Bad War
By Charley Reese

North Korea might be planning to launch a war against South Korea and take control of the peninsula while the U.S. military is tied up in the Iraq business.
In the first place, unification by force has always been the basic policy of North Korea, and this policy has dictated North Korea's force structure. In the second place, the economic situation might have reached the point where war is preferable. If the above is true, then President George Bush has played right into the hands of Kim Jong Il, the diminutive dictator who's about 500 times smarter and a 1,000 times more dangerous than Saddam Hussein.
North Korea's military plans contemplate, among other things, the complete destruction of Seoul, South Korea, in six minutes. Yes, that's minutes. Apparently, North Korea has the capability of launching a concentrated, massive artillery barrage like the world has never seen. It has missiles that can reach American bases in Japan and Okinawa. It has plans to use suicide planes to attack American ships. The strategy is to take the southern half of the peninsula before American forces can respond in enough strength to stop North Korea. And, of course, it might have nuclear warheads.
It is always important to remember that people act on the basis of what they believe to be true, whether it is in fact true or not. And the North Koreans believe that their blitzkrieg tactics, combined with their 100,000 special-ops forces, can take the peninsula. Whether that's true or not, nearly a million people could die in the process of finding out.
The North Koreas have been studying us. They learned from Kosovo how reluctant we are to lose lives. They learned from the first Gulf War and the buildup for the second Gulf War how very long it takes us to get our forces in place for an attack. And I doubt they believe the Pentagon's heifer dust that the United States can fight two wars simultaneously.
North Korea has 996,000 ground forces; 3,800 tanks; 2,270 armored personnel carriers; and 11,200 pieces of artillery, a high percentage of which is mechanized. It has 100,000 special forces; 430 combat ships, including 40 submarines; and 1,670 aircraft, most of them obsolete, though that won't matter if they are used as flying suicide bombers. I don't know how many missiles they have, but it's a lot more than Iraq possesses by the several hundreds.
Because they have planned from the beginning on a surprise attack, 60 percent of their forces are forward deployed, which means the attack could be launched without the telltale buildup that would tip us off. All North Korea needs to do is issue the order, and boom, the war starts. Unlike Iraq, which is helpless, North Korea will not give us the luxury of time for extensive plans, conferences and the sluggish movement of troops and equipment.
My guess would be that Kim Jong Il would wait until Bush launches his attack against Iraq and then strike. There is no telling how Bush and his chicken hawks will react. They might panic and start tossing nukes, in which case we then have to wonder what will be the reaction of China and Russia. You can bet the family car that North Korea is much more prepared to receive nuclear hits than either the Japanese or we are. Little Kim Jong Il might not be blowing smoke when he talks about the Third World War.
The trouble with President Bush is that he likes to run off at the mouth. He's forgotten that Teddy Roosevelt, a real man, said, "Speak softly but carry a big stick." What did Bush think the reaction would be when he said he "loathed" the North Korean leader, that North Korea was part of the "axis of evil," that the United States would henceforth use pre-emptive attacks and nuclear weapons on non-nuclear states it deemed possible future threats? Well, the man he loathes might be about to show him. As any Korean War vet can attest, the North Koreans know how to fight.
© 2002 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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