Colson: Let’s leave North Korea to its own misery | AspenTimes.com

Colson: Let’s leave North Korea to its own misery

John Colson
Hit & Run

Do you feel the United States should go to war with North Korea?

How about with China, which is North Korea’s main source of international support?

My answer in both cases is “NO!”

But that is just what we seem to be stumbling toward, as President Donald Trump looks for ways to boost his popularity, already at an unprecedented low level, and North Korea emerges as his favorite new target.

According to recent polls, Trump has managed to make himself less popular in his first 100 days in office than any previous occupant of the Oval Office since World War II.

That’s right. Donald Trump, after nearly 100 days on the job, reportedly is less popular than Richard Nixon, George W. Bush or his daddy, George H.W. Bush, or Jimmy Carter at this point in his presidency.

Interestingly, the most popular president at the first-100-days mark was John F. Kennedy, in 1960, according to a Gallup poll released last week, with a grade of 74 percent. Up next was Dwight D. Eisenhower with 71 percent, and then Carter at 69 percent, Barack Obama at 63 percent, Nixon at 62 percent, and so it goes.

The Gallup poll showed Trump’s national approval rating at 41 percent (a different poll released earlier in the week had him down to 39 percent).

I doubt if Trump gives much credence to polls, since they are considered a scientific way of gauging a president’s approval rating, and Trump appears to view anything scientific as untrustworthy as voodoo witchcraft.

Plus, though he hasn’t said it that I know of, Trump likely believes polls to be tools of the Democratic Party, which would fit right in with his generally paranoid outlook and his affection for conspiracy theories over fact.

Anyways, numerous observers have noted that Trump is desperate for public adoration. That’s why he keeps holding “campaign rallies” even after being sworn into office — to maintain the illusion that the people love him.

And as many presidents before him have done, he has hit upon the strategy of finding someone to attack militarily as a way of drumming up support at home.

He’s already lobbed 59 missiles at an air base in Syria in declared retaliation for Syrian thug Bashar al Assad’s chemical-weapons attack on his own people, an act that won Trump praise from enemies and friends alike.

Now, we all know that Trump is not the brightest bulb in our national political chandelier, but he must have been impressed by the speed with which the missile attack was reflected in positive headlines and praise from the talk-show circuit.

And he certainly is aware that one of his predecessors, Bush the Junior, went galloping off to war against Afghanistan and Iraq following the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. in 2001, to look back at just one relatively recent stumble into war.

It’s hard to know what he makes of the acknowledged fact that Bush’s war against Iraq was politically and militarily unjustified, after it was revealed that Bush’s stated excuse about then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s supposed cache of “weapons of mass destruction” was nothing but hot air and lies on the part of the Bush administration.

Equally hard to determine is how Trump views the fact that Bush went to war against Iraq on credit, generating a $2 trillion bill that we continue to pay off. Our economy still is limping out of the recent Great Recession and lacks the resources for another costly military boondoggle.

Since we don’t know what’s going on inside the Orange One’s brain, let’s presume that he is thinking that war is popular, he is not, and perhaps he should do something rash and idiotic just to get the juices flowing in his fan base.

If that’s the case, we all should be more than a little concerned, because we have stumbled into war often enough that we know the outcomes usually have been worse for the nation as a whole than for the president who fired the opening salvos.

The first time our nation was poised for a war that seemed ultimately insane, at least in my memory, was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when President Kennedy was faced with the installation of Soviet missile launching equipment on an island 90 miles from the tip of Florida. Thankfully, JFK managed to keep things calm and worked out a solution that mollified his own constituents and those of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan sent our troops to the tiny island nation of Grenada after what the Wikipedia online site called “hard-line Stalinists” seized power and seemed poised to cause trouble. It was a fairly ridiculous little three-day war that cost a mere $134 million, in which we easily subdued the island’s forces and were able to pat ourselves on the back for a job quickly done with low causalities and of little consequence.

But Korea is a different deal. We know Kim Jong-un has nukes, we know he’s nuts, and we know he considers the U.S. to be his primary enemy on planet Earth (despite his known fascination with American culture and toys). We also know his nation is in economic tatters, his people are starving and his prospects are dim.

In addition, China would not be happy to see us back on the Korean peninsula.

A U.S.-led force of United Nations troops pulled out in 1953, following three years of fighting against forces backed by North Korea, China and the Soviet Union, and China justifiably would resist any U.S. resumption of hostilities there, particularly since Trump spent most of his 2016 election campaign vilifying and basically threatening the Chinese over a variety of issues.

The Korean War began when the North invaded the South, and has never been formally resolved, a sore spot on the international body politic.

A nuclear-backed, saber-rattling campaign by Trump, at this point, could only worsen an already tense situation, and might easily lead us into a confrontation that could make the Cuban Missile Crisis look like an afternoon tea party in a park.

We do not need this. Korea is miserable enough.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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