Guest Column

Sorry South Korea, it’s America first!

2017-09-29 09:27
President Donald Trump speaks during a dinner with Latin American leaders at the Palace Hotel during the UN General Assembly in New York. (Evan Vucci, AP

President Donald Trump speaks during a dinner with Latin American leaders at the Palace Hotel during the UN General Assembly in New York. (Evan Vucci, AP

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Robert J. Traydon

As the madness between the United States and North Korea escalates, one wonders whether there’s a coldly calculated agenda lurking behind President Donald Trump’s warmongering declarations.

These include the following tweets by the US President (@realDonaldTrump):

03 Jan 2017 – North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!

11 Apr 2017 – North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.

11 Aug 2017 – Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!

23 Sep 2017 – Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!

Not to mention these recent public statements by President Trump:

19 Sep 2017 at the UN General Assembly: “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

26 Sep 2017 in Washington: “We are totally prepared for the second option, not a preferred option. But if we take that option, it will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea. That’s called the military option. If we have to take it, we will.”

Coupled to these declarations is Trump’s core ideology of ‘America first’, and it is this explicit ideology that should be of serious concern to South Korea.

America first … South Korea second

At this stage, it remains unknown whether North Korea has the capability to accurately strike a major US city with a nuclear warhead-enabled inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). But US experts believe that if this capability does not already exist, it will very soon.

Hence, the extreme urgency being shown by Trump to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat as soon as possible.

While it has long been ‘acceptable’ for South Korea to carry the risk of nuclear attack by North Korea, it has been made clear that it is ‘unacceptable’ for the US to carry that same risk.

Trump’s ‘America first’ ideology asserts that the interests of all other nations, including close allies, come second to those of America – particularly in terms of politics, economics and the environment.

This has been unashamedly demonstrated by Trump’s recent withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Accord, despite intense international criticism.

Of even greater concern though, is the extent to which Trump’s ideology applies to American national security. More simply put: to what extent is Trump prepared to compromise the national security of other nations to preserve that of the US?

Looking at Trump’s handling of the North Korean situation thus far, one might suspect he views South Korea as expendable in his quest to neutralise the North Korean nuclear threat. It’s a case of, ‘we’ll do whatever it takes to preserve American national security’.

Coldly calculated agenda

It’s a dangerous deadlock – North Korea is refusing to denuclearise no matter how much diplomatic pressure is applied, and the US is not prepared to make any concessions. In Trump’s immutable opinion, North Korea must denuclearise … or else!

Knowing Trump, he probably briefed the Pentagon to: “Find a way for us to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea without being held accountable for both its and, potentially, our allies’ destruction…”

Well, the Pentagon knows that a pre-emptive strike on North Korea would immediately summon both China and Russia into the fray. So, how do you start a war without actually starting the war yourself? Answer: You provoke your volatile opponent to start it for you!

And Trump has quite masterfully manoeuvred Kim Jong Un into this exact position.

On the precipice of all-out nuclear war

The latest threat by North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, to “shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country”, must have been music to the Pentagon’s ears.

There could be no better excuse for the US to go to war with North Korea, than Kim Jong Un attempting to engage and shoot down a sortie of US B1-B bombers flying in international airspace. The fact that the US bombers might be flying provocatively close to North Korean territory, despite Ri Yong Ho’s stern warning, would be considered irrelevant.

Trump would pounce on the incident. The Pentagon would quickly deem it an ‘attack’ tantamount to an ‘act of war’, giving Trump the convenient green light to ‘totally destroy’ Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Tragically, the ensuing war would decimate South Korea and, potentially, Japan – but this would work in America’s favour in fuelling its justification to ‘devastate’ North Korea.

Media and Twitter would explode

No doubt, after the loss of two million South Koreans, half-a-million Japanese and five million North Koreans, Trump would use his newly acquired 280 characters to tweet the following:

@realDonaldTrump: “This war is a terrible thing! But Rocket Man had it coming. Imagine if we’d allowed North Korea to develop 100 or 1 000 nukes. There would’ve been double the casualties in South Korea and Japan, not to mention 10 million dead Americans as well! The US and our allies will prevail!”

This would be of little consolation to the millions dead in Asia, the tens of millions suffering or dying from radiation sickness, and the hundreds of millions that would suffer long-term terminal illnesses as a result of radiation exposure.

This craziness begs the question: Would Trump’s approach to North Korea be different if his sons were stationed in US bases on the border of North Korea, and his daughter, son-in-law and grand children were living in Seoul? Surely his approach would be decidedly more delicate.

Seoul survivor – US alliance more liability than asset

In the interest of national security and long-term self-preservation, the leaders of both South Korea and Japan should seriously reconsider their current alliance with the US. They should ask themselves this key question: Does President Trump value the national security of the US above the national security of his allies?

All his declarations thus far indicate that he absolutely does.

- Robert J. Traydon is a part-time author and BSc graduate of Mechanical Engineering. His writing explores a range of contentious environmental, economic and political themes from a uniquely contrarian perspective.

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