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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 30-Jul-2017
30-Jul-17 World View -- South Korea approves new THAAD deployment after North Korean missile test

Web Log - July, 2017

30-Jul-17 World View -- South Korea approves new THAAD deployment after North Korean missile test

What could trigger another world war?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

North Korea tests a ballistic missile capable of reaching US mainland

People in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city, cheer at the announcement of the missile launch on Saturday (AP)
People in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city, cheer at the announcement of the missile launch on Saturday (AP)

The ballistic missile that North Korea launched early on Saturday morning was sent from a truck-mounted mobile launcher. The missile flew for about 45 minutes, and reached an altitude of 3,700 km. The missile landed in Japanese waters in the Sea of Japan.

The missile was launched almost vertically, so that it would reach a high altitude, but would not travel beyond the Sea of Japan. If used in an actual attack, it would be launched closer to a 45 degree angle which could carry it possibly as far as the United States mainland, which would make it an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Some analysts are saying that missile could reach Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. North Korean media claimed it could reach any target in the United States. Analysts doubt that this is true, but North Korea's missile capabilities are growing more rapidly than previously predicted, so the next missile development may be able to reach more targets.

The next challenge for North Korea will be to develop a nuclear weapon small enough to fit in the nose of the ICBM. Many analysts believe that the North Koreans will have that capability within a year or two. Guardian (London) and Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo) and NY Daily News

South Korea's president Moon approves new THAAD development

In a sharp reversal of policy, South Korea's president Moon Jae-in ordered talks on Saturday morning to consider permitting more units in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, deployed by the United States military.

Later reports indicate that additional THAAD units have been approved. Four additional launchers will be deployed, in addition to the two launchers that have already been deployed.

South Korea's previous conservative president, Park Geun-hye, approved the initial deployment, scheduled for the end of 2017. However, the schedule was speeded up for two reasons -- because of North Korea's aggressive development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and because polls indicated that Park would lose the presidential election. For that reason, the first THAAD units began deployment in March.

China reacted furiously to the deployment, even though THAAD is a purely defensive weapon, whose purpose is to knock incoming missiles out of the sky. However, THAAD comes with an extremely powerful radar system that would give the US early warning of a surprise Chinese missile attack on the US, which would reduce China's ability to launch a surprise missile attack. So China retaliated harshly against South Korea, banning South Korean goods for sale in China, banning South Korean pop stars and entertainers, and banning travel agencies from selling packaged tours to South Korea.

At times like this I always like to respond to the commonly held belief that there won't be a war because war is bad for business. If that were true, there would never be any wars. Actually, the opposite is true: If two countries have a trading and business relationship, then trade becomes just another weapon of war, as we're seeing in this case.

President Moon Jae-in is far more liberal than his predecessor, and when he took office in May, he put a hold on further THAAD deployment, and also announced that he would seek peace negotiations with North Korea. North Korea has completely rejected the peace negotiations, and repudiated them with even more aggressive ballistic missile development.

So Moon has now reportedly approved another set of THAAD launchers.

The THAAD system is deployed in southern Korea. According to analysts, it won't prevent a North Korean missile strike on South Korea's capital city, Seoul, which is only a few miles from the North Korean border, but THAAD will provide protection for southern Korea. This is important because in the case of a new Korean war, American troops would enter from the south, and so THAAD would provide protection for them. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters

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What could trigger another world war?

One does not need Generational Dynamics to see that the world is becoming increasingly unstable, and is far less stable than it was 15 years ago. Still, some people think that world wars have been abolished, and one person recently wrote to me saying that a world war can't happen because country leaders are "rational actors"!!

There's no way to predict the scenario that will start World War III, since there are so many possibilities, but we can look at the scenarios that started previous wars and try to learn lessons from them.

These kinds of situations would not have triggered a war during the 1990s because that was a generational Unraveling period, when the world was still being run by the Silent generation, survivors of World War II who had the sense to make sure it wouldn't happen again. Today, in a generational Crisis era, those generations of sensible survivors are all gone, and nationalism and xenophobia are increasing rapidly in countries around the world, so that situations like those described above could easily trigger a world war.

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War between Russia and China

There's one more possibility that's rarely mentioned because most people have the mistaken belief that Russia and China are allies. But they're only allies in the sense of "honor among thieves," where they support each other in the invasion and annexation of other countries' territories, following Hitler's example in 1939.

The Russians and the Chinese have hated each other at least since the 1200s. The 1206 victory of the Mongols over the Han Chinese still has enormous impact on Chinese thinking today. Han Chinese adopted much from Mongol culture, and many aspects of the two cultures merged -- culturally, not ethnically.

After the Mongols conquered the Han Chinese, they went on to attack the Russians. The Russian culture definitely did NOT merge with the Mongol/Chinese culture, and those hatreds exist today. In fact, Russia and China did have a border war in 1969, though it didn't last long. But today, in a generational Crisis era, it could spiral into full-scale war.

In 2014, Russia held the massive Vostok military exercises in the Far East, explaining that the military drills were necessary to prepare for war with the United States. And yet, the assets deployed during this exercise were more consistent with preparing for a defense of the Far East, a region that America would be unlikely to invade if it wanted to invade Russia at all. The only state actor that against which such a defense is needed is China. And so it appears that Russia and China claim that they're each preparing for war with the United States, but they're also preparing for war with each other.

In early June 2017, Russian media reported that the powerful road-mobile 9K720 Iskander-M missile system was installed in Russia's Eastern Military District. This joins three other major missile installations that took place in 2013, 2015 and 2016, respectively. These installations have very limited ability to strike American or Japanese targets. Their only logical purpose is to strike China.

So it seems evident that Russia is preparing for war with China, and that could be the trigger for World War III.

As I've been saying for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war pitting the United States, the West, India, Russia and Iran versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. National Interest

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jul-17 World View -- South Korea approves new THAAD deployment after North Korean missile test thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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