Saturday, July 04, 2009

nothing to fear but lack of fearmongering itself

Today is the day when we celebrate the birth of America, even though the Declaration was actually passed by the Continental Congress a few days before that.

Yesterday, we watched a spectacle too oft repeated these days: the self-implosion of a GOP presidential hopeful. First Bobby Jindal, then Mark Sanford, and now Sarah Palin. But someone else wants to grab our attention desperately and no matter what your politics in the U.S., you can agree with me that this guy is crazy.
North Korea fired a barrage of short-range missiles off its east coast Thursday, a possible prelude to the launch of a long-range missile toward Hawaii over the July Fourth holiday.
The AP tries to scare us. Long range missiles? Aimed at President Obama's home state on America's birthday weekend? But wait, did you catch the key word, "toward"? How long is "long range"? Let's ask the Posrt:
Military officials told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that they appeared to be Scud-type missiles and described them as more dangerous than the short-range weapons fired Thursday.

Government sources in Japan and South Korea told reporters that the missiles may have been Nodongs, a mid-range Scud.

North Korea has more than 200 of these missiles, which are capable of striking nearly all of Japan. They are regarded by the Japanese government as a serious threat, and it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years buying two U.S.-made anti-missile defense systems.
Scuds, the legendarily inaccurate missiles Saddam used during the first Gulf War. This one too is extremely crude for 2009.

A Nodog has a range of 500 to 1300 kilometers depending on whether it is a Nodog-1 or -2. And remember it is about 3800 kilometers from Tokyo to Honolulu, and from North Korea you have to add another couple hundred kilometers. Which explains this paragraph of the AP story:
The head of the U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Victor E. "Gene" Renuart, said in an interview with the Washington Times this week that U.S. missile defenses are prepared to knock down any incoming North Korean missile.
Now to be fair the Taepodong-2 missile could hit Sarah Palin's house in Wasilla (making her a foreign policy expert). But the other reason Northern Command is prepared to knock down any long-range missile from North Korea is this:
In 2006, North Korea launched its most advanced Taepodong 2 missile while the U.S. celebrated Independence Day, though the rocket fizzled shortly after takeoff and fell into the ocean.
The April 5 [2009] launch of a Taepodong-2 required 12 days of preparation on the launch pad, which was fully observable to U.S. satellites. Short and medium-range missiles, however, can be launched with little notice.
So they can try to hit a major city in Japan and risk not only pissing off but hitting U.S. military forces stationed on the archipelago, or they can try to hit the U.S. directly, but it takes so long for those missiles to warm up, we can blow them on the launch pad with ease if we felt like it. No need for "Star Wars" here. The Axis of Evil, in short, is no excuse for the so-called National Missile Defense.

This is all a long way of saying the AP article, which was picked up by the Tribune, among others is all about scaring us despite the fact that the only think North Korea is capable of is starving its own people while building crappy weapons.

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