North Korea is all bad options. @jerryhendrixii @cnasdc

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09-12-2017

(Photo: ... Korean War | by San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives)

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North Korea is all bad options. @jerryhendrixii @cnasdc

The ship was already listing as water poured in through the crushed hull. If the flooding continued to spread, the list would increase, possibly resulting in the entire ship foundering and sinking, resulting in many more deaths. Yet, these sailors knew that there were other shipmates still in the compartment. They knew that Fire Controlman First Class Gary Rehm, who had already saved one sailor in the compartment from being trapped under debris, had gone to search for more of “his kids” and there were other great American sailors missing as well. It would have been easy to leave the hatch open a bit longer, to hope that others would come out of the now water filled space. Further delay risked the lives of the entire crew, so the sailors made the tough decision, and closed the hatch, attempting to lock it shut. In hindsight, every professional mariner knows they made the right call, but no one knows or can take away the nightmares will haunt them for taking that awful responsibility.

Why is this important? Beyond the sadness, pride and hope that someone gets both recognition and help in dealing with the aftermath of assuming such a burden, this example also points to a broader lesson that is illuminating within our civil-military relations. Ship, shipmate, self is well understood by the other military services. They each have their own high traditions of sacrifice and service and more broadly the dictum can be converted into nation, citizens, service members as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are taught from basic training onward to place the nation and its citizens before their individual needs and to be prepared to take heavy responsibilities upon themselves. In short, the military understands how to make the hard calls, to accept some losses now in an attempt to avoid catastrophe later. So, when a senior military member tells you that war with North Korea is “not unimaginable,” counter to statements from so many prior administration officials, or the secretary of defense stating, “Any threat to the United States… will be met with a massive military response,” you can believe they are imagining it in all its gruesome detail.

Individuals like Secretary of Defense James Mattis, White House chief of staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford and Commander of the Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris know that any military operation directed against North Korea will result in tens of thousands of casualties for South Korea, Japan and the United States. Thousands of artillery tubes are at the ready in the North, pointing at South Korea’s capital city of Seoul. North Korea also has an extensive collection of long-range rockets, as well as a small supply of nuclear weapons, thanks to the failed deterrence policies of previous administrations stretching back to Bill Clinton. However, the real danger for all involved is the marrying up of two separate initiatives; the development of a multistage rocket that can reach the United States and the creation of a miniaturized nuclear weapon. The test of what appears to be a hydrogen bomb certainly suggests that North Korea is on that path. Should these two initiatives be combined, the world will face a Ghostbusters “crossing of the streams” crisis that no one should be willing to accept.

We should not accept this because North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong-un cannot be trusted to behave as a rational actor. The young Kim, the hereditary leader of the Stalinist-Communist state in North Korea, is at the head of a nearly religious cult that promotes an image of the Kim as an inspired military genius gifted with infallibility, and in his sycophantic court he has be...

Sep 12, 06:24 AM
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