The U.S. Military Knows Bombing North Korea Is A Bad Idea
Robert E. Kelly
Millions could die.
Key point (NOTE: This is from our archives and was published several years ago): North Korea has long been preparing for such an event.
The idea of retaliating against North Korea has, of course, been around for a long time. North Korea provokes South Korea, Japan, and the United States regularly. Several of those provocations were severe enough that military action would likely have enjoyed some global acceptance. In 1968, the North Koreans captured the USS Pueblo, a naval intelligence vessel, and held the crew for almost a year. In 1969, North Korea shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane, killing the crew. In 1998, North Korea shot a missile over Japan. In 2010 North Korea sank a South Korean corvette and shelled a South Korean-held island, killing fifty. Yet in each case, the United States, South Korea, and Japan choose to defer. The reasons for that restraint are broadly still in place and will likely inhibit President Donald Trump as they have previous U.S. presidents:
1. Seoul is extremely vulnerable to North Korean counter-fire:
This is probably the greatest military constraint. South Korea is badly configured for a protracted bout of tit-for-tat retaliation and counter-retaliation with North Korea. This is not like Israel’s ability to strike Arab opponents with limited counter-strike vulnerability. Seoul and its surrounding Kyeonggi province lie right on the demilitarized zone border. Kyeonggi includes 55 percent of the entire South Korean population and is the economic and political heart of this highly centralized country. This megalopolis makes for a big, hard-to-defend, easy-to-hit target should Pyongyang hit back against an airstrike.
2. Trump would need the political approval of South Korea and Japan:
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