In 1950, US general Douglas Macarthur had a highly public dispute with President Harry Truman. Macarthur’s troops composed not just of US WW2 veterans but of other Asian and Western allies had pushed the North Koreans up to the Chinese border. Macarthur consulted with Truman on pushing his troops further inward which the general believe would lead to an end of the Communist regime. Truman, unconvinced that the Chinese Communist forces would not interfere, ordered the general to stand down. While his troops were on standby, Chinese Communist troops engaged the UN troops to a battle. Overwhelmed by the combined North Korean and Chinese forces, Macarthur ordered a retreat.
It was, at this point, that Macarthur suggested a nuclear strike against China and use the Nationalist troops now in Taiwan to invade Beijing and oust the Communist leadership. Instead of agreeing with Macarthur, Truman balked and ordered the general to “stand down.” Truman thought that the act might be construed as hostile and therefore usher another world war, which could seriously lead to a major global catastrophe. The president then made a strategic decision to “limit the war” by allowing “co-existence” between the North and the South. A truce ended the armed confrontation, but not the war in the Korean peninsula. The war continues up to this day. Macarthur was fired from his job and the general just “slowly faded away.”
Seventy years later, and again, the US is facing a problem called North Korea. The rogue state has just test-fired its ICBM last month, with huge success. Kim Jong Un, the DPRNK leader, even boasted that the missile could reach any city at the US mainland in just under seven minutes. Expanding the threat, North Korea even warned allies of the US that it might even launch an attack against them if they join the US military forces.
How did the North managed to escape previous economic sanctions? Answer: by developing economic self-reliance. The West allowed the North to transact with other countries and these countries supplied the North with what it needed. Russia and China provided the North with technologies that it now uses to further support the mechanisms of the dictatorial regime.
With other Communist states falling by the wayside, burdened by financial debts that easily led to the fall of the political leaders and the replacement of their governance models, the North managed to institute a state-sponsored system that helped the country and its citizens survive external economic, social and political pressures. Now, the UN thinks that it could destabilize the North by imposing economic sanctions. These sanctions, I believe, would prove useless since it would be very hard for the UN to penalize countries with strong economic ties with the North.
Closely studying history, I find that the emergence of the North is actually the result of a selfish foreign affairs policy of the United States. Decades ago, during its apex as the only superpower of the world, the United States think that it can provide security for practically all regions of the world. The US government failed to anticipate that its military expansion and its posturing as the world’s top cop actually relies on the resiliency of its capitalist economy. Armies depend on funding. Without adequate funds, the US is incapable of maintaining a strong military presence in every region.
I think it is time for the US to allow other Asian powers to share the policing with them. Japan, for one, is militarily capable of providing security but it must further develop its infrastructure. Right now, East Asia needs a regional hegemon to put the North Koreans in their place and deter a possible outbreak of nuclear war. The war-like posturing of the North is a direct threat to the stability of the entire Asia-Pacific region. It goes without saying that the best solution to the North Korean problem is simply invasion. The world has exhausted all diplomatic and peaceful means of engaging the North. This state refused to bind itself with any multi-lateral initiative and this is a serious worry for other states, especially Japan, South Korea and even China. A massive war launched against the North could also drag China into it, which could seriously impact on the economic superpowers’ development. It is not to the best interest of China to engage any country in a war since it has spread itself very thinly into the global scene. A war with the United States would seriously undermine China’s economy. It would benefit the US since its economy has historically benefitted from wars, but it would be disastrous for China who is managing an expanding economy. Politically, a war might even lead to the destruction of the political powers in Beijing. If the Chinese leadership fails to provide adequate sustenance to its billion people constituency, it would spell the first step towards a probable political destabilization.
With a problem like North Korea now, I believe the good general is now laughing his head off while resting eight feet below.