There are differing opinions regarding President Trump’s decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in an attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis in Korea.
Some people are happy that the two rulers are meeting because of the possibility that it will result in a peaceful resolution of a crisis that has gotten precariously close to breaking out into renewed warfare. What’s wrong with talking? this group says.
Others are saying that Trump acted too impulsively in accepting the invitation, arguing that summits should be held only after lower-echelon bureaucrats have determined that such a meeting is likely to result in positive developments. These people are suggesting, perhaps accurately, that if the talks fail to arrive at a solution, the situation could be made worse given that “talking” might no longer be viewed as an option for resolving the crisis.
Most people in both groups fail to see something important: that it is the U.S. government, not North Korea, that is the crux of the problem in Korea. Given such, how likely is it that a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un is going to arrive at a solution? I hope that I will be proven wrong but my hunch is: Not very likely at all.
The U.S. government has two aims in Korea, both of which are related.
Its principal aim is regime change. It wants to oust the communist regime in North Korea and install a pro-U.S. regime in its place, one that will then “invite” the Pentagon and the CIA into the country to construct U.S. military bases and install U.S. missiles along the Korea-China border.
For many people, the Cold War ended in 1989. Not for the Pentagon and the CIA. Caught off guard by the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the U.S. national-security establishment nonetheless continued viewing communist-socialist countries like Russia, North Korea, and Cuba as official enemies of the United States and threats to U.S. “national security.”
That’s why U.S. officials broke their promise to Russia not to expand NATO. Almost immediately after the Cold War ended, NATO proceeded to absorb Eastern European countries that had been members of the Warsaw Pact, with the aim of placing U.S. military bases and missiles ever closer to Russia. The last step was to incite regime change in Ukraine, with the aim of replacing a pro-Russia regime with a pro-U.S. regime, which would then “invite” the Pentagon and the CIA into the country, where they could install military bases and missiles on Russia’s border and even take over Russia’s longtime military base in Crimea. Russia, of course, forestalled that plan with its takeover of Crimea.
It’s also why U.S. officials have maintained their decades-long embargo against Cuba, a country that has never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The aim continues to be to oust the Castro regime and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like the Fulgencio Batista regime that Fidel Castro and Cuban revolutionaries ousted from power in 1959.
That’s their aim with North Korea — regime change, the same aim they had for 11 years with Iraq, which they tried to achieve through 11 years of brutal sanctions, much like the sanctions that the U.S. has been enforcing against North Korea for several years. When the Iraq sanctions failed to succeed in achieving regime change in Iraq, President Bush ordered the Pentagon and the CIA to attack, which then succeeded in ousting Saddam from power and replacing him with a pro-U.S. regime.
The aim is no different in Iran. There are few things U.S. national-security state officials would love more than regime change in Iran, one that replaces the current regime with a pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like that of the Shah of Iran, who CIA officials installed into power in a coup in 1953.
Don’t forget: Prior to the U.S. regime change in Iraq, U.S. officials labeled Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as members of an “axis of evil.”
The U.S. government’s second aim is to have North Korea abandon and dismantle its nuclear-weapons program, which, needless to say, would make it less costly to pursue a U.S. regime-change operation against North Korea.
But North Korean officials are not dumb. They know that in a conventional war against the United States, North Korea wouldn’t stand a chance, any more than Iraq stood a chance when the U.S. government invaded it. Given the overwhelming military might of the U.S. government, virtually no Third World countries can defeat the U.S. in a war. (North Vietnam was a rare exception.)
The North Koreans know that there is only one way that would be likely to deter a U.S. attack on North Korea — nuclear weapons.
How do they know that? Easy. They know about Cuba. During the JFK administration, the Pentagon and the CIA were exhorting President Kennedy to undertake a full-scale invasion of Cuba because, they said, Cuba (like North Korea) posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.” To create the false appearance that such an invasion was “defensive” in nature, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously proposed Operation Northwoods to the president, which called for terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by CIA agents secretly posing as Cuban communists.
Even though Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon and the CIA kept pressing for a regime-change invasion of Cuba. That’s when Castro invited the Soviets to install nuclear missiles on the island. The idea was that the missiles would hopefully deter U.S. officials from attacking Cuba in a regime-change operation.
The plan worked. Kennedy “blinked” and entered into a deal with the Soviets in which he vowed that the U.S. would not invade Cuba and in which he also secretly agreed to withdraw U.S. nuclear missiles aimed at Russia from Turkey. In return, the Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba, confirming that their purpose was deterrence and defense.
How could North Koreans not be impressed with that outcome? Compare the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which did not have nuclear missiles.
Why would North Korea ever agree to give up its nuclear weapons? There is only one slight chance of that happening — if North Korea can be convinced that the U.S. government has permanently abandoned its aim of regime change. But that could only happen if the U.S. government totally withdrew all U.S. forces from Korea and vowed never to attack North Korea (or create an Operation Northwoods type of false pretext attack).
How likely is that? I would say not very likely at all. The Pentagon and the CIA need an ongoing crisis in Korea (and others against Russia, terrorists, Muslims, Syria, the Taliban, drug dealers, etc.) to help justify their ever-growing budgets. Anyway, for them to exit North Korea would, in their minds, constitute “appeasement” in the face of the supposed communist threat to U.S. “national security.”
There is another complication for North Korea — the fact that the U.S. government cannot be trusted to keep its word. Sure, U.S. officials can point to Cuba and argue that succeeding U.S. regimes have complied with Kennedy’s vow not to invade Cuba. But others can point to the U.S. double-cross of Russia with respect to NATO expansion. Or to the U.S. double-cross of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who ended up dead in a U.S. regime-change operation after agreeing to give up his nuclear program. Or to President Trump’s vow to break the U.S. agreement with Iran after it agreed to give up its nuclear program.
Thus, the big problem at the upcoming meeting with Trump and Kim Jong-un is that they are holding what are essentially intractable and irreconcilable positions: U.S. officials wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons but refuse to abandon their aim of regime change. Even if they promised to give up regime change, they couldn’t be trusted, especially if U.S. forces remained in Korea. North Korea, on the other hand, will never give up its nuclear weapons so long as the threat of regime change persists.
The real solution to the Korea crisis? Forget a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s not necessary. Simply bring all U.S. forces home, immediately. The Korea civil war is none of the U.S. government’s business. Never has been, never will be. (Neither was Vietnam’s civil war.)
Might North Korea attack South Korea after the U.S. is gone in an attempt to forcibly unite the country? It’s certainly possible. President Lincoln invaded the Confederacy in a successful attempt to unify the country. But given South Korea’s strong economic base and powerful military, it is a virtual certainty that South Korea would end up winning such a war.
Might North Korea use nuclear weapons in a war against South Korea? Why would it? If it is attacking to unify the country, what good would it do to have a unified country if the southern half is radiated for the next hundred or so years, along with much of the north as well?
The U.S. government and the interventionist-imperialist philosophy it stands for are the real problem in Korea. Lift U.S. sanctions, bring all U.S. troops home now, and leave Korea to the Koreans. That’s the solution to the crisis in Korea.