In its contingency planning, Washington for the first time is treating North Korea as a nuclear-armed opponent, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Specifics about the most recent revision of the “OpPlan 5029” strategy for a potential new Korean War are classified. Some unidentified officials talked to the newspaper about aspects of the “what-if” scenarios, which imagine a possibility for Pyongyang to build a simple atomic weapon and attempt to deliver it by ship or truck.
The development comes as Washington and its allies in East Asia steadfastly refuse to characterize North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.
U.S. intelligence officials do not think Pyongyang has developed the ability to miniaturize nuclear arms enough to fit on a ballistic missile. The North, however, could make headway in that respect if it test-detonates a fourth atomic device — as appears increasingly likely.
Behind closed doors, Obama administration officials are acknowledging the longtime policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea has been unsuccessful, the Times reported.
“We have failed,” Evans Revere, a former senior official for East Asian issues in the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview. “For two decades our policy has been to keep the North Koreans from developing nuclear weapons. It’s now clear there is no way they will give them up. … So now what?”
A recent attempt by the National Security Council to develop a new plan for ending the North Korea nuclear impasse came up empty when it was determined that all other potential policy deviations were worse than the current posture, according to the Times.
“We’re stuck,” said one individual who took part in the review.
A move by ruler Kim Jong Un to focus more on mobile missiles instead of stationary ones has meant the United States has a harder time detecting when a missile firing is imminent. The launchers are routinely moved between tunnels, making them harder to monitor by satellite, defense officials said.
“He’s gone to school on how we operate,” said Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who commands U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."