UNION COUNTY — If the United States of America and its allies go to war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) aka North Korea who would win?
An important question, but one that can’t be truly answered without first answering two questions about the American people’s ability to deal with the consequences of such a war.
The Korean War — which may in the near future become known as Korean War I — was part of the larger Cold War that pitted the free world lead by the United States of America against the communist world lead by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The conflict divided the world, a division that was most apparent in Germany, Korea, and Vietnam, the three countries that were split by that division.
At the time of the Korean War and for decades afterwards the outcome of this struggle was in doubt and, with the defeat and conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam in 1975, it seemed like communism might prevail. In 1989, however, the Cold War ended with the triumph of freedom when the Berlin Wall, the ultimate symbol of communist tyranny, was torn down by the German people. In the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany was reunited as part of the free world, eastern Europe was liberated from communism and the Soviet Union, the world’s most powerful communist state, collapsed.
The divisions created by the Cold War had ceased to exist, except on the Korean Peninsula which remains divided to this day between communist North Korea and the free Republic of Korea aka South Korea. That division illustrates the success of the free world embodied by South Korea and the failure of communism embodied by North Korea.
South Korea is an enormously successful capitalist society that has become an economic powerhouse on the world scene and whose people enjoy great prosperity and all the personal, economic, and political freedoms enjoyed by all citizens of the free world.
North Korea is an impoverished totalitarian dictatorship whose people have no freedom whatsoever under a communist government that has not hesitated in the past to the use the most terrible means at its disposal including mass starvation of its oppressed and terrorized citizens to maintain its hold on power.
The only advantage North Korea possesses over South Korea is its nuclear arsenal, an advantage the communist regime will not willingly surrender, but is instead seeking to enhance and increase. North Korea’s pursuit of an ever more powerful nuclear arsenal is opposed not only by South Korea, but the rest of the world, especially the United States. This has raised the possibility of a Korean War II which would pit the United States, South Korea, and their allies against North Korea, a war that could begin in the near future.
The possibility of a Korean War II was discussed by US House of Representatives District 5 Rep. Ralph Norman during an an address to the Rotary Club of Union at Covenant Baptist Church this past Tuesday.
Norman told the Rotarians that he’d recently been to Shaw Air Force Base where he’d had the opportunity to speak with an Air Force officer about the possibility of a war between North Korea and the United States and its allies. He said that the officer told him that when it comes to having the material and the technological wherewithal to fight and win such a war he was not worried. Norman said the officer told him that the North Koreans have “1952 technology” which could not hold up against what America and its allies could deploy against them. He said the officer said that because of this he was not worried about who would win the war, at least when it comes to technological and material resources.
While America and its allies possess an overwhelming technological and material advantage over the North Koreans and there is no reason to worry on that front, Norman said the officer was worried about whether the American people had what it took to endure the human cost of the war which he said would be severe.
The City of Seoul is the capital of South Korea and it is just 35 miles from the country’s border with North Korea. In 1950, it was overran and captured by the North Koreans within days of the start of the war. While it was liberated by American forces just months later, it would change hands a total of four times during the war.
Even if the North Koreans could not actually capture the city as they did in 1950, Seoul’s close proximity to the border means it would undergo sustained and devastating attack, at least in the early stages of the war. Furthermore, with the prosperity South Korea has enjoyed in recent decades, the area has become more populated than it was in 1950, increasingly the likelihood of even greater devastation and more civilian casualties than the area experienced during the Korean War.
Norman said this was one of the things the officer said he was worried about because “there are 3.2 million people around Seoul.” He said the officer told him that given the larger number of people in the area and the concentrated North Korean firepower that it would be experience, there would be large a number of casualties. Norman said the officer told him he was worried whether the American people “have the stomach” for all the “human carnage” that would inevitably result from the war. He said this carnage would not only include the attacks by the North Koreans on South Korea, but also the counterattacks by America and its allies on North Korea.
Then there’s the issue of American casualties.
Norman said the officer told him that even with the overwhelming advantages America enjoys over North Korea, particularly in terms of air power, America would still “lose pilots” to the North Korean defenses. He said the officer told him he was worried about whether or not the American people would be able to deal with the loss of American life that will inevitably occur in such a war.
Three questions about a possible Korean War II, the first of which is easy to answer on its own, but not so easy to answer in the context of the other two, answers which could very well decide the answer to the first.
At the heart of those second and third questions is the question of whether or not a free and humane society (America) facing a brutal totalitarian dictatorship that engages in mass murder without hesitation (North Korea) will be able to endure the death and suffering required to win such a war.
It remains an open question, but maybe not for much longer.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.