President Trump’s massive naval armada will be on station by the end of the month. This added to the other U.S. military assets already in the region, represents a massive increase in American firepower in the region. This has the added effect of making Russia and China very nervous. The situation is growing tenser by the hour.
There is nothing simple about Korea. I could barely find Korea on a map until I was stationed there at 20 years old. In a short amount of time, I fell in love with the small country and its people. There are so many qualities I admire in the Korean people. Loyalty and wisdom to name a couple.
Korea was just another assignment to me when I got there. When I left I had developed a deep sense of worry for South Korea’s future. The situation has been at a boiling point since the ceasefire was signed in 1953. North Korea would constantly pull some antic, which would put my unit on alert numerous times throughout my time there. They would make noise until someone threw some money at them. That used to be the DPRK’s modus operandi. Things changed when they developed nuclear weapons.
President Bush and Obama were perfectly content to kick the North Korean can down the road. They certainly never attempted to solve the problem permanently. Most presidents are content to do just enough to ensure North Korea doesn’t do anything crazy on their watch. I find it ironic that Obama warned Trump that North Korea would be his biggest foreign policy challenge. This is ironic because Obama did absolutely nothing to stop the military rise of North Korea. It is probably a good thing Obama did not tackle the Korea issue. Virtually every foreign policy decision he made ended in disaster.
The fact is, Trump does not have the luxury of kicking the can down the road. Very soon, North Korea will have the ability to mount a nuclear weapon on an ICMB. Once that happens, they can hold the entire world hostage. It is important to remember how we got to this point. The three people who share collective guilt for this situation are Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Be that as it may, the problem is Trump’s to deal with now. And it seems to me he has chosen the stick over the carrot. In the end, he may be right. Obviously, the Clinton/Obama carrots of the past did not help the situation. China is only interested in helping us if it benefits them substantially. The current Korean crisis is of their making. China is the only life-support North Korea has. There is no way possible for the DPRK to have developed those advanced weapon systems they now have, without Chinese assistance. Thus, I have very little faith that China will solve our problems for us.
The 150,000 troops China has placed on their border with North Korea are there to prevent an influx of North Korean refugees. Russia has followed suit on its own border with the DPRK. A major step China could take would be to cut-off all their oil exports to North Korea. This would paralyze their massive war machine.
The problem with this scenario is: it could make the DPRK so desperate they choose to go out fighting. In the 1940s, the US cut off oil exports to Japan in retaliation for their invasion of Indochina. This led Japan to conclude it had nothing to lose, culminating with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Like I said, nothing is simple in Korea. Undeniably, the war drums are beating. The U.S. will certainly win any engagement with North Korea. How many will have to die before the North is defanged, is the real question.