History Lesson awaits Trump if he Attacks North Korea: Analysts

Korea specialist Professor Bruce Cumings notes North Korea became a national security fortress-state as a result of “the holocaust the North experienced during the Korean War”.  After the ‘Communist’ label and racial epithets were applied to dehumanize the populace, the US essentially wiped North Korea off the map, with hundreds of thousands or (more likely) millions of North Koreans killed by US mass-shootings, fly-by bombings, strafings, possible biological warfare, crops being wiped out, and the dumping of hundreds of tons of napalm (a fiery gel that sticks to targets), which drove the country’s peasant population under ground.

While this is generally referred to in the US as the “Forgotten War”, the victims tend to remember it more clearly and have built a security regime centered on deterring the next attack by history’s biggest military empire.  However, scholars have also pointed out that when the US becomes less belligerent towards NK, the NK regime in turn decreases its belligerence.  This was particularly evident in the contrast between the policies of the Clinton and Bush regimes.  As Clinton decreased US belligerence towards NK, NK became significantly more conciliatory.  But when Bush Jr. entered office and renewed threatening rhetoric, NK responded in kind, conducting missile tests and honing its nuclear deterrent.

With the Trump regime now making fresh threats (which are illegal under international law) and sending more heavy weaponry towards NK, Cumings writes:

On November 8, 2016, nearly 66 million voters for Hillary Clinton received a lesson in Hegel’s “cunning of history.” A bigger lesson awaits Donald Trump, should he attack North Korea. It has the fourth-largest army in the world, as many as 200,000 highly trained special forces, 10,000 artillery pieces in the mountains north of Seoul, mobile missiles that can hit all American military bases in the region (there are hundreds), and nuclear weapons more than twice as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb (according to a new estimate in a highly detailed Times study by David Sanger and William Broad).

…Last October, I was at a forum in Seoul with Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state for Bill Clinton. Like everyone else, Talbott averred that North Korea might well be the top security problem for the next president. In my remarks, I mentioned Robert McNamara’s explanation, in Errol Morris’s excellent documentary The Fog of War, for our defeat in Vietnam: We never put ourselves in the shoes of the enemy and attempted to see the world as they did. Talbott then blurted, “It’s a grotesque regime!” There you have it: It’s our number-one problem, but so grotesque that there’s no point trying to understand Pyongyang’s point of view (or even that it might have some valid concerns). North Korea is the only country in the world to have been systematically blackmailed by US nuclear weapons going back to the 1950s, when hundreds of nukes were installed in South Korea. I have written much about this in these pages and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Why on earth would Pyongyang not seek a nuclear deterrent? But this crucial background doesn’t enter mainstream American discourse. History doesn’t matter, until it does—when it rears up and smacks you in the face.

Award-winning journalist Eric Margolis writes:

Few Americans have any idea how ferocious a conventional second Korean War could be. They are used to seeing Uncle Sam beat up small, nearly defenseless nations like Iraq, Libya or Syria that dare defy the Pax Americana.

The US could literally blow North Korea off the map using tactical nuclear weapons based in Japan, South Korea and at sea with the 7th Fleet [but] a fight-to-the-end North Korea may fire off a number of nuclear-armed medium-range missiles at Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa and South Korea. These missiles are hidden in caves in the mountains on wheeled transporters and hard to identify and knock out.

Such a nuclear exchange would expose about a third of the world’s economy to nuclear contamination, not to mention spreading nuclear winter around the globe.

A conventional US attack on North Korea would be far more difficult. The North is a small nation of only 24.8 million. Its air and sea forces are obsolete and ineffective. They would be vaporized on the first day of a war. But North Korea’s million-man army has been training and digging in for decades to resist a US invasion. Pyongyang’s 88,000-man Special Forces are poised for suicide attacks on South Korea’s political and military command and control and to cripple key US and South Korean air bases, notably Osan and Kunsan.

North Korea may use chemical weapons such as VX and Sarin to knock out the US/South Korean and Japanese airbases, military depots, ports and communications hubs. Missile attacks would be launched against US bases in Guam and Okinawa.

US analysts have in the past estimated a US invasion of North Korea would cost some 250,000 American casualties and at least $10 billion, though I believe such a war would cost four times that much today [emphases added].

Military conscription might have to be re-introduced.

[NK] has prepared for a long guerilla war in the mountains that could last for decades. They have been practicing for 30 years.

Is Commander-in-Chief Trump, who somehow managed to avoid military service during the Vietnam War, really ready to launch a big war in Asia?

North Korea is a horrid, brutal regime. But so is Egypt, whose tin pot dictator was wined and dined by Trump last week.

Award-winning journalist Patrick Cockburn writes that instead of starting another war with North Korea, the US might be better off “exploring how to end all the wars it has [already] started”.

[The] militarised options favoured by “the Washington playbook” that Obama came to so despise have produced little but disaster in the post-9/11 era and are likely to do so again. Almost everything advocated by the Washington foreign policy establishment since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya and Syria in 2011 and Yemen in 2015 has created or exacerbated the conflicts. Note that none of these wars have ended or show much sign of doing so.

Obama could see what was going wrong, though he generally responded with stoic resignation rather than attempting to change the course of events.

TV channels and op-ed writers who treat the expertise of Washington think tanks with such fawning reverence should reflect on the Obama White House’s view of these institutions.

Relief in foreign capitals that much authority [in the US] is in the hands of experienced generals may be displaced. None of these soldiers were quite as successful or farsighted in Iraq and Afghanistan as their admirers now proclaim and they have a natural tendency towards resolving problems by force.

While Cockburn notes Trump’s recent attacks against Syria, his use of the US’s largest non-nuclear explosive device against ISIS in Afghanistan, and his belligerence towards North Korea have made Trump newly popular with the Washington establishment, Margolis suggests launching a war against North Korea may, after the US public realizes how costly and deadly such a war would be, make Trump even less popular in the US, as well as internationally.

Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the US film and Television industry.  His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists.  He begins work on a Master’s Degree in American Studies in the fall.

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  • cettel

    Thanks for that highly informative article, the only good one I’ve yet seen on North Korea.

  • WillDippel

    Here is an article that looks at a scenario for attacking North Korea:


    As we found out in the case of Iraq, hostilities on the Korean Peninsula are unlikely to end quickly.

  • Charlie Primero

    I’ve seen this North Korea clown show repeated 6 or 7 times in the last 40 years.

    After about the 5th time you should begin to understand why the players play their parts.

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  • BDub

    everything advocated by the Washington foreign policy establishment
    since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya
    and Syria in 2011 and Yemen in 2015 has created or exacerbated the
    conflicts. Note that none of these wars have ended or show much sign of
    doing so.”

    Does Mr. Cockburn really think this ISN’t actually intended effect of such policies?

    • Robert Barsocchini

      If you read his full article he says if the people he is referring to wanted to end the wars, they could have made real efforts.

  • Tannenhouser

    “[The] militarised options favoured by “the Washington playbook” that Obama came to so despise”. For real???? Or not. Barry was ‘on board’ with ALL of it. Period. That people make excuses for him is pathetic.

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  • Nexusfast123

    Try a trillion in costs to the US and multiple trillions to the SE Asian economy. Even with nukes the impact on those in tunnels is minimal. The figure of 250,000 US casualties suggests a big land campaign so who is going to sanction US conscription? Washington is living in la, la, land. Iran would be worse.

    • That is assuming that the Pentagon had the $10,000,000,000,000+ of “missing” money stuffed in their mattress all along.

  • Piglet

    Various articles describe how high the US military losses would be if the US started another Korean War. Typically there’s little or no mention of how costly a war would be to the South Koreans, who would bear the brunt of the war. No one’s asking them if they want another war.

    I received word that many Koreans with lots of money have flown to L.A. to wait out the latest crisis in safety. Others remain in place, awaiting their fate.

    We like to put forth a lot of bluster about wars because we don’t have to suffer the consequences like others do.

  • Fred762

    This article is BS. The Korean “war” was a sham.. Here is how it went down..the US Navy and Air Force controlled the air over and both sea coasts of NK since 1945..[and STILL does]. Truman & his bosses forbade General MacArthur any forces to attack NK, so HE engineered the Inchon invasion w/o help from the DC brass..got his azz fired for that little ploy too, didn’t he? WE left the bridges into NK [over the Yalu River] undamaged..to allow Red Chinese troops easy access. WE sent the US 7th fleet to patrol the Taiwan Straits..to keep the Nationalist Chinese Army bottled up on Taiwan..thus freeing up the Red Chinese Army to send troops into NK!! This of course was wiped from history better than Hillary’s server!!

    IMHO the “war” was only a UN-designed urban renewal project for the peninsula. Up & down the peninsula for 3 years and ended up at the same place..the 38th //… then then we went into SK and rebuilt the whole thing, w our fathers’ money (like we did Germany and Japan 5 yrs b4)..all them new factories were built w US taxpayers’ dollars..we own SK. NK was left as a boogy man, to be fed just enuf to esist and to be used whenever the big$$boys needed an enemy. The NKs even got their nukes from Bill Clinton 20 yrs ago..don’t 4git that little one, huh.

    • slobotnavich

      Umm, Fred, I find this a rather novel interpretation of events during that period. We left the bridges over the Yalu undamaged so the Chinese could swarm across them? And Slick Willie, verminous and oozing pustule that he was (and remains) provided the NKs with nuclear weapons? And the NKs attacked South Korea in ’50. driving our thinly manned occupation forces and the South Koreans down the peninsula until MacArthur landed the Marines at Inchon and routed the NKs, bringing in the hordes of Red Chinese who finally drove us south to the 38th parallel where the war “ended,” still without a formal peace declaration but a “temporary” armistice, which remains in place today. Absurdly, and almost comically, the opposing sides still meet across the table at the DMZ and rail at each other on a regular basis. Technically, the war’s still ongoing and could resume at a moment’s notice, though I doubt that China would allow the NKs to provoke such an occurrence – we and China have too many mutual trade and cultural interests at stake to allow such a ridiculous outcome.

      • Fred762

        Nationalistas were ready to invade RedChina until the US fleet blocked the Taiwan Straits.. Sad to say but the Inchon invasion was not authorized..MacArthur got his azz handed to him after that little one. War was over and won a few weeks after we took NK..but the big$$$boys didn’t plan that..they wanted SK and a boogey man up in NK to use..they got it. Kept Mac from bombing the Yalu bridges and let the reds IN to NK. The whole thing was a big ole urban renewal project. Them Koreans humping ammo up Pork Chop Hill didn’t rebuild all the nice factories..WE did it. Just like we did w US taxpayer money in Germany and Japan a few years b4….you do not build new factories w/o capital and WE were the only ones left w money in 1945. Like I said wiped from Hx better than Hillary’s server.

        • richard feibel


        • slobotnavich

          No doubt of it – MacArthur planned, equipped, and executed the Inchon landing in total secrecy, a secret that was kept until you just blew the lid off it. And after the Korean War there were no factories or any industry whatever left, North or South. In actual fact, South Korea is one of the premier economic miracles of the 20th Century, while the communist North languishes in desperate poverty, economic slavery, and remains a murderous little prison-state.

          • Robert McMaster

            Gee, and I thought you were describing the United States. I like the way that compact mantra rolls out: “desperate poverty, economic slavery, murderous prison-state”. Got your Party Line down tight, buddy. And SK is an ‘economic’ miracle’. There’s your license to bomb away! But who cares that these are unsupportable allegations. The U.S. shills blatently fabricate all the time. They hardly bother with a cover lie nowadays. BUT, as in Syria, it’s the U.S. that stands to get whacked. Seriously. Be careful what you wish for…

          • slobotnavich

            Umm, is your degree in incomprehensibility, incoherence, blind ignorance, and willful disregard for all universally acknowledged facts?

          • Robert McMaster

            Yeah, those ‘universally acknowledged lies’. Keep buying that U.S. pig swill.

          • slobotnavich

            I must assume you’re posting from the UK or some other dying socialist “people’s paradise,” where culinary excellence is defined by “fish ‘n chips” and the planes and trains don’t run on time (if at all), and the national sport is going on strike.

          • Fred762

            SK was BUILT w American money..it was broke and wiped out..you do not build new factories w/o capital and them SKs carrying ammo up Pork Chop Hill had no capital..same for Germany and Japan 5 yrs earlier..big ole urban renewal projects..the plans for which were laid out b4 the “war”. That BTW was why they had to hold Patton’s 3rd Army back by cutting off his gas..the Russians were suppose to get Berlin first and they could not push the Germans back fast enuf, even w all the aid we sent them..

        • ISIS McCain

          Ahh, Fred you left all the faithful here hanging! Please don’t forget to mention Antony Sutton’s book on Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution and how our banksters financed THAT revolution.
          These folks on this site will not understand anything unless you give them the complete basis from which your analysis emanates!!
          Please tell them about how Secretary of State Marshall cut the Nationalist Chinese off around 1948 and allowed Stalin to take much of the weaponry and logistics support we sent the USSR for free during WWII, that he didn’t use, and send it on down to Mao in the late 40’s!!
          No, no, no, just like the Russian Revolution, the Commie Revolution in China was not a bottoms-up/grassroots revolution. Yes, indeed, it was a top down system of totalitarian control imposed by the corporate globalists and their bankster/bureaucratic minions!!
          Fred back to the blocking of the Nationalists from going back into China was all about allowing the commies to consolidate power/resources in China without no outside interference until such time that the corporate global elite could transfer the mantle of world leadership from the U.S. to China, which began in earnest in 1972 thanks to Tricky Dick and subsequently to his ambassador to Red China HW Bush, who hammered out all the details/rules by which the Red Chinese had to adhere in order for the corporate globalists to begin shifting all that Western technology/industrial base to Red China!!
          You are now seeing all the results of all these many years of active treason by too many folks to even begin listing them all here.
          Hey Folks, please do your research and someday you may see things the way Fred and I do…..from the perspective of the Constitutionalist right!!

          • freewheelinfranklin543

            First Marine Division was used in China after the war to help Mao gain power too.

        • slobotnavich

          Ah, yes, the Great Capitalist Conspiracy Theory. If I may refresh your knowledge of Korean War history, the landing at Inchon by the Marines in late ’50 totally routed the NK army. It also brought the hordes of Red Chinese into the conflict and drove the UN forces back down to the 38th Parallel, where the armistice was finally signed in ’53. Weirdly, the two sides still meet weekly across the armistice table and exchange barbs and insults to this day – technically the war’s still on and could turn hot should the NKs want to see their nation totally destroyed. Actually, should they suddenly get out of hand I believe the Chinese would swat them like the cockroaches they are – they have too much invested economically in their relations with the US to see it get blown up by a bunch of certifiable loonies up in North Korea. I strongly suspect that the Chinese view North Korea as a vague embarrassment, rather like the crazy old uncle the family keeps up in the attic bedroom. In any event, based on what I saw of the S. Koreans in Vietnam, the South Koreans alone would make very short work of the NK Army.

    • I guess you never read Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket?

  • Jill Andrews

    Perhaps rather than a war with North Korea, it’s time to consider “Mark & Reprisal” as an alternative.

  • It may be totally academic if the Congress can’t scam their way around the next government shut down next week. Smart money is going into the mattress instead of the ready to fail banks. How much good will FDIC insurance be after their reserve account, which has a bit over a penny per dollar protected, is spent? It is a rather long commercial post, but atmcrisis.com is worth a peek, especially if one thinks that their bank is invulnerable to a sudden and total collapse, leaving their money locked up, and their plastic useless.