North Korea’s Nuclear Cul-De-Sac
The mutual bluster and braggadocio persisted over the weekend on the Korean peninsula, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continued to drive his state down an atomic dead-end. He brayed anew at the state of war between his impoverished nation and the alliance of South Korea and the U.S., at least when his websites, seemingly hacked over the weekend, were operational.
The U.S. military, for its part, saw Kim a pair of B-2 bombers, and raised him a squadron of F-22 fighters. The best fighters in the world, the F-22s - normally based in Japan - flew to South Korea’s Osan air base to participate in the continuing U.S.-Soul Korean month-long military exercise that has unnerved Pyongyang.
It’s almost as if the U.S. Air Force has moved a branch of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to South Korea. First, Eisenhower-era B-52 flew missions over the peninsula, followed by Reagan-era B-2s. With Sunday’s dispatch of the George W. Bush-era F-22s, the Pentagon is running out of airpower muscles to flex. It will be years before the next-generation fighter, the F-35, is operational.
But North Korea can take solace from the fact that the F-22, operational for three U.S. wars, has seen action in none of them. Designed to combat Soviet fighters that were never built, the world’s best and most costly fighter — $350 million a pop — is now poised to strike fear into a nation that cannot even adequately feed its people.