Beyond the Cusp

December 5, 2017

Partisanship and North Korean Threat

 

The November 28, 2017, ICBM missile test by North Korea of a Hwasong-15 missile, the first test of this missile, was a development which forced the world, the United States particularly, to be placed on notice that Kim Jong-un just entered near parity with all other nations in launch capabilities. The missile reached an altitude of around 4475 km (2780 miles) and traveled some 950 km downrange with a flight time of almost one hour. If fired on a more traditional attack trajectory, then the Hwasong-15 would easily be able to reach anywhere in the United States and the world (see map below for ranges of previous tests including the Hwasong-14 ICBM). This latest missile is considered to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Whether North Korea has the technology to produce a tactically usable warhead has been debated by Pentagon and CIA personnel. The two questions which would require North Korea to be capable of making a tactically usable weapon come down to miniaturization of an actual weapon to sufficiently small size and weight, and survivability of reentry while retaining all capabilities. Most estimates grant the miniaturization part of the process, though some still have their doubts, but the jury is still out over the survivability part of the equation. We believe that North Korea has likely solved all of these problems and had done so even before Kim Jong-un came to power and he simply lacked the missile for delivery of the package. Now he has all the elements necessary making production and distribution of the missiles and warheads is all Kim Jong-un requires to have the ability to threaten the world whenever he chooses.

 

Hwasong-14 ICBM Estimated Range

Hwasong-14 ICBM Estimated Range

 

President Trump made a statement on the economy and tax cuts but began the media meeting with a short mention of the North Korean missile test in the video below. The remainder of his talk he stressed that the Democrat leaders of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate, Chuck Schumer, were absent from the meeting to which they were invited for a discussion with the President and their Republican counterparts. The President noted that the Democrats and Republicans are far apart in their ideas for the country and the direction it should be required to move. The main differences were defined as crime, immigration and national defense and how these issues should affect the budget and the issue of tax cuts and simplification. It was obvious that this meeting with the media had been planned for addressing economic priorities and that the President knew and was well prepared to make hay out of the Democrat leadership refusal to join him just to be harangued over their positions. Sometimes a small shame is preferable to a drawn out spectacle, and the President is long on spectacle and thus far short on production. This has mostly to do with two simple facts, one blaming the Democrat Party and the other the Republican Party.

 

 

We will return to the budget, taxes and the divided Congress and nation, but first a short trip to the United Nations where the Security Council held an emergency meeting on North Korea and their Ballistic Missile Launch. Below is a video about said meeting with commentary from United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley as well as the Ambassadors from Japan, Great Britain, China, Russia and South Korea. The approximately one hour meeting spent much time on the seriousness of the breaking of the United Nations placed limitations on North Korea. The Breaking of this treaty is a serious and threatening action which requires the United Nations to take steps. The estimate was given that if flown on a standard trajectory it would have a range in excess of 13000 kilometers. The polar circumference of the globe is 39,931 kilometers which means that this North Korean ICBM could readily strike anywhere over around two-thirds of the planet with Africa and South America being the only continents not mostly within range and leaving the southern most parts of Australia beyond the missile range. This missile is the game changer which President Trump had set as one of the parameters of the North Korean capabilities which would force the United States to act. The other items included miniaturized warhead capability and reentry-hardened capability, both of which may already have been realized. The problem is without an actual successful deployment of a nuclear weapon on an ICBM, hopefully into an empty part of the oceans and after warnings with adequate time for ships exiting the effected area, there is no means of actually verifying these last two items.

 

 

The meeting was as much of a punch-down on the Democrats and list of their opposing attitudes for the future of the United States. The fact is that the Democrat Party members in Congress, both the House and Senate, will vote almost exclusively as a single entity opposing everything and anything which President Trump or the Republicans attempt to pass as legislation. The President also took a jab at the media for their misreporting on his words parsing his words looking for any single misstep to flaunt before the people. The recent Senate passage of tax reform legislation was a perfect display of both problems faced by President Trump and the shortfall of the Republican leadership in and outside of Congress. The tax cuts were passed without a single Democrat voting in favor, not a single Democrat Senator voting favorably. This has become the expected voting by the Democrats where their leadership has taken an extreme position of complete and total opposition. The sole example of the Republican opposition of President Obama and his legislation was against Obamacare, otherwise the Republicans were permitted to vote their conscience and representing the desires and needs of their constituents. Not so from the Democrat Party which has decided that everything passed which was not of their drafting will be opposed totally and completely until the Republicans realize the error of their ways as the majority party and allow the Democrats, who are in the minority and do not hold the White House, to write and pass into law everything according to their demands and ideas. Very simply stated, the Democrats have decided that only their party may lead the country and they will oppose everything not of their authorship. That is more dysfunction than principled stance. A principled stance would permit those in the party who felt that something written by the other party was worthy, could support that legislation. That is no longer permitted by the Democrat Party and any Democrat voting for any legislation will not be permitted funds from the central party and may face party sponsored opposition in the primaries. That is not the actions of a functional party, that is the attempt of the few to assume all-powerful positions given even the slightest opportunity.

 

The other side of the coin has exactly the opposite problem, as there are a group of Republicans, specifically in the Senate, who willingly oppose the Party leadership and especially the President and his proposals by refusing to pass necessary legislation. Even this tax legislation was held up by the ‘Never Trumpsters’ until they were permitted to weaken some parts and add their own pet propositions which were not desired by the President as his aim was to simplify the tax code and this small set of demands accomplished the opposite. These are the same Republicans who while guaranteed their legislation to repeal Obamacare was guaranteed under President Obama passed legislation calling for exactly that over one hundred times yet now that such legislation would be received with great enthusiasm by President Trump, this small group of anti-Trump Republicans who believe that only political functionaries such as themselves should be permitted to seek the White House, have refused to try and repeal Obamacare now. These few recalcitrant Republican Senators, which include a former losing Presidential candidate, believe their positions are more popular than those upon which the President of the United States campaigned. These problematic Republicans could guarantee that President Trump would be reelected simply passing two or three of the Presidential programs, tax reform, border wall and stronger immigration vetting, to make the Presidential 2020 campaign one based on accomplishments. They appear to prefer he fail and the Democrats gain control. This may be because they find it easier to oppose from the minority than act as a majority and take responsibility for the country and the needs of the people. So the two problems the nation is facing are the complete opposition by the Democrats and the lack of unity in the Republicans. There will always be those who side with the other side and others who insist on the limelight not capable of sharing center stage. If they only would realize that they are but the clown left to entertain before the adults take the stage, perhaps they would act responsibly for a change.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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