White House Is Exploring Use Of Military Force Against North Korea

Tyler Durden's picture

An internal White House strategy review on North Korean options includes the possibility of both military force and regime change to counter the country’s nuclear-weapons threat, the WSJ reports, a prospect that has some U.S. allies in the region on edge. The review comes amid recent events have strained regional stability including last month's launch by North Korea of a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, and the assassination of the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.

The WSJ adds that U.S. officials have underscored the possible military dimensions of their emerging strategy in recent discussions with allies, suggesting that the planning is at an advanced stage.

President Trump has taken steps to reassure allies that he won’t abandon agreements that have underpinned decades of U.S. policy on Asia, his pledge that Pyongyang would be stopped from ever testing an intercontinental ballistic missile—coupled with the two-week-old strategy review—has some leaders bracing for a shift in American policy. During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s two-day summit in February with Mr. Trump, U.S. officials on several occasions stated that all options were under consideration to deal with North Korea, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

It was clear to the Japanese side that those options encompassed a U.S. military strike on North Korea, possibly if Pyongyang appeared ready to test an ICBM. The Japanese side found that scenario “worrisome,” he said.

The proposal emerged roughly two weeks ago, when Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland convened a meeting with national-security officials across the government and asked them for proposals on North Korea, including ideas that one official described as well outside the mainstream.

The request was for all options, ranging from U.S. recognition of North Korea as a nuclear state to military action against Pyongyang. Ms. McFarland’s directive was for the administration to undergo a comprehensive rethink of America’s North Korea policy.


The national-security officials reported back to Ms. McFarland with their ideas and suggestions on Tuesday. Those options now will undergo a process under which they will be refined and shaped before they’re given to the president for consideration.

In addition to concerns about US intervention, there is speculation that China may itself pre-empt a move by Washingont: the heightened prospect of U.S. military action in North Korea could encourage China, which fears the fallout of a military confrontation with its neighbor, to take steps Washington has long sought to choke off Pyongyang’s economic lifeline.

Another unknown is how South Korea will act. In the wake of Mr. Trump’s election, leaders in Tokyo and Seoul have sought to intensify the existing U.S. strategy of exerting economic and diplomatic pressure against North Korea. “We will make sure that the North changes its erroneous calculations by further enhancing sanctions and pressure,” South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn said in a speech on Wednesday.

The speech came on the same day that South Korea and the U.S. kicked off major annual military exercises, part of a long-running strategy of prioritizing defensive military preparedness to ward off North Korean aggression. As annual military exercises were set to begin, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke Tuesday to South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo, emphasizing that “any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming,” said the Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis.

Finally, there is Japan, which is concerned it could get sucked into a regional conflict by a U.S. military strike on North Korea, said Tetsuo Kotani, a senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, a Tokyo think tank. Another fear for Japan is a scenario in which the U.S. instead holds talks with North Korea and reaches a deal that would lead to Washington disengaging from the region, he said.

Japan, under its pacifist constitution, remains heavily dependent on U.S. military support, not only to counter North Korea, but also China, which has stepped up a territorial challenge against Japanese-administered islands in the East China Sea.

“Direct talks between Mr. Trump and Kim Jong Un would be a nightmare scenario for Japan,” Mr. Kotani said.

Trump has recently stated the U.S.’s commitment to defending both Japan and South Korea to leaders of both countries. A spokeswoman for Japan’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the details of Mr. Abe’s talks with Mr. Trump, while a spokesman for South Korea’s foreign ministry couldn’t be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, in yet another potential escalation point, the U.S. is in the process of installing advanced missile defenses, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in South Korea. As part of that, South Korea said this week that it has completed a transfer of land needed as a station for the system, Capt. Davis said. In response to this deployment, on Wednesday China and Russia announced they have agreed to intensify their opposition to the US’ controversial THAAD missile defense system.

“Both sides said they will continue to strengthen their coordinated opposition to THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system),” the Chinese Foreign Ministry wrote on its website on Wednesday.

The statement follows a Tuesday meeting between China’s assistant foreign minister, Kong Xuanyou, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov in Beijing. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement, saying that “both parties emphasized that collective political and diplomatic efforts should be stepped up to ease tensions and initiate the process of military and political detente across the board in Northeast Asia, in order to create conditions conducive to resolving the nuclear issue, as well as other issue, on the Korean Peninsula.”

It comes after the South Korean government signed a land swap deal with retail giant Lotte on Tuesday, which will see the company exchange a golf course for military-owned land near Seoul. The golf course will become the future home of THAAD. THAAD is an advanced system designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their terminal flight phase. Equipped with long-range radar, it is believed to be capable of intercepting North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

China has repeatedly spoken out against THAAD over fears that it will undermine its own ballistic missile capabilities, and previously urged Seoul and Washington not to go ahead with the system’s planned deployment.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor

Ahead of the Tuesday signing of the deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang warned of “consequences” against Washington and Seoul if the agreement were to go ahead, claiming the system “severely disrupts regional strategic balance and jeopardizes the strategic security interests of regional countries including China.”

China “will definitely take necessary measures to safeguard its security interests,” he said during a news briefing, adding that “all the consequences entailed will be borne by the US and the Republic of Korea.” Beijing has already taken measures which some claim are retaliatory against the deal, including halting Lotte’s multibillion dollar real estate project in China and canceling the visits of South Korean celebrities to the country.

As for Russia, the country previously urged those involved in the THAAD system to consider the escalated tensions it will inevitably cause. Last month, Moscow appraised the situation around the Korean Peninsula as “exhibiting a high likelihood of becoming volatile,” and emphasized the “counter-productiveness of the line being taken by certain governments in exacerbating these tensions and instigating an arms race in the subregion, as well as the increase in the scale of military drills.”

However, the US and South Korea maintain that THAAD is a defensive measure against Pyongyang. South Korean officials have said they expect the missile system to be deployed and operational this year, with one stating earlier this month that deployment could be completed by August.

* * *

And just like that, suddenly the very precarious peace in East Asia suddenly depends on the actions of an irrational dictator. While for now the US appears to be on the fence about a military intervention - or regime change - that will surely change should Kim Jong Un decide, unexpectedly, to launch another ballistic missile, something he is known to do with increasing frequency. Which means that suddenly the stability of a great part of Asia is in the hands of the man in the photo below.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
MarketAnarchist's picture

China will depose them

Whoa Dammit's picture

Like we don't have enough wars in crappy little countries already. 

samjam7's picture

Ok so this explains the whole half-brother murder, conveniently captured on CCTV and broadcast all over the US media. Gotta come up with some chemical weapons of mass destruction from Pyongyang to intervene?

Logan 5's picture
Logan 5 (not verified) Croesus Mar 1, 2017 6:51 PM

OK ~ I'll be the 'MESSENGER U NEED 2 SHOOT' ~ so downvote me here...


But, If TRUMP actually thinks that the NORKS are the enemy... Then this presidency is dead in the first month...



TeamDepends's picture

They are not "the enemy", but Lucifer could use them in that capacity. A first strike by them "out of nowhere" would kick the depopulation off as nicely as any other spark.

beemasters's picture

How are the military industrial complex and corporate vultures going to survive if Trump prefers diplomacy over war with all nations? They need to bomb NK desperately.

espirit's picture


The Nork subs don't get any further then their missiles do.

wee-weed up's picture

Kim Jung Un's pantload just increased by 20 lbs.

lolmao500's picture

Sub warfare is very hard... they did sink a skorean ship and didnt get caught

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) Croesus Mar 1, 2017 6:57 PM

Kim jung un needs to be introduced to a Rod-From-God.


Gead's picture

No, just jam his fat ass on that THAAD in the picture and light it off.

PT's picture

But these days we have smart bombs that can just blow up the bad people and all the innocent bystanders will not be harmed.

Oh, pardon me, I was just channeling 20 year old propaganda.  Tech must be sooooooo much better these days.  What is all the fuss about?

political_proxy's picture

For the people, sure.

For the Banksters, Never! 

Slingsby's picture

First off, the article may just be bullshit.

Secondly, if real military intervention were about to occur, I don't think Trump would telegraph it to the press. This is a game of brinksmanship with the Chinese to get them to apply pressure on the Norks.

DownWithYogaPants's picture

Have to agree.  Chinese are going to handle this one.  Of course the private central bankers want one of the last few countries beyond their grasp to be brought to heel.  Howewver one has to suspect that China is on one of their leashes somehow also.

JamesBond's picture

The Pentagon has had multiple contingency operations planned, modeled, and re-planned for decades regarding NK. Anything new is not new.


JLee2027's picture

The liittle dictator of NK has overplayed his hand. 

flapdoodle's picture

China would be thrilled to have the US
invade their lapdog North Korea - they
keep their leash well hidden, but it is there just as much as America's leash is around Germany.

The US will soon discover that North Korea, which was not easy back in the 1950's, will be even
harder this time. Think a rerun of Israel "punishing" the Hezbullah by invading Lebanon in 2006.

Particularly difficult with all the high tech hidden support they will get from China and Russia who will love the chance of bogging down the US in an new Vietnam...

A more frightening scenario is North Korea lobbing a couple of short range missles into what is left of Fukushima. Lights out, America.

idahobandito's picture

I thought they already did, by cutting off all coal imports from NK. Coal is a major export income for NK....

auricle's picture

Why would Un kill his half brother using VX in a crowded airport with the possibility of it affecting an innocent bystander and thus becoming an act of terror. Why not do it while he's on his way to gamble in a Macau casino parking lot? It's not like his brother was a nuclear scientist who only rears his head in public once a decade. This whole thing seems staged.

caconhma's picture

Trump is a warmonger, buffoon, mentally deficient, and a lair. 

Pay attention to what Trump does instead of what he says. His administration is full of active duty generals.


I voted against Hillary, i.e., for Trump.

political_proxy's picture

shows up as a jpeg and nothing else, gee thanks

AnonG-Man's picture

That's the point, its merely a picture of MacArthur.

Plenty of material on the subject not found in an American History class for starters:

The American use of War Pretext Incidents

The Korean War: "The Unknown War"

America's "Ethics" of Bombing Civilians after World War II

“For Washington, the question, ‘who fired the first shot?’ carried special significance…. Assistant Secretary of State for UN Affairs…[revealed] before the Senate Appropriations Committee, 1950, the US had devised a plan prior to the start of the war to gain approval from the UN to send its troops to Korea under the UN flag in the event that South Korea was attacked. It was imperative, therefore, that the ‘first shot’ be fired by the North, or at least that such an argument could be made.” - Dr. Channing Liem, the former South Korean ambassador to the UN (1960-1961)

Swampthedrain's picture

Yea, sure.  What resources are they sitting on?  Not much.  Just shut them up with money like they've done so many times in the past.

techpriest's picture

They sit on a lot of iron and rare earth ores. Chinese steel companies do a good bit of business with them. Otherwise, you are right - they are mainly a buffer against SK and the US bases.

LetThemEatRand's picture

If only Slim Pickens were alive to ride the bomb.

Aubiekong's picture

Why the hell are we getting involved, let china take care of this.  Simply send them a message that we are good with what ever they need to do...

Escrava Isaura's picture

Why the hell are we getting involved……… 

Because war is good business.

How do you think America was founded?

How do you think America built its middleclass in one wage earner?

Would like to know these answers? Because you don’t learn these in college. How am I so sure?

Ask your kids if they know these answers.


DownWithYogaPants's picture

Shows how ignorant you are about economics.  But that we already knew.

Escrava Isaura's picture

So, answer his “sort of a” question/statement.

Why the hell are we getting involved……… 

You can’t, can you?

Because that would involve US history, you know, before economics took front stage.

By the way, economic is a warfare by other means, not that I need to remind you of that.



new game's picture

wack-a-mole strategy. dubed wack a  Pyongyang

Hohum's picture

That should give a lift to the stock market!

hooligan2009's picture

so now we have a clear breach of national security and the WSJ is complicit in putting the lives of countless people in harms way by waving a pen in the face of a dictator with nukes.

the editorial board needs to hand itself in to the FBI for the drawing up of necessary charges (including treason, conspiracy to start a shooting war and bribing/subverting white house officials.

despicable behavior

Lost in translation's picture

We saw this coming, no? The crafted narratives all point in the direction of military action.

My guess, though, is that China will move in first, occupy DPRK, and set up a pro-China puppet before pulling back out. I expect Chinese troops would remain in some sort of "security zone" south of the Tumen and Yalu Rivers, in perpetuity.

From 18 months ago: http://thediplomat.com/2015/08/why-did-china-amass-tanks-at-the-north-ko...

jm's picture

It will depend on who gets boots on the ground first, no?

jm's picture

The KOSPI's implicit optionality pricing a unified Korea is cheap.

Thinking the the north will be sharing nuclear technology with the south in a regime change scenario.

Giant Meteor's picture

The Iillusion of Choice, Carlin .


Remix, with pictorial ..

Hat Tip to : gotknowledge1

Wang Dang SP's picture

Try to narrow down the leaker, ya think?

johand inmywallet's picture

Backchannel a deal with China to eliminate Kim, either that or a backdoor deal with China invading NK, it would be over in a week. Christ, China has been feeding technology to Kim in hopes of him using it against America.

Keep American troops out of this shit!

Clara Tardis's picture

Some interesting theories that after the North/South divide up, that North Korea was and still is just some cia science experiment, in order for us to have a perpetual boogieman or in Kim's case Boogie-boy.
North Korea is China's problem, the warhawks are still running our show. What better plot to keep the Prez busy...

Blankone's picture

NK's land mass is important to China.  If the US takes control of NK they get shoreline on the west side of the Sea of Japan.  They also get plenty of direct border with China to start placing missiles (SK seems to limit them somewhat).  They get prime shoreline along the Yellow Sea and ability to more closer to Bejing.  I would also expect control of NK would transfer over all the offshore mineral rights.

China really does not want the US/UN/NATO type groups to gain control of NK.  And then the US does not want China to take NK for the same type of reasons. 

Funny how this comes up right after the level headed brother - potential replacement ruler - is murdered.  Sure looks like that was a CIA hit.

turnball the banker's picture
turnball the banker (not verified) Mar 1, 2017 6:37 PM

Gotta get another joo central bank in there asap

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

Everyone on earth needs to know the Freedom and Joy of being on the recieving end of abusive loaning practices.  It's the American way.