The Skeptics

Video Interview: How Likely Will America Find Itself in Another Korean War?

Editor's Note: In our latest Facebook Live interview (please like our Facebook page to see more of these events) Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest, and Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, sat down with Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis (Ret.), a senior fellow at Defense Priorities, and Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, to discuss the likelihood of war with North Korea.

Daniel Davis recently wrote an article for Real Clear Defense on whether America has vital interests at stake on the peninsula. An excerpt of the article can be found below:

Before the United States gets involved in a potential war on the Korean peninsula, a critical question must first be answered: are there vital national security interests involved that are commensurate with the cost of war? The short answer: no.

While we do not approve of how Kim Jong-un behaves, for him to be a threat, North Korea must have both the capability and intent to threaten our homeland. Right now, North Korean has neither as it pertains to the United States, nor does it have the intent, as it pertains to our allies. However, Trump and his most senior officials have threatened to attack North Korea if they conduct a nuclear test. North Korea fired back stating that its “revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.”

The unspoken fear among those now threatening military strikes against North Korea is that if we do not act now, American cities on the West Coast would soon be in danger of destruction. If North Korea develops the capability to successfully mate a nuclear device with a missile that can hit the U.S., the thinking goes, Kim may attack. But even if Pyongyang were to successfully build such a device—no sure bet—what logic would there be for him to use it?

The United States is reported to have 6,800 nuclear weapons and could, therefore, vaporize their country several times over, while North Korea would likely not get more than one shot. What possible reason would Kim Jong-un have to take actions that would not accomplish his objectives but guaranteed to result in his destruction? It can be argued that part of the reason Kim is so desperate to get operational nuclear weapons is that he saw how the U.S. deposed of the regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and he observed the punitive strikes Trump recently made against Syria.

None of those states are powerful enough to contest the U.S. on a conventional level, and thus all were powerless to stop our operations which resulted in the downfall of each regime. Kim knows his country likewise does not have the conventional ability to defeat the U.S.

Image: U.S. Air Force.