Think Bold, Think Big to Respond to Temporary Loss of South Korea

April 22, 2020 Updated: April 28, 2020

Commentary

As we evolve in the non-shooting (as of yet) world showdown with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), one of the most disturbing fronts of the conflict has been the silent takedown of South Korea.

South Korea has traditionally been one of our strongest allies throughout the years. The inter-mingling of our military and societies is deep and well known. Marriages and children are many from this wonderful blended heritage, and have delivered such noteworthy personalities as Joanna Gaines, who is half Korean and all American.

The devotion of my KATUSAs (Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army soldiers) when they stood down my questionable landlord while we lived off post in a small Korean village won my eternal admiration and devotion. They didn’t have to do what they did, but they did the right thing without me even asking or knowing.

My father-in-law was a Browning automatic rifle (BAR) gunner and Purple Heart recipient from the early stages of the Korean War. I’ve awakened and comforted him several times from night terrors as he still seeks in his sleep to provide aid to his fatally wounded platoon leader or direct automatic fire and grenades into the ragged communist North Korean and Chinese infantry being pushed to their deaths by their communist overseers (his situation made a bit more challenging by him being the only Asian-American member of his all-white infantry platoon).

So how, after this wonderful blended history, how did we get to this current situation in which South Korea has fallen (temporarily) to the CCP?

Trusted Experts Saw This Coming

I’ve discussed this situation with Dr. Tara O, a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, and the circumstances are truly disturbing and disappointing. All the signs and indicators were there, and we did nothing.

The naivety of many of our embedded military and intelligence personnel, a number of whom are married to South Koreans and live and work daily in South Korea with their counterparts, is noteworthy. They were somehow oblivious to this in their daily work and interactions. They should have been the tripwire to alert us. It’s a disconcerting tale.

Dr. O sums it up: “The impeachment of Park Geun-hye (Dec 2016) and the inauguration of Moon Jae-in (May 2017) as the president in South Korea was a watershed event, because the South Korean political and economic system drastically changed and headed toward socialism.

“The Moon administration is aligned with the CCP and has started to weaken the pillars of liberal democracy, such as freedom of the press, by jailing journalists, and the rule of law, by jailing political opponents without evidence. The ruling party is focused on literally deleting the term ‘freedom’ from the South Korean constitution.”

What I found even more frightening was Dr. O’s description of the purges and arrests of the senior leadership of the South Korean military and intelligence services. My immediate reaction: Where were, and where are, their American counterparts?

Apparently, they’re all focused on shopping at Yongsan and the new Camp Humphreys Post Exchange. We lost a strategic partner because the new Coke Freestyle machine in the PX food court distracted our national security professionals from the arrests, disappearances, and unexplained swap-outs of all of their South Korean counterparts by the CCP. But then again, diet cherry caffeine-free vanilla Coke is hard to come by.

So What Do We Do?

It’s intuitive—conduct a modern, strategic “Inchon Landing” through Taiwan.

While we figure out a strategy to inform, educate, and support a democratic movement to replace the Moon/CCP takeover in South Korea, a strategic opportunity is right in front of us. Addressing the absurdity of the status of Taiwan is the logical countermove. The CCP is reeling, fragile, and brittle. It’s trying to do too many things too fast, and that leaves vacuums we can leverage.

Like South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have a close relationship—much of it forgotten. I have not forgotten it. The brother of my grandfather spent years on Gen. Joseph Stilwell’s staff fighting alongside (and sometimes with) Chiang Kai-shek.

When I led the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense–Department of Defense cyber bilateral meetings, I dispensed with the silly guidance provided through the State Department to the Department of Defense. “No references to ‘the country of Taiwan,’” “There is only one China,” and so on. This guidance had not been updated since the 1980s.

The guidance was provided on a multigenerational copy of a mimeograph. The best thoughts of our professionals had frozen in time and become meaningless and pointless—the ambiguity did nothing but plant the seeds of doubt with a country that has a kindred spirit and history with us.

Before one of my trips, a senior intelligence official had told me (referencing Taiwan but also another strategic regional partner)—“John, they’re Chinese, you can’t trust them.” That comment was an incredible nonsequitur. I responded to my friend and colleague: “That comment makes no sense—you’re of Chinese heritage—should I not trust you? Is there something you need to tell me? Could you please hand me your blue badge, and let’s go down to the security office and talk further.”

We both laughed and I returned his badge, but it showed the total nonsense of the situation. That encounter motivated me to turn the whole situation upside-down and achieve an American advantage for the purposes of good for all.

Well, in a number of meetings and initiatives, we did renew this Taiwan–U.S. relationship and brought it to a new level. I was told by Taiwan’s generals, “John, you’ve changed everything. Because of you, we’re no longer invisible.” Let’s go further and make them visible on the world stage.

In this contemporary situation, the “Inchon Landing” is a grand plebiscite to let 24 million dual-language people decide on their official future. They will do this with top cover from the United States and other liberal democratic republics.

Let’s advance a vote by the Taiwan people in a grand plebiscite. They get one of four choices: status quo; reunite with the mainland; become the new, U.N.-recognized country of Taiwan; or, if the U.N. rejects this (as they likely will) and the citizens of Taiwan so choose, allow them to become a state of the union just like Hawaii and Alaska not too long ago.

It’s remarkable, it’s breathtaking, and it will change the world dynamic—imagine it—24 million new dual-language (English and Chinese) new citizens.

And while we’re at it, let’s allow Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to do the same. Let’s not forget the immortal Hongkongers and their stand for liberty. Let’s resolve the ambiguous nature of these populations.

It will fix the utterly corrupt local governance of Puerto Rico and the accelerating, ongoing tragedy of the diaspora.

I think the results will be quite dramatic and will electrify the world and the American scene. Will it cause problems? Yes, fitting in more stars and reapportioning 435 House seats will be challenging if they so decide, but we have the technology and we can make this work.

It will definitely distract the CCP from their worldwide adventurism. It will be a beacon of light to the South Koreans to rally for the liberty of their own country. Why embark on this? Why not? Let’s allow these populations to clarify their blurry status. Their economies, societies, and potentials will be unleashed. Life is short—let’s think big. Hooray for the Union.

Col. (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now—Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.