A Modest Proposal for Striking North Korea

January 14, 2018
Jeffrey Lewis

The following is an excerpt from an op/ed originally published in the Daily Beast

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There seems to be a growing consensus among Serious Foreign Policy Intellectuals that the time is now ripe to mount a military operation against North Korea, much as in 2012 when the Obama took heed of the wise men counseling war and obliterated Iran’s nuclear program. Over at Foreign Policy, Edward Luttwak has captured the zeitgeist with a blunt piece under the modest title, “It’s Time to Bomb North Korea.”

The challenge, of course, is what precisely we ought to be bombing. Luttwak is rather silent on this important issue—most likely, I presume, the fault of careless editors who have in an effort to preserve column inches for advertising seem to have deprived us of his wisdom on this crucial point. Nevertheless, I may have a helpful suggestion.

The central challenge, as we contemplate a “bloody nose” option for a limited military strike, is finding a suitable target that represents Kim Jong Un’s nose—a target that will allow our strike to be intimidating and humiliating to Kim, but not the sort of broad assault that might prompt him to retaliate with his growing stockpile of nuclear weapons. We are a modern-day Goldilocks looking for the perfect bowl of high explosive porridge, neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. It is challenging problem, but perhaps we are looking at it from the wrong end. Luttwak, is willing to write off the several million denizens of Seoul by pointing to lax civil defense efforts on the part of the shifty layabouts running the country. There is, however, the prospect that any North Korean retaliation, which will presumably be aimed at U.S. forces in South Korea and Japan, would also kill some number of brave Americans serving their country abroad. And while some might say they know what they signed up for, it may yet make sense to manage the risks of escalation.

Continue reading at the Daily Beast

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