There is something approaching biblical justice in the U.S.-North Korean confrontation now before us. President Truman’s 1950 decision to go to war against the North Korean communists’ invasion of the south was the first and so precedent-setting instance of the unnecessary U.S. interventionist wars that have become the national government’s foreign-policy trademark since 1945.
Truman’s action was unconstitutional in that he had no authorization from Congress. Like Obama in Libya, he took the republic into an unnecessary war in the name of the United Nations and in the space of three years wasted the lives of 36,574 American troops and maimed and wounded 103,284. (1) In addition, the allegedly thrifty Truman squandered $341 billion in 2011 dollars. (2)
Wasted lives, limbs, and dollars are three of the main characteristics of the U.S. government’s military interventionism overseas. Truman’s illegal adventure in Korea also manifested five other traits that have become both the indelible signatures of U.S. interventionism, and unrelenting threats to U.S. national security.
- Thou shalt not use commonsense, Part 1: Truman entered the war without asking himself or his generals the main question: “In terms of genuine U.S. national interests, do we care who rules on the Korean Peninsula?” The answer in 1950 —and today, save for our troops marooned there —is that we do not care, it is no skin off our noses. If asked and honestly answered, that question would have saved Americans the lives and dollars that have been wasted since the Korean War in such unnecessary interventionist wars as Vietnam, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
- Thou shalt not win: Truman did not win the Korean war; he decided to lose it. There is never any use in entering a war that you do not intend to win. All of the human and financial wealth that Truman expended in Korea was wasted, and the failure to win set another interventionist trait in stone: The U.S. government never wins unnecessary interventionist wars.
- Thou shalt allow foreign leaders to send America to war: Truman covered his refusal to win in Korea by publicly warning of a larger war — perhaps a nuclear war — after China intervened with Moscow’s approval. His subsequent actions, and the deals that were agreed to conclude an armistice both confirmed the U.S. defeat and and left the republic holding the bag. Truman and the UN-coalition agreed to create a cease-fire/boundary line at the 38th parallel that left the South Korean capital of Seoul in perpetual jeopardy, as it sat only 35 miles away from the North Korean military. U.S. troops were then stationed along that line near the demilitarized zone so they would be chopped up if North Korea again attacked, and so justify renewed U.S. intervention. Truman, his Congress, and the UN thus set another rigid trait of unnecessary U.S. interventionist wars, namely: The abrogation of U.S. independence and sovereignty in making a decision for war, in the case of Korea, by deliberately leaving that decision solely in the hands of the communist leader-of-the-day in Pyongyang. (NB: Today, we face the same in regard to Israel, the NATO countries, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
- Thou shalt lie and say UN efforts and multinational sanctions will end the problem: Truman had started an unconstitutional war, wasted American lives and money, refused to win, and made a mockery of U.S. independence and sovereignty over the decision for war. Then, each of his successors in the White House — with congressional approval — played Americans for dupes by claiming the UN would reconcile the two Koreas, thereby allowing the United States to get out of the war-trap Truman had left behind. The UN, of course, did nothing for the next 65 years except to join with Western states to alternate between periods of strong sanctions, periods of humanitarian pandering to the North Korean communists, and then a return to the former. The pandering periods saved the North Koreans from food and energy famines and provided them with the technology that allowed the creation of their nuclear weapons. The only things more useless than the UN and its actions are those leaders who put their trust in them.
- Thou shalt not use commonsense, Part 2: The United States and its European allies have conducted their post-1945 sanctions policies with an arrogance and ignorance that precisely reflects the intellectual bankruptcy of the educational systems they have created. The overriding, indeed, sacrosanct idea behind sanctions is that the United States and its allies can apply increasingly harsh, even barbaric sanctions against any country and never pay any price for doing so. Now, anyone who went to grammar school before teaching turned into political indoctrination, will have learned at recess that pushing a classmate will be responded to in kind. The supposedly well-educated Western elite that so frequently applies sanctions seems to have no knowledge of this simple and invaluable life-lesson. Meanwhile, Western sanctions never hurt the bad guy, be he the miscreant Gaddafi, Saddam, or Kim Jong Un. Their impact falls on people who have little money, inadequate food and medicine, and no information but what the state issues to them. North Koreans surely believe that they and their children have been oppressed by U.S., UN, and Western sanctions for decades, and that those sanctions multiplied the misery imposed by their rulers. Sanctions do nothing but rally the oppressed to their oppressors if conflict comes.
- Thou shalt close your embassy: When the United States and its allies saw that nothing they had done — war, sanctions, and name-calling — had solved the North Korea problem, they decided to make things worse for themselves by closing their embassies in Pyongyang. This has become a common practice that the national government uses in the capitals of those countries it considers enemies, as well as ones that it simply does not like. This practice is closely akin to shoving a bayonet through your chest. Without an embassy in an enemy country, all agencies of the U.S. intelligence community are denied an on-the-ground presence that allows the collection of human intelligence, close-in signals intelligence, and multiple forms of other kinds of technical intelligence. This knowing presidential blinding of the U.S. intelligence community denies those charged with defending the republic, and assisting the military to do so, with one of the very best intelligence collection platforms, an on-the-ground presence in the enemy country. Currently, for example, we have no embassy in Syria, Iran, North Korea, and for years before 9/11 we had no embassy in Afghanistan. The decision to close an embassy in an enemy country — or any country, for that matter — invariably hurts, and never aids U.S. national security. Embassies ought never be closed as a signal of anger at or distaste for a regime. They should be kept open until the host country demands their withdrawal.
Today’s confrontation with North Korea began in 1950 with an unconstitutional military intervention launched by President Truman into a place which was meaningless to U.S. national-security interests. That action created a problem that has festered for almost 65 years , one that has been kicked down the road by all succeeding presidents and now rests with President Trump. His main decision is not based on whether Kim Jong Un will back down and go quiet for a few years, but rather will he join the damnable can-kickers and allow a future president and all Americans to be faced with a North Korean leader armed with a more sophisticated first-strike nuclear capability.
Trump and his national-security team face a direct and demonstrable nuclear threat to the United States that is of his predecessors making. He has drawn the short straw and must end this problem here and now or knowingly endanger our posterity by allowing the North Korea’s nuclear capability to grow. There are only two ways to do the right thing for today and for the future: (a) reach an agreement that will allow U.S. forces and nuclear experts to enter North Korea and dismantle and destroy North Korea’s nuclear facilities, ballistic missiles, and stockpiles of fissile material, or (b) direct U.S. forces to annihilate all of North Korea’s nuclear and military capabilities and armed forces.
The existence of only two rotten choices is tough luck for President Trump, but he has the con. He has inherited the ripest and most poisonous fruit of the nation’s bipartisan governing elite’s addiction to overseas military interventionism. That interventionism always fails, often strengthens our enemies, always kills and maims our children, massively deepens the national debt, stokes a worldwide hatred for America that creates new enemies, and now has brought us to the brink of nuclear war. Only fools, war-mongers, or domestic enemies of the republic would ever advocate another unnecessary interventionist war after witnessing the current and still unfolding interventionist-made disaster in North Korea.