North Korea - Trump's 'red line'

Red lines are dangerous concepts in the game of geopolitics. When they are drawn, they have to be enforceable and the creator has to have the intent to follow through with force if they are crossed. Obama’s chemical red line in Syria was the end of his credibility and what happened thereafter was an accelerated degradation of American influence and power.

Trump has drawn a similar red line with Northern Korea against Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. However, his protagonist the "Little Rocket Man" is determined to call his bluff. Trump either now acts with full military force or faces the same fate as Obama’s America, a rapid unravelling of American influence and power which the world cannot afford, if the current precarious stability is to hold.

It is interesting that after every new missile launch or weapons' test America flies B1s and F15s close to the North Korean airspace. But, these are not the planes that the Little Rocket Man should fear. His demise will come in the form of F22s and B2s which presence would only be known after their payloads had been detonated on him, his missiles with their warheads and the whole North Korean air defence system. The B1s and F15s are the follow-up force that, if needed, will provide 'force en-mass' to destroy the next target set.

The suggestion that America has not used its ABM (anti-ballistic missile) capability against North Korea, because it is unreliable, is a misinformed view. The American ballistic missiles defence systems deployed in the South Korean area are all terminal, intercept systems and as such the American missiles need to be relatively close to the incoming missiles' target to engage. Thus, when Kim’s missiles are shot over the coast out to sea and over Japan itself, American systems are not designed for such area intercept solutions. Meanwhile, the NFL protest, which has morphed from injustice against blacks into a protest vote against Trump, is significant. As his popularity decreases, Trump is more likely to seek to focus on the nation's foes, North Korea and, by proxy, China, to distract attention from him. This element could be crucial in removing any very natural last vestige of inhibition to going to war pre-emptively with North Korea.

As for the outcome of an American pre-emptive strike, one would image that by now their plan is ready to be executed. The most painless outcome is a successful decapitation strike on the North Korean dictator by the US Air Force, but that will require solid intelligence as to his location to be successful. I suspect that might be what America is now waiting for. However, a failure of such a strike would then roll into a short-term, high-intensity conflict which America would win within 48 hours without having to put a GI on North Korean soil.

The problem for US war planners derives less from the conventional, artillery response, due to the shelters provided in Seoul for the population, but more from the use of chemical nerve agents like the VX gas in artillery rounds. These would permeate the current shelters, rendering them useless.

Then there is the nuclear issue. I think we can write off the delivery of a nuclear warhead by a missile as US anti-ballistic missile defences will take care of such a threat. However, the deployment of a nuclear weapon on a ship or within a tunnel under the DMZ (demilitarised zone) is the real peril. North Korea's possession of a hydrogen bomb means that they could detonate the weapon on their own soil with its effects being significantly felt in South Korea.

This nuclear threat should be taken care of by the Rivet Joints flying close to North Korea. Their radioactive detection systems should have located all of the Little Rocket Man's warheads by now, making them prime targets for a pre-emptive strike.

So, this leaves me with an expectation of an iminent American military action with a 90% expectation; a shocking assessment even for myself. Although this war is a matter of much concern, as wars should be, the risk of it not taking place multiplies that concern. The scenario in which America does not fight or win this pilot war could open up the possibility of a larger and more destructive conflict between China and America. We have learned this lesson from previous pilot wars where the strength of a nation is tested and closely observed. Both, the Boer War and  the Spanish Civil War encouraged Germany's military challenge in WW1 and WW2, while the British success of the Falklands War disabled the USSR's  military adventurism towards its end and led to the peaceful collapse of the Cold War.

So, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that the risk to the world's security is greater if America does not act, than if it does take decisive, military action with a commensurate, dedicated intention to win.