Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

20 March 2018

How Treasonous Fox Played Kim’s Game

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Fox is ever annoying and foolish. You can always count on the media behemoth taking the side of the rich and powerful, no matter how selfish, stupid or negligent they may be. But when Fox shows clear signs of treason and, knowingly or unknowingly, advances the cause of our nation’s most threatening enemy, it becomes more than annoying. It becomes our nation’s most deadly internal enemy—a Fifth Column within.

So it is with Kim Jong Un. Almost since the death of his father Kim Jong Il, the current Kim has had a simple plan: develop nuclear weapons and missiles to put his twisted regime in a position of Mutually Assured Destruction with the United States and other superpowers. Once achieved, that goal would obviate any conceivable military action by the United States or its allies—or even China—to curb the Kim regime.

Over and over again, Kim and his father have shown utter disdain for both contractual obligations and the suffering of North Korea’s people. Neither has provided any impediment to the Kims’ maintaining the power of medieval monarchs in the twentieth and now twenty-first centuries.

Once all the pieces are in place for a credible nuclear deterrent, there will be no military impediment, soon and for the foreseeable future. Why? Once Kim has the deterrent, geography dictates that Kim’s missiles can reach us (if they launch first), even after ours utterly obliterate North Korea. So the only realistic threats to Kim’s dangerous and pathological regime will be slow evolution of his family’s grip on the nation and internal struggle.

As we will see, this appears to be our destiny and the world’s. But how did Fox contribute to it? It’s all a matter of timing.

A group of progressive video producers has put together a collection of Fox blather showing how Fox’ moron-pundits belittled, discouraged and even ridiculed President Obama’s initiatives to bargain with Kim, even as it now lauds and encourages Trump’s. The comparison would be hilarious if the consequences were not so serious. For the lost time between the Obama and Trump presidencies has allowed Kim to complete his plan for rough nuclear parity with the United States and every other nuclear power. There is no stopping him now.

To understand why, you have to see exactly where Kim is. He has two big pieces of the puzzle. He has workable nukes, and he has intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can reach any city in the United States and most any in the world.

But Kim may lack two remaining pieces of the puzzle for a realistic nuclear destructive threat. First, he has never demonstrated the capability of miniaturizing a nuclear warhead for his ICBMs. Second, he has not shown the ability to harden such a warhead to withstand the immense frictional heating that occurs when IBCMs re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

So why is Kim smiling and ready to negotiate now, when he has always been snarling and threatening before? What changed? His flip in tone and behavior is just as radical, and just as seemingly inexplicable, as Fox’ in ridiculing talks with Kim while Obama was president and promoting them now that Trump is.

The diplomatic answer relies on sanctions. Led by the US, the theory goes, the international community has imposed sanctions on North Korea so tough as to bring Kim to the table.

But this has never happened before. No matter how tough sanctions have been, Kim and his father have always shifted the suffering onto their people. They have skimmed whatever cream off North Korean society exists, while forcing their people to go hungry and even starve by the millions. It’s unlikely that current sanctions, still full of holes as they are, caused such a radical change in behavior.

Another easy answer is Trump himself. Why not negotiate when your opposite number is a vain, silly, inattentive old fool who spends the wee hours of almost every morning watching Fox and Tweeting about it? What have you got to lose? This rationale for Kim’s supposed change of heart is, in my view, just as plausible as the sanctions.

But unfortunately for the North Korean people and for the rest of us, there is a much more likely and sinister reason. Kim has already accomplished all the nuclear feats that he must do in public. Making nuclear weapons that actually produce nuclear explosions, and making missiles that can go half-way around the globe intact, are the most difficult tasks in the whole nuclear-deterrent enterprise. No one would believe Kim’s deterrent if he didn’t do both out in the open where his adversaries can see them.

But the two remaining tasks—miniaturizing the warheads and hardening them against re-entry—he can do in private, in the “laboratory,” so to speak. So neither we Americans nor the world will ever know precisely when Kim crosses the threshhold from raving but impotent menace to rough nuclear parity.

How can Kim do these two tasks in secret? Easy. His scientists can actually test small warheads underground, in big cavities—natural or artificial caves—from which radioactive and seismic signals from nuclear blasts are ambiguous enough not to risk starting a war. And if not, they can design workable ICBM warheads with computer simulations alone, as we have been doing for decades.

As for re-entry hardening, the testing of nose-cone materials and design now also can be done entirely in the laboratory, perhaps even with simulation. As early as half a century ago, I personally did experiments related to evaluating missile nose-cone materials. These experiments were entirely in the laboratory; we never flew any missile or reviewed any missile flight. I did the work as a summer project in a private research firm while a Ph.D. student in physics.

Today, after a half-century’s further development in plasma physics (in a quest for energy from nuclear fusion), the technique I used for those related experiments is almost certainly obsolete. And even if not, advances in computing likely allow development of missile nose-cone materials and designs virtually, with only a single, final test needed to verify the calculations and show prowess.

So that big toothy smile on Kim’s face doesn’t reflect a change of heart. It probably doesn’t even reflect eager anticipation at meeting one of Western leaders least qualified and least prepared to bargain. Rather, it reflects simple knowledge that Kim has done and demonstrated all that he needs to do and demonstrate in public (his basic nukes and his ICBMs). Now the rest of the job of turning out missiles that can devastate the United States (or any adversary) Kim can do out of the public eye, at his leisure, in secret.

For all we know—unless our spooks know something I don’t—Kim could already have completed both tasks in private. Then his smile could come from the knowledge of having an effective and irrevocable deterrent now.

Could Obama have slowed or stopped Kim’s steady progress toward Mutually Assured Destruction with the US if encouraged to do so? We’ll never know, will we? But Obama is infinitely smarter, more cautious, more careful and more strategic than Trump. So the chances are good that talks with Kim then could have produced more than talks with Kim now, when his terror job is virtually done.

The best we can say is that Fox, by using all the vast power of its propaganda machine to discourage Obama from negotiating with Kim, at very least reduced the chances of retarding the North Korean nuclear juggernaut. When you put that effort together with Fox’ vast current effort to minimize and ignore the Russian assaults on our voting systems and our elections, you come to a compelling conclusion. Of all the public media in the United States, Fox most consistently and effectively does the work of our nation’s enemies.

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