Stop paying ransom: How to turn the tables on North Korea

Japanese Defense Ministry deploys PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) interceptor system at Camp Kaitaichi in Hiroshimai Prefecture on Aug. 12, 2017| Satoshi Oga | AP Images

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz,  Aug.14, 2017:

“Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute

The most sacred job of the federal government – directly protecting the lives of the entire country from an existential threat – is evidently controversial.

The political cartel and the medial would have you believe that every far-flung foreign policy engagement and ill-fated cronyist welfare program is the highest order of the federal government, yet protecting America from a genocidal regime that has  directly threatened us with nuclear weapons is beyond the pale.

On Friday, the AP tweeted the following:

So not only have the media global elites publicly telegraphed the message to North Korea that the U.S. may never respond with force, the U.S. could take missile defense off the table.

What’s truly astounding is that we are sending troops to referee Islamic civil wars that have no strategic interest to us in countries that cannot touch us with a Navy, Air Force, or ICBMs … and the media doesn’t give a hoot. God knows what we are doing in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, aside from supporting one terror faction in one theater that we are fighting in the next (Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, for example), but nobody blinks an eye.

We have expended trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the national resolve and appetite for war on aimless civil wars rather than addressing the core threat to our homeland, which is immigration, Muslim Brotherhood subversion, etc. Now, there is no appetite left to use our military when it is actually needed.

Maybe I was too naive, but I thought once it became clear North Korea had the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads to be placed on long-range missiles (a reality that was covered up during Obama’s tenure), politics would end and national resolve would unite behind an effort to defend America at all costs. Yet, it’s become clear that will never happen.

Even if one (wrongly) believes there is no military solution, why in the world would we telegraph such weakness to the enemy and do so with such conviction? Every news headline blowing up my iPhone alerts is full of such servile sayings as “The rush to avoid a catastrophic war,” “How North Korea can win.”

What exactly is their solution other than continuing the same obsequious ransom payments that led to North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons in the first place and replicate the same failed model in Iran? Indeed, the only military option the government willing to put on the table is sex-change operations and hormone therapy. Take that, Kim Jong Un!

In reality, there is a lot we can do, and it begins by actually recognizing our strengths and understanding the vulnerabilities of North Korea and China. It also begins by not self-immolating and telegraphing weakness that incentivizes more bad behavior from North Korea and troublemaking by China.

Change of posture: This is actually one area where Trump’s tweets are very helpful. The reason we got to this juncture is because of 24 years of weakness in which three administrations took military options off the table or even the use of aggressive soft power. We paid them off and refused to hold them accountable.

Thus, with no fear of reprisal, China and North Korea could continue to extort us. By emphatically showing that we will do what it takes to defend our interests and that regime change is a real possibility, China will come to the bargaining table.

The Chinese are terrified of a military option because they don’t want the refugee crisis on their hands. Thus, those who publicly despair of military and soft-power options and extol the virtues of diplomacy are ensuring there is no diplomacy. The military option, or the perception of it, is the only thing that will force diplomacy. Peace through strength.

Missile defense: Learning a lesson from Reagan’s success, the best offense is also a good defense – by showing Kim Jong Un that we can shoot down his missiles. The ballistic missile defense program has already been a success with THAAD and needs a little more development.  The president should demand an immediate increase in funding of advanced missile defense in the upcoming budget bill.

There’s no reason we should continue spending so much money on Middle East sink holes, fighting for and arming the Lebanese army (an arm of Hezbollah), the Syrian rebels, and Shia militias in Iraq. All those funds should be redirected for missile defense. The success of this program makes the military option extremely viable.

Further, coupled with beefed up missile defense, all available nuclear assets should be deployed to the aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and submarines around Guam and closer to the Korean Peninsula.

Shoot down North Korea’s test missiles: Yes, the next time Kim plays with his toys and tests a missile, we should shoot it down. THAAD has successfullyintercepted missiles in all 15 tests conducted by the military. We should place more of these installations around South Korea and Japan, in addition to beefing up the naval presence.

End the Iran deal: Iran and North Korea are two peas in a pod. Ending the Iran deal and putting the screws to the Islamic Republic hurts North Korea. If nothing else, learning the lesson of the failed appeasement of North Korea should push Trump off the fence on Iran so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

As my friend George Rasley explained in detail, we can assume that whatever North Korea has, Iran will obtain because they are working together. Except, given that Iran is governed by an Islamic ideology, there is even less of a deterrent against their suicidal tendencies than North Korea.

To look at the outcome of the North Korean appeasement and not change course immediately in Iran is an exercise in self-immolation.

Ask Congress for Authorization of Use of Force (AUMF): “Locked and loaded” is exactly the strategy we need. Congress has been debating and AUMF over the Middle East for months. North Korea, on the other hand, had directly threatened our country, and yet we’ve never signaled any support for a military option.

Were Congress to preemptively authorize use of force when the president feels it necessary to use, it would send such a strong signal that in itself would be the only avenue to force the diplomatic solution the Left claims to support.

Remember, unlike the Iranians who believe they will enjoy 72 virgins in the next world, the North Korean leaders don’t believe in an afterlife. They are enjoying their virgins and Chivas Regal here on Earth and are not in a rush to end it. It’s very likely that by signaling our intent to impel regime change, Kim Jong Un’s military leadership will begin unraveling.

This is why it’s so irresponsible for Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson to so emphatically and publicly reject regime change.

Hold China accountable: North Korea is essentially a client-state of China and gets much of their economic lifeline from the communist regime. In order to get tough on North Korea, we must end the decades-long appeasement of China, which is a strategic threat to us in their own right. We must double down on our alliance and arm’s deals with Taiwan and challenge China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Also, just the mere threat to arm Japan is the biggest leverage imaginable. The memory of the Nanking Massacre at the hands of the Japanese is still consuming China with fear and rage. Time to play hardball.

Freeze the regime’s global assets and investments: In addition to putting real pressure on China, freezing other foreign investments will inhibit North Korea’s ability to build its nuclear and ballistic capabilities.

As noted North Korea expert Bruce Bechtol advises, “The United States must use its resources, personnel, and willing allies to squeeze North Korea’s Mafia-like illicit financial networks in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Africa and yes, China. This would, put strong pressure on the lifeline for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs.”

Say no to further involvement in Islamic civil wars: Our involvement in endless Islamic civil wars (while bringing the actual problem to our shores through immigration and empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood) has depleted our military, our budget, and our national resolve to confront real threats.

The North Korea crisis should strengthen the president’s resolve against further involvement in full blown nation-building in the Middle East so that our military can be preserved for true conventional warfare that, unlike the Islamic civil wars, directly threatens our territories and homeland.

The fight against jihad should mainly be dealt with through shutting down immigration, ending Muslim Brotherhood subversion, using soft power against Qatar and Turkey and other funders of global terror, and reversing course on Iran. Let’s counter terrorism with counter-terrorism measures; counter state threats with the military.

John McCain’s call for doubling down on Afghanistan should be rejected; it makes no sense to bog down our military in these quagmires now that North Korea poses the greatest conventional and nuclear threat. Also, our endless entanglement in the Middle East is partly what emboldens China and North Korea, because they know it has sapped our military and national resolve to deal with the Pacific theater.

The question for President Trump boils down to one principle: Will we continue the strategy of appeasement and ransom-paying that has gotten us to this position, or will we turn the tables and assert our own leverage using every option on the table? The choice is his so long as he assembles a Cabinet that actually shares his worldview.

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.

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