ICAS Special Contribution


The World’s Cop Goes On Coffee Break

Peter R. Huessy

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.
965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Email: icas@icasinc.org

Biographic sketch & links: Peter R. Huessy

[Editor's note: We gratefully acknowledge the special contribution of this paper with written permission to ICAS of Peter R. Huessy. sjk]

The World’s Cop Goes On Coffee Break

Peter R. Huessy
ICAS Fellow
June 17, 2013

Many America’s leaders have decided it’s better for the country to retreat from the world, "hope for the best" and let "them over there" decide their own fate.

America wants to build bridges here at home, and not in Pakistan, Iraq or Afghanistan, we are told.

And to the extent we are involved in the world it should be reluctantly and with a very light footprint, these "experts” say.

This appears to be the growing consensus of national security and foreign policy experts as the United States wrestles with the war in Afghanistan, the civil war in Syria, terrorist attacks seeming everywhere, a declining defense budget, and a cumulative weariness from being continuously at war since the attacks of 9/11.

We are approaching the 63rd anniversary of the North Korean invasion of the Republic of Korea.

Unquestioned appears to be whether a "reluctant" security stance protects American security and keeps us safe; assures our well-being and economic prosperity; and supports our values.

Is it really true that there is little value in US engagement in the world and our enforcement of the rule of international law?

No doubt many analysts would be quick to complain that the US liberation of Iraq was against the rule of law, what is often described as a "war of choice” rather than necessity. One former top newscaster complained that Abu Ghraib, the presence of Gitmo and "water boarding” had so stained America’s reputation that we needed to withdraw from the world as a kind of "penance”.

What does history say?

After World War II we literally disarmed, reducing our military far beyond what was warranted. Most "smart people" certainly did not anticipate the advent of the Cold War. So defense was not a priority.

For example, many Congressional Republicans opposed the 1950 Truman defense budget of $11 billion [compared to $94 billion at the peak of World War II]. They proposed to cut it to $7 billion, a 44% cut. A proposal to send assistance to the Republic of Korea was also turned down by Congress.

The administration also did not help matters. It said that North Korea would not invade the ROK because it did not have such a capability without massive assistance from Soviet forces. It further cited a 1950 intelligence report that said North Korea could get such a capability but not before 1955.

On June 25th, Pyongyang and its Soviet masters ordered the invasion of the South. After three years, millions lay dead, 35,000 American soldiers included, as a totally unprepared United States stepped into the breach and saved what are now 49 million free Koreans in the Republic of that name. [In 1969-70, I studied as a 19 year old American student at Yonsei University in Seoul, living with a Korean family, the father, would be murdered in a terrorist attack in Burma in 1983, as a top government national security official on a state visit.]

What did the Russians learn from this? Do not do cross border invasions, even against a relatively weak ally of the United States. Do guerilla war, and use fraudulent "national liberation front's" to mask your aggression and stealth invasion.

Following the defeat of the North Koreans, weapons from the Soviet and Chinese communist coalitions empire went next to Vietnam, which used guerilla tactics to defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954, just a little more than 9 months after the July 27th, 1953 armistice ended the war on the Korean peninsula.

After the Korean war, the United States adopted a policy of nuclear massive retaliation as its prime means of deterrence and defense. And consequently, after the Korean war, our military spending fell from $43 billion to $36 billion to reflect the end of the war, but gradually increased but slowly to roughly $41 billion by 1960, a ten percent increase from after the Korean war.

We were unprepared again as an aggressive Soviet Union helped fund guerillas in South Vietnam through their Hanoi masters and guerillas in such places as El Salvador, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere.

After Vietnam, a victory we threw away in 1974 as we defunded our Vietnamese allies, some dozen and one half nations including Indo-China over the next seven years either fell into the Communist orbit or to other totalitarian rulers (e.g., Iran).

The highest ranking defector from North Korea told an American general officer in a rare 2001 interview that the objective of Pyongyang was to drive US military forces from the peninsula and then use its nuclear weapons capability to hold at risk American cities to prevent the US from returning to aid Seoul.

Sequestration, recognized as foolish by many, is creating calls on the left and right to remove US military forces from overseas, including the Republic of Korea. The Chinese recently called for the US to remove some of its troops from the region to stop provoking Pyongyang.

History says actions have consequences and major actions can have grave consequences.

As the US contemplates how long a coffee break to take, our fellow police officers around the international neighborhood may take this cue the wrong way--they may accommodate the bad guys and "hope for the best". We have seen this movie before and it does not end well.

This page last updated June 19, 2013 jdb