Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 09, 2019

North Korea Dislikes U.S. Plans To Occupy It

The borg in Washington DC will not be happy about Trump siding with the North Korean chairman Kim Jong Un:

US President Donald Trump told reporters Friday he agreed with Kim Jong Un's opposition to US-South Korea war games, after receiving what he was a new letter from the North Korean leader.

"I got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un yesterday," Trump said. "It was a very positive letter."

"He wasn't happy with the war games," Trump added, referring to new military exercises between US forces and the South Korean military that began this week.

"As you know, I've never liked it either. I've never been a fan. And you know why? I don't like paying for it," the US leader said.

Trump received Kim's three-page letter on Thursday after Pyongyang undertook four missile tests in the past two weeks that it said were a response to the joint exercises between the South and the United States.

We once explained how the usually big U.S.-South Korean maneuvers lead to economic pain in North Korea:

Each time the U.S. and South Korea launch their very large maneuvers, the North Korean conscription army (1.2 million strong) has to go into a high state of defense readiness. Large maneuvers are a classic starting point for military attacks. The U.S.-South Korean maneuvers are (intentionally) held during the planting (April/May) or harvesting (August) season for rice when North Korea needs each and every hand in its few arable areas. Only 17% of the northern landmass is usable for agriculture and the climate in not favorable. The cropping season is short. Seeding and harvesting days require peak labor.

The southern maneuvers directly threaten the nutritional self-sufficiency of North Korea. In the later 1990s they were one of the reasons behind a severe famine. (Lack of hydrocarbons and fertilizer due to sanctions as well as a too rigid economic system were other main reasons.)

On Trump's order the current maneuvers in South Korea have been toned down. They no longer involve a huge mobilization of forces as they are mostly done in software and as staff exercises. North Korea no longer needs to counter mobilize for them.

But Kim Jong Un is still bitching about the issue:

On Tuesday North Korea threatened more weapons tests, and said the US-South Korea war games were "an undisguised denial and a flagrant violation" of the diplomatic process between Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul.

Why is he so miffed?

The reason is likely not the form of this year's maneuver but its content:

The current joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises involve simulations of stabilizing North Korea after it has been occupied and conventional warfare has come to an end.

The U.S. and South Korea downsized the drills under a promise by U.S. President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last year, so now they mostly consist of computer simulations.

Government sources here said the second part of the exercises beginning on Aug. 17 starts at an imaginary point 90 days after the outbreak of a war, when stabilization operations get underway.

The stabilizing drill has not been included in previous exercises which were based on the assumption that North Korea's military would be neutralized around 90 days after a war breaks out.

It is probably a bit provocative when a neighboring country is training to occupy yours. I for one would find that an aggressive behavior and would think about how to counter it.

Who, by the way, came up with that illusory 90 days assumption? Does anyone really believe that South Korean and U.S. troops would be welcome with flowers and candy? Does anyone believe that Russia and especially China, which both border North Korea, would stay out of such a war?


These people need to read up on the Korea War. When the U.S. crossed into North Korea and moved towards the Chinese border Mao mobilized hundreds of thousands and pushed the U.S. troops back to the 38th Parallel, the starting line of that war.

The strategic interest that China had back then is still valid today. It is hard to believe that it today will be more willing to allow U.S. troops right on its border than it was in 1950.

Posted by b on August 9, 2019 at 18:13 UTC | Permalink

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@Krollchem #100
I've actually read a number of the detailed reports.
The monetary loss from a nuclear HEMP would be considerable, but it would not end society in the US or cause millions of deaths. The microelectronic parts are also neither irreplaceable nor sources of catastrophic failure. The major power grid failures tend to be either software (i.e. the microelectronics is made to work incorrectly) or a major transformer failure.
As an electrical engineer, I actually understand the electrical grid. Do you?
As for surviving a nuclear war and nuclear winter: not at all clear why this is relevant.
But let's riff on this a while. If you're living in an urban area, you're toast no matter what you do. Even if you have shelter and food/water, you'll have tens to hundreds of thousands of people who want what you have.
If you live in a rural area - few people actually are completely off grid, or are truly self-reliant in materials, energy and food. Stockpiling is ok for a few years, but surviving a true societal breakdown is a generational setup. Even if you can farm and sew and tan and woodwork and blacksmith and mine and provide health care, the rural area has to be far away from a large number of people, has to not be in the wind pattern/watershed as a nuked area, has to not have large petrochemical processing, chemical manufacturing, coal or nuclear power plant or similar sources of hazardous materials nearby.
In general, the vast, vast majority of survivalists really can't do it.
More importantly, would you want to be living - mostly all alone - in a post-nuclear holocaust America? I'd think the better choice is to just leave.
Whatever you want to say about Peter Thiel and the other New Zealand billionaire holocaust fleers, that part of the world is relatively good in survival terms. Of course, you'd have to get there and the sheep farmers would have to accept you. And this assumes NZ doesn't get a pill, too as it is part of Five Eyes.
Anyway, fun thinking about it.
Spending any amount of time or resources to protect against it, if you're not a billionaire, is stupid and a waste.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 12 2019 15:23 utc | 101


Those of us with a STEM training often fail to consider the human stress response to a crisis. It is the loss of communication and modern electronics that will cause panics and even warband outbreaks (Toynbee term) that result in the most deaths.

Yes the grid and modern electronic devices can be rebuilt if chip factories are not also fried. Likewise large transformers can be rebuild, abet slowly. In the meantime, how will most snowflakes survive without heating cooling, cooking, communications, water pumps, ATMs, automotive ignition systems, and hot showers?

I welcome your comments on spent nuclear fuel storage ponds and their potential for the fuel to rupture in case of loss of power. Yes I recognize this civilian fuel is not as dangerous as the highly depleted N-reactor metallic uranium fuel rods at Hanford that were rupturing.

You may be interested in the following article on the science of HEMP that provides a background on the Ionosphere interaction with nuclear detonations:

A sudden HEMP attack is not without a strong nuclear weapons counter-attack that can easily result in full scale nuclear war.

Not a problem surviving such a war if away from cities and upwind from targets, in which case radiation is the least of concerns. The global cooling is what will really do most of the killing with the resultant starvation. As for the super-rich in NZ they will generally be killed by their security forces who will take over their bunkers.

There are other triggers to consider such as the potential for non-nuclear global cooling as discussed in the following article:

Posted by: Krollchem | Aug 13 2019 20:28 utc | 102

Again, I disagree with your commentary.
The true cause of mass death in a modern society is the medium or long term disruption of transportation and supply chains.
Would a massive power interruption of 1 week cause mass starvation? No, at least at the present moment because the transportation grid is significantly independent of the electric grid (gasoline driven).
As for your rejoinder on the supply of semiconductors: there are roughly 25-16 bit microcontrollers for every person on Earth. PLCs which are not in operation - will not be affected by HEMP unless in extremely close proximity to an extremely large blast.
Again, the real problem isn't the control electronics: these are easily replaced. The major transformers, however, are not. A grid-level transformer can weigh over 400 tons, takes years to build and is not trivially transported or emplaced. To put this in perspective: a pole top transformer is around 5-10 KVa. Municipal level transformers are in the 500-1500 KVa level. The grid-scale transformers are 100,000 KVa. There are plentiful supplies of pole top transformers, reasonable supplies of municipal level and few to no backups for the grid scale transformers.
In any case, as you seem to discount the ubiquity of products which are in use, everyday, good luck.
While there are sources for refined metal such as cars, there are far fewer sources for anything else including clothing, medicine, fuel, food, power and water. Productivity without combustion fueled sowing/harvesting/transport and fossil fueled fertilizers is very low - poor societies aren't poor because they don't have money, it is because they simply aren't productive enough to generate sufficient extras to invest into greater productivity - whether a road, dam or education. As a lark, I tried doing some harvesting using a cradle scythe once. That was the most miserable day in my experience to that point. Most of the Midwest is simply not economically viable beyond just food for survival without tractors and trains.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 15 2019 19:29 utc | 103

Your comments on the limited effects of HEMP on the US infrastructure are supported by the EPRI in their recent study titled “EPRI EMP Report & Grid Security:

They also published an extensive report titled “High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse and the Bulk Power System Potential Impacts and Mitigation Strategies”

In contrast, the Highfrontier organization considers the EPRI report to be deeply flawed by its limited focus on static test of the transmission portion of electric power grid in its paper titled “An Erroneous EPRI EMP Report!”

From what I understand the EPRI report doesn’t consider the effects of EMP on non-grid tied electronic devices. Is it reasonable to believe that such stand alone devices (e.g. cell phones, unplugged computers, and pacemakers) are immune from HEMP effects? This appears to be the stance of companies , such as EMPShield that fast subnanosecond whole house cutoff devices will protect all electronic devices within the house.

In contrast, the military favor heavy shielding of their systems with Faraday cages and fiber optic connections to the hardened structures. Have the military and IEEE (STD 299) overstated the HEMP threat by detailing specifications for EMP protection:

You will note a deep political tinge to the conflicting reports as the government want to spend taxpayers money and the EPRI doesn't want to spend more of their potential profits.

Looking forward to your response as I am here to learn. Thanks.

Posted by: Krollchem | Aug 17 2019 15:13 utc | 104

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