Central View: Time for the Humanitarian Blockade?
September 20, 2017
Unfortunately, it looks like North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Red Chinese dictator Xi Jinping are not reading their mail or are choosing to ignore advice from "Central View." So, gentle readers, prepare to learn how the "naval blockade" might be used to force Kim Jong-un to comply with demands by the civilized world and even the U.N. Security Council (to include Russia and China) that Kim Jong-un halt his nuclear-weapons development program and stop threatening South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. with nuclear holocaust.
In its broadest sense, a naval blockade is an Act of War. Fortunately, there are variations of the naval blockades ranging from "close," to "distant," to "loose," to even "pacific," or "peaceful' blockades. When President John F. Kennedy wanted to stop the Soviets from shipping more intermediate-range missiles into Cuba in 1962, Kennedy chose the euphemism "quarantine" to describe what was actually a "distant" blockade.
The most effective form of blockade is the "close" blockade. Imagine U.S. warships within sight of the blockaded coasts or ports of North Korea. But then, our ships would be relatively easy targets for North Korean guns, aircraft, and anti-ship missiles.
Using a "distant" blockade our warships could stay out of sight of land; however, they might not be beyond the range of North Korean anti-ship missiles. Historical note: In 1805, British Admiral Horatio Nelson used a "loose" blockade to lure the Spanish and French fleets out from the port of Cadiz. The British won the ensuing Battle of Trafalgar; however, Admiral Nelson was killed.
Back to the present: With U.N. Security Council trade restrictions already in place, to include just last week the authority for ships breaking the U.N. sanctions to be interdicted, perhaps it is now time to impose what might be called: "The Humanitarian Blockade." Ships carrying food, medicine, heating supplies and Dennis Rodman would be allowed through the blockade; however, ships carrying contraband — anything that would further Kim Jong-un's nuclear weapons program in violation of U.N. mandates — would be stopped and turned around.
Moreover, we might interdict North Korean exports which are earning hard currency for the Kim Jong-un regime. Incredibly, with his own people often starving, Kim Jong-un exports seafood to China.
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But any kind of blockade presupposes that our reduced and over-stretched Navy is up to the task. Recently, two of our destroyers failed to avoid collisions with merchant ships, and another destroyer ran aground. The effective conduct of even a "humanitarian" blockade requires dozens of warships, mostly destroyers, and cruisers. Moreover, for the security of our interdicting vessels, the operation should include air carrier strike forces in the Sea of Japan and in the Yellow Sea.
Recently, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress he is shocked by our military's deplorable state of readiness. Secretary Mattis faulted the Obama Administration's sequestration of defense funding, saying: "For all the headache caused by the loss of our troops during these wars, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of our military than sequestration." The Trump Administration is asking Congress for more defense funding. But is time on the side of Kim Jong-un or on ours? We report. You decide.
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