Surprised to See Trump Bomb North Korea
in-your-face Fourth of July “gift” that North
Korea delivered to President Trump in the form
of an intercontinental ballistic missile test, I
wouldn’t be at all surprised to see President
Trump and the Pentagon retaliate by bombing
North Korea. The reason goes not only to Trump’s
erratic behavior, especially when teased or
taunted, but also because a bombing attack would
reflect the Cold War mentality that
unfortunately still holds the Pentagon in its
that most Americans today do not realize that
during the Kennedy administration, the Joint
Chiefs of Staff were recommending that the
president initiate a surprise nuclear attack on
the Soviet Union, much like the Japanese
surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
congressional declaration of war against the
Soviet Union first, as the U.S. Constitution
Pentagon’s reasoning was that a surprise attack
was necessary to knock out the Soviet Union’s
nuclear first-strike capability and most of its
retaliatory capability. If they were forewarned
that such an attack was coming, such as with a
congressional declaration of war, that would
enable them to strike first with a nuclear
attack on the United States.
the Pentagon recommending nuclear war against
the Soviet Union?
This was the Cold War, the era in which the
Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — the three
principal components of the U.S.
national-security state — were telling Americans
that peaceful coexistence with the communist
world was impossible. This was going to be a war
to the finish, they firmly believed, with only
one side standing at the end.
early 1960s, the Pentagon knew that the United
States had vast nuclear superiority over the
Soviets, notwithstanding Pentagon and CIA public
statements to the American people to the
contrary. But they also knew that it was just a
matter of time before the Soviets increased
their nuclear weapons to such an extent that
U.S. superiority wouldn’t make any difference.
After all, if 100 nuclear bombs can wipe out a
nation, who cares if one side has 100 and the
other side has 1,000?
Pentagon’s argument was this: Since war with the
Russians was going to happen anyway at some
point in the future, it would be in the
interests of the United States to initiate the
war now, before the Soviets had time to acquire
more nuclear weapons and even achieve parity. In
this way, the United States could wipe out most
of the Soviet nuclear capability and win the
operative word was “most.” When President
Kennedy asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff how many
Soviet nuclear bombs would be likely to hit the
United States in a retaliatory strike, they
responded that it might be enough to kill only
40 million Americans. Since the entire Soviet
Union, including all the communists in the
country, would be wiped out with a nuclear
carpet-bombing campaign and since the U.S. would
have lost only 40 million Americans in a
retaliatory strike, the U.S. would be considered
the winner of the war.
President Kennedy departed from a meeting with
the Joint Chiefs of Staff in which their
first-strike recommendation was discussed, he
remarked indignantly to an aide, “And we call
ourselves the human race.”
that most of the mainstream media miss in the
Korean crisis is the reason why North Korea has
been striving for nuclear weapons. The U.S.
press continues to imply that North Korea wants
such missiles for offensive purposes — that is,
to initiate a nuclear war against the United
North Korea knows that if it did that, the U.S.
government would respond with the same type of
carpet-bombing campaign that it waged during the
Korean War, only this time with hundreds or
thousands of nuclear bombs. North Korea does not
wish to go out of existence, which is precisely
why it has no interest in initiating a nuclear
attack on the United States.
does North Korea want nuclear weapons,
especially ones that can reach the United
States? It wants them for the same reason that
Cuba, another communist state, wanted nuclear
weapons back in 1962 — for defensive purposes.
against the U.S government, of course.
to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cuba had never
attacked the United States or even threatened to
do so. It was the CIA that had attacked Cuba.
The reason? Regime change, a core principal of
the U.S. national-security state since its
inception after WWII. Both the Pentagon and the
CIA were determined to oust Fidel Castro from
power and replace him with a pro-U.S. dictator,
similar to the one who Castro ousted from power,
the purpose of those Soviet nuclear missiles in
Cuba — not to start a nuclear war with the
United States but simply to deter the U.S.
government from invading Cuba again and
effecting a regime-change operation there.
As we all
know, even though the Cold War supposedly ended
in 1989, the Pentagon and the CIA have never
given up their dream of regime change in Cuba.
That’s what the U.S. embargo is still all about.
same token, the Pentagon and the CIA have also
never given up their dream of a regime change in
North Korea, whose regime they believe is even
more evil than the one in Cuba. North Korea
knows that they have never given up that dream.
It also knows that it could never defeat the
United States in a war. Thus, North Korean
officials know that their only chance is to
acquire nuclear weapons in the hopes of
deterring a U.S. regime-change operation.
whatever else might be said of North Korean
officials, they are not stupid. They saw the
U.S. back off from regime change in Cuba when
faced with nuclear weapons. They saw Saddam
Hussein, who did not have nuclear weapons
(despite false assurances from U.S. officials
that he did), lose power (and his life) in a
U.S. regime-change operation. They saw what
happened to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, after
the U.S. targeted him for a regime-change
operation. The last thing that North Korean
officials want to hear is someone like Hillary
Clinton proudly exclaiming about North Korean
leader Kim Jong-Un what she said after Qaddafi
was killed in the Libya regime-change operation:
“We came, we saw, he died.”
Trump and the Pentagon strike now? Not just
because of Trump’s erraticism, but also because
the Pentagon sees its hope of regime change in
North Korea slipping away. If they strike now,
the chances of nuclear retaliation against the
United States are virtually nil. The longer they
wait, the greater the chances that North Korea
will improve its capability of striking the
United States with a nuclear attack.
irony in all this is that the only reason that
North Korea wants nuclear weapons is because of
the U.S. national-security state’s post-World
War II foreign policy of empire and
intervention. If the U.S. government had never
intervened in Korea’s civil war and if it had
never engaged in regime-change operations around
the world, none of this would be happening.
It is that
foreign policy of empire, interventionism, and
regime-change that might now lead to the deaths
of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and the tens
of thousands of U.S. troops who are stationed
there as a “trip wire” to guarantee U.S. entry
into another Korean war.
point, the best thing Trump could ever do is
simply order all U.S. troops in Korea to return
home immediately and leave Korea to the Koreans.
Unfortunately, however, given the Pentagon’s and
the CIA’s Cold War mindset, that is not likely
G. Hornberger is founder and president of The
Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and
raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A.
in economics from Virginia Military Institute
and his law degree from the University of Texas.
He was a trial attorney for twelve years in
Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the
University of Dallas, where he taught law and
economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the
practice of law to become director of programs
at the Foundation for Economic Education.
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views expressed in this article are solely those
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