Why *should* we go to war with North Korea:
Earlier Forces have been exhausted:
We’ve given diplomacy a full course to play itself out. We’ve used economic sanctions. We’ve tried 30 years of containment. The next logical step is escalation. Unfortunately a range of tactical/measured military options are off the table because of the retaliatory capability of North Korea. You can’t lob a few missiles into Pyongyang to get the message across. It’s either, in my opinion, all or nothing.
North Korea is Desperate:
The country is on an annual verge of collapse politically, socially and even in terms of basic human survivability. Dictatorships under threat of internal decline or collapse threaten abroad to rally people into an external focus. (No…no secret entendre about US is implied there, honest). Most desperate dictators aren’t too great a threat except to their immediate neighbors. But in addition to retaliation against SK – North Korea has ballistic missiles capable of reaching many neighbors and potentially into US territory and they have nuclear weapons. That’s enough toys in the sandbox to make things ugly if they decide that because of internal pressures they need to ‘shake’ things up abroad, more so than they already have.
The Global Chess Board:
Imagine a giant six sided Chessboard. The seven “players” are: the US/Britain, China, Russia, India, the European Union, Iran, and ‘everyone else’. Not all players are equal in size or capability – but all have their alliances, client states and sphere of influence over a certain part of the globe. Within the next twenty years major war will break out between one or more of these players, given our position it will likely include us.
North Korea is a tactical problem that we can solve prior to this horizon to free up our resources for when those conflicts occur. If we don’t do it now – and we get pulled into a major war – we’re going to regret not resolving North Korea when we had the chance. It will be another front in a multi-front effort, and one capable of wreaking great harm. But I do believe that if done correctly we can be in and out of North Korea in 2-5 years, hopefully before we need to go against one of the other ‘big players’. North Korea is not a problem like Israeli v. Palestine or even Suuni v. Shia in Iraq or the Middle East or the war on drugs in South America – none of which may be solved in our lifetimes. North Korea is a problem because Kim is in control and they have lots of sharp pointy objects to throw at us. This is a problem that we CAN solve, that, once solved – has little chance of rearing up again.
North Korea’s actions are leading to a general arms race in Asia. Japan wants preemption, India continues to test its own missile, and China can’t help but take notice of India and Japan. All this is instigated at the whims of the most unstable player on the board: Mr. Kim. I believe that without North Korea pushing the momentum the arms race will, although not going away, at least lesson in speed and urgency.
As I said the night we went to war with Iraq – North Korea is far more a broker and distributor of weapons and WMD technology than Iraq ever was, just as Iran was far more of backer of terrorists than Saddam ever considered. North Korea’s only cash economy besides printing it revolves around the sales of ballistic and weapons technology. They are a potential source for nuclear weapons to rogue or hostile states to the US.
We wait at our peril
The final reason – this is truly a case of war being only averted to the benefit of the enemy. NK has very limited ICBM and nuclear capabilities right now – but they do have them. They will only get more over time. Our ability for a, pardon the expression, relatively clean operation goes down with time. We have battle tested troops – we have carrier groups available, we have an increasing stockpile of technical weapons after shooting most of them off in Iraq II. We are stretched then – but the kind of war I propose in NK is not the same as in Iraq – but that’s for the next post.