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North Korea Fallout
American B–52 Flies over South Korea

The United States flew a B-52 bomber over South Korea, in a gesture meant to underline Washington’s displeasure with Pyongyang’s detonation mid-last week of what North Korea claims was a hydrogen bomb. Reuters:

The massive B-52, based in Guam and capable of carrying nuclear weapons, could be seen in a low flight over Osan Air Base at around noon (0300 GMT). It was flanked by two fighter planes, a U.S. F-16 and a South Korean F-15, before returning to Guam, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Osan is south of Seoul and 77 km (48 miles) from the Demilitarised Zone that separates the two Koreas. The flight was “in response to recent provocative action by North Korea”, the U.S. military said.

Meanwhile, South Korean media reported that Washington was considering sending an aircraft carrier off the peninsula next month to participate in a training exercise with Seoul, and that the U.S. might also separately send F-22s, B-2s, and nuclear submarines to the region. “The United States and South Korea are continuously and closely having discussions on additional deployment of strategic assets,” a spokesman for the South Korean government said, declining to confirm or deny any details.

We’re encouraged by these reports of Washington-Seoul collaboration, and we hope that they will be accompanied, in addition, by strong U.S. diplomatic efforts to help South Korea and Japan strengthen their ties as a way to check China’s ambitions. To a significant extent, that’s already been happening; as we said last week, the nuclear test’s biggest loser is Beijing, which looks either malicious or incompetent in the wake of its client state’s decision.

More of this kind of U.S. leadership, please.

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  • Jim__L

    North Korea needs to be reminded that if they actually ever used their nukes aggressively, the assured destruction would not be mutual.

    • CapitalHawk

      They already know that. Here’s how it would work. 1. South Korea would get nuked and suffer massive destruction (because Seoul would be the target and South Korea is essentially a city state). 2. South Korea would not be able to retaliate, because it has no nukes. 3. President Obama would accuse Republicans of saying mean things about [women/Mexicans/blacks/muslims/asians] and the media would cover that. 4. Did you see Dancing with the Stars last night? OMG! 5. The end.

      • Jim__L

        I think Barry would face outright mutiny if he decided to have another “Red line? What red line?” moment.

        There are professionals who take this sort of thing seriously, who are not distracted as easily as most Americans.

        • Andrew Allison

          I’m afraid that there’s too much respect for the office, as opposed to the present incumbent, of Commander-in-Chief for there to be a mutiny. Besides which, as a practical matter, he literally holds the key to the appropriate response. I fear that CapitalHawk has it about right. Oh, and BTW, the Kim’s have already effectively destroyed North Korea, there’s not a lot to lose to MADness.

          • Jim__L

            What they’ve done to their country isn’t the issue; the person ordering the nuclear strike could personally die, and see all they ever loved destroyed.

            As far as I can see, that’s the root, personal, visceral reason nuclear war hasn’t happened, and why MAD works.

            By the way — respect for the office does depend on respect for the incumbent. There’s a story about the Marines who attend the president as he uses Marine One for transportation… during the Bush administrations, they would face the president as he walked to and from the helicopter. During the Clinton administration, they did not do so.

            It’s only gotten worse since then.

          • Andrew Allison

            The problem is that in order for the person ordering the first strike to die the pusillanimous individual (I’m trying hard to be polite) in charge has to have the moral fiber to order the counter-strike. If there’s anybody worse than a reformed drunk it’s somebody who loves this country enough to have taken citizenship and as one, I am disgusted.

          • f1b0nacc1

            And this is the real danger. A President as low as this one invites aggression, as a potential aggressor doesn’t believe that there will be a cost. This undermines MAD, which is dangerous beyond words.

          • f1b0nacc1

            There is an enormous difference between contempt for the President as a person, and respect for the office and what it represents. The US is blessed in that its military has deeply internalized its duty to uphold the Constitution as its FIRST priority, its loyalty is to the institution, not the man.

            Obama is contemptible swine, but I would rather have a military that looks past that. Once they start intervening (even for the best of reasons), it is a short and slippery slope to a junta.

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