The Kims of North Korea have been a long and festering dynasty of despotic rulers.  First was Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the present Kim.  His regime, chaffing under a divided Korea after World War II, invaded the South in the 1950s and would have completely conquered it except for U.S. and U.N. intervention.  At that time, Kim Il-sung a communist, had the military backing of the then Soviet Union under Stalin who provided an abundance of military advisors, MIG aircraft with pilots, supplies and the latest in armaments.  While willing to arm North Korea, Stalin was initially dubious about the success of an actual invasion.  He reasoned that the U.S  and the U.N. would intercede and that China would not be able to provide sufficient troops to obtain a swift victory.  Then, in 1950, three things changed:  1) the U.S. began to withdraw its troops from Korea, 2) China was able to defeat Chiang Kai-shek’s forces, and 3) the Soviet Union had just developed and tested its first nuclear weapon.    Mao Tse tung’s Communist China at that time was complicit in the North’s invasion but was still engaged in its own battles with Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang forces, but later in the Korean war when U.S. forces under MacArthur’s leadership threatened to cross the Yalu River into China, Mao’s forces massed in the north and turned the tide driving MacArthur’s troops all the way back into South Korea.  MacArthur, on his own, without the authorization of President Truman or the Joint Chiefs of Staff began threatening the use of atomic weapons presumably to wipe out Communist China, if necessary.  Having authorized the use of atomic weapons twice in the defeat of Japan, Truman absolutely forebade further such threats.  MacArthur, not to be intimidated by mere presidents (especially when their popularity rating in polls plummeted below 22 per cent), refused to be muzzled.  Truman fired him and the Korean war became a stalemate at the 38th Parallel, the original dividing line between the two Koreas where it has remained ever since.  But North Korea’s belligerence continued under the second Kim.  Known as the ‘Dear Leader’, Kim Jong-il, did his best to fan the flames while insisting on a ‘military first’ policy along with a policy of ‘self reliance’ that resulted in widespread famine.  In 2011, he was followed by the current despot, Kim Jong-un known as the ‘brilliant comrade’, (considered to be a deity who neither urinates nor deficates).  In addition to his deification he has also managed to not only obtain the fourth largest army in the world but also a nuclear capability with a missile delivery system.  Recently he has threatened the U. S. with a pre-emptive strike, including nuclear attacks on both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.   Other than the U.S Secretary of Defense’s mild admonishment, the Obama Administration has the good sense not to take seriously a threat from Kim’s over-inflated ego.  (No disastrious re-enactment of the Bush/Cheney invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.)  Of course, Stalin’s communist USSR is long gone and Putin’s present day Russia has little, if any interest in North Korea.  While China is still nominally a communist country, it seems to be carefully disengaged from the extreme views of its North Korean neighbor who seems to have at least enough good sense not to threaten China.  So, how did the original MacArthur/Truman fiasco play out?  MacArthur had hoped to come back to the U.S. as a badly abused war hero, accept a grateful Republican nod as a presidential candidate and resoundingly defeat Truman in the next general election.  Truman, realizing his popularity had waned to the point where he wouldn’t win another term tried to get Eisenhower to run as a Democrat.  Ike obviously realized as a Democrat he would face the equally popular General MacArthur, so he opted instead to run as a Republican knowing MacArthur couldn’t be considered as a Democratic candidate.  It was an easy victory over the Democrat’s choice of Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson.  And Harry Truman?  He and his wife Bess went back to Missouri in their family home where they managed to live on Harry’s World War I pension of 112 dollars a month.  Harry felt it would cheapen the White House to lend his name to corporate boards!

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