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‘Little Rocket Man’ Wins the Round

After a year in which he tested a hydrogen bomb and an ICBM, threatened to destroy the United States, and called President Trump “a dotard,” Kim Jong Un, at the gracious invitation of the president of South Korea, will be sending a skating team to the “Peace Olympics.

An impressive year for Little Rocket Man.

Thus the most serious nuclear crisis since Nikita Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba appears to have abated. Welcome news, even if the confrontation with Pyongyang has probably only been postponed.

Still, we have been given an opportunity to reassess the 65-year-old Cold War treaty that obligates us to go to war if the North attacks Seoul, and drove us to the brink of war today.

2017 demonstrated that we need a reassessment. For the potential cost of carrying out our commitment is rising exponentially.

Two decades ago, a war on the Korean Peninsula, given the massed Northern artillery on the DMZ, meant thousands of U.S. dead.

Today, with Pyongyang’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, American cities could face Hiroshima-sized strikes, if war breaks out.

What vital U.S. interest is there on the Korean Peninsula that justifies accepting in perpetuity such a risk to our homeland?

change_me

We are told that Kim’s diplomacy is designed to split South Korea off from the Americans. And this is undeniably true.

For South Korean President Moon Jae-in is first and foremost responsible for his own people, half of whom are in artillery range of the DMZ. In any new Korean war, his country would suffer most.

And while he surely welcomes the U.S. commitment to fight the North on his country’s behalf as an insurance policy, Moon does not want a second Korean war, and he does not want President Trump making the decision as to whether there shall be one.

Understandably so. He is looking out for South Korea first.

Yet Moon rightly credits Trump with bringing the North Koreans to the table: “I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I’d like to thank him for that.”

But again, what are the U.S. interests there that we should be willing to put at risk of nuclear attack tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Korea and our bases in Asia, and even our great cities, in a war that would otherwise be confined to the Korean Peninsula?

China shares a border with the North, but is not treaty-bound to fight on the North’s behalf. Russia, too, has a border with North Korea, and, with China, was indispensable to saving the North in the 1950-53 war. But Russia is not committed by any treaty to fight for the North.

Why, then, are Americans obligated to be among the first to die in a second Korean War? Why is the defense of the South, with 40 times the economy and twice the population of the North, our eternal duty?

Kim’s drive for a nuclear deterrent is propelled by both fear and calculation. The fear is that the Americans who detest him will do to him and his regime and country what they did to Saddam Hussein.

The calculation is that what Americans fear most, and the one thing that deters them, is nuclear weapons. Once Soviet Russia and Communist China acquired nukes, the Americans never attacked them.

If he can put nuclear weapons on U.S. troops in Korea, U.S. bases in Japan, and U.S. cities, Kim reasons, the Americans will not launch a war on him. Have not recent events proven him right?

Iran has no nuclear weapons and some Americans clamor daily for “regime change” in Tehran. But because Kim has nukes, the Americans appear more anxious to talk. His policy is succeeding.

What he is saying with his nuclear arsenal is: As you Americans have put my regime and country at risk of annihilation, I am going to put your cities at risk. If we go down in your nuclear “fire and fury,” so, too, will millions of Americans.

The whole world is watching how this plays out.

For the American Imperium, our system of alliances, is held together by a credible commitment: If you attack any of our scores of allies, you are at war with the United States.

From the Baltic to the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf, from the South China Sea to Korea and Japan today, the costs and the risks of maintaining the imperium are growing.

With all these promissory notes out there—guarantees to go to war for other nations—one is inevitably going to be called.

And this generation of Americans, unaware of what their grandfathers obligated them to do, will demand to know, as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan: What are we over doing there, on the other side of the world?

“America First” is more than a slogan.

Patrick J. Buchanan’s latest book is Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "‘Little Rocket Man’ Wins the Round"

#1 Comment By Realist On January 12, 2018 @ 2:57 am

“‘Little Rocket Man’ Wins the Round”

Against Trump….not much of a challenge.

#2 Comment By Sean On January 12, 2018 @ 6:49 am

The U.S. killed three million Koreans, 90% civilian. Their crime? Trying to reunify after being torn in two by foreigners acting in their own interests. Would you surrender your one card to such a brutal assailant?

#3 Comment By Christian Chuba On January 12, 2018 @ 8:43 am

As Pat has pointed out, Kim Jong-un spent the year developing a miniaturized, two stage thermonuclear weapon and ICBM. Now he can bargain from a position of strength but the foreign policy establishment applauded applauded Trump’s tough rhetoric.

A quibble

“Today, with Pyongyang’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, American cities could face Hiroshima-sized strikes, if war breaks out”

It would be worse than Hiroshima, that had a blast yield of 21kt, N. Korea’s blast was over 100kt and exhibited the signs of a two stage thermonuclear device.

#4 Comment By Cstahnke On January 12, 2018 @ 10:16 am

It’s hard for Americans to move away from a domineering military posture. War and the military are still very popular with an American citizenry that values violence and the use of force almost for its own sake.

#5 Comment By Dan Green On January 12, 2018 @ 10:29 am

If NK is in fact a threat to the US, the reality is this issue has been left un-attened to for so long , it now has a solution. Welcome NK to the Nuke club.

#6 Comment By b. On January 12, 2018 @ 11:29 am

“China shares a border with the North [..] Russia, too, has a border with North Korea [..] Why is the defense of the South, with 40 times the economy and twice the population of the North, our eternal duty?”

The answer is right there – because a unified Korea will have a border with Russia and China, and will have US bases “defending” it, and US missile defense. Just as the currently defended South Korea does.

The Great Gamblers have not given up on regime change and opened markets in Russia and China, and never will.

America? Oligarchy Profits First.

#7 Comment By Egypt Steve On January 12, 2018 @ 12:49 pm

Re: “Yet Moon rightly credits Trump with bringing the North Koreans to the table: “I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I’d like to thank him for that.”

Trump’s tough talk wasn’t supposed to get the North Koreans to the table. It was supposed to get them to give up their nuclear weapons. Trump got played, again, and now he’s trying to play the base, again.

#8 Comment By ukm1 On January 12, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

Why does American govt. spend so much money in military spending that exceeds all combined military spending(s) of Europe and Asia?

Why does American govt. threaten North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran NOW after almost destroying Iraq, Syria, Libya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vietnam, and Korea?

Why does American govt. want to go to war against Russia for the tiny and insignificant Baltic States that most Americans do not even know where they are located a global map?

The real reason is here:

American government’s national debt is now more than 20 trillion U.S. dollars.

By the time, President Trump leaves the Oval Office either in 2021 or in 2025, American national debt will grow even bigger than what it is today!

The only way will remain for American govt. then is to start non-stop wars in Middle East and the Far East WITHOUT having to pay-off the creditors of American national debts in excess of 40 trillion U.S. dollars with trillions of dollars of annual interest-payments on existing national debt.

Non-stop wars in foreign-lands will wipe out American national problem of humongous debt.

When American govt. will wage war on the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. Dept. of Treasury will confiscate all Chinese assets within the United States and abroad.

Current Chinese government’s holding(s) of 3 trillion U.S. dollars of American Treasury Securities will be nullified by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury!

No other country on earth — with the exception of Japan — has so much national debt with an utterly credit-based American economy!

Neither Republicans nor Democrats are at all concerned about American national debt in their talks for giving amnesty to 50 million illegals already living inside America.

So, reneging on the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iranian govt. now is a good start from the current Trump administration of the United States of America in war-preparation(s).

#9 Comment By ukm1 On January 12, 2018 @ 1:15 pm

Why does American govt. spend so much money in military spending that exceeds all combined military spending(s) of Europe and Asia?

Why does American govt. threaten North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran NOW after almost destroying Iraq, Syria, Libya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vietnam, and Korea?

Why does American govt. want to go to war against Russia for the tiny and insignificant Baltic States that most Americans do not even know where they are located on a global map?

The real reason is here:

American government’s national debt is now more than 20 trillion U.S. dollars.

By the time, President Trump leaves the Oval Office either in 2021 or in 2025, American national debt will grow even bigger than what it is today!

The only way will remain for American govt. then is to start non-stop wars in Middle East and the Far East WITHOUT having to pay-off the creditors of American national debts in excess of 40 trillion U.S. dollars with trillions of dollars of annual interest-payments on existing national debt.

Non-stop wars in foreign-lands will wipe out American national problem of humongous debt.

When American govt. will wage war on the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. Dept. of Treasury will confiscate all Chinese assets within the United States and abroad.

Current Chinese government’s holding(s) of 3 trillion U.S. dollars of American Treasury Securities will be nullified by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury!

No other country on earth — with the exception of Japan — has so much national debt with an utterly credit-based American economy!

Neither Republicans nor Democrats are at all concerned about American national debt in their talks for giving amnesty to 50 million illegals already living inside America.

So, reneging on the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iranian govt. now is a good start from the current Trump administration of the United States of America in war-preparation(s).

#10 Comment By Paul Clayton, aka Carl Melcher On January 12, 2018 @ 2:43 pm

As a Vietnam draftee (Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam), I know most American boys will NOT put themselves under fire for South Korea. Especially these latest generations. So, in that regard, the trip line does not make sense. But how to graciously un-tether ourselves from these commitments made when American power was unassailable? I’ll leave that up to Pat to explain in a future article. Underneath the latest Korean bluster and threat, is their master, China. China is using North Korea to cow South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. Where will this go? Will Japan voluntarily become a pet state of the Chinese or will they begin to nuclearize? There is much to be concerned with here and much for novelists to mull over.

#11 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On January 12, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

Christian Chuba,

Now he can bargain from a position of strength but the foreign policy establishment applauded applauded Trump’s tough rhetoric.

By the way, that’s the primary difference between Trump and all the previous presidents after the end of the Cold War, Republican and Democratic. His “hawkishness” is still only verbal. He still hasn’t attacked any new country. A huge (and an overdue) improvement. I wonder whether progressive Trump-induced meltdowns on Twitter are so time-consuming that they cannot notice such a glaring change.

***

Cstahnke,

War and the military are still very popular with an American citizenry that values violence and the use of force almost for its own sake.

The military is to be popular among citizens of any country. Even the war’s popularuty ain’t bad per se. The problem nests in the popularity of starting wars on trifling pretexts with no viable strategies of winning or even honorably quitting them.

#12 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 12, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

“What vital U.S. interest is there that justifies accepting this ongoing risk to our homeland?”

Nuclear “chicken” is a profitable game to some elite military-industrial-financial interests – until it suddenly ends. I suppose the hope is that only Koreans die, and the atmospheric radiation only gives cancer to a few more millions of Americans. (There’s big money in that, too.)

#13 Comment By LouisM On January 13, 2018 @ 1:35 pm

The surest way to a 1 term Trump administration is to start another war either with Iran or North Korea.

This is not to say that it wont happen. If it happens then it will be in the 2nd term when Trump is not worried about re-election and it will be a quick, decisive pre-emptive nuclear strike on North Korea military targets.

South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are the top 3 most rapidly depopulating countries in the world. Depopulating countries cannot afford further population loss due to war so I don’t see any of them interested in waging a war or in the US waging a proxy war for them. North Korea became an issue only when it had potential or actual capabilities to launch nuclear strikes on Guam and US Mainland and when China started militarizing the South China Sea. Therefore, this is not purely about North Korea. This is about both North Korea and China.

I’m am not privy to the same info as the president but its time to stop the military war banter and ending Chinese trade with the US or put severe import duties on trade with China, as well as Chinese students studying in the US, Chinese immigration and anchor babies, etc.

If China truly wants to militarize the South China Sea for hegemony over South Asian nations and North Korea to achieve hegemony over northeast Asian nations then its time to start unwinding relations with China.

Empty military threats and feeble diplomacy of begging are that of a declining power. As we all know from the history of dictators and totalitarian rulers, they smell the weakness and rot of declining powers. They have contempt for declining powers “all talk and no action.” Eventually the contempt is great enough to challenge the declining power for whatever prize they are seeking…in China’s case…the goal is pushing the US out of the pacific and back to Guam (and it is the surplus trade with the US that is financing their ability to do it).

Trump promised import taxes and I am still waiting for 1 to be levied! If we cant levy an import tax on Chinese goods how can we possibly be taken seriously on a military threat.

#14 Comment By Steve On January 14, 2018 @ 1:16 pm

I love the way people (Buchanan included) like to blame Trump for a problem he inherited, and that seems to be boiling to a froth just as he started his presidency. What would you do if you were president? Back off an let them have their way, and be forever in fear of what they will do next? We made that mistake once, and paid for it with a thing called Pearl Harbor.

#15 Comment By ukm1 On January 14, 2018 @ 2:07 pm

“What vital U.S. interest is there that justifies accepting this ongoing risk to our homeland?”

A former U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist named Robert E. McCoy says:

“Does all the U.S. blood and treasure invested in South Korea before, during and since the 1950-53 Korean War count for nothing?

Washington has stuck with Seoul through thick and thin for more than 70 years.

Now is hardly the time to bail.

The last reason listed above is why Seoul needs Washington’s nuclear umbrella as well as American troops and conventional weapons to continue deterring Pyongyang as well as soothing edgy foreign investors.

Equally important, the U.S. needs to stay involved with South Korea for all of the prior reasons, which are in American national interests.”

LINK

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#16 Comment By Dan Green On January 15, 2018 @ 9:29 am

Obvious we have to recourse but to live with the Rocket Man. Makes one wonder who will be next knowing we cannot do anything about such issues, nor care to. China and Russia probably have their own plans.