The North Korean military’s artillery attack on a South Korean island this week — and act of war — again highlights why non-interventionists cannot be Pacifists. Whether or not the U.S. alliance with South Korea is a good idea, it is a fact, and the North’s acts of war against a U.S. alliance partner are intolerable.
What to do? I suggested on FOX News this week that the U.S. navy immediately be ordered to sink as much of North Korea’s navy as possible, and also destroy its naval installations. This is an appropriate response to two North Korean acts of war — counting the North’s earlier sinking of a boat of the South Korean navy — against a U.S. ally that, unlike Israel or Britain, has never tried to drag us into war.
Alas, and as always, it seems neither President Obama nor the U.S. military had prepared to attack North Korea’s military after a second act of war. As this morning’s papers show, Obama has only just sent an aircraft carrier toward Korean waters, and that as a signal to North Korea — and China. Signal? China? China has long abetted the North Korean pirate regime, but does anyone really believe Beijing would risk war with the United States over a smashed North Korean navy? I think the answer to that question has two parts: (a) not if the U.S. Navy was prepared and had struck immediately, presenting Beijing with a fait acompli; and, (2) a much more serious Sino-U.S. confrontation would develop if Obama now authorizes a retaliatory attack on North Korea, as the Chinese have had time to lay out their pro-North Korea position on the attack and the Western media — especially the BBC and CNN — are abetting North Korea by describing the incident as an “exchange of artillery fire,” rather than a North Korean act of war.
The net result, I think, is the North Koreans probably will get away Scot free on this one. And aside from the dead South Korean Marines and civilians, the United States will be the biggest loser in the affair. The Obama administration has once again shown one of the few loyal U.S. allies, as well as the likes of North Korea, China, Iran, al-Qaeda, other Islamist groups, the Taliban (Afghan and Pakistani), and Russia that America is a muscle-bound power that is deathly embarrassed by its strength and afraid to use it to the extent needed. Both allies and enemies will take note; the former losing trust in U.S. reliability and the latter preparing to push the envelope a bit farther in harming U.S. interests, thereby increasing the possibility of a bigger confrontation with one or more of them in the future.
Worse for Americans, Washington’s failure to quickly paste the North Koreans will further fuel the resurgence of U.S. Neoconservatives who want a full war with North Korea, Iran, and each of the enemies Israel has so studiously earned for itself over past decades. The Neocons will brand Obama a physical coward and a communist sympathizer for refusing to stand up to North Korea and China, and their claims will find traction not only among their usual acolytes but also among Americans who either resent or are just plain tired of seeing the United States and its military humiliated by foreign powers and groups.
This, it seems to me, is always the contemporary non-interventionist’s dilemma: America lives in a world formed by a de facto interventionist coalition of U.S. political leaders from both parties and their academic and media camp-followers, and so now has a set of genuine national-security interests, treaty obligations, and perceived moral commitments produced by the coalition’s decades of intervention. A sane foreign policy — that is, a non-interventionist one — obviously would eliminate these interests, obligations, and perceived commitments as quickly and safely as possible.
But until Tea Party members are sworn in, and we can see if they will demand that America comes home as major part of the price for their legislative cooperation, the country remains in the interventionists’ thrall. So for now, the best non-interventionists can do is to seek to constrain the Neocon-led interventionists, even if that paradoxically means support for timely military preemption or retribution that might just forestall greater intervention leading to war.
And, in my mind, when Obama failed to retaliate for the attack on our South Korean ally, he opened the door for a more serious chance of a major war — which will be exploited by the Neocons — the next time the North Korean military attacks South Korea, which it surely will.
There seems to be growing support in the media and among some federal legislators for the release of Mr. Pollard and his subsequent transfer to Israel, the country which used Mr. Pollard’s Jewish heritage and venality to persuade him to commit treason against the United States and his fellow citizens. While releasing a convicted traitor seems too heinous to consider, the Obama administration’s willingness to bribe Israel with everything from F-35 strike fighters to cash infusions leaves open the chance of Mr. Pollard being released.
The Pollard problem has been with us for quite a while, and I think it now should be settled. I believe Mr. Pollard should be released — after he has been garroted and drawn-and-quartered. Then, given our current straightened economic conditions, Mr. Pollard can be shipped to Israel in one of the U.S. Post Office’s flat-rate shipping boxes in care of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The brigand will have his spy and the problem will be ended.