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MCCULLOUGH: More should be done to force release of Korean War vet

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

Here we are on the eve of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an occasion we use to pay tribute to our World War II veterans. But the veteran of another war deserves more attention than he’s getting.

Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War is being held captive by the petty bullies in North Korea. Newman, who was visiting the country to “put some closure” to his war experiences, was pulled off a plane just prior to take-off last month. He has been held ever since, kept from his family at the holidays and made to read “confessions” on television. The North Koreans accuse him of killing civilians during the war.

Our country has no diplomatic ties with North Korea, so Newman’s family has depended on the Swedish embassy to establish contact with him. The best we’ve been able to do? We called for his release. We’ve also called for the release of Kenneth Bae, a missionary doing 15 years hard labor in North Korea. He’s been there since last year. North Korea really hears our calls.

The rest of the world used to fear raising the ire of the United States. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was rumored to have said something along the lines of, “We have awakened a sleeping giant.”

Nowadays, much of the world laughs at us. They know our president is out of his element on foreign policy. They know he is up to his eyeballs in a domestic quagmire, which means they can push him around. Putin played him like a fiddle on Syria. The mullahs are laughing all the way to the secret centrifuges in Iran. And China has been rattling its saber a lot lately.

It’s far from just the president’s fault, of course, but who sits in the Oval Office plays a big part in how seriously the rest of the world takes us. Remember the Iran hostage crisis? The radicals kept our American hostages for 444 days, then released them the day Ronald Reagan took office. Perhaps they feared Dutch would send more than a handful of helicopters to rescue Americans?

Conversely, look at Reagan’s raid on Libya after the German disco bombing. We bombed Libyan targets, and then told them we’d do it again if need be. And since France made our planes take the scenic route by denying us access to their air space, we “accidentally” dropped one bomb next to the French embassy. And I’m sure if Reagan had known then what we know now — that the Italians had tipped off Moammar Ghaddafi prior to the raid — their embassy might’ve faced its own accident.

Kim Jong Un, his father and his grandfather are and were nothing more than tyrannical bullies. And all the talk in the world will not stop a bully. But a good punch in the nose will every time.

If our “leaders” really cared about Newman, they’d pressure North Korea to give him back. But I doubt that baby-faced bully Kim Jong Un will only release Newman when he gets through toying with him, if ever.

They call the Korean War the forgotten war. I fear Newman will be forgotten, too. Just like we’ve apparently forgotten that despite all our many problems, the United States is still the biggest kid on the block.

But unlike Dec. 7, 1941, the giant remains asleep.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.