OK, Bush Is About To Give The Go Code To Start The War Against Iraq When ...

OK, Bush is about to give the Go Code to start the war against Iraq when …

North Korea and Iraq announce a mutual defense pact.

In the pact, each country pledges to assist the other if attacked by the USA. Will North Korea really storm across the DMZ when they hear cruise missles are lighting up Baghdad?

So what does Bush do? He’s got five, maybe six of the active carrier battle groups (of the total twelve we have) on station in/near the Middle East, along with 300,000 troops. Can the sole carrier battle group in the Sea of Japan really support the 37,000 US troops in South Korea. How many soldiers will we lose until the Guam-based bombers arrive? What then if North Korea, angry that at least one bomber takes out its restarted nuclear plant, retaliates with a solo nuclear-tipped missile at Japan? (World stock markets immediately collapse upon hearing the news.) Can Bush bite through his lower lip or does he order the subs patrolling off the coast to launch tactical cruise missile nukes against North Korea?

And so on and so forth.

Checking my memory, it appears every time the USA put the squeeze on Saddam, he did a feint (expected) and then something else (unexpected), causing the White House to take a step back and rethink. The escalating crisis in Korea so far has been going the same way – look at last week’s close encounter with the four MiGs.

So really, what happens if there is an Iraqi-North Korean mutual defense pact? Diplomacy, tact, and reasoning tell me one thing. What would Bush do? He hasn’t been any of those IMHO with Iraq or North Korea.

Yeah, yeah, no cites supporting my position, but I figured the clock is ready to strike the hour of war, and any one posting here probably knows enough already to understand the situation at hand.

I really do want to be so very wrong with this scenario.

This is one scenario I’ve been considering also. Once you put three nations in a rhetorical “axis” there is nothing preventing them from actually being one. You can hear them grumbling “call us an axis, well we’ll see about that.”

Don’t forget Iran.

And here is a report from the NY Times (reg reqd) that just seems odd given the timing…

I’d quote it, but it is just too short (it’s only four sentences).

I think Bush delays an Iraq invasion, while issuing emergency orders to get another couple of carriers into the Gulf, plus an immediate call-up of reserves to reinforce South Korea.

At the same time, North Korea is warned that an artillery attack against South Korea will be considered to be an attack of mass destruction (it would be like dropping a nuke on South Korea), and the response will be nuclear.

After South Korea is reinforced, the Iraq attack goes on as planned.

Alternatively, the aggressive response would involve tactical nuclear strikes on North Korea’s hardened artillery positions, coupled with bombings of NK’s reactor and reprocessing facilities. Again, NK would be warned that if they retaliate with nukes against population centers, the U.S. response would be overwhelming.

If the North Koreans literally threatened the United States with nuclear war if the U.S. went into Iraq, then I think the U.S. takes the gloves off. Ask the Japanese if it’s a good idea to provoke the United States to that point.

I’m afraid that a North Korean attack on the South would be met with the, ah, smallest nukes possible, Sam. I don’t think Bush wants to screw around with a prolonged war in South Korea, potentially killing millions of civilians. I do think he would hit major troop concentrations in enemy territory with nuclear weapons.

As bad as that decision would be, and it would be bad, letting NK decimate SK is worse. Maybe. I don’t like the idea of a first use. But, a million troops storming accross the border of a pacifist nation because the aggressor army’s Great Leader is pissed at George Bush and his intransigence in the fuel oil negotiations might be a justification for first use.

In this scenario what do the North Koreans get? They get to fight a war against two superior countries and have hundreds of thousands of their people and all their leaders killed. All this to protect Saddam Hussein?

Duckster: I don’t see how the Iraqis and the North Koreans could even make a pact. Do they even have diplomatic relations with each other?

Cowboy: My guess would be that they’re trying to diplomatically relieve some of the pressure, whether real or perceived, on North Korea.

And they already announced it back in February, so I would guess that repeating it now is simply an attempt to make it clear to anybody who’s watching that the U.S. isn’t intending to attack North Korea.


OTOH, maybe orienting them towards an air hub or sea hub is supposed to be taken as an aggressive gesture meaning, “Bring it on, Kim! We’ll have our troops loaded and ready to go before you can say ‘Korea invented the alphabet!’”

Sam, I can’t beleive you mean that. Artillery attack is nothing like a nuclear strike, there is this thing called radiation… ever heard about it, it means that people in a large area will be dying years after the strike. Also remember that you will be dropping a bomb in china’s backyard and you will be doing the south Korean a disfavour. In short a nuke is not firecracker.

I agree with PUDDLEGLUM - N. Korea wants “something”, but that “something” is not a war that ultimately they won’t win. They are building their nuclear arsenal to become a “somebody” who has to be negotiated with. To align with Saadam doesn’t gain them anything. Bottom line is they are going to continue testing their nuclear capabilities until they grow into the family of countries that has a nuclear force. Military action is not an option for us anymore, and diplomatic means are not going to do anything. So we just have to face the fact that there will be another nuclear force in the world.

Not to speak for Sam, or on whatever he said, but on that bolded issue:

It would be bad

Interesting paper on NK strategy, written in 2000. Fucking chilling.

From that last paper,

By Stephen Bradner, Special Advisor to the CINC
of the UN Command in Korea.

So, anyway, I hope you all are right about Kim Jong Il the maniacal dictator not wanting a war.

A mutual defense Pact involves the ability to help defend your partner. How can Iraq defend North Korea? As far as North Korea “storming” across the border, thans going to be problematic since there hasnt been any troop buildup on the border. All the posturing has been theoretical retaliation with theoretical missiles that theoretically reach california. So unless N. Korea has some significant troop movements in say 3 weeks, this defense pact aint happening. N Korea has too much to lose and not much to gain.

North Korea will show no signs of any troop buildup before an invasion. Read any of the literature: at least 70% of North Korea’s army is always forward deployed.

Why are the US even in South Korea anyway?

The US was there in the 50s to stop the spread of communism - well, that’s not really a problem anymore. Even if N. Korea did manage to take over S. Korea then that would be about the extent of the spread of communism.

The S. Koreans don’t want the US there anyway (and they are more than capable of looking after themselves). I don’t really believe N. Korea’s half-starved conscripted army will be able to put up much of a fight against S. Korea. They could cause a lot of damage, sure, but they wouldn’t win (unless China joined in).

I don’t really see why the US needs to be involved in all this. It’s certainly not worth the US risking being involved in a nuclear conflict on China’s doorstep.

In fact, in a way I’d quite like to see China just take over the whole Korean peninsular (Hong Kong style) and then it would become their problem. They won’t do this, I know but I don’t see why Korea has to be America’s problem anymore. Things have changed since the 1950s - it’s time for the US to disengage from the whole region.

They can continue to pressure NK from afar and they can continue to monitor them. The US doesn’t need to have troops on the border in order to monitor them.

It’s possible that NK may attempt an invasion while the Iraq thing is going on (the last time they invaded it was a surprise attack) but I don’t see why NK would actually ally themselves to Saddam. I think if they want to invade, they’ll just do it without any warning.

If I was South Korea’s leader right now, I think I’d have my troops on full alert.

Another point I was wondering about. Presumably behind the scenes, top level US diplomats and top level Chinese diplomats have already agreed what their positions will be in the event of an attack by NK. So we won’t see China suddenly joining in to help NK as happened last time.

I reckon this time, China may be more likely to attack NK, surprising them from the rear and catching Kim Jong in a vice. And then taking over control of NK. I’m sure they aren’t too happy about having a loon with nuclear weapons on their doorstep either.

Oh, this just gets more interesting (NYTimes, reg req).

Fellow Americans - your tax dollars at work buying nothing but the finest in international diplomacy!

That’s too funny. I’ve known for a few weeks that ‘force realignment’ in South Korea was being considered. Dod speak for,

[Monty Python]

Run Away!


I’m all for it. If I was one of the 37,000 US tripwiress…ssoldiers I’d be shitting myself right now. I’d sleep with my chemical suit on.

In fact, half of me fears for the people of North Korea. Consider:

  • if they continue to be belligerent to everyone around them
  • and if they actually do attack South Korea

the only response possible may be a massive immediate nuclear strike that would obliterate the whole country in one go. It would have to be a joint US/Chinese strike so both share responsibility.

It would have to be massive because we don’t know where their nuclear weapons are (if they have any). So it would have to cover the entire country.

And it would have to be instantaneous so that they don’t have a chance to return fire.

It would be kinda like that Moscow theatre siege where the Russians had to hit the terrorists with a major illegal instantaneous nerve gas (a WMD). Any conventional attack on the theatre would have given the bad guys a chance to detonate the bombs. The bad guys would have only needed a second to realise what was going on so they had to be hit really, really hard and really, really fast.

Now imagine the Moscow theatre siege but imagine that the theatre is a whole country.

How do you hit a whole country so hard and so fast that they don’t get a chance to respond? Far as I’m aware, there’s only one way…

hmm… I hope Kim (who, I understand, constantly reads the internet) starts to chill out a bit.

NK isn’t going to be the next Iraq. Regime change in Iraq has long been a goal of American foreign policy, it’s been no secret. But regime change in NK isn’t a foreign policy goal. I think everybody would like to see NK get back on it’s feet, the conditions there are horrific - no electricity, famine.

So why’s Kim getting his knickers in a twist? We’d all like to help him. We just need him to help us help him.

He’s just too paranoid - thinks everyone will attack him if he doesn’t have a huge army and nukes. I think he’s wrong, I don’t think anyone would attack him if NK were more peaceful, not the US, not China, not S. Korea.

I know he wants SK to be a part of NK but he can surely see that diplomacy is going to be the best way of solving it.

The only alternative to my whole scenario above is that China is actively encouraging NK secretly and therefore will back NK if they attack SK. This also means they won’t join in a nuclear strike which would probably rule out the whole nuclear strike option.

Maybe China wants NK to be like their little terrier on a leash. If anyone gives China any shit, they just set NK on them.

But then the problem with having a vicious dog for a pet is that there is always the possibility that they will turn on their owner.

Really, that’s not even remotely close to accurate. You can’t destroy a couple of hidden nukes by destroying every inch of a country like North Korea. The U.S. doesn’t even have enough nukes to do that, even if they wanted to drop them all on North Korea, which they don’t.

This just underlines how incredibly dangerous it is to allow a rogue state to obtain nuclear weapons. It really does take all your options off the table.

The U.S. has only one real option militarity - a lightning strike to take out NK’s reprocessing facility and its nuclear plant, followed by a threat of massive retaliation if North Korea responds with an artillery barrage of Seoul or a nuclear attack against someone. In other words, to take a big, big gamble.

In terms of actually deciding to invade, the only real way to do that is to take out NK’s artillery first, and the only way the U.S. can do that is with nuclear weapons. Because a massive bombing attack a la Iraq would be spotted long before it was on target, and North Korea can start destroying Seoul within minutes of a warning. So it would have to be a serious of tactical nuke strikes using nuclear cruise missiles fired from subs off the coast. Conventional missiles wouldn’t do it, because the artillery positions are hardened, and because there are a LOT of them.

In other words, the North Koreans have the U.S. stalemated. But now, their recent nuclear activities may force the U.S. to try to break that stalemate, because how can you allow someone like Kim Jong Il to be able to produce enough weapons-grade material to build a bomb a month? Because that’s what they’ll be able to do, starting in about four months from now. And because there are no IAEA inspectors in the country any more, as that fissile material comes out of that facility, it will vanish from the eyes of the west. That means we could be facing threats from it for decades or even centuries.

The day that stuff starts coming out of that reprocessing plant, the world will get much more dangerous. The question is whether the U.S. is willing to take the risk of all-out war to stop it.

Iraq is a sideshow. A necessary one, and a swift victory there and freeing up those forces will give the U.S. more credibility in threatening North Korea. But it seems to me that the administration is intentionally downplaying the risks in North Korea right now, because they don’t want to be split between two fronts.

Once Iraq has been secured, I think you might see the rhetoric about North Korea change dramatically from the White House.

Bush is looking awfully tired lately. I’m guessing those daily intel briefings are a pretty heavy weight on him. The world is more dangerous right now than it’s been since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Estsilicon: Weapons of mass destruction aren’t defined by their technology. They’re defined by their ability to cause mass destruction. By that standard, North Korea’s artillery array is a weapon of mass destruction, aimed at a civilian target. If they unleash those shells on Seoul, a nuclear response would be proportional. That just highlights how dangerous that situation is.

Iraq does not have to “defend” North Korea, nor vice versa. Forcing Bush to fight on two fronts, spread US forces, and constantly have to rethink battle plans would be good enough.

You are forgetting the time-honored, “United we stand. Divided we fall.” Splitting military strengths, keeping the USA off-guard might be a good enough distract just long enough not to militarily strike hard against the USA, but divide world opinion even further.

Sure the USA has superior forces and can probably win both wars. But at what cost? By keeping Bush off-step, either country could pressure Bush into using WMDs and suffer world condemnation.

OK, but would either leader be willing to risk high casualties of their troops and civilians? My response to that is quit thinking objectively and rationally. Saddam has murdered his own people. He has already crossed the line and would not hesitate to sacrifice more, even when he loses, because hurting the USA significantly is more important that winning, let alone surviving.

The same for North Korea, Thousands, if not millions are starving and dying already. If making the mud stick on Bush and the USA will be the greater damage for years to come, Saddam and Kim Jong Il would be pleased to no end.

A few days of the artillery bombardment NK has prepared would do more damage to seole and kill more people then all of their nuclear weapons. It’s a pretty substantial thing - most likely it’d inflict more deaths than any particular artillery campaign in a short time span in history.