After the latest chemical attack by the Assad regime forced the U.S. to conduct unilateral Syrian air strikes recently, North Korea was bumped to page two after some intense media focus post-Trump inauguration.
The situation was short-lived, however, after North Korean posturing warning of "catastrophic" geo-regional consequences should the model be enacted North of the De-Militarized Zone pushed it back to share page one coverage globally. If policy consensus on North Korea stands that the rogue Goyan nation cannot be allowed to develop further a nuclear capability placing Anchorage, Tokyo and Darwin in range, then how is that accomplished under the half-century-old Korean chaos theory?
Outside of the contemporary Korean nuclear conundrum, the original crippling variable within the North Korean formula persisting post-Berlin Wall to remain essentially unnavigable for approaching 70 years now continues to be the hateful amount of DPRK artillery within range of South Korean cities right now, along with the implied repercussions for Tokyo (now a nuclear attack). Holding Seoul hostage with double entendres missile diplomacy has allowed North Korea to be granted a degree of immunity from the U.N. Security Council few other nations have enjoyed since World War Two and particularly post-Soviet implosion.
Allowing the rogue state to germinate unfettered has been a dismal policy failure. Honolulu will soon be in range of the ever developing North Korean nuclear missile program, Los Angeles and Sydney not long after. It has to; it is the Northeast Asian regime’s only "trump" card and only way to ensure its continued survival via the ransom that is the U.N. food program. North Korea simply cannot stop until it puts the U.S. in check with a nuclear deterrent, and the sooner the better. Until it does, it remains vulnerable. Like former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, in Kim Jong-Un’s mind, his only real play to achieve regime security is the WMD card. Continued development for the next hundred years is thus Korean Workers Party strategic policy.
Some pundits when looking at the "box" of Korea espouse allowing South Korea to develop its own Israeli-style micro-nuclear arsenal, overt or covert (so long as the North knows about it). Introducing more nukes in Asia should be the last resort. China is already aggressively testing a fledgling expansionist policy, Japan is shaking and so wading the public waters looking for increased militarization, and forcing Russia in turn to move more of its aged tactical nuclear fleet east in a typically Russian show of force is a recipe for disaster.
Ironically, U.S. President Donald Trump may have already stumbled upon the solution, commenting recently the U.S. will go it alone on North Korea if need be. If sanctioning a North Korean nuclear capability is not going to be U.S. policy under Trump and the U.S. is planning seriously for military options on the peninsula, then it needs to truly go it alone - 100%. It may seem counter-intuitive but all U.S. forces should be withdrawn from South Korea under any regime change policy, and possibly likewise from Japan. By extracting U.S. forces from these two countries pre-hostilities both Seoul and Tokyo can effectively "plead" with the U.S. not to invade North Korea, and the U.S. can in turn effectively ignore the diplomatic and media wide requests. If Japan and South Korea do not host U.S. forces, publicly oppose war-like U.S. actions and in the case of South Korea pull their forces back to hold at the edges of northern cities like Seoul, then they can be shielded to the maximum extent possible from North Korean retaliatory targeting. Postwar U.S. basing rights, which are hot topics in both countries, could also be redrawn anew to accommodate more modern strategic and political realities.
The U.S. can easily invade North-Korea amphibiously, can stealthily insert copious amounts of air power unknown to air defenses, and has already been conducting dry-runs with Special Forces tasked with decapitation raids on KWP executives. South Korea has not needed U.S. forces to defend against or deter northern aggression for decades given its 2:1 population advantage and 40:1 economic advantage (currently a token force of some 20, 000 - 40, 000 American troops with 50, 000 more stationed in Japan), and without its key hostage or hostages Chaos Theory in Korea simplifies fast. Whether the move was seen as a U.S. initiative or a Korea and/or Japan request citing policy differences would crystallise as the strategy solidified. Looking forward under this policy lens, there will likely be no bloody Iraq style counter-insurgency campaign in nuclear addicted North Korea. Its people are cowed not committed, and too hungry either way to resist meaningfully post-decapitation. The absorption burden of northern reconstruction will rightfully fall to the party who will gain most from a 50% rise in human potential - South Korea, as will any native counterinsurgency effort if needed under the 600,000 strong, ultra-modern South Korean army.
Allan Orr is a strategic studies researcher. His PhD thesis was examined by now NSA General Herbert McMaster, his Masters thesis was used as textbook material by the Coalition counter-insurgency Academy at Taji, Iraq during the war and his other publications can be found a http://www.intersecmag.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/int-feb-34-36-low.pdf & http://www.tandfonline.com/author/Orr%2C+Allan© Japan Today