Earlier today North Korea launched a missile across northern Japan. this was the second time they took this very provocative action in recent weeks. This launch has understandably led to a high degree of concern among the U.S. and our allies. The U.N. Security Council has been called into emergency session to deal with this latest development.
Such a missile launch from one of the most rogue nations in the world is understandably alarming. However missiles even as they get better are not North Korea’s only threat, and not necessarily their worse threat. we must at least consider the possibility that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is more of an expensive diversion than their greatest threat. While the threat from their missiles is very real, we cannot allow ourselves to be so distracted that we ignore other very real threats.
So what else should we be concerned about ?
North Korea’s Leadership– For three generations of North Korean dictators things have gone like this. North Korea goes publically ambitious with its nuclear program. The international community “gasps.” Then things go back and forth for awhile. then the international community in a sort of diplomatic blackmail provides humanitarian relief and things calm down for a bit. The current problem is that this has allowed the North Korean program to get better than the international community can tolerate. What makes this worse is the North Korean leadership has routinely demonstrated that they have no interest in rules set by the rest of the world. The international community’s treatment of North Korea throughout its history has left it acting like a spoiled brat trying to figure out what to do when it finally has to act like an adult. North Korea’s leadership seldom shows any signs of being able to grasp logic or common sense. In fact if North Korea were a person not a country it probably would be declared mentally incompetent.
Terrorism- It is well known and has been for years that North Korea is major state sponsor of terrorism. They not only have contacts with a wide range of terrorist groups all over the world, but these contacts and groups owe them a lot of favors. One of the key vulnerabilities of this factor is they have access to a large pool of operatives who do not look Asian. This can make tracking their operatives problematic. Another aspect of this vulnerability is that terrorists are cheaper than missiles, and they may be able to leverage off operatives of their terrorist partners than could well be already in the United States !
Cyber-Attack– You could easily argue that cyber-attack is just another form of terrorism. For instance cyber-attack like terrorism is cheaper than missiles. From North Korea’s perspective it also has some of the same “hands off” advantages they get from terrorism. However the advanced state of modern cyber-warfare leads me to consider it as a separate threat. Much of our nation infrastructure depends on electronic control and monitoring circuits collectively referred to as SCADA. Under normal circumstances these circuits make things easier and even safer. Such sensors etc. allow non-stop monitoring of what is going on in even the most remote locations. Unfortunately that makes it easier for North Korea or anybody else to remotely attack our utilities and other infrastructure, even in the most far off locations. Even worse the entire attack can be carried out from anywhere in the world. Not that SCADA cannot be protected, it can be and is. Still it is a vulnerability that bears watching on a constant basis !
This is not a time for panic, but for vigilance. Nothing I have outlined here is beyond being countered. The threat from north Korea has not been greater since the 1950’s ! However if we pay attention to our surroundings, and what is going on in the world we can get through this.
ROBERT A. CRUTCHFIELD is an internationally known bi-vocational minister based in Katy, Texas. In 1986 the governor of Texas awarded him the rank of Admiral, Texas Navy. He served in the Military Police Corps-Texas State Guard, and in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary before becoming a Board Member with the U.S. Selective Service System. Following 9/11 he was named to the Homeland Security/National defense Task Force of the Republican Party of Harris County. The RPHC is one of the largest county Republican party’s in the nation. He later served as Chaplain of the Katy Fire and EMS Department.