Those of us condemned to remember history are familiar with the name of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. He was involved in the Iran/Contra affair. In that infamous goat-rope, President Reagan’s merry men secretly sold arms to Iran, which was under an arms embargo at the time. Then they used the profits that they made selling arms to secretly support the “contras” in Nicaragua. How sneaky-cool is that? How unethical and treasonous is that? In any case, Colonel North famously fell on his sword to protect his superiors, and then went on the speaking circuit. I mean, it was the plot for a bad B-grade thriller.
I have always been ambivalent about Colonel North. However, he’s come into view again regarding our favorite Asian cousins, the North Koreans. The bad news is, the location where I live in California is now under nuclear threat from our favorite Asian insane uncle, Supreme Leader Whoa Fat, the famous North Korean Chairman and male hairstyle model. As you might imagine, nuclear missiles wonderfully concentrate the mind regarding thinking about the problem Whoa Fat poses …
Now, I’m serious about North Koreans being our favorite Asian cousins. Those poor bastards deserve every bit of sympathy and compassion that we can spare. Consider. We only have to face Chairman Whoa Fat from far away … they cower under the terror, torture, and death unleashed daily by Whoa Fat.
The problem is that Whoa Fat is a bull-goose loony angry vicious lethal megalomaniac. He had no problem killing his half-brother in an airport by hiring two North Korean women to spread poison on his skin as he awaited his flight … it’s not just that he’s battier than a British church belfry. The problem is that he’s sicker and more twisted than a rattlesnake with rabies.
Anyhow, what this has to do with Colonel Oliver North is that I came across his prescription for how we should respond to Whoa Fat, your friendly neighborhood chain-smoking nuclear-armed psychopath, and it was most interesting. He said:
I am a firm believer that the military option should be on the table. But before we do that, we should exhaust all other opportunities. And I’m not talking about months more of these so-called dialogues where they continue to build weapons while we talk to them.
What we have to do is convince President Xi in Beijing that we are deadly serious about this, because the only leverage we have is really China. So what the president needs to do is:
(1) Press President Moon in South Korea to let us bring in as many THAAD missile systems as we can deliver, and even press Israel to provide the Iron Dome or David’s Sling systems to deal with North Korean artillery.
(2) Return the tactical nukes back to Korea that we withdrew in the 1990s.
(3) Deploy another carrier strike group in addition to the one there, the Reagan, and more long-range strike aircraft and air-to-air tankers to Guam and Okinawa. These are visible activities that will get the attention of if not Xi, at least the Politburo.
(4) They need to deploy search-and-rescue assets. How about asking Xi if we can base some SAR assets in China to recover aircrews. Unlikely he’s gonna agree, but it may wake up the Politburo.
(5) Deploy the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship, from San Diego to Pusan, and the US Naval Ship Comfort from Norfolk to Japan. That shows we’re serious, and we’re getting ready.
(6) Deploy a US Navy/Marine Expeditionary Unit back into the region.
(7) Dust off the target lists, in other words, additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets.
(8) Deliver biological and chemical protection equipment to the Republic of Korea.
(9) Pray that Xi sees the light so we don’t have to use the military option.
Hey, that’s a whole lot more than I’ve been able to come up with. It’s been unsettling to suddenly find myself back in the nuclear threat of my 1950’s childhood …
My one consolation in this is our Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, the man his friends call the “Warrior Monk” and the world calls “Mad Dog”. Here’s a Jim Mattis story. When he left the military, General Mattis bought a car. He drove that car from north to south through many states on his long slow way from New York to California. And what was he doing?
He was visiting the families of the men and women who had died under his command.
Until I heard that story I’d never really understood the anguish of knowing that some of the men and women that you order into battle will die there. And I truly cannot imagine what it meant to the families of those who gave their lives under his command, for him, a General, to come to face them and answer their questions and hear them speak of their sorrow and loss.
Nothing can fill that hole, but we can console each other as we stare into it.
I also cannot imagine the depth of compassion of General Mattis, because it would be so, so hard to go day after day talking to another, and another, and yet another of the mothers and sisters and husbands and wives and fathers and brothers of the irrevocably, unalterably lost …
From that story of an honorable and decent man paying painful homage to mortality, I learned that there is a colossal difference between an armchair general like you or me or the President, and a general who is a true warrior monk. Unlike the armchair generals, the last thing that General Jim Mattis wants is another war. He knows far too well what war costs, in a way that I never can or will.
And I also know that the reason General Jim Mattis was called the Warrior Monk by the men who knew him best was that he had shelves and shelves of books on the arts, crafts, sciences, logistics, and costs of war, the black-and-white and the unavoidable red of war … it was and is his life’s study and his path, and he was and is damn good at it.
So I sleep much better knowing that General Mattis is at the helm. However, there is still an ugly fact we have to deal with.
Our Deeply Respected Leader and Resplendent Winner of the Dim Sum Lookalike Contest, Chairman Whoa Fat, could wake up tomorrow morning and have a bad hair day … well, OK, poor metaphor, but you know what I mean, his piles might flare up and he might press the nuclear button and fire a missile at Tokyo or Tacoma no matter what we do or President Trump does or what General Mattis does.
And since that ugly and frightening fact is undeniably true, the various prescriptions of Colonel North seem like common-sense precautions in an uncertain world.
With best wishes for peace, and that our dear Uncle Whoa Fat might also rest in eternal peace … and soon would be good …