During his speech before the Atlantic Council last week Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that he will push for a diplomatic solution with North Korea until “the first bomb drops.” Recent reports from sources inside and close to the White House seem to indicate that those first bombs could be coming sooner than expected. These sources claim that Washington has “dramatically” increased preparations for military action in retaliation to Pyongyang’s ever-expanding nuclear program, which is now said to boast the ability to reach the entire continental United States.
The Trump administration has held for some time that it would be unwilling to convene for talks with North Korea… if the Communist regime might agree to dismantle its nuclear program. Last week, the tides shifted when Tillerson announced in his speech that the U.S. would be willing to meet with North Korean authorities without a precondition. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un turned his nose up at the offer.
What are the options?
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stated last week in a interview with the Atlantic that he believes there is a 30% chance President Trump will utilize a military option in dealing with the renegade regime. Senator Graham went on to say that if Pyongyang conducts another missile launch, he believes there is a 70% chance the president will call for some form of military intervention.
Three anonymous sources reportedly told the Telegraph that military intervention could be coming down the pike. According to the sources, the Trump administration is considering different options. One option would include knocking out a launch site, thus preempting a new missile test. As Kim Jong-un himself usually watches the launches from nearby with his top generals in tow, one could speculate whether such a strike would take out the dictator as well.
International experts on nuclear nonproliferation have pointed out that North Korea has been using a variety of launch sites, making it difficult to ascertain the precise site of a launch ahead of time. Further complicating matters, North Korea utilizes mobile launchers, freeing it from the need to use designated launch sites at all.
Despite these complications, it would be folly to assume the U.S. doesn’t have the military might or intelligence to shoot down a missile or eviscerate a launch site. The U.S. possesses submarines, stealth fighters, and missile destroyers in the region that are all capable of carrying out such a plan. It’s also important to note that although experts and journalists may feel comfortable tweeting their fears or speculations, they are hardly in possession of substantial military intelligence.
Another option would call for the destruction of North Korean weapon stockpiles in hopes that the show of force may convince the belligerent dictator that negotiating with the U.S. is in his best interests.
The information provided to the Telegraph by the three sources implies that Washington is not looking for a full-scale war, but simply to show Kim Jong-un that the U.S. is serious in its threats of military action.
“The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious,” one of the sources told the Telegraph.
Military intervention or precarious peace?
According to various sources, the Trump administration sees the planned attack as a short engagement meant to bring Pyongyang to the bargaining table. Kim Jong-un has held that the nuclear program is necessary for self-defense. If the U.S. were to launch an attack on North Korea, it would only confirm the fears of the dictator, which many experts fear could turn the “warning” into a full-scale nuclear war. Kim is notoriously unstable, with little regard for the lives of his own constituents, making it difficult to determine what his response to such an attack would be. Additionally, U.S. military leaders like Secretary of Defense James Mattis doubt whether North Korea’s missiles are indeed intercontinental.
On the other side of the debate are those who insist that the U.S. cannot allow the nuclear program to progress any further. An authoritarian communist regime with the capability of reaching the U.S. with its nuclear warheads should send a chill up anyone’s spine.
Although Pyongyang insists the program is for self-defense only, a regime that seems to cement its rule through apparent propaganda, lies, fear and starvation can hardly be trusted.
A different perspective
From a different perspective, the human rights situation in North Korea appears highly untenable. Kim Jong-un was recently found guilty of 10 out of 11 crimes against humanity by the International Bar Association. The only crime he was not found guilty of was apartheid, although it is illegal to have a mixed race child in North Korea.
Defectors from the failed communist state report unimaginable tortures in prison camps, rampant sexual violence, and starvation. According to UN reports, two of five North Koreans are malnourished, while 70% of the population relies on the meager food assistance available. South Korean scientists have found that North Koreans are generally up to three inches shorter than South Koreans. The shorter stature is seen as testimony to the starvation of the North Korean people. Although Pyongyang brags of its nuclear program, the soldiers in North Korea’s massive standing army are believed to be starving.
Pyongyang’s nuclear program is said to be literally starving its people as the government cuts rations to pay for the program. International sanctions subsequent the nuclear testing have further crippled the economy, while defectors report radiation poisoning and environmental disasters that destroy food production and kill wildlife.
The regime also allegedly experiments in sex trafficking. Last week, reports surfaced that North Korean women and girls are being trafficked into China to meet the demands for women created by Mao Zedong’s one-child policy. Young girls are most often sold as brides, while older women are reportedly sold into sex slavery and forced prostitution.
Because of the severely secretive nature of the regime, the deepest horrors may have yet to be revealed. Meanwhile Pyongyang’s propaganda holds that the Kims have created a socialist paradise.