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Attacking North Korea Would Be a Disaster

Daniel DePetris explains [1] why attacking North Korea would be extremely dangerous:

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in December, Graham revealed that he will be introducing an authorization for the use of military force to provide the president with the statutory approval to preemptively stop Pyongyang from finishing the development of its ICBM.

Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell should simply ignore it. And if the GOP brings it up for a floor debate, Senate Democrats should do everything in their power to prevent such a resolution from passing. A preemptive strike on North Korea would be an unmitigated disaster—a military action that is much more likely to escalate into a full-blown regional confrontation with a million-man North Korean army than force Kim to tremble in his basement.

There’s no question that attacking a North Korean missile launch would be a terrible idea for many of the same reasons that other proposed attacks on North Korea would be insane [2]. It would potentially expose South Korea and U.S. forces to retaliatory strikes, and even if it “worked” as intended it would only convince their government that they should keep working on their missile projects. In the unlikely event that an attack on North Korea didn’t immediately lead to a resumption of hostilities on the peninsula, it would only encourage their government to intensify all of the efforts that we want them to give up. It would be the perfect example of a short-sighted, counterproductive, and irresponsible use of force, so naturally the perennial warmonger Lindsey Graham was the one to propose it.

I would add that it wouldn’t even be a “preemptive” attack. It wouldn’t be an attempt to forestall a North Korean attack on us, but would be and would be perceived as an aggressive act. It would contribute significantly to a souring of relations with China, and it would make Beijing much less interested in cooperating with our government in pressuring North Korea. Any benefit gained by setting back North Korea’s missile program for a short time would be heavily outweighed by the costs.

10 Comments (Open | Close)

10 Comments To "Attacking North Korea Would Be a Disaster"

#1 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On January 9, 2017 @ 11:14 am

Seoul, very close to the DMZ, is a hostage.

#2 Comment By collin On January 9, 2017 @ 11:29 am

Unfortunately, it appears Trump is replacing China with Russia as a superpower to antagonize and these discussions of North Korea are very concerning. Unfortunately, NK is led by a loon and without careful diplomacy, this could be a problem for the Trump administration.

#3 Comment By victory over eurasia On January 9, 2017 @ 11:43 am

I am not sure that disaster really captures it – how about global catastrophe, first step to WWIII, or something else equally apocalyptic.

@Collin’s point about careful diplomacy is a good one, but just makes me feel even more depressed……

#4 Comment By bacon On January 9, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

In re the satellite photo accompanying the post, it offers perhaps the only advantage one might gain from living in North Korea – stargazers would have a great view.

#5 Comment By SF Bay On January 9, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

I think Americans on the west coast, and I am one of them, feel a level of anxiety that those is Washington DC can’t understand.

I don’t want a war with N. Korea. I also don’t want our government to underestimate the craziness of kim jong un. There is no rational way to conduct diplomacy with him.

The whole thing scares me to death.

#6 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 9, 2017 @ 1:53 pm

It’s like baseball scouting – looking for the next good prospect for making mainstream war, in the minor leagues

#7 Comment By Peter On January 9, 2017 @ 5:43 pm

The North Korean Kim dynasty was and remained paranoid – just like Korea before them.
On the other hand, the example of Saddam – who got rid of his WMD – to be later invaded by the US, is not exactly an argument to North Korea to eliminate them.
The example of Gaddafi – who agreed to stop working on WMD – to be later bombed is another warning to North Korea of what happens when you behave.
These are some of the great achievements of the Bush/Cheney and Obama/Hillary foreign policy teams.

#8 Comment By Seth Owen On January 9, 2017 @ 10:42 pm

Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

North Korea’s nuclear program is a rational response to their perceived threat.

Now, they are still nuts, so it’s not a good thing. They can’t be trusted to be rational about what constitutes a threat. Imagining a showdown between Kim and Trump would be amusing — if it wasn’t for the nukes.

#9 Comment By ChrisM On January 9, 2017 @ 11:34 pm

The strategy for North Korea should be unification. The best strategy to utilize Russia is not Syria or Iran or Europe but stress that one day Russia may need allies in a unified Korea, a strong Japan and a friendly US Russia need to defend its eastern territory.

#10 Comment By Fast Jimmy On January 12, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

North Korea successfully developing a nuclear tipped missile capable of reaching our West coast constitutes a risk no American president could ignore.

Think of the lengths we’ve gone to overreacting to much less serious threats. This actually is the nightmare scenario we have used as a boogeyman to justify almost anything.

None of these facts contradict the assertion that attacking North Korea would likely be a disaster