Is North Korea A Paper Tiger?

by Patrick Appel

After assessing the range North Korea’s missiles, Max Fisher concludes that, even “if North Korea did decide to start a war against the U.S., or even if a second Korean War begins accidentally, there is very little reason to think that it could carry out any part of its purported battle plans against the U.S. mainland.” Evan Osnos spells out the real threat:

U.S. military commanders used their Winter Wargames last month to play out what would happen if Kim’s regime were to collapse in a coup or civil unrest, leaving his nuclear arsenal exposed. “It’s a scenario that some believe is more likely than a North Korea attack on the South,” ABC News reported. (Previous studies have suggested that the U.S. would need at least a hundred thousand troops to secure the nukes, and three times that to begin to sustain and stabilize the country—more than peak commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.)

One Of These Weapons Is Not Like The Other

by Patrick Appel

A US Army veteran who fought alongside Syria’s rebels is accused of using “a weapon of mass destruction, i.e. a Rocket Propelled Grenade,” a violation that could get him life in prison. In response, Ackerman argues that it’s time to retire the term WMD:

It’s very easy to kill lots of people with a nuclear weapon. It’s harder, but possible, for a nuclear exchange to disrupt planetary climate patterns and kill vastly more once crops die and famines result. These are not things that chemical and biological weapons, as dangerous as they are, can do. Chemical weapons are subject to atmospheric dissipation and need people packed into a dense area to do maximum damage, as with Saddam Hussein’s chemical massacre at Halabja. Biological weapons are potentially more deadly, but their distribution patterns — particularly when passed through humans or animals — can limit their virulence. Rocket-propelled grenades, missiles, bombs, mines — just, no.

Will The Social Cons Rebel?

If the GOP supports marriage equality, Huckabee claims that the party is “going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.” Allahpundit suspects that, if SCOTUS rules in favor of greater equality, that marriage will be an issue during Republican primaries in 2016:

To keep social conservatives onboard, candidates will be asked to promise (a) that they’ll appoint Supreme Court justices who are committed to overturning any gay-marriage rulings and (b) that they’ll endorse some sort of constitutional amendment that would either ban SSM outright or, at a minimum, return the issue to the states. (The amendment will go nowhere but that’s beside the point here.) Think a prospective nominee won’t do some squirming over whether they should sign on to those propositions, especially given the GOP’s panic over losing young voters? Come 2016, this won’t be just about gay marriage anymore; it’ll be a test of whether social conservatives retain the same influence over the party platform that they’ve had for the last few decades. That’s why Huck’s framing this in apocalyptic “stick with us or we walk” terms. It’s their party, at least on social issues.

The Situation In Cyprus


Ezra zooms out from it:

A half dozen [EU] countries have unemployment in the 15 to 25 percent range, with youth unemployment in the 30 to 60 percent range. Politics isn’t stable amidst that sort of pain — particularly when there’s a perception that some of the pain is being forced upon the country by richer, wealthier outsiders.

That’s what’s happening now. Christopher Pissarides, a Cypriot economist, won the Nobel prize in economics in 2010. But in an interview with BusinessWeek, his fury at the more powerful countries in the euro zone was sparklingly clear. “Small countries, be warned when joining the euro zone,” he said. “You could be bullied any time by your big brothers if it suits their political objectives.”

And that, again, is the view from Cyprus’s Nobel-prize-in-economics contingent. The man on the street, it’s safe to say, is even angrier.

Drum puts the Cyprus negotiations in perspective:

[T]he EU/IMF plan requires Cyprus to come up with about $7.5 billion as its share of the bailout. That’s roughly a third of their GDP. To put that into local terms, it would be as if the United States were being asked to pony up $5 trillion. This is about equal to all government spending—federal, state, and local—for an entire year.

Yglesias adds his two cents.

(Photo: An employee of Cyprus Laiki (Popular) Bank reacts as he takes part in a protest outside the parliament in Nicosia on March 22, 2013. Cyprus is locked in ‘hard negotiations’ with a troika of lenders to save the eurozone member’s banking system and economy in general from ruin, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said. By Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)