The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Air Date: 
April 17, 2013

Photo, above:  North Korean KN-08.  Global Security writes, 'Circumstantial evidence had been building up for some years that had begun to suggest to US and South Korean intelligence that North Korea was attempting to develop a semi-mobile ICBM. This information though thin was initially suggested in public speech in a Singapore conference and on a trip to China to the press pool by the then-U. S. Defense Secretary, Dr. Robert M. Gates, followed later by Admiral Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, before the House Armed Services Committee.  On March 12, 2013, the DNI, the Honorable James R. Clapper, stated before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that ". . . last April it displayed what appears to be a rogue mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. We believe North Korea has already taken initial steps toward fielding this system, although it remains untested. " '  In fact, that's not entirely clear. It may have been tested in another country. See below: Hour 2, Block B, Bruce Bechtol,


Hour One

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, in re: The US has much less pull with Beijing than formerly.  If Beijing has to choose between North Korea and the rest of the world, it'll choose North Korea. John Kerry is a vastly overconfident Secretary of State, wading into a difficult situation that's over his capabilities.

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Kerry: China must do more to resolve North Korean missile crisis  . . . In an interview in Tokyo before flying back to the U.S. on Monday, Kerry said that if the missiles were not fired “that would mean perhaps we're turning a corner and there's a possibility of moving in a better direction.” [--yikes total misapprehension of political and military realities]

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Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Lobsang Nyandak, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas, in re: Tibetan people not afraid to sacrifice their own lives to bring attention to the [disastrous] situation in Tibet. Secy Kerry never used the word "Tibet" in his conversations in China – which reassured the Chinese that Kerry is weak.

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Haym Benaroya, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Rutgers, and author, Turning Dust to Gold, building a future on Earth and Mars,  in re: Hotel Mars, episode n.   Lassoing an asteroid – freeze-drying it and bringing it back to Earth: now in train in NASA.   Capture it, shrink-wrap it  - 25 feet long, 500 tons, and put it in lunar orbit. Then: send astronauts to space-walk around the asteroid to study it.  Four astronauts in a second space craft two years later; observe & test the asteroids, send little roots to bring back samples.  Asteroids considered to be an excellent source of info abt the early universe, having been untouched for billions of years. From an engineering POV, they contain valuable elements; can mine and process their materials, giving you huge resources for exploring the other solar system without having to carry them up from Earth.  Keck Report. Chelyabinsk asteroid came in at a low angle; had it not, would have caused a whole lot more trouble. Solar electric propulsion system: Keck Report provides details.  Send in 2019.  Inbound NEO: one with our name on it. Gravity tractors. Different technology from the above; anything dangerous to us wd be much too big.  When we do have lunar colonies, have a huge resources at hand; might be mined for longer missions: to Mars or the outer solar system – and some asteroids have a lot of water, much needed.  Allocated $100 mil currently just to study this mission (feasibility study); space craft might be closer to $2 bil. Need a robust craft.

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:   Sadanand Dhume, AEI, in re: Sonia Gandhi India's Socialist godmother.    Italian by birth, Indian for decades, and India's most powerful politician. India's economic policy as moved he wrong direction with her in power: old socialist thinking, from India in the 1960, -70s and -80s.  Being driven by India's own past: genuinely democratic, freedom of speech but nit comfortable with the market – but the last twenty years have lifted 200 million pp out f poverty, but the ideological gatekeepers of he left pretend hat India has reformed too fast, when the problem is that it isn’t reforming fast enough. "Redistribution is the way to go." Pols go into the countryside & promise freebies to get elected, irrespective of the damaging effect. She brings a European socialist bent of mind – brings failed Italian economic policies.  Congress Party is deeply entrenched; has turned into a family concern: a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to be in charge; like a democratic monarchy.  BJP – in the election next year, BJP may emerge as the single largest party. [more]

Hour Two

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  . Scott Harold, Associate Political Scientist at RAND Corporation, in re: China's defense white paper. Last one was 2007; come out every eight or nine years, review of the PLA. They do give a certain amt of detail, although 25 pages isn’t that much. Discrepancy between 2.3mil armed forces and the number that came out yesterday – it didn't include the vast internal stability force. Also not included in numbers; Second Artillery, nuclear forces. Most sensitive areas are nuclear and cyber.  Warheads: 240? 300?  3,000???  Chinese POV probably, we'll give info on that in exchange for some other useful info.  Also that it’s not that Kim is misbehaving, but that the US is causing trouble – top leadership seems to think that the US poses many challenges to Chinese  interests; do not like the refocus on East Asia.  Overall; More flexible integrated, joint PLA; a military going more global and expeditionary; not a static ground force, but one that can project power.  GC: Not very reflective on how they may be generating widespread concern, turmoil, angst in the region.   Preambles in th document reflect all previous leaders, then say, "Need to focus on joint war-fighting." Their modernization and deployment have been highly nervous-making regionally yet the PLA doesn't think much about this.  Japanese voices of the 1920s – Kidobutai, the carrier group that attacked Pearl Harbor - are echoed in China today

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China published a national defense paper on Tuesday suggesting that the United States was creating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening its military presence and reinforcing its alliances there. The paper, released by the Ministry of Defense, did not declare that the United States was responsible, but the message was clear.

A paper released by China also discussed the size and makeup of the country’s armed forces.  Strongly alluding to the Obama administration’s policy to “pivot” toward a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the paper said, “Some country has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region, and frequently makes the situation tenser.” Thus, China has an “arduous task to safeguard its national unification, territorial integrity and development interests.”  Presented at a news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, the paper has mostly a symbolic significance, defense analysts say. It is useful as a way of understanding the way the Communist Party thinks defense issues should be presented to the public, they say. But it is scarcely looked at by China’s military officers.

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Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Bruce Bechtol, author of The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era, in re:  the latest from North Korea.  To surprise the US, DPRK may launch a long-range missile, the KN08, since they've already test-launched the Musudan for Iran.  The KN08 may have been tested in another country – we know little about it. Thus they can show us that they have a missile on a mobile launcher that can hit the US. Pres Obama said that DPRK is incapable of miniaturizing a missile and putting it on a warhead. DIA has superb analysts: 500-kg warhead for the Nodong: 2004 Libya gave up its nuclear program, turned over material + plans for 500 kg HEU warhead in Urdu, Chinese & English; Gaddafi said that A Q Khan had sold the plans to Iran, Libya, North Korea. Iranians present to watch test.  Highly likely that DPRK either has or is very close to having a warhead. If they don't have it today, they'll have it tomorrow

Wednesday  17 April2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Michael Auslin, AEI, in re: Maybe Kerry’s mind is too open on North Korea.  Does he know where North Korea is?   He says he's willing to talk wth DPRK directly or in six-party talks – but Reagan was willing to talk even while he was driving the USSR into its grave. Kerry is not apply pressure on DPRK or China; he's got the process backwards,. Has to follow the president's directions, and the president hasn’t learned from multiple broken promises, mass killing, sinking ships, bombarding civilians.  Washington debate over how much influence has over North Korea. [Fourteen oil pipelines from China into DPRK, occasionally turned off to bring Kim to heel; that's deep influence.]  GC:  As Richard Clark stunningly said: I've failed you and the American govt has failed the American people"  MA: DPRK will never give up its nuclear program until something really bad happens, unless US policy changes.  Weird kabuki: every missile test, US spends millions moving assets into the region, but never does anything.    DPRK has no reason or right to send up missiles; it'd be much more helpful if we did knock it out of the sky.  US keeps saying that we'll defend Japan but demands that Japan and North Korea work it out together.  Chinese military white paper yesterday was clear: extremely paranoid world view, the stronger it gets the afearder it gets; part of that is that they’re upset about the [hollow] US pivot, and also sees how weak US policy is.

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Gordon Chang,, in re: US can influence DPRK: directly DPRK, or on the Chinese. Kerry seems to think, If we just talk, it'll be OK. Wrong.  DPRK uses missiles t earn money; their army is in bad shape.  Some say that South Korea isn’t spending enough on defense and has genuinely silly policies toward North Korea, sure that the US will always rescue it.  South Korea is not bearing responsibility for this 60-year war. One remaining joint coop program N-S Korea: usu supplies 5%+ of North Korea's GDP, which is a lot. South Korea is funding the North's govt by funding this zone; were it serious, it'd shut that down.  DPRK generals sell everything to China (and Iran) – three-stage missiles, nuke technology - then sock away cash for themselves.  Huge diplomatic & commercial support by China of North Korea.

Hour Three

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Bettina Wassener, IHT/NYT, in re: emerging Asian economies report.  China's economy is losing steam, from Monday report out of Beijing. Many economist expected a slightly stronger, but it came in weaker. Natl Bur Stats said 7.7% growth – but electricity increased 2.9%.  Brings into question the report.  Looks like deflation in mfrg sector.  Room for data points to be skewed; export data that was relatively firm in March may have been artificially skewed.   Will the Chinese consumer become the main driver of economic growth instead of the state?  We've seen growth to be generated by state investment – incl in bullet trains to nowhere. and empty cities;  a Mr Chang of Nomura expected a slowdown in Q2, is surprised to see it start early. Govt want it to stay at 7.5%, but  it's way down from 10, 11, 13% from before the crisis. OK with slower growth, but need to deliver on making the economy more sustainable and wean it off the earlier drivers. A coming springtime swoon?  Europe and the US are essential for China's income; both are frazzled right now, Looking back and forward for a decade, Chinese economy is less dependent on dvpd mkts, more so in exporting to Asia. However, wages are rising, putting more money in consumers's pockets.   Also: urbanization, moving people out of the countryside.  Last yr: China's trade surplus vs the US was 133% of its overall trade surplus. 

Wednesday  25 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Gordon Chang,, in re:. China Suggests U.S. Is Stirring Tensions in Asia-Pacific Region  A defense paper released Tuesday said Washington’s move to strengthen its military presence in Asia and cement ties with allies was a threat to China. Chinese govt don't realize that they're the cause of their own problems; are intruding into Japanese waters and air space, understandably generating much tension.  As the Chinese economy sputters, that leaves nationalism for the leadership to wave.

Wednesday  25 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  .Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re: THE AMERICAS  Venezuela's Cuban Election

Wednesday  25 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   David Sanger, NYT, in re: Obama Doubts that North Korea Can Make a Nuclear Warhead President Obama said he did not believe that North Korea had the ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon, and he added he would not “reward” the North for provocative acts.

Hour Four

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Drive for Gun Control Blocked in Senate Obama Angrily Denounces a ‘Shameful Day’ Federal Action After Newtown Shootings Effectively Derailed A wrenching national search for solutions to the violence that left 20 children dead in Newtown, Conn., all but ended after the Senate defeated several gun-related measures.

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  John Bolton, AEI, in re: Similarly, Cold War deterrence theories won't necessarily work against regimes that are irrational in our terms. Bernard Lewis famously said of Iran that “mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent; it's an inducement” for the mullahs to reach the end of times. And if Pyongyang sees the world through a Hitler-in-the-bunker mentality, or simply miscalculates, deterrence is unlikely to work with it either.
Recognizing that Tehran and Pyongyang are not rational in our sense will not alone resolve the threats posed by their nuclear-weapons programs. There are unfortunately far too many other variables involved. But better understanding the nature of our adversaries should at least help us learn from the mistakes we have repeatedly made in trying to stop them.

 Read this article online.

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Aaron Klein, WABC Investigative Radio, in re: Two rockets were fired on the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat on April 17, Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post reported. One rocket fell in the yard of a residence, and the second fell in an open area. No injuries were reported. The Eilat airport is reportedly closed temporarily. Two rockets also landed in the neighboring Jordanian resort city of Aqaba, Israel Radio reported. The rockets were reportedly launched from Sinai.

Wednesday  17 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Max Boot, author, in re: OPINION ; Max Boot: The Futility of Terrorism

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