DECISION TIME FOR TRUMP: WILL NORTH KOREA EVADE ANOTHER PRESIDENT’S THREATS?

The following article appeared in the October 2017 edition of PROPHECY IN THE NEWS MAGAZINE. It describes why President Donald Trump is on the brink of not only the most important decision of his presidency but the most important decision in United States’ foreign policy since entering the Viet Nam conflict.

At stake:  why we must go to war with North Korea (NOKO), the possible use of nuclear weapons to reduce the casualties of our allies (and ourselves), and the threat that what Trump decides could launch World War III, given that NOKO has two big bodyguards:  Russia and China.

PLEASE READ AND SHARE.  Trump’s hint that we are on the cusp of war  (“The calm before the storm”) suggests we may be within days or weeks of a stunning event with enormous consequences for our nation. As reported by the New York Times,

What made Mr. Trump’s reference to the “calm before the storm” particularly tantalizing was the timing. For weeks, he has promised to retaliate against any North Korean aggression toward the United States. When Mr. Tillerson spoke in Beijing last week about seeking diplomatic channels to the North, Mr. Trump followed up with a tweet that his chief diplomat was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” the president’s nickname for the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.  (Click here for the full article –> NY TIMES).


Will something happen?  Must it happen?  Please read the article and let me know what you think.  Or subscribe to Prophecy in the News Magazine and read it there.


The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher

President Donald J. Trump faces the watershed moment for his presidency.  What to do about North Korea (NOKO)?  Before him stand crucial policy issues that reach far beyond determining whether sanctions or weapons will force Kim Jong Un to bend to the will of the West. Trump and the United States must step carefully because so much depends on how we address Pyongyang’s provocations.

The Brookings Institute, a leading think-tank addressing geopolitical issues, sums up the situation with these words: “Pyongyang’s threats against the United States and its allies warrant urgent attention and a degree of discipline that has been singularly lacking in the Trump administration, beginning with the president himself. They will require Trump and his senior advisers to make the most important decisions of his presidency.” [1]

This undated photo released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 11, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (front C) during a combat drill of the service personnel of the special operation battalion of the Korean People’s Army Unit 525.

While Kim Jong Un’s words infuriate most Americans and our President, the realities of going to war against NOKO are complex.  Kim Jong Un has two big “bodyguards” in Russia and China.  Going to war with Pyongyang makes war with the big boys a plausible outcome.  One analyst, Joel Skousen (World Affairs Brief) asserts that North Korea has always been the “trigger mechanism” planned by the enemies of the U.S. to start World War III.  That is, when Russia and China become fully capable and the U.S. power is sufficiently diminished, a war with North Korea will be the catalyst to launch a global war.  From the vantage point of these Asian powers, WWIII promises to defeat democracy and Western-style capitalism once and for all.  However, Skousen believes “that they are not ready yet.” [2] Essential new weapons are still two or more years away from production and deployment. Skousen’s counsel:  Trump must act now!

Is the Window of Opportunity Closing Fast?

Do we have a narrow window of opportunity?  Or is the reality that we have no opportunity. Most experts conjecture that the U.S. cannot afford a conventional invasion of the Korean Peninsula.  The only relevant U.S. assets belong to the Navy and a little-known department of the Pentagon, The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), established in 1983 (after Saddam Hussein’s SCUD missile attacks on Israel) to provide a multi-layered missile defense system for U.S. Allies.  Additionally, based upon Trump’s comments to the Philippine President Duterte, the U.S. has only two nuclear submarines in the region. And while there have been as many as three aircraft carrier groups in the region, at the present moment one is in Tokyo and the other two are back on the West Coast of the U.S. mainland.  Trump talks big, but our assets are not currently positioned to back up his “locked and loaded” tweet.

Plus, should the U.S. should choose to carry out a conventional attack, it must face several hard facts. NOKO has 20,000 artillery pieces at its disposal (according to Skousen 15% of these are hidden and will be hard to get at).  Additionally, Seoul – a city of ten million people – lies only 30 miles south of the 38th Parallel (the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ which divides North and South Korea). Therefore, apart from its other weapons, Seoul would be devastated by NOKO’s artillery. The potential for considerable loss of life in Seoul has confounded military planners for decades.

Indeed, although NOKO missiles have been the subject of threats and counter-threats, defensive systems already in place reduce the seriousness of their threat. America’s THAAD anti-missile systems (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the Navy’s AEGIS systems (Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System), guarantee that the U.S. can effectively protect South Korea and Japan from intermediate-range missiles for the foreseeable future.  Likewise, while NOKO may have 60-plus nuclear warheads just as they claim, Kim cannot assure the delivery of any of these warheads.  NOKO has no viable bomber aircraft and, until lately, its missiles have been considered second-rate.

However, and this is the key point, Pyongyang has made big strides in perfecting their mid-range and long-range missile systems (i.e., intercontinental ballistic missiles aka ICBMs). Within the past two months, NOKO has successfully tested their two long-range Hwasong-14 missiles, demonstrating the U.S. mainland now lies in range.  Furthermore, the recent nuclear test appears to be a thermonuclear device with a blast rating boasting 120 kilotons (eight times the power of the Hiroshima bomb).  South Korea and France have both underscored the threat:

“Security and weapons experts disagree on whether Pyongyang has achieved this capability and if it has, whether it can accurately strike long-range targets on the U.S. mainland and elsewhere. (However) We assume that North Korea has secured the capability to miniaturize its nuclear warheads to less than 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) through the six tests,” (South Korean Defense Minister, Song Young Moo) said during a National Assembly session, according to The Korea Times.” [3]   

The French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, implored the Chinese on 1 September, to put pressure on NOKO to stop their nuclear weapons program.  “The situation is extremely serious… we see North Korea setting itself as an objective to have tomorrow or the day after missiles that can transport nuclear weapons. In a few months that will be a reality.” [4]

Published in The Sun, 8th September 2017, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2497570/north-korea-kim-jong-un-nuclear-weapons-missiles-tests-range

The risk of incoming missiles raises the question of the U.S. anti-missile defense. Unfortunately, after spending over $40 billion over multiple decades, our west coast missile defense shield (60 anti-ballistic missiles aka ABMs) is given no better than a 50/50 chance in bringing down an incoming ICBM according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.  Hence, the U.S. now can consider itself genuinely threatened. [5]

Non-Military Options

On September 4, 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, asserted that North Korea is “begging for war.”  She stated that the U.S. may invoke unilateral sanctions on China and Russia (the only two nations that materially trade with North Korea), ceasing U.S. trade with these two nations.  The Treasury Secretary affirmed this possibility one day prior, “’I am going to draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration that anybody that wants to do trade or business with them would be prevented from doing trade or business with us,’ (Treasury Secretary) Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday. ‘People need to cut off North Korea economically. This is unacceptable behavior.’” [6]

Most experts consider cutting off trade to be unrealistic. Ceasing trade between China and the U.S. would penalize the U.S. as much it would China, as China remains the U.S.’ largest trading partner (valued at $650 billion last year).  Then there is the issue of the time to implement such sanctions effectively and the elapsed time before they achieve the desired results. Meanwhile, NOKO’s nuclear program marches on. In summary, the benefit of trying non-military options is simply to say, “Well, we did give them a chance.”

The Military Options

On the other hand, the best military option suggests nullifying NOKO’s artillery to protect Seoul, while simultaneously taking out Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and missile launch facilities.  To do one without the other assures that Kim would unleash an artillery barrage on Seoul killing thousands if not tens of thousands.  So, however it is accomplished, what we do we must do quickly.

So, how would the U.S. take out 20,000 artillery “tubes”?

Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general and analyst for CNN, says the U.S. would need to add to its forces in the region in what Hertling called “a reinforcement of shooters.” These would include US Navy ships and submarines armed with cruise missiles, plus Air Force bombers that could operate out of bases in Japan or Guam. “Some of these are in places in the region, but not enough to decapitate North Korea in terms of their artillery,” Hertling said.  Hertling also stated that at least two US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups would need to be nearby before any US attack.  Another military expert, Carl Schuster agreed.  Schuster is the former director of operations at the U.S. Pacific Command intelligence center.  He comments,

“As a planner, I’d rather have three carriers than two,” plus additional Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighters.”  Schuster also said the US would need to ensure it had enough bombs, missiles and electronic warfare planes to destroy or disable North Korea’s air defenses before the heavy bombers needed to strike North Korea’s fortified nuclear weapons sites could be sent in. [7]

The reality: planning and conducting a conventional assault would take many months.  Plus, a conventional attack would mean the loss of innumerable lives – South Korean, American, and probably Japanese.

What’s the Bigger Picture?

From a military standpoint, the only approach that can make sense is the unthinkable: go nuclear.  However, without a just cause, the U.S. would never consider this course of action.  Still, given virtually every major war in the last two hundred years began through a “false flag”, it seems inevitable that the U.S. would engineer a false flag to justify the use of nuclear force.  But, while leadership in the “global elite” would have no second thoughts about killing hundreds or thousands of Americans to mandate a nuclear response, it isn’t likely Trump would be so cold-blooded.

Plus, U.S. leadership must consider how the use of nuclear weapons would impact the twenty-first-century world.  Once the genie is out of the bottle, do “nuclear weapons” become acceptable?

Various Tactical Nukes

While North Korea comprises a tiny country, it nonetheless constitutes the immovable thorn in the lion’s paw. And Kim’s “bodyguards” (Russia and China) have so far successfully kept the thorn in place. No doubt they foresee the lion will one day bleed to death – slowly but surely – furthering their respective aims.  Will we just let it happen?

Matthew Contenetti, Editor in Chief for the Washington Free Beacon, placed the North Korean conflict in its historic and global perspective:

We know what the problem is. The post-Cold War, American-led world order of democratic capitalist nation-states tied to one another by free-flowing capital, trade, labor, technology, and media is falling apart. And this fragmentation is happening…  because two external challengers are actively subverting American prestige and influence around the globe. (We shouldn’t) be surprised to learn that these challengers are exactly the same powers that thwarted the United States in Vietnam: Russia and China. (Emphasis mine) [8]

With her trademark razor-sharp analysis, an outspoken apologist for Israel, author, and journalist Caroline Glick, also underscores the treacherous situation.  She argues that “punting” the NOKO conflict to the U.N. harms American interests. She states, “U.S.’ security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system, are on the verge of becoming completely discredited.” She continues:

For 25 years, three successive US administrations opted to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear program in large part out of concern for South Korea.  Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sought to appease North Korea’s aggressive nuclear adventurism because they didn’t believe they had a credible military option to deal with it. [9]

Glick contends that allowing our allies to be held hostage means we aren’t their allies.  Furthermore, looking at the bigger picture, China is beating the U.S. in the struggle for global dominance.  “If the U.S. does not act to significantly downgrade North Korea’s offensive capabilities now when its own territory is being threatened, it is difficult to see how the U.S. will be able to develop an effective strategy for coping with China’s rise as an economic and strategic rival in Asia and beyond.” [10] The “beyond” no doubt includes the export of nuclear technology by China’s proxy, North Korea, that supplies missiles to regimes like Iran. We can easily predict other Middle Eastern and African nations covet those weapons too, threatening global stability and upsetting the West’s strategic plans.

Conclusion

That’s why the stakes couldn’t be higher.  Trump’s willingness to act decisively now, with the window of opportunity ever-so-slightly open, comprises the pivotal moment in his presidency and, for better or worse, the watershed for America in the twenty-first century.

Can Trump make an impossible decision?  Will those surrounding him allow him to?  Will North Korea be the end of America even if it never fires a missile our way?


Notes

[1] Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/09/05/decision-time-north-koreas-nuclear-and-missile-threat-and-u-s-policy/.

[2] Joel Skousen’s comments made during Real News with David Knight, Alex Jones Channel on YouTube, September 5, 2017.

[3] Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/09/05/south-korea-continues-military-drills-after-north-korean-nuke-test/631996001/.

[4] Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/01/north-korea-will-able-send-long-range-missiles-within-months/.

[5] Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapons/us-missile-defense/shielded-from-oversight#.WbMY1q2ZOV5.

[6] Retrieved from https://www.ksat.com/news/politics/mnuchin-says-hes-drafting-sanctions-against-north-korea.

[7] Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/09/politics/us-north-korea-war-signals/index.html.

[8] Matthew Continetti, “The Bodyguards of Kim Jong-Un,” Washington Free Beacon, September 8, 2017. Retrieved from http://freebeacon.com/national-security/bodyguards-kim-jong-un/.

[9] Carolyn Glick, “North Korea’s Ultimatum to America,” September 5, 2017, CarolineGlick.com.

[10] Ibid.