The North Korean Weapon; Chaos at Chaos Manor; and other matters

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, January 07, 2016

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Barrack Obama

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.


It has been a fairly time consuming week at Chaos Manor, and this will be a chaotic post. Roberta turned out to have walking pneumonia, and while the anti-biotics are slowly dealing with it, the operative word is slowly. She has to eat gluten free, and all things labeled gluten free aren’t – or at least produce the effects of gluten, which is pretty grim with a nearly bed-ridden pneumonia patient who doesn’t want to eat much to begin with. Add to that, yesterday I got a bad cold – I won’t call it flu – which keeps me wanting to lie down and nap, or read a book, or watch daytime television, or do almost anything that doesn’t require thinking, and it gets grim. We’re climbing out of the pit, she sees her regular doctor tomorrow—that’s complicated because while I think I can drive I haven’t since the stroke a year ago and I sure don’t want to try it just now. Fortunately Michael can come drive us to get to the doctor. And the neighbors have been great. So by and large we’re getting through. Enough on that; but it is why I haven’t had a lot to say here at year’s end.


Then there’s the North Korean weapons test, which seems to have been under 10 kilotons. That’s actually hard to do. The easy way to make a fission bomb yields detectably more than 10 kt and it squibs if you don’t get that much. To make a fusion bomb you generally need a fission primary, and that’s going to be more that 10 kt. It is possible to get as low as one kt or even lower with the right geometry – think Davy Crockett – but it isn’t easy. In fact it’s damned hard.

There’s some speculation that this is an attempted enhanced EMP weapon. There’s other speculation. Add to that that I have never worked in weapon design, and the last time I seriously needed to know about the minutia of nuclear weapons was more than thirty years ago, and you will understand that I am not going to speculate. We know that North Korea tested something, and they call it a sophisticated fission weapon; what they tested was low yield, and the last time I looked, low yield was harder to do than higher yields: particularly lower than 10 kt. I’ll look up the trinity yield when Time Warner gives me Internet access again. Time Warner Cable at 1600 every day slows to an effective halt for about fifteen minutes; one day they’ll have competition, but they seem to have an in with the City Council. Hardly astonishing. LA isn’t Chicago; in Chicago things sometimes work despite the successful lobbyists. But that’s another subject.

Anyway I’ve got Internet again. Trinity, the first nuclear test, was about 20 kt; Hiroshima’s about 15 kt. This what you get with a uranium weapon. Nagasaki was similar although the detonator mechanism was more complex; it was a plutonium weapon. Both were of course fission weapons.


Gigglefits time
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2016 14:38:09 -0500

This is definitely worth reading. Scary underneath, funny on the surface.

Read North Korea’s Positively Batshit Insane Statement On Its Hydrogen Bomb:
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

…the comments have some interesting remarks also. Given the low yield of the device, the USA and allies are disputing the claim of an H bomb. Commentary suggests that indeed it may have been an H bomb test, where the second stage — the actual fusion part — failed, and only the standard nuke first stage went off.

This makes a great deal of sense.

“The seismic wave left by the explosion was smaller than what most experts would expect from the detonation of a true thermonuclear weapon. Some experts said it was possible the North had increased, or boosted, the yield of a more traditional device by using tritium, a common technique, in the 70-year history of nuclear weapons.

“A South Korean Defense Ministry official, who requested anonymity to speak about a national security matter, said Thursday that the ministry believed that even if the device was a boosted fission bomb, the test was probably a failure. The explosive yield was even smaller than that from the North’s last and third nuclear test, in early 2013, he said.

“‘Even a boosted fission bomb produces a yield bigger than this, so we don’t think this is a successful test of a boosted fission bomb either,’ he added.”

Other sources are saying the yield was in the vicinity of only ~6kT. The USA’s first standard nuke test, the Trinity test, was more than 3x that, at 20kT. So whatever they blew, wasn’t even a very big standard nuke, and I seriously doubt it was, in fact, a thermonuclear fusion explosion.

Stephanie Osborn

I know little about weapon design, but assuming the primary goes off, it is my understanding that you get about 20 KT whether you want it or not; low kt weapons are tough to make.  And if the secondary goes off you will get about 300 kt unless you’re pretty good at weapons design geometry. They are not likely to be that good.  But this is all just stuff I think I picked up in the 60’s and it may be totally obsolete now, or never true in the first place.

Jerry Pournelle

Then either the Manhattan Project overestimated critical mass (which is possible; I haven’t looked into that — Jim, do you know anything there?), or we have a really strange situation. 

I suppose it’s possible that NK simply piled up standard explosives and detonated it in order to be able to make some wild claims.

I do know that when they changed the fuel for a thermo, the first test with the new stuff, Castle Bravo, went WAY beyond what they’d calculated for yield, because it was a far more efficient reaction with the new, more stable fuel, and it nearly was a Very Bad Thing (TM) as a result.
Stephanie Osborn

Don’t worry about the 20 kt.  My memory doesn’t work so we’ll.  I do know it’s complex as hell to get less than ten kt; I’d bank on that.  We did a lot of gaming Davy Crockett, and it scared hell out of everyone.  But the minimum for a fusion is high, unless your designers are very good; at least that’s the way I remember it.

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

Well, that’s kind of my recollection too. And while they might have inched the critical mass value down since the Trinity test, I don’t think it went down by more than a factor of 3. I know that’s probably classified though readily calculable from open source; I just never have bothered.

And yes, given that the igniter for a fusion bomb is a standard nuke, you’re gonna get significant yield. Whatever they got over there, at 6kT it wasn’t any fusion bomb. Not a successful one anyhow.

Jim’s idea of an EMP device seems reasonable to me.
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”


Thoughts on the Korean Bomb

You may be interested in the attached.  Sam gave me permission to share – his credentials are:



David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; 
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; 
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; 
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; 
Chef de Hot Dog Excellence;  Avoider of Yard Work

While the headlines are all blaring news about North Korea’s recent test of a hydrogen bomb, and politicians fill the airwaves with bluster and inflamed rhetoric, it seems that no one is taking the time or making the effort to consider this within a broader issue of foreign policy. In this age of Twitter and reflexive responses, perhaps this is the new standard we should expect for the future.

The following are my thoughts, and that is all I profess them to be – my thoughts as one who has spent his entire life studying about, traveling to, and teaching about Asia, in general, and China, in particular.

The current crisis or situation is symptomatic of a deeper problem with U.S. foreign policy, to wit – we have none. We view events and situations in isolation rather than as part of a larger foreign policy construct based on our own national interests, and then on the broader issues of trying to create a stable world environment. And, the latter, a stable world environment is all we can try to hope for – we are not and cannot be peace keepers of the world, and cannot predicate a foreign policy on a desire to have all other nations and peoples of the world emulate our culture and political system.

On the one hand, in regard to China, we want them to assume the leadership in curtailing and controlling North Korea. On the other hand, while still wanting them as a partner for stability in Asia, we castigate China and are attempting a policy of economic and military containment as we view China as our enemy. We cannot have it both ways. Either China is a strategic partner of ours in creating a stable world order, while recognizing their own national interests, or they are our enemy or potential enemy which allows the military industrial complex in the United States to spend billions, if not trillions of dollars on military expenditures.

The historic relationship between China and Korea is long, storied, and predicated on one simple premise. China needs to protect its borders, specifically along the China-North Korean border, and furthermore, cannot allow any regime in Korea, or any foreign country to be based in Korea who view China as an enemy or a potential source of problems. As the Korean War demonstrated, and also demonstrated our own ignorance of this simple fact, the Chinese did intervene to prevent American domination of the Korean Peninsula. This intervention was based solely on China’s national interest. It was not in support of the Russians or Kim Il Sung, the North Korean leader. China would not and could not tolerate the Korean Peninsula to be controlled either directly by the United States or indirectly through our puppet, Sygman Rhee.

Flash forward to the present time. Not only has the United States supported the rearmament of Japan, but we have prodded the current Japanese government to “reinterpret” the Japanese constitution that will allow for Japanese armed forces to be deployed outside of Japan. We have support Prime Minister Abe in his rearmament of Japan. What is our purpose and what goal were we trying to achieve ?

The rearmament of Japan is simply part of our cold war policy of containment. As the United States government surveyed the situation in Asia, there is only one country that we believed could act as our military ally and provide military support for whatever military actions might be needed in the future. No other nation in Asia has the interest, the will, or the resources to develop a military capable of allying with the United States in a potential future conflict with China. Again, our ignorance of history and understanding the feelings of the people of Asia, has blinded us into developing a counter-productive strategy.

All of the nations of East and Southeast Asia suffered to an incredible degree under the Japanese during World War II. And, for the nations of Asia, World War II began, not with Pearl Harbor, but with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. China has not, ever since the Mongols in the 13th century attempted to invade Vietnam, has China attempted to invade or attack any country in Asia. Japan did. Japan invaded, attacked, robbed, pillaged, killed, and attempted to subjugate every single nation in East and Southeast Asia beginning in the late 19th century. It began with the war in Korea between China and Japan, broadened to include the Japanese-Russian War of 1904-1905 over control of Northeast China and Korea. Given their success in these wars, the Japanese military was emboldened to begin the quest to control all of Asia under the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. A euphemism for Japanese domination and dictatorship over all of Asia. To this day, no one is Asia has forgotten the Japanese atrocities. In the United States, we have forgotten. We have never taught the real history of what happened. We have not taught Corregidor, the Bataan Death March, or the use of chemical and biological weapons against captured Americans.

Perhaps even more than China, Korea suffered under Japan and is extremely fearful of a rearmed and militarized Japan. Our assurances regarding Japan’s rearmament fall on deaf ears. No one, absolutely no one in Asia believes what the United States has said about Japan not posing a military threat. Again, history is instructive. The cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries was that the United States guaranteed – absolutely guaranteed, the administrative and geographic integrity of China. It was contained in our Open Door policy and re-stated in the Washington Naval Conference and the London Naval Conference and Agreements in 1922 and 1930. In return for allowing Japanese naval superiority in the Pacific, based on the number of warships allowed, everyone pledged to protect and guarantee China’s sovereignty. When Japan invaded Northeast China (Manchuria) in 1931, the United States did absolutely nothing to stop Japan. Not even sanctions. We continued to sell Japan scrap metal and oil. Given that history, how can anyone trust the word of the United States again in regard to Asia?

Historically, Korea has been one kingdom, one country. The division into two countries along the rough outlines of the 38th parallel was the result of a fateful and ignominious decision at the Yalta Conference between President Roosevelt and Josef Stalin. Focusing on getting Russia into the war against Japan, and countering Stalin’s demand to accept the surrender of all of Japan’s forces in Korea, Roosevelt agreed to split the difference. North of the 38th parallel was for Russia, South of the 38th parallel was for the United States. It was merely a line of demarcation for accepting the surrender of Japan’s armed forces. No mention and no thought was given to the future of Korea after Japan would surrender. Without thought of Korea’s history or its future, a line based on expediency and compromise was achieved that subsequently led to the Korean War with an armistice and demilitarized zone dividing Korea.

South Korea fears North Korea. But, it fears Japan even more. The specter of a rearmed and remilitarized Japan is the cause of greater consternation and fear in the long run. Given the presence of the U.S. Army in South Korea, they do not fear a North Korean invasion. The South is opposed to the nuclear program of the North. But, on the one hand, they are impotent to do anything about it. On the other hand, I suspect they have mixed feelings. A nuclear North Korea is the best deterrent for Korea against a remilitarized Japan.

North Korea is more complex. They initially developed their military might in response to the U.S. military’s continued presence in South Korea and a fear of an invasion from South Korea to unify Korea. With Japan’s rearmament and remilitarization program, their fear has been broadened to include Japan. Given their history, their fear does not need to be rational in order for it to be real. They also have a love/hate relationship with China. For most of Korea’s history, it fell within China’s domain of cultural sphere of influence. Until recently, the Korean language was written with Chinese characters. The King of Korea sent envoys to recognize the Emperor of China as the cultural leader. Chinese influence was dominant in Korea’s Court. Koreans were and are knowledgeable about China’s involvement in Korean politics and history. And, in recent history, they know that China’s intervention in the Korean War saved North Korea from being occupied by the South Koreans and Americans. And, at present, China is their main and major trading partner. Bursting with nationalism and national pride, North Korea understands it is beholden to China for trade, but, at the same time, does not want to be seen or viewed as a puppet of China. The North Koreans are fiercely independent and do not want China to interfere or influence North Korea’s politics or policies. The more pressure that China would place on North Korea, the greater the resistance. Although beholden to China for trade and the inflow of needed goods and access to foreign capital, national pride – nationalism, would prevent North Korea from caving into any Chinese demands for nuclear disarmament.

The situation in China is even more complex and the Chinese government has to try and balance competing national interests. It is China’s policy to support a non-nuclear Korea. But, how far will they go to achieve this goal and to what extent is it secondary to China’s other goals? China is trying to position itself as a stabilizing, non-threatening force in Asia, and as a major power in world politics and on the world stage. They project themselves as a model for modernization different from the Western model. The Chinese are also proud and fiercely nationalistic. The Chinese look at one’s actions, and not at the words which are spoken. Thus, while the United States talks about cooperation with China, our actions present a different view. From their perspective, the United States is following a policy of military containment. The United States has supported, and indeed, encouraged the military re-armament of Japan, a new “interpretation” of the Japanese Constitution which allows for Japan to be militarily involved outside of Japan’s borders, and just made a massive sale of arms to Taiwan. We intentionally provoke China by sending our warships and planes into territorial waters claimed by China and intrude into Chinese air space with our planes. The U.S. military industrial complex needs a “bogeyman”, a foreseeable enemy, in order to justify the massive expenditure of funds and weapons that can only be used in traditional combat situations akin to our World Wars. With the collapse of the Soviet Union. China is the only available “bogeyman”. Yet, China is no threat to the United States.

Economically, we are trying to do the same thing. We are trying to create a greater Asia free trade zone but one that specifically excludes China. Nice try – dumb and foolish. All that is accomplishing is reinforcing in China the idea of a United States led containment policy which will never work. U.S. trade with the rest of Asia is miniscule compared to China’s trade with Asia. No economic or foreign policy objective is obtainable by excluding China, and all that is being done is to reinforce in China’s mind the containment policy of the U.S.

Korea presents a complex problem. China needs and wants an ally along its border on the North. North Korea is that ally. China is fearful that unless it can exert some control over North Korea, it might engage in some stupid and irrational act that would lead to military invasion of North Korea and the collapse of the North Korean government to be replaced by one that is subservient to the United States. That would be intolerable to China. That would be inviting Korea War II. China needs to convince North Korea that it will protect North Korea against any foreign invasion and to protect North Korea in return for North Korea surrendering their nuclear program. But, would North Korea trust China, and would an agreement of that sort lead to China’s involvement in North Korean politics beyond that which is acceptable? Compounding everything is that China needs to be seen as operating on the basis of their own national interest and their own foreign policy and not being a puppet of the United States and to do the bidding of the United States as people like Donald Trump and Obama’s mouthpiece, Secretary Kerry demand.

The North Korean nuclear problem and its possible solution is symptomatic of the larger issue of the relationship between the United States and China. The reality is that these are the two largest economies in the world and financially, the two most powerful countries in the world. It is in neither of these two countries national interest to continue to feel there is antagonism between them, and not in their national interests to be devoting resources to increasing military power that can only be used in costly land war. These two nations have to learn to accept each other and work together to provide for a more stable international environment. And, unfortunately, the United States and its actions is the major impediment to developing a constructive relationship based on mutual respect and understanding of each other’s national interests.

I’m no expert on Korea; I do think I understand a bit of their attitude. When we toured the throne/reception room in Seoul, we noted that the throne was in the middle of a large room. The foreign ambassadors who wanted to speak to the king stood under a canopy/awning at the entrance.

China apparently forbade the display of a dragon by the Korean king; that would have been an intolerable assertion of independence. The Chinese ambassador could report, truthfully, that he observed no dragon in the throne room. Of course he did not. The dragon was on the wall behind him, but he could not see it because of the canopy.

So the Korean royalty could assert their claim to independence by displaying a dragon in the throne room. The Chinese ambassador could report that he saw no dragon. Since Chinese officials were presumably intelligent, they must have known that the dragon was there, and must have reported that to the Chinese Emperor. The Emperor chose not to pay official attention. The Korean king must have known that. The Emperor must have known he knew…

Perhaps that helps in understanding Chinese/Korean history. Sometime I think it helps me. Other times I find myself going “beedee beedee beedee…”


CDR Phillip E. Pournelle, USN, quoted by Glenn Reynolds in USA Today on the need for smaller surface combatants.

Reynolds is quoting from CDR Pournelle’s recent Proceedings article (<>),

which is also included in _There Will Be War: Volume X (<>).



Roland Dobbins

That paper seems to have been widely read. I had good reason to include it in There Will Be War…


Newt Gingrich: New Words for a New World

“We are living in a world rapidly evolving away from the mental constructs and language of the last 375 years. These ideas can be traced to the Treaty of Westphalia ending the 30 Years War in 1648 and Grotius proposal of a system of International Law in the same era. The ideas were then extended through the development of state warfare culminating in the Napoleonic Wars.
This intellectual framework was applied and reapplied through two World Wars and the Cold War. It is the framework within which academic and bureaucratic careers were made and are still being made.
It is now a framework which distorts reality, hides from uncomfortable facts, and cripples our ability to develop an effective national security and foreign policy.”

I expect you’ll have already seen this.      Worth reading, not terribly long, points out some of the things I ranted about.  I would have added that it was clear that Bush knew we wouldn’t be allowed to use Christianity and  he attempted to substitute Democracy, but opposition from our media and other issues prevented that from working. 

I concur that whether through ignorance or refusal to see what is in front of us, we have utterly failed to comprehend not only the nature of the war we are fighting but even that we don’t have a choice because we are the attacked party. 

Instead of the four years discussing Kennan’s thoughts, we’ve spent our years on the Ostrich Theorem, abandoning the prestige and influence we built in the region as if it were our goal to do so. 

In my professional opinion, it would be impossible to come up with a plan better intended to ensure our surrender than what we’ve done, that wouldn’t have been so absurd that it could not be put into effect.  Still, if we haven’t shipped our enemies nukes, we’ve put the same people in charge of the negotiations who managed to allow the North Koreans to develop them. 

The West hasn’t been in such a fix in over 300 years, and it all happened within my lifetime, most of it in the last decade.  Fixing it will be neither cheap nor easy, and we were calling it the Long War in our operations centers before the last day of 2001. 


Gingrich on this New World Disorder


Your old friend has some thoughts on aspects of the changing world our leaders badly need to rethink. (As opposed to the current political-class trend of rethinking things badly, I’ll add.)


It is indeed the Protracted Conflict, and it endures; there is no end of history with final triumph.


Trans-Plutonian superterran?



Roland Dobbins


HK 121 – General Purpose German Machine Gun….

OH MY! I thought the old Stirling was good. This is outstanding. I have seen somebody hold two Stirlings, “the gun that took back the Falklands”, one in each hand shot both at once and carve up a watermelon about 25 yards away. This one looks like a person could hold it off hand in one hand and carve his initials in the watermelon.

When will our guys get this? (Never, I suspect.) When will our enemies get this? (Weeks? Months? certainly no longer.)

{O.O} jdow

——– Forwarded Message ——–

would love to have one…..308 is a great round

If you understood the gas operated M16, you knew this was coming someday.

Well, someday is here. This _.308 caliber/7.62mm_ NATO has _less recoil

than a .22 LR_, and far less than the M-16 and M-4. This thing sounds like

a sewing machine. Where is the recoil? Forget the AR-15/M-16 and the M-60

….. this is the new “pig” ! Almost no recoil as well. Just _throw it in

some water to cool it of_f!

This beaut is a real “base of fire” !

Best thing out of Germany since German Beer and the VW ‘Beetle’. Very

Impressive and stable platform. It _can be fired from virtually any

position including standing_. Virtually no muzzle rise with a 7.62!

A friend wrote: As a former machine gunner in an Infantry squad, I am in

awe of these new German machine guns. Good Grief, I would sure hate to be

“down range” facing these weapons. Check the ease in changing the barrels

as well as the very low recoil forces it has. Below is the link to the

4:44min video of the new German Army machine gun demo.

HK 121 – General Purpose Machine Gun




at Shot Show


Who’s Been Killing the Feral Peacocks of Palos Verdes?

[A small bit of ‘adult’ language.]



Roland Dobbins


Breaking the Spell

Once upon a time, a Witch Doctor was out gathering herbs, when a Raven landed on a nearby tree branch and looked at him. Then the other tribes-people came by. The Hetman said, “There is an evil sorcerer amongst us, he has cast a spell upon us, can you find him?”

The Witch-doctor said, “What kind of spell did he cast?”

“A spell of death and disorder. So every time one of us meets grave misfortune, we search among ourselves for the victim’s enemy.”

“How do you know that person had an enemy?”

“Why else would that person meet grave misfortune? One way or another, we find an enemy, and we kill that person.”

“I see,” said the Witch Doctor. “Thus doubling our death-rate. Have you found the sorcerer?”

“Not yet,” the Hetman admitted, “for misfortunes keep coming.”

“And this blaming of all misfortunes on each other; and this doubling of our death rate; how did you decide these were good ideas?”

The Hetman said, “Why, they came to all of us, all of a sudden. And they made sense, at the time. Nobody asked why.”

The Witch Doctor said, “Then those very ideas are the evil spell that the sorcerer cast upon you. This search for him amongst each other; that itself is the disorder. End the search to end the disorder.”

Lightning flashed across the clear blue sky, the Raven cried “Curses!” and the evil Sorcerer (for it was he) flew away.

Moral: Question assumptions.



The Marriages of Power Couples Reinforce Income Inequality –


The Marching Morons was published 65 years ago. Each year it rings more and more true:

“These days, an investment banker may marry another investment banker rather than a high school sweetheart, or a lawyer will marry another lawyer, or a prestigious client, rather than a secretary. Whether measured in terms of income or education, there are more so-called power couples today than in the past, one manifestation of a phenomenon known as assortative mating, or more generally the pairing of like with like. These matches are great for those individuals who can build prosperous and happy family alliances, but they also propagate inequality across the generations. Of all the causes behind growing income inequality, in the longer run this development may prove one of the most significant and also one of the hardest to counter. For instance, the achievement gap between children from rich and poor families is higher today than it was 25 years ago, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, higher income and educational inequality increase the incentive to seek out a good marriage match, so the process may become self-reinforcing.”

“Money and talent become clustered in high-powered, two-earner families determined to do everything possible to advance the interests of their children. . . . The numbers show that assortative mating really matters. One study indicated that combined family decisions on assortative mating, divorce and female labor supply accounted for about one-third of the increase in income inequality from 1960 to 2005. . . . A study of Denmark by Gustaf Bruze, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, showed that about half of the expected financial gain of attending college derived not from better job prospects but from the chance to meet and marry a higher-earning spouse.”

“Today, we rightfully reject the idea of eugenics as repugnant, yet we are conducting our own experiments in mating, without much careful thought as to where they will lead. and Tinder help us find “just the right mate,” according to our prior desires and specifications, with aid from computer algorithms. The real question may be not whether we can reverse some of the less desired effects of assortative mating, but rather just how far the practice will go.”

I’ll bet Cyril Kornbluth could tell him.









Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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