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Close Only Counts…

December 3, 2010

“No weapon of war has ever rusted” — unknown

North Korea seems to be acting with impunity these days against its southern neighbor.  In March they sank a war ship killing 46 sailors and just this past week they bombarded an island killing 4 civilians.  And what has the President of South Korea done? He has apologized for not doing enough and vows, “If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail.”  Really?  I am certain that “next time I’ll do better” is a great comfort to those who have lost loved ones.  Did you know that technically we are now at war with North Korea?  Well when I say we, I don’t mean the United States, but actually the United Nations, although since we foot around a quarter of the bill for the UN, I guess you could say it is us.

You see, the Korean War never ended, it only ceased hostilities on July 27, 1953 at the 38th Parallel, euphemistically called the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) when it is anything but.  The armistice states, “…with the objective of establishing an armistice which will insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved….” [Emphasis mine]  There has never been a final peace settlement ergo we are at war once again.  Not that anyone is going to do much about it, at least not yet.

With over 28,000 U.S. troops still stationed in South Korea, the U.S. is once again conducting military exercises with one of our advanced nuclear-powered supercarrier battle groups, as it did after the March sinking.  It is thought that Kim Jong-il is suffering from chronic kidney failure, and military hardliners may be exercising influence as the struggle for power plays out with the motivations and capabilities of the heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, little understood.  Like so many other situations that have spun out of control in history, this one is rife with the potential of a mistake that could spark a conflagration with catastrophic results.

So why hasn’t there been any retaliation to date for this unprovoked attack?  I’ll give you a hint–it has something to do with a mushroom cloud.  Yes, I know there are those that say North Korea joining the nuclear club under the watchful eye of the Clinton Administration—hey, wasn’t that the same administration where Osama Bin Laden got a pass too?—was no big deal, but having a nuke or two lying around can come in handy in giving your enemies pause before a little tit for tat is exchanged.

I hate to say it, and I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I believe the war train has left the station in two if not three regions—the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East, and potentially the confluence of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.  This is what happens when you have administrations-Carter, Clinton, and now Obama-who believe that “soft power” can somehow be successful barring military options.

Israel successfully staved off a nuclear Iraq with its attack on the Osirak reactor in 1981 and Syria’s al-Kibar nuclear facility in 2007.  To my knowledge, no other country has executed a military option to stop the growing list of nuclear club members which now includes the United States, Great Britain, France, China, Russia, from the World War II era; Israel, India, and Pakistan in the last quarter century; North Korea in the last decade, and soon Iran.  It is only a short time until South Korea will have to be armed, with Japan soon thereafter, eviscerating what little delusion is left of the idea of non-proliferation.

Soon everyone will have the “bomb.”  A scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes comes to mind where a remnant of humans after a nuclear holocaust stands in a circle worshiping the “Divine Bomb” which they use as their final solution to the ape question.  Or maybe Dr. Strange Love is more apropos?  It is difficult to choose which apocalyptic movie best represents the road we are now on.

Remember the saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?”  Well thanks to our lauded diplomatic ineptitude, now we can add one more item, “Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nukes.”  Sleep soundly America, the Harvard grads at the State Department are on the case.

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