North Korea’s goal to have nuclear weapons capable of reaching the U.S. has me really wondering if, given our recent history of structuring our military efforts to avoid civilian deaths and doling out dollars to families of civilians we kill in war… if we would actually retaliate in kind should our country be attacked with a nuclear missile. Or would we invade, establish a new government, and then go home when the new government and our own citizens got tired of us being there so the cycle could begin all over again?
If I’m wondering, our enemies certainly have to be wondering.
Here’s what I know:
The Korean War proved we could be battled to a stalemate.
Vietnam proved we could be beaten.
Kuwait proved we will come to an ally’s defense.
Afghanistan and Iraq haven’t proven anything other than to once again affirm that warfare designed to win “the hearts and minds” of our enemy doesn’t work.
I grew up believing an enemy would be obliterated if they were ever stupid enough to attack us. Now, I’m not so sure, and I don’t like that feeling. I’m concerned the term “paper tiger” has more relevance today than ever before.
If North Korea fired a nuclear missile into South Korea, what would we do? I doubt we would respond with our own nukes. Would we pull out and go home, offering up South Korea as a sacrifice to avoid further U.S. blood being shed on foreign soil? Or invade, knowing we didn’t beat North Korea in war the first time.
What if Juneau, Alaska, was wiped out in a nuclear attack? For those who don’t know, Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Would Juneau be worth nuclear retaliation?
What about Seattle? Portland? Or would it take Los Angeles or San Francisco to rattle our plutonium sabers? Or, as I said before, would we choose to invade, change governments, give them billions and billions of dollars, and hope they didn’t attack us again until someone did attack us again?
That’s just it. I don’t know anymore.
To date, the nuclear poker game has been played by semi-rational governments not willing to risk total destruction. Now, there are new players preparing to sit down and call our hand. Do we lay our cards on the table, or do we fold and walk away, leaving a trail of concessions in our wake?
It would appear we may soon find out.