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Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Amazingly enough, today, which was yesterday in Japan, NHK, the government TV channel...

...warned that "North Korea appears to have launched a missile … The Government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground".

Were you in Japan, if your phone had been linked to NHK online news, you also got this message.  Five minutes later, NHK said, like Hawaii, OOPS.  Well not those words, but at least they corrected this mistake in only a few minutes.  At last check, they were still checking what went wrong.

Hawaii citizens mostly are not all that concerned about an actual nuclear attack from Kim Jung Un.  Like our very own President, North Korea's White-walled Leader seems more buffoon than menace.

But Tokyo is only 800 miles from Pyongyang.  Honolulu is 4,590 miles away.  North Korean missiles have already flown over Japan.  That was in mid-September last year.  The people of Japan are very much afraid of what Kim Jung Un might do.  Thankfully, however, there appeared to have been very little panic because there was a quick correction.  Given the 38 minutes of Hawaiian anxiety, the reaction could have been something closer to hysterical consternation.

But what if that hypothetical nuclear missile had detonated at 1000 feet over Honolulu.  According to the Emergency Management Agency, 90% of us living here would survive.  There are no public fallout shelters, so the best you can do is place yourself in a basement or concrete stairwell.  Thus,  30% of survivors would suffer acute radiation syndrome and from 50,000 to 120,000 receive traumatic burns.  This will be the worse day of your life.

(I later inserted this graphic from the Star Advertiser, providing more details if the blast was over Iolani Palace.)

But, aha, Hawaii is supposedly covered by the current U.S. missile defense system.  Sure, protected, but these interceptors are located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Fort Greely in Alaska.  Vandenberg is almost  2500 miles from Honolulu and Greely is more than 3000 miles away.  Can you imagine someone making a judgement call on whether to fire off those defense missiles in time?  Donald Trump was golfing in Florida when the Hawaii debacle occurred.  I guess he did not have to make the decision to intercept an enemy missile, but no one in the country beyond Hawaii cared that much to express responsibility during those 38 anxious minutes of anxiety.  

See that green dot with the Pearl Harbor notation?  That's the floating golf ball which only takes vacation in Hawaii.  What did it do during the latest crisis?  Nothin that I could determine.

So what does the Department of Defense plan to do about Hawaii?  First, they need to install a $1 billion advanced land-based missile-tracking radar, and if any funds are appropriated today, deployment will be in 2023 at the earliest.  Only after that will the military consider actually installing interceptor missiles in Hawaii.

So here is my quick solution.  Go ahead, do the planning as indicated above.  However, today, relocate a Navy destroyer equipped with an Aegis system.  

As soon as possible install an onshore version, while deploying Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD--the type just provided to South Korea) at the Kauai facility already operational for missile tests.  Sure, overkill, because the odds of any North Korean missile actually arriving over Hawaii are minuscule.  But that is the whole point of international defense politics.  Scare the opponent away.

Why this accelerated program is necessary is because Hawaii is the most vulnerable U.S. target, for any North Korean missile headed for the Continental USA will be destroyed, and Kim Jung Un has another eight years or so to threaten Honolulu should he wish.  If he misses, which will most probably happen anyway, he can say, sorry, that was a test that went awry.

A clear fallout of what happened this weekend is that Governor David Ige will now surely lose his role this November to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who seems to be spurred by support from unions, Inouye backers and former state governors.  A friend of mine, An Wang, once said, "to succeed, work hard and don't shoot yourself in your foot."  While that missile alert glitch was not Ige's fault, it occurred on his watch, and he figuratively shot himself in his foot.  

What a shame.  President Donald Trump shoots himself in the foot every day, and he's still President.


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