Is the American Empire Worth the Price?

By Pat Buchanan

Kim Jong Un
War on the peninsula would be a catastrophe, and a growing arsenal of North Korean ICBMs targeted on America is intolerable, the question must arise : Why not move U.S. forces off the peninsula?
Pat Buchanan
Patrick J .Buchanan

USA –  -( “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight,” Samuel Johnson observed, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

And the prospect of a future where Kim Jong Un can put a nuclear weapon on a U.S. city is going to cause this nation to reassess the risks and rewards of the American Imperium.

First, some history.

“Why should Americans be first to die in any second Korean war?” this writer asked in 1999 in “A Republic, Not an Empire.”

“With twice the population of the North and twenty times its economic power, South Korea … is capable of manning its own defense. American troops on the DMZ should be replaced by South Koreans.”

This was denounced as neo-isolationism. And, in 2002, George W. Bush declared the U.S. “will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.”

Bluster and bluff. In 2006, Pyongyang called and raised and tested an atom bomb. Now Kim Jong Un is close to an ICBM.

Our options?

As Kim believes the ability to hit America with a nuclear weapon is the only certain way he has of deterring us from killing his regime and him, he will not be talked out of his ICBM. Nor, short of an embargo-blockade by China, will sanctions keep him from his goal, to which he inches closer with each missile test.

As for the “military option,” U.S. strikes on Kim's missile sites could cause him to unleash his artillery on Seoul, 35 miles south. In the first week of a second Korean war, scores of thousands could be dead.

If North Korea's artillery opened up, says Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the U.S. would be forced to use tactical atomic weapons to stop the carnage. Kim could then give the suicidal order to launch his nukes.

A third option is to accept and live with a North Korean ICBM, as we have lived for decades with the vast nuclear arsenals of Russia and China.

Now, assume the best: We get through this crisis without a war, and Kim agrees to stop testing ICBMs and nuclear warheads.

Does anyone believe that, given his youth, his determination to drive us off the peninsula, and his belief that only an ICBM can deter us, this deal will last and he will abandon his nuclear program?

Given concessions, Kim might suspend missile and nuclear tests. But again, we deceive ourselves if we believe he will give up the idea of acquiring the one weapon that might ensure regime survival.

Hence, assuming this crisis is resolved, what does the future of U.S.-North Korean relations look like?

To answer that question, consider the past.

In 1968, North Korea hijacked the USS Pueblo on the high seas and interned its crew. LBJ did nothing. In April 1969, North Korea shot down an EC-121, 100 miles of its coast, killing the crew. Nixon did nothing.

Under Jimmy Carter, North Koreans axe-murdered U.S. soldiers at Panmunjom. We defiantly cut down a nearby tree.

Among the atrocities the North has perpetrated are plots to assassinate President Park Chung-hee in the 1960s and '70s, the Rangoon bombing that wiped out much of the cabinet of Chun Doo-hwan in 1983, and the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858, killing all on board in 1987.

Kim Jong-Un North Korea
Kim Jong-Un North Korea

And Kim Jong Un has murdered his uncle and brother.

If the past is prologue, and it has proven to be, the future holds this. A renewal of ICBM tests until a missile is perfected. Occasional atrocities creating crises between the U.S. and North Korea. America being repeatedly dragged to the brink of a war we do not want to fight.

As Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Sunday, such a war would be “catastrophic. … A conflict in North Korea … would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetimes.”

When the lesson sinks in that a war on the peninsula would be a catastrophe, and a growing arsenal of North Korean ICBMs targeted on America is intolerable, the question must arise:

Why not move U.S. forces off the peninsula, let South Korean troops replace them, sell Seoul all the modern weapons it needs, and let Seoul build its own nuclear arsenal to deter the North?

Remove any incentive for Kim to attack us, except to invite his own suicide. And tell China: Halt Kim's ICBM program, or we will help South Korea and Japan become nuclear powers like Britain and France.

Given the rising risk of our war guarantees, from the eastern Baltic to the Korean DMZ — and the paltry rewards of the American Imperium — we are being bled from Libya to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen — a true America First foreign policy is going to become increasingly attractive.

Kim's credible threat to one day be able to nuke a U.S. city is going to concentrate American minds wonderfully.


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.

  • 52 thoughts on “Is the American Empire Worth the Price?

    1. I just want to know where Kim Jong Un gets his hair cut, that way I won’t make the same mistake. Not only is he a chunky butt, but he has a perennial bad hair day.

      1. @VE Vet, I’d send the fat little ba$tard a case of Slim Jim snacks and a case of Kools (as a token of our esteem), if I thought that it would help. Smoke up Kimmy!

        1. @oldvet, that reminds me of “haircut day” in BCT. They said you could have a #1, #2, #3; and it was all the same haircut. The barber asked me if I wanted to keep my sideburns. (This is the oldest gag in the U.S. Army!) I said yes, so he cut one off and handed it to me! That barber knew a dumb farm kid when he saw him.

          1. @WB …I remember well. And while we were standing in formation waiting, a female D I marched a flight of young W A C’s in and you should have heard the grief she gave that flight. IT partially concerned what was all around them and what they weren’t going to get. Wager Colonial Girl could tell some stories.

            1. For ammoland D I = Drill Instructor, W A C= Womens Army Core. That should have been W A F’s = Womens Air Force.

          2. @WB…Well they are moderating my comment again, we shall see if it ever gets approved. I would like to know what words or series there of triggers moderation.

          3. @WB well that comment seems to have disappeared. It was nothing earth shaking , it involved a female D I a flight of W A F’s at Lackland in a place called the Green Elephant. We went in as so called Rainbows (our civies were all colors) and came out carrying our complete issue but no hair. That photo made me look like a convict.

            1. well Oldvet, XX has been THINKING about military service for a while now you know..

              But he’s working without tools.

    2. American Imperium?

      Pat, you’re way off base with this postulate as the basis of your argument. The United States of America has never has any desire, nor need, for an Empire. Pat, you’re just thinking like your fellow-travelers in the British Foreign Office. And, you both are just plain wrong.

    3. Rather than encouraging South Korea and Japan to “go nuclear,” we should advise the Chinese that we and our allies have no alternative but to deploy American tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea and Japan (with the consent of those countries, of course). We removed those weapons from South Korea ostensibly to keep the Korean peninsula nuclear weapons-free, and to deter North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. See how well that concession worked. Now that North Korea has violated their side of the agreement,and Korea is no longer free of those deadly weapons, AND the U.S. is being threatened, it’s become necessary to counter the threat. We don’t even need to actually place the tactical nukes in South Korea or Japan, since we have ship-borne nuclear weapons that could be deployed in the vicinity.

      China should be given an ultimatum: either rein in North Korea and remove its nuclear capability, or live with the very real presence of short range American nuclear weapons in East Asia. With the return to a non-nuclear Korean peninsula, we will remove our nuclear weapons and agree to defer any attempt to remove the Kim regime. Note the use of the word “defer.” We should avoid an absolute promise, since it’s likely that given the remote possibility Kim Jong Un agrees to removal of his nuclear capability, he may develop other WMD like biological or chemical to threaten South Korea and its allies.

    4. You can “thank” Carter, Bush, and Clinton for letting the NK develop their nuclear capability. The fat pig running that country is a spoiled idiot who hates everyone that doesn’t kiss his rear end.

    5. Mr. Buchanan you are missing one important fact that undermines your recommendation – the South Korean government is almost as unstable as the North. While economically they are in better shape than 1950, sociologically and politically thay are just as unstable now as they were then.

          1. Hey Buddy! While you are so busy dishing out the “BS” safety badges, would you care to explain to all the kind folks about your own pile and why you have been hiding from your comment here?

    6. During the original Korean War, the Norks, as clients of the Soviet Union, was a blatant challenge to the US Eastern Asia policy by Joseph Stalin, who used Koreans as his spear-catchers. The South Koreans were economically unprepared for this invasion and, to counter Stalin, the United States had to back them, or lose all of East Asia. Nowadays, South Korea is MUCH more powerful than it was in 1950, so the need to back her with boots on the ground is not nearly so severe. Also, let’s not kid ourselves: Both Japan and South Korea are but one or two screwdriver turns from becoming nuclear powers in the their own right. The legend that they’re not nuclear powers is a fig leaf made for the benefit of the naïve. In other words, Pat Buchanan would have been wrong in 1950, but in 2017, he’s freaking Nostradamus.

    7. The world can and should deal with this little man now or we will be forced to later. If the money were right I feel sure there is a qualified man with the right rifle willing to end this mutts plans. Show the bounty money and Josh Randall will come.

      1. @ tony
        spot on, I said the same thing in an earlier post .
        Canada claims to have the best long distance shooter ,
        in the world ! Let them put their money where their mouth is .
        I like the bounty idea, Makes it like ( I Spy ) It lets the ,
        USA. Claim no accountability for someone’s actions .
        Put it up on the merc.websites there will be an overload

    8. I’m not sure I understand the point Buchanan is making; is he saying Johnson, Nixon and Carter were right, and that our response to North Korea’s threat should be to chop down a tree?

      1. No, he’s saying bring our troops home and give him one less reason to claim he’s being threatened. But this idiot in North Korea wants a fight he’s just trying to prod someone else into starting it.

      2. Agree – he seems to be advocating the same beta-male attitude of Carter that failed so miserably. Sometimes you jave to stand up and fight off threats – ignoring them will not make them go away.

      3. My dear fellow after having read the straightforward article by Buchanan, and reading your response, I have only one thing to say:

        Put the pipe down and step away from the bong!

    9. So our parents and grandparents were wrong? They went to Europe to fight two wars. Should we have just said, buck up Europe and handle it yourself? I am disappointed on how the mind deteriorates and then others tell them they are still current. It’s time to retire and enjoy what you so rightly earned.

      1. Snarky little fellow aren’t you?

        How about you pull your head out and actually address the points in Buchanan’s article?

        You haven’t refuted a single point that Buchanan made, how about you go down that road first, before going to the snark?

        His scenario for withdrawal, replacing the honors of protecting South Korea on the south Koreans themselves, make all the sense in the world!

        They are a rich country, and they have the responsibility of protecting their own people, we don’t!

        We and our allies at the UN save their butts during the first Korean War, they have been on their feet financially, economically, and militarily, for decades!

        You are proposing that we continue in this Progressive Neo-manifest destiny Paradigm of protection, in some hopeless Progressive concept of protecting our ‘little yellow brothers’ from their ‘little yellow foes’, who are also their brothers! Buchanan offers a quality solution.

        Quite frankly, the Japanese Constitution needs to be Rewritten, allowing for nuclear devices on Japanese soil and the same thing for South Korea!

        They are both financially and militarily capable of Defending themselves, it’s time they did that without Uncle Sam’s blood and treasure being spilled for it!

      2. @Al, Are you saying that we should get out of your way so that you can make the decisions? I’d have to read your resume and areas of concentrated expertise, first.

      3. AI,
        We Americans have spent too much blood and too much treasure on behalf of a mass amount of people, who are a bunch of ungrateful pricks!

        No more American blood to be shed, no more American treasure to be spent, no more nation-building, and certainly not on the behalf of a bunch of people who hate our guts!

        Pull every last American out of South Korea, reinforce our Japanese bases, and call it good!

        Then we need to withdraw from the treaty between South Korea and ourselves, disallowing development of nuclear weapons by South Korea.

        We need to tell the North Koreans but went thing: Target us or our allies and we will turn the northern half of the Korean Peninsula into a burning hole.

        Then, let the North and South Koreans choose for themselves.

          1. You may have gotten some emotional gratification from partially venting your spleen, but you didn’t refute a single point I made, which is standard fare for people who really do not have a clue concerning clausivitzian, or bismarckian geopolitics!

            Nor do you have a clue concerning Machavelliand uses of power: all you can do is whine and avoid the issues at hand!

            You’re also incorrect on the issue of my understanding of History: I’m a professionally trained historian, with concentrations in modern African and modern Russian/Soviet history!

            The Graduate portion of my academic career was a concentration in modern German military history!

            But hey, you go right ahead, continue avoiding the issues, and getting your jollies by living in your fantasy world!

            Oh yes, the Republic is dead in case no one told you! The proof of it is found in the Judiciary across our nation: half or more of the decisions coming out of Courts for the last two decades have been politically motivated, rather than constitutionally based.

            The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals proves just how dead our Republic is, when they’re overturn rate is 75% – 80% on various given constitutional issues.

            Culturally, societally, politically, we are currently late 1860’s and ready for the first true American Civil War.

            The gross stupidity of the responses concerning Charlottesville proves my point Beyond any doubt: no one is willing to speak truly about the issues there to pertaining, and by anyone I mean anyone on the left.

            Right around the bend comes hard times. Given your lack of understanding, I truly doubt you will survive them. You won’t be alone, it will be tens of millions who will join you.

    10. Patrick, in all due respects, you are usually level-headed. However, this time, you have entirely missed the current deterrence that the United States Military has over North Korea. If the United States Military “Pulls out”, there will not be enough time for South Korea, Japan, and even Taiwan to build up a nuclear deterrence before North Korea threatens to invade, or actually invades these sovereign countries. Furthermore, North Korea will never be satisfied until they can “nuke” the United States. All American patriots simply can not allow this to happen. Therefore, the only option to end North Korea’s suicidal madness is to have an unannounced overwhelming preemptive strike on North Korea from the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

        1. @LB, We tried that idea. Nixon called it Vietnamization. It did not work out. I don’t believe that it would work out if we tried it for the ROK, either.

      1. @KA, I can’t help but agree with most of it. NoKo is a proxy state for China. NoKo would not be doing any of this if China were not telling NoKo to. China wants the S. China Sea and control of the sea lanes. China will try to get it during an Asian land war on the Korean peninsula. Our allies are Rok, providing millions of infantry; Japan providing Navy assets; Tiawan providing air force assets. NoKo will have China providing Army, Navy, missile and Airforce assets and threaten our Pacific and Pacific coast; Iran will keep us busy and draw off out forces in the middle east and threaten the east coast with nukes; Russia will provide weapons.

    Leave a Comment 52 Comments