Thursday, April 20, 2017

Much Better At Making War



Now that the Trump administration has discovered that, to get to North Korea, its armada has to sail in the opposite direction, Tom Walkom suggests that it should also reverse direction when it comes to dealing with the Hermit Kingdom:

Technically, the war that began in 1950 when Pyongyang invaded South Korea is still ongoing. An armistice in 1953 halted the fighting, the idea being that the warring parties would meet within three months to hammer out a formal peace treaty. But the meeting never occurred.

It's time, Walkom suggests, to hammer out that peace deal:

The war was brutal and nasty. American bombers flattened the North. Hundreds of thousands of civilians throughout the Korean Peninsula were killed or wounded.

And it taught the regime in the North two lessons. First, it could wage war against the world’s most powerful nation and survive. Second, China — while a reluctant ally — would in the end and for its own geopolitical purposes always come to Pyongyang’s aid.

Both of these views still seem to hold in the North — which is why Trump’s strategy of bluster and intimidation is unlikely to work.

The Americans have never been able to see things from the North Korean perspective:

Pyongyang twisted and turned. But throughout, it kept returning to the same reality — in a world dominated by the hostile Americans, nuclear weapons were necessities. The downfall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya showed what could happen to regimes without weapons of mass destruction. North Korea wasn’t about to make the same mistake.

In short, don’t expect the North’s current dynastic dictator, Kim Jong Un, to give up nuclear weapons just because Trump is talking tough. Other U.S. presidents talked tough with Kim’s grandfather and father. Both survived.

Similarly, don’t expect China to work miracles. China may have little patience for its ally’s grand nuclear ambitions. And it is exerting some economic pressure on Pyongyang by, for instance, refusing to buy North Korean coal.

Given those realities, it's time to finish what was started in 1953. But it appears that Mr. Trump is much better at making war -- with his political rivals -- and with other nations of the world. 

Image: CNN

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

NK is the Ted Kaczynski of Hermit Kingdoms. Walkom doesn't know what he's talking about. But liberals can read this tripe and feel all warm and tingly inside. At least he's not campaigning for Kathleen Wynne like rest of that bunch. (That's his next column.)

-CC

Owen Gray said...

I don't give Walkom's suggestion much hope, CC. But I also don't see Trump's prescription ending well.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I like Walkom's thinking Owen, I read him all the time and I'm not even a liberal.

Owen Gray said...

He's a smart guy, Pam. He has a PhD. in Economics. But he also knows a great deal about international affairs.

The Mound of Sound said...


Unfortunately I think Walkom's ideas are a non-starter. He doesn't grasp the NK reality of a dynastic leader whose interests are diametrically different than his people's. The Kim clan need this conflict. Without it they would be hanging from a lamp post within months, if not days. Kim must be able to keep the region under constant threat for his own survival and for the subjugation of the North Korean people. Until Kim is toppled, from within, there's no way off this treadmill for any of the parties.

Owen Gray said...

And there's the rub, Mound. Trump has no plans to get rid of Kim from within.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's not Trump who has to trigger the overthrow, Owen, it's the Kim family's faithful benefactor, China. It made sense to Beijing in the past to use Pyongyang to destabilize that region, especially South Korea and Japan. That paradigm has outlived its usefulness. There are few dividends to be reaped but great liabilities in carrying that on. I doubt Moscow has much interest in playing Pyongyang off against Beijing any longer. Yet neither can risk destabilizing Kim Jong-un lest that lead to some nuclear incident in east Asia. He, and his kin, have to be surgically excised and the military connection is the strongest link for achieving that. There would have to be a lot of assurances provided and a lot of rewards, politically deniable stuff. That's a job for friendly generals.

Owen Gray said...

It's hard to know if there are any friendly generals, Mound. So far, it appears that Kim has successfully disposed of his rivals -- half brothers included.