All the usual caveats apply: it’s Breitbart. Yadda yadda.
But this piece here jogged my thinking about something that’s been on my mind lately.
Kim Jong Un’s hold on power pretty much depends on keeping his nation convinced that he can defeat the United States in an open conflict.
Now the Norks have been plugging gamely away trying to build nukes, and the ICBMs to launch them with.
Do they ever have any hope of matching the US’s immense (if ageing) nuclear arsenal? No, not a realistic one.
For that matter, could they even beat the Republic of Korea in a conventional war, much less the US? No – the South’s army is huge, well-equipped, and highly motivated.
And yet Kim blusters away. And naturally some of that is going to be the inevitable blustering of tyrants to their enslaved people.
But what if he believes he can not only bring down the US, but do it fairly decisively…
…and on the relative cheap?
Turns out there’s a solid chance he could do exactly that. While Hiroshima-sized nuclear device can devastate an area a few miles across if it blows up 2,000 feet in the air, and spread radioactive dust hundreds of miles downwind if it blows up at ground level, if it explodes 50-60 miles in the air it will cause no direct damage on the ground – but it’ll fry every unprotected electronic circuit within hundreds of miles.
During the Cold War, some experts calculated that a half dozen nukes detonated in the trophosphere could fry nearly every non-hardenedelectronic circuit in the United States and most of Canada and Mexico.
Every non-hardened computer – and the switches, routers and other electronic hardware that the Internet runs on. Every cell phone – and the switches and routers and modulators and demodulators at every cell tower and service center. Every electonic ignition system and engine control computer in every vehicle that had one – which is pretty much every one built after about the mid-eighties. Every bit of avionics – radar, GPS, transponders, altimeters, and, in the new “glass cockpits”, the flight instruments and the processors that link them to the controls in every airplane in the sky and on the ground, and in the air traffic control centers that route the air traffic. The computers that monitor where all the money is, and who has it, and who’s getting it. The processors that make many of our healthcare miracles possible.
And the electronic infrastructure that controls the “supply chain” that grows our food, harvests is, processes it and ships it to wherever you live, assuming you yourself are not a farmer.
Anyway – while the Norks’ nuke tests are being played as comedy fodder in the American media…:
“The April 29 missile launch looks suspiciously like practice for an EMP attack,” [Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and= chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission] wrote. “The missile was fired on a lofted trajectory, to maximize, not range, but climbing to high-altitude as quickly as possible, where it was successfully fused and detonated — testing everything but an actual nuclear warhead.”
Western “experts” quoted by the likes of NPR scoff that the Norks’ missile technology would have a hard time reliably hitting a city-size target.
But that’s the thing with EMP – you don’t have to hit even a city-sized target. You have to hit the trophshere, somewhere above a region of the country – and if you manage to do it half a dozen times – say, over upstate New York, near DC, over southern Georgia, Iowa, Bakersfield and Oklahoma City – you wreck the vast majority of America’s electronic infrastructure. Banks? The power grid? The poiwer grid? The internet – outside the bounds of the original ARPANet, at least? All cell networks and land-line networks? All major media? A good chunk of the military, for that matter? The control of the entire food supply chain? Every non-carbureted vehicle in the US? All shut down.
There are alarmist claims that an EMP attack could kill 100 million Americans. I doubt those claims; humans are a lot more resilient than that. But it’d be a huge hit – it’d send most of this country back a century.
Anyway – such are the things that keep me up nights.
Perhaps a more rational – or at least constrained – assessment here.