to regard any nuclear missile launched
from Cuba against any nation in the
Western Hemisphere as an attack by
the Soviet Union on the United States,
requiring a full retaliatory response
upon the Soviet Union...
The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths
are; but it is the one most consistent
with our character and courage as a
nation and our commitments around
-- President John Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis Address to The Nation --
A Necessary Preface:
Our regular readers know our long-standing policy:
This blog does not give advice; it offers opinion. The line between them is not always clear. Please keep in mind three considerations:
An opinion may consist of advice which is (i) deliberately offered too late to be actionable; (ii) knowingly impossible to implement due to circumstances prevailing at the moment; and/or (iii) offered with the foreknowledge that the simple fact of its publication will render its practical value null and void.
The following post is opinion by criteria (i) and (ii).
North Korea best not make any more
threats to the United States. They
will be met with fire and fury like
the world has never seen...
-- President Donald Trump, August 8, 2017 –
If [Japan´s leaders] do not now accept
our terms they may expect a rain of ruin
from the air, the like of which has never
been seen on this earth.
-- President Harry Truman, August 6, 1945 –
President Truman´s threat, made only hours after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, was ignored. Three days later, Nagasaki was bombed.
Expect Trump´s warning to also go unheeded. Our post “The Impending War With North Korea” of April 30, 2017, explained why:
"What Washington has never understood is that in a dictatorship, there are no intermediate positions to slow, much less prevent, a fall from power. It´s all or nothing.
Kim Jong-un simply cannot give in and give up his nuclear weapons program. Working on China to pressure Kim to stop his program is important and necessary -- "The key to this is China," according to Senator John McCain -- but in the end is likely to be ineffective.
In North Korea today … everything revolves around the army. To abandon the nuclear weapons program would mean giving into the enemy. Peace, even as a suggestion, would deprive the massive North Korean army of its reason for being; Kim too. Ergo, Kim would go.
If Kim miscalculates -- if he backs down and gives up his nuclear missile program -- look for a coup d´etat or a bullet in the head or a knife in the back just as surely as Mexico had a revolution."
All such men sleep with a pistol under the pillow. When "they" come for him anyway, he will utter the same words all such men -- notably Stalin´s secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria -- utter when the quick trip in the service elevator to the basement arrives:
"I should have killed you when I had the chance."
The United States should maintain an open-door policy toward all foreign leaders. That includes talks with Kim Jong-un. However, to suddenly seek talks for the first time on a presidential level immediately AFTER North Korea has successfully fired ICBMs capable of reaching the U.S. sends absolutely, totally the wrong message.
To understand the doctrine I am about to enunciate requires a brief look back at how things got the way they are in Korea:
On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea. The UN and United States entered the war on South Korea´s side. North Korean forces were forced back to the Yalu River separating China and North Korea.
In October of 1950, Chinese troops in massive numbers poured across the river in support of North Korea. The UN-U.S. troops were pushed back to the 38th parallel where a war of attrition started. On July 27, 1953 an armistice was signed that created the territorial division that exists today.
The indisputable conclusion: without Chinese intervention, there would be no North Korea today.
From the very beginning, the correct strategy for the United States would have been, on monumental matters such as war and peace, to treat North Korea for what it is: a puppet of China.
That of course means no direct peace talks between Trump and Kim.
Instead, as JFK did during the Cuban missile crisis, America would deal only with the puppet master – Russia, in JFK´s case; China, in Trump´s – and ignore the puppet. Throughout the Cuban missile crisis there was never any serious consideration by Washington of holding direct talks with the Castro Government.
JFK´s policy worked. War was averted.
What we are saying is diametrically opposed to Trump´s position. "If it would be appropriate for me to meet with [Kim Jong-un], I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it," Trump told Bloomberg News.
We noted in our April "Impending War" post that (i) we agreed with Senator McCain and others that China is central to resolving the North Korea crisis; however, (ii) it is highly unlikely under existing conditions that China will make any significant changes.
China plays Kim Jong-un as an unwelcome, irritating child by which China gains leverage (read: extorts concessions) with the U.S. We will help you with Kim if in the upcoming China-U.S. trade talks you will…
Given China´s tsk-tsk relationship with Kim, the increased sanctions trumpeted last week are a hoax. Indeed, contraband goods from China to North Korea will now increase in value.
And so, the question comes down to: how can the existing changes be changed? How do you make China, the puppet master, responsible for its puppet?
Answer: the same way KFK made Khrushchev responsible for nuclear weapons in Cuba.
Let´s repeat JFK´s exact words:
It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union...
The Belvedere Doctrine would have solved the present U.S.-North Korea crisis without war ... because there never would have been a crisis in the first place:
It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from North Korea against any ally of the United States as an attack by China on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon China.
That Doctrine cannot be enacted. To do so would undo Henry Kissinger´s gravely mistaken policy of forming an alliance with China instead of uniting with India and Southeast Asia nations – yes, Vietnam included – against China. For why Kissinger´s architecture of international relations, which Washington preserves to this day, is so destructive and unconscionable, please see our post of August 11, 2015 "´Henery´ Kissinger Debunked."
If millions of people die in an America-North Korea war, it will only be the start of the world catastrophe Henry Kissinger´s clumsy and naive pro-China-at-any-price policy caused.
To the point:
Our JFK-inspired doctrine would have yanked China´s chain. You would have seen concrete remedial action from Peking – fast.
Update: August 14, 2017.
Readers are asking: is there not a peaceful way to stop North Korea´s missile development program -- a way that would be effective but would not violate our policy of opinion versus advice and which would not reach back all the way to the 1950s?
Yes, there is a way. It is common sense.
What you are about to read cannot be implemented due to prevailing prejudices among United States military and political leaders:
Once North Korean missiles leave its air space, why doesn´t the United States simply shoot them down? That way, North Korea would (i) learn little or nothing decisive from its tests, and (ii) inadvertently assist the development of American defense systems.
On both accounts, North Korea would be highly predisposed to discontinue the tests.
The answer is, when the question is put to U.S. military experts, simply turns out to be not so simple:
The viewpoint of the Pentagon and military experts is given in this CNN article. The key portion:
[Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress] said Pyongyang's threats to launch multiple missiles at Guam could be a deliberate action to call the United States' bluff on missile defense.
"It was no accident that North Korea threatened to launch four missiles, it deliberately complicates the decisions of US policy makers," he said.
If any of the four long-range missiles successfully made it through US defense, Mount said, it would be a huge victory for the rogue state.
"If the United States did try to intercept the missiles they would want to intercept all of them, because failing to intercept them all would send a message about the (US's) limited capacity ... those systems aren't perfect," he said.
For its part, North Korea keeps testing missiles despite the fact some of them fail. America keeps testing too, for that matter. Neither lets the prospect of embarrassment stop them.
A huge victory for North Korea if a single missile were not destroyed? What utter nonsense. Get real, Washington.
Each North Korean missile test should be viewed as a golden opportunity. Nobody expects a bull’s-eye every time in what would be the established context: target practice. A touch of irony – inscrutable to North Korea´s leaders but comprehensible to everybody else -- could spice up the formal announcement of The Belvedere Doctrine:
We welcome North Korea´s ICBM tests. They help us improve our anti-missile defense system in a realistic setting and at great savings to the American taxpayer.