Hughesair (Inflection Point)

Retired physician and air taxi operator, science writer and part time assistant professor, these editorials cover a wide range of topics. Mostly non political, mostly true, I write more from experience than from research and more from science than convention. Subjects cover medicine, Alaska aviation, economics, technology and an occasional book review. The Floatplane book is out there. I am currently working on Hippocrates a History of Medicine and Globalism. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Cup

The missile game, played out in North Korea, threatens more excitement than the World Cup and that may be the general idea. North Korea, the Democratic Peoples Republic, DPRK, failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup. South Korea generously provided the North’s government controlled TV with free World Cup coverage. The DPRK remains fascinated with “foot-ball” remembering the World Cup of 1966, when the North Korean team stunned the world with a win over Italy to make it to the finals. Transportation workers say the streets empty out during a match with everyone focusing on the games. Taepodong-2 (Taep'o-dong-2) may be in part a distraction from the success of South Korea in this year’s World Cup. Korea drew a 1-1 tie with France yesterday in Leipzig to place themselves at the top of the G group.

Bad weather in the North may have delayed a scheduled launch of Taepodong-2. Monsoons dampen much of Asia these days and a jet stream out of the north may have been discouraging as well. North Korea’s antics may seem strange even pathetic to present observers, but the behavior remains much the same as during and right after the Korean War. I was in at that time, deep into Air Force survival and intelligence. “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Korea was a surrogate for Russia and China, drawing much resolve from that backing. They may well be surrogate today as well. If China needed to know the capability of our missile defense system, a test case carried out by Asia’s bad boy, Kim Jong II would be just the thing. The PDRK acts tough, challenging US power because it has the backing intelligence and strategy of two powerful neighbors who may indeed be the marionettes.

The flight paths of any launch from Musudan-ri will, necessairly, carry the missile over China, Japan and Russia. The pathway to the Pacific crosses all three or at least closely approximating the coast of China. Musudan sits on an isolated point protruding into the Sea of Japan. Somewhat analogues in geography to Cape Suckling on the Gulf of Alaska, Musudan-ri looks to be the closest point on the Korean Peninsula to US air space.

World domination by one super power has never been a stable geo-political situation. World statesmen have long sought a diplomatic balance of power. This is well above my pay grade, but it would seem that we need a stronger State Department with greater worldly wisdom especially wisdom of the East and the concept of face.

Estimated odds of launch: 50% and rising, versus backing down, loosing face
Of a successful launch: 80% 40%
Of tracking full range: 80% 32%
Of intent to hit Alaska 20% 6.4%
Of actually hitting target: 50% 3.2%
Of a live warhead: 03% 0.1%
(Of shooting it down: 78%) 22% .02% Odds of hitting AK target, about the same as having a fatal accident in a general aviation aircraft.

Let the games begin. --- Intelligence analysts will be watching this one.

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