By: Gerald S. Manning. America’s chickens have come home to roost in North Korea. Four decades of complete mismanagement of the North Korea problem have put this nation in a precarious position. Kicking the can down the road does nothing but lead to a dead end. When dealing with international bullies willing to blackmail the world to consolidate power, each delay leads to less choices, and ultimately no choice at all.
North Korea is not only a nuclear power, but one capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the North American continent on ICBM’s. We can go in there and blow them up, but Seoul, South Korea, is literally a stone’s throw away from the North Korean border. No matter how successful an initial first strike against North Korea might be, South Korea would suffer tens of thousands of casualties if we don’t get it just right.
We are making the same mistake twice. We are repeating our misguided foreign policy with Iran. Barack Obama affirmed in his Iranian treaty that at the end of Obama’s rainbow…Iran will be a nuclear power. What’s more…he gave them billions of dollars in cash, on pallets, to do it. Some of it has made its way into North Korea which has been cooperating with Iran in nuclear weapons development.
Donald Trump talked some strong talk yesterday describing what would happen to North Korea if they mess with us. North Korea, he said, would see fire and fury such as never been seen in the world before. Translated: you will be toast. He got lots of criticism for his comments, mostly from those who have allowed this situation to develop in the first place. Old habits die hard.
Foreign policy is, to a great extent, based in perception rather than reality. What governments are actually capable of and willing to do is different from what other governments perceive they will do. That is how the Cold War ended and the demise of the Soviet Union. The Soviet leaders believed Ronald Reagan had the capability and technology for his Star Wars defense system. America didn’t, but that was irrelevant. The Soviets had neither the will, or more importantly the money, to engage in such a massive technological enterprise to keep up with the United States. It capitulated.
By the same token, America was frightened of a nation that overtly projected massive amounts of power. Yet anyone visiting the Soviet Union knew that it was barely able to deliver electricity and running water to its citizens who lived in dilapidated government housing with no food to eat earning worthless currency at their jobs. “We pretend to work. They pretend to pay us.” The nuclear melt-down at Chernobyl was the ultimate event that showed the Emperor had no clothes.
Trump’s task is to make North Korea, China, and Russia believe that we are willing to take their nuclear infrastructure out notwithstanding the consequences. He must make China believe that we would severely impair its ability to do business in the United States as well as provide nuclear weapons to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. China and Russia both have to weigh how much they are willing to gamble on North Korea. To accomplish that, Trump needs to ratchet up the rhetoric, increase our military presence along the South and North Korea border, increase offensive and defensive weapon’s systems around Seoul, and park out submarines, battleships and air craft carriers off the North Korean coast in North Korean waters.
Trump has surrounded himself with the best foreign policy team I have seen in my lifetime. These are top-notch military people who have faced many crises over the years. However this plays out in North Korea is how it will play out in Iran several years from now. He needs to hang tough.