It was irresponsible of the New York Times to publish the op-ed piece by Jeremi Suri titled Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late. Suri argues that the U.S. should take out North Korea’s missiles. He argues that this will not result in a war because:
- The North Korean government would certainly view the American strike as a provocation, but it is unlikely that Mr. Kim would retaliate by attacking South Korea, as many fear. First, the Chinese government would do everything it could to prevent such a reaction. Even if they oppose an American strike, China’s leaders understand that a full-scale war would be far worse. Second, Mr. Kim would see in the American strike a renewed commitment to the defense of South Korea. Any attack on Seoul would be an act of suicide for him, and he knows that.
First of all, it’s not clear how much influence China actually has over North Korea. Second, it’s just as possible that “Mr. Kim” would see the attack as a prelude to a ground invasion. And if it is true that “Mr. Kim” knows that a war with the U.S. is “suicide”, why should we worry about him having missiles?
Suri concedes that North Korea might attack South Korea:
- A war on the Korean Peninsula is unlikely after an American strike, but it is not inconceivable. The North Koreans might continue to escalate, and Mr. Kim might feel obligated to start a war to save face. Under these unfortunate circumstances, the United States and its allies would still be better off fighting a war with North Korea today, when the conflict could still be confined largely to the Korean Peninsula.
It think it worth noting that an estimated two million Koreans were killed in the last Korean war. It’s reasonable to suppose that at least that many would die in another Korean war. This is the price that Juri would be willing to pay to maintain “stability” in the Far East.
Since the U.S. clearly has not exhausted its diplomatic options in Korea, one can only wonder why the Times thought it worth running an article like this.