Defining Trump's 4 Bad Options For Dealing With North Korea

Yesterday, as most Americans were busy celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, North Korea conducted yet another missile test and announced that it was officially "a full-fledged nuclear power that has been possessed of the most powerful inter-continental ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world". The ICBM  would enable the country to "put an end to the US nuclear war threat and blackmail" and defend the Korean peninsula, it added.

In a statement the North's Academy of Defense Science, which developed the missile, said it reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres and flew 933 kilometres, calling it the "final gate to rounding off the state nuclear force".  In practical terms, unlike previous missile launches, yesterday's test carried particular significance becuse it was the first time the rogue nation had demonstrated missile technology capable of hitting the continental United States.

North Korea


But despite all the tough talk from Trump, as Reuters points out today, his administration has four basic options for dealing with North Korea: diplomacy, sanctions, covert action and military force...unfortunately, they're all bad options.


As Reuters notes, the Obama administration tried to pursue a diplomatic solution in February 2012 but it only took about 2 months for North Korea to violate the terms of the agreement. 

There have been no official negotiations for seven years. In February 2012, the United States and North Korea announced an agreement in which the North would suspend operations of its Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant, allow international inspectors to verify the suspension, and implement moratoriums on nuclear and long-range missile tests.


In return, North Korea would get badly needed food aid.


In April of that year, the North attempted to launch a satellite on a three-stage rocket, in what Washington said was a violation of the agreement because of the rocket's potential military uses. While Pyongyang denied it had breached the agreement, the deal was suspended.

Something tells us that Kim Jong Un would only be interested in "negotiating" after he's developed his 'big stick,' which would render those negotiations pointless.


North Korea is already among the most heavily sanctioned nations, facing numerous strictures to limit its ability to conduct commerce, participate in international finance and trade in weapons and other contraband.  That said, so long as China is unwilling to fully participate in those sanctions they will continue to be ineffective.


Covert Action:

Here again, efforts to covertly disable the regime's nuclear program have failed as a result of North Korea's "utter secrecy and extreme isolation."

The United States, with help from Israel, temporarily set back Iran's nuclear program via a computer virus called Stuxnet, which destroyed thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.


The United States tried, but failed, to deploy a version of the Stuxnet virus to attack North Korea's nuclear weapons program in 2009 and 2010, Reuters reported in 2015.


One former high-ranking intelligence official briefed on the program said the effort was stymied by North Korea's utter secrecy and extreme isolation of its communications systems.


That same secrecy is responsible for what U.S. officials have consistently described as limited U.S. intelligence about the North Korean government's inner workings.

Military Force:

Military options available to the Trump administration range from a sea blockade aimed at enforcing sanctions to cruise missile strikes on nuclear and missile facilities to a broader campaign aimed at overthrowing leader Kim Jong Un.

But, as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently warned, the consequences of any military action would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale" and would likely result in heavy casualties in South Korea and potentially even Japan...risks which Trump himself acknowledged over Twitter yesterday:

The only question now is whether the time for talk and half measures has come to an end?

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences." - Winton Churchill


hedgeless_horseman bamawatson Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:07 Permalink

 This Korea thing will probably all blow over.  However...

Are you having a hard time waking up some family or friends, or even yourself, to the possibility that you may someday want to get the fuck out of Dodge City?  Are you for some reason unable to travel to the formerly beautiful Damascus, Syria, or Caracas, Venezuela, to see first-hand what it looks like when SHTF?…

In reply to by bamawatson

yomutti2 Raffie Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:18 Permalink

Still, the next time the top NK missile scientists get together, it's time for us to say hello with a Tomahawk. Will NK respond on a a proportional basis? Probably. If so, we match them tit for tat without escalation. In the unlikely event that they decide to commit suicide by launching an all-out war, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles.It's not ideal, but standing around doing nothing isn't solving the problem.

In reply to by Raffie

jjtech Winston Churchill Wed, 07/05/2017 - 13:20 Permalink

agreed 100%.I will add that the only real danger to the world at the moment are American/Israeli psychopaths along with their vassal states in Europe and Asia.If anything happens, I hope Trump's children and his whole family go to the first line of the North Korean front. Or put them on the ground in Syria. Bunch of psychopatic scumbags who never faced any real danger and were spoon fed all the wealth from the golden plate want to send people to death. To all Americans here: time to get rid of this scum (yes, I know Trump is just a boneless marionette working for MIC/Israel/Oil industry/banking.... but he asked for it so let him get it)

In reply to by Winston Churchill

goober Winston Churchill Wed, 07/05/2017 - 21:22 Permalink

Not an unrealistic obseravtion. But then you get a despot who kills his opponents with an anti aricraft gun and feeds others to starving dogs to show his brutality and create abject fear as the leader of some whacked country, what then ? Your equation seems to forget who and what we are dealing with and he is obviously quite insane.No doubt the NK people have suffered seriously for a very long time. But that is not our fault necessarily ? We do know B Clinton simply avoided the entire thing with some double speak and a very bad deal with NK that of course failed. Then BHO ignored it all for another decade. Now DT and crew inherit the mess and The NK regimes have only gained more military prowess as well as nuke capabilities that are quite real ? As well they were helped by China to put two satellites into orbit over 2 years and we have no idea what those capabilites are, but they are in an orbit directly over CONTUS at 300 miles up ? So this is a very complex mess and no where near as simple as US meddling. And I agree we have meddled far too much in the the last few decades for all the wrong reasons.NK is a proxy of China and China holds the answer or any solution or resolution. I would hope China would depose Kim and install a regime a bit more reasonable. This guy is truly one crazy MOFO ! Time for those family genes to be removed from the gene pool. Other than depose him and his crew there is no resolution that will not be tremendous bloodshed and destruction. Maybe some kind of cyber war will work to undermine their capabilities ? No matter what we still have to deal with this maniac. do you trust him with nukes and ICBMs, I surely don't and that part is not bullshit or contrived, it is all very real ! 

In reply to by Winston Churchill

Vimes yomutti2 Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:50 Permalink

To what problem are you referring? They haven't attacked anyone, but wish to able to defend themselves. "North Koreanscan't be trusted? " they say, but what country has used nukes on civilian and military targets ? ( and so far has the only one to have done so) I think you know the answer to that one.

In reply to by yomutti2

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah (not verified) Vimes Wed, 07/05/2017 - 13:50 Permalink

I think it's funny that the people of NK have to eat tree bark to survive, and are killed if caught trying to escape their paradise, too! It's not like they are real people or anything like that. And FREE HEALTH CARE!!!

In reply to by Vimes

goober Oh regional Indian Wed, 07/05/2017 - 21:46 Permalink

Hope like hell we don't find out why there should be any worry about such a maniac as Kim. Chamberlain had similar thoughts and was quite wrong about appeasement and not paying attention to the obvious or caling a spade a spade ?I completely agree USA has meddled far too much, but not every event and matter has the same exact dynamics underlying. I don't trust Kim at all because he ahs proven he is quite insane and I am not in any way ashamed of it. There are people on the planet that deserve death and he has brutalized long eough. Best solution is to get rid of this maniac. I know that sounds horrific to some but I also think we should kill child molesters and a few others and we don't seem to do that and they go back and harm more children ? There are people that deserve to die ! 

In reply to by Oh regional Indian

Simplifiedfrisbee hedgeless_horseman Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:18 Permalink

HH, are you still eating organic steak and non-gmo veggies while drinking organic wine in your isolation estate? Did Obama ever bust down your door and take your guns away while the IMF/Tri Lat Commission destroyed your financial future? Or did you move back into the city since we have elected a clown to tweet and start MIC inspired wars? You're a joke.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Simplifiedfrisbee hedgeless_horseman Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:33 Permalink

Anger is unique to no person. It is rather beautiful to be independent and live a lifestyle as you do.
Technically, my arguments are straw man. However, they do focus on the very issues you prepared for in part or as a whole. Why not continue to address the same line of ideals as you once did? Society is still falling apart. Toynbee said it best, "A natural organism is made up of a creative minority and an uncreative majority of 'members.'

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

To Hell In A H… hedgeless_horseman Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:37 Permalink

Engage your brain HH, stop the over-hype, don't equate me with an exaggerated story of Liberians, and don't for a minute believe you are talking to the gullible.There was a heart eating, throat cutting ISIS member in Syria. Yes it happened, but it was far from the fucking norm, even for that place. That's the heart eating part I'm talking about. Plus Syria and Venezuela is an example of the USSA and friends targeting a country and turning it to shit.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

skipjack bamawatson Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:41 Permalink

Seems this Tyler is one of the dumber ones...think strategically, Tyler, and read the smart commentators.… Trump is smartly setting up the real adversary and it is not North Korea, it’s China.To understand the longer and larger strategy, we must first remember the underpinning of all leverage, economics.The true economic adversary to the United States is China.President Trump and Secretary Tillerson are establishing who supports North Korea by defining who enables them.  Once the enabler is defined and in the sunlight, then action against the enabler is justified.In the final analysis, China will either take action to remove the North Korean threat, or the United States will collapse the economy of China with the biggest set of economic actions against China in the history of economic sanctions.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will establish and highlight the action of the enablers.U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad will politely request China to stop enabling and take action.President Trump will politely ask Xi Jinping not to put him in a position of destroying the Chinese economy.  Trump will remind Xi Jinping he really doesn’t want to, but he is being left no option.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are the atomic economic sledgehammer…. awaiting orders.President Trump works the entire plan down to it’s two logical outcomes for the world to decide. Either:A.) War with North Korea killing millions of people.ORB.) Economic Sanctions against China to avoid war.President Xi Jinping can already see this is the binary choice at the logical end of the current path.  He too knows the art of economic war.Xi can see this coming hence he will work veraciously to avoid being in that binary economic box.View image on Twitter

 FollowChina Xinhua News ?@XHNewsXi says to strive for greater development of China-Germany ties 6:07 AM - 4 Jul 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy One of China’s approaches will be an attempt to curry favor with all economic adversaries; China needs friends and will attempt to buy them if possible.  However, the U.S. economic market is worth $20 trillion and is the strongest economic leverage on the planet.Economic isolation does not hurt the U.S. as much as economic isolation hurts all other industrial nations that rely on their ability to bring their products to U.S. markets.  The U.S. holds all economic leverage.  Remember, at its core – the U.S. is self sufficient in every industry.China holds dollars.  China also hordes dollars as part of: a.) their trade surplus with the U.S. paying in dollars; and b.) their economic strategy to keep the U.S. dollar inflated.  China cannot dump dollars in retaliation without punishing their own economy.If you owe the bank a million dollars the bank owns you.  If you owe the bank a trillion dollars, you own the bank.China is screwed.For three decades everyone in Donald Trump’s financial orbit, the “killers” per se’, have been chomping at the bit to crush China and cut them down to size.U.S. Billionaire Donald Trump is now the President of the United States.  U.S. Billionaire Steven Mnuchin is now the master of all international finance.   U.S. Billionaire Wilbur Ross and Robert Lighthizer control trade.North Korea is a regional problem, but North Korea is also an American opportunity.North Korea’s behavior is giving President Trump every excuse to crush China economically; and yet no-one yet realizes what the long strategy is…View image on Twitter

 FollowTheLastRefuge @TheLastRefuge21.@realDonaldTrump will keep giving China chances to stop N.Korea until even far-left will say: “Why isn’t @POTUS doing anything about this?3:06 PM - 4 Jul 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy When all options are exhausted and this question remains, China will become the visible enemy enabler that must be confronted to avoid war.That, my friends, is leverage.That is also, why Trump has needed to speak so warmly about China.China has always been the target.Sun Tzu

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”~Sun Tzu

Or, put another way:

 FollowDonald J. Trump ?@realDonaldTrumpMove slowly, carefully --- and then strike like the fastest animal on the planet!1:11 AM - 20 Sep 2013

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In reply to by bamawatson

Caleb Abell (not verified) skipjack Wed, 07/05/2017 - 12:59 Permalink

"Once the enabler is defined and in the sunlight, then action against the enabler is justified."The flaw in that plan is that the US NEVER ... NEVER ... attacks anyone who can fight back.  Small defenseless countries are the targets of bullies and cowards.Having said that, I hope the US does pick a fight with China (be assured that Russia will fight by their side).  After China and Russia accept the US unconditional surrender and executes the US war criminals, there may be a chance for lasting peace.

In reply to by skipjack

sgt_doom bamawatson Wed, 07/05/2017 - 13:20 Permalink

 Update on the American Intelligence EstablishmentBillions of dollars, each and every year, go to the operation of the CIA, NSA and DIA --- yet a short, fat psycho in North Korean is now threatening Asia and America with ICBMs???Instead of focusing on national security and guarding against such a threat, the American public reads the too-infrequent story on missing funds at this agency or that agency; but no overall accounting since NO forensic audit has ever been undertaken.  (The last president to order such an audit was President John F. Kennedy, but after his assassination the audit appeared to have mysteriously faded away!)We have been repeatedly told --- by self-important "fellows" from this so-called think tank or that so-called think tank interviewed on Fake News --- that the Russians were behind the 2016 presidential election according to 17 intelligence agencies --- minus any substantiating proof!Yet, we can all see and hear news reports about a short, fat North Korean psycho and his threatening missile tests --- proof positive of the incompentence and inaction on those 17 American intelligence agencies!!!High time for forensic audits of the CIA, NSA and DIA.

In reply to by bamawatson