“Under Any Analysis, It’s Insanity”: What War With North Korea Could Look Like

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Aug 9, 2017

Now that the possibility of a war between the US and North Korea seems just one harshly worded tweet away, and the window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution, as well as for the US stopping Kim Jong-Un from obtaining a nuclear-armed ICBM closing fast, analysts have started to analyze President Trump’s military options, what a war between the US and North Korea would look like, and what the global economic consequences would be. Needless to say, this is a challenging exercise due to the countless possible scenario, event permutations and outcomes, not least because China and Russia may also be sucked in, leading to a true world war.

“Realistically, war has to be avoided,” said John Delury, an assistant professor of international studies at Yonsei University in South Korea. “When you run any analysis, it’s insanity.”

Insanity or not, as Capital Economics writes in a May 17 note, while the most important impact of a full-scale conflict on the Korean peninsula “would be a massive loss of life” but added that there would also be significant economic consequences. While we focus on the latter below, first here are some big picture observations courtesy of Bloomberg, including an analysis of whether all out war can be avoided:

Can’t the U.S. try a surgical strike?
It probably wouldn’t work well enough. North Korea’s missiles and nuclear facilities are dispersed and hidden throughout the country’s mountainous terrain. Failing to hit them all would leave some 10 million people in Seoul, 38 million people in the Tokyo vicinity and tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel in northeast Asia vulnerable to missile attacks — with either conventional or nuclear warheads. Even if the U.S. managed to wipe out everything, Seoul would still be vulnerable to attacks from North Korea’s artillery.

Why might Kim go nuclear?

“Even a limited strike” by the U.S. “would run the risk of being understood by the North Koreans to be the beginning of a much larger strike, and they might choose to use their nuclear weapons,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Somehow, the U.S. would need to signal to both North Korea and China — Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner — that a surgical military strike is limited, and that they should avoid nuclear retaliation.

The Rest…HERE

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