North Korea and the United States: Formula for World War

American Herald Tribune | Robert Fantina: United States President Donald Trump has been acting more and more juvenile, emulating a schoolyard bully, since North Korea has been rattling its small saber. He has threatened to send ‘fire and fury’ upon North Korea (perhaps reminiscent of the ‘Shock and Awe’ attack perpetrated by the U.S. on Iraq), and followed that up by saying the U.S. military is “locked and loaded”.

This rhetoric must please CNN contributor Fareed Zakaria. After Mr. Trump ordered air strikes on Syria, following the now-debunked charge that Syria used chemical weapons on its own people, Mr. Zakaria said this: “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night. I think this was actually a big moment.” Perhaps Mr. Zakaria will see mushroom clouds ascending over the U.S. and North Korea as another ‘big moment’ as Mr. Trump continues to ‘become president’.

This writer wonders: to whom does any of Mr. Trump’s response make sense (other than, perhaps, Mr. Zakaria)? Let’s see: a nuclear-powered nation has made some threatening gestures to the U.S., so, let’s antagonize that nation further! Rather than extending diplomatic overtures – perhaps requesting a meeting between high-level officials of both countries; pointing out the grave threat that any war between North Korea and the U.S. would present not only to the citizens of those countries, but to the entire world, and stating clearly that peaceful means can be accomplished – let’s ratchet up the rhetoric. Oh yes, very reasonable!

Diplomacy has little or no place in the lexicon of U.S. foreign policy. It was said of President James K. Polk, in the context of tensions leading up to the Mexican-American War, that he “held the niceties of diplomacy in contempt”. [1] He was not unique in this, despite the fancy words of some of his successors. For example, in the first inaugural address of President Barak Obama, he said this: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist” . Despite being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Obama had little to do with unclenching the U.S. fist; during his terms in office, he targeted seven countries and dropped over 120,000 bombs on them. And these were not one- or two-time events; bombing of these countries continued for most of his terms, and continues today under Mr. Trump.

North Korea has long been hostile to the U.S., and it doesn’t ‘hate the U.S. because of its freedoms’; let’s put that old saw to bed right now. During the three-year long Korean War, the U.S. dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on North Korea (note that during World War II, the U.S. used 503,000 tons in all the Pacific). This included 32,577 tons of napalm. The head of Strategic Air Command during the Korean War was Curtis LeMay. In an 1984 interview, he said that U.S. bombs killed 20% of the North Korean population, and that they “targeted everything that moved in North Korea”.

Historian Bruce Cummings pointed out the obvious: “Most Americans are completely unaware that we destroyed more cities in the North then we did in Japan or Germany during World War II… Every North Korean knows about this, it’s drilled into their minds. We never hear about it.”

So while the U.S. presents North Korea as a distant, foreign monster, out to destroy the mighty United States simply because it is hostile to the U.S.’s self-proclaimed, but totally false, equitable, fair and democratic governance, the truth is far different. U.S. spin doctors are most effective in their practice, but for those who wish to look a little closer, the facts are plain to see.

President Trump has also said that “there will never be a time that we (the U.S.) are not the most powerful nation in the world!” Of course, he is referring to a military sense. Let poor children go hungry; allow the infrastructure to crumble; continue incarcerating citizens at a greater rate than any other nation on earth; deprive millions of people of health care, but keep the military strong. This, in the public view of U.S. officials, maintains ‘national security’ and keeps the citizenry safe.

This raises more issues in this writer’s mind: Canada spends a fraction of what the U.S. does on its military, and yet Canada is not a constant victim of terrorism or foreign invasion. Why might this be? Why does the U.S. need so much money to protect itself, when Canada doesn’t? Russia spends far less than the U.S., and its citizens are somehow safe. The same is true for England, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Austria, Portugal, etc., etc. Yet the U.S., for some reason, feels the need to spend far more than any other nation. Could it be, perhaps, that the ‘defense’ department isn’t really about ‘defense’ at all? Could that nearly 1,000 U.S. military bases dotting the globe perhaps be more about domination, power, imperialism and global control than about ‘defense’? Could the bloated military budget be more about selling weaponry, of which the U.S. is the world’s largest vendor? Let’s not forget that military contractors are very generous to the campaigns of U.S. officials who vote the way they want them to.

Be that as it may; we are left in a situation in which the U.S. can threaten any nation it wants to. Unfortunately, with the buffoon-like Donald Trump in the White House, a man with little grasp of history or current events in any context but how they reflect on his own popularity, the risk of nuclear war is great. He seems to have no idea of the global and decades-long disaster that that would cause. And Congress members, still cowering in fear of his displeasure, are too craven to stop him.

Where will it end? Albert Einstein once said that if there is a World War III, World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones. Mr. Trump seems to have no cognizance of the potential global impacts of even a ‘limited’ nuclear war (if there can even be such a thing), and risks discovering it for himself.

It is almost farcical to have to look to Kim Jong-un as the voice of reason, but between him and Mr. Trump, perhaps that is what we must do. The fact that the future of civilization hangs on this thin thread is far beyond frightening.


[1] Christensen, Carol and Thompsent; 1998. The Mexican War, p. 14.