Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Can Trump DO Anything To Stop North Korea After ICBM Test? No, But He Can Make Another Phony Wrestling Video

Image result for Trump vs. Kim Jong Un images

The Fourth Of July dawned with the alarming news that North Korea had succeeded in a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) they call the Hwasong -14.   At the outset the brain trusts at the Pentagon and CIA had the test pegged more as an IRBM or intermediate range ballistic missile test, but later analysis - specifically including the duration of powered flight (37 mins.) put the kibosh on that. The maximum altitude of 1700 miles, combined with the 580 mile horizontal range, put the test firmly in the ICBM class with the capability of reaching Alaska.

More unsettling, it showed the missile cone could have survived re-entry through the atmosphere. which is crucial for any ICBM.  As I noted in an earlier post, if  the North Koreans can master the technological re-entry problems, then according to Lt. Gen. Vince Stewart,  it will be "on a pathway where this capability is inevitable."  Of course, it remains to be seen whether the North has miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit in the nose cone of their Hwasong -14 missile. Let's bear in mind the crucial factor here is the mass.

Assuming their nuclear capability is only at the most primitive stage (roughly like the U.S. in mid -1945) that means they'd need their ICBM to deliver a warhead with a yield of roughly 0.08 kt/ kilogram. That is yield per actual bomb mass.  This means they’d need to be able to launch or carry (via plane) at least 100 kg of bomb mass to get an 8 kiloton A -blast, or 200 kg to get a 16 kt yield..

The key aspect for a stable ICBM, of course, is to ensure the center of gravity (or center of mass) of the missile is ahead of its center of pressure. The CG is just the point where the rocket mass is evenly balanced.   (Imagine placing the missile on a knife edge and being balanced). Thus, there is no net moment on one side or the other. Given the nose cone mass is rendered much larger by incorporation of 100 kg or 200 kg mass then it is advantageous for stability to have that extra mass in there. The center of pressure (CP) then is located more toward the tail and is generally considered as the focus of all aerodynamic forces acting, which entails computation of the total area of the missile, e.g. fins, cylindrical surface etc.

The farther behind the center of gravity the center of pressure is placed, the stronger and more precise the restoring forces , so the missile displays greater stability in flight, less wobble.  Of course, the competition for a stable ICBM will be seen between the nose mass (where the warhead is located) and the tail region where the engines reside. One certainly needs engines of powerful thrust - up to  360,000 foot-pounds, or 1, 600 kilo newtons -  but this also implies greater engine mass. The greater that engine mass the more the CG will move backward toward the tail. Obviously then, if the engine mass is too great the danger is that the CG may fall behind the CP leading to instability.

It is doubtful to me that the N. Korean ICBM test included an actual miniaturized warhead. The question they must answer is how the inclusion of a 100-200 kg mass in the nose of the missile will affect its trajectory and especially stability  - in concert with the engine required to hurl it to another continent..  That is basically the sixty four dollar question.  Only at that point , i.e. of an actual  warhead test, should the world really be going into panic mode.

Nonetheless, the successful "bare bones" (e.g. minus warhead)  test marks a direct challenge to Trump, whose tough talk has yet to yield any change in Pyongyang’s behavior as the regime continues its efforts to build a nuclear tipped ICBM that can reach the U.S. mainland.

Trump, the man-baby,  responded to the North Korean missile test by applying rhetorical pressure on China, North Korea’s ally and economic lifeline, and by mocking dictator Kim Jong Un on Twitter. Of course, given Kim Jong Un is the Korean version of Trump (but cubed),  it probably only made more provocations inevitable.

Funniest of all was Trump's trademark childish tweet:

"North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”

Well, from the looks of it he's certainly got more done than watching cable TV 12 hours a day like the Donald, or making fake wrestling videos body slamming a CNN suit. In a race to tell who's done more, I'd have to say the North Korean wins, especially as he's got Trump totally boxed in with nothing he can really do but tweet like a fool. "Modern day version" of a president? Nope, modern day version of a goofball who has no more business in the Oval Office than a drunken baboon.

Despite Trump's puppet McMaster's veiled threats, there really is no possibility at all for any direct military strikes. Any such retarded and precipitate folly would lead to South Korea being utterly turned into ashes within minutes - and likely via nuclear fireballs.

Interviewed in April,  and asked if Trump would actually attack North Korea, former CIA North Korean analyst Sue Mi Terry responded:

 “I can’t see him following through on this and that is the problem with the brinksmanship policy. Because you’re putting yourself in a bind. You will either have to back down and lose credibility or you are stuck on a ledge with a military option which is very, very risky.

 North Korea is not Syria. It’s not Afghanistan. It’s going to have very devastating consequences.  North Korea will retaliate to any kind of military option. They will retaliate against South Korea given seventy percent of its ground forces are deployed within 100 kilometers (60 miles) of the DMZ.  And there’s twenty thousand U.S. military in South Korea and twenty million people in Seoul”

Let's be clear none of the North's existing weapons could reach the U.S. presently – though they could wreak havoc on Seoul, South Korea – with the potential to obliterate over 20 million people as well as all U.S. troops stationed in S. Korea.
Clearly, this is a cost and risk no sane leader would visit on a vulnerable ally. An 11-page report just compiled by Global Zero's Nuclear Crisis Group also warns that the risk of a nuclear war is now "unacceptably high".  Despite that, some military know nothings exist - just as they did in the Kennedy era with the Cuban Missile crisis (e.g. Gen. Curtis LeMay) who really believe a "pre-emptive strike" can be managed with no further risk of conflagration. 

As Exhibit A for the "Curtis LeMay clone of the year award", I give you  former NATO supreme Allied commander -  Admiral James Stavrids (Ret.). This inveterate dickhead  blithely talked this morning (on 'Morning Joe') of taking out the North like you'd lance a boil. No shit. 

According to Stavrids:

"It will be on President Trump's watch to make this decision and it becomes a pre-emptive strike that is legitimate under international law. So you build an Asian coalition, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, many as you can get on board, And you're going to  have to use a combination of cyber warfare, special forces, and long range air from Guam as well as bring three to four carrier battle groups around the peninsula.

We're gonna lose hundreds of thousands of people in that scenario. Many of them will be Americans, there are 200,000 American citizens there. It's a very dark scenario but if you've gotta lance the boil militarily can you do it? Yes.  Do you have the legitimacy when the nuke and the intercontinental missile stream cross?  Yes, and that's probably eighteen months away."

He acknowledged "hundreds of thousands" dead and doesn't blink an eye. Nor does he see there is no assurance a "preemptive" strike confined to the peninsula means the ensuing war is confined there.

If you go back to read through the transcripts of the tapes made during the Cuban Missile crisis (The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis’, by Ernest R. May and Philip K. Zelikow (1997, President and Fellows of Harvard College) you will see the Joint Chiefs then also firmly believed the U.S. had the "legitimate right" to make a full invasion of Cuba and bomb Castro back to the Stone Age. Of course, Robert McNamara thirty years later on meeting Castro then learned all 90-odd IRBMs would have been launched at the U.S. - doubtless ushering in a full scale nuclear war.

So yeah, it's neat to bang the drum of "legitimacy" by whatever rationalization and ideational confection you  can muster, but the question to be answered is : Do you really want to reduce the planet to ashes that badly

Meanwhile, Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in S. Korea (after a joint missile drill with the South Koreans) insisted as per a Financial Times quote that "the allied troops were prepared for war". Seemingly oblivious to the fact the North's response will not be conventional but likely via a single A-bomb of 8 - 20 kt scale dropped from a plane or hurled via solid fuel missile.

Fortunately,  there are still some sane voices to be heard like former CIA deputy director Mike Morrell .  Two days ago when asked on CBS Early Show what the U.S. response should be, Morrell minced no words: "There can be no military response or attack. The only two options are more sanctions and perfecting the missile defense system".   And the latter needs perfecting given it's now exclusively "designed for success" with a GPS locater beacon in the target's nose cones.

If JFK were President as opposed to an overgrown toddler with malignant ego issues, whose only communications are via a cartoon medium, we might have a chance.  Kennedy as per his Cuban Missile solution would have figured the only way out is to make some concessions (say more food supplies) after getting Kim Jong Un to the table.  Then, perhaps trade food and medical supplies for a reduction in missiles.  

What we can hope for is that China's President Xi  Jinping and Vladimir Putin (Trump's "hero") talk some sense into president Man-Boy as regards feasible responses when he attends the G20 summit. The question is whether Drumpf listens to them or the hotheads calling for a pre-emptive strike.

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