Mark Erikson believes that the increased US focus on North Korea that will follow the Iraq war and the expected continued escalation of provocations by the North Korean regime will increase the likelihood of accidental or intentional war in Korea in the months and even years to come.
To my mind, the only no-war outcome as events unfold over coming months may well be US and international-community acceptance of North Korea as a declared nuclear state in return for enforceable non-proliferation guarantees. But such an outcome, if feasible at all, is likely years rather than months away. In the meantime, war risk will fluctuate, but instead of going away, will on average continue to increase. As this plays out, miscalculation and accidents could at any time transform tense standoff into hot conflict.
Erikson surveys North Korea's offensive capabilities. The missiles and long range artillery stand out as means by which the North Korean regime could in just a few hours cause hundreds of thousands and even millions of South Korean casualties.
His only no-war outcome leaves in power a regime that could still manage to sell nuclear weapons or nuclear materials to other states and to non-state actors. It seems very unlikely that sufficiently invasive non-proliferation inspection regime could be developed that would be acceptable to the North Korea. Unless the Bush Administration is willing to accept North Korea as a potential source of nuclear weapons for non-state actors war still seems like the most likely outcome.
If the Bush Administration does accept North Korea as a nuclear power that will in turn lead to the emergence of a number of other new nuclear powers in the Middle East and eventually elsewhere as well. In the longer run (somewhere between five and twenty years) that will lead to the nuking of one or more American cities by nuclear terrorists and then a very large global nuclear war will be fought as the United States seeks to disarm states that are already nuclear powers.
It is possible that nuclear terrorists will strike cities elsewhere before striking US cities. Of course Israel will be high on the target list of Islamic nuclear terrorists. But Islamic terrorists have reasons to want to strike at cities in India such as Dehli and Calcutta. European and certainly Russian cities would also be on the target list of Islamists as well as Sydney and other Australian cities.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 March 15 01:23 PM Military War, Rumours Of War|