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The Options for America on North Korea are Limited

Updated on April 30, 2022
emge profile image

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters.

Screen shot from Youtube
Screen shot from Youtube

The Strike Option may not Work

Some years back when Donald Trump was the president, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikkei Haley repeatedly said that “all options” are on the table and that presumably includes an attack on the North Korean nuclear and missile facilities. The Americans, have been considering a strike on North Korea when Bill Clinton was the president. But for the last 2 decades or more the Americans have been contemplating a strike but at the last moment backed down. President Trump who was earlier talking about military action and generally breathing fire somewhat toned down his rhetoric after he realized that a strike on the North will be counterproductive. He decided to strike a different line by directly engaging with the Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un in talks. They met twice and Trump can take credit for that, for during and after the talks North Korea did not carry out any tests.

Danger to South Korea

The South Koreans are not enamored of a military strike as they are aware of the danger to them and unlikely to give the USA a go-ahead to execute the attack. The fact is that any strike on the North would bring a fierce response and even in a conventional war, the South, whose population centers are within the artillery range of the North Korean guns could well see anything up to a million deaths. This is a reality as almost 70% of the population as well as the capital Seul is close to the DMZ, hence extremely vulnerable.

In case, Km Jong -Un decides on a nuclear strike and even one bomb hits South Korea, the causalities and destruction would be immeasurable. This is the reason Trump backed off and had two meetings with Kim.

Unfortunately, Trump lost the election and is no longer the president. Had he won, something would have occurred as he had built a rapport with Kim.

Joe Biden

The Advent of Joe Biden has queered the pitch. He has been embroiled first in the massive retreat from Afghanistan and in an attempt to shore up his ratings created the Ukraine problem. In the bargain, he has lost focus on the South China Sea and Chinese belligerence. North Korea is out of view.

This has given time to the Korean leader to take stock and he has again started testing missiles. Obviously, there is no reaction from Biden, embroiled as he is in the Russian attack on Ukraine.

The Korean regime is a dictatorship that rules with an iron fist.No dissent is tolerated and whatever resources are available are given to the Military first before anything reaches the people. Kim will not give up his nuclear arsenal though his people suffer more economic hardship as he continues on his path of having a missile system that can hit the USA. In other words, the North Korean people will continue to suffer.

The North Koreans have repeatedly said that their nuclear program is not- negotiable. Biden perhaps has accepted it and is not interested in disturbing the status quo.

The options for Biden are very limited. He is constrained by so many factors that will not allow him to authorize a strike on the North. He has to look for other options for even in the event of a limited strike North Korea has said that its response will be “merciless”. Probably the best course would be for Biden to pick up the phone and talk to Kim. He could build upon the base laid by Trump but his mind conditioned by a focus on Russia and mollycoddling China will see him take no action and one wonders what happens when Kim has the missiles to hit America? That will open up terrible possibilities. Biden may regret his lack of foresight on North Korea.

© 2017 MG Singh emge


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