Over in Foreign Policy, Ed Luttwak calls for bombing North Korea, openly saying that the deaths of tens of millions on the Korean Peninsula should not and cannot stop Trump from acting.
Nothing can be known about this week’s talks between North and South Korea other than their likely outcome. As in every previous encounter, South Korea will almost certainly reward North Korea’s outrageous misconduct by handing over substantial sums of money, thus negating long-overdue sanctions recently imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Meanwhile, the North will continue to make progress toward its goal of deploying several nuclear-armed, mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles, having already tested nuclear-explosive devices in October 2006, May 2009, February 2013, January 2016, September 2016, and September 2017
Each test would have been an excellent occasion for the United States to finally decide to do to North Korea what Israel did to Iraq in 1981, and to Syria in 2007 — namely, use well-aimed conventional weapons to deny nuclear weapons to regimes that shouldn’t have firearms, let alone weapons of mass destruction. Fortunately, there is still time for Washington to launch such an attack to destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. It should be earnestly considered rather than rejected out of hand.
Of course, there are reasons not to act against North Korea. But the most commonly cited ones are far weaker than generally acknowledged.
One mistaken reason to avoid attacking North Korea is the fear of direct retaliation. The U.S. intelligence community has reportedly claimed that North Korea already has ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads that can reach as far as the United States. But this is almost certainly an exaggeration, or rather an anticipation of a future that could still be averted by prompt action. The first North Korean nuclear device that could potentially be miniaturized into a warhead for a long-range ballistic missile was tested on September 3, 2017, while its first full-scale ICBM was only tested on November 28, 2017. If the North Koreans have managed to complete the full-scale engineering development and initial production of operational ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in the short time since then — and on their tiny total budget — then their mastery of science and engineering would be entirely unprecedented and utterly phenomenal. It is altogether more likely that they have yet to match warheads and missiles into an operational weapon.
It’s true that North Korea could retaliate for any attack by using its conventional rocket artillery against the South Korean capital of Seoul and its surroundings, where almost 20 million inhabitants live within 35 miles of the armistice line. U.S. military officers have cited the fear of a “sea of fire” to justify inaction. But this vulnerability should not paralyze U.S. policy for one simple reason: It is very largely self-inflicted.
When then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter decided to withdraw all U.S. Army troops from South Korea 40 years ago (ultimately a division was left behind), the defense advisors brought in to help — including myself — urged the Korean government to move its ministries and bureaucrats well away from the country’s northern border and to give strong relocation incentives to private companies. South Korea was also told to mandate proper shelters, as in Zurich for example, where every new building must have its own (under bombardment, casualties increase dramatically if people leave their homes to seek shelter). In recent years, moreover, South Korea has had the option of importing, at moderate cost, Iron Dome batteries, which are produced by both Israel and the United States, that would be capable of intercepting 95 percent of North Korean rockets headed to inhabited structures.
But over these past four decades, South Korean governments have done practically nothing along these lines. The 3,257 officially listed “shelters” in the Seoul area are nothing more than underground shopping malls, subway stations, and hotel parking lots without any stocks of food or water, medical kits or gas masks. As for importing Iron Dome batteries, the South Koreans have preferred to spend their money on developing a bomber aimed at Japan.
In other words, Ed Luttwak is saying that the coming loss of life from Pyongyang's inevitable retaliation of a decapitation strike against the Kim regime is going to be South Korea's fault, so f'ck em if they die, we've got Evil™ to bomb.
EUUU ESSSS AYYYY!
EUUU ESSSS AYYYY!
EUUU ESSSS AYYYY!
Which, coincidentally, is exactly what the Trump Regime is apparently planning.
The Trump administration is debating a "bloody nose" attack on North Korea, recent reports say, with the president's inner circle split and apparently teetering between endorsing a strike and holding out hope for diplomacy.
Both The Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal have portrayed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis as trying to caution President Donald Trump against a strike, and the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, as advocating it.
The reports come after months of mixed messages and dozens of shifts in the US's stance on North Korea.
The bloody-nose strategy, which calls for a sharp, violent response to some North Korean provocation, puts a lot of weight on the US's properly calibrating an attack on North Korea and Pyongyang's reading the limited strike as anything other than the opening salvo of an all-out war.
For that reason, even the limited strike envisioned by North Korea hawks carries a tremendous risk of global — and possibly nuclear — catastrophe.
No big deal. I'm sure the Trump regime's experts will thread the needle and see the world through this mess safely.