North Korea fired another ballistic missile yesterday. The two-month hiatus had put an ounce of hope on the world’s plate until last week when reports started coming in that they were on the verge of another test. Now that they’ve launched it, we’re back to where we’ve been for months: wondering what Kim Jong-un is thinking and if there’s any way to stop him.
Currently, there does not seem to be any action, not from the United States nor the United Nations. The rogue nation has been hit with everything short of a military strike. They’ve been strongly condemned. They’ve been heavily sanctioned. They’ve even been ridiculed by the President of the United States. Nothing seems to deter them.
Behind closed doors, many have been urging China to intervene. The only regional ally to North Korea has demonstrated one of two things: little influence over Kim’s regime or quiet support of his actions. They either can’t reign him in or they’re not really trying.
Russia won’t help. They’re not in his cross hairs. There’s an ever-so-slight chance they’re privately supporting them, though their actions do not seem to be beneficial to Russia’s interests. Vladimir Putin has always been one who prefers the status quo, so it’s unlikely he’d be encouraging Kim. On the other hand, it’s the United States and our allies who are being targeted by Kim, so in that regard Putin might be a closet fan.
An interesting analysis by Stan Grant at ABC Australia made some interesting points about the North Korea situation:
North Korea exists in a still-declared state of war. Survival is everything.
It has allowed its people to starve while funnelling money into its military.
It has the fourth biggest army in the world, 2 million troops. It would enlist millions more if attacked.
It has close to 10,000 artillery guns aimed at the South Korean capital, Seoul.
It already has the capacity to rain down hell, potentially killing millions.
But its nuclear muscle significantly ups the ante.
Indeed it does.
There aren’t many options for handling North Korea and the few that exist are not good. Do we strike them first militarily? For this to work, it would have to be swift and decisive. Somehow we’d need to build international support without prompting the North Koreans to attack first. Otherwise, we risk looking like the imperialistic bad guys much of the world believes we are.
Is there a cyber-solution available to take them down or delay them as Israel did with Iran using Stuxnet? No country in the world is more guarded in their IT departments than North Korea. Their people barely have the internet. Their agencies still operate mostly through paper. Getting the type of program necessary to do the damage won’t work the way it did against Iran. We’d need to have direct access to their technology. That would mean infiltration at the local level.
Do we ignore them? This may be the only viable solution for now, but as Grant noted in his article, “strategic patience” didn’t really work well for Presidents Bush or Obama. President Trump may have better success if he can open a dialogue with the North Koreans. In fact, that dialogue may already be taking place despite the blustery back-and-forth between the leaders of both nations through the press and on Twitter. It’s unlikely, particularly after the latest launch, but it can’t be dismissed entirely.
Whatever we’re going to do, it seems necessary for it to happen sooner rather than later. North Korea is stepping things up. When someone like Kim Jong-un has the ability to strike Los Angeles with barely half-an-hour warning, we should all be highly alarmed.