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back to article North Korean rocket works, puts something into orbit

North Korea has successfully launched a rocket that it claims is a peaceful vehicle, but which western nations suspect is a long-range missile. The launch took place at around 01:00 GMT and saw a Kwangmyongsong-3 rocket soar aloft, according to Reuters. The North American Airspace Defense Command (NORAD) published the following …

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Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Oh that's right, they don't have oil.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Well, another reason is that...

A: They have nukes.

B: They're in China's back yard & the last time an American (technically a UN) force got close to China, a few Chinese came south & prolonged the war somewhat.

C: A war would just encourage North Korean people to 'rally around the flag' while, if we all wait a while (another decade or so), it may fall down all by itself.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

In this case, it *really* isn't about oil. Of the three nations named in the "axis of evil"; the Yanks invaded Iraq, they're talking about invading Iran but they haven't lifted a finger against North Korea. Now lets play a fun game. Guess which one of those three countries has the bomb. Yup. There ain't nobody bringing democracy to Pyongyang any time soon.

Yes, I know the North Koreans still have some decidedly non-trivial hurdles to clear before they could land a warhead on Obama's sun porch, but I also don't think the Yanks are cavalier enough to gamble on finding out how close the North Koreans might get to hitting something should they be desperate enough to try.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Since when does a "water-monopoly empire" fall from inside? It does not. The downfall of the soviet block was sticking its nose into way too many holes worldwide (its countries did not achieve full control over its citizens either). If it was not for the war in Afganistan (as well as too much "helping" the 3rd world) we would have still had a sequence of gerontocratic imbeciles in control of 1/6th of the world surface holding a withered hand over the big red nuclear apocalypse button.

NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy. It will not fall unless pushed or it goes out of its shell and thus opens itself up to "external corruption".

So it can rot as much as it likes - Its rotten hulk will stay up as long as it does not engage externally or is not engaged externally. Considering that it has nukes, chemical weapons, ballistic missiles and a 1m army that pretty much means forever at this point.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

...a 1m army that is largely on the brink of starvation.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

A 1m person army, armed with ancient weapons, poorly trained and starving. Against a modern army like the USA or UK they wouldn't stand a chance.

However, invading them would be a disaster for South Korea and Japan, as basically we all know that the country is somewhat unstable so we don't know what the reaction would be. The only way to deal with them would be to do a co-ordinated strike against all their military installations at once via the air.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"A 1m person army, armed with ancient weapons, poorly trained and starving. Against a modern army like the USA or UK they wouldn't stand a chance."

Quite a lot of Afghans might disagree with that statement.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Yep, coordinated strike on everything from the air - we could call it 'shock and awe' - that'll sort 'em out and no mistake.

They'll be welcoming us in the streets just like the girls in paris welcomed the Sherman tanks in 1945.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"A 1m person army, armed with ancient weapons, poorly trained and starving. Against a modern army like the USA or UK they wouldn't stand a chance."

You're probably right, they probably wouldn't stand a chance.

But then once you get past the army, you get to the people, and that's where your troubles really start.

On a bynote, why the hell is everyone so scared of NK? So they're possibly developing weaponry which can reach the US. So what? Hasn't the US had weaponry which could reach NK for decades?

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy"

Not really. It's heavily dependent on China for a lot of supplies. For the moment it suits China to have a satellite "rogue state", but as China strengthens economic ties with the rest of the world it will rein in any too-ambitious move by the Norks.

Re why the US invaded Iraq and are targeting Iran but not Nork - Iran humiliated the US after the US arranged a coup against the legitimately elected Iranian government in favour of the dsposed Shah, so at leat back then the US cared only about oil, not about democracy. Iraq was a US buddy while they were fighting Iran, and the US was happy enough for Iraq to have nukes - it was Israel who destroyed Iraq's nuclear facilities. Iraq only fell out of favour with the US when it invaded Kuwait (ie caused instability in oil-producing region). Also note the difference in US response in Libya (big oil producer) vs Syria (not a big oil producer)

There are various other geo-political reasons why the US would not even consider invading North Korea, but surely lack of resources required by US is surely among the reasons.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

China, Japan and South Korea would be very, very unhappy.

Even assuming the mere threat of the US invading would let to the fall of the NK government, and total freedom for it's people, without a single shot being fired,a nd the entire NK nuklear arsenal being disposed off safely, and immediately, it will only be the start of problems in that region.

Neither China nor South Korea will be capable of handling the influx of 1m starving North Koreans if the border opens. Nor will the South Korean economy be able to cope with this.

Reuniting NK and SK will be a lot more difficult then the east/west german reunion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

i think it has very little to do with "the bomb" as much as it does with china not allowing the US to live in the spare bedroom, as it were. the difference with iraq is that over many years, for various reasons, iraq was left without strong backers. Iran has russia and as long as russia isn't able to be persuaded to the contrary, the US won't "liberate" Iran either, bomb or no bomb. That's what the propaganda i've been exposed to tells me anyway, your incoming propaganda may vary.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

'NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy. '

About that control over energy.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/dprk-dark.htm

You also might want to Google 'North Korea' and 'famine' before claiming they've got control of their food supply.

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Stop

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy. It will not fall..."

I think you might be thinking of a different North Korea.

The place can't feed itself and goes through phases of either taking international hand-outs, or people starving. And if you look at a sat. image of the country, it's in the dark. It doesn't have a 21st century power grid, or even clearly electricity in a bunch of rural areas. The food situation is only getting worse, as they've deforested the country and because it's mountainous, they're getting massive soil erosion problems, and they're pretty much out of wood, too.

This is a country where just under 50% are active or reserve military, but which is operating with obsolete hardware. I think it's the 5th largest military in the world, which is a complete waste of resources. Iraw used to have the 4th largest military, also equipped with gash, and look how well that protected them.

As to nukes... they almost certainly tested one, but there's no evidence they can put it where they want it. And how MANY do they have. Nukes aren't like other tech: Just because you make one and it works, you can't just churn out 50 more. The material has to be accumulated, and that takes time and vast amounts of effort. Realistically, I wouldn't expect them to have more than half a dozen warheads, and they can't chuck them more than a few hundred miles.

DPRK *will* fall. It will fall either when it either rattles its sabres too hard, or by becoming more porous in imitation of China, or when the people finally get sick of living as starving slaves so that the nation can continue a 'military first' budgetary policy despite the fact that the country isn't actually at war, and the military are little more than target practice for GPS-guided munition.

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Mushroom

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Because the US doesn't know what democracy is!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy. It will not fall unless pushed or it goes out of its shell and thus opens itself up to "external corruption"."

I'm curious as to what gives you this idea. Their economy is all but nonexistent and their country is an ecological disaster. They can't generate nearly enough power, so they've chopped down vast tracts of forest and burnt them for fuel; that's not a plan that's going to work for long. People are hungry and given how well food production is going for them it'll turn into famine in due course, in the absense of substantial foreign aid.

They're effectively hoping that they can bluster and threaten their way to survival, because as soon as they actually exercise any of their weapons on their neighbours it'll be cruise-missile-delivered democracy time. They can't threaten forever, and whilst they're dragging their offensive capabilities kicking and screaming into the 1970s, defensive antimissile technology isn't exactly standing still.

Even China's patience and tolerance won't be infinite.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Quote: "I'm curious as to what gives you this idea."

It is not an idea - it is the statement of the fact. It is the ultimate water monopoly empire.

They are not just controlling water - they are controlling food, energy and everything else. One wrong step and you are dead of starvation while freezing in the middle of a minefield with your feet missing.

As far as threatening, you are once again missing the point. In order to exercise that level of control you need to have a perceived external enemy. All the posturing is _NOT_ for external consumption - it is to reinforce the need to have a stranglehold over its own population. It automatically makes anyone non-compliant a traitor to the state. Stalin invented the Trust, Russian Party, etc for the same purpose. It is essential to have an enemy outside which is "trying to infiltrate and corrupt" within to be able to exercise that level of control. All of the ex-soviet block used that (I will not comment on the "terrorist threatw" here...).

As far as "democracy on the wings of the cruise missile" - I would not be so sure. First, they are not going to attack anyone anytime soon as what they are doing is geared towards internal control, not external. So we will not have a "casus belli" to press the button. Second, you are dealing with everyone alive being brought up from their cradle to the grave believing that the external world is the enemy. Cutting the "controlling head" off that with a cruise missile may be the worst thing we can do.

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Stop

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Bring US style democracy to NK, don't be silly, how could a country as broke as NK afford all those bribes to politicians lobbyists.

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NK's hermit status is crumbling

It used to be the case the people of NK thought they had "nothing to envy" - that although they were starving in a dystopian nightmare, the rest of the world was worse off. Since 2000, however, TV and radio broadcasts from SK and China are being picked up in NK. Smuggled Chinese mobile phones are buried in plastic bags in remote areas and dug up for a 2-minute call (any longer and the call is triangulated). The people of NK are learning what a hideous and brutal place NK is, and why. Eventually things will crack.

I recommend the book "Nothing to Envy", about how ordinary NKoreans live, die or escape.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy. It will not fall unless pushed or it goes out of its shell and thus opens itself up to "external corruption".

Cobblers. The USSR collapsed because it spent too much on consumption rather than investment (specifically arms and misdirected central planning) and its economy collapsed. Ample resources of energy and water, and a big military didn't help one jot. To an extent Europe and US are perilously close to a similar economic event horizon, where money wasted on unproductive spending causes the economy to collapse. Examples of unproductive spending are excessive welfare spending (Europe), unaffordable social and environmental "obligations" (Europe), endless health spending (now both blocs), imperial militarism (the US), and for both blocs again, bad bank lending that has destroyed billions by funding speculative bubbles in property and leveraged commercial lending.

Coming back to North Korea, not only are they destroying their own economy by spending on militarism and central planning, but they don't have sufficient domestic resources of energy or food, and are dependant upon imports that they can't pay for (hence the sabre rattling). The population are starving and repressed, which certainly could go on for some years, but will fall over sooner or later without any external help. Putting the spotty twerp in charge is most unlikely to prolong matters.

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Meh

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

The Yanks haven't launched democracy into DPRK yet because it is the world's most hilarious government and if it were subject to a regime change there would be no one to laugh at during UN meetings. They pose no threat at all.

If they managed to feed their population then they could become a threat but that's probably not going to happen soon. Even though they have such a huge standing army it isn't worth much because if they were ever deployed they would all starve to death in the field.

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Boffin

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"It is not an idea - it is the statement of the fact. It is the ultimate water monopoly empire."

I'm going to call 'tosh' on that one. Most of the population don't have potable water piped to their homes, so how well-controlled is that, compared to more civilised nations where we can all be cut off with a few button presses. How are wells 'controlled' centrally?

" In order to exercise that level of control you need to have a perceived external enemy. "

People also have to have something to lose. The population frankly are at the point where they have very little left to lose. And as the country is so isolated, the line that they are being infiltrated and corrupted by others isn't going to work on the Proles, because they see no evidence of it.

"First, they are not going to attack anyone anytime soon as what they are doing is geared towards internal control, not external. So we will not have a "casus belli" to press the button."

There's already been enough of that, and South Korea have stayed their hand, despite having ships torpedoed, being attacked by artillery, having passenger liners bombed, terrorism, espionage et al. South Korea and its allies have had more than enough reasons to pull the trigger if they could be bothered to.

"Second, you are dealing with everyone alive being brought up from their cradle to the grave believing that the external world is the enemy."

And if the head is cut off and no follow-up is made... then what. How will that make the situation worse? People will go back to their farms and try to scrape out a living as before. The only difference is that some twerp in a uniform doesn't turn up twice a year to collect taxes, and their sons come home from the military to help out on the farm.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

I too fail to see the threat from NK. If they were to develop the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to anywhere else, and actually launch it, it would be game over. The result would be that all of North Korea would shortly thereafter be transformed into radioactive glass. Their leaders might be totalitarianist arseholes, but MAD is not in ther interests any more than it is in anyone else's*.

They know this, the US know this, China know this, Russia knows this. Everyone knows this. The only outcome with NK is that they continue to starve until eventually their leaders show some common sense and begin to engage with the rest of the planet on a rational level. The sabre-rattling is entirely in order to keep their own people subjugated, to everyone else it is a joke.

* The only people who might possibly be minded that it is a good idea would be those who are of a religious bent, and who believe that it is time for eveyone to die and the select few to take up their positions in the 'good' afterlife. Most people of this mindset seem to live in North America.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"It is not an idea - it is the statement of the fact. It is the ultimate water monopoly empire.

They are not just controlling water - they are controlling food, energy and everything else. One wrong step and you are dead of starvation while freezing in the middle of a minefield with your feet missing"

Uh, people are dying of starvation anyway. They are low on food and water. They're freezing to death anyway due to the shortage of wood and the woeful electricity supply. The party could easily remain on top and in power when it still had carrots to go with the stick, but that's not really the case anymore. Indoctrination won't help; the cracks are already showing and there's been no particularly concerted psyops effort in that regard. The people have to eat, and when they get desparate and realise they have nothing to lose anymore you can't just shoot them all.

It would also appear that you either totally misunderstood my cruise missile statement, or totally ignored the content of that paragraph. I'll rewrite it for you here. NK cannot ever use its military against its neighbours; it can only bluff and bluster. When it engages in overt warfare with its antequated military equipment, humanitarian aid will end and its rocketry facilities and the like will be hit by precision strikes for the safety of everyone else. The regime will fall in short order after that, because it will need to beg for help instead of threatening and demanding, and the only things it can offer to its benefactors will be greater political and social freedom for its people.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

They tried it was called the Korean war, it didn't go well.

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Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"Quite a lot of Afghans might disagree with that statement."

If they do, they're missing the point. The invasion was a total success for the modern US/UK/coalition forces, sweeping the board with little trouble. The subsequent problems are not a serious military threat (i.e. the kind of thing that wipes out entire battalions).

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Devil

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

99% of the sheep bleat about the NK doing this or that, is kiss arse bullshit to the US state dept, on foreign policy.

Remember the fucks that run corporation USA, also own the US / global media too.

They don't like people who say no to them raping them, and their countries.

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

Not one mention of the hundreds of artillery positions along the DMZ, many of which are dug into caves, within striking distance of Seoul?

While it may not be the feared 'Sea of Fire' that has been discussed over the past few years, it could still most certainly be serious if the DPRK decided to retaliate for any US first strike by going full-bore at Seoul (ref: http://atlanticsentinel.com/2012/06/north-korea-cant-really-turn-seoul-into-a-sea-of-fire/).

Nuclear weapons and ICBMs just add to the risk - there was already MAD status for Seoul without it so the US could not act unilaterally without directly risking South Korean lives.

Also, I hope the comment about being greeted in the streets a la WW2 Paris was sarcasm. If you were serious I'd advise doing some more reading and viewing (there are lots of great documentaries available for free) on the DPRK. The populace there is fed a steady diet of anti-American propaganda and most see us, quite literally as Satan incarnate. There is also the little matter of 'juche philosophy' (what can be wrong about wanting independence and self reliance amirite?) which, in practice, attempts to teach the people (warning: my opinion on the matter) that it is better to starve and be independent than to be happy and content under non-DPRK rule. I'd eat my hat if the US invaded and the populace didn't have a reaction somewhat along the lines of the populace in Saipan if backed into a corner. I doubt they'd put up an insurgence like Afghanistan (there is no 'warrior tradition' or access to weapons outside of the military in NK), but they would be expected to be afraid, and untrusting of foreign troops.

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WTF?

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

@Richard Ball -- you forgot the sarcasm icon, right?

Otherwise, i don't want to be part of your 'us'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

I don't agree totally. They have nukes, but crappy ones and no sensible means of launching them. And God knows how long it would take for them to make any more.

They do however, have an astonishing amount of artillery and ground troops.... who would want to go in and sort that out? And the country is partially rugged etc..... and has a long border with China and a little one with Russia.... I imagine you couldn''t sort it by sending Middle-Eastern mercenaries in, even the average person in the street would be gagging to make Swiss cheese out of them with a semi-auto.... whether from good or bad motivations!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

India also may have had similar localised problems. But they seem to have ingenious fixes, like banning the word "famine" in some areas:-

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/article596311.ece?homepage=true

which yopu've got to admit, is pretty clever.

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Meh

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

"They tried it was called the Korean war, it didn't go well."-TSG

Back then we were about as advanced as they were, no so today. Today, we could just send drone after drone, and "agent orange" their food supply. I would also bet that as soon as "dear leader" sets off one of those atomic devices anywhere that harms another country, that the UN would basically shell them out of existence from every UN controlled boat on the planet. The only real losers would be the SK people, but that's a card NK can only play once, and once played, they know they're done. They also have to know that the Chinese won't back them up like they used to, China likes its global market money. I imagine that it will be China that ultimately rolls over NK, and I'm not sure whether or not that will save SK or not, but we can hope.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

Respectfully, no, I don''t agree.

Firstly health spending... well at least Europe gets "something" for its health spending. In fact some of the best in the world. Not "the most expensive and least coverage" flavour either. Check France out. Partly private, but with a reimbursement from the State in most cases.

Note the life expectancy dropped by 10 years in some areas after the fall of the USSR.

Post-USSR vaccination rates still look like sub-saharan Africa in some ways. Not very European.

GDP hasn't reached pre-fall-of-iron-curtain levels yet in some countries either. Poland being the big exception.

So I would argue that it wasn't economic reasons for the collapse.

In fact if you look at articles written by people who lived in those areas, it was simply a case of "we don't want this (false) idealogical bull anymore". The bull didn't concern things like ambitions towards equality, healthcare and fair wealth distribution. Those were taken as basic normal assumptions for civilised nations.

It was more the difference between officially expressed slogans and how people actually did things, usually much worse.

So, they VOTED for the breakup. It was not a lack of cash. they had a sufficiently large economy, it was not in any difficulties. The financial collapse happened after the breakup. In fact it looks like some smaller nations will never ever have any kind of development again, like big ghost towns. For an example look at Tajikistan, where Nellie Kim is from.

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Anonymous Coward

"Kwangmyongsong"?

I looked it up, and was relieved to discover that Kwangmyongsong is not an exhortation. It means "Bright Star" or "Brilliant Star" in Korean.

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Re: "Kwangmyongsong"?

I supppose it's a relief that it doesn't mean 'Death Bringer' or something like that, but 'Bright Star' is quite apt for a nuclear warhead - so don't relax yet.

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Mushroom

Re: "Kwangmyongsong"?

Precisely: Anybody remember the quote about the light of a thousand suns by Robert Oppenheimer?

<- only suitable icon

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Re: "Kwangmyongsong"?

Don't forget the top quality motivational slogans that power North Korea:

http://directorblue.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/north-korean-motivational-posters.html

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: "Kwangmyongsong"?

I like the one about goats.

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Happy

Re: "Kwangmyongsong"?@ theodore

My favourite too. But for such a small selection to include so many gems, it makes you wonder what other stuff the Norks have got at home that didn't get included. Maybe they're like the French, and keep the good stuff for themselves?

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Unhappy

Re: "Kwangmyongsong"?

It just doesn't roll off the tongue the same as a Typo Dong...

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Missed Opportunities

I'm disappointed by the absence of "red rocket" in the headline.

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Red Rocket finally thrusts into correct slot

Norks quiver with delight

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Red Rocket finally thrusts into correct slot

My nipples explode with delight.

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Anyone care to guess on the life expectancy of whatever they have put in orbit once the US militaries space plane is launched?

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Considering any missions the X37B undertakes is going to be highly secret and we're not officially supposed to know it is up there, you could conversely speculate as to the life expectancy of the crew aboard once they get too close to an orbiting laser-toting shark, or whatever else is up there?

That or it could just be a mylar reflective beach ball with "lol, made you look" written on it in Hangul.

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Anonymous Coward

@M Gale

The X37B (I always feel that should be followed by "explosive space modulator") is unmanned.

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Black Helicopters

Much as the US would like to proclaim its ownership of Low Earth Orbit, as part of its Manifest Destiny of owning the entire Solar System, I doubt they would try shooting down satellites owned by other countries.

They wouldn't care in the least about the clear illegality in International law, but they wouldn't want to establish the precedent - especially as they have more value in kit up there to lose than anyone else.

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And with China's space program moving apace we have some healthy competition up there at last...

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Black Helicopters

@mutatedwombat

Well, that's what they say...

</tinfoil>

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