About North Korea


So here’s the thing.

The recent “war of words” with North Korea revealed an important point – we don’t really know very much about what current capabilities he has.

And in that context, the escalation of rhetoric is exactly what is needed. A guy who talks tough needs to be drawn out to show his cards or else we are just guessing.

In an analogy with Poker, he has 3 cards and the rest of the world does not know what those are. If he can be compelled to show his existing 3 cards, then knowing what cards the rest of the world has gives a reasonable set of probabilities that can be estimated. Just like in those Poker TV shows where odds of winning of each hand are estimated because we can see each hand with cameras under the table. So the trick is to have him flip his 3 cards.

If I were the US I would ask him in a few days “so you said there were going to be 4 missiles splashing into the ocean near Guam as a show of force – where are they?”. I would push him to reveal more of the cards he is holding now.

Because, simply put, you need 3 things to be able to become a serious nuclear threat to North America – you need the range of the missile, you need to be able to put on that missile a small nuclear warhead (which is not easy) and you need to be able to design the whole thing in such a way that it does not burn up on the way down from space essentially. (This last point is not well understood by most people – when the missile goes up, it gradually picks up speed as it goes through the atmosphere and the higher it goes the less dense the air is so friction against missile surface tip is not a problem. Re-entry is different – the thing is falling down at an extremely rapid speed and it can burn out if not properly protected. Without going into too much detail speeds on re-entry can be 15,000 – 25,000 km/h. If you don’t protect your nuclear warhead through this phase it will burn out without even detonating at high altitude).

So let’s hope folks in the Pentagon think that way and force him to show his hand (remember, he said he was not going to hit anything and China told him that if he hits anything, they are leaving him out in the cold so I am not advocating some crazy notion where people need to die).  

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