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THAAD critical US support for Korea, to deter Russian and China adventurism, and to project US power in East Asia, deter North Korean aggression, and strengthen US diplomacy

US News & World Report, 9-20-17, South Korea to miss out on Chinese tourists’ big Golden Week spending as political tensions linger, https://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-09-19/the-big-picture-of-thaad-and-us-missile-defense-on-the-korean-peninsula

National security news is dominated by the actions of North Korea. In that context, a great amount of attention has been paid to the THAAD – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. THAAD is a necessary and critical step in America’s march towards missile defense and securing not only our interests but our allies’ well-being. The issue of THAAD cannot be seen to only exist in a vacuum nor as simply a shield against North Korean militarism. It must be viewed as an integral piece to the American projection of power in East Asia, the stability of the region, as a bulwark against Russian and Chinese imperial adventurism and as a material sign of support to our South Korean ally. According to the Department of Defense, THAAD was deployed to “ensure the security of South Korea” and to “protect alliance forces from North Korea.” It is a measure to “improve the missile defense posture of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.” Commander of the Eighth U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal says that THAAD is being installed to “improve our missile defense posture, which is a critical aspect of our defense strategy.” The long and short of it is THAAD will aid South Korea in shooting down missiles launched by the North, saving civilian lives and military personnel. However, it is important to understand that THAAD is an anti-theater ballistic missile system not designed to counter intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is aimed at missiles under a range of 5,500 km and beyond 150 km. It boasts an area protection of 200 km and is capable of multiple launches. Short-range missiles like the SCUDS, a favorite of Saddam Hussein, can be dealt with by the Patriot system. American innovation may again change the situation since THAAD developer Lockheed Martin is working on Extended Range THAAD (THAAD-ER) which could target misses at an altitude of 150 km and travel at hypersonic speeds of Mach 8. This is especially important given the recent announcement that all six launchers will be deployed, rather than two, which was the original position of President Moon in June. Of note, South Korea has signaled a shift in their defense posture, stressing a more pre-emptive stance rather than a retaliatory one. Naturally, South Korean domestic politics plays a key role, and the election of President Moon may lead to a reassessment of the tough stance taken by President Park. It is important to consider the change in South Korea’s policy in recent years as well. There is concern that the current deployment puts Seoul out of THAAD projection, but the answer here lies in the greater number of missile batteries and a multi-layered defense that ultimately embraces strategic missile defense. THAAD fits into overall American national security policy by enhancing a layered missile defense which already serves to protect alliance troops in South Korea from North Korean ballistic missiles. It serves as a further check on North Korean power, and it has been stressed repeatedly that it will not be aimed at any third-party countries. This is a U.S. effort by the U.S. military, not an effort by the South Koreans to buy and operate this system themselves. This reinforces the U.S. commitment to defend its own troops, despite attitudes by South Korean politicians. It also provides a useful bargaining chip in the face of North Korea’s provocations, including their continuous missile tests…. The deployment of THAAD was never a magic bullet, but a necessary component of missile defense, that in concert with more tactical, strategic and ultimately space-based systems can deter, dissuade and destroy an aggressor’s ability to threaten American interests, personnel and allies. It enhances American diplomacy by clearly placing American defense assets in harm’s way in support of our alliances. It is unfortunate that the Obama administration considered using THAAD as a bargaining chip with China as it is a system that needs to be deployed, enlarged and enhanced.

China opposes THAAD because the radars can see into the country, this undermines negotiations on the Korean peninsula

US News & World Report, 9-20-17, South Korea to miss out on Chinese tourists’ big Golden Week spending as political tensions linger, http://www.scmp.com/business/china-business/article/2112001/south-korea-miss-out-chinese-tourists-big-golden-week
China has been resolute in their opposition to the deployment of this system. Their main concern is that they believe it would give “Washington better early warning and tracking of Chinese missiles.” And with good reason, as THAAD can cover roughly 2,000 km, which would reach deep into mainland China. According to China’s foreign ministry, “The missile system is unhelpful in realizing the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is no good for the stabilization of the peninsula, runs counter to the effort of various parties’ negotiations, and will severely damage the safety of China and nearby countries and the regional strategic balance.” The recent deployment of THAAD to locations in South Korea led Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to use the term “regrettable.”

North developing missiles that can circumvent US missile defense systems, THAAD perfect record is meaningless because it only has been tested against one type of missile

Katherine Lam, 9-1-17, Fox News, Can US Military Shoot Down a North Korean Missile? http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/09/19/can-us-military-shoot-down-north-korean-missile.html

During a test, the missile needs to be intercepted in “a matter of minutes” after it is launched, Reif said. Thomas Karako, senior fellow and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also previously told Fox News that shooting down a missile is “a game of minutes” and the initial missile detection “would be really in terms of seconds.” On top of that, North Korea is developing missiles that would evade U.S. and allied missile defense systems, Reif said. “The only system designed to defend the U.S. homeland, known as the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, has suffered from numerous technical and engineering problems, and testing in controlled conditions has not demonstrated that it can provide a reliable defense against even a small number of unsophisticated ICBMs,” he said. The THAAD anti-ballistic missile system has been deployed to protect South Korea and the U.S. territory of Guam. Aegis destroyers, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, sit in the Korean Peninsula along with Patriot missile systems. The Pentagon touts THAAD’s 15-for-15 record in controlled tests to destroy short or medium range ballistic missiles. But Reif said don’t be fooled by the perfect record. “Only one of those tests has been against an IRBM class target similar to the North’s HS-12,” Reif said.

Too difficult to intercept missiles

Ryan Pickrell, 9-19, 17, Daily Caller, Shooting Down North Korea’s Missiles Not as Easy as it Seems, http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/19/shooting-down-north-koreas-missiles-is-not-as-easy-as-it-sounds/

For the shots over Japan, neither the PAC-3 systems in country nor the Aegis destroyers armed with SM-3 interceptors nearby would have likely been able to eliminate the North Korean missiles, because the missiles were too high when they passed overhead. The only option is a midcourse or terminal intercept. Assuming an Aegis ship was operating in waters east of Japan in just the right location, there is a possibility it could intercept a missile. THAAD, which is stationed in Guam and South Korea, could potentially take out a North Korean missile in terminal phase, but there are a lot of variables. Many of these systems have never been tested in combat, and the GMD system that defend the U.S. mainland have a spotty overall performance record. Missile defense in general is a challenge with no guarantee of success. “People think missile defenses are a magic wand. They aren’t,” Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program in the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Let us say that there is someone on the other side of a large room shooting at you and you are shooting back,” Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate in the East Asia Nonproliferation Program in the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explained to TheDCNF. “Maybe you could ricochet one of the bullets if you are an excellent marksman, but you are still going to get hit with other bullets.”

Missile defense deployments increase the risk of conflict escalation

Katherine Lam, 9-1-17, Fox News, Can US Military Shoot Down a North Korean Missile? http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/09/19/can-us-military-shoot-down-north-korean-missile.html

But Reif cautioned officials against becoming overconfident in America’s defense capability in the face of a potential North Korean missile threat. “Misplaced overconfidence in missile defense could prompt U.S. leaders to think that we can escalate in response to North Korean provocations without having to worry about a potential North Korean nuclear response,” he said. “This would greatly increase the risk of conflict on the Korean Peninsula.”

Deterrence won’t prevent conflict because Kim doesn’t care about collateral damage and he thinks he’ll survive

Shannon Ebrahaim, 9-10-17, North Korea is able to exact nuclear annihilation, https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/north-korea-is-able-to-exact-nuclear-annihilation-11155704

Since nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan 72 years ago in 1945, the devastation was so immense and the after-effects so long lasting, that no one really anticipated any world leader could take us down such a path again. But the dangerous game of brinkmanship being played out on the Korean peninsula is bringing about the realisation that one slight miscalculation or accident could again lead to nuclear annihilation, but this time of far greater numbers, and not confined to just one nation. The hydrogen bomb that North Korea tested a week ago was seven times the size of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Estimates are that North Korea already has as many as 60 usable nuclear warheads which could be fitted onto its ICBMs with the potential of reaching not only Seoul, but Chicago. The US Rand Corporation has predicted that North Korea is on track to have as many as 100 nuclear weapons in three years’ time, which is half the nuclear arsenal of the UK. The speed with which North Korea has developed its nuclear weapons programme despite all the sanctions imposed on it by the international community is astounding. In 2006 it tested a 1 kiloton nuclear bomb, three years later it was a 2 kiloton bomb, three years after that a 6-7 kiloton bomb, last year it was a 10 kiloton bomb, and this year it was a 160 kiloton bomb. A remarkable achievement for a nation which the West thought it had starved into submission. While one would like to believe that Trump and Kim Jong-un are rational actors who will act in the best interests of their countries, the problem is that collateral damage may not be as much of a concern to either leader as we might think. North Korea, like Iran, has made provision for a nuclear war that includes extensive networks of underground subways with blast doors that will enable a segment of its population to survive and perpetuate the North Korean nation. In preparation for a possible American nuclear attack on Tehran, the Iranians have taken the same precautions, designing an underground subway system that could second as a nuclear bunker facility to enable at least some of its residents to survive. We have seen over consecutive decades that North Korean leaders have viewed their civilians as dispensable, and now they are quick to say that in the event of nuclear war with the US, “not everyone will die.” It is clear that elaborate provisions have been made to ensure the survival of the Kim dynasty in the event of a nuclear attack. The North Koreans are also devising their war strategies not in incremental moves typical of conventional war, but with the objective of total annihilation, whereby the enemy would be totally destroyed.

No way THAAD will split the alliance – nearly 80% approve of THAAD and want MORE security

Yonap News, 9-11-17, Moon’s approval rating slides below 80% amid N. Korea’s dilemma, http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170910000250

Regarding the president’s negative aspects, 32.6 percent pointed out insufficient North Korean and security policies and 26.4 percent picked controversies over nominees for top government posts. The approval rating dip follows Pyongyang sixth nuclear test conducted on Sept. 3. The country claimed it was a successful detonation of an H-bomb that can be mounted on a long-range missile. Its fourth nuclear test in January 2016 was also of an H-bomb, according to Pyongyang, but outside experts said it was more likely to be a boosted fission weapon. In the wake of Pyongyang’s latest brinkmanship, the president last week authorized the installment of the four remaining missile launchers for the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in the southeastern town of Seongju, a move seen as a compromise as he had been cautious about completing the deployment — a decision made by his predecessor Park Geun-hye — pending its environmental assessment. A majority of respondents, however, saw Moon’s order to finalize the THAAD deployment as positive — 79.7 percent approved the decision as positive, while 68.2 percent saw the need to redeploy US tactical nuclear arms in South Korea for defensive purposes. The ruling Democratic Party also saw its own rating slide by 6.9 percentage points to 47.9 percent, while approval for main opposition Liberty Korea Party inched up to 11.9 percent. The splinter Bareun Party rose 2.7 percentage points to 6.6 percent, while those for the progressive Justice Party and the center-left People’s Party remained at 6.3 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. (Yonhap)

THAAD doesn’t protect Seoul, it’s easily overwhelmed, and Patriot won’t fill in the gaps

Chery Kang, 9-11-17, CNBC, “THAAD anti-missile system can’t protect South Korea from missile defense by itself, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/11/south-korea-missile-defense-thaad-system-cant-do-the-job-alone.html”

South Korea has gaps in its countermeasures against North Korean missiles — with or without America’s state-of-the-art defense system in place. South Korea and the United States had to overcome political resistance from locals and diplomatic and economic pushback from China in order to get the anti-missile system known as THAAD deployed in South Korea. But the system has important limitations. The first is its range. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is currently positioned only in Seongju County of North Gyeongsang Province, is designed to intercept missiles within a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles). Southern parts of the country lie within that area, but the capital Seoulby far the most densely populated area of the country — is not. A second limitation is that THAAD can be overwhelmed. Even if it covered the Seoul metro area, it may not shoot down everything coming its way if the North were to fire multiple, short-range missiles — and Seoul is only about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the border at its closest point. “It’s harder to catch a low ball that comes in high speed than to catch a ball that comes at you in a parabolic trajectory. The same applies to a missile defense,” Professor Kim Dong-yub of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies told South Korea’s YTN news channel last week. “The THAAD becomes useless for South Korea if a missile comes below the interception altitude and at a high speed.” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. THAAD and Patriot working together In addition to THAAD, South Korea has around eight batteries of the Patriot defense system, and the United States separately operates roughly the same number there. But even the combined efforts of the systems isn’t enough to counter an overwhelming missile attack, some experts say. “Patriot has a much smaller range. North Korea can fire outside those areas,” Rand Corp. defense analyst Bruce Bennett told CNBC, adding that “these batteries are not mutually reinforcing. They tend to be spread out to different places.” The exact locations of those Patriots are classified.

Promoting missile defense as a solution to the Korean missile crisis, fails, emboldens Trump to escalate and attack, and impedes diplomacy

Tom Collins, 9-7-17,  Defense One, On North Korea, More Missile Defense is not the Answer, http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2017/09/north-korea-more-missile-defense-not-answer/140822/?oref=d-river

Buying more unreliable interceptors would be a wasteful invitation to disaster. Congress returned to Washington this week after its August break, fresh on the heels of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, by far its largest yet. Combined with recent tests of its long-range missiles, Kim Jong-Un is clearly progressing toward his goal of having a nuclear missile that can reach the United States. Kim may not be there yet, but it is only a matter of time. How will Congress respond? Many in the House and Senate will call for more anti-missile interceptors. The political pressure to do so is understandable and strong, as we all wish we could safely hide behind a “shield” of missile defenses, and just hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over. But that is a dangerous illusion. Moats and castle walls proved no match for catapults. The anti-missile interceptor systems we have today are unreliable, and while simply buying more of them may make us feel better, it could leave us worse off by emboldening President Trump’s already erratic behavior. What might Trump do if he actually believes the defenses would work? The Trump administration is faced with a long line of bad options: sanctions have not worked, U.S. military action against the North would lead to catastrophic retaliation against South Korea, and President Trump, frustrated with the North’s provocations, recently tweeted that “Talking is not the answer!” Deterrence will prevent a North Korean attack, but to halt the North’s nuclear and missile program, we must engage with Pyongyang. An additional 28 ground-based interceptors may seem like good politics, but it is bad policy. Many in the U.S. Senate, such as Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, are proposing more missile defense as the solution. The Senate’s fiscal 2018 version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which may be voted on next week, includes a misguided requirement to buy an additional 28 ground-based interceptors, to be based mainly in Alaska. It also directs the Pentagon to prepare a report on buying 100 more interceptors across the United States. As Navy Adm. Harry Harris, chief of Pacific Command, said in April, there are “sufficient” ballistic missile interceptors protecting the United States in Alaska and California. Second, the interceptor missiles we have now are not reliable. We should fix them before buying more. Since 2004, when the Bush administration prematurely declared the system operational, half of the tests have failed to destroy their targets. And these tests are scripted for success. A real attack would include decoys and other means to fool or overwhelm the defense. No sane leader can be confident that these interceptors would work in the real world. The Pentagon’s own testing office said that the program has “a limited capability to defend the U.S. homeland,” and the Government Accountability Office reported that the tests have been “insufficient to demonstrate that an operationally useful defense capability exists.” DON’T MISS U.S. Army Specialist Shane Cardel, originally from Jamaica, bows his head after taking the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance at a ceremony in New York in late June. Why Trump Should Embrace America’s Immigrant Soldiers North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks along his viewing balcony during a military parade on Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea. The North Korean Threat Beyond ICBMs Karkh Area Command Strike Team soldiers rush onto a simulated battlefield during a joint air assault demonstration on Camp Taji, Iraq, March 29, 2010 How The Military Is Altering the Limits of Human Performance This image made from video aired by North Korea’s KRT on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 shows a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting soldiers during what Korean Central News Agency called a “target=striking contest” in North Korea. Why Didn’t the US Shoot Down That North Korean Missile? A global business empire raises the question: will the next president’s foreign policy serve America’s interests or his own? Mapped: Trump’s National-Security Conflicts of Interest ADVERTISEMENT The interceptor missiles we have now are not reliable. We should fix them before buying more. Philip Coyle, the top Pentagon weapons tester in the Clinton administration, put it this way: “Based on its testing record, we cannot rely upon this missile defense program to protect the United States from a North Korean long-range missile. If anything, over-reliance on missile defensecould impede diplomatic efforts that could avoid a dangerous confrontation.”Third, the more ineffective missile interceptors we buy, the more we convince ourselves that they will work. How else can we justify wasting so much money? But this overconfidence is dangerous. If President Trump believes he can stop a missile attack, he is more likely to escalate a conflict. This is how nations stumble into unintended wars. We can just imagine the conversation where Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tries to explain to President Trump why he can’t depend on his $40 billion anti-missile system: “If I have it, why can’t I use it?” No, sadly, we cannot hide behind missile defense and stiff-arm North Korea. Despite what President Trump tweets, we must talk to Kim Jong-Un. Luckily, as Secretary Mattis said, “we’re never out of diplomatic solutions.” The Senate should not promote irresponsible and unreliable anti-missile systems as a solution to North Korea, which will only waste money, line the pockets of defense contractors, and create greater risks later. Instead, the Senate might promote smart diplomacy by reminding the White House, as Sen. Sullivan has, that only Congress can authorize a preemptive military strike against North Korea, and back that up with a tough, ironclad legislative prohibition.

Missile defense enhances crisis stability

Thomas Karako Senior Fellow and Director Missile Defense Project Center for Strategic and International Studies, Fall 2017, Strategic Studies Quarterly, http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Portals/10/SSQ/documents/Volume-11_Issue-3/Karako.pdf

Keith B. Payne and John S. Foster,, deterrence scholars, Fall 2017, http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Portals/10/SSQ/documents/Volume-11_Issue-3/Karako.pdf Perhaps the primary contribution of missile defense to US strategic posture concerns deterrence. The proliferation and advance of missile capabilities in the hands of potential adversaries creates real challenges for maintaining stability and deterring attack. The 2001 NPR observed that “offensive capabilities alone may not deter aggression in the new security environment of the 21st century,” a critical part of the ratio- nale for the withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. Even while declining to deploy national missile defense in 2000, President Clinton noted its potential: “Such a system, if it worked properly, could give us an extra dimension of insurance in a world where proliferation has complicated the task of preserving the peace.”13 The 2010 NPR likewise cited “conventional military preeminence and continued improvements in U.S. missile defenses” as means to reduce reliance upon nuclear weapons to deter nonnuclear attacks.14 While not substituting for the unique deterrent value of nuclear and other strike forces, missile defenses can contribute to deterrence in at least four ways: improving crisis stability, raising the threshold for attack, buying time and creating options for decision makers, and supporting military operations. Crisis stability. Missile defenses may improve crisis stability by providing the United States courses of action other than preemption or retaliation. In the days prior to North Korea’s 2006 Taepodong-2 launch, some former senior officials recommended a preemptive US strike against the North Korean missile site.15 The existence of a limited US homeland missile defense capability, however, provided President Bush with an alternative to preemptively striking North Korea’s launch facilities. Such a defensive posture creates options for decision-makers that can contribute to stability. A more recent example of missile defense contributing to crisis stability occurred in October 2016, when two or more anti-ship cruise missiles reportedly were fired at the USS Mason as it sailed off the coast of Yemen. Instead of being hit, the ship employed defensive systems and was unharmed.16 Absent these active defenses, the United States could have been drawn further into the conflict. Instead, the United States was able to assess what had taken place and limit its response to a reprisal with a cruise missile strike.17 Raising the threshold for attack. Missile defenses also serve the purpose of raising the threshold for aggression for an adversary wishing to pursue coercive escalatory threats or actual strikes against the United States. Denying adversaries a “cheap shot” option against the American homeland or military forces may deter them from taking such actions. Missile defenses therefore can change the calculus of potential adversaries. They can create uncertainty about the effect of an escalatory threat or attack and thereby help thwart adversary escalation strategies. Buying time and creating options. Missile defense also buys time and creates otherwise unavailable options for decision-makers. Even limited and imperfect defenses create time and space for diplomacy or to attrite adversary missile forces with other means.18 In so doing, pressure to strike adversary launchers prior to launch is thereby relaxed.19 Difficulties of Scud hunting during the Gulf War demonstrated that relying on preemption alone, in addition to potentially creating instabilities, may be unreliable, especially if an adversary deploys mobile missiles.20 Supporting operations. While deterrence rests in part upon the perception and the credibility of threats, it also requires the perceived technical ability to execute deterrent threats. Point defense of strike assets, air bases, aircraft carriers, or points of debarkation can ensure the possible introduction and surging of forces into a theater.21 The 2010 BMDR notes this more tactical quality by observing that missile defenses support “military freedom of maneuver, by helping to negate the coercive potential of regional actors intent on inhibiting and disrupting U.S. military access in their regions.”22 The presence or absence of such tactical advantage can have a strategic effect. An adversary’s recognition that defenses help shape conflicts in a favorable manner for the United States can thus help deter conflict. In the words of Herman Kahn, “Usually the most convincing way to look willing is to be willing.”2

Withdrawing THAAD Means China will cut-off the North’s energy supplies

Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and professor of international relations at The George Washington University. He is the author of Avoiding War with China, just published by University of Virginia Press, Trump and the Art of Foreign Policy Bluffing, http://nationalinterest.org/print/feature/donald-trump-the-art-foreign-policy-bluffing-22243

Shortly before his dismissal, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said regarding North Korea, “They got us.” Trump firmly believes (it is difficult to complete a sentence that starts with these words) in the value of bluffing. He embarrassed himself after bluffing that he may have tapes about his meeting with then FBI Director James Comey and when he floated firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Neither yielded an inch. The president claimed to be “100 percent willing” to testify under oath with respect to his interactions with Comey and the allegations of obstruction of justice that followed. Nobody believed these words. Indeed, we are still waiting. As the North Korea nuclear threat is whizzing toward a point of decision, Trump needs China to take the extra step of cutting off oil supplies to Pyongyang, which could change the dynamics of this perilous situation. To spur Beijing, Trump’s most recent gambit is to announce via tweet that the United States might cut off trade with all nations that do business with North Korea, a threat widely understood as aimed at China, North Korea’s only major trading partner. However, given the size of U.S.-China trade (some $650 billion in 2016, with China as Washington’s third largest export market) and the many millions of American jobs potentially affected, it is all too obvious that Trump is not only bluffing, but is doing so incompetently. After all, what distinguishes a bluff from hollow bluster is a mask of plausibility. So if a head of state is trying to coerce with threats, hoping to get his way without actually having to carry them out, the threats must be credible. Trump’s are not, and each new transparent bluff all but ensures future threats by him won’t be taken seriously. No wonder North Korea is not much impressed by Trump’s “fire and fury.” What Trump needs from China is a big ask. Indeed, altering the status quo in North Korea carries great risk for President Xi, who is worried about a flood of millions of malnourished North Korean refugees, the advance of U.S. troops from South Korea to the Chinese border, and a perceived political misstep just ahead of the Nineteenth Communist Party Congress this fall. Yet Trump has acted as if the international system operates according to country club etiquette, where you ask a fellow club member for help—it is not nice to refuse. He tried sending flattery Xi’s way: “I have great respect for him. I have great respect for China. I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries and I hope so.” With little progress yielded from these kinds of gestures, the United States has more recently moved to impose sanctions on Chinese individuals and firms that trade with North Korea. However, sanctions at best work over the longer run, and the North Korea crisis is ramping up quickly. A big ask calls for a big give. The administration ought to try carrots before sticks. Indeed, there are major Chinese concerns that Washington could address at a surprisingly low cost. I have written recently about the destabilizing nature of the THAAD anti-missile batteries the United States has recently installed in South Korea. China is concerned that the THAAD radar would give the United States advance notice of Chinese military operations, hindering China’s ability to retaliate to an attack. The United States could offer its removal if Beijing helps to defang North Korea’s nuclear program. Further, the United States could commit to not positioning its forces on the Chinese border, even if the two Koreas unite. The United States could even agree to stop the almost daily surveillance flights that it is conducting up and down the Chinese coastlines, a practice that aggravates Beijing and produces little useful intelligence. Other carrots can be considered. To ask China to get North Korea to agree to curb its nuclear program is asking a great deal. Why not provide commensurate incentives? If they fail, there is still time to go negative. And if the time for threats does come, Trump had better not be bluffing.

Chang May Choon, 9-7-17, Straits Times, Thaad Installed in South Korea, http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/thaad-installed-moon-pledges-no-war

Several analysts warned that the deployment could give China a reason not to support new UN sanctions, which may include cutting off North Korea’s oil supply, most of which comes from China. Beijing has lodged a “stern” diplomatic protest with South Korea and demanded Thaad be withdrawn. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang yesterday urged South Korea and the United States to seriously consider the interests and security concerns of China and others.

If China cuts off the North’s fuel supply, the regime will collapse, triggering a nuclear war on the peninsula

CBS News, 7-4-17, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/chinese-government-urges-restraint-after-north-korea-missile-launch/

China doesn’t think that’s a fair understanding of the situation,” he told us. “If China steps up its sanctions, it’s totally possible that North Korea will increase its threat to China.”

China has been unwilling to entirely cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea because that would likely cause the North Korean regime to collapse. China fears that it would leave Kim Jong Un with nothing to lose and could start a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula. [He= Tong Zhao is an expert on nuclear weapons policy in Asia who spoke with CBS News.

We can deter a deliberate attack. Talks through things like hotlines are needed to avoid crisis escalation and nuclear war, just like they did during the Cuban missile crisis

Zach Beuchamp, 9-8-17, VOX, The case for letting North Korea keep its nukes, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/8/16256880/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-test-containment

Give deterrence a chance U.S. To Fly F-22s Over South Korea American troops at Osan Air Base in South Korea. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool/Getty Images) The most fundamentally important fact about North Korea’s nuclear program is that it is born out of fear — fear, specifically, of the United States. The Korean War began in 1950 when North Korea invaded the South and nearly conquered all of it. The only reason it didn’t was intervention by a US led-coalition, which in turn nearly took the entire North, stopped only by a Chinese counterintervention. After the war ended in an armistice in 1953, the US pledged to defend South Korea against future attack and left thousands of US troops deployed there — a constant reminder to Pyongyang that the world’s strongest military power was its enemy. Put another way, North Korea’s entire foreign policy and national identity has evolved around the threat of war with America. As a result, they’ve always been trying to improve their military capabilities in order to deter the US from invading. “They’re hyper-focused on our military and what we can do,” explains Dave Kang, the director of the Korean Studies Institute at the University of Southern California. The nuclear program, which began in the 1950s, was designed to be the ultimate answer to this problem. The thinking among three generations of Kims was that if North Korea had nuclear weapons, they could inflict unacceptable costs on the US if it were to invade the North. Nuclear weapons, in other words, would be the ultimate deterrent against regime change. This explains why North Korea has invested so many resources, and been willing to accept crushing international sanctions, in order to develop a nuclear bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could hit the US mainland. “There’s pretty broad agreement that Kim Jong Un wants a nuclear arsenal, including a nuclear-armed ICBM that could put cities and targets in the United States at risk, to deter an attack and to ensure survival and prevent regime change,” says Kingston Reif, the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association. What this brief history suggests is that North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear missiles is fundamentally rational. North Korea is not a suicidal state; there is no evidence that it wants to blow up an American city and invite regime-ending retaliation. Its goal, according to every piece of evidence we have, is the opposite: to avoid war at all costs. Members of the Trump administration have, somewhat strangely, denied this. Even H.R. McMaster, Trump’s highly regarded national security adviser, went on TV in August and insisted that North Korea could not be deterred in the way the Soviet Union was. “The classical deterrence theory, how does that apply to a regime like the regime in North Korea?” McMaster asked. “A regime that engages in unspeakable brutality against its own people? A regime that poses a continuous threat to the its neighbors in the region and now may pose a threat, direct threat, to the United States with weapons of mass destruction?” Of course, you could make the same arguments about the Soviet Union and China under Mao Tse-Tung — both of which were about as brutal toward their own people as the Kim regime is. Yet that domestic repression did not translate into suicidal wars against the United States. “OUR POLICIES ARE DESIGNED PRECISELY TO PROVOKE THE OUTCOME WE’RE TRYING TO AVOID” What’s more, North Korea has been hyper-repressive for its entire existence — and yet it still hasn’t launched a full-scale attack against the South. The fact that the North has nuclear weapons doesn’t change the fact that it would still likely be annihilated in an outright war with the United States. “I am absolutely convinced that North Korea is not going to attack us first,” says Kang. “We have 64 years of evidence that deterrence works.” The fact that North Korea is believed to be both rational and deterrable means that that the United States may be able to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea — much in the same way that it has learned to live with a nuclear-armed China and Russia. But it also explains why the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula is now impossible. North Korea saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in 2003 and Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Both dictators once had nuclear programs and gave them up; both were swiftly toppled by the American military when US policymakers decided they were threats. Kim Jong Un (and his father before him) seems to have internalized those lessons and concluded that the United States cannot be trusted not to invade rogue regimes when it wants to. The ability to nuke an American city is the best way for Kim Jong Un to ensure that he doesn’t share Saddam and Qaddafi’s fates. “North Koreans always point those examples out,” says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. “Short of giving them South Korea and a pile of money and eliminating our nuclear weapons,” he says, “I can’t see them giving [their nuclear weapons] up.” Trying to roll back North Korea’s nuclear program makes war more likely Lewis describes current US policy toward the North as “unremitting yet understandable hostility”: The US refuses to accept that North Korea will keep its nuclear weapons, and uses economic sanctions and the threat of force as sticks to try to get the North to give them up. The Trump administration has innovated on this strategy by adding in a level of rhetorical bluster that didn’t exist under George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Most notably, President Trump personally said the North would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it didn’t stop threatening the US. The thinking here, as far as we can tell from the outside, is that you need to threaten North Korea with a credible military option in order to convince them to negotiate. “There is a military option at last resort. I don’t want to use it, but it’s got to be on the table because without that there will never be a diplomatic end to this,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a September 6 TV appearance. But this appears to be making things worse, not better. By pursuing denuclearization in such an aggressive fashion, Trump may be making an already unstable situation worse. Historically, American threats tend to feed the paranoia about a US invasion that underpins the nuclear program itself. They lead the North not to abandon their nuclear program, but to double down on it — as they believe it’s their best deterrent against such an attack. You can see this dynamic at work in part right now, as the North Korean response to Trump’s “fire and fury” comment was to fire a missile over Japan and to test its largest nuclear bomb ever. “They’re responding to our threats, it’s tit-for-tat,” Kang says. “Our policies are designed precisely to provoke the outcome we’re trying to avoid.” In the absolute scariest scenario, North Korea could misinterpret Trump’s rhetorical bluster as an actual sign that the US is about to attack — and strike first. Because the US and South Korea militarily outmatch the North, Lewis says, its military doctrine aims to avoid a protracted conflict and instead strike a devastating early blow. The idea is that the US would abandon the war before it could redeploy its vast military assets currently scattered around the world to the Korean peninsula. This doctrine gives North Korea an incentive to strike first if it believes war is imminent. “The only situation in which Kim Jong Un would rationally use nuclear weapons first is one in which he believes his regime’s survival is at stake,” says Rapp-Hooper. “You could have both of us be perfectly rational actors who are trying to practice deterrence very well — and miscalculation could still occur.” Some of the problem here is the president’s personal penchant for bluster. But the real root of it is the idea that the US has to denuclearize North Korea at all. Once you make that assumption, as virtually every US policymaker seems to, then threatening North Korea with force starts to make much more sense — as both negotiations and sanctions have failed to stop their program. That’s why you hear people like Sen. Graham making even more grandiose threats than the president. “He’s not going to allow — President Trump — the ability of this madman [Kim Jong Un] to have a missile that could hit America,” Graham said in early August. “If there’s going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there.” Instead of this kind of bluster, US officials need to admit that their influence over North Korea is limited at best — and that, as powerful as the US military and economy are, it can’t achieve whatever it wants. “We vastly overestimate our ability to dictate outcomes” to North Korea, Kang says. “The first thing is to stop making things worse.” Abandoning denuclearization could make deterrence work better Japan Reacts To North’s Latest Nuclear Test (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images) So what would an alternative policy actually look like? The first thing to do, experts say, is to actually take the threat of preventive force off the table and admit that North Korea’s nukes are a reality that the US will have to live with, at least for the foreseeable future. After that, there are several concrete steps Washington could take to reduce the threat those weapons actually pose. One idea is to take a page from the Cold War playbook. The US and Soviet Union faced a number of situations — most notably the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis — where one side had reason to believe the other was preparing for a nuclear first strike. The most important reason these crises didn’t escalate is that the US and Soviet Union had a lot of different ways to communicate and reassure each other that they weren’t about to attack. The most famous example is the Moscow-Washington hotline, often (inaccurately) called the red phone: A messaging system that allowed the American president and Soviet premier to communicate with each other directly. The US doesn’t have anything like that with North Korea right now. There is currently only one publicly known channel of communication between the US and the North: through North Korea’s UN office in New York. That’s it. Which means that in the event of a crisis, it would be hard for the two sides to communicate to each other that they aren’t about to launch a nuclear strike. The US should “focus on miscalculation and unintended escalation — almost like a hotline approach,” says Reif. “This was part of the approach during the Cold War, and absolutely needs to be part of the approach now.” Another complimentary idea is to keep talking with North Korea about its nuclear program — but with the aim of freezing it rather than eliminating it entirely. Reif and others think North Korea might be willing to agree to stop building more missiles and bombs, as well as testing what it already has, in exchange for some kind of trade (like limited sanctions relief). This would limit the damage North Korea’s nuclear arsenal could theoretically do, particularly by constraining its ability to strike the US mainland. These kinds of negotiations and communication are technically and politically feasible. North Korea has, in the past, shown real interest in direct negotiations with the United States. The biggest barrier is the US’s reluctance to focus talks on anything other than denuclearization. “This is one of those areas where we should be able to have negotiation because 1) we don’t want a nuclear war, and 2) North Korea shares that interest,” Lewis says. “Abandonment of denuclearization as a near-term goal [would allow the US] to talk to them about stability, about crisis coordination.”

THAAD reinforces security commitments needed to deter North Korea

AZRIEL BERMANT is a lecturer in International Relations at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2016). IGOR SUTYAGIN is Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, August 21, 2017, Foreign Affairs, Moving Forward With THAAD, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/south-korea/2017-08-21/moving-forward-thaad

The U.S. missile defense program is more rightly viewed as a hedge against deterrence failure. China’s complaints over THAAD are wrong-headed since North Korea poses a grave and immediate threat to South Korea and Japan. By deploying missile defence systems in East Asia, the United States is reinforcing its security commitments to its allies in the region. In view of the fact that some 11 million people live in Seoul (one in five South Koreans), which is just 35 miles from the border with North Korea, they are vulnerable to an attack from Pyongyang. Thus a U.S. security commitment must utilize all the resources at its disposal to protect its ally, exemplified through missile defense. If there are no systems in place to intercept a North Korean missile barrage, many hundreds of thousands could be killed. In such a scenario, the United States would struggle to minimize the scope of the conflict, amid the suffering in South Korea.

This is known in the field as “deterrence by denial”: THAAD cannot provide cast-iron guarantees but it sends the message to Pyongyang that the success of a missile barrage against South Korean cities is not guaranteed either. This was how Israel succeeded in diminishing the threat and impact of Hamas’ rockets through Iron Dome in 2014. And this is what the United States is aiming for with its controversial deployment of THAAD: to prevent unrestrained conflict between the two Koreas. The deployment of THAAD, in short, is a case of mitigating the worst effects of a war, the consequences of which will be unimaginable.

Diplomacy works – solves for stability and crisis coordination

Zach Beauchamp, 9-8-17, Vox, Here’s Vladimir Putin’s Weird, On Point Analysis of North Korea, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/8/16276122/north-korea-putin-trump-comments

They’re responding to our threats, it’s tit-for-tat,” Dave Kang, the director of the Korean Studies Institute at the University of Southern California, says. “Our policies are designed precisely to provoke the outcome we’re trying to avoid.” Finally, Putin argued that the best way to handle the nuclear crisis going forward is through negotiations — for the US and North Korea to develop better lines of communication in order to avoid a crisis escalating into a war that no one wants. “All the competing sides have enough common sense and understanding of their responsibility. We can solve this problem through diplomatic means,” the Russian president said. If you guessed that this is what most North Korea experts believe, then congratulations, you’ve got the pattern. “This is one of those areas where we should be able to have negotiation because 1) we don’t want a nuclear war, and 2) North Korea shares that interest,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told me. The US should, he says, “talk to [the North] about stability, about crisis coordination.” Again, this does not prove that Vladimir Putin is some kind of genius about international affairs. It certainly does not wipe away the violence perpetrated by his government in places like Ukraine and Syria. What it does show, though, is that the United States has somehow managed to back itself into a pretty obvious corner. The aim of denuclearizing North Korea is mostly out of reach, which is tough to admit when America has spent decades warning of the consequences of Pyongyang’s program. Conceding defeat is very hard for anyone, and especially hard for people making policy for the world’s most powerful country. But it might be necessary. Pronouncements like Trump’s and Haley’s just make the US look out of touch with reality — and cede the most reasonable-sounding policy ground to Putin, of all people.

China involvement can deescalate tensions

South China Morning Post, 9-8-17, http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2110247/xi-trump-talk-eases-north-korea-tension

The matter is, after all, ultimately between the US and North Korea, which have still not signed a peace treaty to formally end the Korean war. Talks are the only viable way to denuclearise the peninsula and China can help bring them about but, as the discussion between Xi and Trump shows, Beijing can also calm heated rhetoric and tensions. That is also good for Sino-US ties. While North Korea is a pressing issue, it is one of many that the nations have to deal with. Trump’s upcoming visit to Beijing was highlighted in the phone call, and with it will come the discussion of matters such as trade, cybercrime and security. Agreement on North Korea will help build confidence, which will lead to greater understanding and stability in the relationship as well as an improved chance to end the threats from Pyongyang.

Kims is not suicidal

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, 9-6-17, National Interest, A Nuclear North Korea is here to stay, http://www.nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/nuclear-north-korea-here-stay-22193

That doesn’t mean Kim Jong-un intends to wage war on America. Rather, he hopes to prevent Washington from attacking the DPRK. It’s an important distinction. Kim may be evil but, like his father and grandfather, there is no evidence that he is suicidal. They all appeared to prefer their virgins in this world rather than the next. Indeed, Kim may hope to extend the dynasty: his wife is thought to have given birth to their third child earlier this year.

THAAD kills China cooperation over North Korea

Donga Il-Bo, 8-8-17, http://english.donga.com/List/3/all/26/1020373/1

While the nuclear and missile issue of North Korea emerged as a hot topic in the forum, the Chinese foreign minister put pressure on South Korea with tough remarks, taking issue with the plan to deploy the anti-missile defense system known as THAAD. As a result, cooperation between the two countries over North Korea’s nuclear issue was pushed onto the back burner

They Hankoreh, September 8,2017(http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/810241.html)

Even more worrisome than China’s retaliation, though, is the fact that this THAAD deployment makes it much tougher to get the kind of cooperation from Beijing and Moscow that is so important to resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issues. While a “stronger South Korea-US alliance” has been offered as a practical reason, it doesn’t benefit us at all in terms of addressing the nuclear issue. Winning over the public and local residents in Seongju is going to take more than the President’s insistence that this is an “unavoidable move to establish stronger security for South Korea.”

China cooperation key to resolve the North Korea crisis diplomatically

Reuters 9-6, 17, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-britain/china-is-key-to-resolving-north-korean-nuclear-issue-uk-defense-minister-idUSKCN1BH0VL

China holds the key to resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis and must do more to use all its influence and levers to deal with its neighbor, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Wednesday. “China holds the key, the oil to North Korea flows from China … China has not just influence but has many of the levers that are needed to change behavior in North Korea,” Fallon told BBC radio. ”(U.S. Defence) Secretary (Jim) Mattis and I and others across the administration are very clear that we have to absolutely exhaust every possible diplomatic avenue to get this situation under control now, that means working intensively in New York over the next few days to get a new (UN) resolution, it means looking at the existing sanctions and making sure they are properly enforced…

South Korean slow down undermines deterrence

Swanson, 7-22-17, Fox News, North Korea is on the march. If we want peace, South Korea’s economic success is absolutely critical, Bret Swanson is president of Entropy Economics LLC in Washington, D.C., and visiting fellow at American Enterprise Institute, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/22/north-korea-is-on-march-if-want-peace-south-koreas-economic-success-is-absolutely-crucial.html

A slowing economy and internal divisions in the South can only embolden the North. Likewise is a potential lack of support from allies, such as the U.S., whose newfound skepticism of free trade threatens not only its own economy but the growth of many of its longstanding allies. The U.S. won World War II and successfully resolved the Cold War largely on the back of its economic strength and steadfast partnerships around the world. Whether the North is rational or not, weakness in the South helps no one. The American show of military force, with its demonstration of anti-ballistic missile technology and a massive naval presence, is one way to help strengthen the South. The U.S. should not underestimate, however, the importance of the South’s economic performance. Here’s one idea: revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership, under a different name, of course, and include South Korea. The show of support would not only encourage South Korean confidence, it would be good for the U.S., too. A faster growing economy will help unify the South politically and strengthen it militarily. The very technological success that exposed the shortcomings of the North will be crucial to resolving the matter peacefully.

China wants the US to halt THAAD deployment

Associated Press, 9-6-17, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/the-latest-turnbull-agrees-with-us-on-avoiding-nk-conflict/2017/09/05/fe24c53e-92a8-11e7-8482-8dc9a7af29f9_story.html?utm_term=.0b7f0ee9d1f3

China has once again urged the U.S. and South Korea to halt the deployment of a high-tech missile defense system in South Korea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that China remains strongly opposed to it. The U.S. military is to add more launchers Thursday to a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery that it began setting up in rural South Korea earlier this year. Geng says the THAAD system would aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and jeopardize the strategic and security interests of China and other countries.

Trump won’t attack and risk WWIII

Yann Roussau, 9-5-17, How Kim Jung-Un’s Nucleare Arsenal Could Lead Us to Peace, https://www.worldcrunch.com/opinion-analysis/how-kim-jong-un39s-nuclear-arsenal-could-lead-us-to-peace#

Even Trump won’t risk a third world war. The country may now be too dangerous to be attacked. The South Korean capital of Seoul and its 10 million inhabitants, as well as U.S. military bases are located just 60 kilometers from the border with North Korea. It would only take seven minutes for a Nodong missile to hit the center of Tokyo, killing tens of thousands of people. Although Trump said on Sunday that he hasn’t ruled out the military option, even he probably won’t risk a third world war — and his own allies and military advisors are urging him to abstain from any such action.

Strong deterrence needed for effective diplomacy

Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, 8-31-17, CNN, To deter North Korea, we can’t pussyfoot around, http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/31/opinions/north-korea-deterrence-opinion-cordesman/index.html

It is easy for the US and North Korea to posture and threaten — for North Korea to carry out nuclear and missile tests and for the US to conduct B-1B bomber and F-35 flights and military exercises. It is equally easy for the hopeful and the well-intentioned — and nations on the margin of events, such as China — to call for negotiations or believe that some form of dialogue will lead to conflict resolution and change North Korean behavior. There is always hope that someone else will solve the problem: China, the UN, South Korea or the somewhat mythical “international community.” US military experts can continue to search for preventive options — or any option that will avoid triggering a process of mutual escalation leading to a major military exchange or war. Anthony H. Cordesman Anthony H. Cordesman And the US should seek to negotiate and continue to demonstrate its commitment to its East Asian allies. But it is becoming all too clear that the US may well have to accept the reality that to threaten “fire and fury” is not a practical military option, and there probably won’t be any miraculous change in Kim Jong Un’s behavior. At a minimum, he will soon nuclearize the Korean Peninsula and be able to threaten all of Asia, or at least as far as Japan and Guam, with nuclear weapons. In one to two years, he will have a reasonably credible capability to fire a missile with enough accuracy and reliability to carry a nuclear warhead so far as to strike a major city in the West Coast of the continental US. At that point, North Korea will not only have fully joined the nuclear club, it will have become an active threat to America. The key question is: What will the US do about it? One step will be to leave no doubt about the US commitment to deterrence and US willingness to respond to any North Korean nuclear blackmail or use of such a weapon. The US must make it clear that it will deploy a decisively destructive nuclear option to strike North Korea — one capable of effectively destroying the country. It must provide convincing “extended” nuclear deterrence to cover South Korea and Japan, and may well have to decide to either reintroduce modern US theater nuclear weapons, or smaller nuclear weapons designed to be effective at battlefield targets, to South Korea, or accept a South Korean nuclear force. There must be no possible seam in the structure of deterrence, and both North Korea and its biggest trading partner China must fully understand just how strong the US retaliatory commitment is. The US also needs to work with Japan and South Korea to give them the most advanced missile defenses possible — both ballistic and cruise missiles — and to create all of the elements to make US missile defenses as effective as possible. It must reassure Russia and China that they do not need to expand their forces to maintain a credible deterrent to the US. The US must also deal openly with Russia and China’s concerns about the US missile defense systems it can deploy in the region. It should also phase the deployment of such capabilities and commitments in ways that are responsive to each new step of the North Koran nuclear and missile buildup, while both working closely and openly with South Korea and Japan and repeatedly stating that it will not seek regime change in North Korea or to displace China’s interests. Here, the irony is that US military strength and credible actions to build deterrence may be the best approach to real-world negotiation and arms control. If there is any chance at all in moderating North Korean behavior, it lies in Chinese and Russian pressure on Kim.

Missile defense deployments needed to stop North Korean coercive diplomacy by protecting retaliatory capability

Manzo & Warden, 8-29-17, War on The Rocks, Want to Avoid Nuclear War? Reject Mutual Vulnerability with North Korea, https://warontherocks.com/2017/08/want-to-avoid-nuclear-war-reject-mutual-vulnerability-with-north-korea/

How then, could the United States fail to deter North Korean nuclear use? Pyongyang knows that it cannot use nuclear weapons and other capabilities to defeat U.S. and allied military forces. Instead, Kim Jong Un’s more plausible theory of victory is a strategy that attempts to use nuclear coercion to persuade the United States that the costs and risks of overthrowing the Kim regime are too high. In this sense, North Korea’s initial attempt at asymmetric escalation using nuclear weapons is more likely to be a limited strike against regional military targets than a massive strike against the continental United States. Pyongyang would attempt to degrade the ability of the U.S. to flow forces to the Korean Peninsula, while demonstrating a propensity for controlled risk-taking. But critically, North Korea would retain a survivable reserve nuclear force to threaten destruction of major U.S. population centers if the United States does not back down. From this perspective, accepting U.S. vulnerability to North Korean nuclear forces would improve the credibility of North Korea’s coercive strategy and increase the risk of both war and nuclear use. If Kim Jong Un is confident that North Korea can maintain a survivable reserve force that can threaten U.S. cities, he may be tempted to use nuclear weapons in a limited, coercive fashion to try to terminate a conventional conflict with the United States and its allies. Rather than use-or-lose, the logic driving North Korean first use would be, use some because you will not lose the rest. Even more unsettling, if Pyongyang became confident in its ability to use nuclear coercion as a war termination mechanism, it might conclude that it has leeway to initiate violent provocations and even war. Thus, rather than accepting North Korea’s ability to cause significant destruction to the United States with a nuclear strike, the United States should field damage limitation capabilities, a combination of strike and missile defense armaments that would allow the United States to disarm the majority of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability and prevent significant retaliatory strikes against U.S. cities. If the United States has a credible damage limitation option, the Kim regime is more likely to calculate that crossing the nuclear threshold would be a strategy for suicide, not survival, because North Korea would lack a reliable second-strike capability to deter regime change. In order for U.S. damage-limitation capabilities to match North Korea’s rapidly improving long-range missile capabilities, there is an urgent need to improve U.S. homeland defense. The GMD system has well-documented limitations, and the Trump administration should make prudent investments to fix the program, emphasizing the need for cost-effective, reliable capabilities. In addition, the United States and its allies should field a combination of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and strike capabilities that can threaten North Korea’s road-mobile transporter erector launchers and ballistic-missile submarines. The United States also should ensure that its policy of rejecting vulnerability to a North Korean nuclear strike is clear to Pyongyang. Worryingly, some North Korean officials have suggested that they have already achieved mutually assured destruction with the United States. Washington should change this assessment by signaling that even a credible ICBM threat would not deter the United States from coming to the defense of its allies. But denying North Korea the ability to gain leverage by threatening the U.S. homeland would be just one element of a strategy for deterring North Korea from initiating a war and, if that fails, deterring North Korea from using nuclear weapons in that war. To strengthen deterrence of North Korean adventurism, the United States and South Korea also should improve their combined conventional force posture on the peninsula, particularly their ability to fight and win limited wars. To counter the threat of regional nuclear strikes, the United States, South Korea, and Japan should improve their ability to strike and defend against North Korea’s theater-range missiles. In truth, North Korea may see nuclear coercion targeting Japan or South Korea as a more likely path to terminating a war than directly threatening the United States. Moreover, attempting to deny North Korea’s ability to deter the United States with nuclear coercion does not mean that the United States should forgo caution, restraint, and negotiation. Manufacturing crises through unnecessary hectoring only increases the risk of misperception in both crisis and conflict, making the challenge of managing escalation even more daunting. There is an ever-present risk that aggressive military signaling by North Korea and the United States could turn a crisis into an escalating conflict. And precisely because the United States and its allies are sure to win a total war, Kim Jong Un likely would fear that a war will result in regime change and may calculate that limited nuclear escalation is the best way to stave off defeat. Even in circumstances where regime change is not the U.S. or allied intent, North Korea may be driven to nuclear use by misinterpreting certain military actions as a prelude to invasion. Taking steps to diminish tension, reduce misunderstanding, and assure Pyongyang that the United States and its allies would only pursue regime change in the most extreme circumstances would decrease the risk of miscalculation. Preemptive disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear forces is not the primary reason for pursuing damage limitation capabilities. Rather, the main reason is to convince Kim Jong Un that restraint is preferable to escalation. In certain wartime circumstances, the United States and its allies might calculate that pursuing regime change in Pyongyang, despite the enormous costs, is the least bad option. In that case, disarming as much of North Korea’s nuclear force as possible would be a necessity. But in many other scenarios, especially ones in which North Korea has not yet crossed the nuclear threshold, U.S. and allied interests would be better served by conveying to Kim Jong Un that de-escalation is his best chance of survival. In this case, U.S. damage-limitation capabilities would function as an implicit threat. Paired with a credible assurance that the regime would survive if North Korea avoided nuclear use, such a threat would help persuade Pyongyang that the costs and risks of coercive nuclear escalation are too high to risk gambling the future of the regime. Effectively deterring a nuclear-armed North Korea requires measured resolve backed by real strength. By rejecting vulnerability to a North Korean nuclear strike and improving damage limitation capabilities, the United States and its allies can challenge North Korea’s theory of coercive nuclear escalation, inducing caution in both crisis and conflict.

Missile defense systems easily overwhelmed, the only way to solve is with diplomacy

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest, 8-30-17, National Interest, There May be No Way to Counter North Korea’s Missiles, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/there-may-be-no-way-counter-north-koreas-missiles-22112?page=2

Ultimately, the problem is that missile defenses can be overcome easily by adding more or better decoys and other countermeasures—or simply overwhelming the system with numbers. Interceptors are expensive and several missiles have to be launched at an incoming target to ensure a reasonable probability of kill. “Calls to shoot down DPRK missiles tests reflect widespread overconfidence in the efficacy and importance of missile defense,” Reif said. “Missile defense is not an escape route from our and our allies vulnerability to a nuclear-armed North Korea, which is taking steps to evade our defenses and can build more missiles to overwhelm our defenses.” In the end, only diplomacy has any chance of resolving the North Korea problem

THAAD is a joke – it can’t intercept more than one missile shot at a time and failure collapse the credibility of missile defense

Ankit Panda, 8-29-17, Can Ballistic Missile Defense Shield Guam from North Korea? https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/can-ballistic-missile-defense-shield-guam-north-korea

There are considerable risks in both attempting and not attempting to destroy North Korean missiles launched toward Guam. SM-3 and THAAD interceptors have shown success against IRBMs in test environments, in which certain variables are controlled, but they cannot assure defense against multiple North Korean Hwasong-12 missiles in a real attack scenario. The systems have never been tested against multiple missiles simultaneously. Therefore, an attempt to intercept North Korean missiles could fail and, as a result, erode the credibility of U.S. missile defense, even if only one North Korean projectile successfully splashes down near Guam.

Expanding missile defense deployments could be seen as a prelude to war, triggering North Korean aggression and overstretch in other areas

Justin Bronk, 8-29-17, BBC, North Korea: What are the Military Options? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41095772

This is the least risky but arguably least effective option available since it would simply build on deployments that have long been in place and have had little success in deterring North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programme. The US could move additional ground forces into South Korea, including ground-based missile defences such as the controversial Thaad system, heavy artillery and armoured vehicles, to demonstrate its willingness to use force to back up its demands. However, South Korea has halted the current Thaad deployment and is strongly against any increases in US ground forces, because of concerns about provoking the North. Indeed, North Korea would almost certainly interpret such moves as a prelude to a ground invasion, given its reactions to annual joint exercises between the US and South Korean militaries. China and Russia would no doubt strenuously object too and both have the power to make life difficult for the US in other areas such as Eastern Europe and the South and East China Seas. The US Navy could increase its presence around Korea, sending more cruisers and destroyers able to shoot down ballistic missiles and, possibly, deploying a second carrier strike group. Alongside the naval options, the US Air Force could bolster its forward-based airpower, with more attack fighter squadrons, support tankers, surveillance aircraft and heavy bombers at bases in Guam, South Korea itself and Japan. However, the US Navy and US Air Force are both extremely heavily tasked around the world and are feeling the strain of well over a decade of continuous high-intensity deployments in support of operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. More importantly, perhaps, time is on North Korea’s side, since an enhanced US military presence would not itself force a halt to its rapidly maturing nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile testing. And any statement of intent to shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles which travel outside the country’s airspace would itself require a major increase in US Navy presence around the peninsula. North Korean has a large ballistic missile arsenal and US interceptor missiles are extremely expensive and available in limited quantities aboard each ship. It would, therefore, be possible for the North to overwhelm and deplete the US Navy’s stocks, leaving them vulnerable and forced to return to port. Such a policy would therefore represent an extremely expensive and probably unsustainable challenge to North Korea, as well as a dangerous escalation towards direct military conflict.

A nuclear North Korea is less insecure and less threatening

Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko are both professors of international politics at Cardiff University, UK, 8-22-17, National Interest, How Kim Jung-un saved the world from North Korea, http://www.nationalinterest.org/feature/how-kim-jong-un-saved-the-world-north-korea-22008

Pyongyang’s successful test of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) got the world talking. If and when—with the emphasis on when—the North Koreans develop the capability to couple their more and more powerful missiles with nuclear warheads, Kim Jong-un will be in a position to launch a nuclear strike against the United States. Kim Jong-un’s recalcitrance and unpredictability would seem to make an ICBM-armed North Korea the stuff of apocalyptic nightmares. But before engaging in a gloomy calculation of ballistic trajectories, we should also consider the historical legacies of the world’s most powerful missiles. After all, we have survived for six decades now with the unpleasant sense of wondering if someone out there, intentionally or by mistake, was about to push the figurative button and reduce our lifespans to half an hour or less. Indeed, it may well be that Kim’s new ICBM portends an era not of chaos and apocalypse, but stability and peace. The possession of nuclear missiles have historically had two overarching effects upon states. First, they provide a kind of existential sense of security, because states understand that no other nation is likely to launch an attack, particularly in a war of conquest, when the response could be even one nuclear retaliation on a city. The costs aren’t worth it. Second, ICBMs tend to make states wary of going to war at all, at least with other nuclear states and their close allies. Now that it has a nuclear missile, the North Korean regime faces the fact that a war that brings in the United States could become a nuclear war, an event that would mean the violent and immediate end of the Kim dynasty and its grim regime. Without a nuclear weapon, North Korea could fight the United States or another major power, much as Vietnam or Afghanistan did, for years. The stakes now have become infinitely greater. These two factors—the security of deterrence, and the existential danger that looms if it fails—make nuclear states very interested in stability. Thus, the ICBM, in the greatest irony of all history, has so far been a force for peace. Indeed, the late international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz once suggested that it should receive the Nobel Peace Prize. When the first ICBM was successfully tested, sixty years ago this week, the unpleasant feeling was a lot more pronounced. This was because we knew so little about the intentions of the “other side.” The fist-slamming, shoe-banging Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was a mystery to the West. A zealous advocate of a deeply hostile ideology, Khrushchev headed a military superpower that was locked in a life-or-death struggle with the United States. The first such missile, codenamed R-7 (SS-6 Sapwood in NATO’s classification), was launched on August 21, 1957 from the Baikonur test range in what is now Kazakhstan, landing thousands of miles to the east, in Kamchatka. It was a further three years before the first of these ICBMs entered service with the Soviet armed forces but the promise of the dreadful future was there to behold only weeks after the first test when, on October 4, a modified R-7 carried the first man-made satellite into a near-earth orbit. As the Sputnik beeped menacingly in the dark skies, it not only inspired awe at the accomplishment of the human mind but engendered, among many Americans, a hitherto unknown sense of vulnerability. The initial response in the United States was one of panic. Here was the Soviet Union, a nation formally bent upon the violent overthrow of world order and the defeat of American imperialism, now deploying a rocket that could destroy U.S. cities in a matter of hours. In the aftermath of Sputnik, Sen. Henry Jackson called for a “week of national shame and danger.” But other Americans, including President Dwight Eisenhower, understood that the Soviets saw their new rockets as defensive weapons designed to deter a possible American attack. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev grasped this almost immediately. “We estimate, that the [two] blocs presently possess such means of destruction as to make war unthinkable, if not impossible,” Khrushchev announced in his famous “Peaceful Coexistence” speech of February 1956. It was either a peaceful Cold War “or the most destructive war in history,” Khrushchev said. “There is no third way.” Wasn’t war still possible? Khrushchev believed that nuclear weapons ruled that out. “The danger of a military conflict is absent,” he explained in July of that year. Khrushchev was so certain that his new weaponry would protect the USSR and make war insane that in December 1959 he opted to unilaterally reduce the size of the Soviet conventional army. The military brass were not amused but Khrushchev believed that in a nuclear age conventional weapons were little more than “old junk, scrap metal, which hangs like pounds of weight on the necks of the people, distracting millions of working hands from creative labour.” Khrushchev argued that large armies were simply redundant, for “how can any country or group of countries in Europe invade us when we can literally wipe these countries off the face of the earth with our atomic and hydrogen weapons and by delivery of our missiles to any point on the globe?” Once he realized what powerful means he had at his disposal, Khrushchev rarely missed an opportunity to use them for political leverage. In November 1956, he infamously threatened nuclear retaliation against Great Britain and France, which had conspired with Israel to launch war against Egypt over the Suez Canal. The war was brief. London had to quit under U.S. pressure, and the others followed suit. But although it was the financial crunch caused by U.S. threats, and not Khrushchev’s bluster, that forced British prime minister Anthony Eden to back out of the adventure. The Soviet leader immediately credited himself with saving Egypt from “imperialism.” Convinced that atomic diplomacy worked, Khrushchev would do it again and again. He did it in 1957 to “save” Syria from the threat of a Turkish invasion; in 1958 he did it to ward off a possible American intervention in the Second Taiwan Straits crisis; in 1958–61, he did it again in his futile scheme to force the West to surrender Berlin; and, mostly famously, he used atomic diplomacy during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Khrushchev concluded that the Americans would compromise rather than fight a potentially suicidal war. As he explained to Mao Zedong in 1958, “Three-four missiles and there would be no Turkey.” Ten missiles would suffice to destroy the UK. “Now, that we have the [inter-]continental missile, we also hold America by the throat. They thought that America is out of reach. But this is not so.” Khrushchev liked to engage in belligerent rhetoric every bit as militant as Kim Jong-un does today. But one thing is clear in retrospect: for all his threats to produce missiles “like sausages,” and the (sadly misinterpreted) promise to “bury” the United States; for all his feats of rage, fist-slamming and shoe-banging, Khrushchev was determined to avoid war. And every time he pushed himself into the corner, as he did over Berlin in 1958–61 and in Cuba in October 1962, he found a way to back out. The Cuban experience was particularly dramatic. At the height of the crisis, which Khrushchev brought upon himself by secretly deploying nuclear missiles on Cuban soil, Fidel Castro effectively asked him to carry out a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States. “What is this—temporary madness or the absence of brains?” Khrushchev raved after learning of Castro’s proposal. He was later heard grumbling: “Only a person who has no idea what nuclear war means, or who has been so blinded, for instance, like Castro, by revolutionary passion, can talk like that.” Khrushchev always styled himself as a revolutionary but, faced with the real possibility of a nuclear war, as he was in Cuba, he threw his ideological commitments overboard and beat a hasty retreat. President John F. Kennedy was equally frightened, and made important concessions to allow Khrushchev to save face. Both realized that the last thing they needed was a war that neither nation would survive. Sixty years have passed since the maiden flight of the R-7, and the world has not become a safer place. There were only three nuclear powers in 1957; today, there are nine. Not all have ICBMs, but on the whole the arsenals are far more lethal than in the early years of the Cold War. A nuclear Armageddon has fortunately been avoided. The reason is as obvious today as it was obvious to Khrushchev when he embraced the missile: no one wants a suicidal war. As militant and seemingly unpredictable as Kim Jong-un has been, he faces the same situation as did Khrushchev during the height of the Cold War. He gains security and stability by threatening to use his new ICBM; he loses everything if he actually uses it. Kim will bluff and bluster but he won’t “push the button”—unless he comes to believe that the survival of his North Korean regime is under imminent threat. American statesmen wisely avoided pushing Khrushchev into that kind of corner, and thirty years later the broken Soviet state came to a peaceful end. That is a victory U.S. leaders today should emulate.

THAAD not responsible for the Russia-China alliance –it’s just China’s excuse

Carolyn Bartholomew, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Chairman, 8-17-17, The Forgotten North Korean crisis: How China is Pushing Back against South Korea over THAAD, http://nationalinterest.org/print/feature/the-us-pressures-china-china-coerces-south-korea-21916

Bartholomew adds: The Chinese are using the installation of THAAD as an excuse to get closer to Russia—that’s an excuse, but it’s not an explanation. . . . The United States has been responsible for the security architecture for over seventy years now. I think think that the Chinese arguments are weak and they are making them for their own reasons. Mills: What are those reasons? Bartholomew: I have thought about this for a while. I think that they can’t just let this happen, without it feeling they are allowing an increased U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific. If you believe that ultimately what they want to do is displace the United States in the Asia-Pacific, then of course they are going to raise these concerns. People in the Department of Defense in this administration and previous administrations have offered to brief Beijing on the technical aspects of the THAAD system, and they have declined those briefings.

 

 

 

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