Donald Trump, Barack Obama, The New York Times, The Washington Post and practically every other official or organ that has had a say in the North Korean nuclear crisis has been hopelessly naive in in their policy prescriptions, de facto allowing the terrorist state to obtain and continuously improve their nuclear weapons capability and master the ability of pairing this apocalyptic ammunition with an ICBM. It’s for that reason that I’m writing, and have written, to offer a strong corrective to the ineffective protocols you're used to hearing and seeing.
Every time North Korea launches a ballistic missile or carries out a nuclear test, the story unfolds as follows: The US condemns the action, calls for a UN security council meeting, tightens sanctions, threatens military action, and then everyone goes to sleep and forgets about it, and North Korea keeps gradually improving their missile and nuclear programs.
Trump, Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson have proven to be just as big a failure as the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. The talk has been tougher, but the same narrative, in terms of concrete actions, has remained constant.
For good reason, then, critics have predicted that North Korea will continue to improve their nuclear arsenal, and carry on with provocative tests.
Where does this lead?
In five years, North Korea will have greatly improved their submarine launching capabilities, as a recent 38 North report indicates, improved their mobile transport of ICBM’s making them ever harder to preempt, developed nuclear weapons with an increasingly devastating payload, increased the number and range of those ICBM’s, and improved their retaliatory capabilities, in both conventional and nuclear dimensions, toward Seoul. It also follows that tensions, and the likelihood of military action, will only increase as years go by, for that has been the consistent trend of the past thirty years.
Why these actions only make headlines when North Korea decides to test a missile in mind-boggling.
There is no way to stop Kim on his path towards becoming a full-blown, credible nuclear power other than through military action. Our officials and commentators are deceiving us by indicating that tougher sanctions will lead to a meaningful resolution. The Koreans won’t be coerced or scared into surrendering their program; Carrier strike groups in the pacific are only worth as much as our willingness to use them. Besides, if North Korea figured they would cave in the end due to economic isolation, they would cave now, instead of enduring hardship just to lose. Instead, Kim has bet against our policy of economic sanctions by continually refining his nuclear arsenal, and therefore keeps winning the game.
The United States has a decision to make: Accept North Korea as a nuclear power and turn a blind eye to their continued ballistic missile and nuclear tests, which will only become increasingly apocalyptic, or neutralize all of their offensive capabilities through an overwhelming military strike. We haven’t any other options.
If it follows that we can’t accept North Korea’s continual nuclear improvement and provocative acts, than we’d best take military action tonight as opposed to five years from now.
The other option, appeasement, is very much so on the table. However it’s important that every official, including Trump, and commentator, including Ian Bremmer, Susan Rice, Chris Hill, among others, both recognizes and openly admits what this entails, namely a North Korea that can launch multiple nuclear paired ICBM’s from submarines, mobile transports, and stable sites to any address in the world, from Seoul to Washington, while tensions between our nations gradually increase, and North Korea, presumably, continues to be destabilized by international sanctions.
The point is that if you’re not for taking military action today, you definitely shouldn’t be for taking it tomorrow, and therefore must be for appeasement and accept and openly profess the above points as the inevitable outcome of any policy other than immediate military action. There's no two ways about it.
However, most officials and commentators, Trump included, will continue to talk tough about sanctions, while ignoring the full implications of their claim. Again, either you accept the points above and include them in your op ed piece or speech, or are for military action tonight.
I hope this piece is read widely, and that we don’t have to hear one more speech or read one more column on the New York Times op ed page that alludes to sanctions, or criticizes Trump as if his tweets created the mess, that completely and wholly miss the point.
We Fight Tonight or do nothing.
In history, there’s never a perfect analogy. However, I find the cases of Operation Babylon, whereby the Israelis eliminated Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities in 1981, the over throw of Saddam Hussein, Operation Orchard, whereby the Israelis eliminated a Syrian nuclear lab in 2007, Ernest Bevin’s infamous appeasement and the Rise of Nazi Germany, among many other imperfect analogies, to be convincing cases for immediate action against North Korea. Like Hitler and Hussein and unlike Mussolini, Kim appears to be willing to go all the way, i.e. he would rather die than relinquish his nuclear deterrent.
Of course none of these nations possessed nuclear weapons in the cases when preemptive action occurred, as Jim Dao pointed out to me. However that makes it ever more imperative that we act immediately, for tomorrow we may be incapable of isolating the threat. Observant readers will notice the unoriginality of the title, stolen from a June 15th, 1994 Washington Post op ed written by Arnie Kanter and Brent Scowcroft. There argument, that action today is less costly than action in the future, and likely inevitable, rings even truer today than it did when they we’re published.
Arnie and Brent were ignored, please don’t ignore me. Daniel S. Smith, a history student at Wayne State University, can reached at DannySmith1794@gmail.com