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How do you solve a problem like Korea?
The THAAD Controversy Won’t Die
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  • D4x

    South Korea is the next ‘election-meddling-by-foreigners’ story. Russia! China! No – this time, the meddler must be Apple (with an assist from Google!), determined to eradicate Samsung and Android.

  • Unelected Leader

    Moon is expected to win the same way HRC was. It’s not real. And THAADs rapid deployment is more a function of imminent need. Watch YouTube videos of Koreans being interviewed on the street about it. Their views seem very much inline with the decades of opinion polls with 60% – 70% in favor of the US military. And up to 85% have a favorable opinion of the US generally.

    • Jon Robbins

      It doesn’t matter whether he wins or not. The THAAD deployment should have waited for the election results, not be engineered via a lame-duck, post-impeachment, caretaker government.

      • Unelected Leader

        You need to pay closer attention. For one, the new president will be able to remove THAAD if he wishes. Second, the process actually started in February 2016, after the January 2016 nuclear test, February 2016 satellite launch and more than 20 NK missile launches 2015-2016. And this is one of the many reasons why Moons support peaked early. And now he’s being ripped online with a Korea version of Americas 2016 meme war https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6530756ba213e0a0e8a5d97671c49d203bf4568e4e7106ec902598a28780b2b2.png

        • Jon Robbins

          Well, it is to be hoped for the sake of Korean democracy that he will be able to remove them if that is the will of the South Korean people, but the obvious question is why the deployment timeline is being rushed by the US and the caretaker government to create “facts on the ground” before the election?

          • LarryD

            “…why the deployment timeline is being rushed …”

            Because North Korea is acting especially belligerent and threatening?

          • Jon Robbins

            Doesn’t make sense. There is no new capability that North Korea is going to have prior to the election that they haven’t had up to now.

            And if North Korea is so threatening, then why are two candidates who both express reservations about THAAD the main contenders for President of the ROK? And why is the one who is most skeptical of the deployment increasing his lead according to the poll cited in the above article?

  • Jon Robbins

    No, when you attempt to impose THAAD on what seems to be an unwilling ROK population in the middle of the night and bypassing the process of a democratic election, the controversy certainly will not die.

    TAI says that Moon’s hands will “be tied” with regard to THAAD. Why is that?

  • Dhako

    Ah, the fiction the folks in the TAI, sells themselves to, is so touching to say the least. In other words, like a thief gingerly trying to sneak in the dead-of-the-night, the US, smuggled in, her THAAD system, and, yet, the folks who are saying how odd it is to do this sort of things, are being told, that, they are “NIMBYism”. And, of course, the US, is doing something that is to the interests of South-Koreans, even if the soon-to-be new government of that same South-Koreans, is saying apposite of it. And, to boot, the folks in the TAI, don’t see anything wrong with that. Hence, as I said it’s touching what the folks in the TAI could reasoned themselves to believe in, particularly when the “alleged” vassal state of the US (which is what some think, the South Korea is to US) seems to develop a sense of quasi-independent posture, in which the assumed “US’s son-of-the-bitch”, basically say no to the US. All in all, as soon as the new government comes to power in Seoul, expect, a deep change of what US have blithely assumed from the South-Koreans politics. And, I would not be surprise to see a change of policy in regards to the THAAD system along the line of the new government, effectively demanding, that, the US’s dismantle it (at best), or failing that, then, switching it off (at worse) and not being allowed for the US to switch on without the say so of the South-Koreans government. Hence, we shall see soon enough what the new President will do in this issue.

    • Tom

      And by “smuggled” you mean, publicly announced to the entire world. Give it up, Dhako. No one’s buying your blarney.

      • Dhako

        Watch the news (preferably the BBC world news) and you will see, it was very late night when the US have decided to drive through these THAAD system in the villages and the towns of South Korea (on their way to the installation sites). And for good measure, the folks of those towns and villages did turn up in numbers to demonstrate against it. And of course, the riot police and demonstrators have had what could be only call a lively “exchange-of-views”, even if it was the police who was seen in given their “verbal response” with a brutal shoveling of those folks, just to clear those demonstrators out of the way of the American’s army vehicles that were carrying this stuff.

        • Tom

          Because, as we all know, one moves military equipment during the daytime, when it will interfere with normal traffic.
          Seriously, Dhako. No one’s buying it.

          • Jon Robbins

            I buy it–more-or-less.

            The question is, why did we decide to accelerate the THAAD deployment timeline to create “facts on the ground” in the last two weeks before the ROK election?

    • ——————————

      No grasshopper, it is you who is “the fiction”.

      And grasshopper,
      TAI is quite the wrong blog for you to sing the praises of a communist country in the comment section and expect readers to find it anything other than pathetic.
      You might try commenting on a Bernie Sanders blog…or try a North Korean blog to find believers…..oh, that’s right…blogs aren’t allowed there….

  • Jim__L

    Opposition to THAAD should probably be seen as a red flag indicating the person is collaborating with China, Russia, or other state actor. Not a certainty; but a red flag.

    • Andrew Allison

      It’s pretty obvious that, since THAAD is defensive weapon, that the only coherent opposition should come from a country contemplating such an attack.

      • Jim__L

        The thing is, it’s not that useful against swarms of missiles. Something is bound to get through. However, it would be very, very useful against a rogue nation like NK, where they simply don’t have hundreds or thousands of missiles to lob.

        THAAD is something we should deploy with a clear conscience for whoever looks threatened by it, and our response to China and Russia should be, “Come on, seriously? You’re just throwing a tantrum here.”

  • Andrew Allison

    Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t THAAD sort of local? In other words, the Korean installation is intend to protect Korea (and, perhaps, Japan from the attack the Norks keep promising.

    • D4x

      Yes, but THAAD also has an early warning system for American targets: “…the AN/TPY-2 radar will be able to see into China, possibly giving the U.S. early warning of a Chinese missile strike and undermining Chinese nuclear capability. In a similar vein the AN/TPY-2 will allow the U.S. to see into China on a regular basis, a legal form of spying….”
      From March 20, 2017, a good synopsis: http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a25752/all-about-thaad-the-missile-killer-straining-us-south-korean-chinese-ties/

      • Andrew Allison

        Not clear to me (but I confess my ignorance) that AN/TPY-2, which has a range of 125 miles can either see into China or act as an early warning system for US-bound strikes from China — from N. Korea, maybe. All that aside, my comment related to the fact that it would be nuts of the S. Koreans not to look north.

        • D4x

          The THAAD missiles have a range of 125 miles. AN/TPY-2 range is 1000 km, which is > 600 miles.

          http://missiledefenseadvocacy.org/missile-defense-systems-2/missile-defense-systems/u-s-deployed-sensor-systems/armynavy-transportable-radar-surveillance-antpy-2/

          Guess the radar is why missile defense is such a big issue, for China, and Russia.

          • Andrew Allison

            I confess that I’m too lazy to research this for myself, but my gut tells me that while the trajectory for missiles targeting the US from N. Korea (the subject of the discussion) 625 miles may be discernible, a S. Korean THAAD couldn’t do anything about a strike on the US. To be clear, this discussion is about whether it makes sense for S. Korea to defend itself against an attack from the north.

          • D4x

            It is possible the AN/TPY-2 radar is the core objection to THAAD in ROK, by China. I believe this radar would be linked to the USN Aegis systems, and the USA always has that deployed in Japan.
            https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-26/trump-s-armada-sent-to-deter-kim-can-t-knock-down-his-missiles

            Enough about ballistic missile defense! Until the next post…

          • Andrew Allison

            You’re starting to sound like( a much less verbose and far more coherent) Anthony [grin] The subject of this thread is why on earth S. Korea would object to being protected from a Nork strike.

          • D4x

            It seems that some/many South Koreans object in order to pacify China, and/or not provoke NorK. No one replied to my original comment, re: suspected foreign meddling before ROK’s election.

            When did staying specifically on-topic become a Rule?

            Since I do not read Anthony, I can ignore your possible insult. I use killing time online for cognitive exercise, not to have seizures. Insert emoticon of your choice!

          • Anthony

            Insult or not your reply is appreciated as gratuitous envy from respondent predates your TAI arrival (which I remember well since you replied to me about VDH and Ibn Muhammad). To the internet and its pathway as a clinical way station – insert emoticon that applies.

        • KremlinKryptonite

          You’re in luck. I live in Seoul, and I work in USN-ONI. I can clear things up quite a bit for you, starting with the fact that most Koreans support the system. Of course, you needn’t be here to know that, but being here and having some language skills lets you hear people talking about it first hand – everywhere.

          Now, two significant misperceptions seem to have crept into the media debate on this topic. Some argue, for example, that THAAD is optimized for interception of medium and intermediate-range missiles and is “of little or no use” against short-range missiles. (This is factually incorrect and laughably wrong). They use that argument to support a second misperception: that deployment of a THAAD battery and its associated radar in South Korea is actually a move that advantages the United States against China, rather than South Korea against North Korea.

          In reality, THAADs manufacturer states that the system is also good for dealing with short-range missile threats, and a quick look at the test record shows that most of the tests have been conducted with short-range missiles. The jury is actually still out on performance against intermediate-range missiles due to lack of testing.

          Let’s move on to the second issue. The CCP is not so much concerned that a THAAD missile battery in South Korea could intercept a Chinese strategic missile bound for continental America – that’s not a realistic scenario. Rather, it claims to be concerned that THAAD’s radar might be able to offer early tracking data to other parts of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system, in particular to the Ground Based Interceptors responsible for defending the U.S. homeland, and somehow help them do their job.

          In reality, the U.S. already has a THAAD battery deployed on Guam, two AN/TPY-2 radars deployed in Japan (at Shariki and Kyogamisaki), space-based assets, plus a range of ship-borne radars and larger land-based radars in other parts of the Pacific theatre.
          Would a THAAD deployment in South Korea change much? The short answer is no. The longer, technical answer is yes but not much.
          THAAD is being deployed, and that’s really the end of the conversation unless they want to actually use their enormous leverage over the Kim regime to mitigate the threat.

          • Jon Robbins

            Well, what are China’s “real” reasons for opposing the THAAD deployment so strongly given that they risk hurting PRC-ROK relations which are very important to China?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            The opposition is for political reasons, not technical/capabilities reasons. There is no proven system on planet earth that can threaten Chinese or Russian strategic weapons (other than American strategic weapons in a nuclear first strike).
            To reiterate, anyone who says it’s the latter is grossly misinformed or outright lying. The opposition is political because the installation of more missile batteries, radar, or even more personnel represents a strengthening of the alliance.
            Very much similar to Putin’s objections to increased personnel, radar, missile batteries in Europe.
            They want to see these alliances become less important, not more important.

          • Jon Robbins

            Well, yes, of course ABM is not PROVEN to be able erode the Chinese and Russian nuclear deterrents, but they can’t really wait for conclusive proof. Once that’s available, it’s too late. Would we wait for conclusive proof? Hell, we still have no conclusive proof of an existing Iranian nuclear weapons program, and yet we approach the issue as though we do!

            OK, if the Chinese reasons are political, what specifically are they? Because as I suggested above, on a political level, they threaten ROK-PRC relations. What is the potential political reward that outweighs the political risk for China? How does the THAAD deployment really strengthen the US-ROK alliance if the system has to be snuck into place before an impending election. Why not let the election be a referendum on THAAD? Then, if a pro-THAAD candidate won, we would truly know that THAAD “strengthened” the US-ROK relationship.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            THAAD, Patriots, Lockheeds MEADS. None of these systems or combination of the three can threaten Chinese or Russian strategic weapons. Period.
            The political reason is simple, and that is to drive a wedge in the alliance. The Chinese Communist Party is conducting economic warfare on SK right now, everyone here knows it, and they know it’s because South Korea did not kowtow and do what the Chinese Communist Party told them to do.

            This is not a new strategy either. In fact, the strategy is essentially a failed one and this is likely it’s last gasp. They tried to drive a wedge in the Japanese-American alliance by threatening the Senkaku islands… they failed when the US made clear that article 5 extends to those islands.
            They’re trying to drive a wedge between the US-South Korea alliance and even wage economic warfare… they are failing.
            They tried to drive a wedge between the US-Philippines alliance using some violence against Filipinos in the SCS, and also some carrots like FDI… had minimal success and appears to have failed if you look at the last five years in total.

          • Jon Robbins

            Makes no sense to me. What need does China have to “drive a wedge in the alliance?” China’s relationship with ROK has been steadily improving and growing more important for both of them. China is a more important trade partner for South Korea than the US, and they have a long-standing cultural relationship which looks gradually to be supplanting the increasingly North-Korea-centric US-ROK alliance. How does it benefit China to pressure South Korea to do something which, in your telling, has no tangible benefit to the PRC at all? All they have to do is let the macro-trend continue to operate and the US-ROK relationship will continue to be supplanted by the PRC-ROK relationship. The Chinese are in no rush. What you are suggesting would constitute very un-Chinese behavior.

            Your argument doesn’t hold together for me. One can debate the nature of US ABM deployments around the periphery of Eurasia, but I think China’s fears are clearly real and not feigned, as you suggest.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            I’m not making an argument, but rather stating technical facts about a system’s capabilities.
            The Chinese communist party has a lot of good reasons to want to drive a wedge in US alliances in the region, most obviously to minimize the US’s role in the region. Their problem is that the gambles they’ve taken thus far have largely failed.
            Through their state controlled “media,” and especially when academics visit the US to speak at think tanks, they echo Putin’s sentiments rather often – that they want to see a diminished US role in the region, and then do something like call the alliances “cold war holdovers,” etc.

          • Jon Robbins

            One could more compellingly argue that it is the US that needs to drive a wedge between China and South Korea.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Yes I have, they don’t have the capability, and both the Russians and Chinese know this. That’s why the comment is primarily about the radar, not the missile batteries.
            The radar argument is a weak one for reasons stated above – The US has such radar on Guam, Japan, and on ships in the region. That says nothing of the space-based assets. And that’s why anyone beyond a casual observer knows this is the same tired trick the Russians pull, essentially using it as a reason to cry, over strengthened alliances.

            One could argue that.. in some alternative universe. In this universe, the US and South Korea are strong allies, and Koreans have a highly favorable opinion of the US (much higher than they do of China).
            In this universe, South Korea was invaded by North Korea and NK received Chinese help. And SK is being threatened till this day by a North Korean regime which gets most of its money and fuel from the Chinese Communist Party.

          • Jon Robbins

            So why aren’t the South Korean voters inclined to vote for a conservative, pro-THAAD, anti-China politician?

            And why are we trying to sneak THAAD in right before an election that, by your logic, should endorse the ABM deployment?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Jon, I think we both know it’s disingenuous to use a word like sneak. THAAD is all very public, and has been considered by Korea since the 2013 NK crisis, and interest peaked at the beginning of 2016 after 25 missile tests and the nuclear test.
            The simple truth is, THAAD would not be in South Korea if the Chinese Communist Party used it’s enormous leverage to curtail a threat which it helped to create in North Korea.

            There is no real anti-THAAD candidate, certainly not among the top three including Moon. His position necessarily changed since last July with several more missile tests. And Ahn Cheol-soo is the candidate I’m hearing the most positive and upbeat remarks about here in Seoul, and in fact he would be my bet for who the next president will be. He also supports THAAD.

          • Jon Robbins

            This doesn’t sound like support (Reuters/AP):

            “The U.S. military started moving parts of its controversial THAAD anti-missile defense system to a deployment site in South Korea on Wednesday amid high tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

            The earlier-than-expected move prompted protests by hundreds of local residents and was denounced by the front-runner in South Korea’s presidential election scheduled for May 9.

            A spokesman for Moon Jae-in said the decision “ignored public opinion and due process” and demanded the deployment be suspended until the next administration was in place and had made its policy decision.”

            Again, if there is so much support then why did the THAAD need to be rushed into South Korea ahead of schedule and before Moon takes office? You seem to avoid that basic question. The reality is that the lame duck administration is colluding with the US to impose THAAD on the incoming administration in a fundamental flouting of democratic norms.

            Sad that the US-ROK alliance, which you say is so strong, is not strong enough to pursue its aims in accordance with democratic norms and values.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Thankfully it’s widely supported, with really only those local residents being apprehensive. It’s understandable because THAAD is a military target. Likewise, it was good to see Moon change his tune on the issue as national security necessitated it since last July, and particularly in the last few months as the danger has only increased.

            Now, if we could just get the Chinese Communist Party to use their leverage of the Kim regime to mitigate the threat. The ball is in their court

          • Unelected Leader

            Why doesn’t the US use Aegis Ashore in Korea and Japan? Why use THAAD?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            That’s a great question. I’ll answer the question, but first I’ll provide a little bit of extremely relevant, recent history.
            For many years, the US has responded to a show down or crisis with North Korea, like the one in 2013, by moving assets into place temporarily (often late) and at incredible expense. To keep a dedicated ship-borne Aegis system always on patrol around Guam or Korea would be a mind boggling cost compared to the deployment of THAAD. Indeed, the 2013 THAAD deployment to Guam was made permanent.
            In fact, after the 2013 crisis, the talks began about the possibility of deploying THAAD to Korea should another major crisis occur… rather than running back to the scene like a first responder, should just leave these assets there permanently. The 25 missile tests and a nuclear explosion from 2015-2016 were the catalysts.

            Put simply, Aegis is meant for longer range threats. Ship-borne Aegis needs to be flexible and it’s too expensive to keep parked. Aegis Ashore would take at least one year to build and cost much more than the deployment of THAAD (a mobile system).
            Aegis can only intercept outside the atmosphere. The Chinese Communist Party would be justified in seeing an Aegis Ashore facility built in Korea as being more oriented against their weapons.
            THAAD is the best choice for a speedy deployment, cost, and capability, since it is capable of endoatmospheric intercepts of short-range missiles, like scuds.

            Aegis Ashore is used in Europe to defend against threats from farther away, such as Iran. In Europe, two Aegis Ashore sites provide coverage that simply wouldn’t be feasible with a huge number of THAADs required.
            In other words, THAAD makes good sense in a small country like Korea with close range threats, but would be ridiculous to use to try and cover all of Europe.

          • Unelected Leader

            Okay so basically cost and capabilities better match THAAD for Guam/Korea vs Aegis Ashore for Europe.

          • Jon Robbins

            You really do like avoiding the question, don’t you?

            Why is there a need for the post-scandal, care-taker government to collude with the US in hurriedly creating “facts on the ground” by moving up the deployment to the weeks before the election if the support is as widespread as you say?

            It’s really a very simple question–nothing to be scared of.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Your question is flawed. More accurately, you’re making a lot of flawed assumptions, and I hope that they’re genuine mistakes perhaps due to your not knowing the chronology of events rather than by design.
            In reality, Hwang is the acting president, he’s not the one in trouble. He’s finishing a process that was started more than a year ago in response to a major threat (25 missile tests and a nuclear explosion), and the deployment has been considered for four years (since the 2013 North Korea crisis).

          • Jon Robbins

            No, Hwang is accelerating a process to create “facts on the ground” over a period of weeks before the 9 May election for some unstated reason. Why is he rushing to to this before the election if, as you claim, the election will merely endorse the THAAD deployment?

          • Unelected Leader

            Jon, stop embarrassing yourself geez. If you are just trolling you’re pretty good at it. I can’t tell if you’re trolling or if you’re like a time traveler from the past and you missed the nuclear detonations and the missiles flying toward Japan and all the constant threats. There’s a lot of reason to rush! The new president can remove the system. It’s a mobile system and it takes less than a day to become operational.

          • Jon Robbins

            Your response is irrelevant. Amazing how hard it is to get a straight answer to such a simple question.

          • Unelected Leader

            LOL I read your comments on these threads. You do ask flawed questions and you don’t accept an answer even when you have to overlook a mountain of inconvenient facts. This is THE perfect example because you have to ignore dozens of missiles, nuclear explosions, and the CCP doing next to nothing.

          • Jim__L

            China has been engaging in un-Chinese behavior since Deng’s reforms, and it would be frankly insulting to assume they can’t see the advantages of it.

          • Jon Robbins

            What un-Chinese behavior have they been engaging in?

          • Jim__L

            The whole Capitalism thing? Embracing the West — science, technology, governmental structures like mercantilism — in ways that their Emperors never did?

            If anything, it’s rather Japanese… at least the wholesale adoption of Western ways as the only effective way to maintain anything like independence in a universe where Western Civilization is basically the only way to build a thriving human society.

            Sure, it has a Chinese flavor. (I think that’s great, by the way, and it would be a shame if everyone looked and sounded the same in all things.) But deep down, they’re playing our game.

          • Jon Robbins

            Capitalism is merely an extension of basic market economics which the Chinese have employed for many centuries. Yes, they are adopting some Western modes of behavior. Why didn’t you mention Marxism among the Western inventions adopted by the Chinese, by the way?

            China has had a more powerful economy and technological base than the West for most of the last two millennia, In the last two to three centuries that has changed. It may change again. We’ll see.

            And in any case, the Chinese aren’t rushing to drive a wedge in the US-ROK relationship. That is a figment of our increasingly paranoic imagination. It is we who feel the need to drive wedges.

          • Andrew Allison

            Many thanks! Your conclusion that it represent a defense against N. Korean aggression and doesn’t really impact China is what I suspected.

  • JM

    A note to all: as a currently serving US Army soldier in Korea, our tactical vehicles (which would include the THAAD trucks) are essentially required to move at night by the ROK Transportation folks for a multitude of reasons. Extraordinarily disingenuous to talk about how this getting snuck in at night, when the ROK government wants it that way.

    • Jon Robbins

      >”Extraordinarily disingenuous to talk about how this getting snuck in at night, when the ROK government wants it that way.”

      The “night” issue is a red herring. The real question is why the deployment timeline is being rushed to get the system at least partially in place before the 9 May ROK presidential election. To ignore that larger reality is even more disingenuous.

  • John Buchanan

    This is a perfect opportunity for Trump to end his first 100 days with a bang, both literally and figuratively. He should take out North Korea and China in one gigantic mushroom cloud. End of problem. And Putin will then become his willing bitch and worship at the altar of Trumpdom. New World Order? Bring it on. I just hope CNN can bring us some decent live coverage before all their cameras are incinerated and their correspondent(s) vaporized. God willing, Anderson Cooper will be providing coverage. We might as well clean up as many messes as we can with a single blast. Maybe some New York Times reporters can be taken out, too. Trump would love that.

  • Jon Robbins

    >”As a former presidential adviser tells NK News, ‘South Korean candidates are aware that the deployment is irreversible, and so is Beijing.’”

    Can someone explain this rather mysterious assertion (since the article above doesn’t deign to do so)?

  • Dhako

    Sorry to add this inconvenience bit of news, but it seems, Mr Trump (like wannabe Mafiosi) is making yet another “offer the South-Koreans can’t refuse”, along the line of “demanding” (actually demanding) that the South-Koreans pay (upfront) fro the THAAD batteries to tune of Billions. And that is after, his defense department, have “rushed” the installment of these batteries in the middle of the night.

    In other words, it’s like a man who decided to tell you that you have ordered some such thing you aren’t sure about it whether it was a good thing in the first place, and while you are arguing with your wife about this thing, he sneaks into your house put the stuff in the back-garden, and then, come around to the front door, ring the bell, and then tell you when you open the door that he already put the stuff in the back-garden. And now you have this bill to pay him right there, regardless of whether you have agreed to pay this stuff in the first place, much less know for sure whether you really want this stuff in the first place.

    And, by the way, Mr Trump, while he is doing his level best to “shake-down” the South-Koreans, he is also trying to cancel the Free Trade agreement (FTA) the South-Koreans have with the US. Which means, this is the genius way to go about in keeping your friend in your corner, according to the political playbook of Mr Trump

    And here it is, the unadorned glories of the latest political moves of Mr Trump in South-Korea : South Korea balks at Donald Trump’s $1bn payment demand for Thaad – https://www.ft.com/content/8ad8f420-2bc8-11e7-9ec8-168383da43b7

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