Nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea is real and has become a primary, if not foremost, security threat for the US. The roots of this crisis are found in the diplomatic and security fecklessness of the Clinton administration. The administration that I personally worked in and witnessed. There are many “legacies” that Bill and Hillary Clinton left us and the harsh reality that North Korea is now a threatening nuclear state is chief among them.
In 1994, when North Korea was threatening to turn South Korea and Japan into a “sea of fire,” Clinton dispatched former president Jimmy Carter to Pyongyang to practice his “smile diplomacy” with the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong II (the knucklehead who fathered to the twenty-something that runs the country today). The result was the “framework agreement” which quickly turned into a complete failure. North Korea did nothing to stem their development of nuclear weapons and, in exchange, received $4 billion in aid from the United States, South Korea, and Japan, and two new nuclear reactors (ostensibly for sources of power for their people). At the time, Clinton said, “This agreement will help achieve a vital and long-standing American objective, an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula.”
For the next six years, the Clinton administration ignored North Korea’s aggressive development of nuclear weapons and the missiles with which to deploy them. Instead, Clinton, time and time again, chose to make concessions to the North in hopes that they would, somehow, become normal and sane. Instead, North Korea took the American cash and nuclear reactors and developed the weapons and missiles that threaten our shores today. Test launches of missiles flying over Japan are nothing new. Neither are threats threatening to obliterate our ally in the south.
So, where do we go from here? Based on my previous experiences carrying the “nuclear football” for Bill Clinton and my knowledge of nuclear threats, there are no good options for the US. That ship sailed long ago.
At this critical juncture, my recommendations for the Trump administration in regards to North Korea are:
Increase the US military presence in the region. Move in more assets and move them close. Don't get too top heavy so as to leave blind spots in other regions (Middle East, Russia, China, etc.) but rattle some sabers.
Squeeze China. Work to freeze NK assets in foreign banks. 90% of NK's imports come through China. Slow the money and make it difficult for them to fund anything.
Strongly consider US special operations in NK. Take down their power grid and communications. Disrupt their ability to effectively command and control their military assets.
If they launch another ICBM test, and if it in any way overflies Japan, Guam, or the Western US, shoot it down.
Arm Japan. Give them their military capability to defend themselves should China and/or North Korea continue to be belligerent. Do it now.
The legacies of modern Democrat presidents are filled with appeasement, diplomatic folly, and irresponsibility. They have proven to be uncomfortable with military affairs and resistant to projecting America’s strength abroad. As a result, we have a nuclear armed North Korea, and a nuclear-arming Iran. Peace through strength and trust, but verify. These are key tenets for the nation going forward. The time is now for the US and the Trump White House to get out in front of these threats and eliminate them. Appeasing and kicking the can to future administrations has proven an abject failure, time and time again.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Buzz" Patterson, United States Air Force (Retired), is a military combat pilot, distinguished White House military aide, bestselling author, and popular conservative public speaker. Among Patterson’s literary efforts include two New York Times best sellers, Dereliction of Duty and Reckless Disregard. His most recent books include War Crimes and Conduct Unbecoming. Patterson was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Air Command and Staff College; he has his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech University and a Master's in Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. He, his wife and their three children currently reside in California.