Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Pre-emptive strike on North Korea- like committing suicide from fear of death.

The cold hard reality is there is no viable military option against North Korea. They have nuclear weapons, which they can respond with. They have formidable conventional artillery, which they can use to hit Seoul. A preventive strike may provoke the very action it is designed to prevent. As Bismarck warned, it is like committing suicide from fear of death.

A political settlement with Pyongyang is probably not plausible, so America and its allies have no choice but to contain North Korea as best we can. Deterrence and diplomacy have risks, to be sure, but the risks seem far lower than those involved in attacking or further isolating North Korea.

Of course North Korea wants nukes. We should learn to live with it
Deterrence and diplomacy carry risks, but attacking or further isolating North Korea could be worse.
The Age , Tom Switzer, 23 Apr 17, “……I listen to the debates about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Once again, we are told that a rogue state is bent on developing nuclear weapons that threaten world peace and that either a preventive strike or regime change, or both, will disarm this strategic and moral threat.

But remember the realists were right about Iraq. Leave aside that Saddam’s regime did not even possess serious weapons of mass destruction capacity. Regime change was always fraught with the danger of unintended consequences. Iran and its Shiite militias acquired new influence within Iraq and the broader region while parts of Iraq fell into the hands of Sunni jihadists, who were even more fanatical than al-Qaeda.

Although anguish over a nuclear North Korea is understandable, it’s a fair bet the realists are also right today.

We are told Kim Jong-un is really a madman because he really has nuclear weapons. But although he is a nasty piece of work, the North Korean despot is not crazy. His primary goal is survival: the end of his regime means the end of Kim. From his perspective, it makes sense to develop nuclear weapons.

Why? Because nukes are the ultimate deterrent. North Korea is a minor power surrounded by three major powers – China, Japan, Russia – and with an outside power – the US – constantly threatening it with regime change. As Professor John Mearsheimer, the doyen of foreign-policy realism, told me recently, when Washington strikes Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, or helps topple Saddam’s Iraq or Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya, it gives Pyongyang a very powerful incentive to keep its nuclear weapons.

We are told that Beijing must force North Korea into giving up its nukes or at least not develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit California and Darwin. Chinese co-operation would be ideal and Beijing’s leaders, as Malcolm Turnbull reiterated at the weekend, have some leverage with their communist comrade.

But China also needs North Korea for geopolitical reasons. It is a vital strategic asset. Remember that China entered the Korean War in late 1950 when the Americans crossed the 38th Parallel.

From Beijing’s standpoint, the collapse of North Korea would create a refugee crisis and mean a reunified Korea under a US nuclear security umbrella. If you think Russia is overly sensitive about Ukraine being a western bulwark on its doorstep, imagine how China would respond to a western bulwark on its doorstep. As unfashionable as it is to say, great powers still have spheres of influence.

We are told that regime change is an option in dealing with the North Korean menace. But if there is any hope of discouraging Pyongyang from using nuclear weapons, the West will need to stop threatening regime change and try to reach an accommodation with the Hermit Kingdom. The only way North Korea will jettison its nukes is if it feels relatively secure and has the sense that relations with the West are improving.

Alas, Donald Trump sounds tougher with Pyongyang than even Bush and Barack Obama. At the weekend, Vice-President Mike Pence told the Prime Minister the US will not relent until the Korean peninsula is free of nuclear weapons. That could box in Trump, limit his options, and force him on a path that could push him into a preventive war.

The cold hard reality is there is no viable military option against North Korea. They have nuclear weapons, which they can respond with. They have formidable conventional artillery, which they can use to hit Seoul. A preventive strike may provoke the very action it is designed to prevent. As Bismarck warned, it is like committing suicide from fear of death.

A political settlement with Pyongyang is probably not plausible, so America and its allies have no choice but to contain North Korea as best we can. Deterrence and diplomacy have risks, to be sure, but the risks seem far lower than those involved in attacking or further isolating North Korea. Just think of Iraq.

Tom Switzer is a Fairfax Media columnist and a presenter on the ABC’s Radio National. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/of-course-north-korea-wants-nukes-we-should-learn-to-live-with-it-20170423-gvqkbs.html

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April 24, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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