Newly installed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, only in office since February 27, has given some indications how he will deal with threats from nations who oppose the United States. Hagel has revealed his plan to thwart threats from North Korea by adding 14 new anti-missile interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska, and has expressed his hope to create a similar anti-missile capacity on the east coast, at a total cost of about one billion dollars. If congress agrees, he also will deploy a second missile defense radar system in Japan. With these plans, our secretary of defense appears to continue the policy of some in the administration, current and previous, of throwing money at problems in the hope of solving them. Is he right?
Within just the last few days we have strengthened financial sanctions, which now are the strongest ever imposed on a foreign power, against Pyongyang. We will freeze any bank accounts that potentially could be used against us, including personal accounts of high ranking North Korean agencies. Initial sanctions were placed on North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank in response to a North Korean nuclear test in February. Also subject to massive restraints is Paek Se Bong, chairman of North Korea’s Second Economic Committee which oversees production of ballistic missiles and who supervises North Korea’s main conduit for arms dealings. Targeted too, were other individuals with the NK weapons program: Pak To Chun, the head of the Munitions Industry Department in managing weapons production and export; Chu Kyu Chang, director of the Munitions Industry Department, and O Kuk Ryul, vice-chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commission.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), alleges that the US is conducting cyber-attacks in concert with the “South Korean puppet regime” to disrupt the nation’s Internet. Itar-Tass, the Russian news agency, reports that a “powerful attack” has halted a number of services in North Korea. One source affected was the KCNA news agency.
The North Korean government continues to pursue the union of nuclear power with missile technology. They claim they must keep pace with the world, and have the strength to repel any attack by the United States. NK leader Kim Jong-Un, has taken the additional step of revoking the DPRK’s recognition of the armistice which ended the Korean War in September of 1945, and which created the dividing line at the 38th parallel. As the annually scheduled drills by South Korea in conjunction with the United States began, Japanese media cited remarks by North Korea’s ruling party newspaper saying the armistice was no longer in effect. In that regard, the North did not answer calls on the hotline between the sides. The North earlier had vowed to cut these communication links.
In 2010, during the reign of North Korean President Kim Jong-Il, Pyongyang responded to drills with murderous attacks on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. North Korea said the attacks were in response to a live fire exercise that led to shells falling in its territorial waters. The situation improved when the combined militias agreed to refrain from firing in the direction of North Korea. In the current drills, these restraints have continued, and no response has come from Kim Jong-Un. Clearly firing in the direction of North Korea at this time would be viewed as provocative. The drills include 10,000 Korean troops and 3000 US personnel. They will run through March 21. Additional drills will continue through April 30.
In recent days North Korea has made harsh rhetorical attacks on the new president of South Korea. President Park Geun-hye, the first woman to hold that office, was assailed by the north calling her inauguration a “venomous swish of skirt.” She was personally attacked and blamed for rising tension on the peninsula. We note that the DRNK once called former secretary of state Hillary Clinton a “minister in a skirt.”
It was President George W. Bush who established the original missile defense sites in Alaska and California, in direct response to threats of a missile strike from North Korea. Yesterday, James Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy stated,: “Our policy is to stay ahead of the threat — and to continue to ensure that we are ahead of any potential future Iranian or North Korean ICBM capability. Our concern about Pyongyang’s potential ICBM capability is compounded by the regime’s focus on developing nuclear weapons.” North Korea’s third nuclear test last month is obviously a serious concern for all nations.”
We said here earlier that we were concerned that Hagel and the Obama administration are throwing money at problems. While it is necessary to safeguard the American people, it is agreed that DPRK is years away from being able to launch a missile attack on the United States which would trigger the proposed defense system. Are other solutions also being considered, and are steps being taken? Yes, we hesitate to consider a military attack on North Korea’s nuclear and missile sites, for fear of transcending agreements with Russia and China, who have accepted the current strict sanctions. But with our unmanned drone aircraft, and the availability of the Navy Seals, an attack on North Korea would surely be effective, and far less costly. Are we increasing our space monitoring of activities on and below ground in North Korea? Is it possible that any maneuver on their part could go undetected?
Anti-missile technology is costly, and has proven ineffective in the past. Must we spend a billion dollars, at a time when the sick are being cut back from medical treatment, and poor unemployed families are left to their own resources, in spite of the economic fact that money granted is money spent, and therefore benefits the economy? Infrastructure repairs are on hold, and school repairs are not forthcoming. Yet we don’t hesitate to build more defensive missiles and equipment. The American people are growing tired of daily news on government delay, and money mismanagement. Protests have dried up, and the media is in danger of becoming more defensive of politicians than investigative. ” History being rewritten” seems to be taking a positive course, but can we be sure? The potential for deception is ever-present and ongoing.
Pundits call relations with Iran, since meetings with our new secretary of state, “giddily optimistic”; If Iran had been half so hostile as North Korea seems to be, we would have bombed that rogue state years ago. It is necessary for congress to struggle out of the morass and develop a true patriotism, as was the case in the early days of our history. Merely spending money is easy and maybe wasteful.
Photos: Washington Post, Al JazeeraPowered by Sidelines