Time for a preemptive strike against North Korea? Some say yes.
A University of Texas professor argues for a strike against North Korea in a New York Times op-ed. Some US military planners are sympathetic to the idea, while others accuse him of being a warmonger.
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Suri says that the feedback he has received on his piece has run the spectrum, from those who accuse him of being a warmonger to US military planners sympathetic to the idea.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Inside North Korea: more circus than bread
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“A lot are frustrated that we’re playing this game with North Korea every year,” he says.
The consequences of a strike could be dire, Suri concedes. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could decide, for example, to fire off some of the thousands of artillery rounds in his possession toward Seoul, South Korea, potentially killing tens of thousands of people.
But there’s some likelihood that Kim will instead “save face at home by saying, ‘Look, we’re so important that they have to attack us’ and retaliate instead on a smaller scale,” Suri says.
This might include “trying to assassinate someone in South Korea or attacking an island” – in other words, one of the responses they have tried in the past.
“My belief is that if we take out this missile now, and we make it clear it’s an act of self-defense, the choice they have is face suicide or not respond,” Suri says. “I think they will choose not to commit suicide.”
Indeed, it might boil down “to being the best of bad options,” he says.
It is similar to an argument that Messrs. Perry and Carter recall making in their book.
“I went over the ‘talking points’ prepared by my staff, which sketched out how we should explain to the president the difficult choice he had to make,” they wrote.
As the assistant secretary of Defense for international security policy, Carter supported the development of the strike plan.
Perry decided to begin his briefing to the president with a statement attributed to John Kenneth Galbraith: “Politics is not the art of the possible. Rather it consists of choosing between what is disastrous and what is merely unpalatable.”
“We were about to give the president a choice between a disastrous option – allowing North Korea to get a nuclear arsenal, which we might have to face someday – and an unpalatable option, blocking this development, but thereby risking a destructive non-nuclear war,” they wrote. “How had we gotten to this position?”
President Clinton was “within minutes of selecting and authorizing” a deployment option when the meeting was interrupted by a phone call from former President Carter, who had been dispatched to North Korea to negotiate on behalf of the United States. Kim Il-sung, then the aging leader of the regime, had agreed to negotiate.
What will happen this time?
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