The U.S. Must Trump North Korea’s Military Plans


North Korea has become a serious military threat which must not be taken lightly by the United States government.


North Korea has become a serious military threat which must not be taken lightly by the United States government. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Timothy Kyle

In an age where international diplomacy is conducted via Twitter and the global attention span is counted in hours rather than days, it is easy to forget that there has been a formal war on the Korean Peninsula for 67 years.

It is time for that war to end.

Never before has a state been as volatile, violent and threatening as North Korea had access to the power to end life on earth as we know it. It seems that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has become increasingly unassailable, and the dual threats of nuclear weapons and holding 25 million people hostage create a conundrum that conventional diplomacy has been unable to solve. Perhaps, then, the least conventional administration in American history must enact a solution – a solution no one wants but that becomes more necessary with every passing day. North Korea must be stopped.

The modern background of the Korean conflict is rooted in the 1950-1953 “hot” war. Back then, and also now, the People’s Republic of China acted as North Korea’s protector against the capitalist, democratic west, and China is the only reason immediate military action is not being taken against the DPRK. A conventional war against North Koreans would be quick; while they do have a large military, their equipment is extremely outdated and lacks any real test on the battlefield. It is the threat of Chinese military intervention that precludes most conventional options. And what of the North Korean nukes? According to a Defense Intelligence Agency report obtained by The Washington Post, the North Korean military can field at least 60 nuclear weapons, though it is known that their launch vehicles are unstable and often break up on launch, thus a conventional war may have seemed like a gambit: a risk not worth taking. That is until Sept. 3, when the North Koreans successfully detonated a thermonuclear (or hydrogen) bomb.

This puts the DPRK in the same echelon of nuclear power giants such as Russia, the USA and China. The weapon was so powerful that it caused an artificial earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, which is at least five times more powerful than the nuclear weapon which devastated Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. They have not been able to fit it on a missile yet, which means there is still time to stop it.

The old adage that America “does not negotiate with terrorists” must be applied to this dire situation as well. For decades, both Republican and Democratic Presidents have appeased the rogue state of the DPRK, offering hollow condemnations on the global stage while continuing food and material relief aid, which is inevitably funneled to the country’s bloated military and bloated leader, Kim Jong-un. Much like our national debt and tumefied federal bureaucracy, the North Korea problem is delayed and passed down from president to president, all while the “Hermit Kingdom” comes closer and closer to challenging the global order through nuclear fire. It is truly deplorable that no president has had the wherewithal to do anything but pontificate. The time for “strategic patience” has passed.

It is on the Trump administration to finally confront this threat and I believe that President Trump and his team are uniquely qualified to face the DPRK and end it’s tyranny before it can truly begin. It is important to remember that, first and foremost, President Trump is a businessman. To him, all diplomacy is a series of transactions: nations, treaties and peoples are commodities to be bought and sold, properties to trade and flip. This is an unorthodox worldview for a country’s leader, yet it is uniquely compatible with that of the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, North Korea’s protector, who thrive on a similar “Us v. Them” mentality in which every decision is weighted solely to benefit China. The Trump administration has two paths of immediate action it can take: first, to follow through on the President’s earlier threat of immediate cessation of trade with any country found to be doing business with North Korea.

This move would have massive economic ramifications, but, if the will is there, China would have no choice but to bow to the pressure and shift to fully supporting a de-nuclearized North Korea, because its economy is focused around exports, outnumbering imports and services to the tune of one trillion USD, according to the OEC. Second, carry out an immediate, precise military strike using our powerful local assets – carriers, marines, and missiles – to disable North Korean nuclear infrastructure and incapacitate their military. The key to either option’s success would be to allow China to take the lead on any regime or territorial change; Trump would have to offer the PRC the chance to create a nuclear-free puppet state in the North, or a large demilitarized zone along the Yalu River in the north to preclude any accusations of US invasion.

A choice must be made quickly. The clock is ticking. A successful end to this decades-long conflict could be what the Trump administration needs to shore up flagging support and abysmal opinion polling; a deference to the tyrannical Kim Jong-un would merely add it to the list of administrations that have failed the American people in it’s attempt to find the easy way out. If this is not ended now, Kim Jong-un will no longer be holding 25 million people hostage; he will be holding 7.5 billion people hostage.

Timothy Kyle, FCRH ’21, is political science major from West Hartford, Connecticut.