Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"The Mainland United States Will be Catapulted into an Unimaginable Sea of Fire.”

It has been a red-letter day for apocalyptic rhetoric. Trump's "Fire and Fury" quote has topped Google News for a complete cycle. I think North Korea got the better of the exchange. According to Peter Baker and Choe Sang-hun reporting in "Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S.":
Undaunted, North Korea warned several hours later that it was considering a strike that would create “an enveloping fire” around Guam, the western Pacific island where the United States operates a critical Air Force base. In recent months, American strategic bombers from Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base have flown over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.
“Will only the U.S. have option called ‘preventive war’ as is claimed by it?” the Strategic Force of the North’s Korean People’s Army, or K.P.A., said in a statement. “It is a daydream for the U.S. to think that its mainland is an invulnerable Heavenly kingdom.”
The U.S. should clearly face up to the fact that the ballistic rockets of the Strategic Force of the K.P.A. are now on constant standby, facing the Pacific Ocean and pay deep attention to their azimuth angle for launch,” the statement said.
This week, after the United Nations vote, North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said, “The day the United States dares tease our nation with a nuclear weapon and sanctions, the mainland United States will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire.”
There might be some hope for those of us lost in the daydream of our impregnable imperial heavenly kingdom. Experts believe that while North Korea has the ability to miniaturize a nuclear bomb and stow it aboard a intercontinental ballistic missile that could likely hit key populations centers in the the United States. What North Korea has not been able to perfect is the heat shielding required to protect the nuclear device from disintegrating upon the missile's scorching descent through the atmosphere.

Who are certainly to be bereft of hope are the citizens of Seoul. Since Trump has assumed his throne in the Oval Office and been locked in rhetorical battle with his younger opponent Kim Jong-un, various tallies of Seoul's population have appeared in the press. Nine million people reside in the city itself; 20 million in the metropolitan area; I have seen estimates as high as 40 million in the area along the DMZ vulnerable to North Korea's artillery.

Commentators usually quote 100,000 fatalities in Seoul, as Allan Nairn did on an appearance this morning on Democracy Now!:
ALLAN NAIRNFor years, there was a consensus, a complete consensus, within the U.S. establishment and military, that military action against North Korea was unthinkable, because, just with conventional artillery, North Korea could immediately devastate Seoul, killing more than 100,000, perhaps. But recently, the political culture and discussion around military action against North Korea has shifted. Colonel Guy Roberts, who’s a longtime Pentagon and NATO official, last year wrote an article calling for the U.S. to adopt a first-strike nuclear policy, to be willing to use nuclear weapons against a country—and he specifically mentioned North Korea as one—in the event they use conventional weapons. He wrote that last year. This year, Trump nominated him to be the assistant secretary of defense for nuclear policy. John Bolton recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the U.S. should consider a ground invasion of North Korea. Lindsey Graham recently quoted Trump as saying that the U.S. should be ready to destroy—
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to that quote.
ALLAN NAIRN: —North Korea itself.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to that quote of Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, being questioned last week on the Today show by Matt Lauer.
MATT LAUER: Every military expert says there is no good military option. 
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, they’re wrong. There is a military option. 
MATT LAUER: What’s a good one? 
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: To destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself. He is not going to allow—President Trump—the ability of this madman to have a missile to hit America. If there’s going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And he’s told me that to my face.
Those 100,000 fatalities don't usually include the North's body count, which I imagine, given the superiority of U.S., South Korean and Japanese arms, would be greater than 100,000.

So conservatively we're looking at quarter-of-a-million war dead right off the proverbial bat. And given the U.S. track record in conflicts over the last half century, chances are there wouldn't be a fast finish to hostilities followed by an all-encompassing peace treaty.

But who knows? Maybe the Chinese would intervene, as they did during the Korean War, and the hot war would come to a rapid halt, if only because of the global outrage over nuclear fallout filling the atmosphere.

I don't mean to be glib, but at a certain point there is only so much anger one can muster for our totally defiled political class. That's why I shouldn't rant about the lack of an anti-war movement. The overwhelming feeling now is one of "What is the point?" There is almost zero contact between official power and the common folk. No wonder Game of Thrones is so popular.

Eventually though we're going to have to find our way back into the streets, and not just to #Resist.

Ask yourself  when was the last time you heard anything about the great "Resistance Summer"?

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