MR. HUMPHRIES: General B.B. Bell, it is an honor to have you on "The Rusty Humphries Show." Thank you for dropping by today. I appreciate it.
GEN. BELL: Thank you, Rusty. I'm glad to be here.
MR. HUMPHRIES: Now, you've got one of those really, really long but important titles. Let me see if I have it right. It's commander, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea. What does that mean?
GEN. BELL: Well, Rusty, I admit that's a mouthful, and I'm still figuring it out myself a little bit. But what it fundamentally means is that we've got a United States command over there, a joint command, and that's U.S. Forces Korea. We've also got a combined command, and that means we are fully integrated with our Republic of Korea ally and that's the Combined Forces Command, and I also command that in wartime. And then, on top of all that, we have the United Nations Command, which was the command during the Korean War, that fundamentally fought the war and remains today to ensure the armistice along the DMZ is enforced. So there's three commands. They support one another. And in fact, I've got three staffs and only me. So I keep all three of those staffs going in the right direction.
MR. HUMPHRIES: Now, we have been in Korea a long time. As a matter of fact, my father joined the military at 14, snuck in and was in Korea when he was 15 years old. We've been there for a long, long time, haven't we?
GEN. BELL: Rusty, we have been there for a long time and for all the right reasons. And first, you mentioned your father, I read your bio, and God bless him and the service that he gave our country. And I know that you lost your father during the Vietnam War, and we're all very grateful for his service. So thank you for that, and thank you for what you do.
MR. HUMPHRIES: Thank you.
GEN. BELL: You know, why are we in Korea? And I appreciate you giving me that introduction because it's vital, in my view, to our national interests. If I might just real quickly put this in a context of the battle for ideas and the battle of ideals that the United States of America is in right now and this global war on terror, and then you try to relate it to something like the Korean war, which was another time, another place, et cetera, et cetera. And oddly enough, in my view, there is a direct, an important correlation that we all ought to think about.
You know, Korea is a wonderful example of democracy in action rising from the rubble of war caused by a broken idea -- in those days, communism -- which we and the Korean people stood up against, fought against and overcame. And it's taken us 50 or more years, as an alliance with our Republic of Korea ally, to, one, help build the 10th-largest economy in the world, the Republic of Korea; a fully functioning democracy where the people elect the leadership; a democracy where diversity is accepted; spiritual diversity is the norm; gender equality is real, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, in an area of the world that just four or five decades ago, everyone assumed would be -- would not work out well, a lot of deaths, tremendous turmoil, et cetera, et cetera.
So Korea to me today is a model of partnership in alliance between a free people, the Republic of Korea people, and the United States staying together for the long haul.
And now in that area of the world, Northeast Asia, along with our allies in Japan, we see our largest trading partner outside the NAFTA region. A lot of our economy and a lot of the goodness that we achieve in our own nation is a function of our ability to trade with that area of the world.
So the list just goes on and on and on. And so for --
MR. HUMPHRIES: And this is just another model, General. This is just another model to show that Iraq will -- we'll succeed in Iraq, won't we?
GEN. BELL: Well, it sure is a model that says there is a path to success, and if you stick with it, you can see success. And in the end, people relish democracy. They relish freedom. It's the normal state of the human endeavor, and given a chance, it will grow and grow strong.
MR. HUMPHRIES: Yeah, I've heard a lot of the people who are antiwar come out and say, "Well, gosh, why didn't we go after Kim Jong Il first? Why'd we go after Saddam?" Well, the reason why -- and you tell me if I'm wrong -- he's already got the bomb. I mean, kind of -- we're in nuclear blackmail there, and that's one of the reasons we wanted to stop Saddam and we want to stop Iran.
GEN. BELL: Well, there's certainly lines of logic for that. Kim Jong Il and the North Korean regime is a problem. I will tell you this -- the notion of containment, deterrence and steadfast confrontation by the allies -- the Republic of Korea and the United States -- gives North Korea -- has kept them in their box properly for a long, long time, and we'll continue to do that.
That same model has application worldwide as we look at places in the world where democracy is sprouting and has an opportunity to grow and take care of the people in those regions. So I think there's a correlation. I'm convinced of it, and I know for a small investment day to day that we reap enormous benefits through our alliance with the Republic of Korea.
MR. HUMPHRIES: We know Kim Jong Il and North Korea have -- announced they have nuclear weapons. We're pretty sure they do. What other weapons and concerns do we have coming out of that region, and why are we there protecting ourselves from them?
GEN. BELL: Well, we are concerned about it. The notion of the six-party talks, where we've tried to bring together a coalition of like-minded nations to confront the North Koreans, bring them into the peaceful group of countries in the world, allow them and give them an opportunity for their people to raise their kids and their grandkids in peace and prosperity -- all those things are normal to me and you, but they're not normal to the North Koreans. They have decided as a strategy to proliferate weapons of mass destruction, it would appear. They decided as a strategy to make missile technology and other technologies for sale on the world market to the highest bidder.
So they are a problem for a free people everywhere in the world, and it's appropriate, for those of us who cherish freedom and those of us who cherish our way of life, to confront the North Koreans.
And that's exactly what we're doing, and we're going to do it through a coalition of like-minded nations until such time as the North Koreans can better see a path to a future for their people other than one of the path of confrontation that they've chosen this day and age, and that is making weapons of mass destruction, having them in their inventory, and being proliferators of technology.
MR. HUMPHRIES: The other thing I heard is they're counterfeiting our money and trying to flood the market with it.
GEN. BELL: Well, I'll tell you there's evidence of that. Of course, they are a cash-strapped country. They don't have a free-market enterprise. If they would just simply go for free-market enterprise, their people and their capabilities would reap the benefits of democracy, et cetera. But being cash-strapped, they're just making it. And part of it certainly confronts us, because our money and our monetary system depends on the proper financial institutions worldwide functioning normally and not having these kinds of counterfeit operations going on.
And so we're confronting that, and we are taking the appropriate measures worldwide, so that money that is counterfeited by the North is not allowed to get into the stream -- monetary stream worldwide. And that's the right policy, and our nation's going to continue to do that.
But yes, there's evidence they've been counterfeiting money. They've been counterfeiting goods and services. And they're doing just about anything they can to make money to stay in power and to continue their ways that -- the ways that we've seen over the last 10 years or so.
MR. HUMPHRIES: That Korean peninsula is the perfect example of the differences between capitalism and communism, isn't it?
GEN. BELL: Rusty, it's a(n) absolute perfect example. When you look at any kind of photography -- commercial photographer or whatever, you see in the South a 47 million population, a wonderful democracy, free-market enterprise, worldwide trade going on, and the people with good schools, good medical care, terrific job opportunities. The kids' health is good. I mean. it's just a thing of beauty.
And then you just look right across the border. The same people, the same traditions and history, the same culture over the centuries, and they're being deprived, they're being put in a position of inability to further their own needs at the expense of the regime. So the difference is profound.
And the opportunity for us to remind the world that this is a model -- the South Korean approach to governance is a model for free people everywhere -- and that what the North is pursuing is not a model at all but is something that's abnormal and something that free people everywhere ought to stand up against.
MR. HUMPHRIES: Colonel (sic) Bell, I know you've got a lot of people you want to talk to. And I could talk to you for hours, and I appreciate you taking time.
Before I let you go, though, Memorial Day coming up on Monday. People are going to be thinking about our troops, think about those that lost their lives. But you have a lot of people under your command, and a lot of their loved ones may be listening to this program right now. What would you like to say to the families?
GEN. BELL: Thanks, Rusty. I would like to just say something real quick.
Of course I've got a lot of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine service members under my command. Most of them have served in the global war on terror, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, and so they've been away from home once or more times. And in many cases, they are again now in Korea. We have -- most of our personnel over there are on unaccompanied tours, a long way from home. And they're serving selflessly, as great patriots and great volunteers for their nation.
And my word to their families is, one, thank you for allowing us to serve with your sons and daughters in defense of freedom and in defense of our Constitution.
And second, I want all them to know that service to nation is one of the most fundamental obligations that citizens have, but it's also a fundamental trust that military leaders have with respect to these young men and women. And we'll do everything in our power to take care of them, make certain that they have opportunity to succeed and, when their tours are up, to send them home to their moms and dads or their loved ones in good order, so they can continue to be great citizens of the United States of America.
MR. HUMPHRIES: Well, General B.B. Bell, things have been very quiet over in the Korean peninsula lately, and I think a lot of it would have to do with your leadership. Thank you very much for your service to our country, and thank you being on "The Rusty Humphries Show." I really appreciate it. Thank you, sir.
GEN. BELL: Thank you, Rusty. I greatly appreciate the opportunity.