Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Breaking Down Extended Deterrence

Why might South Korea decide to go nuclear?

There are two major variables that factor into South Korea’s calculus on starting a nuclear weapons program: the feasibility of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons voluntarily, and the guarantee of America’s extended deterrence in the event of the nuclear crisis on the peninsula. Both are trending in the wrong direction. [emphasis added]


North Korea's nukes don't necessarily prompt South Korea to go nuclear given that North Korea has long had the power to destroy Seoul (with a quarter of South Korea's population) with conventional means.

The invasion and capture option has dwindled since the collapse of the USSR dried up military support to North Korea. But bombardment is still an option, if more limited than in the past when North Korean armies could advance on Seoul and allow shorter-range artillery to join in on the barrage. North Korea has chemical weapons, recall.

The second part is more important. This issue of extended deterrence is a calculation I've discussed for a long time.

As long as North Korea lacks the means to fire a nuke at American cities, America will absolutely nuke North Korea if North Korea nukes South Korea.

But would America risk a nuclear strike on Seattle by responding with our nuclear strikes in the north to North Korea's nuking of Pusan, South Korea?

South Korea might not want to risk that we are confident enough in our thin missile defenses to hit North Korea in retaliation.

Remember that nukes are for defending core interests. South Korea already experienced one implicit declaration that South Korea was outside of our Asian defense perimeter. Is South Korea confident that has changed despite the decades of fighting and resisting North Korea?

So yeah, South Korea could decide to build nuclear weapons. And we could help South Korea to avoid putting ourselves in that extended deterrence dilemma.

And then the question is whether Japan or Vietnam is next.

And then Taiwan.

And the Philippines and Australia probably join the crowd at that point.

How many of those countries will point at least some of their nukes at China? Yeah, all of them--including North Korea.

Bravo China.

All because the Pillsbury Nuke Boy Kim Jong-Un won't take the opportunity Trump has given him to come in from the cold by peacefully denuclearizing and China won't control their little pet psycho.

Have a super sparkly day.