The Korean War Will End in One of Two Ways: Peace or More Hiroshimas.
I don’t know if President Trump’s bold gambit in meeting with Korean lead Kim Jong Un will pay off. Guess who else doesn’t know?
- Embittered “Resistance” Democrats who seem to be rooting for it to fail. They flattered the feckless President Obama for slipping vast concessions to Iran. Now they’ve suddenly decided that we can’t negotiate with dictators.
- Would be global social engineers in love with military intervention. Some of the same brains who called the Iraq War a “cakewalk” that would “pay for itself” via oil revenues are stamping their feet like Rumpelstiltskin. How dare a president they opposed try to accomplish something their failed candidates would have been too timid to try!
- The people of South Korea, who live as perpetual hostages to massive artillery batteries forever aimed at their homes.
- Americans in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific coast, who live in range of ballistic weapons Jong Un is testing.
Oh, and one more group: Anyone else. International politics are profoundly disorderly. That’s a good thing, compared to the alternative: a single global power dominating all the world. I know, I know, some Americans dreamed that we could serve as that Leviathan. But we can’t, and it’s just as well. The price in blood is high, and such unmatched power corrupts. We may be Americans, but we’re only human. It could also corrupt us.
We Kicked the Can Down the Road for Far Too Long
Because of the vast uncertainty in international relations, everything is a risk. What have we risked for the past 30 years, as we watched North Korea arm itself? As we paid blackmail to prop up its dead economy, in return for empty promises of peace?
There is only one truly “realistic” option for a U.S. military victory over North Korea. One that doesn’t risk 300,000 dead South Korean civilians, and tens of thousands of dead or wounded U.S. servicemen. That option is this: A sudden, massive nuclear first strike against North Korea.
We kicked the can down the road, which lowered political risks for each of those U.S. presidents. But we raised the bleakest, most existential risk man can imagine. Namely, that we could face the choice of exterminating a million or more North Korean civilians, or letting their leaders slaughter ours. In other words, we let the monstrous policy of Mutually Assured Destruction that Ronald Reagan despised rise from the grave.
Mass Graves Where is Your Victory?
Make no mistake. There is only one truly “realistic” option for a U.S. military victory over North Korea. One that doesn’t risk 300,000 dead South Korean civilians, and tens of thousands of dead or wounded U.S. servicemen. That option is this: A sudden, massive nuclear first strike against North Korea. One that would silence those thousands of conventional artillery aimed at Seoul apartment blocks and hospitals. That would take out any nuclear strikes, and leave the surrounding regions uninhabitable for centuries. That would leave that tortured country one vast, smoking Chernobyl.
That is the choice which the failures of four past presidents has left us. That or live in constant anxiety about the growing deadly power of a rogue regime run like a cult.
Living Under the Gun
I know about that anxiety. I and my family live in Hawaii. We’re pretty darned sure that North Korea could devastate us even now. Just a few months ago, we suffered an island-wide panic over a spurious missile launch. Have you ever piled everyone you loved into the car and raced to hide in a cave? I did, back in January. It tends to give you … perspective.
But I have other intimate reasons to place some hope and trust in President Trump’s effort to break the rotten mold on North Korea policy. My grandfather was an infantryman. He was one of the “lucky” ones who got to fight in both World War II and Korea. He was happy enough to talk about the first war. He’d tell me stories. But my dad taught me never, not ever, to mention Korea. The only time he ever smacked me was when M*A*S*H came on television and I thoughtlessly said to Grandpa, “Hey weren’t you over there?” I got the back of Dad’s hand. He was guarding his father’s old wounds.
As I knelt by his deathbed, I wept. Grandpa told me not to cry for him. He’d had “a blessed life.” Instead I should cry for those soldiers who’d died around him at age 18 or 20. “The Americans?” I offered. He nodded, but winced and added. “And all those Koreans and Chinese, too. I saw so many, so many … die.” Then his eyes fill up with tears too.
We could face the choice of exterminating a million or more North Korean civilians, or letting their leaders slaughter ours.
Grasp Some Hope for Peace
And that’s why I think we need to try every tactic we can to prevent one more great wave of death. I also served as an infantryman, like my father and my son. My son has manned artillery not far from the “Demilitarized Zone.” That name is a joke. It’s the tensest, most gun-heavy, booby-trapped border on earth. It’s a vast killing zone, waiting for the chance to swallow up lives by the thousands. I’m just relieved he got away from there alive.
So that’s why I’m hoping, and praying, and trusting, that President Trump knows what he’s doing. Considering how all our “experts” dug us into this moral hole, I think I trust him more than I do them.
To read more about James Jones, see Jason’s new column at CatholicVote.