Opinion: N. Korea a problem to be managed, not solved

(AP)

First things first:

No military option, no “surgical strike,” can resolve the standoff with North Korea. South Korea’s capital of Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people, sits within easy range of a huge array of North Korean artillery and would sustain immense casualties during any war. North Korea also possesses a nuclear arsenal that it would likely use if attacked, targeting both South Korea and nearby Japan, where significant numbers of U.S. personnel are also stationed.

Given all that, any attempt to use force against North Korea is estimated to produce a minimum of 250,000 civilian fatalities, with the upper range counted in millions. And morally and strategically, we simply can’t condemn hundreds of thousands or even millions of innocent people to death in hopes of pre-empting a theoretical future attack on the United States. Such a step would be unconscionable, even for an administration that preaches “America First.”

We should also keep in mind that during the Korean War, American leaders operated under the assumption that we could fight and defeat North Korea without bringing China into the war. They were proved tragically incorrect, and it is not a mistake that we can risk repeating.

All that said, it doesn’t hurt to keep a military option available, theoretically and rhetorically, as a way to pressure North Korea and China. The trick is not to become trapped by your own words, creating expectations that you then feel pressured to fulfill.

You know, things like this:

President Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he will not draw a “red line” for North Korea, a clear reference to President Obama’s mistake in drawing a red line in Syria. However, when Trump tells the world that the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea has come to an end, when he warns that “I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” as he did Thursday in Poland, he does create an expectation of a crisis that is about to be resolved soon, one way or the other.

And the hard truth is that the era of strategic patience is NOT over. North Korea remains a problem to be managed long-term, not solved in the short-term. Life is like that sometimes. While the United States would like nothing more than regime change, with Kim Jong-un replaced with a more malleable leader who abandons nuclear ambitions, China has other priorities. A regime on its border more malleable to the United States is an outcome that it will work hard to avoid.

It is difficult but not impossible to finesse a resolution that both major powers can accept, using a range of economic and diplomatic pressures to alter Chinese calculations. However, doing so will require an American leadership that is smart enough to use tough rhetoric when required, and tough enough to back away from such rhetoric when that approach is required.

It requires U.S. leadership that enjoys the full trust and confidence of our allies, especially in the case of South Korea and Japan, because their fate will sit in our hands. It requires coolly pragmatic, sophisticated diplomacy, conducted by those with deep knowledge of the region and its intricacies. It requires the emotional maturity not to be distracted by North Korean insults and provocation, and to keep focus on the long-term ultimate goal. It requires the setting aside of ego. It requires …

Well, you get the point. We have a leadership problem here at home that also has to be managed rather than solved, and managing both major challenges simultaneously is going to take some doing plus a good deal of luck.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1588 comments
td1234
td1234

90 minutes and counting on the Trump/Putin meeting and CNN is just throwing more and more crap against the wall. 

Peachs
Peachs

Trump worked over Obama on foreign soil yesterday, he undercuts the intelligence agencies of this country, and undermines the FBI who then are asked to go protect our laws with half this country thinking they are liars. This is rightwing logic, the same kind that was going to repeal Obamacare, this is contagious insanity, and denial, this is making our country a shipwreck and the right, selling this country short, happy.

rimsky
rimsky

Sheetz.  Kobach thingie.

JackClemens
JackClemens

@rimsky It'll be my last freebie of the month. Farewell friends until August.

rimsky
rimsky

 A man who described himself as a homeless veteran called Channel 2 Action News and said he had a bomb and hostages inside a Cobb County bank.

From our AJC.  Why do we mistreat our vets?

Peachs
Peachs

@rimsky GOP calls em losers I guess they feel those comments. Maybe we ban vets now...

Peachs
Peachs

Trump has zero on the score board.  He has a Republican Congress and Supreme Court, yet he gets nothing done.  Why is that the media's fault? And his investigation is real, where is Gowdy, even he could lock this thug up..

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

TD "Some issues that received a higher rating was Economy, gun rights, healthcare and supreme court picks. "


Why can't you ever just tell the whole truth?  (I would point out it should be "WERE economy...." but we gave up on your grammar a long time ago)  Environment was listed but not climate change specifically.  And "gun policy" is a far cry from gun rights. You have no way of knowing what percentage of those people want stricter gun laws. 

honested
honested

@Up In Cleveland 

You don't read like a con.

cons only 'read' to verify their hard wired notions. If a sentence contains a buzzword, it is registered as 'positive' whether the use of the word is legitimate or not.

If distortion occurs, oh well.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Up In Cleveland

You have no way of knowing what percentage of those people want stricter gun laws. 

Actually he does, but like every gun nut out there he just denies it.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Up In Cleveland Right


Reminds me of the polls they used to cite showing opposition to Obamacare. When in fact many in opposition were folks wanting single payer


You cant expect people like TD to be intellectually honest however. That isnt going to happen. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Hedley_Lammar @Up In Cleveland

Yeah, they ALWAYS pretended like America has no left wing, that some corporatist Democrat was as far left as America goes.

And I don't mind it when it's some dumb conservative spouting it, but that foolishness seeped into the mainstream media narrative and stayed there throughout Obama's two terms.

gotalife
gotalife

Our governments could care a less about hackers.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@gotalife The intelligence folks care.


Trump doesnt care because he thinks it makes it look like he won because of the Russians.


Frankly Trump doesnt care about any of this. He could give two shytes about this country or any of us.


He is worried about Trump. 

Gmare
Gmare

I posted this last night, but it is worth repeating: HBO is broadcasting a documentary called The Words that Built America. It is a line by line reading, by politicians & celebrities, of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Well worth seeing!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Gmare

Thanks for the trigger warning for trump supporters - they freak out over stuff like that.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Gmare  Our conned will object.  Such projection of violence by the liberal Founding Fathers who failed to respect authority and burned their own supplies and stores (but not a CVS).

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Gmare .....saw it when it first came out on the 4th...


.....interesting how the cons railed against NPR for reading the Declaration of Independence; guess their understanding of history was severely challenged....

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Gmare

Thanks, I guess I'll have to wait 'til it shows up elsewhere 'cuz I ain't never paid for HBO and I ain't never will.

Gmare
Gmare

Yeah, it was very well done. Had to ff past the orange one, tho. 😩

TBS
TBS

They are spewing more excuses than Jerry Rice had yards, receptions and touchdowns combined.

And that was a lot

KUTGF
KUTGF

Today in Connedservatism....

Its okay to actually blackmail if you are the President.

Its not okay to reserve your rights to disclose information legitimately obtained if you are not the President.

gotalife
gotalife

putin meeting his puppett today.


Much ado about pinkos.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@gotalife His useful idiot is a better term.


He knows he can play Trump. Its why he desperately wanted to keep HRC out of the WH

Mary
Mary

I just hope he tells putin to "cut it out". Lol

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Mary  Do you think McConnell will work with Putin again to limit Presidential options and threated to blame the President, sweetie.  Boomsy.

rimsky
rimsky

@gotalife I could tell if putin's hand was up the posterior of the orange monkey.  The monkey was smiling at putin.

TBS
TBS

Maybe the next time you post that it will be funny

Third time is the charm and all that

Bless your heart

Mary
Mary

Well, if the "cut it out" line does not work he can threaten him with a "redline"

Peachs
Peachs

@Mary I would love to have a tape of it, and sure Putin will and use it as a bargaining chip. Trump is putty in this man's hands, and we are force to suffer his weaknesses as our own.

Mary
Mary

We shall see. It will be interesting to see how the media spins it. Only six people in th room. So, unnamed sources will be easy to id. We might get the truth, not a CNN slant. Who knows.

Peachs
Peachs

@Mary and you are a product of that spin, you believe all this ineptness is the media when you have this thug right there and don't believe your eyes, it is a mirage sponsored by the media. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Mary

See Mary, Barry Bamz didn't JUST say, figurative (when describing it later, not those actual words) "cut it out."

He imposed sanctions, tried (and failed, thanks Mitch McConnell) to get a joint resolution condemning their lawlessness, he saw to it that our intel folks set up cyber bombs that could be detonated later as needed, and he ASSUMED that the next Administration would continue to push back in a few months, continuing the efforts already well under way.

Silly Barry.

Mary
Mary

Are we not all subject to the "message" the media feeds us? Or, is it just an affliction of the right?

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Mary ...the right is more afflicted by their denial of FACT.....that's the problem....

Mary
Mary

Whats the Barry Bamz stuff? Guess I should know, but I don't.

JKToole
JKToole

@HDB0329 @Mary It's not denial. Denotes intent in the face of truth. Easier to yell "FAKE" and forget about it.

Peachs
Peachs

@Mary some of us recognize lies when we hear them, both from the media and politicians. I am totally for locking Hillary up if she is a crook, I don't protect her nor like her really, but not so with Trump, and they won't need my help or anyone's he is going to be impeach.  And if Clinton was guilty she would be in jail, trust me they don't suffer fools in the FBI like we do here.

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@Mary Most of us are able to look at several sources and divine the truth, using critical reasoning skills. If you have a brain you hardly need the news when Trump's actions and the words that come out of his own mouth prove what a horrible job he's doing. "Everybody is going to be much better taken care of. I'll have a great healthcare plan, believe me."

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Up In Cleveland @Mary

Cons usually only look at Fox, Breitbart, Con Facebook, etc.


I really think it scares them to consider information outside their bubble.