June 1, 2013

AND SHOULD HAVE LAUNCHED IT AT PYONGYANG...:

Ready, Fire, Aim : Why the U.S. should have launched an ICBM during the North Korean crisis. (ANDREA BERGER | MAY 28, 2013, Foreign Policy)

At the time of Hagel's directive to stand down, North Korea was threatening to strike U.S. territories and allies with nuclear weapons, and it was taking its mobile-missile launchers for a joyride. During the crisis, the United States intentionally used military maneuvers as deterrence messages to Pyongyang. In response to these moves, such as B-52 overflights of the peninsula, the Kim regime's tantrum grew louder and louder. So it is understandable that the Pentagon would have been eager to avoid having one of its Minuteman launches perpetuate this escalatory spiral.

But, despite the Pentagon's insistence that the routine Minuteman test had nothing to do with North Korea and could therefore be delayed without consequence, the postponement created the opposite impression. [...].

But why not simply postpone the test launch and stay mute? Few outside of the U.S. defense community would have noticed the absence of the launch, and even fewer would have publicly remarked upon it. Delaying forced the Pentagon to explain the situation repeatedly -- problematic when it was insisting that the launch was irrelevant to a particular geostrategic context -- and the rescheduling itself became a news event.

Aside from creating something of a public relations mess, the Minuteman launch may further exacerbate North Korea's inferiority complex. Instead of firing a Musudan intermediate-range missile as many had feared, the only thing North Korea has sent flying so far this year are short-range rockets. Rather anti-climactic. But Pyongyang may feel that pressure is mounting for it to back up its recent threats with a demonstrated, longer-range missile capability or face significantly diminishing returns on its rhetoric. After all, if anything could draw unwarranted attention to -- and belittle -- North Korea's short-range firings, it is having its sworn enemy demonstrate an extremely accurate intercontinental range missile capability immediately thereafter.

...where none of the damage would have been collateral.

Posted by at June 1, 2013 7:44 AM
  

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