Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Cost of One Dud

North Korea, our close friends, decided to test launch some nuclear capable missiles during our Independence Day. The objective was clearly to demand attention and to flex some military muscle. More muscle gives madman Kim Jong Ill the capability to demand more from the international community.

At least seven missiles have been tested. The only one capable of going intercontinental, and thus capable of hitting the western United States, failed miserably. In fact, it flopped into the Sea of Japan about 35 seconds after launch.

So what is the cost of one dud missile? Apparently it’s going to be about $.25 a gallon. Oil immediately traded at a record high ($75.40) and gas prices will quickly adjust accordingly, if they haven’t already. I know next door to my work gas is already up to $2.99, up from 2.76 on the 4th of July.

I’ve heard conservative estimates say that North Korea is still a long way away from any reliable technology in carrying nuclear warheads to the U.S. I’ve heard as many as ten years into the future. So why is this so scary today? Does anyone honestly expect that Kim Jong Ill would ever be allowed to continue in this trend? Sadly, it has taken this long for the international community to really sit up and take serious notice. So assuming that this could continue may not be much of a stretch.

Propaganda driven news sources in North Korea are itching for a fight. While we all should pray that it doesn’t come to that, there’s a small part of me that thinks it might be about time for the world to see that threats like this bring harsh consequences from other civilized societies. Maybe one big smiting is enough to keep other nuts (like Iran) at bay for a while longer.


Piccu said...

I am finding it hard to see why Saddam was a bigger threat than a crazy man with nukes. It will be hard for the US to do any smiting with most of the ground troops tied up in Iraq. Perhaps if things were different we could try to flex our muscles a bit, at the present time, these countries know we are stretched thin.

As for gas prices rising, the oil companies will use any excuse to raise prices. I love money as much as the next guy, but there is a difference between making an honest living and gouging your customers and using fear to do it.

Travis said...

I've never studied enough on oil futures and gas prices to engage that debate intelligently. So I won't try now.

The North Korea thing is different. We went to Iraq on the premise, at least, of the War on Terror. It was a stage of that effort. So that's neither here nor there when discussing NK.

What is worth mentioning is that there's little doubt that if North Korea continues their path, that the US's military will be only a small part of Pyongyang's problem. This will be a truly international effort because no one wants to see North Korea nuclear capable. And its actually foolish of me to refer to Jong Ill as a madman. He may be perfectly sane in trying to get North Korea a place at the international table by threatening nuclear action. It forces attention and deters military action all at once.

Piccu said...

He is a madman, I just do not know if he is a "I'll blow up the whole planet" madman. He is the same guy who let his pr guy release the fact that on his first attempt at playing golf he had 26 holes in one.

North Korea is a different thing than Iraq, we knew North Korea had nuclear capibiliites when we thought we knew what Iraq had.

Hopefully the same guys that said Iraq had WMDs are the same guys who say that N Korea has nuclear capibilities, in which case there is nothing to worry about.

I would hope that N Korea and Iran would both realize that no good comes from blowing up the planet. Even if they blow us up before we get them, the nuclear winter caused by blowing us up will kill most, if not all, of them. If there ever was a straight up definition of a lose-lose situation, this is it. By that reasoning I see none of this as more than saber rattling.

By the by, I don't think anyone needs to study oil furtures and gas prices to see and predict when gas prices will rise.

Travis said...

That might be correct, but it is a commodity market so saying that they paid X for the gas in their tanks so it should cost Y doesn't hold up. Because they're selling on futures.

Back to the DPRK. I believe what you're referring to is commonly referred to as "mutually assured destruction." No doubt that would happen and I don't doubt that they know that. But while I don't think North Korea would go through with it, I think Iran would. At least toward Israel. So NK's butt whooping might be needed to deter Iran in the future.

I honestly think Jong Il is just using what leverage he has.

Piccu said...

Israel should definitly be more worried than the US and I think they will strike Iran whether the US likes it or not. This is a situation where the Israelites cannot wait for diplomacy. Iran's pres has already said he wants Israel wiped off the map. In that case, the US will not have to do anything because Israel will do it for us. So we only have to worry about N Korea.

I just hope some of our "friends" like Russia or China do not try to take advantage of things like this and our seemingly overstretched military.

Travis said...

I think Russia is almost a nonthreat these days. They've sold more weapons to rogue nations than they've stockpiled it seems. They're power lies in the threat of economic sanctions.

I've heard that China's military is overstated. They've got an enormous population, but their military is not.

Israel wouldn't strike alone. We would almost certainly join them.
By the way, I think "Israelites" is a biblical term, but today we just call them Israelies.