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North Korea and history are the best teachers for influencing our actions

Armstrong Williams | 12/7/2017, 3:51 p.m.
We the people need our leaders to elevate the discussion about options, short of all-out war, as the administration navigates ...
Armstrong Williams

We the people need our leaders to elevate the discussion about options, short of all-out war, as the administration navigates our way through the vexing North Korean issue. There is no hiding the fact that the past three presidents, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama, all contributed significantly to the current pending disaster. Decades of poorly conceived policy and feckless international conduct has brought us to this point.

There are still a number of presidential tools available for use that don’t seem to have made their way into the public discussion, or I suspect the Title 50 options have yet to be presented to the director of Central Intelligence or the president. The State Department and Pentagon are following the outdated, and useless, Cold War decision-making matrix of gradual escalation, measured or proportional response, etc. that was the cornerstone of our success in the Cold War. We have used this same matrix since 9/11 against al-Qaida, ISIS, dealing with Iran, etc. and failed for 16-plus years. It worked with Russia in the Cold War because Russia had a rational, well-educated and experienced leadership system, a nation with an Orthodox Christian belief system and basis of decision making. North Korea does not believe, think or act in a moral, faith-based or rational way. Therefore, a response matrix based on those precepts applied against North Korea has not worked, nor will it work. We, as a nation, continue to do the same thing, over and over, and expect a different result.

First, it’s very important the administration deliver an Oval Office address and explain the North Korean issue and why North Korea poses an existential threat to the United States and the safety of individual Americans in Hawaii, in Alaska and on the West Coast. The last missile test is a new milestone and technical development, and it changes the national security calculus. The American people need to be braced on this issue with a dose of reality. Make no mistake, if conventional conflict breaks out on the Korean peninsula, the war will be a heinous affair, and the casualties will be horrific. The images will shock the world. Unless one has visited or lived in Korea, it’s hard for people to grasp how fast and how brutally conventional war will affect one of the largest and most crowded metropolitan cities in the world.

The Oval Office address should explain our mutual defense treaties with our historic Asian allies and why we stand together on this issue. An Oval Office address will make China, Russia and North Korea pay attention, and will lay the groundwork for the administration to exercise, without any public warning, a much more robust set of tools and actions to demonstrate our intention to fatally squeeze if necessary and punish North Korean conduct, change their strategic direction and create chaos inside North Korea and the China border area in the process. North Korea will push until we mark the red line and put the country in a vise. These signals are essential to create the conditions inside North Korea and China for both countries’ leadership groups to understand and react to the new sanctions, actions and intent of the United States. In a phrase, if we expect to change their perception of events and the costs to them of continued pursuit of the missile and nuclear capacity, we must do something to trigger their reevaluation.