War With North Korea May Be Inevitable: P-Gon Has Made Up Its Mind

    Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

    In 2002, I was a Boy Scout on my way to the premiere camping experience of the organization: Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  The Ranch’s base camp sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet.  Most of the hiking nears 7-8k feet of elevation, so we had to acclimate for at least a week before starting camp.  We decided to spend a week site-seeing in Colorado to get used to the lack of oxygen.  The US Army was kind enough to host us for a night at Fort Carson in the barracks.
    We were supposed to stay in an empty barrack, but that changed at the last minute.  Instead, we were a couple rooms down from some genuine GIs, awed and awkwardly embarrassed as we had to walk passed them and their Playstations to use the bathroom.
    I remember waiting in line to use a toilet and overhearing a conversation between these armor troops.  I promise, this story is absolutely true.   My loose recollection of the conversation is thus:
    “They’re moving the armor out, that’s why they brought in so many tanks lately.  It’s not staying, it’s headed to Turkey.”
    “Turkey?  Why?”
    “Obviously because there’s going to be war in Iraq.”
    “Really?”
    “Yeah, it’s a done deal.”
    Now, would a couple of GI’s know any special secrets about war plans and so forth?  Of course not.  It’s a matter that the Pentagon was actively deploying troops and resources to go to war in Iraq, years ahead of time.  To people in the middle of it, the meaning is obvious.  It begs the question: do wars happen at the last minute when politics gets to that point on TV, or do they happen because the Pentagon concludes one is necessary and then begins the long process of deployment and preparation?
    I’m one to believe that all politics is theatre, and that the world is a web of dark alliances.  I don’t worry too much about the “ready for public conception” talk about a “deep state”.  But in this case, I think we’re talking about the deep state literally.  That is, some entity who is responsible for big strategic national security decisions: a mafia of generals – this entity is the primary agent making war decisions.  They then deal with the rest of politics.
    A couple of years ago I was stationed in Japan.  Our base, about 2-3 years ago, started to change our procedures and practices – little things – to be more prepared for the possibility of being attacked.
    This might seem natural.  There was the pivot to the Asia, and the consequent tensions caused by North Korea conducting alleged nuclear tests underground.
    But in addition to the general military version of “Be Prepared” we also started to see substantive changes in the base’s potential wartime readiness.  These changes all took training, resources, and time.  If any of them were to be available for real war, they would have to be planned in advance and chained together in order in a multi-year plan.  And if you’re not going to war, that’s a lot of money even for the military to waste.
    Of course America’s Asia-Pacific bases are increasing their readiness as tensions rise.  What’s notable is the way the preparations seem to chain together as a set of planned expenditures.
    To be honest, I don’t know if the changes I observed as a mere base resident represented anything more than the consequences of the changes induced by the “Pivot to Asia”.  I don’t have insider knowledge.  But, there clearly seemed to be a plan.
    Could it be that the Pentagon has made up it’s mind on North Korea.  Starting a war takes years of preparation.  Costly preparation.  And after spending the money preparing, are they then not going to cash in?
    I remember being around during the Syria redline crisis.  There was no preparation, everything seemed expedient – from the regular military perspective.  And there wasn’t a big invasion was there?
    WWII began almost a year beforehand.  Bombers were built, troops trained, technology research started, plans drafted, diplomatic relations sabotaged.  Everyone informed knew that there would be war in 1940.  But the public thought there might be peace – until Dec. 7, 1941.  There was never going to be peace, it’s merely that the public wasn’t in on it.
    The Pentagon wasn’t going to spend money shipping tanks to Turkey and then not try to use them (haha – but then they weren’t allowed to use them anyway).
    Maybe the pivot to Asia was exactly a consequence of the decision to, among other things, attack North Korea.  Maybe the broad strokes were decided years ago, and the pivot wasn’t some Obama political ploy, but a strategic 10-20 year plan by the Pentagon being implemented.  Maybe Trump’s bluster on North Korea is him taking political advantage of what was a done deal before he really even decided to run for President.  Who knows?
    So, it could be the case that generals in a cigar-smoke filled room hunched over wooden pieces laid out on a world map, about four years ago, decided that the time had come to make a move against North Korea.  And that’s that.
    If we’re lucky, there will only be a couple nukes.  I’ve got a couple iodine pills and a very small food supply.  I hope it’s enough.
    In all seriousness, us antiwar folks need to step up our game.  Are we still pretending that there might not be war?  Some pundits reassure us that the war would be too devastating and isn’t likely yet to actually happen.
    Look at the rumors in the media of what the Pentagon wants to do: surgical strikes against nuke facilities and regime HQ.
    North Korea’s command and control structure might have recent Chinese and Russian tech, but a lot of it is probably old Soviet tech.  With the USA’s probable cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, they can probably dissolve NK’s defenses like rice paper under torch.
    I’m getting in the mind of a general.  The idea is that through precision bombing, cyber warfare, and special operations alone, the USA could theoretically disrupt North Korean command and control completely.  They could render the North Korean military inert without even really fighting it.
    Sure, fighting North Korea would be catastrophic.  But what if we didn’t even fight them?  What if the US military simply neutered their ability to fight with infinitely superior tools?
    Do you or I know the status of insiders in Pyongyang?  What if the CIA has had a network there ready to take over, one which has existed for 30 years?  What if they’re getting old and reaching an expiration date?  What if Kim Jong Il’s death opened an opportunity?  What if Kim Jong Un’s traitor executions completely failed to catch his coming Brutus?
    This could be the world as the Pentagon sees it.
    Sure, an attack against Pyongyang would anger China.  But maybe the Pentagon feels as if the result of a regime change operation would be so decisive and its outcome so inevitable, that China wouldn’t bother trying to escalate to full scale regional war over it.  Maybe they arrogantly believe that China is held in check.  In any event, this all proves why a strike is needy sooner or later, to contain the ramifications.
    So don’t imagine that war won’t happen because it’s crazy and this is just our once-in-ten-year sabre rattling that we do with Korea.  The Pentagon might have a plan that you haven’t thought of, which to them seems very reasonable and practicable.
    We have to start the protests now.  What happened to the pussy march, or the resist crap?  These people don’t want to stop a war?
    We need pictures of US brutality in Korea, the destruction of villages, Korean War vets talking about how horrible it was, the massacre on Jeju island, the lies and false reassurances given by the US to foreign leaders, reminders of the invasions and their folly.  Most of all, we need to remind people how the Pentagon has its own agenda, and how it lies.
    Well, some people have been doing that for a long time.  But the war’s about to start.  Now’s the time to protest.  We haven’t even reached Syria levels of protest yet.  NO MORE WAITING!

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    Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

    3 COMMENTS

    1. If the wheels were set in motion by Obama, why in the world would Trump want to consider continuing his policy? He doesn’t even want to continue Obamacare (and he doesn’t know why).
      What evidence is there that either side is interested in war, aside from political posturing (i.e. words by players who have a long history of being drama queens)? With China’s recent statement, N. Korea doing anything re: Guam would be monumentally stupid, so I consider that to be off the table. It all comes down to whether the US would institute regime change — and more importantly, how they would fabricate a N Korean attack in order to justify this regime change. Just going in to “make the world safe for democracy” without a good back story isn’t really the US’s game anymore.

      • Does strategic policy come from Presidents, or is it that Presidents try to influence strategic policy? Did Obama think of the pivot to Asia, or did he use it for political advantage? Do you know the Pentagon’s war plan for Korea, maybe they have a perspective you don’t via access to classified knowledge about their own capabilities and the status of the Kim regime? Why would North Korean need to attack first? The Pentagon and media are already trying to frame the story such that Kim’s mere development of missile capability equates to aggression. Just because the Pentagon wants a war, doesn’t mean they’ll get it. But if we’re able to guess that they want one, we shouldn’t take it for granted that war is unlikely because of what we think we know. The Pentagon might be full of fools, but they’re fools with knowledge and data that we don’t have, which is to say it might be impossible to accurately guess their motivations. We can judge their actions.

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