Will North Korea Be Donald Trump’s Vietnam Or His Cuban Missile Crisis?

The conflict between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shows no sign of coming to an end. In recent weeks, President Trump has repeatedly taken aim at North Korea for testing both nuclear weapons and the missile systems capable of delivering them in defiance of United Nations resolutions and in the face of opposition from the international community. The impasse between Trump and North Korea leaves many people fearing that we may be on the brink of World War 3.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Donald Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to indicate that the time for talking to North Korea is over. Trump also used a speech at the United Nations to threaten to “totally destroy” the hermit state. The problem is that North Korea shows no sign of acceding to international demands. Trump even undermined his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, with a series of tweets claiming that he was “wasting his time” in trying to negotiate a peaceful solution to the North Korean conflict.

Last week Trump called U.S. military leaders to the White House to tell them that they must overcome bureaucracy and provide him with military options. As reported by the Telegraph, plans are in place for President Trump to visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea as early as next month. Doubtless, North Korea will be high on the agenda during that visit to South Korea, the country most at risk from North Korean aggression.

Over the weekend, Russian officials warned the Trump administration that North Korea has the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the west coast of the continental United States.

Donald Trump North Korea
[Image by David Guttenfelder/AP Images]

Kim Jong-un also praised his country’s nuclear program and claimed that North Korea needed nuclear weapons to protect itself against the “nuclear threat posed by the American imperialists.” Kim Jong-un has also stated that North Korea’s next missile test will explode a nuclear warhead in the Pacific Ocean. As reported by the Independent, that test could take place within the next 10 days, as North Korea celebrates two significant communist anniversaries.

If North Korea carries out that threat, their action would likely prove a step too far for President Trump and for the international community. The ecological impact would be horrendous, and Trump would be likely to conclude that North Korea presents a “clear and present danger” to world peace. In short, that would take us to the brink of World War 3.

If Donald Trump is giving serious consideration to using military options against North Korea, he would do well to take note of the lessons of recent history. As the Daily Beast points out, the horrors of the Vietnam war are writ large in the American psyche.

Donald Trump North Korea
Image by Korean Central News Agency/AP Images]

Estimates of the number of people killed in the Vietnam war vary wildly. Some claims put the number of dead at around 1.45 million. At the higher end, some claim that over 3.5 million died in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. What we do know is that over 53,000 U.S. military personnel lost their lives and over 300,000 were wounded. Despite the horrific number of casualties, the U.S. was forced to withdraw from Vietnam without achieving their objective.

Trump should also be mindful of the fact that more recent U.S. conflicts, in Iraq and Afghanistan, have also been largely unsuccessful, and they have dragged on for well over a decade. According to CNN, North Korea has 1.2 million personnel as members of its regular military. That number is bolstered by 600,000 fully-trained reserves and a paramilitary force, trained in guerrilla tactics, numbering almost 5.9 million.

Imagine, if you can, facing a guerrilla war against a determined enemy that strong. Add to that the very real risk of a conflict with North Korea becoming a nuclear war, and you begin to see why a war against Kim Jong-un’s regime becomes almost unthinkable.

Instead, we must hope that Donald Trump will pay close attention to what history teaches us about the Cuban missile crisis. As reported by the Washington Post, President John F. Kennedy successfully resolved that crisis by engaging a skilled show of brinkmanship. Kennedy made it clear that the threat of nuclear missiles being deployed on America’s doorstep was so intolerable that he was willing to make a pre-emptive nuclear strike to stop it happening.

The key to President Kennedy’s success was that he had publicly indicated that he was willing to go to war, but behind the scenes, diplomats were working furiously to bring the crisis to an end peacefully. After President Trump publicly undermined Secretary of State Tillerson’s efforts to negotiate a solution, we have to wonder whether similar efforts are ongoing with North Korea.

If we are to avoid World War 3, we have to hope that North Korea will become Donald Trump’s Cuban Missile Crisis and not his Vietnam.

[Featured Image by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images]