Friday, April 7, 2017

L.A. Times: If we're going to rule out negotiations with North Korea, we have to be ready for war

Dan Rather says, "May I offer a gentle suggestion that this is an especially good time to review the history of the Korean War (1950-54.) It’s the 'Forgotten War', which many Americans alive at the time and still living don’t remember--or never knew--much about. And a war that most younger Americans seem to have barely heard about, if at all.

"The reason for suggesting that you become at least sketchily up to date on what happened and why back in the 1950s is: war on the Korean peninsula is now again--sad, even terrifying to say--a real looming possibility. It is not an overstatement to say that one big mistake by the U.S., China, North or South Korea, or some combination of them, could touch off major combat.

"This, not wheeling and dealing on subjects such as tariffs, should be topic one in the talks between President Trump and China’s visiting leader, Xi Jinping. Alas, most of the indications coming out of the White House and the media so far have focused on trade and tariffs, not prevention of war.

"Hurriedly read up on the old Korean war. Read it and take it in - and think. Reckless statements from the new Trump Presidency, together with what is obviously an inexperienced and, frankly, amateurish foreign policy team, have upended long-standing American positions. The result has confused and made more complicated and dangerous all of northern Asia."

In regards to the Korean War, which has never ended, we have been and are in a very serious and tenuous situation.

Following up on Rather's wise advice, here is a brief overview: The Korean War was the first war in which the United Nations Security Council dispatched U.N. Forces to Korea in response to North Korea's invasion of South Korea in 1950.

In the United States, the U.N. response was referred to as a "police action.' It's also known as "The Forgotten War and "The Unknown War."

Hostilities ended with an armistice in 1953. However, there is not a peace treaty only a truce. Since each side agreed to a ceasefire, technically a war between North and South Korea still exists.

The United States in-theater death toll in the Korean War was 33,651. There were 103,284 wounded. As of June 2016, 7,800 Americans remained unaccounted for.

Chinese and Korean military losses were around a million, with another million civilian deaths.

The U.S. military provided 90% of all troops involved. Over six million fought on both sides of the Korean War. From the North were more than three million North Korean. Chinese, and Russian troops. From the South were almost three million from South Korea and twenty-one United Nations countries including Australia.

The L.A. Times reports: "During a visit to Seoul last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew some reddish lines around North Korea.

“'Twenty years of talking has brought us to the point we are today,' Tillerson said at a news conference. 'Talk is not going to change the situation.' If North Korea threatens South Korean or American forces or elevates the level of its weapons program, Tillerson warned, preemptive military action is 'on the table.'

"Tillerson’s comments did not come entirely out of left field. For months, Washington has been abuzz over the possibility that North Korea may successfully test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to an American city. In a New Year’s address, North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un indicated such a test could come sooner than we think.

"But Tillerson’s warning did signal that the Trump administration is taking U.S. policy toward North Korea in a new direction — that we may be serious about abandoning engagement and willing to pursue containment through military action."

A U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber, right,
and South Korean fighter jets conduct
a joint training exercises over the Korean Peninsula
a Wednesday on March 22. (Associated Press)
If we're going to rule out negotiations with North Korea, we have to be ready for war
By Robert L. Gallucci