There are 3 end-game scenarios in the North Korean conflict that’s been raging for nearly 60 years now. Threats of war are not new, what’s new is the increase in deadliness, the intensity and persistence of these threats. Kim Jong Un means business and that business is “Danegeld”. He relies on threatening to self destruct to make himself look strong at home and get aid from abroad. There are 3 real options for what can happen.
1. North Korea “wins” and by winning we mean gets what it wants. North Korea threats escalate. Either directly by threatening to nuke Japan/Korea/the Moon. Unwilling to deal with this the various countries acquiesce to a formal end to the Korean war and open waters around North Korea. Various sanctions are in place but aid is restored to an “acceptable” level and the status quo is restored.
2. We “win”. North Korea is left to twist in the wind by a China that’s finally realised that North Korea is a big giant liability. Beijing’s acquiescence to the UN sanctions wreck the North Korean economy and force North Korea to De-Nuclearise. The obvious mismanagement may encourage a coup and may allow for re-unification.
3. No one wins. North Korea’s plans to force the first option end up backfiring with a response from South Korea, China backs out as it is unwilling to support a frankly stupid war with a big customer and may even provide assistance to South Korea. However North Korea goes out in a blaze of glory by attempting to cause as much collateral damage to practically everyone it can hit.
However this involves a frankly deadly game of nuclear chicken. North Korea won’t use their nuke because the moment they do their “party” is instantly over. Even with conventional weapons we would simply destroy any leadership and the entire end game of North Korea’s leadership is to “Escape With the Loot” or “Preserve the Status Quo”. It’s like trying to deal with a child throwing a tantrum over sweets. You can either ignore the child and look like a “bad parent”. Or you can coddle the child and spoil it. Or you can throw a right hook. The best option is to simply ignore the damn North Koreans and stop treating their government as a solid threat.
Them zerg rushing the border (Is it racist to use the term zerg rush to describe a korean human wave assault?) won’t work. Such tactics fell out of favour in the 60s. Mixed weaponry and combined arms rule strategy today. I am afraid any North Korean attack would turn into a tragic massacre. Our soldiers would be more damaged by their actions than by the attacks of North Korea.
And which is why we must have a peaceful solution and the dissolution of North Korea and unification. Enough young men and women have died or forever been scarred both physically and mentally by war to wish for another one.