Joel C Rosenberg on recent developments in North Korea and Russia…
While a preemptive North Korean nuclear attack on the U.S. and/or America's Pacific allies sounds like a plot ripped from my 2008 novel, Dead Heat, it may no longer be a fictional scenario.
U.S. intelligence agencies are now convinced that "North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power," reports the Washington Post, based on a confidential analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency. "The United States calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong In," notes the Post.
This week, Pyongyang threatened to attack the island of Guam with ballistic missiles that could be armed with nuclear weapons. With 160,000 residents and two U.S. military bases, the Pacific island territory now appears to be in Pyongyang's crosshairs. President Trump immediately warned the leaders of North Korea not to dare even consider attacks against the American people or their allies, saying they would experience American "fire and fury like the world has never seen."
"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely," the President added. "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path."
We need to pray for peace, and for our leaders to have wisdom to know how best to contain the North Korean threat and ratchet down tensions. We need to pray that countries like China will use their considerable leverage to persuade the North Koreans to back down. As a protective measure, the U.S. needs to be urgently bolstering its naval and air assets in the Pacific theater, as well as its missile defense assets, closely coordinating both defensive and offensive capabilities with allies like South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan, among others.
At the same time, we need to reexamine the disastrous nuclear deals both President Clinton and President Obama made with North Korea. Both men promised the American people that their diplomacy would make us all safer by persuading Pyongyang not to pursue nuclear weapons or the long-range ballistic missiles to deliver them. Both could not have been more wrong. Such serious misjudgments have helped get us to this exceedingly dangerous moment.
In October of 1994, President Bill Clinton cut a deal with North Korea in which Pyongyang agreed to "freeze and gradually dismantle its nuclear weapons development program," reported the New York Times.
"This agreement will help achieve a longstanding and vital American objective -- an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula," Mr. Clinton told the American people. "This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world," Mr. Clinton added. "It's a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community."
In return, the Clinton administration gave North Korea $4 billion in energy aid. In addition, the Clinton deal gave North Korea two nuclear power plants, for which American taxpayers helped foot the bill.
“This is a good deal for the United States,” Mr. Clinton said at the time. “North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.” But Mr. Clinton and his senior advisors couldn't have been more wrong.
In February of 2012, President Obama was similarly duped. Mr. Obama agreed to a deal in which Pyongyang promised (again) not to build nuclear weapons and stop testing long-range ballistic missiles. In return, the Obama administration agreed to give North Korea with 240,000 metric tons of food.
Experts warned the Obama team at the time that "it is naïve at best for the administration to herald a North Korean 'commitment to denuclearization' after the many years of North Korean actions definitively proving the contrary."
Less than a month later, Pyongyang tested another long-range rocket in clear violation of the agreement, and a humiliated Mr. Obama had to suspend the food aid program. Clearly, the policy of "strategic patience" (read: "do nothing and hope for the best") run by Mr. Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a colossal failure.
If all this weren't bad enough, it's made worse by the fact that the insane Obama nuclear deal with Iran was essentially patterned -- and sold -- after the Clinton deal with North Korea. As I warned in this Fox News interview and elsewhere (see here and here), the ayatollahs in Tehran are working closely with Pyongyang on nuclear and missile technology. They're also watching how the U.S. and the world powers handle a nation aspiring to become a nuclear armed power. So far, they're learning the West can be played for fools, and a small but aggressive nation can build a nuclear arsenal without much fear of being stopped.
RUSSIA: Though much of the world's attention is understandably riveted right now on North Korea and their chilling nuclear threats against the U.S., tensions with Russia are also spiking and require urgent attention.
Consider just a few key developments that have occurred in recent weeks:
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Moscow is gearing up for massive war games later this Fall that could put upwards of 100,000 Russian troops on the borders of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Each of these countries are NATO members. Each lived for decades under the cruelty of Soviet occupation. Each are increasingly worried Putin may be interested in seizing them and putting them once again under Russian hegemony. It's a concern I share but am concerned not enough leaders in the West do.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>If such provocations weren't enough, Vladimir Putin has just expelled 755 American diplomats from Russia, effective September 1st.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Putin has further "ratcheted up military provocations against NATO forces across Eastern Europe" by sending Russian warplanes to make "provocative flybys of NATO ships and aircraft," by deploying "new military hardware to its Kaliningrad exclave, a territory nestled between the Baltic countries and Poland, which are all NATO members" and by conducting "cyber warfare attacks on the electoral processes of multiple NATO countries, including, but not limited to, the U.S., Germany and France," according to a U.S. defense analyst writing in Newsweek,
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>All this, of course, comes after decisions by Putin to invade and seize Crimea and Eastern Ukraine since 2014.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>To reassure our NATO allies that we will stand with them and honor Article V -- NATO's mutual defense pact stating that an attack against one NATO member is considered an attack against all -- President Trump gave a major (and very good) address in Warsaw, Poland, on July 6th, which I would commend to your attention. Poland is a key NATO partner and one of America's closest allies in Eastern Europe.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>On July 31st, Vice President Pence visited Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, where he addressed NATO forces and met with leaders from all three Baltic States. This was also an excellent speech which I would encourage you to listen to or read. (here is audio and the text of the speech)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Then, Vice President Pence visited Georgia, which was invaded and partially occupied by Russia in 2008, and Montenegro, NATO's newest member, where he rightly denounced Russian "aggression" and "occupation."
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>What's more, Congress has overwhelmingly passed -- and President Trump has just signed -- new economic sanctions on Russia to respond to Moscow's efforts to interfere with American elections in 2016. The Senate vote was 98 to 2 in favor of the sanctions. The House passed the measure 419 to 3.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>At the same time, as I recently wrote about from Berlin, President Trump is wisely continuing to press every NATO member to keep its commitment to invest at least 2% of its annual GDP on defense. Currently, only five countries are keeping that critical pledge -- the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K., and Poland. That said, Romania has just announced it will be the 6th country to hit the 2% mark. What’s more, Latvia and Lithuania have just announced they are dramatically increasing their defense spending and will both hit the 2% target by 2018. Other countries are beginning to step up, as well.
We need to be praying for U.S. and NATO leaders to have the wisdom and courage to bolster their forces in the Baltics and dramatically increase their deterrence against Moscow throughout Eastern Europe. We don't want to see a scenario in which an emboldened Czar Putin feels tempted to invade anyone else.