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1 DEC 2017
Malcolm Turnbull
Bill Shorten
ALP, Cross-bench, and Green Senators
Dear Julie Bishop:
I am writing to persuade you that the solutions to the 'North Korean problem' do not lie in the direction of further confrontation, sanctions, or pressure, and that Australia should under no circumstances join in any military action against the DPRK.
On the contrary, seeking 'solutions' to the DPRK problem is probably the wrong approach to begin with, since from its own point of view the DPRK seeks what it views as 'solutions' to the 'problem' posed by the rest of the world and in particular to the United States. To seek a 'solution' to the 'DPRK problem' is like seeking a 'solution' to the 'United States problem' or the 'China problem'. If only those countries would do what we want them to do, goes the logic, everything would be fine. The problem is that from THIER point of view, everything would be fine if WE would do exactly what THEY want us to do. Obviously seeking 'solutions' to each other in this way is doomed to failure.
This does not mean that DPRK behaviour is acceptable or good. But it does mean that they have deep reasons for doing what they do, and that attempts to 'get them to do what we want them to do' are not merely doomed to failure, but are bound, inevitably, to produce exactly the opposite result to that which we say we intend.
I say 'say we intend' because it has been so clear for well over a decade that pressure and threats – whether of a 'diplomatic' kind or actual military threats – bring about a result opposite to that which we intend – that one has to question whether in fact, the usual menu of escalating sanctions, diplomatic threats, military threats, and finally (God forbid) military action culminating in some kind of unspeakable catastrophe – is offered with any real intent to 'solve' the 'DPRK problem', a problem which from the DPRKs point of view is the 'United States problem'.
Because, make no mistake, the DPRK seeks to pressure the United States just as surely as the United States (and by echo only, ourselves) – seek to pressure the DPRK.
The DPRK have made it perfectly clear that THEY seek to deter the United States. Indeed, the DPRK are more faithful true-believers in deterrence than just about anyone else.
On the one hand, the DPRK says (and there is no reason apart from blind prejudice to think otherwise) that they seek to deter the United States from attempting regime change. On the other hand, because the DPRK nuclear arsenal is relatively small (though growing rapidly), and relatively rudimentary (though that too is changing fast), the DPRK will have significant worries about its survivability following a US pre-emptive first strike.
The DPRK will therefore take the option, as offering its sole slim chance of survival, of what I have termed a 'pre-pre-emptive strike', aimed at crippling US nuclear (and other) command and control nodes.
This would need to consist of:
--An EMP strike, aimed at crippling the entire United States. As there is doubt as to the adequacy of US EMP hardening even in critical nuclear command and control systems, this alone would have some slim chance of making the transmission of an order to retaliate, impossible. Of course if this is true for a DPRK strike it will be true in spades for the much more powerful attacks that China and Russia are capable of. Deterrence depends on being able to retaliate, but its at least possible that the US may be unable to do so.
--The DPRK would also need to strike critical nuclear command and control nodes which would include not only STRATCOM and NORAD and various mainland US airforce bases, but also Pine Gap and Northwest cape.
I note that the DPRK also places a high value on 'counter-value' strikes as well as counterforce ones, which means it also targets Washington, New York, Chicago, LA, and other large US cities.
It is uncertain whether the DPRK currently has the capability to actually deliver a warhead this far, due to the enormous stress this puts on a re-entry vehicle. We would be unwise to make bets that it cannot.
Various people in the US administration keep making statements that it would be 'intolerable' for the DPRK to achieve various capabilities that it arguably has either already achieved,or is so close to achieving that there is in fact no practical way to prevent it from doing so.
The critical point here however, is that our very attempts to do so – to prevent the DPRK from achieving nuclear capabilities – spur it all the more to achieve those capabilities and there is in fact no way to prevent that, But by trying to do so we make matters WORSE not better.
Eventually the only way out of this escalatory spiral will be a catastrophic conflict in which at least millions, die horribly – including quite possibly many US citizens in LA, New York, etc.
The actual use of nuclear weapons would be a turning point in world history, after which the world would never be the same again. A taboo that has held since 1945 would have been transgressed, and the body count from that would exceed that of all the wars in history.
The strong possibility of further involvement by China or Russia (or both) with potentially civilisation and even species- ending consequences would at least have to be considered.
These are stakes that go far beyond the peculiarities and madnesses of the odious regime in Pyongyang.
What has to be faced in all this is however, that there just is no way to get Pyongyang to behave the way we would like them to and our very attempts to do so backfire producing first the opposite behaviour to that which we want, and finally complete catastrophe.
Some time ago you yourself argued that what is necessary is restraint, dialogue, and negotiation.
This is absolutely correct. And this is much more sensible and productive than statements about being 'joined at the hip', which are dangerous in the extreme.
However, negotiations cannot take place and cannot even begin while 'our' side holds a fixed idea about what it wants out of them.
In order for negotiations even to get off the ground, they must
--Be absolutely free of preconditions of any kind whatsoever
--They must be absolutely open-ended
--They must be twitter-free
--If they have any fixed agenda at all it can only be 'what would it take to put a DPRK – US relationship onto a stable and mutually respectful footing.?'
Finally, many people have 'warned' against negotiation for the sake of negotiating'.
This is completely, deeply, and dangerously wrong. We absolutely DO need to embrace 'negotiations for the sake of negotiations'. Jaw Jaw Jaw is better than war, war, war. In negotiations for the sake of negotiations lies the only hope of starting a relationship of mutual respect and stability.
North Korea is not going to do exactly what we want them to do or indeed will not do what we would ideally like them to do at all. Ever.
You or I will never do exactly what we would like the other to do, and trying to bring that about even on an ordinary human level merely causes conflict, conflict that taken to its most extreme expression can even be lethal.
Simple recognition of that fact, something that 'Blind Freddie' could tell you, is the beginning of a solution to the conflict with the DPRK.
A critical first step for Australia, in moving toward a DPRK that puts a little less faith in deterrence, would be to renounce our own faith in it and to sign and ratify the treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and to urge others, starting with the United States, do do likewise.
John Hallam

WED 29 NOV 2017
Hysteria, threats, over DPRK test will achieve only more tests. Blind Freddie could tell us that.
The DPRK test this morning was both a surprise and not a surprise.
It was widely expected that the 'pause' in DPRK testing might last at least until Feb, if only because winter is coming up there, and doing tests in the severe weather is obviously less easy. On the other had, the DPRK may wish to test its ability to launch under all conditions. Even the US however, postpones tests at VAB if weather is not favourable. These considerations may however mean that this is the last test the DPRK manages..until next feb or thereabouts. 
If there are more tests in the immediate future they will have to be in the next couple of weeks.
In the wider picture however, even if the timing of this one (and its nature - there had been talk of an 'end to end' test, remember?) - took us by surprise it is no surprise that the DPRK HAS tested once more, and clearly they are going to keep on testing.
The range of the missile now seems to be around 13,000Km. This is not too different from the Chinese DF5, or the US Minuteman-III. However we don't yet know the weight of the warhead /mock warhead it carried. A heavy warhead would significantly cut that range.
We also don't know for sure if the DPRK has managed to perfect re-entry technology, sufficient to protect the warhead (full of fancy electronics, exotic materials and high explosive), from the heat of high-speed re-entry through the atmosphere. It would be dangerous to be over-confident however, that they have NOT been able to do that. They may not have – we really do not know for sure.
The DPRK definitely sees as most likely that it 'hits the button' first, in a situation in which it is already convinced that the US is about to do a pre-emptive strike against it. (i.e. a 'pre-pre-emptive strike'). This is because it must have concerns over the survivability of what is still the worlds smallest nuclear arsenal.  If it takes that first strike option, it must, to have even a slight chance of survival, try to take US command and control out of action. Its most logical targets are therefore US command and control nodes.
For the same reasons it would also be rational for it to do an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) strike out in space, which could cripple the entire US economy and cause the global financial system literally to disappear. It is all very well for the US to threaten to make rubble bounce in Pyongyang if the DPRK strikes, but if the US command and control system doesn't work after that, this threat may be unachievable. Of course the same applies ten times over to China and Russia whose capabilities are far more formidable than those of the DPRK will ever be. US nuclear command and control may well be much more vulnerable than that of Russia and China whose systems are EMP - hardened. US nuclear command and control now goes thru commercial carriers which are as far as we know  NOT EMP – hardened.
Talk of military options simply makes apocalyptic scenarios such as this all the more probable. Threats or no threats, sanctions or no sanctions, the DPRK is going to acquire/has acquired the ability to hit the US. It already has that to a limited degree. 
Only a complete transformation of the US-DPRK relationship can change that.
China and Russia have had the ability not merely to hit the US but to make the rubble bounce many times over (In Russia's case), for decades. While the risk of an (accidental or otherwise) apocalypse involving either of them is as real as it has ever been, we are not seeing (and do not want ever to see) the kind of 'blowviating' that there is over the DPRK. 
The kind of hysteria and posturing that follows every DPRK test merely makes the DPRK more determined than ever to test. There is nothing whatsoever surprising about this. However it also raises the stakes of every DPRK test, and makes every one of them into a confrontation with 'apocalyptic' stakes.
In contrast, Russia (Sarmat) and China (DF 41) have tested missiles much more potent than anything from the DPRK (and arguably more potent than US missiles) and these tests have been seen as merely 'routine'. Which indeed they are, in the sense that mostly what has been tested has been tested before is is evolved from something that has been tested before.
Pressuring Russia or China, 'not to test' and threatening them with 'fire and fury', sanctions, and military pressure  if they do not desist is unimaginable even to Trump. (though continued missile testing by ANY party including the US must be an issue). And it certainly would have the opposite effect to that intended.
We can go forward on the DPRK only if we firmly grasp that threats and sanctions not only will not work but are themselves a powerful driving force behind the DPRKs testing. The more we threaten them if they test the more they will be determined to test.
We can only try, slowly, over a period of years and decades to take down the temperature and achieve a 'normal' relationship with the DPRK, and only years after that will they slow and eventually stop, testing.
But to try to pressure them is guaranteed positively not only to fail but to achieve exactly the opposite of what is intended.
It might be possible at some future date to bring the DPRK into a missile test ban, that prevented missile tests from everyone - including the US, Russia and China, and not merely those we arbitrarily define as 'rogue' states. Certainly such a ban is an idea worth exploring.
The hysteria and posturing over DPRK capabilities, dangerous as they are, and the failure to see them in the context of the truly world – ending capabilities of other nations, achieves – and can only achieve – the very opposite to what is intended, spurring the DPRK on to yet greater efforts. There is absolutely nothing surprising in this.
John Hallam, United nations Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner 
People for Nuclear Disarmament/Human Survival Project
Last Updated on Friday, 01 December 2017 11:38