Trump’s blus­ter over North Korea

The Chatham Daily News - - OPINION -

When I was in high school we stud­ied the Korean War, which was just tak­ing place. It was classed as cur­rent events, not his­tory. We learnt how the two Koreas – North and South – were formed by the Al­lies af­ter the Sec­ond World War. This was sup­posed to cre­ate two na­tions, di­vided by the 38th par­al­lel.

Then, in 1950, forces from the North, be­ing sup­ported by the Soviet Union, in­vaded South Korea. It was a tri­umphant ad­vance and would prob­a­bly have ul­ti­mately suc­ceeded if Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man hadn’t de­cided to act, un­der the guise of the sup­port of the United Na­tions.

The Amer­i­cans quickly pushed the North Korean forces back af­ter car­pet bomb­ing and then threat­ened to unify the en­tire penin­sula un­til a mas­sive force of Chi­nese “vol­un­teers” in­ter­vened and pushed the Amer­i­can and South Korean forces back to the 38th par­al­lel. There­after, the two sides set­tled into a stale­mate that more or less per­sisted un­til an ar­mistice was signed in 1953.

Since then ten­sions have been bub­bling and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has re­acted to North Korea’s rapid de­vel­op­ment of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles with the sort of blus­ter heard from Nikita Khrushchev dur­ing the Cold War. Trump’s threat to “to­tally de­stroy North Kore could ratchet up ten­sions with North Korea while do­ing lit­tle to re­as­sure US al­lies in Asia.

One can’t help be­ing re­minded of Tru­man’s fiery rhetoric when he warned Ja­pan to fur­ther “ex­pect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this Earth” if they did not agree to end the war on U.S. terms. That was on Aug. 6, 1945, less than a day af­ter the first atom bomb on Ja­pan had been dropped.

I’m sure Trump’s warn­ing to North Korea stunned many Amer­i­cans, with Sen. John Mc­Cain com­ment­ing that “the great lead­ers I’ve seen don’t threaten un­less they’re ready to act and I’m not sure Pres­i­dent Trump is ready to act.”

I know we live in a topsy-tur­vey world, to quote Vic­to­rian writer Wil­liam Brighty Rands, but one can’t help re­mem­ber the com­ments of Se­na­tor Mc­Cain’s com­ments. Stephen Beecroft Chatham

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