Rolling the Iron Dice, Can Kim Jong Un use his nukes and get away with it?Submitted by Bob-45 on Fri, 04/12/2013 - 08:46
BY JOHN ARQUILLA | APRIL 8, 2013
The rushed deployment of American missile interceptors to Guam last week, buttressing those already in place at Fort Greely, Alaska, makes for good politics but reflects poor strategic vision. The apparent threat posed by North Korea -- that Kim Jong Un might lob a lone, long-range missile toward the United States -- is illusory. Pyongyang has no missile with that kind of range, and almost surely no nuclear warhead small enough to fit on such a delivery vehicle anyway. As to striking closer to home, say against Japan, the North Korean history of faulty, inaccurate missiles suggests they'd have a hard time even hitting land at all, much less any specifically designated target. More to the point, though, any one-off attack of this sort would invite an absolutely devastating response to which North Korea would have no adequate defense.
Rather than behaving in such suicidal fashion, Kim could be thinking more creatively about the strategic utility of his small nuclear arsenal across the spectrum of bad behavior open to him. The simplest and safest path he can pursue is to persist in his bluster while refraining from any kind of serious military provocation. When the current furore dies down, he can declare victory in this latest confrontation. Or, ratcheting up the action just a little, he might order something like the 2010 artillery bombardment of the border island Yeongpyeong, during which some South Korean soldiers were killed. Both large-scale bluster and small-scale bombardment are more than adequately supportable by the North's nuclear capacities. Nobody is going to war against Pyongyang on the basis of harsh rhetoric or mild skirmishing. So stand by for more churlishness, and maybe even a little violence.