Reasons Another War with North Korea Would be a Very Bad Idea, and Reasons Why it May Happen Anywise
I know some on the pro war side think that a war with North Korea would be a “cakewalk,” just send in Clint Eastwood with a company of Marines and that would be that. This view isn’t supported by history or reality. Wars are rarely cakewalks, and they almost always have unintended consequences. And judging from how bitterly fought the first Korean war was, it’s a testament to the failure of our educational system that more people aren’t aware of that. In fact the USA suffered arguably its worst battle defeat ever in the Korean War, and arguably it’s the first war the USA ever fought that we didn’t win. Hardly a reason to fight it over again. In any event, here are five reasons a war with North Korea would be a bad idea:
1. North Korea is within artillery range of Seoul, the capitol of South Korea and one of the world’s great cities. And they’ve had fifty years to build bunkers for guns and stock them with shells. And while North Korea may not have the most modern weaponry, when it comes to firing shells at a city, it doesn’t matter. And did I mention that North Korea has the world’s largest artillery force? Sure, our high tech planes and artillery could knock them out eventually, but not before hundreds of thousands or millions of rounds of artillery had landed in South Korea. It would make the Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel look like fireworks in comparison.
2. North Korea has one of the world’s largest armies, with about a million men in the field, including 90,000 special forces. And five million reservists just in case they need spares. Um, the US army has about 500,000 men, South Korea a few less. And while North Korea may not have the latest equipment, if history is any guide they are ferocious fighters and would be defending their very rugged and very defensible homeland. Just for kicks, the Taliban has maybe 25,000 fighters who are not nearly as well trained and equipped as North Korea’s soldiers.
3. North Korea has spent the last sixty years building bunkers, gun emplacements, and anti-aircraft emplacements. Pyongyang, North Korea’s capitol, is the most fortified city on the planet, and one of the most fortified cities in history. This isn’t something that can be dealt with using drone strikes.
4. North Korea is all mountains and rugged terrain. Despite all the USA’s supposed technological goodies, there’s still a big advantage to defending in broken terrain. Again, blowing up a few houses with drones isn’t going to be a solution.
5. North Korea has nuclear weapons. They also have chemical and maybe biological weapons.
The point here is that defeating North Korea in any sort of war isn’t going to be easy. Bombing them into submission won’t do the trick either, in the first war we bombed North Korea flat, almost literally. Didn’t make them surrender, and these days we can’t use the sorts of carpet bombing we used back then, so it’s hard to imagine bombing having much of an effect.
Despite these good reasons not to fight a war with North Korea, it occurs to me that not only are we looking for a distraction from the economy, at this point it’s looking like the American government will need a distraction from the oil spill in the Gulf, since it’s becoming clearer every day what a mind numbing catastrophe this is. So the Obama administration has every incentive to make both the situation with Korea and Iran look alarming as possible, which is exactly what they are doing. They are in a similar but much more dangerous situation to the one that led Argentina to seize the Falkland Islands. IE the USA has motive to start a war as a distraction from domestic problems, but unlike in the Falklands, this could turn into a much larger war. Yeah, that would sure be a distraction. And sadly, our weird hybrid Obama administration seems to combine the worst Neocon attitudes about war being a solution to all problems with the historical Democrat belief that if one just escalates a war enough, victory is certain.
And as a final point, while it would seem insane that North Korea or Iran would start a war, if pressured enough they might just decide that a first strike is their best option. I suppose in future posts I will explore those unpleasant possibilities. Granted, it’s a good bet that the USA could “win” a war with both countries, what the USA couldn’t do is occupy either country. And if we tried to do so, we would have a mess on our hands that would make the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan look cheap in comparison. In fact a very good case can be made that many nations of the world are quietly doing their best to see to it that the USA does exactly what so many Empires in the past have done, bankrupt themselves with futile wars on their frontiers that have nothing really to do with the security and defence of their homeland. This is especially the case in Korea, where South Korea is perfectly capable of defending itself, and the USA should have pulled out after the collapse of the Soviet Union if not before.
Oh well, I’ll go look at the latest sabre rattling in the news and get more depressed. I’ve had a terrible head cold the past few days, so I apologize if this post is a little disjointed. This is just such a critical and current and evolving situation I wanted to get something out there to stimulate thought if nothing else.
(The above image is a US army photo and thus Public Domain under US copyright law. It’s labelled ” … a machine-gun crew rests above a Korean village after assaulting a Chinese position.” I obtained it from this fine site: Korean War Photos. There’s also some wonderful colour photos of the war that just became available: One Man’s Korean War. I could have chosen a far more exciting and/or grisly photo, but I dunno, I just wanted to capture the idea that the people who fought in Korea were real people and it’s a real country.)