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Long Read of the Week: Why There is Only One Option to Deal with North Korea: A Bloody War


1. War (obviously)

North Korea is hit by a massive cyber-attack that disables communications, shuts down the power grid, and cripples command and control chains. Minutes later the sky lights up with massive ordinance as MOABs detonate over North Korean nuclear facilities and launch platforms. Thousands of North Korean artillery pieces are similarly struck, along with all palatial compounds. By the time the attack is generally known in Pyongyang, North Korea’s forces have already been seriously degraded. Eventually, low-level commanders acting under their own initiative commence an un-coordinated retaliatory action primarily targeted at Seoul. The subsequent artillery barrage kills some 30,000 people before the guns are found and destroyed. After these initial setbacks, North Korea is given some time to re-group as the American air campaign focuses obsessively on suspected nuclear sites. 36 hours later North Korea retaliates with a massive ballistic missile bombardment of Japan, killing thousands. Meanwhile, North Korean submarines attack American surface ships, somewhat complicating carrier-based sorties over the peninsula. Using hitherto undetected tunnels, thousands of North Korean troops appear south of the DMZ. They are pushed back with heavy losses on both sides, as huge numbers of marines arrive in preparation for an invasion of the North.

2. Nuclear escalation

Despite every effort, North Korea manages to hit Japan with two nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in the closing stages of the conflict, killing close to 300,000 civilians. The U.S. responds with low-yield nuclear bunker-busters; however, this is largely tokenistic as North Korea is already lost. This attack shatters world markets already rattled by the conflict, and panic spreads about possibilities of “loose nukes” being smuggled out as the regime collapses. Recriminations occur in the aftermath over who allowed this to happen and what more should have been done to prevent it. Combined with the large numbers of combat casualties, questions over whether the war was worthwhile or necessary precipitates political crises in multiple capitals.

RTWT AND HAVE YOUR BLOOD CHILLED: Why There is Only One Option to Deal with North Korea: A Bloody War | The National Interest Blog

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • DrTedNelson September 28, 2017, 4:49 PM

    Eventually you’re going to have to lance that boil.

  • Howard Nelson September 28, 2017, 6:07 PM

    Offer a bounty high enough and a NoK group will execute a coup d’etat and restructure North Korea. East Germany could be the model to follow after the coup — democratization, unification with SoK, improved trade with mainland China.

  • Ace Rimmer September 28, 2017, 6:24 PM

    China will NEVER allow a democracy to be established on that border. China has enjoyed decades of having a snarling little ankle biter provocateur on a leash it holds. Trade one commie dictator for another is best case scenario.
    But what do I know…..

  • Denny September 28, 2017, 7:03 PM

    Robert Goodloe Harper – “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.”

  • ghostsniper September 28, 2017, 7:25 PM

    Knowing that he would instantly be flattened, do you really think that little flathead is going to swing his little hammer?

    The rampant gullibility is astonishing.

    Maybe that communist Roosevelt was right.

  • indyjonesouthere September 28, 2017, 9:11 PM

    Chubby is just a breathing Chinese meat puppet and will do nothing without Chinese permission. It is an Asian Shakespeare tragedy that will likely at some future decade explode on the world scene in a similar fashion to WWII. That there have been no serious world wars for many decades will eventually expire much to the suffering of all.

  • Casey Klahn September 28, 2017, 10:05 PM

    In spite of my best efforts, I still cannot predict the starting moves of this war with North Korea. I guess if I had a landline directly to China, I’d have some good intell. Lacking that, it’s all conjecture. The author of the linked article doesn’t appear to have any references, but his story isn’t too bad. Some serious degrading of the Norks, and some give and take.

    Don’t look for the Norks to be “pushed back” when they invade the south. Didn’t happen that way last time. The military principle of Mass is poorly understood, and critically mis-applied by us in our doctrine. We say it’s applying overwhelming combat power at a critical point, which only shows our weakness in lack of manpower. Meanwhile, lots and lots of Asians believe in the fundamental definition of Mass: a lot of fucking troops! The shorthand, broader definition of Mass is “get there first and with the most.” I’ll leave you to decipher who is going to be there first, and with the most.

    The remedy is to let the (holding my language, here) Norks advance down the Eastern corridors, and then cut them off. That’s a no brainer. So, look for advances, not what the author wrote. It may even seem, at first, like we’re not supporting Seoul. OTC, the military logic requires that we get the enemy out in the open so out guns have targets.

    Another unknown is the actual lethality of the American forces, and her bigger allies. There seems to be this expectation that we can work magic. That’s the wrong mindset to into a war with. The Spartans (heroes of the movie 300), had a good strategy. Be as badass as possible, and fight the one million Asians from a defensive posture. Trade assets for time, but have some depth to your defenses.

    Somebody upthread said China won’t tolerate a free nation to it’s south, and I agree with that. Good thing we don’t talk regime change anymore. Having China do the right things, or at least knowing what they want and might do, is critical now. That alone will probably prevent us from making the first strike.

  • Uncle Max September 28, 2017, 10:55 PM

    Interesting. Or…. Kim meets with Trump. Declares and end to desire for Nuke program. The USA and North Korea officially sign documents ending the war. Treaties are signed. China is a signatory to remove nuclear weapons from N. Korea . Or… a hit team infiltrates N. Korea to assassinate Kim…. only to find the Russians had a team beat them by 1 hour and Kim and his closest cadre are all dead.

  • Bob Sykes September 29, 2017, 6:03 AM

    Rovere, like every other commentator I have read, no exceptions, assumes the Chinese response to an American attack on the North will either be nothing or muted. On the contrary, as history has shown, the Chinese response will be all out, and that includes nuclear strikes on American forces and the American homeland if the US initiates the use of nukes. Russia, as it did in the Korean War and the Vietnamese war, will supply materiel support to the Chinese and North Koreans and might, as it did in both those war, provide “volunteer” fighter pilots.

    The US military, utterly besotted by Wonder Weapons and remote, bloodless war, is utterly unprepared for a new Korea war, lacking the manpower, ground forces and strategic comprehension. This will be a ground war, and it will be largely an infantry war at that. The North Koreans bring 1,000,000 well-equipped, well-trained and very well-motivated troops to the fight plus 100,000 commandos. The Chinese bring a similar number. The bottom line is that the North Korean/Chinese/Russian combine has absolute military superiority in the theater of operations over the South Korean/US/Japanese combine. The result will be an American defeat, with huge casualties, and expulsion of the US from East Asia.

    It should be noted that South Korea and Japan might oppose the preemptive war Rovere proposes because they know they will suffer enormous losses. It is entirely possible that both South Korea and Japan would intervene militarily to prevent an American attack on the North.

    If a North Korean nuclear deterrent is unacceptable, then we should buy the warheads and missiles, and the spare parts and materials, and the construction facilities from them. The price would be a Marshall Plan to develop North Korea. We would also have to sign a peace treaty that recognizes the legitimacy of the regime and guarantees its security. China, Russia, South Korea and Japan would have to be co-signatories.

    Rovere’s scenarios in which North Korea would use its nuclear deterrent to intimidate and dominate its neighbors has no credibility. Again, he is unaware of the existence of China and Russia. They would not allow the North to act recklessly.

    In fact, Rovere like every other commentator I have read has no idea at all as to why Kim would want a deterrent. One answer, one that Kim has mentioned, is Gaddafi. Gaddafi submitted to all our demands, and in the end we murdered him. Another answer is our threat to cancel the Iranian deal. That would prove Putin is correct: The US is incapable of negotiations. It can only demand submission to its will of the moment, which will change in a day or so.

    The fundamental fact is that since the fall of the Soviet Union the US has run amok, attacking and invading countries left and right, overthrowing governments, supporting and instigating coups d’etat. We are fighting in Africa from Nigeria to Somalia. We have been fighting continuously in Somalia for 25 years. We have troops on the ground in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and SOCOM units in east Ukraine. We are truly a scourge on earth. Why wouldn’t Kim want nukes. Any rational leader would.

  • Terry September 29, 2017, 8:09 AM

    @ Bob Sykes-

    Dead-0n correct Sir. People need to read what has been published on the Korean War. The US cannot but get wiped out in a conflict with the Koreans, Chinese & Russians. They have the people. We do not. We have button pushers. They have trigger pullers and bayonet users. When the nukes are used the gooks will still be around to fight. The terrain in Korea is a tank killer. Forget air support. Bullets, bayonets, and flame throwers along with napalm are all that succeed.

  • Casey Klahn September 29, 2017, 8:11 AM

    I think that the Russia/China v West relationships have changed since Korea 1950-53. It was a long time ago, and perhaps another era. Nukes were fresh and shiny. The USSR had new ones (1949) and China none. As it was, our potential use of them in Korea was a null set.

    I’m no expert on what Russia wants from the US. I’d say that we’re at or nearly at the worst adversarial relationship we’ve had with them in my lifetime. Possibly the Cuba Missile Crisis was worse, but we’re in a very bad place today vis-a-vid Russian expansion and aggression. Oh, I forgot. I’m talking to conservatives. You don’t care/believe/cognate anything Russia does. Let me make it simple. They have lots and lots of big nukes. They invade foreign countries (as we speak). They have enormous influence geopolitically. They are always wrong, and we are always right (bullshit if you don’t believe that at the precipice of war).

    The point being Russia is seven kinds of bad, and I agree that what opposes the US is almost inevitably what they like. ISIS might be an exception, but you must agree the “cooperation” there has been predictably shitty. However, they are not in a global Communism kick like in the Korean War era. Huge difference politically. I’d say they probably want as little to do with Korea as possible. Not sure, but I don’t have any data telling me they care about Korea.

    China, who are more pragmatic and bit less Communist than in the Mao era, are taking the largest picture ever of their situation. They want power, and they want to project it, at least regionally. But, will they trade North Korea for influence? F’Yeah. In a heartbeat if it gets them something better. They’d sell Korea down the river so fast your head will swim.

    Just more thoughts. Not too many conclusions. Keep your powder dry. If the balloon goes up, I will disown every bastard who disavows the USA. If we play it very smart, there won’t be a war.

    Peace Out.

  • SgtBob September 29, 2017, 8:13 AM

    “…huge numbers of marines arrive in preparation for an invasion of the North.” From where do these Marines come? FY 2017 USMC manpower goal is 182,000 Active Duty personnel, according to heritage.org.

  • Casey Klahn September 29, 2017, 8:14 AM

    SgtBob: marines are magic. Didn’t you know that?

  • Old Codger September 29, 2017, 8:24 AM

    “The military principle of Mass is poorly understood, and critically mis-applied by us in our doctrine. We say it’s applying overwhelming combat power at a critical point, which only shows our weakness in lack of manpower. Meanwhile, lots and lots of Asians believe in the fundamental definition of Mass: a lot of fucking troops! The shorthand, broader definition of Mass is “get there first and with the most.” I’ll leave you to decipher who is going to be there first, and with the most.”

    Casey, that “doctrine of Mass” worked well when the “mass” meant more on-site firepower due to shear numbers alone: 20,000 troops each carrying a rifle as N.B. Forrest prescribed. But that doctrine was rather discredited at Ypres and the Somme, when shear numbers of troops were reduced to thousands of slabs of “meat” by far fewer troops using automatic weapons.
    Looking at today’s weapons and the efficacy and accuracy of their delivery systems, the Mass doctrine is antiquated and has been rendered almost moot!

    The author of this article ignores the facts that the TRUMP team is focused on using huge economic leverage (rather than military force) on the Chinese puppet masters of Rocketman, rather than Whoa!Fat himself, for resolving the problem..

  • Bram September 29, 2017, 9:28 AM

    As long on NK didn’t have nukes it made sense to wait. The technological difference between the North and South have now made the result of any conflict a foregone conclusion – the South wins fast and easily – except the North Koreans can kill tens of thousands in Seoul with that artillery. Much bigger difference in militarizes between the 2 countries than there was between us and the Iraqis in those wars the South is pulling away.

    With nukes getting produced, waiting is probably no longer the smart choice.

  • Casey Klahn September 29, 2017, 1:05 PM

    OldCodger, the whole meaning of principle is that it is irreplaceable and irreducible. Mass means mass. It means overwhelming something. In the Somme, what overwhelmed the UK was artillery. Massed artillery. It broke up (and killed) their efforts to apply overwhelming power in a small space.

    The corollary of Mass is Economy of Force. Apply enough KILL in the right box, and you will succeed even against numeric odds. I already said how atomic bombs suck at taking out dispersed hellhordes of Chinamen. We understood that in 1950.

    War is the province of violence. It is governed by lessons learned over the millennia. Clausewitz outlined this. Please don’t mention Sun Tzu or you will just be-clown yourself here.

    America has a glass jaw. We may crump at the mere threat of one nuke taking out a city of civilians. China and Norkland understand that nukes take out cities, but not a million armymen. Advantage: China/Norks.

    Even 12 year olds knew this shit in the early 1940s. Now, you cannot beat it into a room full of adults.