In response to my call to destroy the North Korean Missile before it even gets off the ground, one of my readers asked a few good questions about whether or not the missile actually posed any danger to the US or its allies. Since I’m aiming for more reader-interaction, I figured I’d answer in a front page post.
What do we have to gain by destroying the missile on the pad? (Even North Korea is not dumb enough to launch a missile strike. The leaders all know that most of them would be dead in a matter of days.)
Its probably true that North Korea isn’t about to nuke the south, but there is no telling what instability could do. Kim Jong Il is old, ill, and with no clear successor. The nation is unable to feed itself, and there is always the potential for an armed revolt by the military in the event Kim dies or otherwise become unable to lead (or simply unpopular with the guys with the guns). I’m not sure in leaving the future to chance, if this test works, they will not have both nuclear weapons AND the power to deliver them to other areas (though I’m not sure if they have the technology yet to mount the missiles with warheads – that may be next) – even without firing a missile, those two things combined could be enough to blackmail the world into caving into whatever demands the regime may have.
Think about China and Russia. How would they react?
China isn’t exactly willing to invade its neighbor (and fellow communist country) to its south, but they aren’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of a nuclear-capable NK either. And its probably safe to say that they resent the tension this has caused with the United States, their biggest consumer of the kind of cheap manufactured goods that keep the economy going. Russia would likely take little action, at very most, they might criticize the United States for preemptive action, but they have their own problems to worry about, and would probably be just as happy if North Korea was no longer an issue.
How about the Middle East?
As for the middle east, there would likely be little impact. Sure, some might claim that this is the US being another aggressive, imperialist nation – but remember that the kinds of Islamic extremists who would be likely to make such a claim aren’t exactly the biggest fans of Godless Communists either. In any case, this issue is so separate from our operations in the Middle East that I would not expect much response from anyone in that region.
How about Europe?
This is, once again, a region largely separate from events in East Asia. Europe is probably between a rock and a hard place on this issue – they aren’t fans of an active military policy, but they have just as good of a reason to want to avoid the kind of instability that comes with a Nuclear-capable North Korea.
What would the global economic impact be?
This is an important question. Unfortunately, the markets are likely to take a hit either way. The same kind of international strife that would be caused by taking the missile out on the pad will be caused by knocking it out of the air – something that both Japan and the United States have already announced their intent to do. The markets hate instability, so any conflict between the US and the North cause a drop in the NYSE. But what would be the global – or even American – economic impact if the North Koreans can accomplish this test successfully? Probably just as bad.
Would the US public support such an action?
I believe, ultimately, they would. Any action to take out the missile would require little risk to American lives, and, since the missile CAN reach the United States, I don’t see any large segment of the population objecting.
Would it change North Korea? (I think it would embolden them as they play the victim and China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc., run to their support.)
China and Russia are not going to tie themselves to an unstable nuclear-destined regime who made enemies with the United States, and who has intentionally provoked the international community. Iran would probably complain about US Imperialism, but, at the same time, this could serve as a good example to our other allies that the United States, despite being under new leadership, is still prepared to use its military power.