What to do about North Korea

The Signal - - OPINION - Rick JENSEN

Seems like there are two North Korea op­tions: bomb the hell out of them and kill in­no­cent peo­ple, or hope North Korea doesn’t bomb in­no­cent peo­ple first.

While schol­ars may dif­fer on some par­tic­u­lars of who re­ally con­trols North Korea, be it Kim Jun Un, the mil­i­tary, its own “deep state” or some com­bi­na­tion, most agree that the power bro­kers re­main in con­trol by keep­ing the peo­ple in a con­stant psy­cho­log­i­cal state of war.

The me­dia is con­trolled by the govern­ment, and ac­cess to the in­ter­net is re­stricted to North Korean pro­pa­ganda and do­mes­tic en­ter­tain­ment sites.

Rat­tling the nu­clear sabre is just an­other way Kim holds con­trol over the peo­ple.

Un­for­tu­nately, he has con­vinced the rest of the world that he may be crazy enough to use them.

For­tu­nately, he can be eas­ily cowed by China.

Re­mem­ber re­cently when ev­ery­one from the New York Times to the L.A. Times was freak­ing out that Trump might bomb North Korea?

Kim was threat­en­ing to lob a cou­ple of mis­siles onto Guam.

The Chi­nese govern­ment let it be known that should North Korea at­tack any other sov­er­eign na­tion, par­tic­u­larly Guam, China would not come to the aid of North Korea.

That’s good news, but it doesn’t solve the prob­lem of a coun­try that has no de­sire to be part of any world com­mu­nity.

Be­ing an ac­tive player in re­gional or world poli­cies would mean the pup­pet mas­ters of North Korea would free some strings from the peo­ple they con­trol.

Many peo­ple be­lieve the U.S. could sim­ply “take out” North Korea’s nukes with our own mis­siles.

The prob­lem with that line of think­ing is that if you miss a cou­ple, those nukes could hit South Korea, Guam, Ja­pan and maybe even the United States. North Korea has been shuf­fling mis­siles around on por­ta­ble launch­ers, too, mak­ing them dif­fi­cult to lo­cate.

For­mer act­ing and Deputy Di­rec­tor of the CIA Michael Morell told “CBS This Morn­ing” this past week that the U.S. faces two choices on North Korea.

“One is a mil­i­tary at­tack with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences and no guar­an­tee of suc­cess and the other is ac­cep­tance of where they are and where they’re go­ing with con­tain­ment and de­ter­rence. I think the lat­ter makes the most sense. I think that’s where we’ll end up.”

So far, that’s ex­actly what the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been do­ing, along with words as tough as Kim’s and the threat of more sanc­tions.

Sanc­tions some­times work and of­ten don’t, de­pend­ing upon the goal.

If the use of sanc­tions is to get a coun­try’s leader to a bar­gain­ing ta­ble, that’s just as crazy in this case as Kim Jung Un him­self.

Vic­tor Cha, di­rec­tor for Asian af­fairs at the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil from 2004 to 2007, now di­rec­tor of Asian stud­ies at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, ex­pressed a novel idea in a re­cent mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle.

Have China pres­sure North Korea into be­ing nice.

He notes China has helped North Korea through back chan­nels dur­ing sanc­tions, main­tain­ing 80 per­cent to 85 per­cent of North Korea’s trade.

He be­lieves “the U.S. should get China to step up and pay di­rectly for the denu­cle­ariza­tion of North Korea. China’s pay­ments de­signed to prop up Py­ongyang must be tied di­rectly to nu­clear in­spec­tions, and ul­ti­mately to denu­cle­ariza­tion and not to China’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

“If China pays for denu­cle­ariza­tion, it will take North Korea’s vi­o­la­tions more se­ri­ously than it does now.”

If China ben­e­fits from the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional in­sta­bil­ity of a dan­ger­ously bonkers North Korea, does the U.S. have such lever­age?

Regime change?

Who’s go­ing to be in charge? What do you do about the ex­ist­ing mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence regime? Who ac­tu­ally takes out Kim? Who else must die? How many in­no­cent North Kore­ans die, too?

Gregory Tre­ver­ton, the for­mer chair of the U.S. Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Coun­cil, is hope­ful for regime change.

He wist­fully sug­gested in the same ar­ti­cle that “regime change looks more and more at­trac­tive. But bet­ter that it come from within. Given Kim’s reck­less habits – drink­ing and driv­ing are two of his fa­vorite pas­times – a self-in­flicted bi­o­log­i­cal so­lu­tion is more than pos­si­ble. So is the chance that an in­sider will fi­nally get an­gry enough to take him out, never mind the con­se­quences.

He didn’t give odds.

China has helped North Korea through back chan­nels dur­ing sanc­tions, main­tain­ing 80 per­cent to 85 per­cent of North Korea’s trade.

Copy­right 2017 Rick Jensen. Dis­trib­uted ex­clu­sively by Ca­gle Car­toons news­pa­per syn­di­cate. Jensen is Delaware’s award-win­ning con­ser­va­tive talk show host on WDEL. Con­tact him at rick@wdel. com or fol­low him on Twit­ter @Jensen1150WDEL.

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