Can deterrence work with North Korea? In general I’m in agreement with the strategy with respect to North Korea that Daniel DePetris articulates in this piece at RealClearDefense:
A U.S.-led containment and deterrence strategy would look both similar and slightly different to the policy nine American presidents followed for seven decades followed during the Cold War.
First, a reliable line of communication would be established with Pyongyang to make it abundantly clear that any attempt to use its nuclear capability against the U.S., South Korea, or Japan would be the end of the Kim regime. If Kim Jong-un, for instance, attempts to initiate a conflict with Seoul—thinking that he can deter the U.S. military from coming to South Korea’s assistance—he will have sorely miscalculated the credibility of the U.S. alliance commitment.
Second, the Trump administration would initiate far more diplomacy with the North Koreans than they have been willing to offer in the past. Unlike in the past, dialogue would not be used to launch a comprehensive negotiation about denuclearization. Instead, it would be used for the express purposes of minimizing misunderstanding between both nations; ensuring that red lines are delivered and received clearly; and to maintain a line of communication between U.S. and North Korean military officials that could possibly be leveraged in the future for a discussion about political normalization or detente when the time is appropriate.
Third, the Pentagon will need to be certain that the U.S. Pacific Command possesses the naval and Air Force assets, anti-missile defenses, and proper alliance coordination necessary to quickly respond to a provocation in the event the North Koreans begin one. Intelligence community relationships in East Asia, including with China, will need to be more synchronized to monitor Pyongyang’s illicit export of military technology. Countries can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt on implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions, especially those seeking to combat the arms trafficking or dual-use technology exports Pyongyang will try to engage in as other revenue streams are foreclosed or reduced.
but I’m not sure that I’d characterize it as “deterrence”. IMO “strategic patience” is closer to the mark. Is he calling it deterrence as a face-saving measure?
I don’t believe that the North Koreans will be deterred by anything we do or say. They will do as they will do. We just need to be prepared for whatever they may do.
Let me ask this question. If the North Koreans aren’t convinced that an attack by them on us will end not just the Kim regime but their country, what is it that we can do short of ending the Kim regime and their country that would do it?