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Trump to North Korea: Surrender First, Talk Later

December 18, 2017 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For Washington, the most satisfactory solution to the North
Korea Problem would be Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s surrender.
Complete and abject. Abandon nuclear weapons, close labor camps,
hold elections, invite South Koreans to take over, and recognize
President Donald Trump’s international leadership.

Maybe that will happen. It would be great if it did. We can
dream — but it wouldn’t be wise to count on that outcome.

Yet that appears to be the Trump administration’s approach to
the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim says a nuclear deterrent is necessary for his nation’s
defense. The president responded by stepping into a corner,
insisting that he will loose the dogs of war before the North
develops the capability to hit the United States.

Of course, it is difficult to determine the actual reach of
Pyongyang’s weapons, allowing the Trump administration to fudge a
bit. However, some officials already stated that they have only
months to act. Moreover, the DPRK routinely claims inflated test
results and regime capabilities. In fact, Pyongyang recently
declared its deterrent to be complete. Unless Kim soon genuflects
toward Washington, it will become obvious to all that Pyongyang has
called Washington’s bluff.

So, if the administration is serious, war seems inevitable.

The Costs of War

Alas, this would be no “cakewalk” à la Iraq. Presumably the
administration would target missile and nuclear sites — but
not all locations are known, some facilities are buried deep
underground and the North relies on mobile launchers. Washington
also could try to kill Kim, but that might merely reinforce other
members’ concerns about regime security, rather than bring forth a
liberal regime that is well disposed toward America.

There is plenty wrong
with U.S. foreign policy. But the single worst approach, which
could lead America into a devastating war in Northeast Asia, might
be that toward North Korea.

Unfortunately, retaliation is highly likely. Pyongyang might
focus on U.S. military facilities, threatening to hit South Korean
and Japanese cities if Washington went another round. Or Kim might
decide an American attack was a prelude to regime change, and go
all in at the start. Although the United States would ultimately
triumph, the course of any war would be unpredictable, and
estimates of potential casualties routinely break a million. If the
North dropped nukes on Seoul and Tokyo — North Korea’s
capabilities remain uncertain — the number of dead and
wounded would rocket upward.

Thus, few analysts believe there is a viable military option.
That claim should be filed with proposals for preventive war
against the Soviet Union and China when they were developing nukes.
Uncle Sam played it safe, and was not sorry as a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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