It’s one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook and one that, given its repeated use by political figures the world over time out of mind, should at least merit questioning. In times of domestic unrest and dissent the political leadership of nations posit imminent external threats which require a military response. Nothing unites nations and populations more effectively than the specter of an external evil incarnate.
External Threats, Real or Imagined
The Bush Administration utilized this proven trope very effectively during the course of the Global War on Terror. There were many problems and flaws in the lead up to the invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). among them;
- That we invaded Afghanistan to exact vengeance upon the purported perpetrators of September 11, 2001 who flew commercial aircraft into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Yet, insufficient military assets were committed to the task resulting in the successful escape of bin Laden into Pakistan where, despite the biggest manhunt in the history of the world conducted by the most complex and sophisticated intelligence apparatus ever seen, he managed to hide in plain sight for a decade.
- A plethora of shoddy pretexts for the invasion of Iraq, but principally the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, never verified, and that leader’s sinister development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) which were never found despite frenzied and far-flung efforts on the part of the American and allied forces to locate them in the wake of the US-led invasion.
- The multiple and problematic stories presented by the flawed evidence of what really transpired on 9-11.
- On September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld had announced that 2.3 trillion dollars had gone missing from the Department of Defense’s coffers.
- The over-arching assertion that the forces of Radical Islam’s would, somehow and in spite of any compelling evidence, manage to invade the Continental United States and topple our government.
- That the Project for a New American Century, AIPAC affiliates and a range of Neo-Conservative organizations and individuals and manufactured a series of dire threats to our National Security which required a military response yet considerable evidence existed that such a conflict was–and remains–more in the interests of the State of Israel than of the United States.
In spite of a rather damning corpus of evidence supporting the position that fighting a far-flung “Global War on Terror” served the national interests of Israel, in primary position, and the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, the U.S. populace allowed itself to be led by its political leadership into a series of conflicts spanning nearly two decades at an unsupportable cost in lives and fiscal outlays. Nearly 8,000 American soldiers have been killed and another 80,000 wounded at a cost exceeding 4 trillion dollars. Wars manufactured upon flimsy or non-existent evidence fought against peoples who posed no existential threat to the United States of America. The “War on Terror” in the final analysis has cost the US dearly. It remains a global conflict fought on behalf of Zionist interests and not those of our nation. Wars of distraction and not of substance, fought in the shadows with no discernible end in sight.
The Bush Administration utilized an ostensibly imminent external threat to galvanize public opinion and distract from the population of the United States from far more cogent internal social threats…and it worked splendidly.
Kim Jong-Un, a New Existential Threat to the United States
As the Global War on Terror grinds on its seventeenth year it has lost some of its allure amid growing criticisms from both ends of the political spectrum. The Trump Administration, faced with mounting scrutiny of its Russian involvements, fiscal malfeasance, Nepotism and widespread systemic corruption, is positioning itself to yet again deploy this same old trick. This time around, the immediate, ostensible threat is posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and its leader, Kim Jong-Un.
There’s no doubt that Kim is a megalomaniac or that he is the spoiled scion of a family that has ruled North Korea for several generations under the heavy veil of propaganda and tight, repressive and centralized control. North Korea is a totalitarian regime. It’s a repressive regime mobilized largely behind the need to resist, militarily, Yankee and western imperial designs. But does the DPRK pose a tangible, existential threat to the United States of America? Well, that’s another matter altogether.
An Examination or Threat Assessment: DPRK vs. The United States
First of all, the population of the DPRK stands at just over 25 million people versus the United States with its population of over 316 million. The GDP of the DPRK stands at $12.38 billion while that of the United States was $18.57 trillion in 2016. The United States has a nuclear arsenal of over 6800 warheads whereas North Korea is still seeking to develop its first. In terms of naval forces, the United States has eleven Air Force carriers, North Korea possesses none. Comparing US Naval power against that of North Korea is like pondering who might be victorious in a matched combat between a bunny rabbit (DPRK) and a bear (the USA).
The US Navy, in addition to its eleven active aircraft carriers also has one in reserve and two more under construction. There are over 322,000 active Navy personnel with an additional more than 107,000 Reservists. With over 3,700 combat aircraft and 276 deployable combat vessels. The US Navy alone, as it stands, dwarfs any other Naval force on the planet. The Naval Forces of the DPRK, by contrast, consist of less than 1,000 vessels and 80% of those are gunboats. It possesses no aircraft carriers and approximately 80 submarines, though the vast majority are antiquated and no match for US counterparts. A shooting match between the two Naval forces would be about as one-sided as one-sided gets.
The DPRK has a total of 945,000 active duty military personnel, with an additional 5.5 million in its various reserve components. It possesses a total of 944 military aircraft among them 458 attack aircraft. It possesses 5,025 combat tanks, over 4,000 armored vehicles and over 6,000 artillery pieces, towed and self-propelled.
On paper, a formidable force indeed formed of a population that has been thoroughly indoctrinated to fight against the United States behind the cult of the semi-divine leader. There’s no question that they would put up a formidable fight.
Nonetheless, there’s really no question that US and South Korean forces would prevail in a conflict and while heavy losses would be felt on both sides no independent analysis of status of forces proposes that the DPRK would prevail. The North simply lacks the capacity to fight a protracted conflict. After the first month, the DPRK’s air force, by all assessments, would cease to exist as a viable fighting element as would its naval forces. Open to repeated US and allied sorties against ground forces spread over a rather small area, North Korean ground forces would be pummeled and decimated. Their equipment is antiquated and they lack reliable fuel sources. After inflicting heavy initial losses against South Korean and US forces the DPRK would, simply put, be largely destroyed.
Enter President Donald J. Trump Amid a Mounting Chorus of Domestic Woes
As mentioned above, war as diversion is one of the oldest political ploys in the playbook. Most of his major campaign promises have not been met, including; the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), building a southern border wall and getting Mexico to pay for it, locking up Hillary Clinton and “draining the swamp” (he just stocked it with bigger gators) and putting an end to military adventurism in the Middle East. On the last of these counts he railed for years against US involvement in Afghanistan—and is now escalating US involvement.
He has dismissed or fired more senior cabinet officials than any Presidential Administration in US history during his first year in office and many of those under a cloud of scandal–with more seemingly in the works. Scandal after scandal has rocked his administration and as Special Prosecutor Mueller’s team seems to imply, it has only just begun. Amid brash displays of nepotism and cronyism on the grandest of scales what is needed is a distraction–a good one.
Daily, we are warned of the North Korean threat. That a tiny nation with limited capabilities will fire an ICBM at San Francisco or Los Angeles or Seattle. That perhaps, against every empirical assessment, the North Koreans will, somehow, manage to seriously attack the United States. Aside from the simple fact that even a bombastic, spoiled and insulated megalomaniac like Kim Jong-Un would just have to know that doing so would result in certain destruction the notion is as ludicrous as the Bush assertion that Saddam Hussein might attack us in 2002. Ludicrous.
Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind, however, that when it comes to a choice between letting Jared Kushner, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. come under criminal indictment or, worse yet, criminal indictment himself, that Donald Trump will hesitate to launch us into a conflict with North Korea? At a minimum and in spite of the fact that we would ultimately prevail, such a war would cost trillions and tens of thousands of American lives not to mention perhaps the lives of a million South Koreans. Is there any question in anyone’s mind that our current President would undertake such a venture to distract us from his transgressions and those of his progeny? For anyone watching there’s really no question. Of course he would.
Every morning I wake up wondering if today will be the day when I turn on the news to the specter of war in the Korean Peninsula. Make no mistake it will be nothing more than a war of distraction and millions will pay the cost…just not our President and his family.