Here’s my opinion piece for the San Diego Union Tribune on North Korea:
No More Timeline, the Existential Threat Has Arrived
By: Congressman Duncan Hunter
September 28, 2017
Let’s be clear. North Korea continues to threaten the United States with a nuclear assault. North Korea has the capability to launch a nuclear attack and San Diego would be a primary target. No more pontificating, no more hypothesizing, no more armchair quarterbacking. The North Korean nuclear capability is real; there is no more timeline. The existential threat has arrived. The question now: is America’s military prepared and do we as a country have a willingness to proactively respond?
In complete defiance of U.N. Resolutions, North Korea’s ballistic missile tests, most recently over Hokkaido Island in Japan, demonstrated not only its ability to detonate nuclear weapons, but also to launch them and strike distant targets. North Korea’s foreign minister characterized their weapons coming to the U.S. as “inevitable,” has accused President Trump of declaring war on North Korea, and is threatening to shoot down American aircraft at their discretion.
Kim Jong-un, a sociopathic dictator, who has literally murdered multiple members of his own family to consolidate his power, has crossed every red line – short of a successful attack on the United States or one of our allies. North Korea has practiced, planned and announced how and why they will attack the U.S. At this point, I’d be surprised if they didn’t strike.
Some argue that, regardless of North Korea’s actions, the U.S. is in a position to provide a complete defense. The fact of the matter is that the continued provocations come at a time where we have lost two of our eight forward deployed Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to collisions. This reduces our force readiness and leaves the United States in a vulnerable position in which multiple ships enabled with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System – a system designed to intercept short to intermediate range missiles – are disabled.
Our Pacific U.S. ground bases are susceptible to an attack and, while the Navy has insisted that capabilities will remain the same, the reality is that we are still operating under a grossly anemic Obama shipbuilding budget and where naval shipbuilding was cut in the most recent Presidential Budget Request. We have forward deployed ships, but they spend two-thirds of the year underway and one-third in maintenance and training. This puts crews at greater risk by reducing their ability to adequately train and perform needed ship maintenance.
The recent implementation of economic sanctions was necessary and I recognize that it may seem China has taken an important step in implementing the UN’s most recent round of sanctions against North Korea. Sanctioning North Korea under the auspices of any world order, such as the UN, the U.S., or the EU does not work because China cheats, and Russia is no better. That’s why it is imperative the U.S. prepare itself with other alternatives.
Among these alternatives is a declaration of war and if the President were to request one, I would fully support the Commander-In-Chief in knowing the right time to strike and hit North Korea is before they hit us. The time table for action should be decided by us, not our adversaries. The U.S. should take North Korea at their word when they have repeatedly threatened attack. I wrote about this in March 2015. The Hunter Doctrine works in North Korea.
I’ve been to war in the modern sense and it should not be the case that millions of Americans go to bed worrying about an attack from a Third World dictatorship who managed to build a nuclear weapon. North Korea is not Russia; it is not China; it is not a peer country. North Korea believes they have weighed the U.S.; they believe they have measured the U.S.; but we will not be found wanting. The only way North Korea can harm the United States is if we let them. At this time, we can still seize the initiative.
This is the reality of the world in which we now live, and pretending the threat doesn’t exist is naive and an option I refuse to entertain.