Trump stumped by latest N. Korea rocket test | Sunday Observer

Trump stumped by latest N. Korea rocket test

The usually bombastic US President Donald Trump, who once threatened ‘fire and fury’ against North Korea “if it ever again threatens the US”, was strangely docile last week in the face of Pyongyang’s latest rocket launch. All that the normally outspoken American leader could say after North Korea test launched its biggest and longest-range rocket, was that “… we will deal with it..” and nothing more!

The US President’s muted response is seen as docility by a White House that is simply baffled by Pyongyang’s seeming complete disregard of threats and sanctions by some of the world’s most powerful nations. After all, North Korea not only defied Washington’s threat of war but Pyongyang, in announcing the rocket test, openly boasted that the new rocket was capable of reaching target in the mainland USA.

After last September’s test explosion of what is believed to be North Korea’s first hydrogen bomb, Donald Trump had seemingly laid down an ultimatum hinting that the US was ready to go to war against North Korea if it carried out any more bomb or rocket tests. Notwithstanding worldwide shock at Washington’s naked threat to totally wipe out a whole nation of people – which is a war crime - , the US government had persisted in its openly ‘hot war’ response line against Pyongyang.

Any outbreak of war in east Asia is, today, unthinkable given population densities in the region and the level of nuclear impact across the entire region. Even if, in a sudden military conflict, North Korea fails to launch any of its various missiles, that country’s formidable ground forces, especially amassed artillery and missile forces, have enough fire power to devastate neighbouring South Korea causing hundreds of thousands of casualties in the very first several hours of hostilities.

And since the two Koreas are sandwiched between Russia and China, what is to prevent missile and artillery fire from the two warring Koreas affecting those two countries as well? And, what about atomic bomb fall-out and its impact on that densely-populated region?

The latest North Korean rocket was test fired on a trajectory that took it high into the atmosphere (about 2000 km up) and a flight distance of over 1,500 km. The height of the trajectory of this inter-continental ballistic missile indicates that, properly targeted, a missile atop this long-range rocket could reach several points in mainland USA ranging from Los Angeles to Anchorage, Alaska.

This has sent a wave of near hysteria through the USA’s mainstream news media, thanks, partially, to the fear-mongering by Rightwing groups that are now pushing a militarist posture against North Korea, and, partially, the news media’s own penchant for sensationalisation as a market pusher.

Despite all this seemingly worrying military potential, the North Koreans are actually a long way from possessing this rocketry arsenal in a form usable for military purposes. While North Korea has test-fired several rocket launch vehicles, it has yet to develop: firstly, the ability to reduce warhead size to make it light enough to be carried such distances; secondly, navigation capability to enable these rockets to actually hit their target; and, thirdly, a rocket designed to withstand the rigours of heat and gravity in leaving and re-entering the atmosphere.

Furthermore, there is doubt whether Pyongyang can actually afford to stockpile a nuclear arsenal given its current economic straits.

All this renders North Korea to be a ‘paper tiger’ of the kind described by the late Mao Ze Dong – that is, an entity that looks powerful and dangerous but is actually of a flimsy nature.

According to the criteria that the Western powers, especially the US, use to describe North Korea as a ‘dangerous’ or ‘rogue state’, it is the US that should be considered as a nuclear ‘threat’ to all the world. After all, it is the US that has the world’s greatest and most destructive nuclear arsenal. What is more, the US is the only country that has actually used nuclear weapons to attack another country – Japan - and targeted its civilian population centres (Hiroshima and Nagasaki cities).

Despite earlier war-like noises, however, Washington has been remarkably muted after the latest North Korean rocket test. That the US is isolated in this very hardline posture against North Korea is seen by the relative silence of the other western allies and also the firm disagreement by Russia and China with Washington’s recent sweeping rhetoric against Pyongtang. Meanwhile, in Washington, it is just possible that Donald Trump might seek to make Pyongyang a new distraction to divert attention away from the still expanding Russia subversion probe by the US Congressional committees and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The latest development in that probe is that Trump’s first choice as National Security Advisor, US Army General (Retd) Michael Flynn, is now directly being charged by the FBI Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, for lying to the FBI. Meanwhile, it is now largely confirmed that Flynn has begun cooperating with the FBI in providing information about his side of the case as well any other information that the FBI may seek in furthering their probe in to the Russian subversion of the US elections last year.

Meanwhile, the new United States’ administration’s long-delayed first major governmental legislation, a set of sweeping tax reforms, was, finally, on track last week to be passed by the US Senate after months of wrangling within the ruling Republican Party.

The FBI’s moves against General Flynn, a one-time confidante of Trump, however, has taken some of the shine off the legislative success away from the boastful US President Donald Trump.