The Wall Street Journal indulges more North Korea regime change fantasies:
Ideally regime change would mean Korean reunification under the Seoul government. But Beijing is likely to resist that outcome, preferring to keep the North as a buffer state under its control. That would still offer North Koreans a better life and end the nuclear threat. We should send the message to coup plotters that as long as they give up their nuclear weapons and missiles they would not be punished.
As usual, the Journal talks up the supposed benefits of regime change without ever once considering the possible negative costs. Encouraging an attempted coup in North Korea could backfire spectacularly in at least a couple ways. A coup might succeed in deposing the Kim dynasty, but then trigger a civil war between competing factions fighting over the succession, and that could produce a massive refugee crisis that no one is prepared to handle. Whichever side prevailed would still have a nuclear arsenal, and the new leadership would probably be no more inclined to negotiate it away than Kim is today. A coup might be attempted and fail, and that would leave a nuclear-armed Kim even more hostile and that much more determined to develop his weapons and missile programs. The attempt would make any negotiations with his government impossible for years or possibly even decades to come. The WSJ’s “plan” for regime change in North Korea also ignores China’s likely response to attempts to force political change on their border. China has already signaled that it would not permit an attack on North Korea, and it seems unlikely that it would view a U.S.-sponsored coup any more favorably. If China chooses to aid Kim in thwarting a coup, it is even more likely to fail and leave us in a worse position than we are in now.
Supposing that the U.S. could get enough members of the North Korean military to depose Kim in a coup (and I doubt our government actually could), why would they give up an arsenal that they now control? If they are unwilling to give up that arsenal, a coup won’t have solved anything, and might very well make a dangerous situation even more so.