North Korea flexes its muscles, again 

Some time last night (for those of us in the Western Hemisphere), North Korea conducted another nuclear test to celebrate the anniversary of its founding in 1948

When the news initially broke it was reported to as earthquake, but that idea was quickly debunked by ever amateur observers. A user on Reddit going by seis_matters  quickly pointed out:


While there will certainly be some strong words in the coming days, it’s not at all clear what the world can take to reign in the DPRK’s behavior. 

Sanctions?

The country is already one of the most heavily-sanctioned in the world. And while it receives food aid, cutting that off would only cut the lifeline of people living under the current regime. The government already prioritizes its military over everything else, so food shortages would land squarely on the general population rather than the military, and certainly not the leadership. 

Attack?

We could follow in the other tradition, the one that says that with the worlds most powerful military as your hammer, every problem looks like a nail. 

That approach is also untenable. Aside from the enormous loss of life that would be caused on both sides of the conflict at the northern end of the Korean Peninsula, the DPRK is known to have its artillery aimed squarely at Seoul and missiles that can reach Japan, and has given assurances that it would use them if attacked. 

Any other options?

Its hard to imagine any other options. The leadership in North Korea is “pot committed” at this point – there is no way for them to gracefully cede power and disappear into the night, as, even if they received assurances of safety from other countries, there are literally millions of people who would not rest until they extracted each of their pounds of flesh from the leadership that has caused them such harm. 

What other options are there? Smarter people than me have puzzled over the situation for far longer, and so far the best anyone has come up with is to leave them to themselves, but even that is not tenable. As a nuclear armed state, starved of resources, and with a penchant for selling whatever it has to to insure its survival, non-confrontation runs the risk of it transferring dangerous technology to other pariah states. 

No solutions. 

I am interested to hear what Donald Trump would propose. Actually, no, I’m not!

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