Thursday, 2 November 2017

USA Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing confirms the very dangerous nuclear standoff between USA and North Korea; Concerns raised about pre-emptive/preventative nuclear strike

Yesterday, 1st Nov. 2017, I watched all of the USA Senate foreign relations committee hearing in this long video: Defense Sec Mattis & Secretary Of State Tillerson Testify On Authorization For Use Of Military Force, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggtW6pYjbHY, 3 hr 20 min, 30th Oct. 2017

The video also seems to be available at this USA govt. link: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/the-authorizations-for-the-use-of-military-force-administration-perspective_103017 .

This article is a summary of this hearing: https://www.lawfareblog.com/summary-senate-foreign-relations-committees-aumf-hearing .

My main interest in watching this was to see if anything was mentioned about the current very dangerous nuclear standoff between USA and North Korea. Interestingly, there was some discussion on it between the senators on the committee and USA Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

Some points that I recall from my watching of this video:

1) The North Korean threat is considered to be the biggest national security threat to USA currently.

2) As per USA constitution and current USA laws, the USA president has the authority to launch a nuclear pre-emptive or preventative attack on North Korea (or similar countries that threaten it) WITHOUT getting approval from Congress. Note that a retaliatory nuclear attack is different and given the very short response time involved in such ballistic missile attacks, it is natural for the USA president to have full powers and authorization to retaliate with a nuclear attack WITHOUT approval of Congress.

3) The responses from the two secretaries seemed to indicate that USA president and his top administration team (which would include these two secretaries, I presume) would seriously consider launching the pre-emptive/preventative nuclear strike only if they felt that there was an imminent threat to the USA from North Korea. Given the very warlike words exchanged between USA President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, I was somewhat comforted to hear this and hope that that truly is the case. I think North Korea and China, which has a lot of influence over North Korea, should see to it that North Korea does not do anything that is viewed as an imminent threat to the USA. As otherwise, the consequence may be one or more nuclear strikes against it, which will be terrible not only for North Korea, but perhaps some parts of its neighbouring countries like China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, and the bad environmental effects will last decades. I earnestly hope and pray to God that cooler minds prevail in North Korea that ensure that no 'imminent threat' to USA actions are taken by it.

4) Some senators want to create new legislation that will force USA president to take approval from USA Congress before launching a pre-emptive/preventative nuclear strike. But the presidential administration represented by the two secretaries, as well as some other senators, did not seem to be in favour of this new legislation.
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Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat) is on this Senate committee and raised some questions. This article (not about the senate hearing) has his views about North Korea war possibility: Sen. Chris Murphy explains his plan to stop Trump from bombing North Korea, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/10/30/16561272/chris-murphy-trump-north-korea-war-senate, dated 31st Oct. 2017.

Ravi: From the above links, it is very clear to me that the current USA - North Korea situation is very, very dangerous as a nuclear war can break out. In my adult lifetime (I was born in 1962, so from 1980 onwards), I don't think there has been such a dangerous nuclear war threat in the world like this USA-North Korea matter. I mean, even during USA-USSR cold war and so-called star wars, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative, in the 80s, I don't think there was any serious talk/threats from USA or USSR leaders about launching pre-emptive/preventative nuclear strikes. It was a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) situation/doctrine and that, paradoxically, kept the peace between these two super-powers as well as between the other nuclear armed powers of the world. After both India and Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons, it seems to be the same MAD doctrine/situation that has ensured that Indo-Pak conflicts do not go beyond limited conventional warfare.

North Korea is different! It is challenging the USA and provoking it. Perhaps North Korea feels threatened or provoked by big USA military presence in South Korea. Whatever be the reason, as of now, this USA-North Korea tension over nuclear weapons and ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) is absolutely terrifying, at least for some people (like me) who read or view up on the matter.

I pray to Almighty God to help prevent a nuclear war with its attendant enormous scale of killing and suffering (or even a conventional war) between USA and its ally, South Korea, on one side and North Korea on the other side. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti! [Om Peace Peace Peace!]

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