Charles Krauthammer believes that the only deterrence against North Korea is the threat of utter destruction: “Deterrence is what you do when there is no way to disarm your enemy. You cannot deprive him of his weapons, but you can keep him from using them. We long ago reached that stage with North Korea.”
I’ve been re-reading last month’s issue of the Atlantic and “The menace of North Korea.” One thing the author makes clear early on is that Kim Jong Il is not crazy, but instead has decided to use threats to gain what he otherwise couldn’t get through economic or political means:
Kim Jong Il’s succession was aided by the link that his father had established in the North Korean mind between the Kim Family Regime and the Choson Dynasty, which ruled the Korean peninsula for 500 years, starting in the late fourteenth century. Expertly tutored by his father, Kim consolidated power and manipulated the Chinese, the Americans, and the South Koreans into subsidizing him throughout the 1990s. And Kim is hardly impulsive: he has the equivalent of think tanks studying how best to respond to potential attacks from the United States and South Korea—attacks that themselves would be reactions to crises cleverly instigated by the North Korean government in Pyongyang. “The regime constitutes an extremely rational bunch of killers,” Lankov says.“Extremely rational” is not a common adjective for Kim, but if Kaplan and Krauthammer correct then North Korea may refrain from spreading nuclear technology for fear of a radioactive Pyongyang.