Paul T Horgan: Trump will have to put North Korea in its place

Historically, the best time for an international crisis to develop into a major all-out war has been around the summer holiday season in the northern hemisphere. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the Great War, and the Second World War started in July, August and September respectively. Now that the instigator of all these wars, Prussia, is no longer with us, there is room for another bad boy on the block. Enter North Korea.

It may not seem clear other than to the student of international events, but the Korean War still goes on. Wars are ended by treaties, not armistices or surrenders, which is only when the major fighting stops. The final treaty to end the Second World War in Europe was signed in 1990. Although the fighting had ended with Germany's unconditional surrender in 1945, the state of war in the west came to an end in 1955 with West Germany's admission to NATO. A single German government capable of acting in the name of the entire German nation at the conference table did not exist until the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. If World War I is seen as running from the invasion of Belgium in 1914 until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, World War II's closing treaty was signed some 51 years after the invasion of Poland.

While the Korean Armistice was agreed in 1953, there is no peace treaty. During this armed truce, there have been a development of international engagements between the belligerents, but there is still a front line in the vicinity of the 38th parallel. Deaths still occur. All-out-war has only been postponed.

This does not stop North Korea's hereditary Stalinist monarchy from committing belligerent acts. There have been kidnappings, assassinations, bombings, sinkings and artillery duels. The antagonist is always North Korea. Had these outrages been committed by another country, then there would be cause for diplomatic action, possibly punitive military assaults. However, in Korea, this is not possible.

It is widely understood that the military situation is always on a trip-wire, and has been so for decades. Any military action against North Korea runs the risk of triggering a response including the shelling of the South Korean capital Seoul, that lies just 35 miles away from the front line in this frozen conflict. The South Korean people are held in perpetual hostage by their northern neighbour's ambitions.

North Korea has announced it is to launch ballistic missiles that will land in international waters a similar distance from the American island of Guam. To put this into perspective, imagine that Russia was test-firing missiles from Murmansk that would impact near the Orkneys. This is the kind of crisis that is under way.

The rational response of the USA would be to shoot down the missiles before they impact, either in the boost phase or during descent. The problem is that using anti-missile technology in anger may reveal its operational functionality and limitations, something that might be better to conceal until a more pressing test of its abilities occurs. Also, the North Korean missiles would be landing in international waters. Shooting them down before they do so would ratchet up the crisis. But the USA has to respond to such a provocative act. This is shot across the USA's bows. It cannot go unchallenged, certainly not by the Trump administration.

What would North Korea do after an American military response? Would there be more bluster, or another military action?

Donald Trump indicates that speaking softly to a communist dictatorship has not worked. Despite international sanctions and public condemnation, nothing ever stops North Korea from trying to achieve its ambitions to become a nuclear power with the ability to strike the American mainland. However, if Trump was to order a strike against North Korean military installations using precision-guided munitions, would he be responsible for the consequent civilian deaths in South Korea?

Most liberal commentators would say yes. Despite any mass deaths being caused by North Korean shelling, Trump would be held responsible for triggering such a response. This is typical muddled socialist thinking that always tries to blame America for deaths directly caused by other actors capable of conscious rational actions. North Korea's leader, who looks and behaves like Eric Cartman, would actually be responsible. Trump cannot be responsible for the actions of any country apart from his own, and especially not the murderous gangster dictatorship of North Korea.

The broadcast media is letting down the viewer once again by reducing any action of North Korea to being a reflexive response caused by the USA. They project North Korea as being some kind of automaton. Any deaths caused by North Korea are actually the responsibility of North Korea, not the USA. North Korea is more than the fabled scorpion, who stings because it is his nature to do so. This is never made clear. Instead North Korea is portrayed as a country to be feared and not provoked in any way, allowing it to literally get away with murder for decades.

The media are already blaming Trump for matching North Korea's rhetoric. It is distasteful how those on either side of the camera give Stalinists a free ride. North Korea is a prison state, a centre for evil that needs to be eliminated. It is an unwelcome brake on human progress. History has demonstrated that such regimes cannot be dealt with using conventional diplomacy. Confrontation is the only solution.

Kow-towing to King Kim III is simply always giving in to the overweight, big-mouthed thug for fear of being hurt by taking him on. Standing up to North Korea's belligerence may cause casualties, but it is better than going along with the death of a thousand communist cuts while a small bully becomes a big bully. The responsibility for any devastation caused by North Korea will be with North Korea for persisting in waging this war without end when everyone else wants peace in Korea.

It is time to fight fire with fire, not with marshmallows. Trump is simply doing to North Korea what North Korea has been doing to the USA and the rest of the world for far too long. There has to be a time to put down the olive branch and pick up something a bit sharper, and this cannot keep being postponed. One day soon, it will be far too late.

(Image: Jim Mattis)

Paul T Horgan

  • Uusikaupunki

    As a point of interest, I wonder what “the man on the Seoul omnibus” would have to say on the matter?

    • martianonlooker

      Can I claim asylum on the Clapham omnibus? Perhaps.

    • Rather a lot, I expect. A nuclear attack on North Korea would be bound to irradiate South Korea, and especially Seoul, which is right on the border.

      • Uusikaupunki

        Doesn’t have to be nuclear even….these poor everyday people are hostages to fortune…
        “Any military action against North Korea runs the risk of triggering a response including the shelling of the South Korean capital Seoul, that lies just 35 miles away from the front line in this frozen conflict.”

  • Nick Booth

    Do you think this North Korea thing will be Donald Trump’s Suez Crisis?

    Or am I talking nonsense?

    • martianonlooker

      Probably more accurate to equate it as Trump’s Cuban missile crisis. Trump is in a difficult position, risk starting world war 3 or end up paying Danegeld to Kim Jong Un every time he runs out of booze or cigars. Procrastination only magnifies the problem.

      • Or does it? The Russian foreign minister has recently said that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable, China says that as long as the strike is a second strike, they will take no action, so who will start that world war? Britain, France, or maybe Pakistan? Really?

        It’s time to talk truth, the US isn’t going to go nuclear, it’s too hard on both South Korea and Japan, and it’s totally unnecessary. Possibly the Norks will try it, assuming that that 2014 report was true, that they have a device small enough for a missile, well, that too can be handled, although it might be a tad messy.

        This has gone too far, mostly because the former administration worked against our interests, now it is a time for choosing, and it’s binary, one can choose US/ROK/Japan or one can choose Nork. Place your bets.

  • English Advocate

    I think North Korea’s motives are purely defensive. If it has nuclear weapons it will be immune from bullying by the USA.

    • I don’t remember any bullying; certainly not by Obama or indeed any presidents since Ronald Reagan. It hasn’t suddenly developed the weapons since Trump came to power.

      • weirdvisions

        No bullying but plenty of appeasement. It could be that Kim Wrong-Un the NorK is playing a familiar game, rattling the NorK sabre in order to be handed billions to shut him up for a while. It worked for Dad and Grandad. Maybe Sonny Kim thought it would work for him too.

        • It’s probably because Trump isn’t paying danegeld that Kim is getting worked up. He has to keep his army fed in order to suppress any possible uprising.

        • I’d guess you’re right, but Trump is not Obama, SECDEF Mattis’ statement is even more so… “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people”

          Noting that there is a Security Council resolution from last weekend that neither China nor Russia vetoed.

          • weirdvisions

            I know that Trump isn’t Obama. He doesn’t seem to be a NorK appeaser either. It’s about time someone stood up to the fat tyrannical fool.

          • I know you do, and you are correct. I understand the Japanese ambassador to the UK was on Radio 4’s Today this morning, and said this, “If there is any provocation it all comes from North Korea. If they were to conduct themselves in a constructive manner according to international rules, there would be no use for any rhetoric to be deployed. The problem cones from North Korea, and it is totally wrong to say that the responses are provoking them”.

            And that’s why we are where we are, there are allies to defend. And all the caterwauling from the American media, the BBC, and the Democrats is basically meaningless, if not actually counterproductive.

    • Most countries do not have nuclear weapons, and most of those countries have been in no danger of attack or invasion for decades. But North Korea’s apparent acquisition of them has placed it under imminent threat of obliteration. Having nuclear weapons is a sign of being an extremely insecure state, in the way that having the other “ultimate deterrent” is a sign of being an extremely violent society.

      The Britain that had capital punishment had horrific levels of violence against women, and of violence against and within the working class, while ferocious violence against children was experienced universally, to the point that it was organised, institutionalised, and lauded as character-building. And the Britain that has nuclear weapons has had a series of terrorist problems, has had at least one direct invasion of its territory, and has not been at peace in 16 years and counting.

      Already a member of the small, but singularly charming, club of executioners, let us extend a warm welcome to North Korea as it joins us, if it has really done so, in the even smaller club of nuclear weapons states, the unsafest states in the world.

    • Little Black Censored

      DEFENSIVE? That sounds truly delusional.

  • UKCitizen

    I can’t help thinking of Team America whenever I see these two.

  • UKCitizen

    You can probably appreciate some of NK’s distrust and animosity toward the US given that the US literally flattened everything in NK during the Korean War.
    Not that I don’t think NK is a basket case but maybe there is a reason for there extreme mental disorder.

    • Coniston

      North Korea invaded South Korea without warning and very nearly managed to occupy all of it. There was only a small area in the SE, around Pusan, unoccupied. The US, Australia, Britain & other countries helped to defend this outpost, then drove the N.Koreans out of the South, and were about to conquer the North when China sent in a massive army.

      • UKCitizen

        I’m not questioning the rights or wrongs of the war, I am merely stating some reasons why the situation is as it is at the moment, good bad or indifferent.

  • El Pres. ( Mr Exit Brexit )

    I’m sure all you home counties ladies like a little nuking before suppertime. as long as it won’t wake the kids. come on Donald , let’s have that assurance that any nuking will be well out of earshot & radiation poisoning will not be allowed to cross the White Cliffs of Brexit . tally ho !

    • I do not know where, if anywhere, North Korea is going to bomb. But I know that North Korea is not going to bomb the United Kingdom.

      • El Pres. ( Mr Exit Brexit )

        I’m not talking about North Korea , as you well know. it’s the paranoid schizophrenic in the White House that everyone , including myself is concerned with

        • He’s not going to bomb Britain, either. Although he could. Kim actually couldn’t. Korea is simply too far away. Keep Calm and Carry On.

  • I’m in favour of assassination. I’m sure that there would be someone happy to give it a go if the US were prepared to offer a few million dollars. It would be cheap at the price.

  • English Advocate

    I think there is a Pavlovian tendency to support the actions of our political elites…..completely overlooking the fact that they are consistent traitors with regard to our interests.

  • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

    No. The only sane solution is an assassination by his own people and that is the most likely outcome in my view.

  • Once, these standoffs were conducted between figures of the stature of John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro. But now, the world must make do with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. It is impossible for Trump to have changed America’s nuclear arsenal in any way in the sixth months that he has been President. Remember, this man also controls the nukes that we insist on pretending are ours, even to the point of paying for them rather than for, well, anything else at all, really.

    These standoffs have done the opposition to nuclear weapons good in the past, although in the end nothing came of it. But that was when they were conducted between figures of the stature of John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro. Now, though, we have the good fortune of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Either of those pretty much makes our case for us. Never mind both of them.

    Trump has three sons, two of whom are old enough to go to war. I fear for their feet, although their father still cannot tell you which foot kept him out of Vietnam. But then, Tony Blair also had three sons, two of whom were old enough to go to war then, and all three of whom pretty much are now. None of them has ever done so yet, although 16-year-old Leo has apparently joined the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy Corbyn, who wants Donald Trump’s nukes off our soil and out of our waters. For be in no doubt, that is what they are. In the phrase “independent British nuclear deterrent”, only one word is factually correct.

  • David

    Surely assassination from the inside or failing that a tactical strike killing him and some of the hierarchy is needed ?

  • Nockian

    It’s a very difficult situation. Its fine saying that the US should act, but there is a heavy cost to pay in lives and treasure-particularly for the soldiers of the US who will be called to fight a very vicious, well armed and well prepared enemy. The last time a war was fought 35, 000 soldiers perished.

    Current intelligence suggests that NK doesn’t have re-entry capability for its latest ICBM and it’s doubtful that they actually have an effective nuclear payload. There are reminders in the media of the way WMDs were used as an excuse to attack Iraq at this point.

    It should also be born in mind that the US and South Korea have been shovelling aid money into North Korea for decades and that this has become a regular band aid for that regime.

    I would have thought that the best option is to allow South Korea to become a nuclear power, they are certainly rich enough to do so, then to stop providing aid money to the North. Diplomacy with China could halt all trade to the point of starving out the NK regime to the point of collapse. This would seem a better plan than launching a destabilising suprise first strike by the US with the fallout and economic issues that would result, plus the likely deaths of those in South Korea.

    • El Pres. ( Mr Exit Brexit )

      don’ think the regime would starve. the people would.

      • Nockian

        That’s correct, but a regime without people is a starved regime.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    Appeasing North Korea has not worked; it is becoming a bigger threat to world peace with assassination of opponents in foreign countries. We either allow it to obtain a usable nuclear arsenal or launch strikes against its military facilities. There’s no doubt Israel delayed Iran’s nuclear programme through air strikes.

    How strong is North Korea? No one really knows though perhaps not as much it would have everyone believe. Would its army and people want to fight for it? Who knows. A war is probably on its way because North Korea only knows survival through terrorising its own people and its neighbours.

    • Interesting point. How committed will the NorK army be when the USAF shows up? It was always the big question with the Sov invasion, especially if you can disrupt command and control, and we should be able to. Anybody can stand around and do not much, it takes real leadership to take initiative, and North Korea isn’t exactly known for rewarding that, especially in company grade officers.

      • SpaghettiMonster

        Unfortunately I suspect a better comparison would be with Japan in WWII, where soldiers were often highly motivated by blind allegiance to a semi-god-like figurehead. The level of from-birth and all-encompassing indoctrination in DPRK suggests to me that they’re more likely to fight til the death of the last man.

        Or maybe all that crying in public is 100% from fear and they don’t believe any of it all really.

  • AKM

    *sigh* Don’t panic.

    It is very unlikely that North Korea will launch their tiny arsenal of nuclear weapons anywhere anytime soon (assuming they actually have a tiny arsenal of nuclear weapons in the first place). If North Korea does launch there is a very high likely-hood that the US and the Japanese will shoot them down with one or other of their anti-ballistic missile systems. The only real question then will be whether or not to invade North Korea and given that they will have just proven that they actually are stupid enough to attempt to launch a nuclear strike the answer should be ‘yes’.

  • sfin

    So whilst the United States receives a specific threat from a basket case country, who have openly displayed its propensity to develop ICBMs…The Western media wet their collective knickers over Trump’s rhetoric…

    As Mark Steyn recently put it – and I paraphrase:

    On Sept 10th 2001, Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden were sat, respectively, in a tent in Kandahar, and a cave in Tora Bora. The US, at the time, were the only global superpower, with enough firepower to turn Afghanistan into the World’s biggest, glass floored carpark…

    …and yet those guys were absolutely confident that the US wouldn’t do it.

    Sometimes, when you carry the big stick, you have to be prepared to use it.

    • English Advocate

      “It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.” (George Orwell, 1984)

  • RemAcuTetigisti

    Soros ,Google ,Facebook and other TAFS(thugs against free speech) will twist and dance to turn this into Trump provocative .
    North Korea will loss this fight befor it begins.
    Trump shall , once again, be righteous .

  • Calvin Graham

    Let’s just hope Kim doesn’t mention anything about Hilary winning the popular vote last November, otherwise we may as well start stacking up on tinned food and bottles of Evian…

    My attempt to find some humour in it all

  • Dave S

    I assume the S. Koreans have civil defence and evacuation plans. If Kim does attack with missiles then a massive air and artillery assault on his forward positions must follow.The attrition rate should see him in trouble very quickly.
    He cannot win this and must know it. If not then he is as big a fool as anyone in history.

  • MickC

    To equate North Korea, an impoverished country dependent on handouts from China, with Prussia, an economic and industrial powerhouse, is fantasy.
    To suggest military action against it is reckless in the extreme….and something China has said it will not tolerate. China is the Prussia in the current situation, but considerably more rational.
    The best thing to do with mad dogs which bark loudly is to leave them well alone. They die eventually, or are shot by their owner.
    Intervention by the USA has proven catastrophic, with consequences which are unforeseeable. The same will apply here.
    It is past time that the USA realised there are limits to its power; and those limits become narrower every year.