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 The State Department and Pentagon are following the outdated, and useless, Cold War decision-making matrix of gradual escalation, measured or proportional response, etc.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.
Perception management and covert influence efforts have yet to be effectively exercised. I really believe the president has not been briefed on any specific Title 50 covert action, sabotage, direct action or deception options for North Korea. North Korea continues to test and launch missiles because they can, and they know there is no penalty for doing so. This attitude must change. After the Oval Office address, the president can order a “quarantine” of the North Korean nation—no ships, no aircraft, no banking, no money, no food. Sanction and freeze any wire transfer of any and all companies that are doing business with North Korea, in any sector. Focus this effort on Iran and North Korea together. Paint them into the same frame. We should tie Iran at the hip to North Korea. Iran, flush with cash and resources given to them by Obama, no longer has to risk testing its own missiles and pursuit of their nuclear R&D program. They can pay North Korea to do it. There are Iranian missile and nuclear technicians present at every launch from North Korea.
The U.S. could shoot the next missile test down before the missile leaves North Korea airspace. If that were to occur, the U.S. could immediately release a statement that we struck the missile because our information on telemetry and targeting from inside North Korea indicated the missile was programmed to strike a land-based target. This statement will create an immediate security witch hunt inside North Korea’s system. The president can take actions under Title 50 that sow hate, distrust and fear inside North Korea’s military and leadership circle.
We should signal North Korea and China of our preparations for all-out war on the peninsula. Moving the carrier battle groups to the theater was the first step. There should be more signals. Flood North Korea with information via every outlet we have to communicate with the population. Tell the North Korean people what their Dear Leader is doing. We could, as has been done before, change the profile of the alert fighter aircraft on the carriers in theater and the fleet working to defend the carrier.
Here is an example of proactive deception operations: In the last meeting between Secretary of State James Baker and Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz before Desert Storm in 1990-91, we wanted to be sure that Saddam Hussein understood if he used chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, the response from the U.S. would erase the culture, people and nation of Iraq. Because Aziz was the only Christian in Hussein’s inner circle, Baker used a biblical reference in the final discussions. That statement was coupled to a move on a carrier deck in which we placed the alert fighters on the catapults and loaded nuclear munitions on the wings. The signature of this event was deliberately exposed and the Russians picked up on it. They flashed this information to Hussein in Baghdad and told him if he used “special munitions” the U.S. would use nuclear weapons immediately. The effort worked and produced the desired result. Hussein pulled his chemical weapons off the front lines in a big hurry, and never employed them in the war.
Mr. Williams is manager/sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. Watch Right Side Forum every Saturday Live on Newschannel 8 TV 28 in D.C., 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and repeated 6:30 p.m., EST. Follow on Twitter @arightside. Visit online at www.ArmstrongWilliams.com.