by Kent Ballard
About a year ago North Korea announced it was suspending all non-aggression pacts with South Korea. They shut down the North-South hotline and closed the only shared opening in their border. They also moved two regiments of self-propelled artillery to the border and shelled an island belonging to the South.
They then announced their “right” to conduct nuclear first-strikes against the United States.
Technically, we were in a state of war with North Korea. Big deal.
We’ve been in a technical state of war with the goofy SOBs for sixty years now. They’ve been in a technical state of war with the entire United Nations for that time. They never signed a peace treaty, only a cease-fire. But they’ve become even more alarmingly insane recently, now that Russia, China, and the United States have all signed a United Nations decree forcing them to allow their ships to be inspected at sea by any naval force. They’ve had their assets frozen in many different countries, travel sanctions imposed on different NK government individuals and corporations, and suffer even tighter trade sanctions. This includes food, something the country consistently lacks.
China is their major trading partner. Pakistan runs a distant second. And that’s it. Those are the only trading partners they have besides very minor paper agreements. Also, China controls all of the oil going into North Korea, as well as much of its food. Beijing called in the North Korean ambassador just before NKs latest nuclear test and told him the Chinese were gravely concerned about a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula, further distancing of North Korea by governments all around the world, the potential for Japan to develop nuclear weapons in response, and last but not least, pissing off the United States.
North Korea ignored China’s warning. They detonated another nuke and then fired a cheap satellite off into an erratic and unstable orbit.
China then voted with us, the Russians, and the rest of the world to tighten the noose around North Korea’s neck even more after that.
A White House spokesman said the United States was perfectly capable of defending itself, which is true. But even in a fully conventional attack, we’d lose almost all ten thousand American soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, plus our air bases and naval facilities in South Korea in the opening salvos of hundreds or thousands of conventional rockets. Seoul would fall within hours and be leveled in the process.
And that would piss off America. And Japan. The Russians would shit their pants. China would no longer be able to deter any response we countered with. The general consensus around the world is we’d go nuclear as soon as friendly voices quit answering the telephone in South Korea.
The family monarchy of dwarfs and hunchbacks who’ve been the North Korean dictators for the past sixty-some years are lousy poker players. They’ve bluffed, cheated, and been caught looking at everyone’s cards too often. They and Pakistan, our dependable allies in the Mideast, have been caught sharing nuclear weapons and missile technology illegally. If you don’t think the North Korean government is dangerously insane, keep in mind they’re the only nation with a scientific community who claims to have found unicorn breeding grounds. And they’re dead serious.
I was never a great fan of Bill Clinton. But I think he said it best when, on a tour to the DMZ in South Korea a reporter asked him, “What would happen, Mr. President? What would we do if the whole North Korean Army and Air Force came roaring over that border in the middle of the night?”
Clinton blinked at the reporter as if he was a very slow child, then replied, “Well, North Korea would cease to exist in about 30 minutes.” I think that was not only one of the most honest answers he ever gave, but possibly one of the most humorous if you like your comedy black.
At any given time, the U.S. Navy has at least one and often two missile submarines parked just off the North Korean coast. Missile flight times across the whole country would be in the neighborhood of five minutes or less. In a comic reversal of the threat in The Hunt For Red October we have kids sitting out there, listening to rock n’ roll, and conducting nuclear missile drills on them weekly while feasting on cheeseburgers and pizza.
China naturally wants a vassal state between it and the gaudy capitalists in South Korea. It wouldn’t do to have their citizens look across the Yalu river and see brightly-lit skyscrapers and a powerful capitalistic economic engine running 24 hours a day. But now even China is getting fed up with the screeching rhetoric coming out of that vassal state, and as crazy as the world is getting anymore they might just ask America to plant its nukes where the wind would not carry fallout over their country. The Chinese have now become gaudy capitalists too, in everything but name.
Shhh! It’s a secret. Don’t tell anybody.
Every government knows that the United States remains the only nation on earth to use nuclear weapons in anger. Most of them think it’s best to keep it that way. That would keep all the criticism off their backs, allow them to take the moral high road (which never existed in international politics anyway), and give them a good look at what we can and cannot do with all those expensive toys we’ve been buying over the years.
There is another possibility. China could act alone. There’s literally a giant pipeline running under the Yalu river between China and North Korea. There is a valve to that pipeline on the Chinese side. If it were to be shut off, one hell of a lot of North Koreans would begin freezing very quickly, and it’s damned hard to run a war on empty gas tanks. Sure, the NKs have military fuel stockpiles—but not enough to fight a full scale war for more than just a few days. China has seen to that already. They still want that buffer-nation between them and the South, but there is a limit even to their patience. After North Korea rebuked their warnings last year, Beijing hinted darkly at a possible “regime change” in that country. That’s diplomat-speak for Chinese Special Forces armed with sniper rifles.
From what I’ve read, there was an extremely unusual outbreak of common sense at the UN between America, Russia, China, the UK, France, and other nations. We all know that any serious squeezing we do to North Korea will simply starve more of their innocent people and the leadership will remain unaffected. The latest UN resolutions were tailored to put the heat on the leadership, not the peasants, although they will undoubtedly suffer even more now. Still, the United Nations is aiming at the head, not the feet of North Korea.
But I have a better idea.
A preemptive strike on North Korea using our stealth strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems.
A military mission even Gandhi would love.
If the B-2 bomber is as good as they say it is, we could overfly North Korean airspace without being detected. And we could pull off one of the craziest—and greatest—humanitarian stunts in history.
Load the bomb bays of a dozen B-2s with canisters, hundreds of them, containing cell phones, solar chargers, and miniaturized satellite antennas. Put a few laptop computers in each canister, along with every scrap of rice, flour, and powdered milk we can cram into them. Basic medicines, candies, and infant formula. Mix up everything in the canisters, a little of this and some of that. Send written instructions in Korean. No propaganda, not a single word of it. No American markings on the canisters or cargo or parachutes. Nothing that would clearly mark where these things came from—although everyone would know anyway.
Then on a moonless night at 3:00 AM local time, fly over North Korea and bomb the daylights out of the countryside with the means to communicate, to see and understand what’s going on in the real world. Bomb the population with medicines and rice. Keep everything small—even the food packets—and quick and easy to hide. Scatter those canisters everywhere in the country. When sent on conventional missions, those B-2 Spirits can haul eighty 500 pound bombs apiece. A dozen of them would have a payload of nearly half a million pounds. (You can be as critical as you want, but you can never say we bought second-rate bombers.)
Of course, the North Korean army would shoot anyone caught with anything that came from one of those canisters and confiscate whatever they could lay their hands on. The captured material would go up through the ranks—and probably a great deal of it would disappear before it got to headquarters. Would you trust a nineteen year old North Korean corporal—who only knew poverty and hunger his whole life—to turn in everything he found? Everything? What if his family, his little brother and sister, are hungry too? They almost certainly will be.
Regardless, some of it—maybe most of it—would remain in the hands of the peasants. Those who could read would explain to the others what all the instructions said. Enclosed pictographic instructions would do the rest. Communication links would begin to open with the world. The food would be eaten instantly, and the medicines would begin saving lives. The satellite antennas could be based on the kinds our troops carry with them in the field—pop open, snap shut. Yes, very many would make it to the people themselves, and they must certainly know how to hide things by now.
Think about that for a minute.
Sure, it’d cost a lot of money. But only a tiny fraction of what one battle in one war would cost. If we could get in and out without losing any bombers we could whistle and look innocent and tell everyone we had no idea what the North Korean government was babbling about this time. Everyone would know we were lying, but no one, allies or enemies, could prove a thing. We could even put out public international feelers, asking the Egyptians if they did it, or maybe Iceland. Maybe it was Bulgaria. Or Peru.
Crazy? Hell yes, it’s crazy! So crazy that many people simply wouldn’t believe it. And those who did and managed to put two and two together would think about it for a moment and then see the sheer brilliance of such a mission—using stealthy nuclear weapons delivery systems to drop food, communications, medicines, knowledge, and hope. And someday, after such a bombing mission, if the North Korean people changed their leadership by themselves they would almost certainly install a new government much more friendly to the United States than anything put in place by China.
What would China do? Rattle their nuclear sabers at us for doing such an imperialist thing like dropping food and medicine? Would Russia put its missiles on alert for dropping smart phones and hand-cranked radio receivers?
It would confuse the hell out of everybody. And when the confusion ended, I think half the world would burst out laughing and America’s stock would go up everywhere. Dropping bombs is an act of war. Dropping powdered milk…I don’t think the world has a response for that.