Norks' missile launch fails; U.S. apparently unconcerned about it

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday April 17th, 2017

What exactly would amount to an unacceptable provocation?

Help me out here. I thought the whole reason we were sending a strike force to the Korean Peninsula was the possibility that Bowl Cut Jr. was going to launch or otherwise attempt to test a missile - and that either the Chinese needed to stop him from doing that, or we would.

"Day of the Sun" came and went, and it looked like the Norks had backed down, but then early Sunday the attempted to launch the missile after all. That . . . did not go well:

A North Korean missile "blew up almost immediately" on its test launch on Sunday, the U.S. Pacific Command said, hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence landed in South Korea for talks on the North's increasingly defiant arms program.

The failed launch from North Korea's east coast, ignoring admonitions from major ally China, came a day after North Korea held a grand military parade in its capital, marking the birth anniversary of the state founder, displaying what appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles.

South Korea said the combined show of force "threatened the whole world" but a U.S. foreign policy adviser traveling with Pence on Air Force Two appeared to defuse some of the tension, saying the test of what was believed to be a medium-range missile had come as no surprise.

"We had good intelligence before the launch and good intelligence after the launch," the adviser told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"It's a failed test. It follows another failed test. So really no need to reinforce their failure. We don't need to expend any resources against that."The adviser said the missile's flight lasted four or five seconds.

So the U.S. response to the Norks trying to launch the missile - the very thing we said they must not do or face major consequences - is essentially: Oh, that? We figured that was coming. Big fail too, huh? No sense rubbing their noses in it.

I'm confused.

What exactly would constitute an unacceptable provocation such that we would feel compelled to either take action or tell the Chinese they'd better do it? Do they think Junior launched an intentionally failed missile, such that he could tell his terrified subjects he stood up to the big bad Yankees, but also such that he could say to Trump and Xi Jinpeng, Look, it failed, so we're all good here, right?

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

Had the launch succeeded, would that have compelled us to retaliate? And if so, how? Like we did in Syria? With a combined U.S./Chinese ground force?

I'm all about not going to war unnecessarily, but what do you accomplish if you send troops and assets to a region with a clear warning not to let certain things happen, only to act like it's no big deal when the bad actor in question tries to do the very thing you told him he couldn't do? To me this gets awfully close to red-line-drawing without following through, and we all know how that ended up for Obama in Syria.

Maybe there's more to this than we know, but as of right now nothing anyone has done seems to make any sense.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!