Everyone knows that the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea as it is better known, is a problem and the clock is running out. They already have nuclear weapons. If they develop the technology to deliver those weapons to strike our Asian allies and the Mainland of the United States we will be in grave danger, probably worse than any faced since the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator is crazy enough to use them.
So, the question is what do we do? The answers get fewer as time grows shorter. Our options are rapidly disappearing. As I see it we have three options.
1. Continue to try for a diplomatic resolution. One in which the Kim regime can stay in power but gives up its nukes. It is highly unlikely this option will work because Kim wants one on one negotiations with the United States and we insist on multi-national negotiations that include Japan, South Korea, and China at a minimum. The U.S. is unlikely to agree to Kim’s demand for two party negotiations because it would place him as an equal to the U.S. and no American President has ever been willing to do that because it plays into Kim’s hand and legitimizes him.
2. An allied preemptive strike against North Korean military installations, nuclear weapons facilities and missile development and launch sites. If this happens it must be a joint effort. A unilateral action on our part would put South Korea in great jeopardy without their permission and they are the ones who will likely suffer devastating losses.
While the U.S. and its allies are certainly capable of launching a highly effective strike there is no way it would come as a surprise. Too many assets would have to be moved into place and there’s no way that can be done secretly, especially if countries like Russia decide to share satellite imagery information with North Korea. Even if a preemptive strike was successful the South would pay a heavy price. North Korea could easily destroy the South’s capital city of Seoul with a steady barrage from the 12 to 20,000 artillery pieces located only 30 miles from the city of over 10 million people.
An artillery barrage, though, is not the worst of what could happen. Any attack on the north carries with it the risk of Kim going nuclear and hitting not only South Korea but also Japan. In any nuclear attack by the north the United States will take heavy losses. We have thousands of troops in South Korea, Japan and Okinawa whose lives would definitely be in jeopardy. There is little doubt that if Kim decided to use his nuclear weapons the U.S. would respond in kind. A nuclear exchange would result in radioactive fallout affecting a wide area beyond the countries directly affected. How will Russia and China respond to their populations suffering the effect of deadly radioactivity caused by our bombs? Russia has as many nuclear warheads as we do and they have the ability to deliver them anywhere in the world. China has a lesser amount of nukes but still a sufficient number to cause unimaginable destruction.
So the bottom line of a preemptive strike is a very high possibility of nuclear war and maybe even a worldwide nuclear war.
3. The final and most effective way of stopping North Korea, in my view, is to cut off the money. It is not only the most effective way to put a stop to the Kim regime’s militaristic dreams. The first step is to cause by whatever means possible world banks to do two things. One is to stop lending money to Kim and the other is to freeze his accounts so he cannot draw down accounts to pay his bills or for any other reason. One way to get rogue nations from selling material to Kim is to ensure that Kim’s checks bounce. You can’t maintain and equip an army, develop nuclear weapons and the rockets to carry them and purchase parts and equipment to build other weapons of war if you don’t have the cash to pay for them. So besides causing the banks to let the world know Kim has insufficient funds what else can we do?
No other country in the world has the economic might of the United States. This situation is so serious we must use every bit of leverage we have to shut down North Koreas flow of money. We can worry about hurt feelings later. There are too many lives at stake. If we really are an international leader, then we have to flex our economic muscle. First, we have to turn up the pressure on China. If China turned off the monetary spigot to North Korea the show would be over very quickly, but China is not alone. Russia Iran and some others are also complicit. Countries that sell to or financially support North Korea will have to decide if they prefer trade with the U.S. or the DPRK. If we form a coalition of allies who will back us up we can ensure that any country that does business with North Korea pays a heavy penalty.
It seems as though the Chinese may finally be ready to apply some pressure to North Korea but time is limited. If they don’t apply all the pressure they have then we must pressure them.
Even though China owns a great deal of our debt we still have leverage because the USA is China’s Biggest market for its goods. They can’t afford to lose us as a customer. They just might respond to our requests to further pressure the DPRK if they believed the American market for their goods was threatened. There are several ways of doing that, one is with sanctions, which could have the effect of causing retail prices on their goods in the U.S. to increase to a point where they are no longer competitive. Such a move would hurt the U.S. too but it might be a gamble worth taking. Then, we do the same thing to any other nation that is involved in any kind of trade with North Korea. We have to freeze Kim’s government out so they cannot borrow money, they cannot sell their goods, they cannot feed their army or Navy, they cannot afford weapons and they cannot get the parts and equipment to further develop their nuclear weapons and the missiles that would deliver them.
Finally failing all else, China could withhold food from North Korea. The communist state’s people are already living in abject poverty, many of them are starving. These sanctions and other measures might push them over the edge and force a regime change.
Do these measures sound too harsh? Yes, is my answer and I wrote this blog. They are very harsh but we have to remember what’s at stake here – nuclear destruction, millions and millions of lost lives never mind the suffering of more millions. The old ways have not worked and we’ve tried almost everything so now perhaps we ought to smash old paradigms and get way outside of the box. The solution I described will obviously cause a great deal of discomfort for a whole lot of people in order to avoid nuclear war. In the end they might be angry, they might even be hungry, but they’ll be alive.
So that’s the way I see this latest North Korean Crisis but again the Timex is ticking. We don’t have time for extended debate or negotiations. We have to act soon. Every minute that goes by places the Kim regime that much closer to being able to deliver a nuclear warhead to our west coast. It’s time to go beyond tough talk and take tough action. The only way we will solve the North Korean problem is to make sure they can no longer pay for their mischief. It’s time for a whole new approach.
All of this, of course, depends on President Trump acting rationally, with great wisdom and restraint. We have absolutely no experience with him in crisis mode. Let’s hope he is more settled than he is in normal mode. He has some excellent advisors especially the military people he’s appointed. I only wish he had a stronger State Department. So far all we know about them is that usually they have “No Comment.”
It’s time for leadership and decisiveness. We can’t wait this one out, there’s too much at stake. I hope Mr. Trump can rise to the occasion.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth.