The defence expert analysed the available options to the despot leader in the event of an attack
The defence expert analysed the available options to the despot leader in the event of an attack.
He explained: “If the United States attacked a North Korean missile site, Kim’s immediate challenge would be trying to determine in real time whether the United States just launched a full-blown war.
“Keeping in mind that North Korean hackers stole alliance war plans last year, Kim will look for specific indicators to quickly render this judgment.”
He said: “If Kim concluded that war were imminent, or that it had already begun, he would have no choice but to launch a devastating retaliatory response in hopes that it raises the stakes of conflict enough to cause the United States to back off.
“There’s added urgency, too: The more time passes at the start of a conflict, the greater the military disadvantage facing North Korea. So Kim won’t want to unnecessarily trigger a war himself, but as soon as he’s concluded the war is on, he must take drastic action immediately to maximise his chances of survival.
“That immediate drastic action does not inevitably take the form of nuclear attacks, but the likelihood that it does is exceedingly high.
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“Nukes are Kim’s ‘ace in the hole’; if he doesn’t play them immediately, the US might eliminate them in a first-wave attack.”
The defence expert discussed reports that suggested the US is lining up a strike on the isolationist state as a show of force.
He added: “Now, I’m getting nightmare flashbacks as I read the fragmentary reports dribbling out in the media about what seems like an intense debate inside the Trump administration.
“A recent story suggests that some on the Trump team have floated the idea of giving a ‘bloody nose’ to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.”
Mr Jackson explained that giving Kim Jong-un a “bloody nose” would involve a “preventive, limited attack on a North Korean missile facility, nuclear facility or missile launch site”.
Writing in Politico, he said: “If the United States aims to teach North Korea a lesson…it needs the attack to be public, which should rule out using special forces or clandestine means of destruction.
“The ideal target for sending a message to Pyongyang would also be the hardest to hit — a mobile missile, fired from a ‘transporter-erector-launcher’.
“Mobile targets are elusive and made more so by North Korea’s recent use of solid fuel, which gives fewer advance indicators of a pending missile launch.
“Successfully striking a mobile target located far from the South Korean border would show that no target in North Korea is out of reach of US.”
As the North Korea leader assesses the hypothetical situation, Mr Jackson stated that he would ask a number of questions before deciding on a method of retaliation such as “are North Korean radars, communications, or computer networks being jammed or disrupted?” and “are American civilians being evacuated from South Korea?”.
However, Mr Jackson explained that if the US had instead opted against starting World War 3 and decided to give him a “bloody nose” instead, Kim Jong-un would respond with “violence” to prevent a “coup d’état” that removes him from power.
The defence expert discussed reports that suggested the US is lining up a strike on North Korea
He stated: “Advocates of the bloody nose theory believe that Kim won’t conclude that a single attack amounts to war despite the numerous indicators above that suggest he would.
“They’re wrong, but suppose a best-case scenario for the bloody-nosers — that Kim errs on the side of caution and decides that a US preventive attack is not a war-launching action.
“Even then, though, there’s a second problem that directly undermines the bloody-nose assumptions — for reasons of domestic politics and strategic culture, Kim must respond to violence with violence.
North Korea’s potential responses to a devastating attack from Donald Trump have been examined
“Kim leads a military and policy elite with a very specific set of beliefs about the utility of force and how the country has managed to survive — by responding to pressure with pressure, by resorting to brinkmanship in times of crisis, and by launching occasional unprovoked, limited attacks at times and places of its choosing.
“If Kim recognises a limited attack as being limited, then he’s less likely to launch nuclear strikes but much more likely to launch a retaliatory campaign of violence at a time and place of his choosing.
“To do otherwise would open him to charges of weakness and risk a coup d’état that ousts him from power.”