News & Politics

War and Rumors of War

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

North Korea is a nuclear power and the only way to change that is to bomb the holy living crap out of them to destroy their nukes and perhaps even send in troops to finish the job.

Either war is a near dead certainty in 2018, or Donald Trump will humiliatingly climb off the ledge and retreat ignominiously — with Kim gloating all the way.

There will be no negotiations. There will be no 11th hour diplomacy. There will be no help from China or Russia to force Kim Jong-un to disarm. Kim’s bellicosity has been matched by Trump, much to the delight of many Americans who think that talking tough demonstrates strength.

Maybe it does. But it has also painted Trump into a corner where the choice is basically war or surrender. This is unfortunate since the situation on the Korean Peninsula is not Trump’s fault. North Korea has been trying to build a bomb since the 1990s and every president from Clinton to Obama enabled the Kim family to construct their monstrous toys.

Eliot Cohen writing in The Atlantic:

The president feels vindicated, smart, and self-confident beyond the outlandish egotism of his campaign days last year.

This is serious first and foremost because the North Korean threat is serious. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is correct when he notes that the North Koreans have always been willing to sell anything—literally anything—to anybody with the hard cash to buy it. That will be true of their nuclear weapons. It is indeed true that Pyongyang is on the verge of acquiring the ability to obliterate Los Angeles, and eventually Washington. It is certain that this regime has shown no respect for any international norms, let alone international law; that it has committed murder; that it lives in a psychotic cocoon of its own making; and that it will stop at nothing. And it is true, finally, that this dangerous circumstance is not of Trump’s making: It is rather the consequence of policies that bought time and offered no idea what to do with the time that was purchased through shifting combinations of diplomacy, bribes, sanctions, and skullduggery.

Any administration faced with these facts, and at this technological moment in the North Korean program, would have weighed carefully the possibility of a preventive war —it would be the prudent strategic thing to do. And then they would have walked away from it. A deliberately initiated war still runs the risk of a humanitarian disaster, because, as everyone now realizes, Seoul is within range of thousands of North Korean artillery tubes and rocket batteries. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, including American expats and dependents, would perish in the war that could be unleashed. Even assuming some magical technologies that enable the U.S. to disarm North Korea and decapitate its leadership, who is to say that the ensuing war would not have its way even so?

China isn’t even bothering to hope for the best. They are simply preparing for the worst.

The Chinese are reported to be preparing refugee camps along North Korean border. Resources are being shifted to observe and analyze the North Korean military. Mundane logistical processes of moving, stockpiling and updating critical items and preparing military personnel are under way. Only the biggest indicator—the evacuation of American dependents from South Korea—has yet to flash red, but, in the interest of surprise, that may not happen. America’s circumspect and statesmanlike Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, talks ominously of storm clouds gathering over Korea, while the commandant of the Marine Corps simply says “I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming.”

It was recently revealed that China is sending missiles and increased financial aid to North Korea while applying sanctions “symbolically.” They will apparently stop at nothing to keep the Kim regime in power, which means going to war against the United States if we make a move toward regime change.

We all recognize the danger from North Korea. We’re all aware of the titanic costs of going to war against them. But the ultimate question to be asked by Trump and all of us is simple:

Can we live on the same planet with a nuclear North Korea?