The Congressional Research Service has come up with the 7 best options for dealing with North Korea, and they have recently presented them to Congress. The growing threat needs to be addressed and in the best way possible. Trump and his cabinet have basically given these same options time and time again.
The 7 U.S. Military options represent the full range of US military might and strategy but sometimes in unexpected ways. Surprisingly, not every option has to do with use of force. In some cases, the US may just continue business as usual. In other cases, the military may withdraw completely from South Korea.
Here is the list as reported by Business Insider:
Maintain the status quo
Basically the US military could simply continue its regular activities and military drills while the State Department works on sanctions and diplomatic solutions.
This option was former President Barack Obama eight years plan to limit effect.
Those against this policy of “strategic patience,” as the Obama administration dubbed it, point out that it has failed for years to stop North Korea from gaining a nuclear weapon or creating long-range missiles. Trump has maintained the basic principals of strategic patience but has also added the rise in deployments of aircraft carriers and sometimes frightening threats to “totally destroy” the country with “fire and fury.”
Arm the region to the teeth and watch North Korea like a hawk
This option takes the status quo and ramps it up with the US’s scariest, most capable platforms being sent to the region and more heavily monitoring North Korea so that they feel it would be unwise to try using it’s nuclear capabilities.
US stealth jets and bombers, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided-missile destroyers, and even tactical nuclear weapons could be deployed to South Korea and Japan to step up a bigger US presence in the area.
In doing so the U.S. would also increase it’s cyber and naval presence to intercept any shipments to North Korea that could further Pyongyang’s weapons program.
Those who disagree with this move do so because they feel that North Korea hates US military deployments to the peninsula and could easily see such a move as further justification to continue its weapons program at any cost.
Furthermore, the US can’t simply place these assets in the region — it needs to credibly threaten using them. What would give North Korean reason to open fire on US Navy sailors trying to board and inspect its cargo.
Shoot down every medium- to long-range missile North Korea fires to restrict its testing
This approach would have to disregard the long-stated US goal of denuclearizing North Korea and goes directly to freezing its nuclear-missile program.
North Korea has to keep testing its missiles to achieve a credible nuclear threat to the US, but to do so it has to test missiles that fly beyond its borders.
If the US and allies shot down North Korea’s test fires, it would deny Pyongyang the testing data it needs to have confidence in its fleet, but that would leave US ballistic-missile-defense assets, like its Navy destroyers, absolutely committed to the region, which would then limit resources available elsewhere.
Unfortunately this option leaves North Korea to still test shorter-range missiles which puts US forces in the region at risk, and it’s unknown how Pyongyang would respond to having its missiles shot down.
Destroy all ICBM sites and missile launch pads
This would be the first massively kinetic military response to North Korea.
With limited airstrikes and likely some Tomahawk missile launches from the US Navy, the US military would look to destroy in one quick pass every single known missile launch-pad and ICBM manufacturing site. However the US is not aware yet of the full extent of North Korea’s missile-producing infrastructure, and it would be easy to accidently leave behind some secret or underground sites. While most of North Koreas missiles are fired from fixed sites, North Korea has unfortunately developed solid-fueled missiles that can launch from anywhere at any time.
While this strike could conceivably remove the threat to the US from North Korean ICBMs, Pyongyang may very well see the attack as a larger-scale decapitation attack against the Kim regime.
North Korea could then unleash its full, massive artillery force against South Korea and the US forces stationed there. Kim could decide to fire nuclear missiles at Japan and South Korea. Experts assess that an all out war could cost 30,000 to 300,000 lives a day, with many of those coming from the civilian populations of the US’s allies in Asia.
Complete denuclearization by force
This option stages an even bigger military campaign targeting every known nuclear and missile site across North Korea. Instead of just airstrikes and cruise-missile launches, this type of attack would call for the full force of US Special Forces to literally pour over the border to neutralize key North Korean sites.
Unfortunately the US does not yet know the location of every North Korean nuclear and missile site, intense surveillance and guess-and-check work would follow the initial salvo.
This option only increases the already dire risk to the US’s allies.
Decapitation of the Kim regime
Although the US military, Secretary of State Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis all say unequivocally that the US does not want or train for regime-change missions in North Korea, the president and the military have to do what’s best for the country at any cost.
If the US were to find that the Kim regime has bad intentions for the people of the US, regime change by military force could then come into play.
However the US can not simply kill Kim Jong Un and assume that the other 25 million North Koreans would just surrender. North Korea still technically exists under the “forever leader” of Kim Il Sung, who has been dead for decades. Rank-and-file North Koreans brainwashed with the daily war propaganda would fight on, perhaps even more violently, after Kim died.
The military would have to have a massive presence to also target “not only nuclear infrastructure but command and control facilities, key leaders, artillery and missile units, chemical and biological weapons facilities, airfields, ports, and other targets deemed critical to regime survival,” according to the report for Congress.
“This operation would be tantamount to pursuing full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula, and risk conflict elsewhere in the region,” the report concludes.
The conflict could possibly be drawn out and become every bit as bloody as the Vietnam War or the first Korean conflict, and for that reason it remains extremely unlikely.
Just walk away
This option could actually be the most dangerous due to the fact that removing US troops from this area could allow Kim to unleash his fury on South Korea as it has been indicated for years that North Korea wants total control of all Korea areas.
Some believe North Korea pursues nuclear weapons only because the US has troops in South Korea and Japan, and if the US withdrew those troops, Kim Jong Un wouldn’t feel as pressured and China or the international community could more easily sway him to denuclearize.
This idea would heavily sit on the hope that Kim’s response to a weakened South Korea wouldn’t then lead to an all out violent take over. Nothing can guarantee that Kim would negotiate after gaining the upper hand on South Korea, and history shows that it is highly unlikely. Additionally, it argues that the US should end its legal troop deployments to Japan and South Korea in hopes that North Korea would end its illegal development of nuclear weapons, which basically leads to the US falling to what looks like blackmail.
North Korea has long stated one of its goals as reuniting the Korean Peninsula under the Kim dynasty, and if the US ceded to Pyongyang, it just may feel emboldened to do so.
None of the military options seem to offer a perfect solution, and many only offer possible catastrophic solutions.
In the end, North Korea’s rogue leadership and nuclear pursuits exist as political, not solely military options.
In that respect, while the US and allied militaries could certainly defeat North Korea and crush its nuclear program, it would cost potentially hundreds of thousands of lives and open the world to the possibility of nuclear warfare in the 21st century. Military solutions may not solve political problems in this arena, but in case of disaster, the US always has options ready.
Politico has a very different outlook on this entire situation. Basically they propose to let it all sit as it did under Obama.
With speculation mounting that North Korea will conduct a sixth nuclear test, the Trump administration has sent blunt signals about possible U.S. military strikes against the rogue nation. In recent interviews, President Donald Trump has spoken of the potential for “a major, major conflict” and said, “We’ll see,” when asked about potential military action. The Pentagon last week dispatched B-1 Stealth bombers to fly near the North Korean border in a clear signal that military options are under development if diplomacy fails.
The conventional wisdom on North Korea — and the reason Trump and his policymakers jump so quickly to saber-rattling — is that the dictatorship is all but immune to normal diplomatic pressures, too isolated and extreme to yield to our usual tools of persuasion. But, in fact, the United States still has plenty of leverage to drive North Korea to the negotiating table through a well-tested tool: sanctions. Despite the common assumption that North Korea is already subject to crippling international sanctions, U.S. and international sanctions actually leave vast parts of the North Korean economy untouched. This isn’t just about China; the United States and Europe can ratchet up the pressure on the North Korean regime with the ultimate goal of reining in one of today’s greatest national security challenges.
The Trump administration has a playbook from which to draw: the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Trump, who declared the Iran deal a “disaster,” won’t like the comparison. But there are broad similarities between North Korea’s and Iran’s efforts to develop their nuclear programs, and the policies that forced Tehran to the bargaining table can work against Pyongyang as well.
No matter what choice is made a choice does have to be made. Leaving things the way that Obama had them set up under the guise of “it worked with Iran” is essentially suicide. North Korea has gotten too far as it is on that washed up policy, and this will only get more dangerous as time goes on. It is time to end it however is necessary with hope for the best possible outcome.