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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pizza in Geneva, Korea, and the Cost of Unfinished Business

Many years ago working in Geneva, Switzerland, my colleagues and I would put in very long hours and come out of the office much after stores and restaurants in that pleasant but deadly dull town had closed. At least back in those days, "downtown" Geneva had only one place to eat after a certain hour, the railway station. That station had a dark and depressing pizzeria owned by Swiss-Italians and run by Arabs that stayed open late. There we learned that regardless of who invented pizza, the only place to get a decent one was the USA. Made in a wood-fired stove, the pizzas produced in la gare de Genève were expensive, tiny, thin horrid affairs, burned on the bottom and uncooked on top. They were essentially cheese and tomato on charcoal. You had to be pretty hungry to chomp down on that. We were, hence, we gagged, complained, paid, and, yes, returned night after night.

The memory of that pizza in Geneva leads me to today's topic: the situation in and around the Korean peninsula.

Modern liberal democracies have a disturbing tendency to leave matters unresolved, especially when it comes to international conflict. We start projects, and never quite finish them. We engage in half measures, much like that burned and uncooked pizza in Geneva all those years ago. Shifting metaphors, and getting into something more manly man than bad pizza, we act like a hunter who decides to go out just to wound the bear. This strategy seems to pass among the "best and brightest" as a model of sophistication and subtlety. Just about any hunter, however, can assure you that it is not a wise or even a good tactic.

We are all familiar with the Vietnam experience where in General Douglas MacArthur's immortal words we asked out troops "to die for a tie." Despite the restrictions on the use of our power, the political meddling by the "best and brightest," the misreporting by the US and international media, and the actions of certain "winter soldiers," the US military won a stunning victory against the communists in Vietnam. The much-ballyhooed Tet offensive, for example, proved the end of the Viet Cong as an effective force and demonstrated conclusively that the North Vietnamese army could not stand up to the US military in head on combat. The US Marines' successful battle to save Hue from the North Vietnamese army is as heroic and stirring a feat of arms as any battle one can care to name. That overwhelming communist defeat and triumph by the US military was horribly misreported, deliberately twisted, and used to convince us that we could not win the war. And the rest is history.

If only Vietnam were the only example of the results of half-measures and deliberate sabotage. Readers can come up with any number of other examples such as Woodrow Wilson's imbecilic handling of the putative end of World War I, the Berlin Airlift, the Bay of Pigs and the subsequent half-measures used against the evil Castro regime, etc. Most examples of American foreign policy half-measures come from Democratic presidents. Most, that is, but not all. President Bush's (41) handling of the first Gulf War led inexorably to the second Gulf War as much as did Wilson's handling of the "end" of WWI lead us into WWII. The Reagan administration's failure to act decisively against the Sandinista gangsters left a horrible legacy in Central America which continues to haunt us. It produced the worst of all possible worlds: the negative blow-back for being interventionist without the benefits of victory over a vile regime that has helped destabilize the region.

The, however, truly stunning example of half-measures and unfinished business coming back to bite us is the Korean War. We, once again, see the consequences as Kim Jong-Un, a gangnam-style Pillsbury doughboy with a bad haircut, threatens to rain nuclear weapons on our Pacific bases and even our cities. Little Kim is the dictator of a decrepit country of zero importance to the world. This repellent little communist monarchy stands across the DMZ from the Republic of Korea, one of the truly great political, economic, and social success stories of the past seventy years. North Korea's leaders, however mad and absurd they might appear, know how to play with Western reluctance to apply total solutions. They look at the current leadership in Washington, and what do they see? The most anti-military President, Secretary of State AND Secretary of Defense in our history, i.e., the Three Stooges of the Apocalypse. They see us babbling about nonsense, and openly vowing to destroy our own military in order to provide free stuff to people who vote for Obama. We have a pompous, lying, rich boy, blowhard as Secretary of State who vows to do "whatever is necessary"( Note: In a style reminiscent of "Genghis Khan," eh?) but who has a record of opposing whatever is necessary, and has committed public acts of treason. We have the irony of having the very liberal Democrats who so opposed anti-missile defenses now being forced to move into place those very systems they sought to abort. The same bunker buster bombs which the Democrats opposed developing are being loaded into B-2s and would play a critical role in case of war against North Korea. The military which the Democrats have for years sought to cut and make into a playground for their social experiments now stands as the defense for Los Angeles, and other Democratic-governed urban centers. The ironies go on and on.

This is what happens when you go hunting to wound the bear.

WLA

34 comments:

  1. You'd think the progressive types would catch on, but they don't. Teddy Roosevelt got to keep the Square Deal, but Wilson's New Freedom died on the Western Front, FDR's New Deal died at Pearl Harbor, Truman's Fair Deal died in Korea, Kennedy's New Frontier and Johnson's Great Society both died in Vietnam. Foreign wars are the perpetual bugaboo of the Left, largely because the Left spends an inordinate amount of time convincing thug nations that we are a bunch of doofuses ready and willing to be blackjacked, and then wondering post hoc why we got blackjacked. I guess if you spend all of your time looking forward to the bright progressive future you forget that not everyone shares your vision.

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    1. I would differ on one point: we could only WISH the Great Society had died in Vietnam. Unfortunately, it appears to be still too much with us and, indeed, is still expanding. (Rather like The Blob, which in the movie grows monstrously as it consumes more & more people.)

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  2. In the vein of fantasy baseball, I would RELISH the Chinese spanking the ever loving tar out of the North Koreans. I know it's not feasable, but how beautiful would that be? Uncle Mao tanning the bottom of little Kim?

    What has me laying awake, is who is pushing this agenda? The old generals or the new Kim on the block? If it's the old timers, they've done this everytime they want a buy-off. Kinda like familiar ground... If it's the new guy, he's out of his depth to push this far this fast. Neither scenario is a happy one.

    You nailed it though: The only way to keep this from happening is to soundly and totally defeat the enemy. Unconditional surrender is sweet music.

    de....STxRynn

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  3. It would be nice if you could tie this current situation to the historical precedents in American history ... like those political generals that Lincoln was forced to use. Benjamin Butler was a Senator from Massachusetts, too.

    You could also touch on the 'democracy is a failed political system', as this failure of liberal democracies to deal with Barbarians is being mentioned among the 'democracy is a failed system' faction. With an agenda driven, partisan media, how could any power do anything but rot and collapse?

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  4. Well, I agree that South Korea is one of the few foreign policy successes we've scored (another is Taiwan, which we threw to the wolves). I also agree that the whole family of Kim Ilsung is a horror and travesty.

    @STYX, Uncle Mao spanking little Kim ain't going to happen. Read on.

    Unfortunately, war with North Korea means war with China, and I have a very strong sense of foreboding that Beijing is putting Pyongyang up to its current shenanigans rather than acting as a restraining influence. I believe the brief halting of supplies to North Korea was simply a signaling that Beijing plans to call the shots in NE Asia, and everyone should sit up and take notice.

    Remember when the O entertained the Chinse leader? Lang Lang played "My Motherland", a theme from a 1950's-era propaganda film about the Korean War (from Beijing's point of view), which glorified killing Americans. I suspect that the hack attack on South Korean banks and communications--which was traced to Mainland China--was a dry run, and, along with the deployment of Chinese sea power in the Yellow Sea and its land forces along the Yalu and Tumen rivers, calculated to let Kim Jong-eun know that Big Brother is standing by.

    And, at this point in time, a renewed Korean War would be a nuclear one--especially since the PRC is involved. They made it clear back when Bill Clinton paid his state visit that they're ready to nuke our West Coast (and caught Clinton with his pants down, basically).

    Beijing is run by people who are scared stiff of 1989 happening again, are aghast that even a supposedly "progressive" Western media cheered for the Tiananmen demonstrators, realize that they're the last and best hope for 20th century totalitarianism,know that China can put even a civil war in abeyance when threatened from outside (remember WWII?), and have read Sun Zi. At the same time, they calculate that they're up against an American administration made up of either weaklings or people they've bought.

    Further, we have an MSM that simply refuses to read the tea leaves, even though they've been all but arranged to spell out the words that China sees an opportunity to run the USA out of NE Asia.

    Further, even if we soundly defeated Communist forces in a 2d Korean War (although I'd almost bet the farm that the O administration would deceive itself into thinking of China as part of the solution rather than as a big part of the problem), we probably won't be able to finish it this time, either. Look at the map. The Sino-Korean boundary is a long one, on which our troops would be spread pretty thin against an inexhaustible rear area in Mainland China. A rump North Korea would remain, since probably only a line at North Korea's "narrow waist" would be easily held (an idea that crossed Ridgeway's mind back in the first Korean War).

    I have, under my real name, communicated these concerns to the DoD, my representative, and one of my Senators.


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    1. Kepha,
      I think you've got it pretty much right. The Chinese are going to see if the N Koreans can scare us off the peninsula (with Obama a good bet) of course offering their mediation at the "right" moment. If the N Koreans actually attack in some major way and we surprise everyone by forcefully repelling them, then they'll jump in overtly on the Norks side. To be short, I think they'll play it a lot like 1950 except they'll have nukes. If we back down then bye bye Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and the Eastern Pacific.

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    2. Kepha's comments strike me as the most accurate of all those here.

      BHO is holding down the lightest end of a spectrum of lightweights in our politics. What China's doing is seeing how much they can get by pushing, pushing, pushing, always aiming to stop short of bringing out a fierce American response.

      "There is no substitute for victory."

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  5. Kerry is repulsive. His ponderous pompous tone sets my teeth on edge; and what’s going on with his face? Does he have some endocrine disorder syndrome? He was one of the gang that mocked and ridiculed missile defense, and, of course, Reagan. He has been consistently wrong on foreign policy for over 30 years. Just once I would like a reporter to brace him, or any democrat for that matter; to ask if he was wrong about missile defense in light of recent events. Honestly, I am worried. These jokers, and the image they project, could get not 1000s, but millions killed. I thank God for our blue water navy. Good analysis kelpha, i think china is on the move. I would love to be privy to Japans internal deliberations. Unfortunately, between the economy, and China, I think Japan is in for some interesting historic times.

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    1. Back when Kerry ran against Dubya, I was with some near and dear liberals watching the Anointing of Kerry. They had his daughters on the tube, and my hostess ooohed and aaahed about "how beautiful they are". Well, I made the observation that if their faces were any narrower, you could used them to chop wood. The comment didn't go over well.

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  6. I mostly agree with Kepha.

    I wouldn't be worrying too much about sourcing some Sun Protection factor 5,000,000 sun tan cream for when the canned instant sunshine falls. The North Koreans are the puppets of the Chinese and won't do anything unless given express permission by Beijing. My reckoning is that the Chinese want to flex their muscles via a proxy and give O'Bummer a shit test. "Let's see just how strong the US' resolve really is" without directly challenging the US itself.

    The NorKs don't have the capacity to hit the US with a missile - they might sneak one in on a cargo ship and detonate it in (say) Long Beach or San Francisco.

    One at Pearl harbour (being the home of the US Pacific fleet) and another at San Diego detonated simultaneously might be a very strong possibility which would seriously cripple the American ability to respond for enough time for the instigators to get up to mischief such as invading South Korea.

    By the time that the Atlantic fleet can deploy, the US will be presented with a Fiat Accompli (which ISN'T an Italian car). The Chinese can then claim it was all the NorKs' fault, so sorry and all that but might was well keep things as they are after the fighting, eh?

    I doubt that the NorKs have more than one or two nuclear bombs, unless China supplies a few on the quiet.. but China IS building up a formidable fleet well able to project power and has already "suggested" that American influence should stop at the Hawaiian Islands and their sphere of influence stop there too ...

    Of course, if Obama backs down without fighting (and I doubt he has the testicular fortitude to defend his and the other countries attacked), then the same thing results. China gets what it wants, invades Korea and can claim to be the "peacekeeper" in the peninsula.

    Watch out Taiwan and every other independent country in the Western Pacific including Australia and New Zealand (where I am).

    Remember the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times"?

    Phil B

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    1. Dang! I was hoping NZ would be a safe haven when the SHTF. Heading to Aukland in July for a wedding and touristy-ness.

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    2. With the crippled US fleet that Phil posits in his scenario, the Kiwis would be hosed should someone come a knockin'. Size-wise, the NZ armed forces barely qualify for "costal defense force", relying on the US and Australia for the bulk of their defense. Take the US out of the picture (even if only temporarily) and they're even more reliant on the kindness of potentially hostile strangers to not decide to come and play ball in NZ's back yard.

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  7. Another irony. A couple of years ago, President Obama was to give a speech at an AF base. For scurity purposes, an A/C hangar was chosen at the site and a F-22 was moved into the hangar to serve as a backdrop.

    The President's advance team blew a gasket at the sight of the F-22, and demanded that an F-15 replace the F-22. They claimed that Obama did not want to have his picture taken in front of a Raptor.

    Now, Obama is depending on the Raptor to save him politically if there is military actino in the skies over Korea.

    I miss the days when we knew the adults were in charge of the government.

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  8. I not worried about nukes, per se. Conventional forces on the peninsula are potent. Seoul is in range of a hell-of-a-lot of artillery. If the Norks decide to go for broke, and the Chinese decide to really test Barry. I can foresee things spiraling out of control. Japans recent moves, are reminiscent, of the 1930s (money printing). The strain emanating from their leadership is palatable (i.e. 10 finance ministers in 5 years, with one suicide and several hospitalized for stress). As one who subscribes to the theory economics drive conflict; I’m worried.

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  9. Admittedly I didn't read any of the comments Dip, and I just barely skimmed your post (I'll get back to it paying more attention on the morrow 'cause mostly I find I agree with you wholeheartedly).

    Korea: My Dad's bronze thing at his foot reads, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam.

    (And Dad uh, "asked" if I'd be interested in going to an Academy so's I guess, I could get one of those on my own bronze thingies, not that it'll matter since obviously I'll be dead).

    Bush 41 was a fighter pilot (real, in the sense he dive-bombed people who were shooting back at him, served CIA) but you'd know more than I as to his being an Ambassador.

    Can't argue with Reagan's characterization (and it's not just 'cause my Dad was an appointee) but I had quite a few differences with GW - mostly that "neocon stuff" even though I did pretty well personally with him doing what he was doing - not that a bunch of that stuff turned out to be so "whoopie" - even though the principles "I suppose" were ideals I supported.

    And now we've got the biggest beauracracy on the planet (besides NSA) the Department of Homeland Security employing a quarter million "I'd like a government job" people. And drones at the behest of North Dakota sheriff's departments - and if drones are flying North Dakota, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts drones're probably the very least of my Fourth & Fifth Amendment concerns.

    Thing is Dip - I'd rather (and very much preferably) blame everything on "you know who" - but candidly; I'm of the opinion GW was as much the paragon of citizen's rights as Eisenhower, Wilson, Lincoln and a few other Profiles In Courage.

    Figure I'll be catching the dickens later today [05APRIL13] but I reckon I can withstand it - ya'll ain't Commies're ya?

    Arkie

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    1. Arkie,
      " and if drones are flying North Dakota" That's an excellent observation. Someone should inquire how many drones are over New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Madison, etc. ?

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    2. And who'll we ask, the FAA or Nanny Bloomberg?

      Arkie

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  10. Okay.

    I've come back and just putting my 2¢ in - my take on what's gonna happen.

    China is gonna use this as a "See you US how we've calmed your warhawks down?"

    In less words - it's not the Norkies we need be concerned with, it's China. Their "Nine-Dash-Line" is what we need be concerned with.

    The Norkies basically, are the rabid dog China knows sits on it's front porch which incessantly barks at whoever comes near. But - in my humble opinion - China keeps and has kept the "Ils" on pretty rigid choker chains (dog collars in other words) - what's the hole card in this current thing is South Korea's female.

    I'm frankly of the opinion, the Norkies know what they've got to their south is the Korean equivalent of a Sarah Palin.

    I'm figuring China realizes that more than the Norkies do.

    The Norkies far as I can tell, can put rockets/missiles up - but they've a problem with re-entry - I may be wrong but I don't think so, their "nukes" are cannon-initiated as opposed to ring-initiated (so far) and if I'm correct, all the Norkies can really do (aside from maybe a small sub attack - which I figure with the assets we have there - we can, at least for "our ships" easily counter). I rather doubt we'll have a repeat of say, a Cheonan.

    There "may" be an artillery shelling of some uninhabited island, but I doubt even that.

    I'm figuring about the end of this month, the Norkies'll settle down, declare "Victory!" or some variant and then about the first of next March the Norkies will try something other than they've been doing for the past 60 years.

    I realize full well the stomping I'm gonna get posting this here - but then what was it, "Ridgemont High" (some Tom Cruise movie my kids made me go see) anyway, sometimes all you can say is:

    What the F`^>!

    Of course I realize I've been wrong before. Nice knowing "Infallible" isn't a requisite to comment on a blog.

    Arkie

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  11. This is the highest "ratcheting up" of Korean tensions that I've seen in my lifetime, so I strongly suspect that both NK and the PRC are putting the O to the test--and hoping they have the opportunity to Communize southern Korea as well. This is why I'm a pessimist.

    A big problem is that since Brzezinski, our governing and media elites have believed that Communist China is fundamentally cooperative. I do not think so. My read is that they are highly self-interested, believe firmly in their manifest destiny of being the center of the world, are fundamentally contemptuous of us guilao (鬼佬), still rankled over their century of humiliation, and still aghast at how international Communism crumpled between 1989-91. There quiesecence essentially reflected a realistic patience with their own relative weakness.

    And I am quite concerned that neither Obama nor Kerry have much understanding of China's fundamental hostility.

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    1. I guess we'll see.

      Arkie

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  12. My 2nd son has lived in S. Korea for the past 2 1/2 years. He teaches English. It is amazing to me how unconcerned he and his associates are about the situation. He claims the Western MSM is ginning up hysteria in order to distract from other issues. He told me that the conflict doesn't even make the front page of the major newspapers in S. Korea.
    They have concluded that this current conflict is just N. Korea gearing up to demand more aid from the west.

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  13. The Chinese economy is based on selling cheap consumer goods to Americans. Offering to slap a large tariff on Chinese schlock if they don't put a lid on the Norks ought to work wonders.

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  14. Perhaps the Norks' plan is to broker their lies into a second Nobel Peace Prize for both Carter and Obama, plus Kerry's first for the hat trick.

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  15. Seems to me that all the wars we have had from WWI forward have been to stimulate the economy and get us out of a depression/recession. Unfortunately, recent wars have been fought with borrowed money which improves the economy for the moment but places a terrible economic burden on future generations. Obama needs a war because the economy remains distressed and the last thing he can afford is to have all those union members who build bombs, bullets, planes and ships, etc. out of work. Add to that the stimulation provided to the medical profession caring for all those sick and wounded for years to come.

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  16. "Obama needs a war because the economy remains distressed and the last thing he can afford is to have all those union members who build bombs, bullets, planes and ships, etc. out of work. Add to that the stimulation provided to the medical profession caring for all those sick and wounded for years to come."

    So what've we been doing for the last fourteen years? We've had Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Libya, some more Somalia, a little more Yemen, some say we "need some Syria" a bit more Mali - and now we've got Karzai saying, "It'll be alright if Mullah Omar wants to run for the Afghani Presidency" - just cause ya know, I guess?

    Don't know you can find it on the WWW very easy, but I've got a printed thingy from 2001 titled "Posing Strain" having to do with the VA's problem from even back then - I'll look but since it was GAO I may have "some problems" retrieving it.

    Now I don't know it'd be the right answer advocating our "NATO allies" get us into whatever wars they might kinda like to - but I'm thinking if it's "stimulating" our unions need, let's get the EU to buying stuff they can strap onto their own damn Eurofighters and Typhoons.

    And we'll sell 'em tires. Er, do we in the US manufacture tires anymore?

    Arkie

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  17. And this article:

    http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/understanding-north-korea-and-iran?f=must_reads#ixzz2MBnGqAqR

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  18. And yet even many conservatives are poking fun at NK saying they won't do this thing. I think we mock this regime at our peril. Interestingly enough, a few years back a Christian fiction writer has NK under the auspices of China attacking the US with nukes. It is only a little spooky as he wrote about a 9/11 type attack several months before it happened, the war in Iraq before it happened etc. Let us hope he was less prescient on this than he was before.

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  19. "I think we mock this regime at our peril."

    I'm not "mocking" them Jib - but neither am I, oh, "impressed" (isn't actually the word I'd prefer using but what passes for my memory doesn't seem to be working at peak efficiency just now) more along the lines of NK's ability to recognize realpolitik and how to use it.

    And even if they did - there's maybe a couple of divisions of Chinese troops massed along the border. The Norkies "can afford" to string us (actually our MSM) along - but somehow I'm of the opinion they -at the same time- recognize their "Golden Goose" [stealing from Dip] is not to be squeezed even a little.

    Arkie

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  20. We'll hope Jib:

    http://www.informationdissemination.net/2013/04/the-future-of-high-end-surface.html

    Arkie

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  21. Babs, I just returned from that end of the world. This is pretty much a nothing sandwich over there. Western yellow journalism at its best.

    Even if it did go up, the problem with the scenarios I've read above is that NK's 1970's military wouldn't stand a chance against SK's 21st century professional force.

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