Seeking worldwide peace using progressive liberals’ foolish belief in mankind’s goodness is a noble but foolish endeavor. It’s time to face facts. Throughout recorded history, despotic men and women have sought ultimate power, either through warfare or religious domination. Collectively, such evil tyrants have been described as madmen driven by their lust for power: Power they intended to use to satisfy their immense egos by controlling their subjects. All possessed two characteristics: self-preservation and no desire to die quickly after succeeding. Thus, the cold war deterrent of mutually assured destruction (MAD) has so far prevented a nuclear WWIII.
The above argument does not apply to nations governed by religious fanatics or insane dictators seeking world domination, and now the world is faced with two such nations who have obtained first generation nuclear weapons: The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK), controlled by an unstable leader who appears not to understand MAD; and, the Islamic Republic of Iran, governed by religious fanatics willing to allow their subjects die in their quest to convert the world to Islam.
An impoverished nation, ruled by Kim Jong-un, the erratic scion of the infamous, tyrannical Kim dynasty, North Korea boasts a 6 million-man army armed with an unknown number of low-yield nuclear, chemical, and biological warheads deliverable by artillery, rockets, and aircraft.
The current North Korean crisis began and continued to escalate the second the Korean Conflict Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953. To provide background to the current problem, a quick review of some historical events follows.
The morning of June 25, 1950, Kim Il-sung, the president of North Korea launched a massive predawn surprise invasion of South Korea. The North Korean People’s Army (KPA) quickly overwhelmed the lightly armed Republic of Korea (ROK) Army. President Harry Truman responded by ordering General MacArthur to send troops to support the ROK, only to discover MacArthur’s command was well below strength and armed with WWII leftovers. By zealously implementing Truman’s economization policy, Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson had reduced America’s military to skin and bones, leaving Truman and MacArthur with a hollow army and navy. As a result, Truman was forced to call up US military reserves.
After a futile call for the withdrawal of North Korean troops by the UN Security Council, the UN passed a resolution on July 24th establishing the United Nations Command (UNC), with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (General of the Army, a five star rank equivalent to a Field Marshal in foreign armies) its commander. The Korean “Police Action,” which later became known as the “Korean Conflict,” had begun.
UNC and ROK forces were driven south to the port of Pusan at the tip of the Korean peninsula. With their backs to the sea, they formed the legendary “Pusan Perimeter” and held the city until reinforcements arrived. In the early hours of September 15th, MacArthur again proved he was a masterful tactician by launching an amphibious landing at Inchon Harbor—a feat many declared to be impossible until he did it. Catching the North Koreans with their pants down, the US Marines captured Inchon. Reinforced by the US Army, MacArthur drove across the Korean peninsula, cutting the KPA forces’ supply lines. UNC forces trapped at Pusan broke out on September 16th and began a drive up the Korean peninsula.
On September 27th, MacArthur received permission to cross the 38th parallel and attack into North Korea. On October 19th, Pyongyang fell, and MacArthur drove the enemy north with the intention of destroying the KPA Army’s ability and North Korea’s will to fight — the two elements necessary to win a war.
China and the Soviet Union supported North Korea, and on October 25th China sent its “volunteer” 38th Field Army into North Korea. China’s intervention had been discounted by MacArthur’s intelligence and their sudden intervention had disastrous consequences. Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) struck China's first blow to support the KPA in their conflict against the ROK and UNC forces. Units of the CCF 39th Army destroyed a battalion of the ROK 6th division, resulting in one of the conflict’s worst battles at the Chosin Reservoir. Soon CCF forces engaged greatly outnumbered UNC troops across the entire northern front. Inflicting heavy casualties, CCF forces drove the ROK and UNC forces south. When MacArthur disagreed with Truman’s order to keep the “Korean Conflict” a limited war, the president relieved him April 11, 1951, and replaced him with General Ridgeway.
The bloody “conflict” continued until a cease-fire, resulting in an armistice, the Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State signed on July 27, 1953, at Panmunjom. As a result, the Korean Conflict—now known as the “Forgotten War” — never officially ended. Over 100,000 UNC and ROK troops were killed in action. United States losses in one of history’s bloodiest wars included: 23,615 killed in action (KIA); 4,820 missing in action (MIA) and declared dead; 7,245 captured (POWs); and 2,847 dead in POW Camps. Some believe 389 POWs were kept by China or North Korea, despite the fact that North Korea said all had been returned.
Following the armistice, Kim Il-Sung, North Korea’s first president and known to his subjects as “Great Leader,” kept the pot boiling by with a series of provocative actions, forcing the West to pay him tribute in the form of aid and medical supplies. But his most egregious acts were yet to come.
On the morning of January 23, 1968, the intelligence gathering ship, the USS Pueblo, a 173-foot converted cargo carrier with a complement of eighty-three men was standing off the coast of North Korea in international waters performing its mission. The Pueblo was lightly armed with four .50 caliber machine guns. Several North Korean naval ships approached, demanding the Pueblo to stop and be boarded. When the Pueblo’s captain, Commander Pete Bucher, attempted escape, the lead North Korean ship opened fire. Outgunned, Captain Bucher had to choose between fighting and being sunk or surrendering. Bucher chose to surrender and save his crew. The Pueblo’s thermite trays used to destroy documents and equipment had been removed, allowing North Korea to capture most of its classified equipment and documents.
President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), who was up for re-election in November and embroiled in the Vietnam War and domestic problems, did nothing to retaliate. North Korea still has the ship and displays it as a tourist attraction, but eventually returned the crew after the US acquiesced and signed a bogus document admitting espionage, which was later repudiated. The USS Pueblo remains on the US Navy’s roster of commissioned vessels.
Emboldened by his success, the following year Kim ordered North Korea to shoot down an American EC-121 reconnaissance plane, killing its thirty-one-member crew. Again LBJ took no retaliatory action, and Kim continued tweaking the US’ nose until his death in 1994.
Five-foot-3 inch Kim Jong-il succeeded his dictator father, President Kim Il-sung, as leader of North Korea. Eschewing the title of president—it is reserved for his father, Kim Jong-il — chose instead to take the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party, and Chairman of the National Defense Commission—the real center of power in North Korea. Known to his “adoring” subjects as “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il became legendary for his debauchery, womanizing and excessive lifestyle. Unlike his father, young Kim had never known war and lacked combat military experience. He had, however, learned from his father and maintained his father’s belligerent stance until his death on December 17, 2011.
Kim Jong-un, born on January 8, 1982, succeeded his father on December 28, 2011, and became “Supreme Leader.”
Generations of North Koreans have suffered under the rule of Kim Il-sung, followed by Kim Jong-il, and now Kim Jong-un, each an increasingly inept and brutal dictator. North Koreans have experienced detention, imprisonment, torture, forced servitude and live in near total isolation from the outside world.
Kim Jong-un is a 35-years old tubby, paranoid, bombastic, exceedingly egotistical man with no real military experience and questionable sanity. He is reported to live in fear of assassination. Under the latest Kim, North Korea’s people face a foreboding future –– the real probability of total annihilation in a nuclear holocaust. If Kim attacks the US or its allies with weapons of mass destruction, tens of thousands of peaceful North Korean people will die when the US is forced to retaliate in kind.
Is such a dire scenario realistic? Perhaps the question is best answered by examining the facts and alternative solutions from an objective point of view.
- North Korea has developed an ICBM.
- Intelligence reports are correct. North Korea has twenty or more nuclear warheads in addition to chemical and biological ordnance.
- North Korea is reported to have miniaturized one or more nuclear warheads small enough to fit into a reentry vehicle (RV) that can be delivered by its ICBMs. Once North Korea perfects its RV Kim will be a clear and present danger to the US. Kim’s apparent mental instability elevates the threat to a level higher than the Soviet Union ever was.
- Kim Jong-un is delusional and believes he must prove he is a nuclear power equal to the other nuclear powers by using one.
- Kim is capable of ordering a surprise nuclear attack on South Korea, Guam or the US but incapable of understanding the consequence of his act.
- North Korea has a six million-man army with one million deployed near South Korea’s border read to launch another surprise invasion into South Korea.
- Any attack against North Korea or Kim will trigger the 10,000 plus artillery tubes and rockets in position to fire on Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. The densely populated city is home to 10.2 million. Adding the surrounding area the combined population is 25.6 million, half of South Korea’s total population. Chemical and biological ordnance will be used, causing un-imaginable causalities. Supreme Leader Kim emulates his grandfather, Great Leader and may follow his example by ordering a second surprise invasion of South Korea.
- Kim will continue to escalate threats and demands until action is taken.
Conclusions Based on Assumptions
No nation can wait for an enemy to launch nuclear weapons at it. The results would be tens if not hundreds of thousands of dead citizens. Once convinced an unstable leader is getting ready to do so, a preemptive strike is the only rational solution.
The US, Japan, and South Korea have very few options, none of which are good. North Korea’s prepositioned artillery and rockets can begin firing within minutes, and the million soldiers stationed near the South Korean border are ready to invade. It must be assumed that some of the artillery projectiles and rocket warhead will contain chemical and biological agents. It must also be assumed one or more North Korean nuclear bombs will be dropped in South Korea. The death toll and destruction in and around South Korea’s capital city would be unthinkable.
Any North Korean ICBM launched at Guam, Japan, Hawaii or the US must be assumed to have a nuclear warhead. Interceptor missiles, if available, may, I repeat may be capable of intercepting and destroying the reentry vehicle (RV). If more than one ICBM is launched, the probability of intercepting and destroying the RVs decreases as the number of ICBMs increases. These are unacceptable odds. If one missile gets through, tens of thousands of people will die.
- A massive missile attack followed by bombers on the artillery positions, nuclear and missile sites, and North Korea’s capital city. North Korea’s artillery targeted on Seoul must be destroyed before they can fire. Probability of success: low.
- Assassinate Kim Jong-un. Probability of success: low.
- Accept North Korea as a bullying nuclear power and be prepared to grant all of Kim Jong-un's demands. A futile solution with a low probability of success, because demands will continue to increase, as will Kim’s ability to wage nuclear war in the future.
- A preemptive first strike. A surprise nuclear attack with low yield (50 KT) nuclear weapons on North Korea’s capital city (Pyongyang) and its nuclear and missile sites, combined with a massive missile attack and bomber strike on the artillery positions near Seoul — decapitation of North Korean leadership has the best probability of success — but some of the artillery will probably fire before being destroyed.
- Cancel the 64-year-old armistice and resume the Korean Conflict.
- Convince China or Russia to replace Kim with a controllable puppet. President Trump could direct the State Department issue an advisory for all diplomats and foreigners to leave North Korea for their safety, and then, refuse to comment on the announcement. The announcement will have to be taken as a war warning, forcing China and Russia to solve the problem.
Options 1 and 2 have little chance of success, but if attempted, Kim will undoubtedly trigger artillery and rockets targeted on Seoul, invade South Korea, and use a nuclear weapon in South Korea. Option 3 will placate Kim while he perfects his nuclear armed ICBMs and increases the yield of his nuclear weapons. Thus, Option 4 has a better probability of success than Options 1-3, but it comes with unknown consequences. Option 5 will restart the Korean Conflict and result in even more ROK an US deaths. Option 6 is the best solution for all concerned parties.
US, Japan & South Korea
Japan cannot tolerate a nuclear North Korea. If Kim Jong-un is allowed to pursue his goal, Japan will have to obtain nuclear weapons. On the other hand, if Kim is insane, Japan having nuclear weapons will not deter him. US nuclear weapons have not, for if they had, we would not have the current problem. If Japan obtains nuclear weapons, Kim, who acts like a man-child with a new toy, may force Japan to use one or more of them. And, China does not want a nuclear-armed Japan.
Either side can announce an end to the armistice and the war resumes (Option 5), which means that North Korea need only send a notice to the UN ending the armistice and then invade South Korea one minute later.
The US has approximately 28,000 military and many more civilians in South Korea. Should North Korea launch another surprise attack, many of them will be in the impact areas of the prepositioned North Korean artillery. Neither South Korea or the US is prepared to repel an invasion by one million North Korean troops following the shelling of Seoul.
North Korea’s ICBMs can strike Guam 15 minutes after launch and the US in approximately 30 plus minutes. We will have no advanced warning since North Korea’s ICBM have solid rocket motors. Old liquid fueled missiles required hours to load the liquid fuel, activities visible by satellite. Ground based interceptor missiles (GBIs) stationed at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg AFB, California may be able to intercept incoming North Korean missiles. Hawaii and Guam have no GBI protection. If one RV gets through America’s president will have to order the complete destruction of North Korea. Kim’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons against the US is sufficient grounds for President Trump to order one of the options presented above. When nuclear weapons are in play, waiting for the enemy to fire first is not an option.
The UN and US are responsible for the current problem by not winning the Korean War. If they had, we would have the Democratic nation of Korea instead of the two Koreas and the associated problems.
China & Russia’s Roll in North Korea’s Nuclear Threat
By losing control over their North Korean puppet, both China and Russia have created a situation that could trigger a nuclear war that could quickly escalate into WWIII. Using poker as an analogy, Kim may go “all in” at any time. Neither China nor Russia want a nuclear war with the US, but a rash act by Kim can set in motion a series of rapidly escalating events that will cause one. Had Kim made his play while Obama was still president he may have achieved his goal as stated in option four above. That option is no longer available, and China and Russia are now watching events accelerate toward a violent military conclusion –– a conclusion that may well end with nuclear detonations near their borders.
China has announced it will not support North Korea if it is the aggressor. China knows full well that if North Korea launches an ICBM or uses a nuclear, chemical or biological ordnance, the US will have no option but to destroy North Korea totally. Russia also knows this, but like China continues the diplomatic game. Why else would Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov say, “… The wiser and stronger will make the first move to de-escalate tensions.” Are China and Russia using “Supreme Leader” to test President Trump and see how far they can push him? If so, both countries are playing a very dangerous game.
When all is said and done, the best solution for all would be for either China or Russia to eliminate Kim and replace him with a controllable puppet (Option 6). Or, in a world of sanity, join with Japan and the US to eliminate the Kim dynasty and combine North and South Korea, creating the nation of Korea.
It appears China has attempted to regain control of North Korea by staging a coup. Supreme Leader thwarted the planned coup by killing his uncle and older brother. Apparently, a more direct method is required.
Kim Jong-un is a threat to world peace and must be removed before he starts a nuclear war. It will be best for all concerned if China or Russia does the deed.
In a world fraught with danger and the possibility of a nuclear war, some Republicans and most, if not all, Democrats are so eager to destroy President Trump, weaken his ability to govern, that they are willing to see the nation weaken, disgraced, and even left exposed for a nuclear attack. The result of this unbridled hatred may well result in WWIII, and the end of civilization as we know it.
Lee Boyland graduated from N.C. State University with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering, and a commission as a 2nd Lt. In the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps After completing the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Schools he was assigned to the Defense Atomic Support Agency in Albuquerque, NM as a member of its Nuclear Emergency Team responsible for nuclear weapons accidents including the rendering safe of armed nuclear warheads. He had access to the design details of every nuclear and thermonuclear warhead developed by the Unites States through the Mark 63 warhead. After leaving the Army, he designed conventional and special ordnance and later demilitarized chemical weapons at Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Tooele Army Depot. After Viet Nam, his interest shifted to hazardous waste, and he made the transition by applying aerospace combustion technology to incineration of Agent Orange. He went on to found a successful full service medical waste service company. He has started and purchased businesses, and currently writes and consults in the management of medical and special wastes in the U.S. and Asia.Mr. Boyland is an active member of the Military Writers Society of America, the Space Coast Writers' Guild and the Blueprints Book Club