It has become a truism in the continuing North Korean crisis to say that there is no good military option, but in fact there is.
It is perfectly understandable that the U.S. administration would publicly acquiesce in this conventional wisdom. It warns Kim that there will be repercussions to his provocations, in order to build the record of having put him on notice without rattling his demented overconfidence of his invulnerability.
The reaction to Tuesday’s North Korean missile-firing directly over Japan has elicited the response of official indications that further weapons will be shot down by anti-missile defense systems the United States has deployed in Japan and South Korea. Both veteran Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and new South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who was elected on a platform of reconciliation with North Korea, are now in grateful lockstep with the United States in purposeful response.
President Donald Trump told Chinese president Xi Jinping in Palm Beach in April that if China did not join the U.S. in deterring and containing the North Korean regime, the U.S. would do so itself. Following Tuesday’s new provocation, the Pentagon intimated that it was pre-positioning increased military-strike capabilities to the Far East, and the South Koreans engaged in live bombing exercises very close to the 38th Parallel, which divides the Korean Peninsula.
The fact is that if a carefully planned swarm attack of low-flying cruise missiles was launched against the North Korean artillery massed across the frontier, just 35 miles from the immense South Korean capital city, Seoul, as well as at all North Korean missile launchers, and research and missile storage facilities, it would denuclearize the North and eliminate its power of intimidation against the South.