Taking Down North Korea: Would These Ideas Work?

 

Christian Whiton proposes the following program for bringing down the North Korean regime. What are the pros and cons? 

1. Dramatically increasing defector-led radio broadcasting from outside North Korea. The truth is Kim Jong Il’s greatest foe, and dissent movements thrive on factual information that undermine the dictators’ propaganda. Defector broadcasts exist but need real resources.

2. Halt all foreign aid and other funds flows to North Korea, which the regime uses to survive. We should also deny any financial organization or central bank that deals with North Korea the ability to clear transactions in U.S. dollars—essentially a death penalty for banks that would end the regime’s ability to move funds and reward those who keep it in power.

3. Stop trade and seaborne proliferation. China has demonstrated it will not cooperate with us or comply with U.N. resolutions that restrict trade or call for inspections of goods going to North Korea. However, ships going to or from North Korea can be impounded.

4. Wage economic warfare. The North Korean government is the first regime since the Third Reich to counterfeit U.S. currency. We should return the favor by dumping bales of North Korea currency just off Korean and Chinese shores. The resulting economic tailspin would penalize the North Korean elite most.

5. Allied militaries should broadcast a clear message to North Korea’s military seeking to separate it from the Kim family. The USS Pueblo, which North Korea hijacked in 1968 and currently holds captive, should be sunk. We have every right to do this to our own property, and every military officer in North Korea would perceive the regime is running out of lives.

6. Change the military balance. We should consult with South Korea and Japan about increasing the forces of our three nations available for a rapid move on Pyongyang should one ever become necessary. 

More importantly, we should talk openly about placing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in the 5-150 kiloton range in the region to counter the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. For the first time, this would make China realize supporting North Korea is harming Beijing’s own security, which just might make it less willing to aid Pyongyang. Kim’s generals would also see they are worse off for following him.

(Yes, yes, I know: I don’t seem to be writing a book review. I’m as aware of this as anyone. If you’re reading this, National Review, don’t worry. I’m totally on top of the situation.) 

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Time to send in Jimmy Carter.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe

    This is a pretty good list, and I can think of no cons. If we were to do all of the above, it would suggest that we meant business, and such a suggestion would have repercussions elsewhere.

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    @DaveRoy
    Paul A. Rahe: This is a pretty good list, and I can think of no cons. If we were to do all of the above, it would suggest that we meant business, and such a suggestion would have repercussions elsewhere. · Nov 30 at 8:29am

    So, of course, we’ll do none of those.

    Even just *one* of them would show that Obama actually *gets* that this is a major problem.

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    @Sisyphus

    Something to polish while we wait for a renewal of the American presidency.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Contributor
    @Midge

    I want to add a #7:

    Infiltrate all official North Korean telecommunication channels with a relentless stream of Lady Gaga.

    I think that would bring even the Norks to their knees.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @TripedisCanis

    The only quibble I have is with item 1, and that’s only because I don’t know how many radios are available to NK citizens. Perhaps if we had a companion smuggling campaign to get small receivers into the hands of as many norks as possible . . .

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    @CasBalicki

    Koreans brought to their knees by Lady Gaga, sounds kinky.

    • #7
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    @Fredosphere
    Tripedis Canis: The only quibble I have is with item 1, and that’s only because I don’t know how many radios are available to NK citizens. Perhaps if we had a companion smuggling campaign to get small receivers into the hands of as many norks as possible . . . · Nov 30 at 10:23am

    I think I read somewhere that radios in NK are deliberately hobbled so they can be tuned only to the official stations. [googling . . . gooogling . . . Yes!]

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover
    Lady Kurobara

    Not only that, but you have to leave the household radio on all the time. Turning it off is a crime against the State.; In every home, there is an endless buzz of mindless propaganda in the background. The average Nork must be clinically insane by now. · Nov 30 at 11:46am

    During our partnership with the Taliban, we used to drop radios onto the trails in Afghanistan that were pretuned to VOA. Unfortunately, the Russians would drop bright plastic toys onto the same trails for the children. The toys would explode and injure the child in order to slow the progress of whoever was transiting.

    Lady K is right, most of the NoKos are huddled around a small fire waiting for the enemies to come and eat them or some horrible fate that has been drilled into them for years, these people have no idea what reality is, other than the grinding poverty, constant hunger, and lots of paranoia. It’s 1984 there, a constant state of war in their minds. And their IQs are as stunted as their bodies. So they’re close to animalistic on average I bet.

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    @JanMichaelRives

    Frankly, I couldn’t tolerate a million or so North Koreans starving to death, which would be the first result of most of the policies put forward here. My suggestion: wipe Pyongyang and its neighboring cities off the map with conventional fire. None of the truly innocent North Koreans are permitted to live there anyway – only the politically connected. This would essentially decapitate the government and dramatically reduce their ability to retaliate.

    …I suppose this is why I don’t work for the State Department.

    • #10
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    @Claire
    Jan-Michael Rives: Frankly, I couldn’t tolerate a million or so North Koreans starving to death, which would be the first result of most of the policies put forward here. My suggestion: wipe Pyongyang and its neighboring cities off the map with conventional fire. None of the truly innocent North Koreans are permitted to live there anyway – only the politically connected. This would essentially decapitate the government and dramatically reduce their ability to retaliate.

    …I suppose this is why I don’t work for the State Department. · Nov 30 at 12:15pm

    I fear this argument may be completely logical.

    I thank God every day that I don’t have to make these decisions.

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    @KTCat

    Are you willing to take 10,000 casualties in Seoul as the NoKo loonies open fire on their way down?

    • #12
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    @LadyKurobara
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    Jan-Michael Rives: My suggestion: wipe Pyongyang and its neighboring cities off the map with conventional fire. None of the truly innocent North Koreans are permitted to live there anyway – only the politically connected. This would essentially decapitate the government and dramatically reduce their ability to retaliate.

    I fear this argument may be completely logical.

    I thank God every day that I don’t have to make these decisions.

    Whenever I let my mind dwell on the North Korean problem, eventually I see a mushroom cloud over Pyongyang and I think: “Yes! That solves everything!”

    This sort of apocalyptic speculation is no reflection on Claire, Jan-Michael or myself. It simply shows how bad the situation is. And by the way, “conventional fire” is not good enough; it must be a nuke — to get the job done quickly.

    As I posted in a separate thread, I simply see no “good” alternatives for us in North Korea. There are no easy answers and there will be no happy ending for North Korea.

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    @LadyKurobara
    K T Cat: Are you willing to take 10,000 casualties in Seoul as the NoKo loonies open fire on their way down?

    My fear is that, if the Nork regime simply collapses by itself, the loonies will lash out in all directions with nuclear missiles — just out of pure spite. They might even hit China!

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    @flownover
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    Jan-Michael Rives: Frankly, I couldn’t tolerate a million or so North Koreans starving to death, which would be the first result of most of the policies put forward here.

    I fear this argument may be completely logical.

    I thank God every day that I don’t have to make these decisions. · Nov 30 at 12:22pm

    They are starving right now. Everything of value or use is swept up by the military for their use, barter, trade. Get rid of the military and things will improve. China and the South will handle things in their own way anyway and the South Koreans have lots of connections and relations to take care of and they would step in to take over ala Germany East/West.

    Now let’s think about what would happen if we were to decapitate Iran’s leadership ? Do you think that any of their neighbors would rush in to help ?

    Claire, is there alot of Turkish -Persian cooperation historically ? Who would “own” that situation ? Like the Kurds, do the Iranians have any friends ?

    • #15
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    @JanMichaelRives
    K T Cat: Are you willing to take 10,000 casualties in Seoul as the NoKo loonies open fire on their way down? · Nov 30 at 1:19pm

    I think the likelihood of the blaze of glory scenario is often overstated. People typically try to save their own skins when they see that the ship is sinking. I expect we would find many more DPRK generals trying to cross into China with a suitcase full of money than spending their last minutes on earth directing artillery fire at Seoul.

    Lady Kurobara

    And by the way, “conventional fire” is not good enough; it must be a nuke — to get the job done quickly.

    Tactically ideal, but politically impossible. The last time an American president had a real option of using a nuke was Eisenhower trying to save the French at Den Bien Phu. He chose not to do so.

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    @LadyKurobara
    Fredösphere

    Tripedis Canis: The only quibble I have is with item 1, and that’s only because I don’t know how many radios are available to NK citizens. Perhaps if we had a companion smuggling campaign to get small receivers into the hands of as many norks as possible . . .

    I think I read somewhere that radios in NK are deliberately hobbled so they can be tuned only to the official stations. [googling . . . gooogling . . . Yes!]

    Not only that, but you have to leave the household radio on all the time. Turning it off is a crime against the State. In every home, there is an endless buzz of mindless propaganda in the background. The average Nork must be clinically insane by now.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Spin

    I’m not smart enough to know about all that North Korea stuff, but it would seem that Claire’s volume of posting on Ricochet is indirectly proportional to the number of days until her next deadline…

    Having said that, I did once read in Readers Digest that Iraq had at some point in the 80s counterfeit US currency, and that the volume of counterfeit 20s in circulation worldwide was the main reason for the new 20, which is not so new anymore. I have no idea if any of that is true, but I said it only so I could say this: dumping bales of North Korean currency off the coast is a little obvious. Perhaps instead we could send Paris Hilton over with a wad ‘o cash (North Korean of course, she won’t know the difference) and tell her Black Friday in North Korea lasts 90 days. I don’t what she would buy, I guess, so there’s the flaw in my great plan.

    • #18

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