White House: Maybe we should provoke a war with North Korea

Source: Hot Air

We’re already in the middle of a hot proxy war with Russia, a serious nuclear power. And we’re teetering on the edge of a hot conflict with China, also a nuclear power, if they decide to cross the Strait of Taiwan. So what better time to step up some significant military exercises with South Korea in the vicinity of the border with North Korea, which is also now officially a nuclear power? Let’s hope that’s a good idea because that’s precisely what the Pentagon is doing today. The exercises are being described as the “biggest combined military training in years,” and it’s being pitched as a specific set of preparations against “the growing North Korean nuclear threat.” The operation has been named the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises. We already know how Kim Jong-un reacts when anyone from South Korea or the United States says something he doesn’t like. How will he react to this? We should know soon enough. (Associated Press)

The United States and South Korea began their biggest combined military training in years Monday as they heighten their defense posture against the growing North Korean nuclear threat.

The drills could draw an angry response from North Korea, which has pushed its weapons testing activity to a record pace this year while repeatedly threatening conflicts with Seoul and Washington amid a prolonged stalemate in diplomacy.

The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises will continue through Sept. 1 in South Korea and include field exercises involving aircraft, warships, tanks and potentially tens of thousands of troops.

I understand that we can’t simply stand down and look weak on the world stage in the face of Kim’s constant threats of aggression. That would send a terrible message to both our allies and our adversaries. But we should also keep in mind that Kim only recently thumbed his nose at South Korea’s offer of foreign aid in exchange for minor steps toward denuclearization. And if Russian news outlets are to be believed, North Korea may be preparing to send 100,000 troops to Ukraine to fight on Putin’s behalf. (That seems like a bit of a stretch, of course.)

The point is that we’ve grown used to Kim Jong-un’s blustering rants over the past couple of decades. It’s always been sound and fury with nothing of substance under the surface. But the world has changed rapidly in the past year. With everyone seemingly fighting (if only by proxy) or on the verge of fighting when it comes to China and Taiwan, Kim may be losing his motivation to stay on the sidelines. His army is poorly equipped and underfed, but they still have tanks and trucks and guns. And we can’t ignore the fact that he very likely has one or more functional nuclear weapons.

I will confess that there’s a selfish and mean-spirited part of my brain that occasionally tempts me to say that we should just drop a few massive bombs on Pyongyang and Kim’s nuclear facilities and be done with it. But that’s simply not a feasible plan nor the way we should present ourselves to the world. Even if we managed to take out Kim’s entire family with a first strike, we couldn’t be assured that we would get his nukes. And there would still be a massive army to contend with, likely under the leadership of one of the many warlords from the outer provinces, that could come swarming across the border in response. We would also certainly wipe out a massive number of North Korean civilians. Despite how brainwashed they are, it’s really not their fault that their country is in the grip of a monster.

After due consideration, I can’t really bring myself to criticize this decision to start these war games with our South Korean allies. Hopefully, Kim Jong-un will continue to be all bark and no bite. But as with all of the other potential wars we’re juggling around the globe, I hope that the White House has a well-constructed plan for how we will respond if North Korea decides it’s time to get on the playing field and launches an attack in response. We just can’t rule out the possibility at this stage of the game.