NORTH KOREA PUSHES TO U.S. BOUNDARY
President Trump’s “fire and fury” threat to North Korea launched a maelstrom of protests. Government leaders have mixed opinions, and the official U.S. diplomatic policy is not clear. Foreign government leaders are nervous and China is most concerned. A nuclear conflict in the Asian territory is not its choice under any circumstances.
Another national columnist writes that American can’t go it alone. David Ignatius of The Washington Post, reports how many Americans and other nationalities reside in South Korea. To evacuate them on short notice would be a monumental task.
Besides the posted military of about 28,000, there are an estimated 300,000 American civilians in Seoul alone, only 40 miles from the North Korea border at the DMZ. Another one million non-Koreans, mostly Chinese, are in South Korea. The population of Seoul is 10 million.
If a ground war is resumed after 62 years of cease fire, the Pentagon needs two months to deliver troops and equipment to the Korean Peninsula, Ignatious predicts. The Pentagon also has an evacuation plan involving planes and ships, but like Vietnam, a limited number can be removed while under attack.
The latest U.S. action to provoke Kim Jong Un is the scheduled military exercises in South Korea with combined American and South Korean troops on land and sea. North Korea planned to reciprocate by launching four missiles into the Guam area. They would land in the ocean at four strategic points surrounding the American military station 20 miles offshore.
At posting time, Kim withdrew that threat by announcing he will “watch a little more” before firing anything. However, he continues his rhetoric by declaring his “artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks.” Not very conciliatory!
The proposed missile launch was announced in connection with a major national holiday when Kim Jong Un invited the international press to be present to show off his power to defy the U.S. Recent North Korean press releases show Kim with his toadie military leaders applauding themselves at an inspection tour.
A San Diego Union-Tribune editorial noted that the Trump-Kim trading of verbal potshots unnerved the world’s stock markets losing $1 trillion value in a week. Yet the President keeps Tweeting challenges, a political deviation from the norm but helped getting him elected. The newspaper seeks someone to get Trump to “stand down.”
China finally took a position on the missile crisis. The state newspaper warned North Korea it would be on its own if it attacked a U.S. position. Likewise, China will support North Korea if attacked by the U.S.
Eli Lake of Bloomberg View believes Trump inherited a mess. The prior three administrations should have pressed harder to stop North Korea’s nuclear potential. Instead, the three presidents preferred “strategic patience” over concern that South Korea was in jeopardy of an attack if the Kim dynasty was provoked.
The current situation is reminiscent of President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile crises of 1962 with the USSR. It will require a strong leadership resolve to avoid a disaster but keep North Korea in check. Is Trump the right one?