by Tyler Durden
In case of war with North Korea, the US would face a military challenge as perhaps never before in the last seventy years. This is why a conventional deterrence is actually more important than the nuclear one if we break down a realistic war scenario. The downside is that the DPRK is fully aware that if it responded to a US attack, even in a limited way and only on military targets, it would be flagged as an aggressor, paving the way for a larger foreign intervention.
To answer this question, it is necessary to examine what would entail a US attack on North Korea. Suffice it to say that as the neocon Senator John McCain has admitted, the US would be unable to defend Seoul (as well as its US bases nearby) in the first 24 to 48 hours of a conflict. A city of 20 million inhabitants, together with military bases containing thousands of soldiers, would suffer untold loss of life.
The United States would certainly suffer huge losses, revealing weaknesses that could be exploited in future conflicts, a consideration that would need to be considered if contemplating shooting down DPRK missiles.
China would certainly not be happy to risk a humanitarian catastrophe on its own border, not to mention being eventually forced to intervene to defend its ally (there is a treaty between the two countries). Japan and South Korea would be hit hard, being clearly exposed to a North Korean retaliatory attack; so they clearly do not want a war with Pyongyang. The great truth about the Korean Peninsula is that despite the fact that every country flexes its muscles and seems ready to act, no one wants this eventuality, as no one could win this war, and everyone would suffer devastating effects both economically and militarily. This is not to mention the popular uproar that would arise from so many civilian deaths, let alone were there to be a nuclear escalation.
In the Korean peninsula, we are faced with a great strategic game in which the DPRK becomes more difficult to attack with each passing day, thanks to its conventional forces rather than its nuclear power. This is something that western planners tend to ignore in order to avoid accentuating the power of the DPRK. Unfortunately for them, this is something that is far too well known to US soldiers, and especially South Koreans, which is why a real attack on the DPRK is absolutely out of the question for Seoul.
Finally, there is a worrying aspect to consider for the DPRK’s opponents, namely the alleged ways in which the DPRK preserves and launches its conventional forces. In the parade on April 15, a large availability of solid-fuel mobile platforms was displayed. This creates two great advantages: the first being the ability to launch a missile within a short space of time, thereby minimizing the risk of detection during such things as refueling operations; and the second, of course, being the ability to launch a missile and then quickly change position (shoot and scoot). With mobile launchers, it is impossible to track and hit all such systems in a preemptive attack. This is without factoring into the equation the North Korean submarines that are said to be able to launch medium- and short-range SLBMs with conventional or nuclear warheads.
An indication of the confusion that prevails amongst military planners regarding North Korea can easily be seen with the story of USS Carl Vinson. Ships with significant attack capabilities, Trump said a few days ago, were sailing towards the DPRK with the intention of inducing Kim to talks through military intimidation. However, the reality was that the carrier group was actually thousands of miles away, continuing to navigate in the opposite direction. Even without this ridiculous situation, US military leverage hardly works with the DPRK for the reasons explained above.
With this unprecedented gaffe, the United States is at least divided internally on what to do, sending a troublesome message to its allies, leaving them with the following set of questions: Is Trump really in control of the armed forces? Can his words be taken seriously? Is he consistent with his intentions? The first 100 days of the Trump presidency raise these questions, and in difficult scenarios such as the one that obtains in the Korean Peninsula, they take a heavy toll. At the end of the day, in Korea we are faced with a lot of smoke and mirrors, threats and promises. But realistically, no one wants an actual conflict…