Thursday, July 20, 2006

America’s Problem: No Dong

The War Nerd - Am I the only American who doesn't understand why we didn't zap that North Korean missile on the launch pad? Seems like everybody, liberals and rightwingers, agrees we don't need to worry about Kim's silly ol' ICBMs. Kim's just acting up, trying to get attention.

Well, if Kim was trying to get my attention, it worked. I'm funny that way -- every time somebody aims a nuke-capable ICBM at me, I overreact like you wouldn't believe.

And I don't care if the missile fell into the ocean. As far as I'm concerned, it's the thought that counts. Like if the psycho down the block starts cleaning his rifle and howling, "I'm comin' fer you, Brecher!" I wouldn't be too reassured if the cops told me, "Don't worry, he's a terrible shot!"

The name of the town where North Korea tests its missiles says it all about our reaction: "No-Dong." That's what US Presidents have been showing for almost 40 years, every time North Korea slaps us in the face: no dong whatsoever.

It's not like the North Koreans are shy about what they're doing. They've said over and over that their plan is to develop nuclear weapons and the ICBMs to send them toward US cities. They hate us like poison, and they're not shy about announcing that either.

I remember listening to the translation while a North Korean vet told what he thought was a very funny story about playing with the corpses of some US soldiers his men had killed:

"We grabbed some dirt and put it in their mouths, saying, 'Oh, are you hungry? Here, eat some dirt!'" Then he laughed for the camera, to show how funny it was. If you've ever seen an insane North Korean officer try to laugh...makes me gag just remembering his expression, the sounds that came out of his mouth.

I've written before about North Korea. If you want details, see that column: The point is, the North Korean military threat is serious. Saddam never posed a threat to the American homeland; Khadafy was a paper tiger from the get-go; but North Korea is crazy enough, smart enough and tough enough to press that nuclear trigger as soon as it's operational.

Their missile-testing ground has been operational since 1990. We've been surveilling it since they started building it in 1988. Just looking at where they put it, on the Sea of Japan, as far from the Chinese and Russian borders as you can get in NK, tells you what they're up to. They wanted a spot where their so-called allies, Russia and China, couldn't interfere without fighting their way across the entire peninsula, and as close to Japan as possible, because next to us, they hate Japan most. That's their style: real clear, no bullshit, in your face.

And they're serious about security, which is why we have to rely on satellite pix and a few defectors to find out what's going on up there. According to a NK defector named Im Young-Sun, the NK military just ordered all civvies living within 80km of the No-Dong base to leave, find somewhere else to live, right now.

Nobody complained. NK Complainers have the life expectancy of a Sunni door-to-door salesman working Sadr City.

Satellite pix show that the No-Dong base is crude, simple stuff. And that leads a lot of peacenik bloggers to claim we don't have to take the NK ICBM launch program seriously. For one thing, the roads leading to No-Dong are just dirt tracks, and there are no winter quarters for the staff. That, along with spoiling our Independence Day, is why Kim decided to test his ICBM on July 5: because you can't test anything except thermal socks at No-Dong come winter.

But the peaceniks just don't get how serious and crazy NK's military is. They don't need winter housing or paved roads, because they don't pamper their soldiers, their physicists, anybody (except Kim, with his kidnapped South Korean actresses and porn DVDs). If they had to, they'd order a few villages to line up and carry the ICBM on their backs to the launchpad through the mud or snow, and if a few hundred peasants got squished along the way,'s all in the name of the People. Who's complaining?

Just to show he's a nice guy, Kim threw all those evicted peasants a bone: he named the ICBM NK launched on July 5 the "Taepodong-2" after one of the evacuated villages, Taepodong.

By the way -- I can't resist those names. "No-Dong" is pretty good, but "Taepodong" is even funnier -- sounds like an X-rated episode of Dragnet: "What type o'dong was it, Ma'am?" "Oh, nothing to worry about, only stayed up about 42 seconds..."

And it's true, the Taepodong-2 only stayed up 42 seconds. That's supposed to cheer us up. It shouldn't, though. For one thing, how do you know the missile wasn't supposed to take that dive at the 42-second point?

Two key points here: first, developing a working ICBM takes a lot of tests, and not all of them are meant to test the full trajectory of the missile. US ICBMs generally need about 20 test launches before they go into production. Smaller missiles get way more than that; the reason ICBMs only get 20 is that they're so damn expensive even the DoD has to economize. So maybe this was a typical first test in a series, designed to check out launch and first-stage components. 42 seconds may have been the programmed duration of flight.

Second point: short flight means the test-bed falls into the ocean near the NK coast, where our subs and recovery ships (like the Glomar that retrieved half a Soviet sub from the deep ocean) can't grab the remains. After all, Kim doesn't have the whole of the South Pacific to test and recover ICBMs like we do, or all of Siberia like the Soviets did.

The test missile fell in two chunks (first and second stage), but both came down so close to the NK coast that nobody's going after them. See, NK never bought into that 12-mile limit rule. Their fast attack craft patrol aggressively up to 200 miles from the NK coastline. And they will attack anything when they're in the mood. There's lots of reasons for that attitude, starting with (a) they're insane; and (b) NK makes most of its foreign exchange by exporting pure heroin, speed and any other drug decadent capitalist youth will buy, so they don't want anybody even looking at coastal freighter traffic out of Pyongyang.

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