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Posted on Jul 17, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: Korea: The Next War

By John Antal

PART ONE

Yesterday, 8:15 a.m.
Security Briefing to U.S. President

“Good morning, Mr. President,” the briefing officer from the National Security Adviser’s staff began. “North Korea continues to position strong ground units in the area just north of the Demilitarized Zone. From there, they could easily threaten the American and Republic of Korea forces of Combined Forces Command, and of course put Seoul at risk.”

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PETHO CARTOGRAPHY
While the 21st-century world may be used to incessant North Korean “saber rattling,” the Stalinist-style dictatorship can back up its words with a first-class, well-equipped military force that is fully prepared to launch a devastating attack on short notice.

Glancing around the room at the grim faces, he continued, “Our intelligence sources have verified that fully 75 percent of North Korea’s active army – including approximately 700,000 troops, 8,000 artillery pieces and 2,000 tanks – is now postured within 90 miles of the DMZ. Furthermore, these men and weapons are well protected in 4,000 underground bunkers, making a pre-emptive strike by our forces virtually impossible. We estimate that North Korea could launch a full-scale attack with minimal preparation and essentially no prior warning – we would be unaware of it until the enemy’s tanks started rolling over our troops. The only notice would probably be a short but powerful artillery barrage.”

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“How in blazes,” the President interrupted, “did we manage to get ourselves into this mess? Who’s been minding the store?”

Before the briefing officer could respond, the National Security Adviser spoke up. “Mr. President, for too many years now the entire world, not just the United States, has seen fit to view North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Il, through the lenses of two equally distorting rose-colored glasses. We’ve either ignored him as a silly, posturing clown – a spoiled brat in cowboy boots and sunglasses who assumed his father’s leadership position without possessing one iota of Kim Il Sung’s canny political ability – or we’ve tried to act like he is just another world leader who would respond to international and domestic political issues in a reasonable and responsible manner. However, he is neither of these, Sir. He’s a ruthless dictator, perhaps the last of the world’s old-time Stalinists, whose regime has only one overriding goal: to maintain unlimited power.”

Without waiting for a reply, the adviser continued, “Kim Jong Il has been playing a shell game. He has distracted the world by keeping everyone focused solely on North Korea’s nuclear threat, all the while building up his army’s conventional power for what looks to be a massive pre-emptive strike to forcibly reunify the Korean peninsula under his rule.

“The country has been an economic basket case for decades. Widespread famine plagues the population, while Kim funnels all available resources into North Korea’s military buildup. Dissidents are executed or just disappear into the Gulag prison system. I think the world is about to learn once again that ignoring dictators or pretending that they are merely statesmen with an alternative political system is a recipe for disaster.”
The president, ashen-faced, asked, “What’s your best estimate of when such an attack might occur?”

“What time is it now, Mr. President?”

[continued on next page]

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