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The North Korea conundrum: a taste of Armageddon

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Last night I watched an episode of Star Trek called “A Taste of Armageddon” (Season 1, Ep. 23). In it, two planets have been at war for 500 years, but they no longer send weapons to destroy each others’ cities. Instead, a linked computer system models the attacks and determines casualties. These casualties then have 24 hours to report to a “disintegrator” to be killed. It’s clean, neat war, without the carnage.

This episode reminded me of our conundrum with North Korea. The two Koreas have been at war for 23,356 days since the Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953–just a few weeks shy of 64 years. And while nobody reports to a death chamber, there have been casualties along the way, which continue to this day.

In Star Trek, Kirk destroys the computers that simulate war and calculate casualties. This, in the treaty which preserves the state of war between the two planets, would result in “automatic escalation” to real weapons. In doing this, he forces the two sides to negotiate in order to avoid Armageddon.

If you read the rhetoric about North Korea and America’s options, this sounds mighty familiar. Any attack, no matter how surgical, seems to bring the argument that the North will respond with Armageddon. Eleven million residents of Seoul will die, we will face “catastrophic” war (as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has repeatedly said).

Charles Krauthammer wrote “we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road.” Examining the evidence, he concluded that we must accept a nuclear, ICBM-armed North Korea. We must accept them the same way we accepted a nuclear-armed China, or a nuclear-armed Russia.

North Korea is within China’s sphere of influence, like Mexico is within America’s. Just like America wouldn’t want Chinese troops, missiles and nuclear launchers in Mexico, to China, having American troops, or a close American ally sitting on its border is a non-starter. So China is caught between a rock and Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions.

So we sit and wait for this to unfold, in a stasis where nobody really wins, but the war continues.

I might suggest that someone needs to be Captain Kirk here and destroy the calculus computers. We need to face facts that the status quo is unsustainable, and in fact immoral. One day, North Korea will attack the South, after winning concession after concession due to its nuclear hegemony. And then, we will be faced with real Armageddon, or surrendering the south to the Juche-inspired north.

A war, in any capacity, in the Korean peninsula, is going to be bloody and awful. Liberals and doves in South Korea whine that President Trump has made their country less safe, as if sitting within range of 4,000 chemical-round-capable artillery and rocket batteries is or has ever been safe. We’ve spent 64 years calculating casualties, but nobody has reported for disintegration.

The reckoning will come. I don’t believe all Kim wants is to be left alone. I believe he wants the long game, to rule the Korean peninsula–all of it. If he doesn’t attain the goal, his successor will, or the next one after that. The Kims are very well trained to maintain ideological discipline (which is one reason Kim Jong Nam was assassinated), without regard to blood, friendship, or mercy.

Giving up and accepting a nuclear, ICBM-armed north is tantamount to surrender for the south. They are trapped in their nice, clean war right now, like the leaders in the Star Trek episode, so they don’t see the problem.

We haven’t dealt with North Korea because (a) until the 1990’s it wasn’t really a global security threat, (b) if there was a resumption of a large-scale shooting war, we would certainly win, and (c) we had bigger fish to fry. None of those things is true anymore. A nuclear north changes everything.

America must deal with North Korea, and I’m afraid our only option is to risk all-out war to do it. Obviously, Trump won’t telegraph his intentions, so we won’t see an announcement. But the north is watching very closely. I believe if Trump, Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson have come to the same conclusions I (and others) have, a strike is imminent.

It’s very possible all this talk about “catastrophic” war, negotiations with China, and more sanctions is simply preparation for a military option. Or it could be preparation for acquiescence. As much as I respect Charles Krauthammer, he’s dead wrong. Acquiescence is indeed unthinkable, because it will inevitably lead to war–a war that will pull America in the way Pearl Harbor pulled us in to World War II.

We have to face facts and realize that to avoid war, we might need to risk triggering the “automatic escalation” and end the phony war we’ve had for more than six decades. We’re at day 23,356 and counting. Tick tock.

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Democrats

Democratic mega-donor Ed Buck arrested after third overdose at his residence

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Democratic mega-donor Ed Buck arrested after third overdose at his residence

When a second man died at Ed Buck’s home last year, we called on him to be investigated and arrested. But, as predicted, he was not. Now that a third man was overdosed but did not die, police have an eyewitness to the Democratic mega-donor’s penchant for injecting men with methamphetamine. Now, he’s been arrested.

Buck was arrested late Tuesday night and will be charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office with running a “drug den” in which people come and exchange favors, likely sexual, for access to Buck’s drugs. Democrats who have received money from him in the past are scrambling to distance themselves from the progressive California “hero.”

Jasmyne Cannick, an activist and show personality who has been calling for Buck’s arrest from the beginning, could barely contain her excitement over the news.

Other Twitter reactions were as expected… harsh:

As Ed Buck prepares to face the judge Wednesday, those who have been calling for justice against this powerful man, such as Jasmyne Cannick, finally have hope that he will face the music for his alleged crimes against so many.

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Foreign Affairs

The Israel elections, explained for Americans

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The Israel elections explained for Americans

Many Americans are unfamiliar with how the Israeli elections work and what it takes to “win” them. Today’s election is no exception with many Americans simply waiting for the end results (which technically could be weeks away) or not having a concern about them at all. As noted before, these elections will have as big of an impact on our foreign policy as any foreign elections can have.

So, how do they work? Who won? What happens next? Let’s take a look at some answers…

Israelis vote for parties, not candidates

The first big deviation from America’s system of government is that Members of the Knesset (MKs) are selected by the parties, not the people. The people vote for the parties, and those parties are given seats in the Knesset based on their percentage of the vote. The threshold is currently 3.25% to get some of the 120 Knesset seats. Those below the threshold do not get a seat, which is important for the last election in April and Tuesday’s election. More on that later.

The two major parties – the conservative Likud Party and the center-left Blue and White Party – only make up about one-fourth to one-third of the voting population. The next tier of parties are the centrist Yisrael Beitenu Party and the Israeli-Arab coalition of parties, the United Arab List, which is considered to be generally to the left in policies despite holding conservative Muslim values socially. The other parties fight to get whatever seats are left over.

Party leaders are chosen to fill the MK seats as well as cabinet positions, with the party most likely to form a coalition government chosen by the President.

Forming a coalition government

61 MKs are necessary to support a Prime Minister and form a government. Since no single party has every had more than 50% of the vote, a coalition of like-minded parties join together to recommend one leader as Prime Minister.

In April, Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition because Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu Party refused to stay in the conservative coalition because they wanted to pull protections for orthodox Jews from having to serve in the military. Other members of the coalition wouldn’t budge. Instead of risking the baton being passed to Benny Gantz and the center-left Blue and White Party, Netanyahu called for new elections, which is what happened Tuesday.

Exit polls indicate they’re in the same boat with neither Likud nor Blue and White able to form a government without Yisrael Beitenu, which seems to have expanded their seat count. Netanyahu had hopes the smaller conservative parties could have broken the threshold and given him a few extra votes for a conservative government. Gantz hoped the Blue and White would have a decisive victory and claim more seats than Likud, potentially giving them the floor even if his coalition was smaller. It looks as if neither happened.

Liberman is calling for a centrist unity government, but there are challenges that may prevent this. Likud would have to abandon the members of their conservative Zionist coalition by removing the protections against military service requirements for ultra-orthodox Jews. Blue and White has indicated they would not form a unity government as long as Netanyahu was leading Likud.

Unless things are very different from the exit polls, some very tenacious negotiations are ahead behind the scenes.

One way to avoid stalemate

With Likud and Blue and White both needing Yisrael Beitenu’s seats to form a government, it would seem likely that both sides will be making offers. But there’s another option. If Likud’s coalition is close enough, they can go to individual MKs and seek defections in exchange for positions. This may seem like a hard option for conservatives as it would mean inserting progress-minded people into positions of power, but their coalition is insufficient to form a government otherwise.

It’s inconceivable that a single issue about protections for the ultra-orthodox would make the militant Lieberman essentially crown Gantz as Prime Minister, but that may be the case. This is why it’s important for Netanyahu, if he’s chosen to form the government, to act quickly. There will be pressure on members of his own party to dump him and form a unity government with Gantz and Lieberman, and while they have claimed to be loyal to their leader, the risk of losing power overall may sway them.

It’s time for Netanyahu to take decisive action and pull together 61 MKs before his grasp of his party and his nation slips away. It could be disastrous for Israel with an aggressive Iran, emboldened, Hezbollah, and unruly Gaza if Gantz is put in charge.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Democrats

Conservatives need Elizabeth Warren to win the Democratic nomination

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Conservatives need Elizabeth Warren to win the Democratic nomination

In politics, the idea of killing two birds with one stone is highly sought after. There are a ton of birds in DC, and knocking off more than one with a single action saves time, money, and energy. For conservatives, the two birds we need to knock off are the Democratic candidate who will eventually take on the President in the general election and the rising embrace of socialism among those who believe the Democratic establishment is done.

Beating either Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would do the trick. But as the Sanders campaign seems to be sinking, the Warren campaign is surging. So it’s time for us to focus our efforts on learning everything we can about Warren and her policies in hopes she can win the nomination.

If former Vice President Joe Biden gets the nomination, President Trump should have no problem beating him. But doing so will only invigorate the radical progressives in the Democratic Party who believe their guy, Sanders, should have won in 2016. They believe the Democratic Establishment stole the election for Hillary Clinton. They will believe the same thing if Warren is beaten this year by Biden.

Sanders’ defeat to the Establishment launched the current popularity of socialism. A Warren defeat at the hands of Biden would make the socialist movement even stronger for 2024. But if President Trump crushes Warren, as he almost certainly would, then the socialists can no longer claim they were cheated. They won’t be able to play victim to the Democratic Establishment. They will have put up their chosen candidate and lost fair and square.

Socialism, as a result, will die in the political womb that it’s currently in.

Some fear Warren’s credentials and her ability to galvanize the people with her speeches. But as long as she’s promoting Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, and other radical policy proposals, she should be summarily trampled on by the lucid electorate in 2020. There’s no need to fear Warren. If anything, the only thing we should fear are the sheep who could fall for her sales pitch. If hat happens and Warren were to win in 2020, then America will get what it deserves for allowing the sheep to be led to the slaughter. As for the rest of us, we will be busy trying to rebuild after the debacle.

As much as I don’t like the prospects of a nation under a President Warren, I’m confident enough in the President’s campaign and the awareness of the American people to recognize the existential threat her policies represent.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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