North Korea is still planning on winning the Korean War.

Over a 14 hour timespan, North Korea launched 7 missiles, including one theoretically capable of hitting the United States. This long range missile is of particular concern, as it would really put a damper on the day to have a 18 kiloton fission bomb explode 2000 feet over downtown Los Angeles. Fortunately, this missile failed around 40 seconds after launch.

So what in the hell is going on here? Has Kim Jong Il lost his mind?

I've been thinking this over, and the only conclusion I can come to is that North Korea is still seriously planning on winning the war that ended in a ceasefire on July 27, 1953 - when Kim Jong was only 12 years old. Now an old man, he's worked virtually his entire life to win this fight. Within 100 miles of each side of the Korean DMZ are roughly 1 million heavily armed soldiers, ready to start the war back up at any time.

In the past, North Korea hasn't been eager to run across the southern border, as it would have to tangle with the United States. In return, South Korea hasn't been willing to run across the northern border either, as there are reportedly enough fixed artillery tubes pointed at Seoul to very nearly wipe the city of 23 million people out entirely. Seoul has the unforunate posistion of being only 30 miles from the DMZ.

For 53 years, it's been a stalemate - almost in the tradition of mutually assured destruction. North Korea has come up with a clever way of getting around this problem by developing it's missile and nuclear capabilities. If it can neutralize the United States with the fear of nuclear tipped ICBMs, it can run across the southern border and take over the great wealth of South Korea and win the war once and for all.

Analysts believe that North Korea is 5 to 7 years away from the capability to place warheads on their missiles. I suppose the theory is that the bombs are not currently compact or light enough to be carried a long distance. Kim Jong Il is only 65 years old - he still could have another 15-20 years ahead of him.

In response, the United States has developed a National Missile Defense to try and aleviate the threat from North Korea and other "rogue states". Basically, we're going to use a series of ultra high tech missiles to try to shoot incoming ICBMs out of the sky. The problem with this asinine idea isn't that the technology doesn't work - although today it's still a real hit and miss. The problem is that we are severly limited in how far we can go with it.

In 10 years, North Korea could have 100 missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the United States. Say 25 of those were atomic tipped, and the other 75 were decoys. If they were all launched at the same time, and we didn't know which ones were real, could we shoot them all down? If so, wouldn't the ability to shoot down 100 incoming ICBMs really change the balance of power with certain other countries that have large collections of atomic weaponry and a semi-hostile intent?

We have a very sticky situation here. If we do nothing, North Korea will finish it's missiles and have us by the balls. If we keep running with the National Missile Defense idea, we run the risk of either not having enough interceptors to shoot down all the missiles OR having so many interceptors that we eliminate MAD and throw off the balance of power with other nuclear countries. We're not the only vunerable country, either. Japan is probably in much more significant danger than we are, as they are only 350 miles away from North Korea.

What is the solution? Diplomacy? 53 years of diplomacy haven't even gotten a peace accord, much less disarming both sides. North Korea has somehow managed to develop a culture where winning the war is more important than feeding it's starving masses. I honestly don't think that they will negotiate in good faith - but will instead use negotiations to buy time and finish their weapons.

Obviously, war isn't a very good option either. No one wants to see millions die, and the world economy would take a serious beating if South Korea were destroyed by war. However, as much as I don't want to see a terrible nuclear war in the Korean pennisula, it sounds a hell of a lot better than having the bombs rain down on my own city.

I think our real, best hope is that Kim Jong will die of a medical condition, and his son Kim Jong-chul, a big fan of Eric Clapton and possibly with better exposure to the western world, will be more reasonable.