Originally published: 21 September 2017 on another WordPress site of mine. This post didn’t age well and I can blame Trump for that. The fact that we didn’t go to war with North Korea is one of the biggest successes of the previous administration; only history will reveal the truth but we’re not out of the woods quite yet. So here’s to hoping the current administration doesn’t back down and think of this adversary as the “JV” squad like his previous boss did with ISIS.
It’s highly likely that we’re heading toward a new conflict, one that we’re ill-prepared for and ignorant to the environment. Although not entirely the fault of poor preparation since we’ve been engaged for the past 16 years with Islamic Terrorism via Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iranian Proxies, and now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (but also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام DAESH (داعش ) which we’ll discuss in future blogs), we – nonetheless – must pay the piper in the form of blood, sweat, and tears. You might say we’ve been doing this throughout the longest war of American History, but this new conflict will be orders of magnitude higher; this conflict will kill us faster, crueler, and more indiscriminately than any we’ve faced in history.
Books that I’ve been reading on the subject of North Korea lately:
- This Kind of War: T.R. Fehrenbach
- Nothing to Envy: Barbara Demick
- Act of War: Jack Cheevers
- CNN Article – Secret State: Will Ripley & Marc Lourdes
There are several others out there and I’m still working on getting some good recommendations, but in exigency of getting you focused on the topic, I’ll focus on these.
The first book, This Kind of War, is the beginning and end of our research (i.e., no matter what other tangential topics of North Korea (nK) we look at, we must return to this work). Originally published in 1963 with the subtitle, “A Study In Unpreparedness,” it was republished in 1998 with a more palpable subtitle “The Classic Korean War History,” but make no mistake, this book is a case study in unpreparedness.
The author eviscerates the modern (1950s) military that emerged victorious from World War II but “…returned to the bosom of permissive society…” valuing guaranteed careers and social-normative retraining rather than the disciplined hard training and intelligence collection needed for military operations. No parallels to our current state of the military at all. The book continues with tactical battles to strategic diplomacy, identifying key failures along our way, but successes as well. There isn’t a single more comprehensive account of the Korean War… READ IT!
In, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, we’re exposed to the lives of six nK defectors prior to their arrival in South Korea. It has an astonishing and creepy resemblance to George Orwell’s, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Throughout the book I kept thinking how much it was like the dystopia that Winston Smith faced in Oceania. One of the defectors who finally makes it to South Korea and discovers the non-censored internet finds a copy of that book and makes the same correlation. It’s integral to future operations that we know and understand the people and the paradigm they’ve lived under.
The third book, Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo, was an accidental find. My parents actually met one of the crew members, Dale Rigby, of the USS Pueblo in St. George, Utah at the Tuachan Market.
My dad gave him one of my designed coins from my 2010-2011 Iraq deployment and he called to thank me. I knew nothing of the intelligence collection ship incident and felt obliged to learn a bit since this man had called to thank me for such a small token of friendship and recognition of his service. What this book is – in relation to our study efforts – is an anecdotal interaction of US Service Members and nK aggression, our only real documented military engagement since the armistice in 1953. Mr. Rigby and the other members of the crew spent nearly a year as Prisoners of War (POWs) in nK.
Finally, our CNN article – Secret State: A journey into the heart of North Korea, is our most current look beyond the border and the current situation. In addition to the article, there are incredible pictures, but in reality we only see what the regime wants us to see and therefore we’re still at a deficit in our attempt to educate ourselves on what we’re getting into; “Nothing to Envy” has the most candid (albeit unverifiable) glimpse that we need, but this one is still worth the time.
Short of full scale war with the Russian Federation or China, there is no more ominous task we’ll face in our lifetime than nK. The population is emaciated, but fully indoctrinated to believe it’s the fault of capitalism and western society. The people know nothing of the truth, and just like in 1984, those old enough to remember the truth of whom invaded who, their memories are an inculcation of what the regime tells them it is, as if coming from Smith’s Ministry of Truth via historical revisionism. So prepare yourself through study at home and we’ll tactically prepare in the field.