Silly Season Goes to War

It must be that time of year already: Silly Season, when precious newspaper real estate gets clogged with giddy nothings.

The “Wall Street Journal”: and the “New York Times”: each dispatched a West Coast correspondent to sunny Hawaii, the better to gauge public anxiety about an imminent missile attack from North Korea. Amazingly, everyone out there seems pretty much unfazed. Must be the “laid-back culture.” Hope you enjoyed the trip, guys.

(Maybe they just needed to work harder. The Associated Press “found some hysterics”: Why couldn’t two of our nation’s top publications?)

So where do they get this stuff? I’ll tell you where: “Yomiuri Shimbun”:, by way of the “Associated Press”: That, and a momentary suspension of critical faculties. One didn’t have to read that story too closely to notice that it was perhaps not the brightest moment in the history of Japanese journalism.

Yeah. North Korea’s going to attack America. With two missiles. That’ll be interesting.

I guess it was irresistible. _Armageddon in Paradise!_

Man up, people. It’s a missile test, for crying out loud.

p=. *Annals of Threat Magnification*

In fairness to -the junketeers and their editors- our intrepid news sleuths, the Secretary of Defense made it sound like he was “taking the threat seriously”:

bq.. Dr. Gates, I wondered what you thought about the report that North Korea might shoot a ballistic missile toward Hawaii, if you thought there was any accuracy to that. And if that was to occur, would that be a situation where the U.S. would use its missile defense system, to eliminate that test?

SEC. GATES: Well, we’re obviously watching the situation in the North, with respect to missile launches, very closely. And we do have some concerns, if they were to launch a missile to the (sic – east), in the direction of Hawaii.

I’ve directed the deployment again of THAAD missiles to Hawaii. And the SBX Radar has deployed, away from Hawaii, to provide support. Based on my visit to Fort Greely, the ground-based interceptors are clearly in a position to take action.

So without telegraphing what we will do, I would just say, we are — I think we are in a good position, should it become necessary to protect American territory.

p. (The President has lately gotten in on “this game”:, too.)

Let’s just say that this course of action appears to reflect a superabundance of caution. Looking at it another way, since we’ve built the systems, what would be the point of not deploying them? But what really interests me is the word “again,” as in, “I’ve directed the deployment again of THAAD missiles to Hawaii.”

One shouldn’t make too much of a single word. Gates could have misspoken, or his comments could have been erroneously transcribed. But it sounds like this isn’t the first time. Should we conclude that THAAD was first temporarily deployed in anticipation of the April 2009 Unha-2 launch?

The first THAAD battery was “formally activated”: back at Ft. Bliss, Texas, in May 2008, but we don’t know where it normally operates. Some THAAD testing has “taken place in Hawaii”:

Update: The “Honolulu Star-Bulletin”: has more details.

p=. *A Live Intercept Test?*

Regardless of where North Korea’s missiles fly, if anyone is really thinking of trying out missile defense systems on them — whether to make a point, or just to see what they can do — I would not recommend it. Right now, it’s North Korea’s strategy to ratchet up tensions, and America’s strategy to “act like a responsible adult”: THAAD is not a toy. Still less is GMD.

Fortunately, though, I don’t think that the concerns that apply to “North American”: “GMD scenarios”: apply to Pacific GMD scenarios. Put your mind at rest.

“Musical bonus”:

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