Scare in Korea – A Manufactured Crisis
By Eric Margolis
- The United States and the two feuding Koreas could blunder
into a real war unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease
provoking one another.
Last week, two nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew
non-stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These
‘invisible’ aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb
that is said to be able to blast through 70 meters of reinforced
concrete, putting North Korea’s underground nuclear facilities
and its leadership’s command bunkers under dire threat.
Earlier this month, US B-52’s heavy bombers staged mock attack
runs over South Korea – within minutes flying time of the North
- rekindling memories of the massive US carpet bombing raids
that devastated North Korea during the 1950’s Korean War.
US-South Korean-Australian war games in March were designed to
train for war with the North. The US media ignored these
provocative exercises, but, as usual, North Korea went
ballistic, foolishly threatening to attack the US with
long-ranged missiles it does not yet possess.
We have grown jaded over the years by North Korea’s threats and
chest-beating. But its recent successful nuclear test and work
on a long-ranged missile have begun to add muscle to Pyongyang’s
threats. No sooner was the new young North Korean leader, Kim
Jong-un, in power than the US, South Korea and Japan began
More important, the US-South Korea defense treaty calls on
Washington to militarily intervene if war erupts between North
and South Korea. Given present tensions, a border fight on the
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), commando raids by North Korea’s
110,000-man special forces, air or naval clashes could quickly
lead to full war.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened to flatten parts of South
Korea’s capitol, Seoul, using 11,000 heavy guns and rocket
batteries hidden in caves along the DMZ. North Korean commandos
and missile batteries are tasked with attacking all US airbases
and command headquarters in South Korea. The 28,500 US troops
based in South Korea will also be a primary target.
North Korea’s medium ranged missiles are aimed at US bases on
mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam. North Korea’s tough
1.1-million man army is poised to attack south. Massive US
airpower would eventually blunt such an advance, but that would
mean moving US warplanes from the Gulf and Afghanistan. The US
Air Force’s stocks of bombs and missiles are perilously low and
its equipment showing heavy wear and tear.
The US has become accustomed to waging war against small nations
whose ‘threat’ has been wildly overblown: Grenada, Somalia,
Iraq, Libya. The last real war fought by the US, against
Vietnam, was an epic defeat for American arms. North Korea is
not an Iraq or Libya.
North Korea’s air force and navy would be quickly destroyed by
US and South Korean air power within days of war. But taking on
North Korea’s hard as nails army will be a serious challenge if
it fights on the defensive. Pentagon studies show that invading
North Korea could cost the US up to 250,000 casualties. So the
US would be clearly tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons. But
North Korea vows to nuke Japan if the US goes nuclear. And there
is the threat of Chinese intervention.
The US would be wise to back off from this confrontation and
lower tensions with North Korea. America’s empty Treasury can’t
afford yet another war, having already blown $2 trillion on the
lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. America’s armed forces,
bogged down in the Mideast and Afghanistan, are in no shape to
fight a real war in Korea. Just moving heavy armor and guns
there would take months.
Now might be a good time for Washington to ease rather than keep
tightening sanctions on North Korea. Pyongyang’s real objectives
are to gain a non-aggression treaty with the US and direct,
normal relations. Washington won’t hear of this, though it deals
with other repellant regimes. American neocons are determined to
overthrow North Korea’s regime, fearing it will send advanced
arms to Israel’s Mideast foes.
Military forces on the Korean Peninsula are on hair-trigger
alert. Flying B-2’s near the North is almost daring it to
attack. Diplomats, not air force generals, should be running
this largely manufactured crisis.
Copyright © 2013 Eric Margolis
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