During the Christmas holiday, I had the opportunity to visit with high-school and a college-age nephew, nieces, and their friends in Texas. Watching an extremely harrowing scene involving air-to-air combat in the movie Unbroken, my teen-age niece turned to me and asked, “Is that the way war really is?” I responded, “Much worse.”
Back at my brother’s house after the movie, what really struck me was how oblivious these young people are to the possibility of a major war suddenly breaking out owing to the many defense alliances in which the U.S. is involved, a war that would inevitably involve a draft of young men and quite possibly young women as well, many of whom would be dying and getting maimed for no good reason, like they did in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
I brought up Korea, a grave risk to young people that my nephew, nieces, and their friends have never even remotely considered.
Today, there are thousands of American troops stationed in Korea, many of whom are stationed near the demilitarized zone at the border between North Korea and South Korea.
The reason for those U.S. troops in South Korea? To guarantee that in the event of the outbreak of war between the North and South, the United States will be automatically involved in the war. In such an invasion, it is a certainty that U.S. troops would be killed. That’s the idea. They are considered sacrificial lambs to guarantee that the United States would be in the war, without the necessity of debating or discussing the issue here at home.
Let’s assume, hypothetically speaking, that there were no U.S. troops stationed in Korea. Let’s assume that North Korea attacked South Korea. What would happen?
At that point, the United States would not be automatically committed to involving itself in the conflict. The nation would have the option of staying out of the conflict.
Let’s not forget, after all, that the Constitution requires the president to seek a congressional declaration of war before the president can legally wage war against a foreign nation. That’s not to say of course that President Obama would comply with that portion of the Constitution. Certainly, President Truman sent some 50,000 U.S. troops to their deaths in the Korean War in the early 1950s without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. But at least the nation would still not be automatically committed to the conflict, which it would be today, given the sacrificial “tripwire” that U.S. forces in Korea serve as.
An interventionist would undoubtedly respond, “Jacob, don’t you think we have a moral duty to come to the assistance of the South Koreans? And if we don’t stop the communists in Korea, don’t you think that the dominoes will start to fall and that the communists will finally take over America?”
My answer: Every American, including every interventionist, would be free to travel to South Korea and join up with the South Korean forces. There is absolutely no reason that the U.S. government should continuing serving as the world’s international policeman, especially since the situation in Korea is nothing more than a civil war, just as the conflict in Vietnam was. We should also keep in mind that the Cold War, which posited nations falling like dominoes to the communists, ended some 25 years ago.
Would another Korean War be unfortunate and tragic? Of course. There would be massive death, maiming, and destruction.
But lots of bad things happen around the world. The fact that such bad things happen doesn’t make them the responsibility of the U.S. government or the American people. That’s what John Quincy Adams was saying in his Fourth of July, 1821, speech to Congress, entitled “In Search of Monsters to Destroy.” He said that America’s founding principles dictated a non-interventionist foreign policy, one in which the federal government did not go abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” If the United States were ever to go in the opposite direction, Adams said, the U.S. government would begin embracing the programs and policies of dictatorial regimes.
Here’s an important and revealing question for every American to ponder: If war were to suddenly break out in Korea and there were no U.S. troops stationed there, how many Americans would volunteer to go fight on the side of South Korea?
My answer: None. Not one single American would do so. Even if President Obama announced that he was willing to give an early discharge to an U.S. soldier who wanted to travel to South Korea to help out the South Koreans, my hunch is that not one single soldier would take him up on his offer. Most important, I am 100 percent certain that not one single interventionist,especially those who always display great courage in sending U.S. troops into foreign wars, would volunteer to fight on the side of the South Koreans.
Why do I say that? Because while Americans would certainly sympathize with the people of South Korea, they place a higher value on their own lives and their own family life here at home than they do on risking their lives and the well-being of their families by fighting in a foreign civil war thousands of miles away. And no, I don’t believe that one single American would fall for the line that if South Korea were to fall, the communists would soon be running the IRS, the DEA, and the Interstate Highway System.
I‘d venture most high-school and college students are totally oblivious to the risks involved here. They would be wise to awaken to such risks because the time to dismantle the tripwire and bring the U.S. sacrificial lambs home is now. If war breaks out in Korea, it will be too late.