. IOW, both methods are 'legal' but depending on the situation.

        1. Nigel 11
          Big Brother

          Re: How to make the world a better (choke, splutter) place

          There is a way to make a legal system that covers all possible cases. It's actually pretty much the one that they have in North Korea! "You do what you are told to do by the Great Leader. Anything he approves of is OK. Anything he does not approve of will be punished". I was going to add "If in doubt, ask" but of course that's very dangerous advice because the Great Leader might not be amused, and that's probably illegal.

          Anyway, it covers all possible cases. "The Great Leader is right. You are wrong. You will be punished. End of."

          It doesn't even need interpretation of a holy book, as in theocracies, or lawyers, as in other places. If there were a way to make sure that the great leader was omniscient and omnibenevolent, it might even work.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How to make the world a better (choke, splutter) place

            ""You do what you are told to do by the Great Leader. Anything he approves of is OK. Anything he does not approve of will be punished"."

            That is almost a Hobbes Utopia. However the person at the top of the pyramid is expected to be exercising their power for the good of the people (or system?).

        2. Chet Mannly

          Re: How to make the world a better place

          "The law must be derived from ethics and morality."

          *Collective* ethics and morality.

          Many who follow Islam consider drinking alcohol immoral, but that isn't representative of collective morality in the West, so it isn't illegal. In some Arabic countries the opposite is the case.

          To someone sitting in the UK giving money to someone to guarantee a legal shipment makes it is immoral - in many countries that is perfectly normal business practice akin to paying government taxes.

    2. Dan Paul
      Devil

      Re: How to make the world a better place

      Are you kidding me?

      How wonderfully naive and innocent you must be to not understand how the world really works, especially the non-western world.

      What we call Graft or Bribery is a way of life outside of the regular Western world and probably always will be.

      In many cases, it is the logical extension of bringing a gift when you meet someone. It is how things get done without undue interference from the government. All the players must get their "bakshish".

      Do you really think the Western world is that much different?

  7. John Deeb
    Boffin

    Germany

    "Germany was almost entirely flattened by 1945. Yet the place was back up to pre-war production and GDP levels by the early 1950s."

    There are a few issues with this. First of all the complexity of modern infrastructure has had decades to grow to its size and capacity, which will be not so quickly be back in comparison with the '30's (crisis times anyway in Germany, since WW1 GDP was low).

    The other thing is that more than five years in this global and extremely short-cycled economy is actually quite long. Important players and industries might not wait for it and not come back so quickly. Not to mention the money and US investments being pumped into post-war Germany and Europe which I don't see happening post 2009 any time soon in Korea in these times.

    It's possible North Korea does realize the cherished economical value of a South without war. Even a suicidal war would still potentially break the South's prosperity (which is not that stable anyway if you study the current details).

    1. aBloke FromEarth

      Re: Germany

      You forget that NoKo is essentially still in the 1950s. So don't be too hasty about comparing it to a modern economy.

  8. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    You'd be surprised

    But the Young 'un has apparently been educated in Switzerland, so he knows more than you might think about the Western world.

    Plus, he must know where Dior hand bags for his wifey are coming from and if not he then she does, for sure...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: You'd be surprised

      The KGB were apparently telling the Politburo, as late as the 1980s, that the US and UK were actively planning an unprovoked nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union. I don't know whether these reports were taken totally seriously - but given the KGB had access to the odd spy, plus all the information you can get in the press about Western governments that's still pretty surprising.

      I haven't seen convincing evidence either way as to whether this was just a system going through the motions of justifying it's own existence. Or whether the propaganda of 50 years meant that it was seriously believed, and groupthink overruled all the contrary intelligence. After all Western governments are pretty transparent, you can read an awful lot in the newspapers, and get even more information just by knowing a few of the right people. Then add some spies, and the fact that the Soviet Union by that point was a far more open society than North Korea ever has been and they should have had an extremely accurate picture of high level NATO political and military thinking.

      Even if North Korea has the best spies in the world, and the best intelligence analysts, the people who report to government are all party hacks. And they're more likely to report what's expected of them than not, unless they want to end up in a camp. Which might also be the fate of the general who says "I couldn't capture Seoul with double the number of troops, unless you give me some weapons younger than I am..."

      That's what makes dealing with regimes like this so difficult. We've got so little political intelligence that we don't even know who the people in power actually are some of the time, let alone if they're rational or well informed. It may of course be that the South Koreans and US have better information on what's going on inside the North's government than they're letting on to the public. But even if we assume they're totally rational, unless we know what aims they're trying to achieve, that still isn't totally helpful.

      1. Mayhem

        Re: You'd be surprised

        To be fair to the KGB, I suspect that the west did regularly plan unprovoked first strike tactics during the cold war.

        And then filed them under the *completely insane* category, and put them to one side.

        I mean, I would expect the US military to have plans to invade most of the countries of the world filed away somewhere. They are a military after all - it is their job to plan for this stuff, along with modern civil war scenarios, and what to do when Canada finally has enough and invades again.

        If the President turns around and says "We need to invade Afghanistan", you need to be able to quickly say "sure, here's what needs to be done and who we need to talk to" while frantically cleaning off the dust.

        The problem of course comes in when the policy making types start thinking that the existence of these plans mean that such a decision is likely to be successful, or if the plans are removed from context and handed to the Great Leader with a note saying "see what wikileaks our great spies found ... we must strike first!"

        1. __________
          Coat

          Re: You'd be surprised

          There were 1930s US plans to invade Canada, war Plan Crimson. The Canadians were a bit miffed when those plans were declassified and they found oot.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You'd be surprised

            My grandfather- who was born in Pretoria in 1900, was in the RAF from the thirties (and knew and admired Aircraftman Shaw, i.e T.E Lawrence) and served in Afghanistan. During the 1960s he told my father "Son, don't worry about all this you'll hear about this Cold War and nuclear annihilation... it is all just posturing and everybody on both sides is too sensible. What we have to worry about is the fuzzy-wuzzies."

            Okay, his language was not PC, but it made sense.

            What strikes me as curious about this thread is that we;re discussing a conflict between two uniformed armies- somthing that has fallen out of fashion since military thinking has been geared towards counterinsurgency for some time- T.E Lawarence has been required reading for US officers in Iraq, for example.

            1. Tim Worstal

              Re: You'd be surprised

              Now that is amusing.

              "was in the RAF from the thirties (and knew and admired Aircraftman Shaw, i.e T.E Lawrence)"

              My grandfather, about the same age, was also RAF and at one point in the 30s was TE Shaw's commanding officer.

              That two RAF men who knew Shaw have grandchildren running around is not particularly unlikely. But that one would comment on a piece written by the other is rather more so.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You'd be surprised

              T.E Lawarence has been required reading for US officers in Iraq, for example."

              In that case the effects of the failure of any Arab political cohesion after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire should have been known. The US can almost be forgiven for naively walking into the Iraq/Afghanistan tribal mess. However Vietnam should have been a caution to assuming military might was sufficient.

              Britain had no excuse. Two failed 19th century Afghan Wars trying to impose a puppet ruler. Two failed attempts to control the tribal politics in Iraq (1928, 1956?). ...but then PM Blair's interests specifically excluded the subject of learning from Britain's history.

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: You'd be surprised

        Number of things here.

        Firstly, I am quite confident that the US was routinely going through the motions of planning preemptive strikes against the USSR, just like the USSR (this one I know for sure) was endlessly drawing yet better routes for the tanks to cross the Western Germany (presumably to raid the French wine cellars, but that information is still classified) - which was the normal part of the Cold War game.

        Secondly, the KGB, just like any similar organisation anywhere in the world, was reporting to the Government what the latter wanted to hear and what served their immediate political purposes. The "sexed-up dossier", "Saddam's uranium letter" and other examples show us that the practice is still alive and well and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

        Finally, reports are reports but KGB leadership was buying toasters, food processors, cognak and HiFis from the same "special receiver" shops as the Party leaders and the state officials. They knew very well where those things appeared in their shops from and what type of money you need in order to buy them. They also knew that if ever the Cold War turned hot, they would have to kiss goodbye to nylon stockings for their WAGs.

        So, reported - yes, taken seriously - no.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: You'd be surprised

          I'm sure that the West had plenty of first-strike plans. After all Trident has an incredibly high accuracy, and they launched a whole constellation of GPS satellites partly in order to allow submarines to launch accurate missiles at the USSR. If you just want a deterrent, 50m accuracy is not a requirement. Moscow is bigger than that.

          Clearly the idea was either first-strike or damage limitation - i.e. first-strike their nukes then hope for massively reduced retaliation or peace under threat of a follow-up strike on cities.

          So everyone expected those military plans to exist. The difference is that the KGB were reporting a political (not military) plan to both initiate and win a nuclear war. Which was ludicrous. As you say, it may not have been believed, but who knows? Just because the Soviet leadership knew they would lose all the Western-sourced baubles if war happened doesn't mean that they didn't also believe that the West was hoping to invade the Soviet Union.

          And that's the answer we don't know about North Korea. Do they believe their own propaganda? Obviously not all of it, but do they fundamentally believe that the South, along with the US want to conquer North Korea? If so, they're going to respond differently to if they only maintain such a large military and warn of the threat as a way of maintaining control of the country.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: You'd be surprised

        > We've got so little political intelligence that we don't even know who the people in power actually are some of the time, let alone if they're rational or well informed.

        "The purpose of a president is not to wield power but to distract attention away from those who do" - which is highly likely in this instance. Even his fellow stage-sitters in large events may well be distractions, but having said that someone paranoid and egotistical enough to be involved in the running of a country like NK is likely to want to see what's going on.

      4. Johan Bastiaansen
        FAIL

        Re: You'd be surprised

        "The KGB were apparently telling the Politburo, as late as the 1980s, that the US and UK were actively planning an unprovoked nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union."

        Thank God the CIA didn't pull that prank on us. Oh wait, they did. But perhaps the Ruskies WERE planning to attack us. Or perhaps the US were planning to attack them.

        Not agreeing with you, doesn't make somebody a lunatic. I hope you realise that.

      5. Chet Mannly

        Re: You'd be surprised

        "The KGB were apparently telling the Politburo, as late as the 1980s, that the US and UK were actively planning an unprovoked nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union."

        Most likely stapled to a request for more funding/power.

        I'm sure spy agencies in most countries have embellished the odd threat for similar reasons...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You'd be surprised

      You mean he thinks it is all very tidy, people only park in the marked bays, there are an awful lot of banks and weapons companies, and it snows a lot in the high bits?

      He needed to be educated in San Francisco.

    3. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: You'd be surprised

      "Plus, he must know where Dior hand bags for his wifey are coming from..."

      China, natch!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Continue to believe the Norks are stupid at your own peril:

    "Kim Jong-il, who began training to run the country in the 1970s and inherited it after his father’s death, came up with an unconventional solution: state-sponsored organized crime. Counterfeit cigarettes and medicine, drugs, insurance fraud, fake money, trafficking people and endangered species — for decades, the Kim regime has done it all. Its operations became so extensive and well coordinated that American officials nicknamed it the “Soprano state,” after the hit HBO television series."

    "In the 1970s, after the default, North Korea used diplomats as drug mules to keep embassies running. When that got them kicked out of multiple countries and the economy tanked in the 1990s, Kim Jong-il began producing drugs at home, thereby avoiding a major cost plaguing drug lords elsewhere: law enforcement."

    "He managed these operations through Bureau 39, a mysterious office under the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party. But to create plausible deniability, he outsourced distribution to Russian mafia, Japanese yakuza and Chinese triad gangs, who met North Korean military forces for drug drops at sea. The regime also manufactured the world’s best counterfeit dollars — so good that they reportedly forced the Treasury to redesign the $100 bill — and used a crime ring connected to the Official Irish Republican Army, a Marxist offshoot of the I.R.A., to launder them in Europe. They even made fake Viagra."

    (http://www.nkeconwatch.com/2012/03/07/a-north-korean-corleone/#more-14671)

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Continue to believe the Norks are stupid at your own peril:

      I don't believe the spy guys are stupid or ignorant. Not at all.

      The army guys, well......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Continue to believe the Norks are stupid at your own peril:

      I'm a little dubious. The Official IRA wasn't a Marxist offshoot of the IRA: they is the mainstream. The Provisional IRA were Trotskyites.

      Reportedly visitors from Communist regimes to the IRA scratched their heads quite a bit when these avowed Marxists went off to Mass on Sundays.

      1. Ally 1

        Re: Continue to believe the Norks are stupid at your own peril:

        I'm very dubious. The OIRA was almost irrelevant by the early 70s.

        Though good churchgoing communists are not unusual. Just look at Cuba http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17509340

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Holmes

          Re: OIRA and Nork counterfeiting in the 1990's-2000's - BBC News, 2005 report

          "A US court indictment said seven men, including senior Irish republican Sean Garland, distributed the $100 fakes."

          "According to a statement from the US Justice Department, the indictment "describes the efforts of Garland and certain of his associates, between December 1997 and July 2000, to obtain quantities of the counterfeit notes from North Korean sources and to transport, and to either pass as genuine or resell, the Supernotes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere".

          "It is believed that the North engages in such illicit activities in order to earn hard currency to shore up its embattled economy."

          "Mr Garland is the president of the Irish Workers' Party, the political wing of the Official Irish Republican Army (IRA)."

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4337610.stm

  10. Gordon Fecyk
    Alert

    I'm pretty sure MacArthur thought this in 1950, and look at what happened

    Oh sure, that Nork army unleashed would do a great deal of damage, would make a hell of a mess of Seoul and such places. But it wouldn't actually win, it would be beaten back and that would be the end of the State.

    This might be one of those "classic Leftie / Rightie style" oft-repeated "truths," but if North Korea is as weak as the commentards here say, why did MacArthur have his ass handed to him by Truman shortly after the Incheon landing in 1950?

    (Disclaimer: Not a military expert. Learning from history, though.)

    1. Alfred

      Re: I'm pretty sure MacArthur thought this in 1950, and look at what happened

      Doesn't your own link there state that he was fired for being off-message and essentially running his own war? Nothing to do with how strong or weak the DPRK was at the time.

    2. Bumpy Cat
      Headmaster

      Re: I'm pretty sure MacArthur thought this in 1950, and look at what happened

      North Korea is weak, militarily. Their army is huge but creakingly old-fashioned, and doesn't have enough supplies to fight for more than a week.

      NK won in the first phase of the Korean war because they surprised the US/ROK forces, who were pretty poorly equipped, trained and disciplined in the first place. They were massively overstretched, so when MacArthur launched the Incheon landings the now-UN forces managed to smash the NKs and chase them all the way up to the Yalu river/Chinese border (phase 2). Phase 3 was when a million Chinese soldiers launched an invasion and pushed the UN way back south again. Phase 4 was when the war stabilised on the pre-war border, pretty much, and then everyone sat around dying in trench warfare for three years before the NKs finally agreed to an armistice (but not peace).

      So MacArthur was making big statements about political policy. It wasn't the loss during phase 3 that sank him, and it wasn't the NKs winning during phase 3, so your post is incorrect on both points.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: I'm pretty sure MacArthur thought this in 1950, and look at what happened

        I believe the bit where MacArthur suggested nuking China at a press conference may have had something to do with him getting sacked.

    3. Psyx

      Re: I'm pretty sure MacArthur thought this in 1950, and look at what happened

      Because that was 65 years ago, when pretty much every aspect of the conflict was different?

  11. bert_fe

    He is almost as stupid as Geoge W

    He is almost as stupid as Geoge W and all the other idiots that did not need to face the bullets and shrapnell.

    All the wars the US started went really well, not! Do you really want me to name them all. A very good job was also done in South America for 'freedom' against socialism.

    This is a simple sideshow to scare people into thinking that their leaders have their best interests in mind.

    I cannot see any difference between this moron and collectively Bush, Blair and Howard.

    Bert

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He is almost as stupid as Geoge W

      "All the wars the US started went really well, not! "

      They invaded Grenada in 1983 as a proxy action against Cuba. Presumably that was counted as a success.

      1. ChrisInAStrangeLand
        Facepalm

        Re: He is almost as stupid as Geoge W

        Grenada was a "proxy action" against Reagan's poor polling.

        Ronnie saw Maggie strutting around after shelling the Falklands and decided he needed to demonstrate his military might on a barely inhabited island in the middle of nowhere as well.

  12. bert_fe

    Errata

    My does not work. Hold on it works. rrrr

    Bert

  13. envmod

    isn't young 'un oxford educated?

    if so - surely he has a more realistic view of the wider world and would be aware of the gross stupidity of launching any kind of attack on the US or her interests. it's got to ba a load of hot air.... take no notiice.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: isn't young 'un oxford educated?

      No - his graduate 'studies' were apparently at Kim Il-sung University (no, me neither). It seems he may have gone to school in Switzerland, but neither of these 'facts' is totally incontrovertible.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its an Apple (tm) put up job

    From the grave, Steve Jobs and probably Kim-Jong-Il are pushing for this to stop Samsung taking over the world!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its an Apple (tm) put up job

      And Motorola. And Microsoft. And Nokia.And Huawei. And Acer, Asus, HTC,Sharp,Sony, Panasonic.

      Probably Ford and General Motors as well, Hyundais really are getting too good these days.

      Let's make our conspiracy theories sufficiently all-embracing.

      I'd add RIM but since their original lawsuit many years ago they seem to have reverted to Canadian type and can't bring themselves to be beastly to anybody. They had to get a German in just to say something very mildly uncomplimentary about Apple.

    2. Babbit55

      Re: Its an Apple (tm) put up job

      Well Jobs did want Thermonuclear war vs them and google!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Send in the drones....

  16. Rustident Spaceniak
    FAIL

    Re: Artillery tubes, wiping Seoul...

    As far as Wikipedia says, any artillery NK has would have a hard time reaching Seoul from the border - their heaviest 170mm guns seem to have a range of some 50km, and most of their rocket launchers rather less. So yes, they could probably inflict terrible damag - if issued with lots of rounds, and well commanded, and so on and so on.

    Regarding their numbers, just consider that - still according to Wikipedia - the Royal Army had some 960 artillery regiments during World War II; apparently, each normally had some 24 guns. That kind of puts things into perspective.

    Nonetheless, the recent declarations by the NK army that they had authorized all sorst of action including nuclear strikes, have one thing in common: They come from the army command, not the supreme command. It's kind of like the Joint Chiefs of Staff declaring that they are ready for military action; it would trouble me lots more if the same came from the fat 'Un.

  17. Aldous
    Mushroom

    Air Power

    The south may have a large army of malnourished soldiers with ak-47's and soviet surplus machinery but when it comes down to it modern state vs state (not "police actions")wars are decided in the air. They may have some Mig-29's but i'd bet that the bulk of the KPAF's planes are unfit for service (frame/engine hours too high, no parts etc) and are left on airfields to be seen by spy sats.

    If the Norks tried to march south the RKAF would have a field day, their pilots are much higher trained and kit much more recent (and functional). Anything that could fly would be scrambled (and damn the budget). B52/B2/B1b's would also arrive on the scene fairly quickly and leave the north with no usuable airstrips. Without air cover it would be a turkey shoot. The JASDF would also be involved even in a passive capacity (air base use etc)

    This is not included all the tomahawks that would be flying in from the subs the US and others will have positioned in theatre or any US air carrier groups (which is practically a small airforce in its own right)

    SAM's may pose a threat but again these are old soviet designs, i'm sure the RKAF might be getting a few ECM updates soon under the table if they havn't already.Iraq also had a huge army/airforce but was hammered in Gulf war 1 after only invading kuwait (which was a cake walk) any conventional war from the Norks would look identical

    This is all bluster and chest puffing but it serves the west as well as the norks, look how cameron is using it to back trident.i'm sure other armed forces will be using it as an example of why they need to keep carriers/nukes/low orbit ion cannons.

    1. mark1978

      Re: Air Power

      An ex US joint chief was on Radio 4 the other day and talking about the Nork's artillery capacity, he said that even compared to 10 years ago the precision weapons available to the US mean that systematically destroying the artillery pieces will be pretty straightforward.

    2. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: Air Power

      "Without air cover it would be a turkey shoot."

      Ethically, that's the problem though. Butchering ten million half-starved, brainwashed innocents shouldn't be the aim of any military counterstrike. Wiping out the bastards responsible with stars on their shoulders should be the priority, then rolling in the white UN Hummers with bags of rice.

      1. Dana W

        Re: Air Power

        Trouble is, these people are pretty much taught that UN forces eat children. Most would think the rice was poisoned.

        Have you SEEN the propaganda they show each other? It makes Faux New seem reasonable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Air Power

          I was believing you right up to the bit about Fox News being comparatively reasonable.

          1. Dana W

            Re: Air Power

            Only by comparison.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Air Power

          "Trouble is, these people are pretty much taught that UN forces eat children. "

          The same situation existed for the invasion of Okinawa in 1945. Japanese families jumped to their deaths off cliffs while Allied troops were trying to save them. Demonising an enemy to motivate the civilian population has been commonplace since at least WW1.

      2. Peter Simpson 1
        Happy

        Re: Air Power

        And just wait till they see their first Wal-Mart.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Air Power

      " Without air cover it would be a turkey shoot. "

      Didn't LBJ et al think that was a winning formula in Vietnam?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Face.

    I think the thing to keep in mind here is the concept of saving face - quite important in that culture.

    Un has put his ass on the line - he CANNOT back down without losing face. In times past, NK has pulled this sort of thing, and been thrown a bone that they could use to save face - even if that bone was along the lines of "We could have kicked your ass, but our buddy China asked us not to - you'd better be thankful for China stopping us from kicking your ass!"

    But this time China isn't trying to pull them back.

    I think Un is in the situation of having walked into the biker bar, proclaiming his intention to chew bubblegum and kick ass with his buddy, and finding himself alone. A rational person would realize he as ALREADY lost face, and slink out of there post haste before losing real body parts, but Un cannot do that: he loses face, he loses his cushy job as Ultimate Supreme Leader Of All Things, and he is just bright enough to know that ends at best with him hiding in anonymity and worst dancing at the end of a rope. So he will go down swinging - better dead than disgraced.

    Consider the Japanese at the end of WWII - they sent their top-of-the-line battleship out, without adequate support, knowing it would be destroyed, because in their world view that was better than letting it be captured without firing a shot.

    Unfortunately, I don't see a way that NK can be given a face-saving way out of this situation, save for the same face-saving way we supplied Hirohito (it is not a loss of face to surrender to an enemy that can make a whole city disappear with one plane and one bomb.).

    And I can all-to-easily see Un thinking "I will go down, but I will go down as the man who nuked Honolulu!"

    1. Rustident Spaceniak
      Holmes

      Re: Face.

      Can't remember where I read it, but apparently they have already planned to back down. It might all come to one test shot of the almighty Musudan missile on or around the first Kim's birthday on 15 April, followed by a declaration that the Merkin and southern aggressors had withdrawn in awe of the Nork's superior firepower; then free additional open-air gymnastics for all, in celebration of yet another victory. Sounds like a reasonably unreasonable plan to me.

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Face.

      "Consider the Japanese at the end of WWII - they sent their top-of-the-line battleship out, without adequate support, knowing it would be destroyed, because in their world view that was better than letting it be captured without firing a shot."

      But it is worth noticing that the Emperor was conspicuously absent from the bridge of the Yamato on her suicidal voyage, showing that he (and the rest of the elite on Home Islands) may have been keen on face saving, but not at the price of personal martyrdom...

      1. fandom

        Re: Face.

        Tojo, the Japanese prime minister, had a tattoo in his chest so he could shoot himself in the hearth and die, he did shoot himself, but somehow missed and survived to be hanged.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Face.

          Perhaps he should have lit the hearth before he shot himself in it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Face.

        No Togo.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Joke

      "I will go down, but I will go down as the man who nuked Honolulu!"

      Not cool dude.

      Time to chill some of this Whoops Apocalypse rhetoric.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    The problem...

    ...as I see it (admittedly from what I have read) is that I do not believe Kim is actually in charge of anything. I suspect he is seriously struggling to maintain any sort of power hold given his age and inexperience. I suspect most of the rhetoric being lobbed around is by more senior members of the military whom I think really do believe that they are invincible.

    I think they finally realise that the "selling the same horse twice" routine is not going to work any more and the US and South Korea in particular have reached the point of enough is enough - either back down or step up. If they do think they are invincible, then we shall see an escalation fairly rapidly. The problem for North Korea (which they seem not to see from a western perspective) is that their military is poorly trained (an understatement), poorly fed, poorly motivated and poorly supported. In fact, a report from the dailynk.com site reported that rice straw was being put into tyres instead of air to try to prolong the life of them as they could not be replaced as their simply were no replacements. Other reports indicate a scarcity of fuel and ammunition which put together indicates the North Koreans if they ever went to war would not be able to engage in any sort of prolonged campaign.

    In some ways a war with North Korea is inevitable, its going to happen sooner or later. Their way of thinking is so far outside of ours as to be completely alien to us. The other problem with their only ally, China, is twofold - China cannot be seen to allow a build up of US forces and in particular a missile defence system in the that area as it would appear to them to be a serious impedance to their own nuclear deterrent. I would suspect Russia feels the same. Secondly, China is the only real state who provides for North Korea and by doing so is fuelling the problem but if they stop, they risk North Korea going all out simply because they would have nothing left to lose.

    I predict one of these things will happen in order of prediction:

    Kim is overthrown, and the military take over and the situation either escalates wildly, or calms down dramatically - there will not be an between.

    A war is started and North Korea is wiped out.

    The rhetoric is toned down and the stalemate continues.

    Horrible as it sounds, war would be about the best thing for North Korea, with the leadership overthrown, the seriously oppressed people of the country can be brought into the international community, helped, fed and allowed to grow prosper like their southern counterparts.

    1. mark1978

      Re: The problem...

      ""Horrible as it sounds, war would be about the best thing for North Korea, with the leadership overthrown, the seriously oppressed people of the country can be brought into the international community, helped, fed and allowed to grow prosper like their southern counterparts.""

      Ultimately it will be the best for all concerned, especially South Korea - or just "Korea", the only question is how many deaths and how much damage is done in the meantime. The worst thing that can happen is the use of nuclear weapons, a bitch to clean that up.

  20. Faye B

    The loser wins

    One chilling idea is that poor young 'un, realising he has no control over his army generals decides the only way out for him and his country is to have a brief but devastating war in which NK loses spectacularly, This not only rids him of a horrendous war machine that has been gripping the nation for many years but with a bit of luck will allow him to slip away into exile somewhere (China maybe) to live out the rest of his life in relative western luxury. Another bonus for him is that the massive death and destruction would reduce the starving millions and re-inject some investment into the country in the form of aid packages. Plus SK businesses would be in there like a shot to make use of the cheap labour. So losing a war would be a win both for him and his country. Give it 10 years or so and they will be welcoming him back with open arms as the new freely elected president of a completely revitalised NK!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The loser wins

      "One chilling idea is that poor young 'un, realising he has no control over his army generals decides the only way out for him and his country is to have a brief but devastating war in which NK loses spectacularly, This not only rids him of a horrendous war machine that has been gripping the nation for many years but with a bit of luck will allow him to slip away into exile somewhere (China maybe) to live out the rest of his life in relative western luxury. Another bonus for him is that the massive death and destruction would reduce the starving millions and re-inject some investment into the country in the form of aid packages. Plus SK businesses would be in there like a shot to make use of the cheap labour. So losing a war would be a win both for him and his country. Give it 10 years or so and they will be welcoming him back with open arms as the new freely elected president of a completely revitalised NK!"

      Exactly the kind of thing some self obsessed a**ewipe like him would do. Fat cats don't like to miss their cream.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the el reg story I want to hear

    is how the sale of submarine screen doors went.

  22. The Jase

    Gyeonggi-do

    Gyeonggi-do is a mass of high rise buildings, the casualties would be enormous.

    The UN would flatten North Korean within 3 weeks, China would seal its borders against refugees.

    What will be very telling is if the DMZ/JSA tours are still being operated at the moment.

  23. Danny 5
    Unhappy

    I can't shake the feeling

    that there's plenty of people out there who want N-Korea to take action, so they have a reason to overthrow the regime. Problem is that from what i understand, the majority of the people who live there believe what the regime tells them and the few that don't, are put into camps. Overthrowing the regime might not acomplish anything, which means there might be no solace for the people of N-Korea anyway and that's just sad.

  24. Spoonsinger

    Ummm,

    When a US president 'goes off on one' - in this case Bush - it's not some random rhetoric about their countries intentions. There is quite a sizable economic and political force established to back that rhetoric, which due to it's perceived cost/benefit to the national economy of that country, will be taken up by subsequent holders of the post.

    The original Axis of evil was Iran, Iraq and North Korea. This was extended, (in 2002), to Syria, Libya & Cuba. Probably to make it an axis rather than some random line across the world. Obviously since then the US, with allies, have removed the perceived threats of Iraq and Libya by decapitating the top incumbent political types. Cuba really hasn't been a problem since '62, and Libya was an easy 'kill'. That just leaves Iran, but the US, (with allies), have established army on the border, and local sea/big lake patrolled by a fleet .However it does border with Russia with it's 'decommissioned' deterrent. That politically could be a problem with them. Likewise with North Korea, the Chinese question comes into the pot. They don't like gun ships, (navel , not helicopters), and they really don't like the Japanese. They do like the acquiescence of the western powers to their provision of cheap consumer tech, (plus other consumables), via cheap workforce, but that isn't going to last that much longer.

    It's interesting times!. Sit back and enjoy.

  25. Florida1920
    Coat

    Little Boy and his big toys

    Young Kim creates the fiction that the joint US-ROK military exercises were an imminent threat to NK, and that his blustering, moving missiles and closing the factory forced the US to back down and thus preserved NK.

    He's getting NK and himself in the news every day, and Chuck Hagel is running in circles setting up defenses against the Mighty DPRK. On the homefront it's clear the US is scared of DPRK, and that's all good for kid Kid Kim.

    But he can't keep this juggling act going forever, and sooner or later the rumblings of millions of empty stomachs will drown out the rhetoric. For that, Kimmy has no plan. Maybe he thinks he can achieve his aim of self-aggrandizing direct talks with the US, which will never happen. And that the US will start flowing relief supplies again. Given the state of the US economy, you'd see rioting in America if much money was spent feeding the Norks. China doesn't want a pro-Western government on their border, so it's in their interests to keep DPRK afloat. Will they give military assistance if a war starts? Undoubtedly. So let's hope no jittery soldier on either side accidentally discharges a weapon pointed at the other side. And that the Great Successor takes up a less-dangerous hobby, like birdwatching.

    http://jim.kearman.com/html/kim-jong-un-birding.html

    The one with the field guide in the pocket.

  26. Dan Paul
    Devil

    Does Anyone Else Think This is the Mouse That Roared Redux???

    What better way to help his country than to start a war, be trounced soundly and have all of the other combatants rebuild his country and his economy because we are to civil to do otherwise?

    Peter Sellers is LHFAO as Art Imitates Life once again...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mouse_That_Roared

  27. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Pirate

    The only

    hope for the norks is an all out war fought to their battleplan , not ours

    Which would be artillery/missile strikes on Seoul and surrounding US, ROK bases, missile strikes at US airbases in Japan and Guam, followed by a massive conventional attack on Seoul and occupation of Seoul in order to force any UN force to create another Stalingrad, followed by peace on the norks terms eg withdrawing in exchange for food aid.

    Sadly the battleplan would more likely run as 3 days of nork offensive action, followed by 10 days of stalemate, then 28 days of getting the s**t kicked out of the norks as UN forces pour in, resulting dead.. about 30 000 in the south 200 000 in the north, if the norks used chemical/bio/nuke weapons, say goodbye to 5 million north koreans

    including kim el fat boy who'll be dangling on a rope after the war crimes trial

  28. Eduard Coli

    Forgotten history

    What many seem to forget is that the Korean civil war was only that in the beginning. Sometime in the middle it because another war between the PRC and NATO with PRC troops advising/fighting in Nork Jammies/Fighting in PRC jammies.

  29. Dave 13
    Mushroom

    Wag

    I suspect what we're seeing is the DPRK version of Wag The Dog - meant primarily for internal consumption and the establishment/preservation of Dear Leader Jr's power. That said, it could easily go horrible wrong and tyrn the DPRK into a nuclear wasteland. China is the key.

  30. Arachnoid
    Mushroom

    Would it be over expectational if I were to see on the news that the Nork research lab were to have a catastrophic accident involving nuclear fissionable material?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could be worse

    I'd be more concerned if NK sets off an EMP above the continental US, that would be a mess to say the least.

    The problem is that even an 80KT boosted fission warhead detonated at optimal altitude would probably wipe out most of the power grid, causing a global catastrophe that would dwarf the Great Depression.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could be worse

      They have nothing whatsoever that could get something big enough to notice that far up.

      They could just about hit Alaska with their nuke. Nothing more.

      And if they did that, the entire North Korean military becomes a sheet of glass. Kim Un and his generals wouldn't get their Hague trial, they'd be a series of blackened patches in the shattered remains of their bunkers.

      The part that is truly scary is - Does he know that?

      What if the Nork military command actually believe their own rhetoric?

  32. Wang N Staines
    Coat

    Nothing new

    Microsoft nearly sold a copy of Windows 8 in NK.

  33. Johan Bastiaansen
    Mushroom

    You armchair generals . . .

    crack me up. At least TRY to do a proper job ok?

    First: NK does NOT have a deployable nuclear weapon. A couple of tests does not mean you have a weapon you can put on a rocket. They are just posturing. Any US general who's afraid of the mushroom cloud is also posturing. Any journalist who believes them is equally pretending or just plain incompetent.

    Second: the reason people in NK cheer their great leader on, is because they'll be shot when they don't. They don't believe his propaganda, but they are worried that their neighbour would rat on them. It's hard to have faith in your leader when your stomach keeps rumbling. It's even harder when your childrens stomach keeps rumbling.

    Third: the US can not commit genocide on the NK people simply because their leader went ballistic, or because the entire regime becomes unstable. Nor can the Chinese lock down the border when millions of desperate NK people push north. That would be very hard for them to explain to their own people.

    Fourth: The Chinese are certainly doing everything they can to defuse the situation. They just forgot to ask your permission. They don't want hungry masses of NK people crossing the border and they don't want a US military buildup in the region either. But they won't back NK should they be mad enough to attack.

    And Fifth: Kim is no fool. He got a decent education, probably better than Bush's but he is put in a mad situation with few options. He has to humor his generals and the Chinese, while not looking weak. He decided at this moment, his generals are the bigger threat to his position, so he decided to turn their attention outward. Like the Argentine generals did with the falklands. Like the Greek colonels did with Cyprus (although history has been rewritten and we all prefer to pretend it was the Turks that invaded the north first).

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's very unfortunate...

    ...that the government leaders in North Korea are braindead as this could very well lead to war and their demise. They are in so denial and have no clue that they could be wiped off the map in a heartbeat by NATO who is fully prepared to protect the world from these nutcakes who are Hellbent on being annihilated.

  35. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Pretty concerned...

    I'm reasonably concerned about this whole situation. Really, the North, if they nuked the South they would not even have anything to take over (since it has been nuked.) But I get the definite impression North Korea's past and current leader were both blissfully unaware of the reality of the outside world.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A wild idea

    1/ Other than the border troops stopping his subjects from sneaking across the border, all of the DRNK military forces are facing South - correct??

    2/ The Chinese dont want a war any more than the rest of us, but equally, they dont want ANY US influence that close to their borders. - correct??

    3/ The PLA have a large standing army of their own and the NK's trust them.

    So China sends its army into NK, deposes the fat kid from South Park and all the old generals, sets up its own puppet government and feeds the starving masses with Vietnamese rice.

    This stabilises the region, gives its own military a bit of a work-out and shows the West it is a force to be reckoned with while also playing at being one of the good guys.

    It also gives them a nice new population who will work for nothing - compared to Shenzhen where the wage bills are getting a bit too high.

    A new source of cheap undies for Paris.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      "deposes the fat kid from South Park"

      "You will respect my authority"

      Best line all week.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...then you've still got a population...

    It seems you need a reminder that people die in war.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @AC: 03:04 (was: Re: ...then you've still got a population...)

      It seems you need a reminder that more people needlessly die of starvation & disease under military dictatorships, and over a longer period of time, than the people who die in the war that ends the stalemate.

      Do I think that war is the optimum answer? No. Absolutely not.

      Proper education of all, early & often, is the only answer ...

  38. Old but bold

    That sounds like the argentine military when they invaded the falklands-malvinas

  39. Nick Pettefar

    Lessons From History

    Nothing in history stopped the Americans from trying to conquer Afghanistan (or the British either). The military doesn't read history books and they never learn.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A N-Korean attack against the US would be the equivalent of noisily walking up to a bear with a saw head, and attacking it with a pound shop fly squatter. It's only going to end one way...badly. Your head and limbs torn will be off and digested bits of you spread for miles around soon after. It would make for a great viral video, and an amusing entry into the 2013 Darwin Awards.

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