North Korea is threatening to destroy the US with its thus far largely undeliverable and sometimes unexplodeable nuclear weapons, while the US, after an embarrassing navigational “mishap” that saw it steaming in the opposite direction, has successfully dispatched the USS Carl Vinson carrier battle group to a position reportedly within “strike range” of North Korea (but actually still in the South China Sea near the Philippines, some 1200 miles distant from North Korea), and now President Trump is threatening a possible attack on that country if it won’t halt its nuclear weapons program.
So is the Korean War, which never really ended, going to be reactivated, as scare stories are now warning?
While I often find myself the pessimist in these kinds of crises, given the penchant for US presidents to turn to war as a default foreign policy option, I’m guessing that won’t happen in this case, and for the same reason I that do not think we will see US troops confronting the determined ethnic Russian secessionists in eastern Ukraine.
It’s clear that for years now, the imperialist policy of the US government, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, has been to create chaos in regions of the world from the Middle East to Africa and Latin America, the better to control uppity countries like Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil, whose leaders try to buck or stand up to US dictates.
But it’s one thing to overthrow a government and decapitate its leadership in a place like Libya or Syria, where no powerful state is located nearby to defend that country. It’s altogether another to take on a country that lies right on the border of another nuclear power, as does Ukraine and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
There was nobody to come to Col. Gaddafi’s aid when US-led NATO forces attacked his government, backing rebels seeking his overthrow, and left the country a chaotic mess, which it has remained now for six years. And until Russia stepped in, the same was true of US backing for Islamic rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Basher Al-Assad.
Ukraine was something of an exception, with the US backing a coup in 2014 that ousted the country’s elected pro-Russian president, installing in his place a pro-US regime, despite its bordering Russia. My sense is that US warmongers still thought Russia was a backwards mess in 2014, incapable of standing up and with a dysfunctional military.
When Russia acted, though, and made it clear, with the annexation of Crimea and with material support of ethnic Russians in breakaway Lugansk and Donetsk, that it would brook no departure of Ukraine into NATO’s fold, the US backed off, despite plenty of bluster from the Obama White House and its laughably inept Secretary of State John Kerry.
I’m predicting that the same thing will happen in the case of North Korea. The Trump administration may threaten to attack, but the bottom line is that a US attack on North Korea, or even a so-called surgical strike on its nuclear weapons development facility or a special forces attack on its leader, Kim Jong-un, would be viewed by China’s government as a mortal threat to their country’s national security, just as Russia views any effort to turn Ukraine into a US puppet and NATO member as a mortal threat to itself.
Any way you look at it, a US-launched war against North Korea would be a very messy and probably long-running affair whose consequences could quickly include an armed conflict between US and Chinese troops, as happened the first time around with dreadful consequences.
This article has been excerpted from, ‘No US War on North Korea: an Optimistic Perspective on a Scary Crisis’.