Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appeared on morning television to warn of the dangers of a nuclear armed Kim Jong Un while the government is planning how to evacuate some 200,000 Australians in north Asia should tensions with North Korea escalate into war.
So, what exactly is this `threat` from North Korea?
During the Korean War of 1950-1953 how many bombs did North Korea drop on the United States? How many times has North Korea attacked or invaded Britain, the United States or Australia?
Come to think of it, how is it that Korea which was historically one country suddenly became two? How was it decided at the stroke of a pen that Korea would be divided into a ‘good’ half and a ‘bad’ half?
During the unofficially three-year long Korean war, American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs over Korea – mostly on North Koreans — including 32,557 tons of napalm, compared to 503,000 tons of bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theatre of World War II.
Estimates of population loss range from 10-20% of the North Korean people. Imagine if say, Australia lost 20% of its population – a fifth of 25 million would equate to the whole population of the largest city Sydney. In British terms, it would be like the extermination of the whole of Greater London and more. In American terms, it would be as if everyone in the two most populous states, California and Texas, were vaporised from the face of the earth.
After World War Two, the Korean peninsula became a frontier of the emerging Cold War and was divided along the 38th parallel into north and south. The north was backed by communist Russia and later China, developing into a Stalinesque dictatorship, while the south was propped up by the USA and its allies. The history books offer little explanation as to whether the Korean people had much say about this arbitrary division of their country.
Former US President George W Bush famously spoke in 2002 of the `Axis of Evil` meaning Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
Iran, for example, has not invaded any country for 200 years. Compare that with the innumerable invasions of other countries by the USA, Britain, France and Israel. Like North Korea, Iran put more effort into its nuclear program following the Axis of Evil rhetoric from the White House.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, meanwhile, which now lies in ruins after the `liberal intervention` of 2003. Hypocrisy or what?
North Korea is different from its ‘Axis of Evil’ cohorts in that it has successfully acquired a nuclear weapon capacity – only relatively limited it must be said, but what that means is they cannot be attacked like Iraq and Libya were and you have to sit down and negotiate with them, like Iran. Damn!
For many people, their only source of information about the Korean War is the popular television series M*A*S*H. But was it like the real life Korean War? The impression you get watching this fiction is that the casualties were about the same on both sides or maybe even that the US and its allies suffered more than the local people. In fact, while some 35,000 Americans died in the Korean War the number of Korean people killed was between 3 and 4 million – a hundred times as many. After the war effectively ended in 1953 (it’s technically still going), not a single substantial building was left standing in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
The latest news from the United Nations is that there are to be more sanctions on North Korea. Will there yet be a full-scale attack – “fire and fury” as President Trump promised – if these sanctions don’t do the job?
It can be reasonably argued that the fact Kim Jong Un has the bomb actually makes this unlikely, and that’s precisely why he wanted it.