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The Rushmore Report: Four Things You Need to Know About Conflict with North Korea

The rhetoric between leaders of The United States and North Korea escalated this week, when North Korea’s Pyongyang threatened Guam and President Trump threatened with “fire and fury” if the rogue state continued its nuclear tests and verbal threats. Despite United Nations sanctions (including support from China and Russia), North Korea has yet to soften its tone or threats. All military analysts agree we are on the precipice of disaster – unless something happens to avert war. There are four things you need to know about the current conflict.

1. Does North Korea have nuclear weapons?

The simple answer is yes. Worse, the Korean military has figured out how to miniaturize a weapon, meaning they can deliver a bomb to a distant target such as the U.S. mainland. The North has been building and testing missiles for years. They have conducted five nuclear tests, each signifying greater capability than was previously known.

2. What is the rest of the world doing?

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution that imposes new sanctions. This is the eighth set of sanctions in the last 11 years. To date, sanctions have done nothing to divert the North from their intentions. And North Korea’s economy has somehow continued to expand and prosper despite these sanctions.

3. What has President Trump said about North Korea?

The president has called North Korean President Kim “a smart cookie.” He has said of their nuclear aspirations, “It won’t happen.” And on Tuesday, he threatened “fire and fury such as the world has never seen” if Pyongyang endangered, or even threatened the United States. Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tamped down the rhetoric a bit. He said, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.” But clearly, Mr. Trump stands ready to respond, and has been presented with multiple military plans of action.

4. What happens if war breaks out?

Any U.S.-led military action would be met with an aggressive response from the other side. Korea has threatened to send missiles to Hawaii and even the U.S. mainland. Clearly, South Korea, where thousands of U.S. soldiers are based, would be at great risk. Military analysts estimate that 30,000 civilians would be killed in a non-nuclear strike by North Korea on its southern neighbor. Should nuclear warheads be engaged, the number of lost lives would be counted in the millions. Is the U.S. mainland at risk? While the United States certainly has the capacity to shoot down any incoming missile, such a response has never been tested. Let us pray it never will be.

The Rushmore Report: Russia vs USA – Military Comparison, Who Would Win?

President Trump is seeking record spending levels to bolster the U.S. military. With a growing nuclear threat from North Korea and instability in Iran, a strong American military is critical to national defense and the future security of Western civilization. With increased Russian rhetoric, concerns of a confrontation with the former Soviet Empire have reached heights not seen since the Cold War. So it is natural to ask the question, Who would win? If Russia and the U.S. came to an impasse over Syria, Iran, Korea, or other hotbeds of unrest, whose military would be superior? From several studies, we draw the following conclusions.

  1. Annual military spending: U.S. ($664 billion), Russia ($47 billion)
  2. Population: U.S. (321 million), Russia (143 million)
  3. Fit for service: U.S. (120 million), Russia (47 million)
  4. Active frontline personnel: U.S. (1.4 million), Russia (766,000)
  5. Reserve personnel: U.S. (1.1 million), Russia (2.5 million)
  6. Tanks: U.S. (8,800), Russia (15,400)
  7. Armed fighting vehicles: U.S. (41,000), Russia (31,300)
  8. Aircraft: U.S. (13,444), Russia (3,547)
  9. Aircraft carriers: U.S. (19), Russia (1)
  10. Submarines: U.S. (75), Russia (60)
  11. Nuclear warheads: U.S. (5,100), Russia (2,200)
  12. Oil reserves: U.S. (37 billion barrels), Russia (80 billion barrels)
  13. Allies: U.S. (54 countries), Russia (5 countries)

For those of you keeping score at home, of these 13 categories, the United States has the advantage in 10 of them. That’s a 10-3 advantage. Of course, some categories matter more than others. For example, one has to be concerned with the 2,200 nuclear warheads in Russia’s possession. At some point, having more nuclear weapons is a limited advantage, as it only takes so much to destroy the enemy.

What can we conclude? Clearly, the U.S. is on a military level of its own. With our advantages, economy, and military spending, it’s hard to imagine a return to the parity between the two powers that existed during the Cold War. However, with the evolution of modern weaponry and growing number of nuclear powers, concern for peace is legitimate. America has the finest military force in the history of the world. And clearly, this is not the time to back off.

But a military advantage is no guarantee of victory. The Roman Empire fell from within, not due to any kind of military superiority from a competing regime. America did not win freedom from Great Britain because she had a military advantage. Israel did not win the six-day war because of her military might.

But none of this is a good excuse for letting down our guard. While America is not great because she is strong, it is important for her to remain strong.

Ronald Reagan understood that a strong military is the key to not having to use the military. When America forgets this powerful lesson, she will become vulnerable to growing international threats. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, may we all pray that day never comes.

The Rushmore Report: How America Should Respond to North Korea

In response to North Korea’s latest missile test of an intercontinental ballistic missile – proving an imminent threat to America – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson vowed that the United States would “never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea” while U.S. and South Korean forces held joint ballistic missile drills. Tillerson called on an international response, saying, “Global action is required to stop a global threat.” But what should that “global response” be? More importantly, how should the United States respond to North Korea’s most recent escalation. I suggest seven ways America should respond.

1. Do not underestimate the North Koreans.

The recent missile flew for about 40 minutes and reached an altitude of 1,500 miles, which is longer and higher than any other North Korean test previously reported. It covered a distance of 580 miles. This puts Alaska in reach, as well as Japan and China. Further, the missile was launched from a mobile launcher, making it more difficult to track. Dr. Bruce Bechtol, professor at Angelo State University, said, “The mobile launcher nearly destroys our warning time and also means that the North Koreans have a real shot at launching this system at us without us being able to destroy it on the ground.” Kim Jong-un must not be underestimated.

2. Submit a new U.N. resolution.

This can be done immediately. The United States should submit a new security resolution requiring more extensive sanctions on the rogue country. The Heritage Foundation’s Michael Brownfield writes, “In addition to this missile test, it has been reported that North Korea may also be in the final stages of preparations for another nuclear test, leading to escalating tensions.”

3. Demand that U.N. nations stand up.

For too long, the Unites Nations has looked the other way while its own members fail to enact the very sanctions they voted for. This must stop. America must apply all necessary pressure on allied nations to stand up to this barbaric regime. America should not have to go it alone.

4. Impose sanctions on Korean allies.

The United States must view those who fail to condemn North Korea as her allies. America must be tough with those nations sitting on the fence. Make them choose: the United States or North Korea.

5. Do not take military action unless . . .

Only when it is almost certain that we face imminent attack should the U.S. take military action. Otherwise, we will face the ire of Russia, China, and much of the Asian continent. But if the North Koreans persist in violating U.N. rules, and if they refuse to back down, any hint of such an attack must be met with immediate force.

6. Prepare as though war is imminent.

American forces must combine with allied forces to deploy all necessary ships and military threats to the Korean region. Drills with Japan and South Korea must continue, despite calls from China and Russia to back down. We cannot be seen as weak; we cannot afford to blink.

7. Extend South Korea’s military capabilities.

South Korea has petitioned the U.N. for allowances to further develop their own defense capabilities. America must use her bully pulpit on South Korea’s behalf. An attack on South Korea must be seen as an attack on America; therefore, full defense of South Korea must be firmly established.

The Rushmore Report: Korean War? What’s Coming and God’s Promise

America could be on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. Mounting tensions, Korean missile tests, and American military build-up in the region have all fueled speculation of a possible catastrophe that could lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of lives in Seoul, South Korea, including over 20,000 American soldiers.

Let’s put it all in perspective. We will consider five factors: the latest developments, the basic issues, what the U.S. is doing, Trump’s options, and most importantly, God’s promise in such times.

1. The latest developments

Washington is committed to reigning in North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions. Vice President Mike Pence is making a 10-day trip to the region, warning North Korea that recent American strikes in Syria should serve notice of our resolve. In response, North Korea officials have reiterated their warnings that if America intervenes in any way, nuclear war may result.

2. The basic issues

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated in the past few months after North Korea launched missile tests that purposely showed increasing sophistication in the nuclear state’s weapons program. Korean capabilities suggest they may be able to reach the Unites States with nuclear missiles within ten years.

3. What the United States is doing

So far, U.S. President Donald Trump has played his hand – militarily, at least – as cautiously as his predecessors. A series of Situation Room meetings has come to the predictable conclusion that while the United States can be more aggressive, it should stop just short of confronting the North so frontally that it risks rekindling the Korean War, nearly 64 years after it came to an uneasy armistice. Mr. Trump has also escalated tough language on North Korea on social media.

4. Trump’s options

The new president has several ways he can respond to the mounting challenge. First, he can expand economic sanctions on North Korea. He will need to include China in any such actions. Second, Trump can take covert action. Washington might use electronic warfare or cyber attacks to disable North Korean missiles at launch time. Third, diplomacy is an option. To date, this has not appeared to interest the Trump Administration. There have been no official negotiations with North Korea for seven years. Fourth, Mr. Trump might use direct military force. This could include a sea blockade, military strikes on nuclear and missile facilities, or even an attempt to overthrow President Kim.

5. God’s promise

During troubled times for his country, King David wrote these words: “The Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” That is God’s enduring promise. We have no way of knowing what Mr. Kim will do next – or Mr. Trump, for that matter. What we do know is what God will do next. He will stay close to those who diligently seek him. He will provide refuge in the midst of the storm and hope in the midst of utter despair.

In times like these, it is always good to look out for what may come next. But it is better to look up.

The Rushmore Report: Pearl Harbor – Five Things You Didn’t Know

The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred 75 years ago – on December 7, 1941. The day that “will live in infamy” is remembered by only 2.3 percent of today’s population. Of the 16 million American soldiers who served in WWII, only 855,000 are still with us. That is just four percent, with 492 dying each day. So this is a good day to reflect. I offer you five facts about the bombing of Pearl Harbor you probably didn’t know.

My dad served in the South Pacific during the War. I still have his Army trunk, uniform, and medals. WWII brings special meaning to me and my family. The proud service of my dad and his dad (WWI) are why I didn’t have to fight in a WWIII. I’ve been to Pearl Harbor. It is a sobering experience. I hope you enjoy the facts below, as we reflect on the ruthless attack that left 2,403 dead and 1,178 injured.

1. Some of the battleships sunk that day were resurrected.

Of the eight battleships that were targeted during the attacks, all but two were eventually repaired and returned to the U.S. Navy’s fleet. The USS West Virginia and the USS California had both sunk completely, but the Navy raised them, repaired them, and reused them.

Furthermore, bullet holes and damages from the attacks can be seen to this day at many of the active military installations on Oahu, including Schofield Barracks. Rather than repair or cover up the damage, the bullet holes serve as a reminder of the lives lost that day and as motivation for our military to never relax.

2. Veterans of the attack can be laid to rest at Pearl Harbor.

Survivors of the attack have the option to join their lost comrades and make Pearl Harbor their final resting place. Crewmembers who served on board the USS Arizona – which experienced the most devastating damage – may choose to have their ashes deposited by divers beneath one of the sunken Arizona’s gun turrets. Roughly 30 Arizona survivors have chosen this option and less than a dozen of the 355 survivors are known to still be alive.

3. The USS Arizona still leaks fuel.

The day before the attack, the USS Arizona took on a full load of fuel – nearly 1.5 million gallons. Much of that fuel helped ignite the explosion and subsequent fires that destroyed the ship, but – amazingly – some of that fuel continues to seep out of the wreckage. According to the History Channel, the Arizona “continues to spill up to nine quarts of oil into the harbor each day and visitors often say it is as if the ship were still bleeding.”

4. Servicemen stationed in Hawaii took care of the memorial during the 2013 government shutdown.

Servicemen stationed in Hawaii treat Pearl Harbor as a living memorial and have been known to rally around it when times are tough. In October, 2013, for instance, when the U.S. government shut down for more than two weeks, no one was around to take care of the memorial site. A spontaneous group of servicemen and their families gathered to tend to the seemingly abandoned site, raking, weeding, and mowing the overgrown grass. Their message, they said, was to all veterans: “We haven’t forgotten about you. We will not forget about you.”

5. Many tourists from Japan come to visit the memorial.

While most school children can tell you that the Japanese were responsible for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, not everyone realizes that the Japanese now visit the memorial in droves. Japan, now one of America’s strongest allies, is the largest source of international tourists to the state of Hawaii. They pay their respects at Pearl Harbor just as Americans do, and ironically, the economic vitality of Hawaii today depends largely on tourism from Japan.

When we think of defining moments in American history, we think of Pearl Harbor. What was once stamped into Americans’ memories is now mostly American history. Amazingly, the time that has lapsed from Pearl Harbor until today is the same as the span of Reconstruction to Pearl Harbor.

I suggest you find a WWII veteran today – though it may not be easy. Tell him thanks for saving a nation and freedom for us all. Then offer a prayer of gratitude for those who suffered and died – 75 years ago.

In all of American history, two words capture the heart of American greatness, birthed from the horror and tragedy of war.

Pearl Harbor.

World War I Ends – 98 Years Ago Today

For those of you who are under the age of 105 or so, you may not remember the significance of November 11, 1918. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended. At 11:00 that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiegne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and some 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives.

In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure. World War I was known as “the war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict – the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 – forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

That’s how it usually works in this world. Just as man concluded “the war to end all wars,” he laid the foundation for the next World War. It’s not a matter of intention. We mean well. But meaning well and knowing truth are two different things.

As for peace – don’t expect it anytime soon. After all, it was man’s best thinking that got the world in the shape it’s in today.

United States Withdraws from Vietnam

On this day in history, 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam as Hanoi freed the remaining American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam. In 1961, after two decades of indirect military aid, President John F. Kennedy sent the first large force of U.S. military personnel to Vietnam to bolster the ineffective regime of South Vietnam against the communist North. Three years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered limited bombing raids on North Vietnam and Congress authorized the use of U.S. troops. By 1965, Johnson jumped troop levels to more than 300,000 as U.S. air forces commenced the largest bombing campaign in history. Finally, in January 1973, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed a peace agreement ending direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Its key provisions included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of prisoners of war, and the reunification of North and South Vietnam through peaceful means.

Throughout history there have been thousands of wars. The bloodiest war in American history was not Vietnam. Nor was it WWI or WWII. It was the Civil War. Much like the war of Vietnam, the Civil War pitted brother against brother. It’s interesting that when we went to war with a foreign enemy, as we have done many times, we lost fewer lives. It was when we fought against ourselves that we lost more soldiers than any other time in American history.

That’s a good lesson for America today . . . but one we seem slow to learn.

 

Atomic Bomb Detonated – 65 Years Ago Today

Forcefully marking the continued importance of the West in the development of nuclear weaponry, the government detonated the first of a series of nuclear bombs at its new Nevada test site. Although much of the West had long lagged behind the rest of the nation in technological and industrial development, the massive World War II project to build the first atomic bomb single-handedly pushed the region into the twentieth century. Code named the Manhattan Project, this ambitious research and development program pumped millions of dollars of federal funds into new western research centers like the bomb-building lab at Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the fissionable material production center at Hanford, Washington. Ironically, the very conditions that had once impeded western technological development became benefits: lots of wide-open unpopulated federal land where dangerous experiments could be conducted in secret.

How has the world changed in these past 65 years? The short answer is, not much. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. Since the first post-war atomic bomb was detonated, we have continued to have wars and rumors of wars, just as was predicted in Scripture, as a sign of the last days (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Despite the threat of “the bomb,” there have been hot wars and cold wars. Israel still fears for its existence and Russia is still our greatest existential threat. (Mitt Romney got that one right, while his 2012 presidential opponent swung and whiffed.) Muslim extremism is a bigger threat than ever. America is more polarized than ever. President Obama said as much yesterday, in an admission that the divisiveness of the country is his greatest regret of the past seven years.

When the first post-war atomic bomb was detonated, Harry Truman was President and Dwight Eisenhower was about to run. Everyone liked Ike. Those were happy, simple times – except for “the bomb.” Did the atomic age save America? Maybe. But did it save the world? No. Fortunately, we have never had to use that bomb since WWII. While the threat of “the bomb” has been a good thing, at least in my opinion, it has had its limits. The bomb has kept the Russians at arms length while the real enemy has attacked from within. Since that day, 65 years ago today, without a bullet being fired on U.S. soil, 20 million babies have been aborted, prayer has been ripped from our schools, and moral decay has never been more obvious. The enemy doesn’t need a bomb to defeat America. He never did.