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All the Bad Options with North Korea

We should further step up our propaganda war via radio and social media against North Korea and its Chinese master. We should assist with an underground railroad to free North Korean slaves everywhere. Embolden the non-violent freedom fighter. And we need more swaggering with our ships and planes not only near the Korean Peninsula but also in the South China Sea. The moves to contain North Korea should be a part of a grand strategy to put China in its place.

Our options as far as Pyongyang is concerned depend, really, on our strategic goal regarding North Korea. What is our strategic goal? We don’t have one. It should be ultimately the destruction of the Communist regime there and the liberation of its slaves. But, we have not championed a solution like this since General Douglas MacArthur wanted to nuke a weak China less than a year into the Korean War, which instead lasted three years. We are happy with a two Korea solution. And so is Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow, and others for the most part. So, by default it appears that our strategic goal is to maintain the status quo, while reigning in Pyongyang’s cyclical nuclear outbursts. It certainly is an exasperating exercise in brinksmanship.

Whether or not this is an oxymoronic strategic goal, our options vis-à-vis North Korea should also be informed by our assumptions regarding not just the totalitarian regime of dictator Kim Jong Un, but also the regional geopolitical context. Namely, we assume that whatever we do there impacts, most importantly China. Then we worry about Japan and South Korea. Moscow is almost an afterthought in our strategic calculus that the Russian Federation is a Far Eastern power. Yet, it is all but forgotten that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin created North Korea following Imperial Japan’s unconditional surrender in the Second World War.

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