Posted tagged ‘South Korea’

What if South Korea acted like North Korea?

September 14, 2017

What if South Korea acted like North Korea? Washinton Times, Victor Davis Hanson, September 13, 2017

(One of VDH’s best articles, a thought experiment. — DM)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Visitors watch the North side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. South Korea said Wednesday it conducted its first live-fire drill for an advanced air-launched cruise missile it says will strengthen its pre-emptive strike.

[I]f China were in America’s position, we would have likely witnessed a tragically destructive war a long time ago.

China should make the necessary corrections now, before things get even worse.

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Think of the Korean Peninsula turned upside down.

Imagine if there were a South Korean dictatorship that had been in power, as a client of the United States since 1953.

Imagine also that contemporary South Korea was not the rich, democratic home of Kia and Samsung. Instead, envision it as an unfree, pre-industrialized and impoverished failed state, much like North Korea.

Further envision that the U.S. had delivered financial aid and military assistance to this outlaw regime, which led to Seoul possessing several nuclear weapons and a fleet of long-range missiles.

Next, picture this rogue South Korean dictatorship serially threatening to incinerate its neighbor, North Korea — and imagine that North Korea was ruled not by the Kim dynasty, but by a benign government without nuclear weapons.

Also assume that the South Korean dictatorship would periodically promise to wipe out Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. The implicit message to the Chinese would be that the impoverished South Koreans were so crazy that they didn’t care whether they, too, went up in smoke — as long a dozen of their nuclear-tipped missiles could blow up Chinese cities and paralyze the second-largest economy in the world. Assume that these South Korean threats had been going on without consequences for over a decade.

Finally, in such a fantasy scenario, what if the United States falsely claimed ignorance of much of its South Korean client’s nuclear capability and threats. America instead would plead that it regretted the growing tension and the reckless reactions of China to the nuclear threats against it. Washington would lecture China that the crisis was due in part to its support for its North Korean ally.

For effect, the United States would occasionally issue declarations of regret and concern over the situation — even as it warned China not to do anything to provoke America’s provocateur ally.

In such a fantasy, American security experts and military planners would gleefully factor a roguish nuclear South Korea into U.S. deterrent strategy. The Pentagon would privately collude with the South Korean dictatorship to keep the Chinese occupied and rattled, while the U.S. upped shipments of military weaponry to Seoul and overlooked its thermonuclear upgrades.

The American military would be delighted that China would be tied down by having an unhinged nuclear dictatorship on its borders, one that periodically threatened to kill millions of Chinese. South Korea would up the ante of its bluster by occasionally test-launching missiles in the direction of its neighbor.

Question: How long would China tolerate having weapons of mass destruction pointed at its major cities by an unbalanced tyrannical regime?

In response, would Beijing threaten a nuclear Seoul with a preemptory military strike, even though the Chinese would know that Seoul could first do a lot of nuclear damage?

Would China conclude that the United States was the real guilty party because it tacitly sanctioned South Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons?

Would China then warn the U.S. to pressure Seoul to disarm?

Would Beijing cease all trade with America?

Would China boycott, embargo or blockade South Korea?

Would China be furious that after ensuring that its own client, North Korea, remained non-nuclear and played by the rules, America had deliberately done exactly the opposite: empowering its dictatorial client, South Korea, to become a nuclear power in order to threaten China?

In other words, if China and North Korea found themselves in the same respective positions of current America and South Korea, the world may well have already seen a preemptive Chinese attack on Seoul to remove its nuclear capability.

The international community would already have seen China expel the conniving Americans from Chinese embassies, cut trade with the U.S., disrupt American banks and threaten the use of force against the U.S. mainland.

The truth of the North Korea missile crisis is not the boilerplate assumption that China is the key to the solution, but rather that China is by design the root of the problem.

China did not fail to realize that North Korea was developing a nuclear arsenal. Rather, it calculated that North Koreawould do exactly what it is now doing, and that such nuclear roguery would serve China’s strategic interests both on the Korean peninsula and in its rivalries with the United States and with America’s allies in Asia.

In other words, if China were in America’s position, we would have likely witnessed a tragically destructive war a long time ago.

China should make the necessary corrections now, before things get even worse.

• Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

FULL MEASURE: September 10, 2017 – Korean Conflict

September 11, 2017

FULL MEASURE: September 10, 2017 – Korean Conflict via YouTube, September 10, 2017

 

North Korea’s Ultimatum to America

September 5, 2017

North Korea’s Ultimatum to America, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, September 5, 2017

(We should strike North Korea and eliminate it as a nuclear threat. We have first-strike capability which, if used can eliminate the danger to South Korea and Japan as well as to America. Perhaps we should wait — but not long — until North Korea “tests” a missile directed toward Guam. Then we should act immediately and without warning. We can even do it successfully without using our own nukes. On the other hand, we have a new option. Please see also, How to neutralize the North Korea threat. It might, or might not, work. If it works as advertised, great. If it fails, we will have lost very little. –DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

If the US strikes North Korea in a credible manner and successfully diminishes its capacity to physically threaten the US, America will have taken the first step towards rebuilding its alliances in Asia.

On the other hand, if the current round of hostilities does not end with a significant reduction of North Korea’s offensive capabilities, either against the US or its allies, then the US will be hard pressed to maintain its posture as a Pacific power. So long as Pyongyang has the ability to directly threaten the US and its allies, US strategic credibility in East Asia will be shattered.

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The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.

If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.

In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.

The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.

First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.

Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.

Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.

The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited.

In an interview Sunday with Fox News’s Trish Regan, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was asked about the possible repercussions of a US military assault against North Korea for the security of South Korea.

Regan asked, “What are we risking though if we say we’re going to go in with strategic military strength?… Are we going to end up with so many people’s lives gone in South Korea, in Seoul because we make that move?” Bolton responded with brutal honesty.

“Let me ask you this: how do you feel about dead Americans?” In other words, Bolton said that under prevailing conditions, the US faces the painful choice between imperiling its own citizens and imperiling the citizens of an allied nation. And things will only get worse. Bolton warned that if North Korea’s nuclear threat is left unaddressed, US options will only become more problematic and limited in the years to come.

This then brings us to the third lesson of the current round of confrontation between the US and North Korea.

If you appease an enemy on behalf of an ally then you aren’t an ally.

And eventually your alliance become empty of all meaning.

For 25 years, three successive US administrations opted to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear program in large part out of concern for South Korea.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sought to appease North Korea’s aggressive nuclear adventurism because they didn’t believe they had a credible military option to deal with it.

In the 1980s, North Korea developed and deployed a conventional arsenal of bombs and artillery along the demilitarized zone capable of vaporizing Seoul.

Any US military strike against North Korea’s nuclear installation it was and continues to be argued, would cause the destruction of Seoul and the murder of millions of South Koreans.

So US efforts to appease Pyongyang on behalf of Seoul emptied the US-South Korean alliance of meaning. The US can only serve as the protector of its allies, and so assert its great power status in the Pacific and worldwide, if it prevents its allies from being held hostage by its enemies.

And now, not only does the US lack a clear means of defending South Korea, and Japan, America itself is threatened by the criminal regime it demurred from effectively confronting.

Regardless of the means US President Donald Trump decides to use to respond to North Korea’s provocative actions and threats to America’s national security, given the nature of the situation, it is clear that the balance of forces on the ground cannot and will not remain as they have been.

If the US strikes North Korea in a credible manner and successfully diminishes its capacity to physically threaten the US, America will have taken the first step towards rebuilding its alliances in Asia.

On the other hand, if the current round of hostilities does not end with a significant reduction of North Korea’s offensive capabilities, either against the US or its allies, then the US will be hard pressed to maintain its posture as a Pacific power. So long as Pyongyang has the ability to directly threaten the US and its allies, US strategic credibility in East Asia will be shattered.

This then brings us to China.

China has been the main beneficiary of North Korea’s conventional and nuclear aggression and brinksmanship.

This state of affairs was laid bare in a critical way last month.

In mid-August, Trump’s then chief strategist Steve Bannon was preparing a speech Trump was set to deliver that would have effectively declared a trade war against China in retaliation for its predatory trade practices against US companies and technology. The speech was placed in the deep freeze – and Bannon was forced to resign his position – when North Korea threatened to attack the US territory of Guam with nuclear weapons. The US, Trump’s other senior advisers argued, couldn’t declare a trade war against China when it needed China’s help to restrain North Korea.

So by enabling North Korea’s aggression against the US and its allies, China has created a situation where the US has become neutralized as a strategic competitor.

Rather than advance its bilateral interests – like curbing China’s naval aggression in the South China Sea – in its contacts with China, the US is forced into the position of supplicant, begging China to restrain North Korea in order to avert war.

If the US does not act to significantly downgrade North Korea’s offensive capabilities now, when its own territory is being threatened, it is difficult to see how the US will be able to develop an effective strategy for coping with China’s rise as an economic and strategic rival in Asia and beyond. That is, the US’s actions now in response to North Korea’s threat to its national security will determine whether or not the US will be in a position to develop and implement a wider strategy for maintaining its capacity to project its economic and military power in the Pacific in the near and long term.

Finally, part of the considerations that need to inform US action now involve what North Korea’s success in developing a nuclear arsenal under the noses of successive US administrations means for the future of nuclear proliferation.

In all likelihood, unless the North Korean nuclear arsenal is obliterated, Pyongyang’s nuclear triumphalism will precipitate a spasm of nuclear proliferation in Asia and in the Middle East. The implications of this for the US and its allies will be far reaching.

Not only can Japan and South Korea be reasonably expected to develop nuclear arsenals. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other inherently unstable Arab states can be expected to develop or purchase nuclear arsenals in response to concerns over North Korea and its ally Iran with its nuclear weapons program linked to Pyongyang’s.

In other words, if the US does not respond in a strategically profound way to Pyongyang now, it will not only lose its alliance system in Asia, it will see the rapid collapse of its alliance system and superpower status in the Middle East.

Israel, for one, will be imperiled by the sudden diffusion of nuclear power.

Monday morning, North Korea followed up its thermonuclear bomb test with a spate of threats to destroy the United States. These threats are deadly even if North Korea doesn’t attack the US with its nuclear weapons. If the US does not directly defeat North Korea in a clear-cut way now, its position as a superpower in Asia and worldwide will be destroyed and its ability to defend its own citizens will be called into question with increasing frequency and lethality.

North Korea’s latest test: More diplomacy will only make matters worse, says Amb. Bolton

September 3, 2017

North Korea’s latest test: More diplomacy will only make matters worse, says Amb. Bolton, Fox Business, September 3, 2017

(Please see also, Powers may end up with Iranian model for NKorea. — DM)

Bolton said the U.S. has “fooled around” with North Korea for 25 years, and if that continues, the current situation will only worsen.

“It would be a lesson to every nuclear state in the world that if you just have patience enough you can wear the United States down. The notion that we can accept North Korea or Iran with any kind of nuclear capability just means that we will forever be at their mercy,” he said.

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Following North Korea’s announcement that it successfully tested a thermonuclear device on Sunday, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said more diplomacy will only make matters worse regarding the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear threat to surrounding countries and America.

“I think the only diplomatic option left is to end the regime in North Korea by effectively having the South take it over,” Bolton told “Sunday Morning Futures.” “Anybody who thinks that more diplomacy with North Korea or sanctions, whether against North Korea or an effort to apply sanctions against China, is just giving North Korea more time to increase its nuclear arsenal, increase its ballistic missile capability, increase the accuracy of its guidance systems and put us, South Korea and Japan in more jeopardy.”

The artificial earthquake caused by the test was “five to six times stronger” than tremors created by previous tests; South Korean officials put the magnitude at 5.7 and the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 6.3 Opens a New Window., according to The Associated Press.

In addition to the threat of the country launching a thermonuclear weapon, Bolton explained that the willingness of Kim Jong Un to sell anything for money is also quite worrisome.

“They could sell these weapons, ballistic missiles and the nuclear devices themselves to Iran in a heartbeat. North Korea can sell these devices to terrorist groups around the world; they could be used as electromagnetic pulse weapons (EMPs), not necessarily hitting targets, but destroying our electric grid’s capabilities,” the former ambassador said, adding that they could also be used for nuclear blackmail.

President Trump reacted to the news of the alleged test on Twitter saying, “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

..North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.

He also criticized South Korea for not taking a tougher stand against the communist country.

South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!

 

Bolton said the U.S. has “fooled around” with North Korea for 25 years, and if that continues, the current situation will only worsen.

“It would be a lesson to every nuclear state in the world that if you just have patience enough you can wear the United States down. The notion that we can accept North Korea or Iran with any kind of nuclear capability just means that we will forever be at their mercy,” he said.

Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’

July 31, 2017

Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’ Washington Free Beacon , July 31, 2017

( Sounds like serious shit… – JW )

Nikki Haley / Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that she is ready to take action and not just hold more talks following North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.

Haley released a statement denying that the U.S. was seeking to form an emergency session at the U.N. She said that it would be useless and even counterproductive to further sanction the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without action.

“There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence,” she said. “North Korea is already subject to numerous Security Council resolutions that they violate with impunity and that are not complied with by all U.N. Member States.”

“An additional security council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value,” Haley said. “In fact, it is worse than nothing, because it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.”

She directly addressed China, the regime’s closest ally, and said that Beijing must intervene. China has insisted that it is not responsible for North Korea, even as the U.S. has accused the Chinese leadership of propping up Pyongyang.

“China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step. The time for talk is over,” Haley said. “The danger the North Korean regime poses to international peace is now clear to all.”

President Donald Trump also focused his Twitter fire on China. He said on Saturday that China does nothing on North Korea despite having “easy” options to “solve this problem.”

I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…

…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!

China hit back on Monday after Trump’s tweets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, said the international community needs to work together to address the North Korean nuclear issue and that China is not responsible for Pyongyang’s aggression.

South Korea announced Saturday that it will begin talking with the Trump administration about expanding the country’s nuclear capabilities. The Chinese have opposed any actions that would put Seoul in control of nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also told reporters that the Trump administration promised to “take all necessary measures to protect” Japan.

North Korea launched its latest test missile into Japanese waters on Friday.

Top Armed Services Dem: Russia, China ‘Spectacularly Disingenuous’ on North Korea

July 5, 2017

Top Armed Services Dem: Russia, China ‘Spectacularly Disingenuous’ on North Korea, PJ MediaBridget Johnson, July 5, 2017

(Please see also, North Korean Missiles Reaching USA. President Trump seems to have decided that joint action with China and Russia won’t work and that unilateral action by America will be needed. — DM)

South Korean army K-1 tanks move during the annual exercise in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, on July 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

China and Russia issued a joint statement calling Pyongyang’s ICBM test “unacceptable.”

“The two sides propose that the DPRK (North Korea) as a voluntary political decision declares a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, and the US and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises,” the statement said. “Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful co-existence.”

“Neither one of them is doing a darn thing to stop North Korea. And they want to use it as an excuse to push us out of the region,” he added. “What we have to make clear to them is it’s going to have the exact opposite effect. Once North Korea is able to threaten us and even now, as they threaten our allies, we have to be in there to protect our own interests. 

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The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee declared this morning that the “threat from North Korea, regrettably, is not going to be removed” by the “global action” proposed by the Trump administration to curb Kim Jong-un’s behavior.

Pyongyang said Tuesday that it successfully test-fired Hwasong-14, a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. According to Chosun Ilbo in South Korea, state TV in the North declared the regime “a full-fledged nuclear power… possessed of the most powerful intercontinental-ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world.”

Kim reportedly watched the launch at the scene. The missile, said to be capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii, flew for 39 minutes before hitting open waters.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Tuesday evening condemning the July Fourth launch. “Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world,” he said. “Global action is required to stop a global threat.”

“Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea’s provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable,” Tillerson continued.

“The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

President Trump and his national security team “are continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners,” he added.

Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) doubted that Tillerson’s vow would put pressure on North Korea.

“If there is an idea floating around out there for how we can remove that threat, I’m open to it. But we have been circling around this discussion of what we want China to do and what we want sanctions to do and all these other different pieces,” Smith said. “The bottom line is, what we need against North Korea, we need to put the best economic sanctions we can. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for the secretary of state to try to put pressure on other nations to do the same. But the most important thing we need is a credible military deterrent, so that whatever North Korea does in terms of building a missile, they know that if they act against South Korea or against Japan or against us, we will obliterate them.”

“That’s why THAAD [missile defense system] is important. That is why our alliance with South Korea and Japan is important, to have that credible military force, because what’s been proven — and all of the options have been discussed with your previous guests — is that North Korea is going to do it. They want to build nuclear weapons. They want to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile. And short of an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula, we don’t really have an option for stopping them.”

China and Russia issued a joint statement calling Pyongyang’s ICBM test “unacceptable.”

“The two sides propose that the DPRK (North Korea) as a voluntary political decision declares a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, and the US and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises,” the statement said. “Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful co-existence.”

Smith slammed the statement as “spectacularly disingenuous.”

“Neither one of them is doing a darn thing to stop North Korea. And they want to use it as an excuse to push us out of the region,” he added. “What we have to make clear to them is it’s going to have the exact opposite effect. Once North Korea is able to threaten us and even now, as they threaten our allies, we have to be in there to protect our own interests. China’s not acting against North Korea. And the reason they’re not acting against North Korea is, they don’t want to cut off North Korea’s economic aid. They don’t want North Korea to collapse because they don’t want millions of North Korean refugees pouring across their border. They’re not happy that North Korea is causing such instability in the region, but the alternative of them trying to crush the regime somehow is something they’re not willing to do, and they haven’t been willing to do it through four administrations. So, we need a credible military deterrent, and that is our only option.”

Smith noted that Kim’s actions have been “all about ensuring regime survival,” as he’s “looked at Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, and they feel that unless they have a nuclear weapon and a credible deterrent of their own, that their regime is in jeopardy.”

“So, all the economic sanctions, all that needs to be done. But understand what I’m saying here. As you have discussed, there is not a good military option,” he said. “Thinking that we can preemptively go in there and somehow take out their capabilities, whatever we do leads to a massive war in the Korean Peninsula… we need our THAAD system in the region. We need a system to give us a shot at shooting down that missile if they decide to launch it. And then we also need a clear diplomatic policy that we will destroy them.”

After the THAAD system was installed in South Korea, Trump said Seoul should fork over a billion dollars for the missile defense. New South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently suspended further THAAD deployment pending a review of the program.

Smith stressed that Russia and China must “stop screwing around.”

“If you guys really want us to be less involved in the region, then you have got to figure out a way to control North Korea,” he said. “Now, I don’t think they’re going to do that. But that means that we have to stay active in the region.”

Krauthammer: U.S. does have cards to play against North Korea

April 21, 2017

Krauthammer: U.S. does have cards to play against North Korea, Mercury News, April 20, 2017

(Mr. Krauthammer offers a reasonable alternative to the reunification of North and South Korea.

Do present-day South Koreans really want reunification? Nearly half a century ago, when I was an Army JAG officer and spent two tours of duty in South Korea, I travelled widely and got to know many Koreans. They were generally enthusiastic about reunification. Now? Not so much, I think.

German reunification was widely embraced and cost the West about $1.9 trillion. South and North Korea have been separated about twenty years longer than East and West Germany had been. Now, younger working South Koreans — with fewer close relatives in the north than their parents and grandparents had half a century ago — would bear much of the cost of Korean reunification. Reunification gave former West Germany Frau Merkel. Korean reunification, providing a wave of unskilled, perhaps hopelessly brainwashed, North Koreans with very little to offer South Korea and needing much adaptation to South Korean democracy, would be about as useful to South Korea as a North Korean version of Frau Merkel. — DM)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a military parade on Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Because Beijing has such a strong interest in the current regime, we could sweeten the latter offer by abjuring Korean reunification. This would not be Germany, where the communist state was absorbed into the West. We would accept an independent, but Finlandized, North.

During the Cold War, Finland was, by agreement, independent but always pro-Russian in foreign policy. Here we would guarantee that a new North Korea would be independent but always oriented toward China. For example, the new regime would forswear ever joining any hostile alliance.

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WASHINGTON — The crisis with North Korea may appear trumped up. It’s not.

Given that Pyongyang has had nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for more than a decade, why the panic now? Because North Korea is headed for a nuclear breakout. The regime has openly declared that it is racing to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States — and thus destroy an American city at a Kim Jong Un push of a button.

The North Koreans are not bluffing. They’ve made significant progress with solid-fuel rockets, which are more quickly deployable and thus more easily hidden and less subject to detection and pre-emption.

At the same time, Pyongyang has been steadily adding to its supply of nuclear weapons. Today it has an estimated 10 to 16. By 2020, it could very well have a hundred. (For context: the British are thought to have about 200.)

Hence the crisis. We simply cannot concede to Kim Jong Un the capacity to annihilate American cities.

Some will argue for deterrence. If it held off the Russians and the Chinese for all these years, why not the North Koreans? First, because deterrence, even with a rational adversary like the old Soviet Union, is never a sure thing. We came pretty close to nuclear war in October 1962.

And second, because North Korea’s regime is bizarre in the extreme, a hermit kingdom run by a weird, utterly ruthless and highly erratic god-king. You can’t count on Caligula. The regime is savage and cult-like; its people, robotic. Karen Elliott House once noted that while Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a prison, North Korea was an ant colony.

Ant colonies do not have good checks and balances.

If not deterrence, then prevention. But how? The best hope is for China to exercise its influence and induce North Korea to give up its programs.

For years, the Chinese made gestures, but never did anything remotely decisive. They have their reasons. It’s not just that they fear a massive influx of refugees if the Kim regime disintegrates. It’s also that Pyongyang is a perpetual thorn in the side of the Americans, whereas regime collapse brings South Korea (and thus America) right up to the Yalu River.

So why would the Chinese do our bidding now?

For a variety of reasons.

• They don’t mind tension but they don’t want war. And the risk of war is rising. They know that the ICBM threat is totally unacceptable to the Americans. And that the current administration appears particularly committed to enforcing this undeclared red line.

• Chinese interests are being significantly damaged by the erection of regional missile defenses to counteract North Korea’s nukes. South Korea is racing to install a THAAD anti-missile system. Japan may follow. THAAD’s mission is to track and shoot down incoming rockets from North Korea but, like any missile shield, it necessarily reduces the power and penetration of the Chinese nuclear arsenal.

•  For China to do nothing risks the return of the American tactical nukes in South Korea, withdrawn in 1991.

• If the crisis deepens, the possibility arises of South Korea and, most importantly, Japan going nuclear themselves. The latter is the ultimate Chinese nightmare.

These are major cards America can play. Our objective should be clear. At a minimum, a testing freeze. At the maximum, regime change.

Because Beijing has such a strong interest in the current regime, we could sweeten the latter offer by abjuring Korean reunification. This would not be Germany, where the communist state was absorbed into the West. We would accept an independent, but Finlandized, North.

During the Cold War, Finland was, by agreement, independent but always pro-Russian in foreign policy. Here we would guarantee that a new North Korea would be independent but always oriented toward China. For example, the new regime would forswear ever joining any hostile alliance.

There are deals to be made. They may have to be underpinned by demonstrations of American resolve. A pre-emptive attack on North Korea’s nuclear facilities and missile sites would be too dangerous, as it would almost surely precipitate an invasion of South Korea with untold millions of casualties. We might, however, try to shoot down a North Korean missile in mid-flight to demonstrate both our capacity to defend ourselves and the futility of a North Korean missile force that can be neutralized technologically.

The Korea crisis is real and growing. But we are not helpless. We have choices. We have assets. It’s time to deploy them.