3 September 2017   2 comments

North Korea has conducted its sixth nuclear bomb test and it has asserted that it was a hydrogen bomb.  The difference is crucial since a hydrogen (thermonuclear) bomb is significantly more damaging than an atomic (fission) bomb).  It is hard at this stage to verify the North Korean claim, but the evidence suggests that at least American officials believe it to be true.  The record of US-North Korean relations since the election of President Trump offers little hope for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.  It is clear that President Trump believes that his overwhelming imperative is to prevent North Korea from developing the capability of launching nuclear missiles against the American homeland.  That,  indeed, is this most important priority.

But that priority is not only obtainable by attacking North Korea.  American Presidents have faced similarly armed adversaries–Russia and China.  At one point, some in the US believed that the US should have launched a preventive war against the Soviet Union before the Soviets developed their own atomic weapon and while the US had had an atomic bomb monopoly (1945-49).  Phillip Meilinger recounts that early debate:

“LeMay’s predecessor, Gen. George C. Kenney, seconded LeMay’s belief. In a letter to the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Kenney stated that he was ‘worried about the time elapsing from the day that the whistle is blown before we can launch our first atomic strike.’

“He feared a surprise attack would greatly reduce US war-making capability. ‘It is going to be so difficult to shorten the time before we can start effective retaliation that this in itself constitutes another argument for re-examining our national attitude toward fighting what has been wrongly termed a preventive war,’ said Kenney. ‘It would not be a preventive war, because we are already at war.'”

Fortunately, American Presidents ignored this advice, and defended the US by employing the tactic of deterrence.  Now China is one of America’s largest trading partners, and yet President Trump has now threatened to cut off trade with China unless the North Korean threat is eliminated.

Posted September 3, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “3 September 2017

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  1. I suppose that the writer believes it was OK for the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, etc to have killed hundreds of millions of people. Had we listened to our military leaders like Gen. George Patton recommending we push back on the Soviets and Gen. Doug MacArthur wanting to cross the Yalu and bomb the Chinese into oblivion maybe the world would not have been so bad for the hundreds of millions that died because we didn’t.


    • I am well aware of the crimes committed by the totalitarian regimes of the late 20th century. But I am not aware of any war that freed them. On the contrary, it was the long-term, patient, and unwavering commitment of the US and its allies to freedom that ultimately led the people of those countries to overthrow and change their governments. If we had followed the advice of Patton and MacArthur, many millions more would have died and I doubt that the regimes would have changed. Indeed, most totalitarian governments increase their power in times of war.


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