What happens if North Korea suddenly launches at the U.S. one day and nukes fill the skies over the West Coast? Will we even have time to react?
Currently the US Navy has three aircraft carrier battle groups in maneuvers off the coast of the two Koreas in a demonstration of power and commitment. North Korea is increasing its threats of war and attacks against the United States, Japan and South Korea. North Korea's incredible progress in not only nuclear weapons, miniaturized warheads and now a hydrogen bomb is matched by its rapid development of delivery systems and ICBM's.
The world now faces the real danger of a despotic regime that has no qualms about losing many of its citizens in a nuclear conflict with the West. The questions that linger are would North Korea actually risk a nuclear attack on the United States mainland, is it capable and what would move it towards this action?
The answers depend on one factor: Kim Jong-Un
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The Western world learned a lot about absolute monarchs after WW1 when the ruling families, all related by marriage, found themselves at odds and at war by intricate alliances. Common people died in the millions as generals still following Napoleonic tactics moved their armies in formations against modern weapons. The lessons of the Crimea where modern rifles and artillery slaughtered soldiers en masse were never learned by the generals of WW1.
The ultimate plan of North Korea has always been the reunification of both Koreas under North Korean domination.
It is generally agreed by most US and South Korean military authorities that in the event of an attack prior to invasion from north of the DMZ, a 24-48 hour window before any organized counter blow by US forces would exist. South Korea would definitely see large scale damage and casualties in the hundreds of thousands from any large scale attack. The possible involvement of Russia, China, and even Iran in military offensives -- to support North Korea and oppose the West -- in other locations is a real possibility as well as the United States would be tied down in one area.
Iran now has a large scale presence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and has proxy forces it supports in Yemen, Afghanistan and is currently confronting Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies (including Israel) in a Shia against Sunni Muslim civil war.
North Korea has missiles that can reach Japan, Hawaii and the West Coast of North America. Currently in development but not assumed to be operational are ICBMs that reach most of the continental United States. Iran is continuing its missile development in spite of the JCPOA.
Neither side understands the worldview of the other. The traditional Eastern and Asian concept of history is the "long view". Patience and forbearance are characteristic to Asian philosophy. Long term goals and the patience to outwait the opposition have marked China, Japan and the rest of Asia.
North Korea's rapid progress in weapons development was aided and accelerated by several events. The Clinton scandal and impeachment reduced that President's ability to lead or influence foreign policy. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars diverted the Bush Administration from any effective deterrence in North Korea's military buildup. The Obama Administration's withdrawal from a world leadership role gave full license to North Korea's nuclear development and now Iran's large scale missile, nuclear and territorial advances.
North Korea can launch a limited nuclear attack on Guam, Hawaii and much of the West Coast with current inventory. Numbers of each available missile are unavailable (as is much information about North Korea's military). Missiles in service and in development are quite varied.
Today alliances abound in Asia as former enemies band together to confront ancient enemies. The United States finds itself allied with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines against China and North Korea. The puzzling counterpoint is the history of Japan within this situation: Japan's reputation from the 1930's-1945 still antagonizes almost all of the nation's confronting North Korea.
As the Obama Administration withdrew from world leadership many Asian nations felt abandoned as an aggressive China accessed islands in the South China Sea.
Is there still trust as the Trump Administration reasserts a former American presence? If North Korea senses weakness in resolve it might attack South Korea and present the United States with a fait accompli (what can you do about it?).
The United States military has been drained and over deployed for the duration of the Middle Eastern wars. It cannot sustain continued involvement at the current rate and our enemies know this. North Korea could be the fuse that sparks a collapse of United States attempts to reassert its former position as leader of the free world.
It is always dangerous to place your own perceptions of a situation on others. In an east-West confrontation this goes many times over. Kim Jong-Un does not see the world as we see it. He thinks in an Oriental mindset, and until we see this and understand this the clock is ticking faster. Can North Korea attack the United States with nuclear missiles? Yes. Would they do it? Yes. Will they do it? Maybe.
The United States of 2017 would revert to the United States of 1850. Defense industry experts have demonstrated that an EMP attack is one of North Kora's current options. Dr. Peter Pry testified before Congress about the imminent danger of an EMP attack and the current state of inactivity to defend the nation against it.
A commission was established by Congress to investigate and report on the dangers of EMP. The EMP Commission was disbanded on September 30, 2017. The open threats by North Korea make lack of action inexcusable. Leading defense analysts now write that North Korea now has a warhead that can weak EMP havoc on the mainland and a means to deliver it.
The situation can move quickly and change overnight. Preparedness to relocate from large cities, places where wind currents can carry radiation and being ready to implement a survival plan on short notice are the duty of every responsible family and church leader.
"Be prepared for you know not the day nor the hour," as Jesus cautioned.