6 May 1997
WAR IN KOREA: THE LIVING WILL ENVY THE DEAD
North Korea is rumbling like a volcano, but few of our top leaders seem to be listening. Yet, some Korea watchers are laying 60/40 odds that an eruption could soon pummel that long divided land.
I hope we'll be ready, but U.S. leaders and their intelligence chiefs have a long history of not being prepared for surprise attacks. Remember Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese zapped Hawaii in 1941? Or the Nazi shock assault in the Ardennes in 1944?
There were others too: The North Korean and Chinese attacks in Korea in 1950; the TET offensive in Vietnam in 1969; Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990; and the recent bombings of U.S. billets in Saudi Arabia.
Those in charge seldom get it right. I'm not sure if it's because of arrogance, incompetence, malfeasance, and stupidity, or all of the above. But for sure, our present leaders could learn from Sun Tzu, a Chinese general who I rate as the best military thinker of all time. 2,500 years ago he wrote:
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
Looking at the unpredictable North Korean Army down where it counts, on the rugged, tree-covered Korean ground that's favorable for infantry fights, they have no equal. They're a million plus strong, total fanatics with no problem dying for their spent and sorry cause and mean - as - Mafia hit men.
Their soldiers are leaning forward in their foxholes, and we'll not know they're coming until 10,000 cannons, mortars and missiles spit out the deadliest barrage ever.
This firestorm will deliver one million rounds of death and destruction within the first 24 hours of the war. Every city, village and fortification North of the Han river could be smashed. Those units that are forward deployed such as our 2d Infantry Division could be completely crushed.
North Korea has biochemical weapons, and they may have a few crude nuclear devices as well. In a final banzai attack, the military leadership, who run North Korea with an iron hand, are just nuts enough to use them.
They also have another terror weapon: 100,000 Special Forces troops who could infiltrate the South through existing tunnels cut below the two Koreas, aboard submarines and on radar-proof aircraft.
The good news is their Air Force is broken and even their Kamikaze Krazies won't be a heavy threat. But after three years of war, in 1953, when the allies owned the skies and seas, North Korea and China, without a ship or an airplane south of the lines, fought the U. N. to a bloody standstill.
North Korea may act like a losing pro football team with the clock running out whose quarterback throws the long desperate bomb to win. Their economy is in ruins, millions are starving and total Soviet-style collapse is near.
They have three options:
Do a Kamakazi attack during the next few months.
Implode this fall as East Germany did.
Unify with South Korea.
The North Korean generals are out-of-touch enough to opt for the military solution and start a war which will in fact not only have no winners, it will destroy all of the Korean peninsula and parts of Japan and China.
If Sun Tzu were still sucking air and our president came calling he would remind Clinton that "Supreme excellence (in war) consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting," and advise him to do the following immediately:
Move American forces South of the Han river and dig them in deep.
Evacuate all U.S. military dependents from Korea and Southern Japan.
Inform North Korea that if they attack, nukes will be used and their dying country will become a radiated kimchi bowl.
Get McDonald's to open up a riceburger joint in every North Korean village and city, and give the starving people all the freebies they can carry away.
This done, if North Korea decides to go out with a bang, Americans won't end up in body bags and Clinton won't have to lament to the nation as FDR did in 1941 about another "Day of Infamy."