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Belmont Club

The Pinocchio Paradox

March 10th, 2013 - 6:00 pm

The New York Times says that South Korea is talking about developing its own nuclear arsenal.

SEOUL, South Korea — As their country prospered, South Koreans largely shrugged off the constant threat of a North Korean attack. But breakthroughs in the North’s missile and nuclear programs and fiery threats of war have heightened fears in the South that even small miscalculations by untested leaders on either side could have disastrous consequences.

Now this new sense of vulnerability is causing some influential South Koreans to break a decades-old taboo by openly calling for the South to develop its own nuclear arsenal, a move that would raise the stakes in what is already one of the world’s most militarized regions.

The NYT thinks it won’t happen ‘anytime soon’ and then adds that “two-thirds of South Koreans support the idea” of re-arming. Who’s against it then? If South Korea begins to arm, Japan cannot be far behind. And then Australia must follow. The Obama administration’s endless efforts to dismantle the Pax Americana and weaken the US military will lead to precisely the opposite of his stated goal of Global Zero. It will lead to a new arms race.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the difference between Democratic Party’s memory and overseas perceptions so much as this tellng line from the NYT article.  It says the Koreans are afraid they Americans will pull out  just like Vietnam.

Opinions like Mr. Kwon’s appear to be spreading. Two opinion polls conducted after the third test, one by Gallup Korea and the other by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, found that 64 to 66.5 percent of the respondents supported the idea that South Korea should develop its own nuclear weapons, similar to polls after the Yeonpyeong attack in 2010.

“Having a nuclear North Korea is like facing a person holding a gun with just your bare hands,” said Mr. Kwon, the engineer. South Koreans should have “our own nuclear capabilities, in case the U.S. pulls out like it did in Vietnam.”

Why after more than 50 years does South Korea suddenly have these doubts? Why after more than half a century, despite a Peace Constitution, is Japan de facto re-arming? What has changed?

Maybe it has to do with an administration that wants to disarm the United States itself, that counsels everyone who will listen that when confronted with a gun everyone should just call the police (but America is no longer the global policeman) and thinks the withdrawal from Vietnam was the high point of ’60s. Surely that’s going to bring peace, Aquarius and understanding? Just ask Piers Morgan. Just ask Barack Obama.

Who has the heart to tell John Kerry that the high point of his youth is now a synonym for betrayal?

Mark Twain once observed that “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

The problem with lies is that they seem harmless. But soon they show their age; and the lies of the 60s have not aged well.  By degrees falsehood destroys the language of discourse itself.  And then the truth must be rediscovered, without resort to words.

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Top Rated Comments   
There is both "good" and "bad "news" in this post:

The "good" news is that various nations who have the innate resources to do so are taking, or thinking of taking, greater responsibility for their own defense.

The "bad" news is the reason why: An assumption of possible American treachery and the fact that America is also showing weakness unbecoming its still-great power.

I'm fine with erstwhile "friends" and "allies" strengthening their defenses, but our commensurate self-emasculation is a terrible idea.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
BTW, your sign in script has no memory for passwords -- though it implies that it does.

David the Last...

Your knowledge of shoe manufacture is letting you down. U-238 is purely a contaminant for fission weapons.

The problem with Little Boy is neutron economics: it uses too many. If slow neutrons were cheap and easy, everybody and his brother would have atomic weapons.

Elsewhere on the Web I constantly see disinformation WRT everything atomic: starting with the need to have heavy water to convert U to Pu. Neither America nor Russia ever used heavy water to convert U238 up to Pu239. Heavy water, the CANDU reactor, is a way to cheap atomics, but is not necessary. With heavy water, no enrichment trains are required at all.

It is true that heavy water and lithium are routes to tritium.

And, it is true that all of the new atomic powers are skipping entirely past the first fifteen years of atomic technology. Any discussions of Little Boy and weapons based upon its scheme are for the proles.

The MSM and government treat the public like children in all matters atomic. What is purported to be a security blackout is useless against state funded programs.

The Iranian pledge to convert their HEU (20%) to plates for their 'medical reactors' is an in-your-face admission that they're running U to Pu conversions in a swimming pool, research reactor setting. Rather than being assured, those knowledgeable have their hair on fire.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I believe this is already a given. It's just a matter of time. Barring some miracle Japan will re-arm, as will South Korea. Australia will hold out for a while, because of the crooks in Labor and in the idiots in the Greens. But inevitably they too will be forced to take up the Atomic bomb.

In a way this is the only alternative. The Wild West. When Wyatt Earp retires and no one takes his place then everyone must have his pistola. This much is clear.

What I am still not certain of is how are they going to make it Bush's fault?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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Keep an eye on Argentina.

They just started up their heavy water reactor (from Germany) using natural uranium fuel that can be mined in Argentina and made into fuel in their own fuel fabrication plant. They have a small uranium enrichment capability too.

They have a fuel reprocessing plant (or two) left over from an earlier nuclear arms race with Brazil.

The essential ingredient - a crazy dictator. Check!

North Korea needs Chinese approval and material support to stay alive.

Argentina lacks even that constraint.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the State of Illinois with securities fraud for misleading municipal bond investors about the state’s approach to funding its pension obligations."

That's right folks, Obama's home state, where he was a state senator noted for voting" present", has pled guilty to securities fraud!!

An SEC investigation revealed that Illinois failed to inform investors about the impact of problems with its pension funding schedule as the state offered and sold more than $2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds from 2005 to early 2009. Illinois failed to disclose that its statutory plan significantly underfunded the state’s pension obligations and increased the risk to its overall financial condition. The state also misled investors about the effect of changes to its statutory plan.

Illinois, which implemented a number of remedial actions and issued corrective disclosures beginning in 2009, agreed to settle the SEC’s charges."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A nuclear-weapon armed South Korea or Japan does not need US defense guarantees. I’m sure their governments would rather US soldiers die than their own soldiers, but once either state has nuclear weapons, they can take care of themselves.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think that when N Korea developed a nuke then we should have pulled virtually all our troops out of S Korea and then made it very clear to N Korea that either a convnetional or nuclear attack on anyone by them would be met with massive nuclear retaliation.

And in fact the Bush Admin was heading that way, pulling the troops out, as well as out of Germany. John Kerry said he thouught it was all a bad idea.

But there is the question of how do you pull out our troops and not greatly encourage the North Koreans, who would see it as a victory and a reason to step up their aggression. I guess the only way to do that is after you pull our troops out, if they do anything - bomb an airliner, sink a ROK vessal, attack our ships or aircraft, etc. you hit them very hard - as in no more airbase or port where the attack came from. And that might start the war right there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"By degrees falsehood destroys the language of discourse itself. And then the truth must be rediscovered, without resort to words."

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, but I already knew you had it in you!

Regarding the general topic, what comes to mind is an old quote, "Peace, peace, but there shall be no peace."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
On the recent anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, thousands demonstrated in Japan against nuclear pwoer.

So Japan is going to reject nukes and instead build Nukes?

Note that the US traditionally was able to influence other nations' defense efforts in a number of ways. Aside from being under our conventional and nuclear umbrellas, the dominance of US designed and made equipment meant that the US could control who got what even under third party arrangements. Back in the 70's the W German Luftwaffe was about to sell it's surplus F-104G's to some third world countries, but the US objected on the basis that while the fighters were not made in the USA, they had American made J-79's. As countries arm up on their own, our influence will end in multiple ways.

And to build up their navy maybe the Japanese can raise the IJN Yamato.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rather doubt that YAMATO will be raised, as when last seen she was somewhat perforated. But Japanese forces are far more modern than most Americans think. Consider, they operate their own AEGIS destroyers. Their conventional submarines are state of the art, as in hard for our nuke boats to track. And I draw your attention to their OSUMI class Landing Ship Tank's [LST] Here is what the Japanese call an "LST":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:OsumiNagasaki.JPG

Her flight deck is actually just a bit shorter than that on the Brit ILLUSTRIOUS class that fought in the Falklands war. [ILLUSTRIOUS- 550', OSUMI- 525'] They call the forward deck a vehicle park, and the helicopters are only on the aft deck, but if they wanted to use the 3 ships of the class for deckload [she has no hanger deck, but has a well deck instead] VTOL aircraft, and especially as training for a larger V/STOL carrier; the Japanese are good to go.

They are building up and modernizing their navy. Or shall I say Maritime Self-Defense Force, at least until their constitution changes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If they are at this point, I would not be at all surprised if steps have not been taken to either have a covert nuclear deterrent, or the ability to credibly declare such on short notice. In the absence of both a credible American alliance for defense, or the ability to forcibly restrain Japan by geopolitical means, such is inevitable.

MSO notes the transfer of patrol boats from Japan to the Philippines. That got me digging, and apparently this has been in the works for over a year. Which includes the Japanese government that preceded the current one. Which speaks to an underlying consensus. There is some question as to what will be supplied. The number may be 12 and not 10; with 2 being a direct transfer and the remaining 10 being technically bought by the Philippines but with Japanese foreign aid grants. And while the Eurasia Review article mentions 40 meter patrol boats, that is awful small. Other sources, including some going back a ways, mention 1,000 ton patrol boats. Assuming that is light displacement, and assuming that they are Japanese production; that would indicate something along the line of a 79 meter type, either the 1980's design OJIKA-class, or its replacement the ASO-class.

There are two obvious things to note about this transfer. The first is that it makes the Philippine Navy a force again. Right now, it is a negligible player, much of its equipment is US WW-II surplus and is tied up to the dock because its vessels are non-operational due to age, wear, and poor maintenance [ lack of funding, infrastructure, and the equipment is old and obsolete with no spare parts made for over a generation]. These 10-12 vessels will allow the Philippines to challenge Chinese incursions. Not stop the Chinese if they are determined; but to raise the stakes, which is about all that the Philippines can reasonably do at this point.

The second, and larger, point is that the Philippines can accept the aid from Japan. Deservedly, the Philippines has not been friendly to Japan, based on their atrocities in the Philippines during WW-II. The acceptance of the aid, and the long term planning that preceded it indicates another tectonic shift. If Japan can mend relations to this level with Taiwan and South Korea; a mutual defense agreement could become a distant possibility. Both Taiwan and South Korea bring their own assets to the counter-value task.

And noting that South Korea has been developing and deploying its own missile force for years, capable of reaching North Korea and Manchuria, regardless of what the US wanted; if they are openly talking about a nuclear deterrent, they may already be well on the way to one.

As we withdrew as the protector of the Asian periphery, we thought we only gave up the burden of defending them. We also gave up our say in how they were defended. And we gave up our influence in what their foreign policy is once they decide that they are on their own.

Although the American Leftist regime in power, and the Journo-List 2.0 media will blame George Bush, what happens to America is their fault.

I will leave for later a discussion of how much fun and games a multi-polar nuclear world with a lot of major players capable of worldwide counter-value strikes and vastly different cultures that do not respond well to Western deterrent theory will be.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
THAT WAS SPECIAL! PJMedia cut off the first few paragraphs of the above. Here is how it was supposed to start:

For the last few years I have been writing, here and elsewhere, about the strategic necessity for Asian nations who used to be in the American sphere of influence developing their own forms of deterrent. Such deterrent would perforce, have to be counter-value rather than counter-force for the foreseeable future.

Noting that for the last few years the Japanese government has been working up to and making "exceptions" to its non-export of weapons policy; the Japanese transfer of patrol boats to the Philippines is telling given the new Japanese government.

Prime Minister Abe has openly called for; first amending the Japanese Constitution to make further amendments easier, and second, amending Article 9, which bars war and warmaking capabilities. 10 years ago, such talk by a Japanese government would have meant riots in the streets and the government falling. Today, he was elected on that premise.

Japanese politics moves more slowly than American politics. And there is a sense of consensus underlying much of their policy. For them to come to this point involves a tectonic shift in their view of the world, a shift based on the American withdrawal from Asia that actually pre-dates Obama and goes back to the end of the Vietnam War.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is both "good" and "bad "news" in this post:

The "good" news is that various nations who have the innate resources to do so are taking, or thinking of taking, greater responsibility for their own defense.

The "bad" news is the reason why: An assumption of possible American treachery and the fact that America is also showing weakness unbecoming its still-great power.

I'm fine with erstwhile "friends" and "allies" strengthening their defenses, but our commensurate self-emasculation is a terrible idea.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I read Wretchard's "reported" comment. Why is the new PJM comment format so capricious?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is a not so well concealed jab at one of the most pernicious lies utilized by the foot soldiers and hand maidens of current administration.

That Bush, somehow, single-handedly torpedoed the financial system of the country, bringing economic malady to the entire world.

Such criticism, exposure of the lie, is verbotten.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Japan supplies the Philippines with ten new patrol boats:

http://www.eurasiareview.com/05032013-japan-philippine-relations-new-dynamics-in-strategic-partnership-analysis/

I doubt that they have nuclear capability.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Meanwhile back at the Ranch, an Australian law blogger finds a big flaw in the US administrations legal reasoning for drone killing US citizens overseas. Hmmm, lie by omission?

http://theothermccain.com/2013/03/11/obama-administrations-top-legal-experts-pwned-by-blogger-in-australia/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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