While pundits can engage in endless debate over whether President Trump’s sanctions forced North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un to the negotiating table or whether Kim’s threat of firing nuclear weapons at the United States forced Trump to the negotiating table, one thing that the mainstream commentators are ignoring is the discomforting fact that Korea remains none of the U.S. government’s business.
Let’s keep in mind that this is a civil war we are dealing with, no different in principle from America’s civil war. The Korean civil war is no more the business of the U.S. government than the U.S. civil war was the business of the Korean government.
There is another discomforting fact that the pundits seem to ignore: The original U.S. intervention into the Korean civil war was illegal under our form of government. That’s because under the U.S. form of constitutional government, the president and the Pentagon are prohibited by law from waging war against another nation-state without first securing a declaration of war against that nation-state.
It is undisputed that the U.S. government went to war against North Korea in 1950 without the congressional declaration of war required by the U.S. Constitution. That made the U.S. intervention into the conflict illegal under our form of government.
The presence of U.S. troops in South Korea today stems from that original illegal intervention. Their continued presence in Korea is the rotten fruit of the original illegal tree of U.S. intervention into a country’s civil war that was never any of the U.S. government’s business.
Back in 1950, President Truman and his newly established national-security establishment attempted to justify their intervention into Korea’s civil war by saying that North Korea’s attempt to militarily unify the country was part of a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world. If North Korea were permitted to unify the country under communist rule, U.S. officials said, it would be the first step in an ultimate Red takeover of the United States.
But it was all balderdash. Even if North Korea had prevailed in the conflict, that wouldn’t have meant that the communists would soon be running the IRS. The Korean War was just a civil war, no different in principle from America’s civil war, where President Lincoln’s forces invaded the South to militarily unify the country.
By the way, President Johnson, the Pentagon, and the CIA would use the same argument they used in the Korean War to justify their intervention into Vietnam’s civil war almost 15 years later. Once again waging war illegally without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, U.S. officials maintained that if the U.S. government failed to prevent North Vietnam from unifying the country under communist rule, other “dominoes” would begin falling to the worldwide communist conspiracy and America would end up turning Red.
Once again, it was all balderdash. Neither the civil war in Vietnam nor the civil war in Korea was ever a threat to the United States. American soldiers who died or were maimed in those interventions were not protecting the United States because the United States was never under any danger of falling to the Reds as a result of those two civil wars.
To this day, U.S. national-security state officials maintain that the Korean War protected the “freedom” of South Korea. They conveniently ignore that South Korea was ruled for decades by a brutal right-wing, anti-communist dictatorship, one that justified its dictatorial powers by the threat of “communism.” Ironically, U.S. officials used that same threat to justify their conversion of the U.S. government from a constitutionally limited-government republic into a national-security state type of governmental system after World War II.
Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment have stated that North Korea must dismantle its nuclear weapons as a condition for a negotiated peace. Their demand is unconditional. Time will tell whether North Korea will accede to it. But one thing is clear: North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is the direct consequence of the decades-long U.S. intervention in Korea and, specifically, the long-time threat by U.S. officials to effect a regime-change operation against North Korea, similar to the ones they have employed against countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Panama, Grenada, Congo, Brazil, and many others.
If U.S. troops had never been sent to Korea or if U.S. troops had been withdrawn decades ago, there would have been no reason for North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons because there would have less concern with deterring or defending against a U.S. regime-change operation. After all, why would North Korea want to use nuclear weapons against South Korea even if the civil war were to resume? At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it’s difficult to unify a land that is radiated for the next 100 years.
Korea belongs to the Koreans. It is their country, north and south. It does not belong to the United States. The civil war between north and south is none of the U.S. government’s business. If the civil war were to resume, that would be a matter for the Koreans, just as the American civil war was a matter for Americans. It would not be the business of the U.S. government, any more than it was 68 years ago.
Thus, the real solution to the crisis in Korea lies not with some deal being reached between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The real solution is simply for Trump and his national-security establishment to butt out of a conflict that is none of their business by simply bringing all U.S. troops home and leaving Korea to the Koreans.