WASHINGTON – North Korea is not Switzerland, or Belgium. Over the course of several generations, North Korea has become a hereditary, disciplined aggressor culture – meaning its people.
It is led by an increasingly warlike leader, who has solidified his power by murdering his rivals, including his relatives, in cold blood.
From 1950 onward, and even before, the regime’s main objective has been the unification of the Korean Peninsula under one flag and its peculiar brand of communism, including the democratic South Korean metropolis with its auto factories, its electronics industries and its banks, even if they have to be reduced to a cinder.
History has not been kind to those who believe that tough talk, threats, soft talk, appeals to negotiation – any kind of talk – can have any lasting influence on such a hate-driven, aggressor culture. This is the Orient, where people think not in terms of four years, or decades the way we do, but in centuries.
In 1941, Japan came under the whip of the Shinto sect, plus its warrior class and its reclusive Emperor Hirohito, who was viewed as a god, had become a merciless culture – suicidal on its edges, overwhelming large parts of China, Manchuria. Japan had been handed all of Korea via treaty. It murdered its subjects at will, prostituting its women.
Our then President Franklin Roosevelt sent a conciliatory, personal letter to Hirohito as his empire’s naval task force steamed toward Pearl Harbor in the then American territory, Hawaii. On Dec. 7, 1941, the entire American military establishment there was caught flat-footed in our binge of good will, taking more than 2,000 people and a half dozen battleships to the bottom.
It isn’t clear what President Harry Truman was doing nine years later when tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers, backed by Soviet tanks, artillery and advisers, stormed across Korea’s 39th parallel. What is clear is that Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, gave a speech at the National Press Club in January 1950, when he excluded all of Korea and Taiwan from our area of vital interests.
Elites here and in New York City vigorously defend Acheson against charges that he carelessly offered the communists an open invitation to attack the south. But after more than a million Korean deaths, and 36,000 American military deaths, who knows how that war started.
What was unchanged then and still remains 73 years later is that the north wants to take the south. North Korea wants us to hand over the south.
The war ended with a brittle armistice. What was once an American force of nearly 300,000 has been reduced to a token force of 28,000, plus a handful of untested anti-missile batteries. They face a North Korean land army of more than a million active troops and reservists.
Since then, diplomacy – so-called – has been tried by the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In that period of 20 years, those presidents and their secretaries of state did little but buy time.
For what? The North Korean regime, unchanging in its historic objectives, became a full-blown nuclear power that can realistically threaten to rain nuclear death on Alaska, Hawaii and a dozen West Coast American cities, and do target practice on the U.S. incorporated territory of Guam. With impunity.
It is more than unfortunate that our country is stuck with having an unpopular, mouthy and incredible president like Donald Trump to deal with a nuclear North Korea. But it is dishonest in the extreme to say he created it.