U.S. propagandists and the mainstream media present foreign crises, like the current one with North Korea, as black-and-white morality plays with Official Washington behaving wisely and the adversaries as crazy. But the reality is always more complex, as Christine Hong told Dennis J. Bernstein.
By Dennis J. Bernstein
In early March, the U.S. and South Korea launched an expanded set of war games on the Korean Peninsula, prompting concerns in some circles that the military exercises might touch off an escalation of tensions with North Korea.
Christine Hong, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, worried that the U.S. “was lurching towards war” since “the military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea just launched are not defensive exercises” but rather appear to promote a “regime change” strategy.
Those military pressures have, indeed, led to threats of escalation from North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, and have set the Korean security situation at “hair-trigger dangerous,” Professor Hong said in the following interview with Dennis J. Bernstein.
DB: There’s a lot of disinformation and patriotic reporting coming out of the U.S. Why don’t you tell us what is going on right now. What is the situation and how dangerous is it?
CH: You put your finger on it. All we see is media reporting that singularly ascribes blame to North Korea, which is portrayed as a kind of unquestionable evil, so what the U.S. is doing in response to the supposed provocation seems eminently justified. I think we are in a crisis point. It doesn’t feel dissimilar to the kind of media rhetoric that surrounded the run-up to the U.S. invasion in Iraq. During that time also, there was a steady drumbeat to war.
If we were to look at the facts, what do those facts tell us? I will give one example of the inverted logic that is operative, coming out of the media and U.S. administration. In a recent Pentagon press conference, [Defense Secretary] Chuck Hagel was asked whether or not the U.S. sending D2 stealth bombers from Missouri to fly and conduct a sortie over South Korea and drop what the DOD calls inert munitions in a simulated run against North Korea could be understood as provocative. He said no, they can’t be understood as provocative. And it was dutifully reported as such.
What we have is a huge informational landscape in which the average person who listens to these reports can’t make heads or tails of what is happening. What has happened since Kim Jong Un has come into his leadership position in North Korea is that the U.S. has had a policy of regime change.
We tend to think of regime change operations and initiatives as a signature or hallmark policy of the Bush administration. But we have seen under President Barak Obama a persistence of the U.S. policy of getting rid of those powers it finds uncooperative around the world. To clarify what I mean, after Kim Jong Il passed away [in December 2011], the U.S. and South Korea launched the biggest and longest set of war exercises they ever conducted. And for the first time it openly exercised O Plan 5029, which is a U.S. war plan that essentially simulates regime collapse in North Korea. It also envisions U.S. forces occupying North Korea.
What is routine during these war exercises, which are ongoing right now, as we speak, is they simulate nuclear strikes against North Korea. These workings are a combination of simulated computer-assisted activity as well as live fire drills. Last year, the first year of Kim Jong Un’s leadership, a South Korean official was asked about the O Plan 5029 and why he was exercising this regime collapse scenario. He said the death of Kim Jong Il makes the situation ripe to exercise precisely this kind of war plan.
It’s almost impossible for us in the United States to imagine Mexico and the historic foe of the U.S., Russia, conducting joint exercises that simulate an invasion of the United States and a foreign occupation of the United States. That is precisely what North Korea has been enduring for several decades.
DB: For some time now, the press has been stenographers for the State Department. There is no independent reporting about this. You don’t see it in either the conservative or the liberal press. We do not understand the level and intensity of the so-called war games that happen offshore of North Korea. You made a dramatic point about imagining if North Korea wanted to conduct war games off the coast of the United States. The press plays a key role here in fanning the flames of a dangerous situation. How dangerous do you perceive the situation is now?
CH: I think that it’s hair-trigger dangerous. There are many reasons for this. Even the commanding general of the U.S. armed forces in Korea, James Thurman, said that even the smallest miscalculation could lead to catastrophic consequences. Even though many blame North Korea, I think everyone realizes this is a very volatile situation that has gone entirely unreported in the U.S. media.
China has stepped up its military presence. You have a situation where China is amassing its forces along the North Korea-China border, sending military vehicles to this area, conducting controlled flights over this area. It’s also conducted its own live fire drills in the West Sea. So you have a situation which is eerily reminiscent of the Korean War, in which you can envision alliances like the U.S. and South Korea, with China in some echo that slips into a relationship with North Korea.
I think it’s a very dangerous situation we are in right now. The abysmal nature of the reporting is that all you hear is jingoistic. One thing we need to understand is that U.S. and North Korean relations must be premised on peace. For over six decades, the relations have been premised on war. U.S. policy toward North Korea throughout the existence of North Korea has been one of regime change.
If you understand the basis of the relations of war, you realize that war doesn’t just get conducted on the level of battles or simulated battles. It gets conducted on terrain of information. So when you think about it that way, it’s easy to understand why misinformation and disinformation prevails with the reporting of U.S. and North Korean relations.
DB: Secretary of State John Kerry called North Korea’s actions dangerous and reckless and he continues to be part of a policy to send the most advanced stealth fighting weaponry, as if they could name enough weapons that would back down the North Koreans.
You can’t document this, but what is your take on the many countries in the world who are cheering, maybe not in the foreground, that somebody finally said, “no, you can’t make believe that we are an aggressor. You can’t turn us into an enemy when you are having exercises with 60,000 troops. You can’t plan to invade us and expect us to just stand by.” I’m sure there are many countries and leaders, many revolutionaries in this world, who are taking note.
CH: Of course. That is the other inverted reality. There is the reality of those of us who are in the U.S. and locked into the limitations of our positions here, and the rest of the world. This is classic U.S. Cold War foreign policy. So much of what goes on in our name in U.S. foreign policy is far from pretty. It is a blood-soaked history.
If you pause to think about the lived reality of those people who are unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of U.S. foreign policy, then you realize that George Bush had that plaintive cry, “Why do they hate us?” It was a kind of soul-searching incapacity to understand the causes of anti-Americanism around the world. But as you say, if we are going to have a sensible approach to procuring any kind of common future with the rest of the world, we are going to have to reckon with our foreign policy. And that is something that has yet to be done.
DB: I do get the feeling that the U.S. foreign policy is at least in part predicated on keeping a divide between the North and the South.
CH: Let’s go back to history. You nailed it. Since the inception of something called North Korea and South Korea, the U.S. has been instrumental throughout. If you go back to 1945, you see that scarcely three days after the bombing of Nagasaki, two junior U.S. army officers, Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel retired to a small room armed with nothing more than a National Geographic map of the Korean peninsula, through which, in a 30-minute session, with absolutely no consultation of any Korean, divided the Korean peninsula. This division of the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel into north and south, and the creation of a southern government, had no popular legitimacy.
North Korea had a very long anti-colonial history relative to the Japanese. What was created is a divided system in which one in three Korean families at that time were separated. So a kind of state is visited on the Koreans who were colonized by the Japanese and were not a war aggressor during WW II. What this eventually assured is that there would be a civil war of national unification that would be fought by both sides, the North and South.
That tension has hurt U.S. purposes. The U.S. claims that it is doing all these very provocation actions, the stealth bombers, etc, because it needs to give a show of support to its South Korean ally. But of course, this fundamentally misunderstands history and the fact that the U.S., from the beginning, has exploited the division for its own geopolitical advantage.
DB: What do we know about what is happening in the South? Is there a grassroots movement that includes unity and shows concern for this kind of U.S. hegemony in the region?
CH: Absolutely. The specter of a nuclear war and a U.S. nuclear strike against North Korea would not just impact those people who live above the 38th parallel. It would inevitably impact the rest of the peninsula, environmentally, and in every way. These are two countries that are very much tied through families, communities, etc. This is an unimaginable outcome.
When the South Korean people have been polled as to which country they think is the greater threat, the United States or North Korea, they point to the United States. In the South, as well as in the North, 60 years represents a full lifetime.
South Korean progressive activists have said “We had 60 years of a war system.” 2013 will be the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice that brought the Korean War to a temporary halt, but did not end the Korean War. After six decades of a war system, they have said 2013 is the first year of Korean peace. We’ve had 60 years of war, and we are inaugurating a new era of peace.
Heaven forbid the U.S. continues its strategy for de-nuclearizing North Korea. North Korea believes that nuclear power is the basis of its sovereignty. Heaven forbid that the U.S., rather than finding a way of co-existing with North Korea, actually deploys nuclear power to stop nuclearization. That would be the greatest irony of all.
DB: Amazing. If you had ten minutes to advise Barak Obama about what U.S. foreign policy might be helpful, what would you say?
CH: I would say that the U.S. would secure so many gains were it seriously to consider peace. Both Donald Gregg, the head of CIA in South Korea for many years and also the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, and Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and someone who actually runs a humanitarian aid organization that provides food relief in North Korea, both said, after Dennis Rodman returned from North Korea, that the message he was conveying to Obama was “Call me. We don’t want war.” They both stated that however irregular the form of the message, it could not be ignored.
Most U.S. presidents get a vision in their second term. In regard to North Korea, even G.W. Bush said engagement and diplomacy was the only way forward. I would only hope that Barack Obama would come to his senses about North Korea as well.
Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.
The Cheonan was attacked. I’ve personally seen the ship. The blast radius goes inwards instead of outwards. Wiring and items were melted and fused together from the heat of the blast. If it was a simple fire from the inside the ship it would not have damage the rotary blades if the ship like it did with this ship. The explosion occurred BENEATH the ship and has such force that it blew a whole inward, ripped a blade off the rotary propeller, bent the other propellers and caused a fire so hot that even with water rushing in, it fused wires and radio equipment together.
Elisha Calvo, there’s room enough for a broader interpretation here. Discarded torpedoes and similar explosive devises such as sea mines are strewn across the oceans floor in that area. At any time, perhaps something as mild as the wake of a ship or school of fish can set the detonators off.
The old style fulminate and azides become very unstable from both high salinity and aging.
I can tell you straight up that no nuclear exchange from either side was simulated during Key Resolve. Nor were 60,000 troops used in the exercise, it was less than 28,000. The simulation was based around an initial North Korean assault, and lots of shelling on Seoul. South Korean units, mostly supported by American air power and Air Defense (my branch) destroy their logistical base and move in. The North Korean army breaks down, and the South Koreans mop up. Any American forces that went into the North Korean border resume their position in South Korea at the first opportunity. If Korea is re-unified, it will be led by South Korea.
Also, contrary to what is implied, South Korea is taking control of joint military command by 2015, and American forces will be consolidated on a few bases. I don’t know if the actual numbers of personnel will decrease, but I have no idea how they’re going to squeeze more personnel onto fewer bases, most of which have huge urban areas surrounding them at this point.
I was reading above and was Orwellian.
And North Korean assisting nuclear programs in Iran and Pakistan.
Hardly progressive states, I assume.
And there’s the report from the quite progressive Amnesty International…
And if you want a nice map on North Korean prison camps
here’s another one.
It turns out the annual execise this year is for an invasion of NK, following regime-collapse (which is unlikely to occur), to secure nuclear weapons and fillile material.
The answer is what is done with deterrent weapons if they are threatened?
Columnnews.com is to be congratulated for its work.
It is far worse than that. In 2010 the US was preparing for invasion as a “Humanitarian War”, believing that the Chinese would notobject to the reunification of Korea under their guy.
This poses the question were the ship-sinking and island bombardment False Flag attacks to justify it.
Then came the pnic stricken PolitBureau meeting in a Manchurian city in August.
Granted that the US has been provocative; they haven’t published fantasy films of US cities in flames. Mature countries don’t do that even if they are planning something bad. The Chinese and Russians have been dealing with US for sixty+ years and they don’t mouth off like that. Even during the Cuban missle crisis, the closest we ever came to nuclear war, the rhetoric wasn’t as heated as this guy. Fortunately Krushchev realized his mistake and negotiated a reasonable solution with Kennedy, in secret( even from Dept of State, which Kennedy did not trust). They both kept their public statements to a minimum.
Pumpkin face, on the other hand, has demonstrated his total lack of diplomatic ability, stupidity and likely insanity by making moves and statements that actually invite an attack by his opponents. One can talk of US provocation all you want but it was the North that had shelled that disputed island three years ago, and likely sunk a S. Korean ship. This is not the way you deal with a real threat; especially when you have a military with obsolete weapons, an army that is so malnourished that 40% can’t do field operations, and no way to effectively deliver the much rattled nukes. If the US is truly being provocative, he is certainly falling for the bait; and has no consideration for what could happen to his fiefdom and his malnourished people.
China has overtly declared it would like to see the peninsula reunified. They are duly fed up with the North’s nonsense. Their military activities are what is to be expected in any likely conflict on their border, regardless of which side they prefer to prevail. If anyone can effect regime change in N. Korea it is China; which would be the way to go. Kim is a danger to himself, his country and all his neighbors; that defines insanity.
oops I meant to say N. Korean cities in flames in the first sentence.
I don’t think “Pumpkin Face” (love that!) is really in charge, except nominally. In those pictures they released with the generals standing behind and around him the guy looks more like a panicked kid trying to appease them or like he walked into a biker bar and is trying to show the bikers he is one of them as he trembles while trying to talk the talk. Kind of like imagining Curtis Le May being given free reign to push John Kennedy into a first-strike nuclear war over Cuba. Kennedy, at least, held his own against the Le May contingent. I’m not so sure about this kid “in charge of” North Korea.
If the guys in funny hats standing behind him are anything like the Japanese military elite at the end of WWII you may have a point; which is scary because the Japanese officer core was ready to sacrifice every man, woman and child before surrender. Although I doubt it, N. Korea has been a feudalistic society with a hereditary ruler for a long time; and that culture tends to adore its emperor. Unless it is all a facade.
In retrospect I found the article disappointing,; I think the Guardian did better on this issue; although they have less historical information.
I think it exaggerates US interest in “regime change”, as the US has until now been more interested in Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program.
“it was the North that had shelled that disputed island three years ago, and likely sunk a S. Korean ship.”
The shelling of Yeonpyeong Island was in response to US shelling in DPRK waters. Territorial waters, according to accepted maritime boundary understandings, extend 12nm (1nm = 6076ft) from the coast.
The 1953 Armistice Agreement established a demarcation line and a demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the land, but not on the water. The UN unilaterally set a â€œNorthern Limit Lineâ€ (NLL) off North Korea’s coast in August 1953. This line is only 3nm from the coast, which according to recognized maritime terminology is the boundary of “coastal waters.” not “territorial waters” (12nm).
This map shows the â€œNorthern Limit Lineâ€ (NLL). The line was unilaterally set by the US led United Nations military forces on August 30, 1953. It is not officially recognized by DPRK (North Korea). In particular, it is not included into the Armistice Agreement of 1953.
The bogus NLL places islands that would properly belong to DPRK under the control of South Korea (ROK) as shown on this map (Yeonpyeong Island is #3).
“Likely sunk a S. Korean ship” should be “didn’t sink a S. Korean ship” — there was no sign of an explosion. news reports:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the evidence “overwhelming” that the Cheonan, a South Korean warship that sank in March, was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Vice President Joe Biden has cited the South Korean-led panel investigating the sinking as a model of transparency.
But challenges to the official version of events are coming from an unlikely place: within South Korea.
Armed with dossiers of their own scientific studies and bolstered by conspiracy theories, critics dispute the findings announced May 20 by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which pointed a finger at Pyongyang.
They also question why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship’s sinking, on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections. Many accuse the conservative leader of using the deaths of 46 sailors to stir up anti-communist sentiment and sway the vote.
The critics, mostly but not all from the opposition, say it is unlikely that the impoverished North Korean regime could have pulled off a perfectly executed hit against a superior military power, sneaking a submarine into the area and slipping away without detection. They also wonder whether the evidence of a torpedo attack was misinterpreted, or even fabricated.
“I couldn’t find the slightest sign of an explosion,” said Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist. “The sailors drowned to death. Their bodies were clean. We didn’t even find dead fish in the sea.”
The U.S. military isn’t needed in Korea. ROK has a fine, advanced military, a stringer economy and more people. US troops in Korea is an anachronism in Korea mainly to conduct provocations. This is in accord with the US foreign policy to cause instability in as many places as possible.
No explosion, when the ship was raised it was in two big pieces. A ship that small doesn’t break apart by itself, unlike some huge tankers. Look at the pictures, the bottom of the vessel is bent upwards as is typical of an explosion occurring underneath.
The only other plausible explanation is unplanned by a US rising mine which accidentally deployed, the Chinese theory.
… US shelling in DPRK waters…” Those were practice operations, the N. Koreans aimed at and killed real live people.
“This is in accord with the US foreign policy to cause instability in as many places as possible.” Obviously you know nothing about the history of US foreign policy. The US had always aimed for long term stability, except when trying to overthrow someone. Of course, it is stability on its own terms, instability is NOT good for investment, business or good for the global economy which it used to be on top of, and we all know that is what counts in DC. However, the US’s bungling and over aggressiveness frequently confounds its own goals, however productive or unproductive they may be.
In reply to John Thomas, I can’t resist the temptation of unearthing Dostoyevsky’s very own, “organs of the state” and his colorful analogy to your comments. I will endeavor to explain; The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has an appendix, attached to it’s (vegetative) organs, presently known as North Korea. At some point it will become infected and will require surgical removal, most likely by physicians (generals) from the CCP. The inverted ant hill of underground networks coupled with the North Korean long standing reputation as expert diggers, leads me to believe that they are in the process of storing Chinese rice and canning human flesh as chicken meat, all in preparation for a regional nuclear war. Their current leader UN, is just one of many, in a string of Barons tolerated by the CCP for reasons unknown, never the less, they’re mere existence adds credence to another memorable phrase, “the inscrutable Chinese”. My guess is, there will come a time when the acquisition of raw materials from ocean floor surfaces and depths below the South China Sea, islands included, will require confiscation by brute force. North Korea will be the excuse or pawn that the CCP will use to justify a claim on the these treasures. I don’t know the sequence of events or how they will evolve, but you can count on it!
Promoting liberty and freedom via an industrial military complex and disincentive entitlement system is perhaps the reason we will go down in flames under a debt burden that is certainly unsustainable. But Ill take that over standing by while a new hitler continues to oppress an entire country. Liberty and freedom will prevail one way or another and perhaps our calling is for that ultimate sacrifice. Despite all of our problems and divide domestically I know of no better death than to go down standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
Empires eventually fall, but we are the first with the opportunity to fall while promoting freedom. As they say, “it’s a good death” cheers mate.
No, John! The Thing of It Is: It won’t be just you who “takes it”!
Don, North Korea has announced that it will no longer abide by the armistice at least 6 times, in the years 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2013. I agree that we didn’t adhere to this agreement in the 50’s but also ask that we really focus on today and forward. The people of NK are starving abused and oppressed by an evil evil regime, i could care less about getting involved but a part of me wonders wether or not we should at this point of no return re nukes. I think Korea needs to unify and it will happen with or without our involvement
But. Would you prefer it under a NK dictator or under the free people of South Korea? Would the north koreans be better under a democratic and sympathetic south jorean people? I want to say we should stay out of it, but I once watched a woman get mugged in NYC and didn’t do a thing to help because it wasn’t my problem,,,,,I still regret that to this day.
The Armistice has been violated by the U.S., as I stated above. Coming back with DPRK violations is irrelevant, particularly considering that it’s the mightiest power in the world against one of the poorest. Calling DPRK names is also unhelpful, particularly considering that the U.S. leveled North Korean cities with aerial bombing in 1950.
The U.S. needs to get out of Korea — ROK is one of the richest, best-militarized countries in the world and the U.S. isn’t needed there. The U.S. has retained command of the ROK army, won’t give it up, in order to keep its heel on ROK.
The people in Korea want a better relationship but the U.S. will not permit it — pulling stunts like the latest planned provocation with war games, F-22s and B-2s. The best way to improve the situation, which the U.S. doesn’t want to do, would be reconciliation, not reunification. This might be a EU-type relationship between north and south, DPRK and ROK.
So, John, your solution to the starvation and abuse of the NK people is to irradiate them to death? It would take out SK people, as well, in addition to a lot of US troops, Chinese, Japanese. If you could watch someone get mugged, understand that your own fear paralyzed you, yet learn nothing about how to behave in the diplomatic arena, how much have you learned, really? How much more wise could the bumbling US military be?
It doesn’t matter if the U.S. war games were defensive, or provocative, or anything else because they are prohibited by the 1953 Armistice Agreement and illegal no matter how they are characterized.
The United Nations and North Korea are still in a state of war. The 1953 Armistice Agreement was supposed to presage a peaceful settlement and the withdrawal of all foreign troops.
** with the objective of establishing an armistice which will insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved,**
** within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.**
This armistice is being violated by the US and South Korea.
* acts of armed force
* no conference
* no withdrawal of foreign troops (US)
But hey, Korea is the gift that keeps on giving to the MIC. It promotes the continued US military occupation of South Korea (ROK), the continued US command of ROK troops, and the annual provocative US “war games” that get the desired results from North Korea.
Is the argument here that Kim Jung Un is a great leader who treats his people compassionately and with respect? A simple yes or no would suffice. I am guessing there will be no direct answers. Can you imagine if we lived under a similar regime? Nobody’s perfect and our military industrial complex needs to go…but c’mon. I get the feeling you can’t say that Kim is good for his people and should stay in power. Yes, perhaps we aren’t the one to decide that but if not us then who? I hate being the world police but can we at least agree that he is not a good thing for the people of NOrth Korea?
Chris T. Who’s going to save us the US from our tyrants? WMD lies, is Iraq better off now than before we rode in and “saved” them from Sadam? My answer is absolutely NOT. Is Libya better off without Khadfi? Absolutely NOT! Nor will the NK be better off. Let them live their lives and solve their problems with government by themselves. When we need a revolution in this country(USA)we the people will need to rise and be brave for our children and our own freedom to live as we like. From what I read here in the comments it seems that if the USA was not over there the North and South may have just have solved their own problems.
P.S. you all voted for Obama, why don’t you hold him accountable for a change? The Bush game is getting old…..
Getting tired of people who say “you all voted for Obama”; are you clairvoyant, I doubt it. You have no basis to make that statement, it is merely your own fantasy. Besides many did not vote for Obama, they voted against a nut case who wanted to restart the cold war with Russia and would have probably already bombed Iran.
Mike, we’ve NEVER voted for the Pentagon, but that’s who is holding Obama’s leash.
Many cults ended in a tragic fashion.
Wasn’t it Donald Rumsfeld who promoted commercial nuclear power in North Korea?, approached construction giant ABB of Zurich and lobbied congress to that end? Wasn’t it President Clinton who sealed the deal? I get the eeriest feeling sometimes that this political maneuver and others like it (the Dimona reactor for Israel) are nothing but seed material deliberately planted to promote future wars. Any corporate portfolio develops plans well in advance as do the lobbyists (Rumsfeld) for the military, industrial congressional complex. I’m suggesting that the French government knew Dimona would inspire envy and hate among the worlds one billion Muslims. A similar scenario can be drawn from the North Korea experience, the commercial nuclear power plants were, in effect, bomb factories. They inevitably inspired fear in the immediate neighborhood, guaranteeing renewed military alliances and expenditures, oddly with the original instigators (France in the former and the USA, the latter). On a wholly different level of agitation, ask yourself the question; where was humanity when two million North Koreans were eating bark off trees? Hasn’t anyone noticed that Il’s son is the only well fed face in any photo ops? There are rumors that the North Koreans have a “Soylent Green” program (cannibalism). How many wars through out history began with hunger and starvation? and add to this cauldron, hatred and fear?
Every American should be encouraged to look at this situation in terms of the rhetoric of our own foreign policy. By threatening “nuclear war”, Kim Jong Un is basically turning our own words against us: “All options are on the table”. By uttering these seemingly ill advised words, we have now backed ourselves into a corner on two fronts. Kim cannot wage nuclear war, and both sides know it. But, neither can the United States, because China could never condone it. Power is the ability to do something. That must include the ability to change course. The war mongers, like Imhofe, would have us attack now in a show of force. Short of resorting to the nuclear option, that would fail. So, the net result is a loss for the United States. We will not back down, except to perhaps to soften the rhetoric, which will be a victory for Kim: he will have successfully dissuaded the “Yankee Imperialists” from their path of aggression once again. The real risk is that China, unwilling to host a nuclear slag heap on its border, will quietly take charge of the North Korean government. The President’s option to “give me [Kim] a call” will then evaporate forever. If we do attack, Kim’s posturing will appear to have been warranted. Again, he will be a hero in the eyes of most of the world, which by now regards “Yankee Imperialism” as an accurate summation of American foreign policy. South Korea will not be grateful, as their economic tranquility will be sorely disrupted. So too will Japan’s. Ultimately, the outcome of this entire misadventure is likely to be the strategy of weakness: “Maintain the status quo”. The alternative is another Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya. By keeping, as the young leader’s mentors in Washington have so thoroughly taught him, “All options on the table”, Kim has successfully defeated the United States of Americaâ€¦at least for the time being. Iran is also basking in the satisfaction of seeing the “Great Satan” hobbled again. Leadership implies power, regardless of how it is employed. Maintaining the status quo confirms that ours is on the demise. War is the last option before defeat by other means. Resorting to it as an alternative to politics suggests we’ve already lost.
I thought about the Rodman diplomacy for a bit, and I just wondered if, say, President O. got a basketball signed by some of the NBA’s finest, with a phone number to the Oval office and a message “Call Me”…would that convince skeptics on both sides that that Kim the younger saves face, by getting a signed b-ball, and our Pres gets to show strength with class…
I thought about the Rodman diplomacy for a bit, and I just wondered if, say, President O. sent a basketball signed by some of the NBA’s finest, with a phone number to the Oval office and a message “Call Me”…would that convince skeptics on both sides that that Kim the younger saves face, by getting a signed b-ball, and our Pres gets to show strength with class…
Robert, you are not only a handsome dog, you’re very smart. I hope my chocolate Lab grows up to be half as smart as you, but there’s not much hope.