After President Trump’s recent speech to the U.N. I followed the chatter on Facebook. His speech, which threatened North Korea with total annihilation and in which he referred to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” was the most blunt, militaristic speech any U.S. President has ever delivered to the International body. His talk offered no olive branches only absolute destruction.
In the end as I said in a recent blog, war with North Korea may be inevitable but not until all efforts at negotiating an end to this crisis have been tried. There are many options. The U.S. could drop its demand that North Korea commit to giving up nuclear weapons in order to get talks started. We could propose that China act as a protectorate for North Korea if they give up their nukes and — we could suggest a multi-nation U.N. program that would provide food, clothing and other necessities to North Korea for which Kim could take all the credit if he gives up his nukes. I’m sure there are other options as well but we’ve tried none of them. Again, my bottom line is that war may be inevitable but let’s try to find another way first because war, especially this one, is too terrible to imagine.
Perhaps Trump has a plan to bring Kim to the table but that’s not his style. He says what he thinks and he likely is thinking war. At least his speech to the U.N. would have us believe that.
Trump’s tough talk encouraged many Americans and they said so in the social media. Many indicated they were tired of the little North Korean dictator pushing us around and they got some support from people who normally oppose them. Comments like the ones below were common on Facebook following the Trump Presentation in New York.
- “Great, take that M—– F—– out, now!”
- “It’s about time we destroyed that little Hitler.”
- “Attack, now. They’ll never have a chance to respond.”
- “Better that Asians die than Americans. Strike before he nukes us.”
Those comments totally ignore the potential for a major humanitarian disaster and we have not even discussed the effect of a nuclear exchange. On Fox news Harry J. Kazianis the director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest said, “If the war goes nuclear we can expect at least 8 million deaths.” He explained it this way;
“Know this: if Pyongyang decided to launch a salvo of nuclear armed missiles towards Seoul, Tokyo, U.S. military bases or the homeland, the carnage unleashed would be unlike anything we have seen since the days of World War II. In such a scenario, millions upon millions of people could die or become the victims of radioactive fallout, whose injuries could lay dormant for years. It would be, per one senior Pentagon official I spoke to last week, “as if Lucifer opened the gates of hell.”
The estimate of 8 million dead does not include deaths caused by a United States nuclear response nor does it include the possible reaction from Russia and/or China.
Comments like, “Great, take that M—— F—– out, now” reflect bravado and a total lack of knowledge of what “taking him out” involves and, if the writer did understand the potential for loss of life he or she may have placed a lesser value on Asian lives.
One of the other comments, “Better that Asians die than Americans. Strike before he nukes us” proves my previous point but more importantly shows that the writer is unaware of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who live in that part of Asia.
So, if anyone thinks a new Korean war will be a cake-walk for the United States they must be smoking something stronger than medicinal marijuana. If we go to war with North Korea the conflict will be bloody beyond description on our side as well as theirs. We must believe that the U.S. will only use nuclear weapons if North Korea does — but under what conditions will they use them? We don’t really know but I would wager that if Kim sees himself losing control of the country and his nation losing a war he would launch his bombs. That prospect is horrifying.
Since the first Korean war ended in a cease-fire stalemate in 1953 the north has been preparing for its resumption. In case you are unfamiliar with the geography of the region, the two Koreas are separated by the 38th parallel. When the fighting stopped some 64 years ago the two sides agreed to the establishment of a demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries. The DMZ stretches 160 miles from coast to coast and is about two and a half miles wide.
Some 35 miles south of the DMZ lies the megalopolis of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. It is a metropolitan area of some 20 million people and relatively easy prey for Kim Jong Un. He has made sure that just north of the DMZ there are an estimated 20,000 pieces of artillery and rockets aimed at Seoul. Those batteries are dug-in to the hillsides and extremely hard to target. The forces of the U.S. and South Korea can likely take them out, but it will not be an easy task even with our most modern weaponry and – it will take time. The weapons there are mostly on railroad type tracks. They emerge from their hillside hiding place, fire and then go back into the cave to reload. They are only visible for seconds at a time.
Now that you have an idea of the potential destruction and loss of human life, let’s set the scene and describe the players. With a population of 50,000,000 South Korea is twice the size of its northern neighbor and has the fourth largest economy in Asia. It also boasts of having a large and very well equipped military. Many experts suggest that in a totally conventional war the south has the military strength to defeat North Korea without the assistance of the U.S.
North Korea does not even remotely resemble it’s sibling across the border. The economy of South Korea is 36.7 times that of North Korea’s in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP of North Korea is estimated at $33 billion, while that of South Korea is $1.19 trillion. The GDP per capita is $33,200 in South Korea, while it is $1,800 in the North, according to the CIA World Factbook. South Korea’s trade volume was a gigantic $1.07 trillion in 2013. By comparison, North Korea reported a relatively minuscule $7.3 billion. (Read more: North Korean Vs. South Korean Economies | Investopedia http://tinyurl.com/yays4mrj
The North has a national policy of Songun or “Military first” which means the military must have its needs met before any other part of the society is even considered. The result is that North Korea has a huge army and navy and a population that lives in abject poverty. They don’t have enough food, health care is almost non-existent and civil liberties exist only their imaginations.
Kim Jong Un and his family have ruled the North for a century and they’ve done so with no regard for providing even the simplest comforts for their people. Every dime, every resource has gone to the military and to developing a nuclear weapons program and the rockets to deliver them. Otherwise, while the north’s Military establishment is very large it is also poorly equipped with mostly 1980s Russian and Chinese equipment. Even so, their nearly 2 million man army will create havoc before they are subdued.
Whether they initiate a first strike against us or our allies or perceive that we will hit them first they will unleash a barrage against the south that will kill hundreds of thousands of people very quickly. That estimate is based on an attack in which the north only uses conventional weapons. If they choose to go nuclear or use their vast stores of chemical and biological weapons the death toll can easily multiply into millions of deaths and injuries to which we alluded earlier, before the massive power of the United States can destroy the hermit nation.
If Korean and Japanese lives mean nothing to you, Thousands of Americans could die as well. There are almost 30,000 American troops in South Korea, many of them near the DMZ where hostilities are likely to start. Additionally we have another 40,000 troops in Japan, Okinawa and Guam. All of them are within range of North Korea’s Rockets. Beyond the military it is estimated that about a quarter of a million U.S. Citizens also live in the area. All of these people, a combined number that is well over 300,000 would be in harm’s way if we go to war with North Korea.
War is never easy and you can always expect the unexpected. People and things get broken and die. The effects of war always go well beyond those who initiated the hostilities. The effects go beyond the soldiers and sailors and Air Forces as well. War ultimately seriously damages that which we went to war to protect – our families and friends. It leaves 3 and four year old children injured and dead along with grandmas and grandpas, uncles, aunts and other good folks. Puppies and kittens and hamsters suffer as well. No one gets out unmarked. So before you say, “It’s about time someone kicked Kim’s butt” remember what that action will result in. I say, do it if we must but let’s not give up on negotiation until the bombs fall.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth.