American leadership and the absence of the Soviet ambassador resulted in swift passage of Security Council Resolution 84. The measure -- perhaps the last time in history that the U.N. acted with dispatch -- authorized the use of force against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. During the bloody three-year war that followed, troops from 10 European countries and from 10 others around the world fought beside U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Korea -- finally securing an armistice July 27, 1953.
In the years since, the increasingly isolated patriarchal-Stalinist regime in Pyongyang, North Korea, has raised visceral hatred of the United States to a whole new level while systematically violating the terms of the armistice -- and virtually every other agreement to which it is a party. In short, Pyongyang's past behavior is a prelude to present and future conduct.
On Jan. 21, 1968, North Korean guerrillas attacked Seoul's Presidential Palace in an attempt to assassinate South Korean President Park Chung-hee. U.S. President Lyndon Johnson dispatched Cyrus Vance to discourage the South Koreans -- with troops already committed in Vietnam -- from undertaking a military response. Vance's mission was a success, and no action -- other than a strongly worded diplomatic note -- was taken against Pyongyang.
Two days later, the USS Pueblo, a small, unarmed U.S. Navy surveillance vessel, was seized in international waters by North Korean patrol boats. Cmdr. Lloyd "Pete" Bucher and the 81 surviving members of the Pueblo crew were beaten and tortured by their captors while the Johnson administration in Washington, enmeshed in micromanaging the war in Vietnam, dithered. Finally, after a year of brutality -- and facing the threat of having one member of his crew shot each day, starting with the youngest -- Bucher signed a concocted confession. Pyongyang promptly repatriated the crew, kept the Pueblo and still uses it for propaganda.
The unwillingness to deal forcefully with the North Korean regime in 1968 set a precedent from which neither the West in general nor the U.S. in particular ever has recovered. North Korean leaders, emboldened by the West's flaccid response, stepped up their campaign of terror.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.