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More Troubling News out of North Korea

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It appears that North Korea is not only moving forward with more effective nuclear designs, but also with a powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) device. An EMP attack can begin with the explosion of a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. This explosion interacts with the planet’s magnetic fields, creating a pulse, which in turn causes extensive damage to electronic systems. It is critically important that we take this potential threat seriously. An EMP blast would devastate the US.

How many Americans could get by without electricity and all of our modern conveniences? Some of us are lucky enough to have grown up on a farm and know how to survive and feed ourselves, but millions of Americans live in cities were not only is that not possible, but the potential breakdown of society would be catastrophic. There is a good suggestion in the linked article about one way to protect the United States from an EMP; definitely worth investigating further.

On a related, but separate, topic why do we still have ground troops in South Korea? South Korea has Asia’s fourth largest economy. They could afford to expand their already modern and capable armed forces. The US could still show its commitment to its Asian partner by permanently stationing a carrier battle group in the Sea of Japan. I think it’s time we begin to rely more on our fleet and less on burdensome, expensive overseas bases. No matter how poor North Korea is, they are armed to the teeth; even antique weapons kill if they were to come across the DMZ. Our troops stationed in South Korea would be little more than casualties to justify American intervention. It’s time we take an informed look at the rationale behind permanently stationing troops in South Korea.

Let’s hope that someday North and South Korea can peacefully unify. I actually believe there’s a high probability it will happen after the economic collapse of the North. The real question is will China allow a unified Korea. There is little doubt that China would see a unified Korea as a potential adversary, given South Korea’s close friendship with the United States. This is another reason why it makes sense for South Korea to expand its defense budget and be in a position to defend itself.

As much as it may hurt American pride, many of our allies no longer require our protection. Germany, South Korea, and a host of other nations are wealthy enough to provide for their own defense. I think in a lot of ways America relishes the role of global defender, it allows us to dictate the rules of the game and to interfere throughout the world. As we face our crushing debt problem, we must take seriously the reality that we can no longer afford to defend the world, especially not if we’re leaving the American people vulnerable at home.

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About DR

  • J D

    Electricity can be revamped, and backup generators are fine, as long as you don’t have multiple EMP attacks. But, without computers, machinery and tools used to create machinery and tools make it impossible to survive long. The losses in population become 90%+ based on inability to supply them with day-to-day needs

  • J D

    Also, if nuke launch sites are protected from pulses, doesn’t EMP just represent another mutual destruction scenario, although a slower more painful death scenario

  • Whether missile silos are protected or not, the US also has troops and nuclear-armed planes, ships and submarines stationed all over the world. An EMP attack on the mainland would not destroy the country’s ability to retaliate – and North Korea knows this.

    If it is developing and does use an EMP device, it will be against its southern neighbor, not the US.

  • Dr. Sam

    South Korea pays the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars a year (~700million/yr) to have them keep a military presence there. It doesn’t cover the entire cost by any means, but it does allow the U.S. to maintain a bigger military with a lower direct cost. Other countries where we are stationed do the same thing. One is an idiot if you think this isn’t a smart/strategic move on the part of the U.S or for the countries they are stationed in. The U.S. maintains a very large and powerful global military presence. The countries that they are “helping” save hundred of millions or billions of dollars because they have the support of the world’s most powerful military right there with them.

  • Glrnn Contrarian

    Doc is absolutely right. NK is not so stupid as to attack mainland America.

  • Antonious Colts

    EMP is a Hollywood weapon. A real EMP blast only impacts long transmission lines. An EMP blast isn’t a bolt of lightning destroying all circuits and batteries. That’s nonsense. Your body is made up of electrical currents as well, if the EMP was that strong, you’d be dead too. A high altitude nuclear blast that causes an EMP burst sends a charged magnetic wave of size down towards the Earth. The energy in this wave is very low, however if it collects on a long power line or other line (Phone, Cable) it can collect enough energy to short out what is on the other end.

    Your breaker box would snap before you lost anything. Though your cable box and phone might get toasted. Your car would drive fine, your cell phone would still work, etc. Anyway, most of this stuff is hardened from solar flares that cause similar voltage spikes on long transmission lines, so it’d be very unlikely an EMP weapon would ever work.

  • Nearly all comments about EMP on blogs tend to propagate a number of very old and very common EMP myths.

    Nuclear EMP contains 3 different components with quite different effects. The E1 component can generate an electric field of 50,000 volts per meter or more; but it lasts less than a microsecond. So the E1 pulse can generally only burn out things like microelectronics. It can destroy computers, but this component will not have any direct effect on humans because this component of the pulse is so short in time duration.

    It is the E3 component that only affects things connected to long lines. This is the component that is caused by the movement of the Earth’s magnetic field. The E3 damage would be primarily to large transformers in the power grid, which can be easily burned out by the induced currents and can take months or years to replace.

    It is possible to have a robust and resilient infrastructure that is resistant to EMP and many other potential disasters, but (by making the default assumption that severe disasters never happen) the United States has chosen to have a very fragile infrastructure. One of the most frightening aspects of this problem is the dependence of the food distribution system upon a fragile data processing infrastructure. This dependence has developed slowly over the past 3 decades.

    It is easy to make backup diesel generators resistant to EMP, but most backup generators are equipped with a few EMP sensitive components. These EMP sensitive components are completely unnecessary.

    Although EMP would not damage a cell phone because of its small size, it would be very likely to damage the cellular repeaters. Cell phones should have peer-to-peer capability, so that local calls could still be made directly between cell phones without the cellular repeaters. This dependence upon functioning cellular repeaters was a problem after the recent tornadoes in the U.S., and it would be a significant problem after an EMP attack.

  • JK

    The consensus of the experts is that if the U.S. did not have troops physically in South Korea, the North would have invaded long ago. Source: An excellent, well-researched book (and no I have no commercial connection to it).

    So unless the security situation has changed (and I don’t believe it has; in fact, if anything, it has gotten worse), the troops will continue to be necessary to forestall invasion by the North.

  • Cannonshop

    personally, I’d as soon limit U.S. defense exposures to nations that actually, actively, want us there and have active, hostile neighbours, and let the ones that don’t need us and don’t want us there fend for themselves.

    Which would mean shutting the doors in Germany, and possibly closing bases in other European sites. These countries aren’t the smashed ruins they were when the Cold War began, they don’t need us, and largely (if the press is to be believed) don’t want us.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop – well said. We really don’t need to be in Europe, and I’d like to see us out of our South and Central American operations. Our bases in Asia, however, are necessary and we are wanted there – even if the rank-and-file in Japan don’t want us there, the leadership recognizes the need.

  • AmandaK

    I think an EMP is going to come, I truly believe this, and it’s going to come from one of our enemies. They want to destroy us any way possible. We need to get ready and prepared! I’ve been looking into this stuff a lot and I came across a guy named James Woolsey, I guess he’s a “hero” in the nuclear security world. He’s going to be on a Radio Show online Wednesday August 3rd. He should be talking about a lot of interesting stuff. Here’s the link if you guys want to check it out.