Saturday, July 01, 2017

Never Mind

I was worried that the election of Moon in South Korea would weaken their resolve to confront North Korea. I'm sure North Korea hoped that was true, too. Never mind:

"The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed," Trump said, referring to his predecessors' approach to the North. "Many years and it's failed, and frankly, that patience is over."

Trump and Moon differ over exactly how much to pressure the North into giving up its weapons programs. Both leaders also have criticized certain aspects of their countries' defense cooperation.

But on Friday the two leaders presented a unified front.

Strategic patience wasn't a bad policy. I preferred it to talks that pretended to achieve a deal (see the Iran nuclear deal, the Syrian chemical weapons deal, and the previous North Korea nuclear deal). And if it bought time for North Korea's military to weaken and perhaps for the regime to collapse, that would be good.

Sadly, North Korea has approached nukes faster than it has approached collapse.

On the bright side, North Korea's military is far weaker now. And we now have thin missile defenses. And our ground forces are largely uncommitted to war.

Unless China reins in their little pet psycho, there will be American-Japanese-South Korea military action against North Korea's nukes (and I wouldn't be shocked if Britain or Australia took part).

I'll guess that if we strike, we will have China pass the message that the attacks are limited to nukes and not a regime change attempt.

That kind of diplomatic message is necessary to remove the need to strike North Korea's chemical arms and artillery north of Seoul--or even to prevent the need for South Korea to advance north of the DMZ to carve out a no-launch zone to protect Seoul from chemical artillery rounds. And if we do the latter, we'd best hit command and control infrastructure as well as logistics centers.

See where that goes? Now it looks a lot like a war.

Saddam endured an American air campaign (Desert Fox) during the Clinton administration aimed at WMD facilities without that spiraling out of control because Saddam knew both that we did not intend regime change from the strike and because he knew his military would be defeated if Saddam escalated.

And so now we get to debate whether Kim is more or less rational than Saddam. How fun.