Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not Chess But Poker?


At the end of December, 2002, as Korea began ratcheting up their insane nuclear rhetoric, the politicians did what they do best in this country: They ran in circles pointing fingers at everyone but themselves, seeking to place blame, and trying to avoid putting the onus on themselves. Since that time, North Korea has continued working on its nuclear weaponry, launched missiles over Japan, and blithered its own, patented brand of Insane-o-babble for the world's press to lap up.

But there was at least one thinker who came up with a fairly interesting solution to the problem of North Korean Nukes. This was Jack Wheeler, of the Freedom Research Foundation. Wheeler, in a column he wrote, discussed the playing of games and how they relate to geopolitics. In it he said,
"One of the meta-reasons America won the Cold War is that Russians play chess, while Americans play poker.


Chess demands great skill and intelligence, particularly at developing complex long-range strategies and anticipating your opponent's moves. But it bears little resemblance to life in the real world. It is completely static and open. Nothing is hidden.

Poker is very different. You have to guess what your opponent has and the extent to which he is bluffing. In business, in politics, in life in general, the folks who know how to play poker will almost always fare better than those who know how to play chess.


Ronald Reagan never played chess with Mikhail Gorbachev. He played political poker. At the 1986 Reykjavik summit, Reagan bluntly told Gorbachev he was going to build and deploy a space-based missile defense (SDI). Then came the clincher.

"Mikhail," he said, looking the Soviet leader in the eye, "we both know that America can afford to do this, and the Soviet Union cannot. There is no way you can compete with us in military spending. So you are going to lose."


Gorbachev did not know if the U.S. could actually create a workable missile defense in space. But he did know it could afford to do so, while he could not. So he didn't call for Reagan's cards. He, and thus the Soviet Union, folded their own. In the real world, good poker beats good chess every time.


One of the great geopolitical puzzles of our day is why America has been outplayed at poker by a collection of primitive Stalinists in North Korea. The guys in Pyongyang are the best experts in the world at military bluffing and nuclear blackmail. They easily took Clinton to the cleaners."

That they did, and have since we first learned of their Nuclear Weapons research. Like many others, I'm sure, the idea of North Korea is simply not an option. yet the US government, as well as every other government, has tried to "play poker" with North Korea, seeking "engagement" as a way to talk Kim down from the precipice. But that hasn't worked, nor will it. Kim needs that Nuclear option to retain power. It's as simple as that. So what is the answer?

Well, we could drop enough bombs on the reactors to reduce them to rubble and probably kill most, if not all, of North Korea's nuclear scientists. But this would spread radioactive debris over untold miles, harming a lot of innocent people. And the US would have to deal with the entire world's anger over a unilateral action that is, for all intents and purposes, and act of war. The same applies to dropping nukes, of any size, on the sites. (Neutron bombs might be a different story, but are there any left?)

Economic sanctions? That's a laugh! North Korea has no economy worthy of the name. All sanctions would do would be to force the Army to redirect even more of the country's supplies away from the populace and into the pantries of the NK Army. But is there an option? Jack Wheeler had one, and it's an interesting idea. In that article, he said:
"[...]Far better to destroy it quietly, safely, stealthily and mysteriously.

With a spear. A steel rod 40 feet long and 4 inches in diameter, fin-stabilized, with a needle-sharp tungsten-carbide tip, equipped with a small JDAM guidance package including a GPS. It is non-explosive; there is no warhead.

You've heard of smart bombs. This is a smart spear.

You take a half-dozen of these Smart Spears up in a high-altitude bomber, like a B2 or B52, and drop them over Yongbyon at 50,000 or 60,000 feet. The Smart Spears have such a big sectional density that it will be like a vacuum drop – with no wind resistance, they will be going faster than the speed of sound when they hit their target.

Going so fast and with almost no radar signature, the GPS-guided Smart Spears will punch through the Yongbyon reactor and keep right on going, burying themselves in the earth several hundred feet deep. The North Koreans won't know what happened, and all there will be is some holes in the ground – plus a melted-down reactor."


Read the column Dr. Wheeler wrote. It's fascinating reading and will make you wonder why we're not trying something like this. If we did, and it worked, could we then turn our aim to Iran?

Just a thought.

Another view on this from JustOneMinute, "Accidents Will Happen"

Wheeler's NewsMax column, "Playing Poker With Korea"

Dr. Wheeler's "To The Point"

11 comments:

Brooke said...

Too bad that we've got Pelosi and Reid standing over our shoulder shouting out the cards we hold.

The best poker face in the world is useless with morons like them behind you.

benning said...

True. :(

Gayle said...

That would work, but Brooke makes an excellent point. It would be impossible to keep it from the Democrats who can not, and will not keep their yapping mouths shut! Before we can expect anything we try to work, we have to figure out a way to deal with them.

It's a very interesting article though, Benning. The Chess versus Poker analogy is very good, although I think it's necessary to play both equally well, and better than your opponent.

camojack said...

Reminds me of an episode from the original Star Trek series...

BB-Idaho said...

Heh, international politics aside, this 'smart spear' thing intrigues me. The little information out there refers to them as 'rods of the gods' and the source appears to be either the 'blue sky' pentagon thinktank, or Tom Clancey.
A little work with one of those
i-net calculators suggests that the
terminal velocity may not reach
supersonic [aerodynamic drag = both limiting velocity and/or vehicle lead edge superheating], but accuracy may be even more of a problem. If they start testing these things, I need to find a good cave, however! :)

blogagog said...

Bush: We've got you beat, Al-qaeda. We have 4 aces.

Reid: That's a lie Mr. President! You only have a pair of threes. Fold now!

Always On Watch Two said...

Zealots such as Ahmadinejad may be unreachable. But NK is not into dying to meet 72 virgins.

Mustang said...

In warfare (simplified version), a successful opponent will begin with a mission statement, develop a range of assumptions about the enemy, terrain and weather, marshal his forces, mass his fires, and attack. Once this force achieves the objective, it is necessary to defend that objective, consolidate forces, and begin planning for the next objective.

North Korea did all of this in 1950, but their assumptions were faulty and they were out-generaled by Douglas MacArthur. The war might have been won had Harry Truman left well enough alone, but fearing a much larger confrontation with Communist China (with good reason), he applied the brakes and the Korean War evolved into a stalemate.

What North Korea learned from the Korean War was that they would not be able to seize South Korea, so what has happened over the past 57 years is that the communist regime has merely consolidated its position north of the DMZ. Of course, while this won’t go into the annuls of great military campaigns, it has provided a nitch for Kim Il Sung – otherwise, he’d be a day laborer in rice fields filled with human waste.

The question is, “What has the US learned in this same period of time?” The answer, given the fact that we are plagued with a mediocre educational system, is “nothing.” The Democratic Party remains committed to what they call “defense,” with no real clue about what that actually means. The best defense is a measured offense. While the DNC accepted campaign donations from the Peoples Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China (and top-secret American technology found its way to communist China – a remarkable coincidence), Democrat Bill Clinton gave North Korea access to the nuclear technology that has resulted in the development of weapons grade fissionable materials. In my view, the only possible benefit to this is that California will be nuked by a North Korean warhead while Nancy Pelosi is home campaigning for reelection.

I am quite sure that under Democratic leadership, the US will no longer be playing “poker.” No, we’ll be playing a politically correct version of “Go Fish.” But I have to admit that the spears are an intiguing idea. Too bad we no longer have the . . . well, you know, to actually do it.

Jack's Shack said...

Poker versus chess- interesting analogy.

defiant_infidel said...

I've always liked Plain Jane simplicity for reliability. This is a very interesting idea and yet another great Benning catch.

The chess/poker analogy strikes a weak spot in me personally. I have played chess since my dear daddy taught me at the tender age of six. He also taught me poker, cribbage and how to shoot pool. By age 13, I started regularly beating Dad at chess and shooting pool, but he continued to kick my ass badly at poker and cribbage ("always play for the potential since you're limited to some degree by luck... and learn to bluff" were his words). I still perhaps think better than I bluff. Maybe I do neither well... HA!

Mustang, your overview had me both fascinated and erupting in raucous laughter. Good stuff!

WomanHonorThyself said...

ah yes Benning a great analogy indeed!..and as always good stuff here!