We can no longer defer our response to this crisis. North Korea has demonstrated time and again that it may upend the tenuous armistice along the 38th parallel at any moment and drag the United States and our allies into a devastating conflict. What the United States needs now is swift action backed by a realistic strategy to secure the denuclearization and reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
Cruz’s plan is a triad of responses, which seem to take it as “given” that the Hermit Kingdom has nuclear and ICBM capabilities. Instead of direct military action, Cruz advocates a careful program to blunt Kim’s missile capability, strip him of the ability to finance his military and government, and prepare the people of North Korea that hope exists.
Although the Institute for Defense Analysis reported in 2011 that the United States possesses the requisite technology to field a space-based interceptor (SBI) program within 10 years, little progress has been made in the six years since. Legislating to advance SBI and expand the scope of the Missile Defense Agency has been a critical priority for me on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Only with a serious space-based capability can we target missiles in their boost phase and maximize discrimination of decoys during midcourse flight.
We must, through our financial regulations, compel U.S. banks with correspondent accounts linked to North Korean entities to begin mapping out the complex financial web of beneficial ownership that Pyongyang obscures with Chinese assistance.
We should take [the North Korea Human Rights Act] a step further and begin to initiate targeted information operations focusing on North Korean political elites who, like everyday North Koreans, have also felt the brunt of Kim’s paranoid persecution. We must begin to quietly signal to these elites that there is a future for them if they are prepared to do the right thing when it matters most.
As Charles Krauthammer observed: we’ve kicked the North Korea can down the road for decades, and now we’re out of road. Either we get serious about treating Kim and his regime with the same rigor we used against the Soviets in the Cold War, or we face a cataclysmic scenario.
Cruz is always a long-game player. His strategy will certainly work, if competently executed. But then again, we could always bomb the Norks’ missile and nuclear facilities into the stone age. I rather like that solution, but again, it’s hard to argue with Cruz.
President Trump should put him in charge of dealing with North Korea and consider the problem solved.