Friday, April 13, 2012

"The Wednesday After Never"

That, apparently, is when North Korea will be able to strike the US with one of its missiles.

Perhaps you've heard that Pyongyang recently announced one more demonstration of its awe-inspiring military power. Along with sinking South Korean navy boats and then saying "Who, us?," it also periodically fires off a rocket, to keep the neighbors on their toes. And it usually works; the neighbors, including America, get antsy. There is something about a crazy guy next door firing off big guns that inspires antsiness.

The good news is that the most recent North Korean rocket launch was a failure -- their fourth consecutive dud since 1998. Wired's Danger Room blog sums it all up:

“The way they’re going,” says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterrey Institute, “they’ll be able to hit us the Wednesday after never.”

Now for the caveats. It’s not that the North Koreans couldn’t hit the United States. It’s that launching rockets is hard. The U.S.’ Cold War-era Redstone rockets failed repeatedly. That’s why you test your rockets.

But North Korea doesn’t test their rockets. It holds demonstrations of their rocket capabilities, making them seem like fearsome world events. And they either lie about the results or keep silent about the failures. ...

There’s also reason to believe, with this latest failure, that Pyongyang is getting worse at their launches. “If the North Koreans were making progress with their missile program, you would expect to see them fixing problems after each failure and fine-tuning the technology,” says Brian Weeden, a former officer with the U.S. Air Force Space Command. “Instead, you see a range of different failure modes, indicating they are not really making much progress and actually may be going backwards as they keep making changes without truly understanding what went wrong in each case.”

So, basically, the crazy guy next door is belligerent and threatening. That's a real problem, but it's offset at least a little by the fact that he's a lousy shot who never practices.


Daniel said...

Points well taken. But they sink more than just fishing boats.

Father Anonymous said...

Thanks -- that's actually the incident I was thinking of, and I had forgotten the details.

North Korea: worst neighbor in the world, or worst neighbor in the history of the world?

Father Anonymous said...
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