Dear Members and Friends,
Being there across the line in North Korea, secluded, with one of the Special Elite Soldiers of the Republic of Korea (ROK), braced in a combative position with sunglasses on, in the blue United Nations room on the North Korean side that borders both countries was a stoic feeling and an experience that led to a deeper understanding of the motives and mind set of North Korea. Their Guards, three of them, in dark brown tailored uniforms with leather belts and over sized hats, up on the stairs of a communist era building built higher and more symbolically defiant in comparison to its South Korean counterpart less than fifty yards away. Inferiority stands as clear as the raised four inch platform on their side of the line, established to increase their height in opposition to South Korea’s six foot plus tall guards that remain in a martial arts pose, with sunglasses on, staring them down. A face off that has the dark brown uniforms backed away up on a staircase looking down.
Pride still matters with North Korea as flaunting perceptions in the isolated Joint Security Area (JSA), located on North Korea’s side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), where rules of engagement, over the past 60 years, have cleared the area of military force leaving what looks like a nature preserve of birds, rice paddies, and green over brush leading to the muddy waters of the Imjingang River across the width of both these two countries. Amongst the estimated ten million plus land mines dispersed under and on this vegetation, that is contained by a double electric fence and a twenty-five foot vertical anti tank wall, the Joint Security Area has been a place of negotiation as well as intimidation and provocation. The Joint Security Area was the site of the blunt and brutal killings of United States soldiers at the hands of North Korean soldiers and their axes many years ago and the site of the shooting of North Koreans Soldiers stationed here by the South Koreans as they tried to gun down a Russian defector crossing the line years ago. This line of tension tightens over time where most would sag and hope to break. A tension that has brought us to the brink of world war type confrontations and a tension that gives a poor undeveloped regime an identity bigger than they are.
North Korea remains a country of malnutrition that lacks resources. Their under trained military forces wholly count on the conscripted 10 year 9.4 million man army with an embedded million or more of rounds of long range artillery as their primary threat. Their artillery reversed on the backside of the mountain range, just north of the border, to bring down an unstoppable rain of heavy armaments on the thriving city of Seoul.
The resource depraved North Korean Army is not a real sustainable threat to offensively invade and hold ground over an extended period of time against South Korea. Yet, the North Koreans know too that their massive army and artillery are not enough to convey a perception of power as nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and the means to deliver them would. North Korea now possess both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to threaten anyone in this region which gives them a real perception of power. However, that too is not enough as North Korea is working towards directly threatening the United States with long range capability in their effort to ensure that their pride still matters and perception, both external and internal, will gain inertia and sustain their being.
It is surreal, in this singular place, as North Korean power could cease to exist quickly and China would be left to handle the repercussions and fight back to keep the economic power of Korea at bay while preventing a potential direct land border with a western Korea. Just as the local Chinese Ducks always return to these rice paddies here in the DMZ so must North Korea return in fronting a border for China. Status quo is status quo and with that we should be rightfully continuing to prepare, to defend, and deter a North Korean limited strike of small scale provocation intending to tease perception and provoke attention. North Korea knows too that China will always be a strong deterrent towards the West. However, what we and the world must fear is the strike of flame that begins as a provocative act, goes provoked, and lights an out of control fire that would force the world’s current super powers to engage.
The security here in Korea needs to be built upon both resources and policy to dissuade and prevent an all out response by Korea, Japan, or ourselves when we are struck by an limited attack of engagement for power perception by North Korea. Restraint and de-escalation are the keys for peace and status quo. At the core center and front of de-escalation is a forward deployed robust joint U.S. and Allied missile defense capability in Korea, in Japan, and in this region shared by our allies there. It is in all countries’ interest, including China, in this region to find and apply restraint in reaction to North Korea and defend their citizens and infrastructure.
On that smug humid day last week in the JSA at the DMZ when I crossed the line to an eerie view of the surroundings, realization came that we are playing down to the small games of a impoverished country to maintain status quo and not break free of the dangerous bluff we are playing.
This road has been traveled before and our nation did have the courage and foresight to tear down a wall and defeat communism in a peaceful manner. There is a road that comes across us now that can bring in a stronger presence that can clearly defeat the North Korea’s few tactical and strategic systems and join, with force, the other parallel tracks for the reduction of the threat and collapse of this North Korea regime by eliminating their current strategy of ballistic missiles coupled with nuclear weapons holding hostage this region. By forcing more funding and resources to be spent by North Korea on defeating missile defenses and reducing their calculus of success to threaten significantly adds to the existing pressure on North Korea.
Our nation and our allies must drive for application of just not diplomatic international pressure, but for much more robust THAAD, AEGIS, and Patriot missile defense systems shared with our forces forward and shared with our allies and deployed in theater and a ground based missile defense system fully capable of defeating any and all North Korean old and advanced ballistic missiles on a limited attack threat to the region and the United States homeland.
For not only do we break down the regime in a peaceful way, we can also help shape this region in a positive and stable way to allow economic growth to thrive and enhance our multilateral alliances here, including China.
Prosperity, in the form of economic well being, in this region of the world, is vital and it is where the biggest markets are to trade, sell, and buy goods. It is in the best interest for our future and that of the world to ensure freedom of international access and provide safety by peaceful means for the betterment of mankind.