This post is just a quickie, since I just got back from a morning medical procedure. But it really adds some desperately needed context to all those claims that have been filling the Mainstream Media for so long characterizing President Trump as a dangerous nut when it comes to foreign policy (among other subjects), and the establishmentarians who have been conducting this foreign policy under Democratic and Republican presidents for decades as unappreciated strategic masterminds.
I guess I’d find the latter portrayal the slightest bit convincing if I hadn’t just heard the news that the United States today successfully conducted its first test launch ever of a system designed to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) before they strike their targets.
Although this development sounds good, the news should scare the bejeebers out of Americans. The reason has nothing to do with major adversaries like the Soviet Union (and now Russia) and China, which have had such missiles – capable of reaching the United States from their home countries – for decades. It’s always been deemed virtually impossible that any American defenses could keep U.S. territory adequately safe from those forces, which number in the thousands of warheads. Moreover, the political leaderships of these countries have generally been judged to be sane enough to use their nukes cautiously. As a result, protecting the nation from the proverbial mass bolt from the blue has never been seriously expected of these capabilities.
Instead, the reason for alarm has everything to do with North Korea, which has clearly been working to develop ICBM capabilities for decades, has been making impressive progress lately, and has been led by individuals who seem a lot less predictable, to put it kindly. In fact, according to this Bloomberg post, the North’s missile program dates from the mid-1970s. It tested its first with intercontinental, U.S.-striking range in 2006. And Washington has just gotten around even to testing something designed to knock one down only eleven years later?
In fact, it gets better: The interceptor that succeeded today has been used many times before to test American capabilities against shorter-range missiles. But do you know what its batting average has been since these operations began in 1999? Counting today’s success, it’s 10 for 18. That’s a performance that’s bound to get you into Cooperstown. But if the United States were attacked with 18 North Korean missiles today, it means that ten U.S. cities could become history.
By the end of this year, when the Pentagon plans to have increased the number of these systems from 36 to 44. So presumably, the odds for Americans will get better. But is there any reason to think that they’ll hit zero any time soon? That’s an especially important question to ask upon realizing that, as hostile as it is, North Korea has no intrinsic reason to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. Indeed, it has every reason to refrain from one – because it would face annihilation from vastly superior American forces. Instead, the North Korean threat stems solely from the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea from vastly superior North Korean conventional forces that the South chooses not to match. And why not? Because hiding behind American skirts is cheaper.
In other words, the U.S. government has evidently decided that it’s worth risking New York to save Seoul, even though this policy has never been openly declared to the American people. And even worse, today’s missile launch reveals that Washington has been taking its sweet time trying to make sure that millions of Americans don’t get incinerated if this policy – blandly named “extended deterrence” – fails.