Are we prepared for yet another war? We might just get one – and I’m not just being hyperbolic.
To some, the stand-off between North Korea, the United States and our allies in the Pacific feels like déjà-vu all over again.
It is said there is nothing new in the world – at least regarding world events. It is just history that keeps repeating. And to some experts, the tensions between North Korea and America are eerily similar to that of Japan and the U.S. prior to World War II.
There are definitely some similarities and certainly one major difference.
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Prior to the run-up to World War II, Japan had been an ally and trading partner of the West – particularly of the U.S. and Great Britain. Japan purchased much of its oil, steel and scrap metal from America.
But after Woodrow Wilson (hate that guy) first denied Japan its share of German reparations from the post World War I Treaty of Versailles, there was a falling out.
Japan had become effectively isolated from the World and they felt threatened. Sound familiar? Mao’s China to the East, Stalin’s Soviet Union to the North, and the once Western Allies to the South.
The difference between then and now is that no one is even pondering to conquer North Korea. Why would anyone want to? But maybe it’s not the North they would desire.
In an attempt to protect itself, and build a buffer between it and it perceived enemies, Japan attacked and conquered much of China’s coast, Manchuria, as well as French Indochina, which today is Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It was then, in 1940, that the U.S. imposed an embargo of all oil and metal exports to Japan, and FDR ordered a freeze on all Japanese assets. They were now cut off and desperate. Again – sound familiar?
However, a major difference of pre-World War II Japan and North Korea today is that there were at least some cooler heads in Japan at the time. North Korea has but one lunatic at the helm controlling everything. Pat Buchanan once described Japan at the time as a two party system – A War Party and a Peace Party. North Korea has but one – the former.
This “Peace Party” attempted to negotiate an end to the embargo, but to no avail. For their failure, the Peace Party was summarily tossed and Hideki Tojo’s “War Party” assumed control of Japan.
While all this was occurring, America was tough shape. In 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, our military was in shambles. We knew it, as did everyone else. Our fighting force was barely greater than that of the Netherlands. Thanks to General George Marshall, convincing FDR to stop denigrating our military and start building it up, we were able, in a relatively short period of time, to do just that.
But it was too late for Japan. They were out of options. So they attacked the United States, knowing full well they would be crushed if they were unable to strike a first fatal blow at Pearl Harbor. But when you feel desperate and isolated, you make stupid decisions. Sound familiar?
There is no doubt who would prevail in a war between North Korea and the West. The interesting question is what happens in the aftermath.
One could easily argue that if a peace accord could have been struck between Japan and America, and it was tried, subsequent wars involving the United States may have been avoided.
In the aftermath of World War II, communism spread like wildfire through Asia, taking over North Korea and most of Southeast Asia. The Soviets cemented themselves as the “Evil Empire,” and we were compelled to halt the spread of communism by means of the horrific conflicts in Southeast Asia (Vietnam) and the Korean Peninsula.
So what will occur in the aftermath of this war, should it occur? Would the Chinese decide to just take the entire Korean Peninsula – North and South? While we’re busy with North Korea, would they decide to finally annex Taiwan? And what of Putin and the Ruskies? Might he also take the opportunity to expand?
Who knows? But there are bad actors in that region now as there were then. And history tells us that Communists will always take advantage of any opportunity to expand.
Attribution: Pat Buchanan
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.