We are not threatening his rule or his government. We do not want to attack his country. We just want him to stop with the intercontinental ballistic missiles and matching nukes. We’d like him to stop spitting at us his threats of mass destruction.
Mr. Kim’s tongue can destabilize the Korean Peninsula and the whole region — China, Japan and the others. A military clash with Pyongyang would be mutually destructive to Mr. Kim and his country’s 25 million people as well as to Seoul’s 10 million souls, not to mention the 28,500 American military members and 230,000 U.S. civilians south of the 38th parallel.
The last time we went to war with communist North Korea was to undo its invasion of the authoritarian but non-communist South Korea (now a genuinely democratic nation) and to force the surrender of the North. The fighting lasted three years, ending in 1953 in that unsatisfyingly impermanent cessation of hostilities called an “armistice.” Technically a U.N. operation led by the U.S., the war took the lives of 36,500 of our military and wounded another 103,000. It snuffed out the lives of 217,000 of South Korea’s military defenders and a million of its civilians, along with a million of North Korea’s military and civilian population.
That’s a lot of dead people for a “police action” — as President Truman euphemistically labeled — that also annihilated 600,000 People’s Liberation Army fighters that had crossed the Yalu River from communist China.
Nobody back then stayed up at night, arms wrapped around knees, rocking back and forth, in dread the war would go nuclear. Neither communist North Korea nor communist China had nuclear weapons. And the Soviet Union wasn’t about to go nuclear over Korea.
Michael Warder, a conservative of prominence, suggested that whether Mr. Kim stands down is not up to the diplomatic artistry of Mr. Tillerson’s State Department, because there are on this stage actors we can’t control. We “would not expect the vulnerable Japanese to simply watch and do nothing” as Mr. Kim combs his hair while his engineers and nuclear techies go on perfecting ballistic missiles and matching warheads.
“The U.N. Security Council should act,” Mr. Warder urges on Facebook.
While the U.N. has a few uses that aren’t totally dubious, none involves successfully fighting or avoiding wars or successfully keeping the peace.
And what in the name of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is the U.N. going to do? Pass a resolution? Send a armored multinational expeditionary force across the 38th parallel?
If war is an option, and I don’t see how it is, then let’s go in quickly and initiate the killing of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Americans. And maybe the nuclear obliteration of millions of nearby nationalities.
Is that the plan of my friends of the Stop Talking, Start Acting persuasion?
Or are the Japanese going to sick the army, navy, air force and marines that they don’t have on Pyongyang?
Talk can be not worth the paper on which it’s not written, some sages warn.
“Kim Jong-un does not speak ‘sensible’ — gonna need more than a demarche to get him to change his position,” Anthony Canales posts on my Facebook page.
Maybe, but we took military action when no demarche was possible and when it seemed reasonable, if just barely, to send our fighting men – and tanks, ships, planes — 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean in response to the North’s barging into the South without knocking.
U.N. forces, led by the U.S. (which did the heavy lifting in money spent and as always in lives risked and lost) sided with Seoul. China threw a few million fighters Pyongyang’s way but the Soviet Union restrained its comradely instincts by sending maybe a few tins of moldering kasha — nobody seems to remember how many for sure. And, as Mr. Warder points out, it ended not with the bang of peace but the whimper of armistice.
Heaping calumny on China’s President Xi Jingping for not “fixing” the Kim Jong-un problem is pointless. Beijing has to balance keeping the advantage of a communist buffer state against the disadvantage of scared-witless North Koreans flooding mid-war across the Yalu (crossing the 38th into the South during the war would be virtually impossible militarily, some say).
In the end, the U.S. has no God-given, Constitution-given or international law-given right to make war on nations that keep developing nukes and missiles after we tell them not to. We do have a God-given right to strike – to obliterate if necessary – before being obliterated. Mr. Kim will do well to keep that in mind.
Mr. Tillerson’s baritone is booming the right course for now. The saber-rattling has got to stop before it rattles our own senses.
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