As 2018 approaches, the economy, politics, sexual harassment and all the other news items fade with the potentially disastrous reality. North Korea claims to have successfully tested a nuclear missile that can reach all of North America.
President Trump and other world leaders will threaten and bluster. However, the potential is real today and the question has no satisfying answer. Can anything restrain the certifiably insane little North Korean dictator from pushing the button?
For those of us who served in the Korean War and history buffs, the memory of why then President Truman fired General MacArthur comes into vivid view today. A year after the North Korean sudden attack on South Korea in 1950, allied forces commanded by MacArthur had swept the invaders back across their border and into what would have been total defeat.
However, just when victory seemed certain, Communist China and the Soviet Union joined in on the side of the bad guys, tossing in weapons and millions of “volunteer” troops. It was an ironic twist of history. This was just five years after the end of World War 2, when the US helped those former friendly allies with massive amounts of equipment, ships and aircraft to defeat Japan and Germany.
Facing the enormous new opposition and possible Korean disaster, MacArthur asked President Truman to authorize the use of nuclear weapons. That was historically logical, because it’s what brought the Japanese to surrender just a few years before.
The proposal infuriated Truman, who had hopes of a negotiated truce, and he promptly relieved MacArthur of his command. The truce was signed in 1953, allowing the Communist regime to recover in North Korea and be a world military, and now nuclear, threat ever since.
Now, can anyone know today what could have happened if Truman had approved of nuclear strikes in Korea in 1951? After all, he was the one who made the fateful decision to drop two on Japan in 1945. Is it just possible that the threat or actual use in the Korean War would have resulted in a united, democratic Korea today? And no raving dictator with his finger on the button that could devastate the USA.