22 June 2017

Note from Norm: Otto Warmbier must be a wake up call on North Korea

“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime.”

S. Senator John McCain, 6/19/17

The murder of an American by the government of North Korea should put to rest any sense that the world is dealing with a regime capable of existing in the international community.

Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather before him, is a modern-day pariah that threatens not only his own people, but his neighbors and others, including the people of the United States of America

No longer is he a caricature of the leader of a nation.  He is an isolated figure who has, by leaps and bounds, grown his nation’s capacity to inflict death and destruction on his neighbors and whose public statements have made it clear his desire to harm America.

As Senator John McCain made clear, Otto Warmbier experienced just a taste of what the North Korean people have had to face for 70 years under the Kim regimes:

“In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture, and murder.”

McCain went onto say in his statement upon learning of the death of Warmbier:

“North Korea is threatening its neighbors, destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region, and rapidly developing the technology to strike the American homeland with nuclear weapons…Now it has escalated to brutalizing Americans, including three other citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea.”

The death of Otto Warmbier is a tragedy for his family.  The loss of their young son due to such troubling circumstances is devastating.  As a parent, I grieve for their loss.

No parent ever imagines their child leaving home on a trip to be arrested and imprisoned and tortured by another nation’s government.

Or murdered by it because he took a poster from a wall.

This must be a wake-up call for American policymakers and those in the region, including China, that things need to change in North Korea.

North Korea is nation of 25 million human beings held hostage by a madman.

A madman who has access to nuclear weapons and the desire to use them.

He resides over a regime that, according to USA Today, compels its citizens to wear one of 28 approved haircuts.

A dictator whose has imprisoned up to 200,000 North Koreans who live in prison camps with electric fence.  And, according to Amnesty International, as many as 40% of camp prisoners die from malnutrition while doing mining, logging and agricultural work with rudimentary tools.

In direct violation of international law, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, in violation of international law.

Its long-range Taepodong-2 missile is being developed to reach U.S. territory.

The end of the Korean War in 1953 did not make the region a safer place for its inhabitants, or for the world surrounding North and South Korea.

Today, the border between the two nations is the most militarized in the world with North Korea deploying 1.2 million troops while South Korea has more than 680,000 troops.

The United States has nearly 28,000 U.S. soldiers deployed in the region, as well.

In three years, before the end of the war, nearly 40,000 Americans lost their lives, including over 100,000 injured.

In the history of America, the Korean War has registered little in the way of retrospection.

Yet, this war, and the 64 years since its end, looms large in the lives of all Americans, and billions of people who live near North Korea.

What can and must be done about North Korea?

All options, including military, must be on the table.

A first-strike, while tempting to rid the world of the “crazy fat kid” that John McCain called the 33-year-old Kim Jong-un, the implications of such are nearly too severe to contemplate.

Not only would millions suffer under the onslaught but there would likely be a massive loss of life of American soldiers in the process.

It is imperative to continue to push China to play a leading role in pressuring the Kim regime to cease and desist in its flagrant violations of international law.

China holds significant power in ending the financial means that the Kim regime has to bolster its oppression of its people, and to continue to invest in its military buildup.

The United States, for its part, must continue to invest it defensive measures in and around the border between North and South Korea, but also on our own homeland.

If, for any reason, North Korea were in a position to launch a nuclear weapon towards the United States, or American interests and territories, we need to have the capacity to bring it down before it can destroy lives.

Above all else the United States must be more aggressive in calling upon the world to be a part of the solution.

The current arc of North Korea’s future does not bode well for any nation of the world.

For the United States, the options of military action against North Korea are limited but that does not mean we do not have options.

The “red line” of when to use those options may well be if North Korea not only successfully builds a rocket capable of launching a nuclear warhead against America but it chooses to point that missile at America.

A regime that has made it clear it intends to wipe us off the face of the Earth is a regime America cannot trust to keep its finger off the nuclear trigger.

Otto Warmbier’s death should be a wake-up call for America.

We can either use all the diplomatic tools we have in the toolbox now to dethrone Kim Jong-un before he succeeds in creating the means to our end.

Or, we will be using all of the military tools later as a means to ensure the end of the Kim Jong-un regime and tragically, the end of the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents, including American soldiers.