Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our military weakness may cause the next Korean war

My study of military history has taught me that, with very few exceptions, military weakness causes war.  The pacifist case for foreign policy is flat-out wrong and to follow it to any significant degree is extremely dangerous.  The examples of it are too numerous to mention in their entirety, but I can think of a few prominent examples.
  • Archaeological and geological evidence shows the Mycenaean Greeks took down the Minoan civilization in Crete after the Minoans were devastated by the eruption at Santorini and the resulting tsunami.
  • The Philistines kept picking on the Israelites because the Israelites, despite their victories over the Canaanites at places like Jericho and Hai, could not compete militarily with the newcomers.
  • After the First Punic war, when the Carthaginians were distracted by a revolt of their own mercenary army -- because the Carthaginians tried to cheat them out of their pay -- the Roman Republic helped itself to Carthiginian Sardinia.  The Roman seizure of Sardinia helped fuel the anger of the Barcids in starting the Second Punic War, but the Barcids were also encouraged by the weak Roman response to their own seizure of Saguntum, in northern Spain.
  • For all the complaining by the German tribes about the Romans invading their territory, when the the Romans would withdraw their legions from the Rhine the Germans rarely missed a chance to attack, especially under the emperors Gratian and Honorius. 
  • Ditto in the east with the Sassanid Persians. 
  • Both William, Duke of Normandy (later William the Conqueror or (King William I of England) and Harald III Sigurdsson (Harald Hardrada) were encouraged to invade England by the military and political weakness of the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II Godwinson. 
  • After it was permanently weakened by the defeat at Manzikert, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire was constantly facing nibbling attacks on its territory, culminating in the Fourth Crusade, which conquered and sacked a defenseless Constantinople.  The Eastern Roman Empire was eventually restored, but the damage had been done.
  • Western weakness in the face of Hitler's provocations encouraged him in the drive to World War II. 
  • The Arab states attack Israel when they perceive it to be weak.
Now, we have Korea, where next year will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of "Glorious Founder" Kim il-Sung.  They plan to celebrate, with a "new," towering pyramid of a hotel.  But they may also have something else in mind.  Dan Miller:
Recently, the army of the DPRK increased its military capability close to the border with South Korea:
North Korea has recently moved fighter jets near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, and ground-to-air missiles close to Baeknyeong Island. There is speculation that it plans a minor provocation while South Korean president Lee Myung-bak visits the U.S. since any show of unity between the two allies tends to incense the North. “The North Korean military was seen moving mobile missile launchers at a ground-to-ship missile base near the NLL,” a government source said. “There’s likelihood that the North will launch a military provocation” while Lee is away. The government is closely watching movements of North Korean artillery units. An intelligence source said, “The North Korean Army is showing movements similar to those seen right before it shelled Yeonpyeong Island last year.”
The ROK has declared a high state of alert. It may have been principally in response to DPRK movements, to the visit of ROK President Lee Myung Bak, to Washington or to both. After President and Mrs. Lee were welcomed at the White House on October 13th, President Lee became the first Korean president to visit the Pentagon, where he and
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security Chun Young-woo, and secretary for national security strategy Kim Tae-hyo . . . met U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, and most of the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Forces, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
They are said to have received “an unplanned briefing on the security situation on the Korean Peninsula from top military officials,” unrelated to any “special and pending issues.” It is not credible that such a briefing was unplanned and unrelated to pending issues. Is “unplanned” the same as “unexpected”?
The start of the Korean conflict, on June 25, 1950, was “unexpected” and shouldn’t have been; there were plenty of signals but we were not looking. [...] Importantly, under President Truman’s Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, military spending had been cut drastically:
In the early days of the Korean War, the North Korean Army, supplied with Soviet weaponry, was better armed and equipped than were U.S. troops. . . . Johnson made political hay by claiming that he had “cut the fat” from the defense budget. What he really cut was the throats of thousands of American soldiers.
Johnson ceased to be the secretary of Defense soon after the Korean Conflict broke out.
Are you noticing the pattern here?
With a weak U.S. president unlikely to be reelected and a host of other foreign and domestic problems to preoccupy us, now would be an excellent time for the DPRK to invade the ROK in full force, probably better than at any previous time. Kim Jong-il almost certainly realizes that. He and his advisers must also realize that the likelihood of crippling U.S. military budget cuts is great. According to Defense Secretary Panetta,
the automatic cuts, part of a last-ditch negotiating move by President Obama and Congress, [were] both “blind” and “mindless.”
He said nearly $500 billion in defense cuts already being imposed are “taking us to the edge.” Another $500 billion would be “truly devastating,” he added.
Even under current cuts, “we’re going to have a smaller force,” Mr. Panetta said.
This apparently doesn’t worry Secretary of State Clinton, who said on October 14th that in this new age the strength of the U.S. is waning, not due to any loss of military power but due to flawed economic policies.

On October 13th, President Obama warned the DPRK, with the decisive sternness he commonly uses when dealing with dictatorial and dangerous foreign regimes. There was no suggestion of U.S. military involvement. In essence, he asked that the DPRK stop being nasty if it wants more respect, more goodies, and fewer economic sanctions from the international community — of which the United States is no longer a principal, much less the, leader under his presidency.
The US simply cannot afford military weakness.  Not now.  Not ever.  However much an effective military costs, the costs of not having one are exponentially greater.  But thanks to the current occupant of the White House, we have it.  And, as with Jimmy Carter, we will have to pay the exponentially higher costs of this current military weakness for generations.

And as this article indicates, the tab may be called not in the Middle East, but in Korea.

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