Congressional oversight is necessary for a pragmatic, flexible approach to threats executive discretion results in knee-jerk policy failure

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North Korea is shifting back toward confrontation---weak US credibility of threat causes war

Julian Ryall 9/10, Japan Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, "Back to business as usual for North Korea", 2013,

"President [Barack] Obama is fluctuating one way and then another on Syria and the diplomatic and military credibility of the US has been damaged, which means that Washington's threats of force against North Korea become weaker day by day," said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Japan's Fukui Prefectural University. "At the same time, South Korea is intent on restarting the Kaesong industrial park as a token of its goodwill towards the regime," he said. "This will earn a great deal of money for the North and you can be sure that money will then be used by the regime to build yet more nuclear weapons and missiles."¶ The expert went on to say that "this action by the South Korean government is tantamount to a violation of United Nations sanctions on the North."¶ The other key player in the region is China, which supported UN sanctions against Pyongyang after it test-fired a missile in December and carried out its third underground nuclear test in February of this year.¶ There was widespread optimism that Beijing had finally cracked down on its errant neighbor and was imposing controls that would limit North Korea's ability to acquire nuclear technology and export missile know-how.¶ Encouragement from China¶ But analysts now say it is business as usual once again between Beijing and Pyongyang and the North's exports are simply crossing the border into China and beyond while atomic technology - as well as the all-important luxury goods that the elite of the regime require to sustain their lifestyles - flow in the opposite direction.¶ "A couple of months ago China was being tough on the regime, but that's over now," said Professor Hiroyasu Akutsu, a North Korea expert at Japan's National Institute of Defense Studies, told DW. "It's not clear yet exactly how much China is now aiding the North, but there are clearly loopholes in the sanctions-based approach to dealing with the regime," he said.¶ Prof. Akutsu believes China's quiet about-face on enforcing international sanctions mirrors its actions in 2009, when it again supported the UN Security Council when it implemented Resolution 1874 in an attempt to isolate North Korea and encourage the regime to give up its weapons to develop and deploy a nuclear weapon.¶ "The international community expected China to get tough and stay touch on Pyongyang, but within months the aid had restarted," he said. "It's the same this time around."¶ Aggression on hold¶ North Korea has not yet returned to the aggression that it demonstrated earlier in the year - most famously when it threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire" and to launch ballistic missiles at targets in the continental US.¶ "They appear to be quiet at this point and are engaging in dialogue with the South, but that is in order to win back the support of China and they are really just pretending to be quiet," Prof. Akutsu said. "The North is biding its time and looking for an excuse to restart its nuclear and missile tests. They need to carry out those tests to become the 'strong, prosperous and great power' that they always say they are going to be."¶ If the North is looking for an excuse to return to the hectoring bombast of the past, the US-South Korean Security Consultative Meeting scheduled to take place in Seoul on October 2 could be it.¶ At the meeting, the two governments will unveil a plan designed to deter the North from using its nuclear capabilities as a threat to the region and the wider world.¶ The two nations have been carrying out joint research on a "tailored deterrence strategy" that envisions the use of escalating political, diplomatic and military responses to any threat.¶ In addition to the "nuclear umbrella" that the US also guarantees to the South, the strategy includes a missile defense system and even the option of precision military strikes on North Korean nuclear facilities should Pyongyang indicate that it is planning to launch a missile with a nuclear warhead.¶ That possibility has taken a large step forward, according to a US intelligence assessment of Pyongyang's advances in miniaturizing its nuclear warheads to the point they can be attached to a missile. Instead of being some years off, Washington now believes that North Korea's scientists may be as little as 12 months away from perfecting the technology.¶ Return to confrontation¶ The comments emerging from the North also suggest that it is slowly moving away from engagement and back to confrontation.¶ "Everything depends on the behavior of the US and South Korea," Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Center for North Korea-US Peace and unofficial spokesman for the regime in North Korea, told DW. "We in the North want peace, but this pressure on us from the US and South Korea is unnecessary and it cannot work," he said.¶ "North Korea has the capability to strike targets in the US within an hour. We could vaporize the US and that would be the end of both America and South Korea. It is my opinion that the US will surrender in the next two years and sign a peace treaty with North Korea," he added. "After that, the Korean peninsula will be reunited within another two years."

North Korea’s threatening war---only credible threats solve

Tom Rogan 13, BA in War Studies and MSc in Middle East Politics, "North Korea nuclear test", 2/11,

North Korea is threatening a further nuclear test and evidence suggests that this threat is more than rhetoric. While the North Koreans are steadily improving their ICBM capability, we already know that they have an albeit basic nuclear weapons facility. To be honest, although the North Koreans are loud, aggressive and seemingly unpredictable, their unpredictability has predictable contours. In essence, North Korea's foreign policy is similar to the actions of a young child. When a child wants attention or gifts, they cry. When North Korea wants attention or gifts (economic aid), it threatens war. True, the North Koreans sometimes take major action, most recently sinking a South Korean ship in 2010. But it's also true that whether headed by il-Sung, Jong-il or Jong-un, the North Korean regime resides on a foundation of luxury and patronage. It's leaders don't want to die. For all their threats, the North Koreans are cognizant that war with the US would be an act of suicide. With American resolve and strength, North Korea can be deterred.

Korean war goes nuclear, spills over globally---risk of miscalc is high and this time is different

Steven Metz 13, Chairman of the Regional Strategy and Planning Department and Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute, 3/13/13, “Strategic Horizons: Thinking the Unthinkable on a Second Korean War,”

Today, North Korea is the most dangerous country on earth and the greatest threat to U.S. security. For years, the bizarre regime in Pyongyang has issued an unending stream of claims that a U.S. and South Korean invasion is imminent, while declaring that it will defeat this offensive just as -- according to official propaganda -- it overcame the unprovoked American attack in 1950. Often the press releases from the official North Korean news agency are absurdly funny, and American policymakers tend to ignore them as a result. Continuing to do so, though, could be dangerous as events and rhetoric turn even more ominous. ¶ In response to North Korea's Feb. 12 nuclear test, the U.N. Security Council recently tightened existing sanctions against Pyongyang. Even China, North Korea's long-standing benefactor and protector, went along. Convulsed by anger, Pyongyang then threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea, abrogated the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War and cut off the North-South hotline installed in 1971 to help avoid an escalation of tensions between the two neighbors. A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry asserted that a second Korean War is unavoidable. He might be right; for the first time, an official statement from the North Korean government may prove true. ¶ No American leader wants another war in Korea. The problem is that the North Koreans make so many threatening and bizarre official statements and sustain such a high level of military readiness that American policymakers might fail to recognize the signs of impending attack. After all, every recent U.S. war began with miscalculation; American policymakers misunderstood the intent of their opponents, who in turn underestimated American determination. The conflict with North Korea could repeat this pattern. ¶ Since the regime of Kim Jong Un has continued its predecessors’ tradition of responding hysterically to every action and statement it doesn't like, it's hard to assess exactly what might push Pyongyang over the edge and cause it to lash out. It could be something that the United States considers modest and reasonable, or it could be some sort of internal power struggle within the North Korean regime invisible to the outside world. While we cannot know whether the recent round of threats from Pyongyang is serious or simply more of the same old lathering, it would be prudent to think the unthinkable and reason through what a war instigated by a fearful and delusional North Korean regime might mean for U.S. security. ¶ The second Korean War could begin with missile strikes against South Korean, Japanese or U.S. targets, or with a combination of missile strikes and a major conventional invasion of the South -- something North Korea has prepared for many decades. Early attacks might include nuclear weapons, but even if they didn't, the United States would probably move quickly to destroy any existing North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. ¶ The war itself would be extremely costly and probably long. North Korea is the most militarized society on earth. Its armed forces are backward but huge. It's hard to tell whether the North Korean people, having been fed a steady diet of propaganda based on adulation of the Kim regime, would resist U.S. and South Korean forces that entered the North or be thankful for relief from their brutally parasitic rulers. As the conflict in Iraq showed, the United States and its allies should prepare for widespread, protracted resistance even while hoping it doesn't occur. Extended guerrilla operations and insurgency could potentially last for years following the defeat of North Korea's conventional military. North Korea would need massive relief, as would South Korea and Japan if Pyongyang used nuclear weapons. Stabilizing North Korea and developing an effective and peaceful regime would require a lengthy occupation, whether U.S.-dominated or with the United States as a major contributor. ¶ The second Korean War would force military mobilization in the United States. This would initially involve the military's existing reserve component, but it would probably ultimately require a major expansion of the U.S. military and hence a draft. The military's training infrastructure and the defense industrial base would have to grow. This would be a body blow to efforts to cut government spending in the United States and postpone serious deficit reduction for some time, even if Washington increased taxes to help fund the war. Moreover, a second Korean conflict would shock the global economy and potentially have destabilizing effects outside Northeast Asia. ¶ Eventually, though, the United States and its allies would defeat the North Korean military. At that point it would be impossible for the United States to simply re-establish the status quo ante bellum as it did after the first Korean War. The Kim regime is too unpredictable, desperate and dangerous to tolerate. Hence regime change and a permanent ending to the threat from North Korea would have to be America's strategic objective. ¶ China would pose the most pressing and serious challenge to such a transformation of North Korea. After all, Beijing's intervention saved North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung after he invaded South Korea in the 1950s, and Chinese assistance has kept the subsequent members of the Kim family dictatorship in power. Since the second Korean War would invariably begin like the first one -- with North Korean aggression -- hopefully China has matured enough as a great power to allow the world to remove its dangerous allies this time. If the war began with out-of-the-blue North Korean missile strikes, China could conceivably even contribute to a multinational operation to remove the Kim regime. ¶ Still, China would vehemently oppose a long-term U.S. military presence in North Korea or a unified Korea allied with the United States. One way around this might be a grand bargain leaving a unified but neutral Korea. However appealing this might be, Korea might hesitate to adopt neutrality as it sits just across the Yalu River from a China that tends to claim all territory that it controlled at any point in its history. ¶ If the aftermath of the second Korean War is not handled adroitly, the result could easily be heightened hostility between the United States and China, perhaps even a new cold war. After all, history shows that deep economic connections do not automatically prevent nations from hostility and war -- in 1914 Germany was heavily involved in the Russian economy and had extensive trade and financial ties with France and Great Britain. It is not inconceivable then, that after the second Korean War, U.S.-China relations would be antagonistic and hostile at the same time that the two continued mutual trade and investment. Stranger things have happened in statecraft.

North Korea’s deterrable --- prefer data based on the Kim regime’s foreign policy and structure

Daniel Byman 10, professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, and Jennifer Lind, Assistant Professor in the Department of Government, Dartmouth College, “"Keeping Kim: How North Korea's Regime Stays in Power"”, Policy Brief, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, July

* Hardly an Erratic Regime. The Kim regime's foreign policy behavior, though frequently called erratic or crazy, has a rational basis. International provocations help to stoke popular nationalism, shoring up the regime’s domestic position, particularly within the military. * The Paradox of Sanctions. Effective sanctions—those that target Kim's power base—are likely to be rejected by key stakeholder countries because of the risk they pose of regime collapse and the chaos that would likely ensue.¶ THE STAYING POWER OF THE KIM REGIME¶ Predictions of the Kim regime's demise have been widespread for many years, particularly in the 1990s, as upwards of 1 million North Koreans perished in a famine. Limited openness in the form of bustling markets and some cross-border trade were viewed as a possible threat to the regime's control. Recently, analysts have argued that North Korean bellicosity—for example, the March 2010 attack on a South Korean warship and its nuclear and missile tests in 2009—is aimed at a domestic audience: an effort by a weak regime to shore up support among the North Korean military in advance of succession. Analysts also point to surprising popular protests after Pyongyang's botched 2009 currency reform and to increased information flows as reasons to think the regime may soon fall.¶ Decisionmakers and analysts, however, often underestimate the power of tyranny. Like other dictatorships, the Kim regime relies on numerous tools of authoritarian control to stay in power. Although data are opaque, Kim Jong-il's hold on power seems more secure than many pundits suggest: the regime does not appear vulnerable to coups d'état or revolution. The greatest threat to the Kim regime is the challenge of succession. Prior to his death in 1994, Kim Il-sung skillfully applied a variety of tools from the "authoritarian toolbox" to ensure a smooth transfer of power for his son—for example, creating a cult of personality around the younger Kim. The current regime has not yet made similar preparations for Kim Jong-il's successor, which raises the risk of contested succession and regime collapse after Kim's death or incapacitation.¶ Understanding the Kim regime's resilience requires an understanding of the tools it has used to stay in power. The first is social engineering—creating a country where the very building blocks of opposition are lacking. North Korea has no merchant or land-owning class, independent unions, or clergy. Intellectuals are regime-loyal bureaucrats, not dissidents, and strict restrictions on the activities of students have cowed them into submission.¶ Second, the regime pushes an ideology. The Supreme Leader (suryong) system established Kim Il-sung as the center of a cult of personality. At the core of the regime's juche ideology is nationalism with a xenophobic, even racist, slant. Anti-Japanese sentiment, hostility to South Korea, and propaganda against the United States create legitimacy for the regime. As the regime inculcates its ideology and cult of personality, it strives for tighter controls on information. In the 1990s, after the famine, the regime's control of information decreased and cross-border smuggling grew, but recently the regime has tried to reassert its control.¶ Perhaps most important, the North Korean regime is brutal in its use of force. Dissent is detected through an elaborate network of informants working for multiple internal security agencies. People accused of relatively minor offenses undergo "reeducation"; those accused of more serious transgressions are either immediately executed or interred in miserable political prison camps. Even more daunting, according to the "three generations" policy, the regime punishes not only the individual responsible for the transgressions but his or her whole family.¶ At the same time, Kim Jong-il uses perks and rewards to co-opt military and political elites. Members of this class receive more and better food, in addition to the most desirable jobs working for the regime. During the famine, the core class was protected, so that the famine's devastation was concentrated on the people deemed least loyal. This group acquiesced to the succession of Kim Jong-il after his father's death; it keeps Kim in power and will influence his choice of successor. Kim Jong-il has co-opted the military by bestowing on it policy influence and prestige, as well as a large share—perhaps 25 percent—of the national budget. The military also has a favored position in policy circles and is lauded in regime propaganda. Nuclear weapons provide another tool for cultivating the military's support. They bring prestige to an institution whose morale has been challenged by hunger and by its relative inferiority to South Korea's military forcesKim Jong-il's regime manipulates foreign governments to generate the hard currency needed to buy off elites and sustain his military. China and the Soviet Union propped up North Korea during Kim Il-sung's reign. Kim Jong-il continues to rely on Chinese patronage, but he has also been adept at extracting extensive aid from his adversaries. Since the late 1990s, Pyongyang has used promises of denuclearization to extort more than $6 billion in aid, as well as hundreds of thousands of tons of food, not only from South Korea but also from the United States, China, and Japan. Economic initiatives associated with South Korea's sunshine policy, such as the Kaesong Industrial Complex, have also provided Pyongyang with a significant revenue stream. Although Seoul initially announced cuts in this economic support after the March 2010 attack on the South Korean warship, only a few months later it began to backtrack.¶ Should co-optation fail and domestic elites grow dissatisfied, the Kim regime has coup-proofed North Korean institutions in ways that deter, detect, and thwart anti-regime activity among these elites. North Korean military leaders are chosen for their political loyalty rather than military competence. Key positions are granted to individuals with family or other close ties. Kim Il-sung ruled with the help of relatives and his fellow anti-Japanese guerrillas. Kim Jong-il relies on multiple and competing internal security agencies to reduce the unity of the security forces and to maximize the information he receives about anti-regime activities. The Kim regime has created parallel security forces to protect itself from a military coup.¶ IMPLICATIONS AND POLICY RECOMMDENDATIONS¶ This analysis suggests several implications for foreign policy toward North Korea, in particular the effort to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal. Sanctions aimed at weakening North Korea's broader economy are unlikely to exert much coercive pressure on Pyongyang; Kim Jong-il (like Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and many other dictators) protects his elite core while shifting the burden of sanctions to the people. A more effective economic lever with which to move the regime would be to directly threaten its access to hard currency and luxury goods, which it needs to bribe elites. Policies such as freezing North Korean assets overseas and embargoing luxury items are thus the most promising options.¶ Ironically, the United States and other countries will be hesitant to apply the kinds of sanctions that have the best chance of success. In China, South Korea, and the United States, fears of war or chaos on the Korean Peninsula and the calamity of refugees pouring across borders are likely to lead these states to continue to prop up the Kim regime, helping it to weather crises and keeping the country poor, starved, and brutalized. North Korea is unlikely to yield to pressure to relinquish its nuclear arsenal. Although much debate focuses on the regime's security motivations for acquiring nuclear weapons, these weapons also serve as a tool of its survival. They help to curry the favor of the military, and they provide a bargaining chip that earns the regime billions of dollars in hard currency. In contrast to the media, which persist in portraying Kim Jong-il as a madman or an incompetent playboy, this analysis shows him to be a shrewd, if reprehensible, leader. His meticulous use of the authoritarian toolbox reveals him to be a skilled strategic player. Kim shows every sign of being rational—and thus deterrable.Should the United States reject a deterrence strategy toward North Korea (as it ultimately did toward Iraq), limited military operations undertaken with the goal of inciting a coup or popular revolt are unlikely to succeed in this coup-proofed dictatorship. Air strikes would do little to stir up popular unrest or sufficient anger among the military elite to topple Pyongyang's regime. Rather, they would inflame nationalism at the popular level and likely increase the military's loyalty to the leadership. Kim's regime would be able to blame any resulting economic problems on the bombings rather than on its own bungling. Toppling the Kim regime, then, is unlikely to work with coercive strikes and would instead require a full invasion, a course the United States is unlikely to choose because of the tremendous instability it would unleash.

Only credibility of threats can prevent Kim Jong Un from initiating conflict

David S. Maxwell 12, the Associate Director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies and the Security Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, “IS THE KIM FAMILY REGIME RATIONAL AND WHY DON’T THE NORTH KOREAN PEOPLE REBEL?”, January, Foreign Policy Research Institute,

With the death of Kim Jong-il and the ensuing temporary focus on North Korea, I was recently asked some questions that I think are worth considering. In light of the negative reaction of the South Korean stock markets to the rumor that the North had conducted a nuclear test, I was asked whether the North would ever carry out the irrational act of using its very limited nuclear weapons against the South when such an action would cause the end of the regime? In addition, given the horrendous suffering of the North, many rightly question why North Koreans do not rebel against the tyrannical and criminal dictatorship -- arguably one of the worst violators of human rights in modern history -- of the Kim Family Regime (KFR)? This paper will provide some thoughts on the answers to these separate but inter-related questions.¶ IS NORTH KOREA RATIONAL?¶ The political entity North Korea, or more specifically the Kim Family Regime, is very rational in the sense that it knows what it wants and works tirelessly to achieve it. The regime’s operating strategy can be broken down as follows:¶ Vital national interest: survival of the Kim Family Regime (not the nation-state but the regime).¶ Strategic aim: reunification of the Peninsula under the control of the DPRK (the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the KFR -- because anything else means that it will not survive)¶ Key condition to achieve its strategic aim: get US forces off the Peninsula (or in Sun Tzu terms “split the alliance”).¶ International political aim: to be recognized as a nuclear power.¶ Why does the North want (or need in its calculus) nuclear weapons? First and foremost it believes that it needs its nuclear program as a necessary deterrent. We should understand that the lessons that the regime has learned from Iraq and Libya are that their downfalls were a result of their not yet having developed nuclear weapons. Of course if anything happens to limit Iran’s development of such weapons (like what happened to Syria’s covert reactor several years ago) that lesson will only be reinforced.¶ Second, the nuclear program has proved to be an extremely useful strategic instrument in its diplomatic toolkit that has resulted in a range of political and economic concessions over the years and it will exploit that tool for as long as the regime is in existence.¶ Third, in my opinion, the regime is not suicidal at all and everything that it does and will do is focused on protecting its vital national interest. However, as irrational as it may seem to us that could include launching a war (particularly if the regime believes it is threatened and has no other alternative). And what is really dangerous to the region is that by the nature of the system no one is going to tell Kim Jong-un that his military is not capable of winning and the information that he receives from people around him (who have to act like sycophants in order to survive) can make a very irrational decision to us seem very rational to him. Fourth, deterrence has been effective against the North. Hwang Jong Yop's debriefings suggest that the North has never initiated an attack on the ROK because it knows that it cannot win a nuclear war with the US and it believes that the US would use nuclear weapons against it. [1] This calculation drove its need for its own nuclear deterrent, which the regime had been trying to develop since the 1950's. Ironically, the very effectiveness of our deterrent drove the North to possess its own.¶ Lastly, I think an examination of the regime's actions over the past 60 years shows that it has been very rationally following its own "play book" to protect its vital national interests based on its understanding of the international and peninsula security situation. It has been singularly focused on its vital national interest and achieving its strategic aim as well as using provocations to gain political and economic concessions.¶ Of course on the flip side there are myriad reasons to judge the North as irrational: Is it rational to think it can win a war with the ROK, let alone with the ROK-US alliance? Is it rational to use provocations up to and including either the use or sale of nuclear weapons or capabilities? Is it rational to starve some 23 million people to allow the regime to survive? Was it rational to attack and hijack the Pueblo? Is it rational to attempt multiple assassinations to kill the South Korean leadership (at least twice in Seoul and once in Rangoon) and to use terrorist action against the South and international community? Is it rational to trade in myriad illicit activities to include being one of the world's largest and most proficient counterfeiters (to include that of US currency but also cigarettes and drugs such as Viagra and methamphetamines)? Is it rational to turn down Chinese help for economic reform (because such reform would likely end the regime)? Of course from our perspective the answer to my rhetorical questions is no but we cannot just view the problem from our perspective or even through the eyes of South Koreans, who are now vastly different than the North Korean regime. From the Kim Family Regime’s perspective, it has acted in a very rational way and, if we look at things carefully, we should see it has acted in a very predictable way over the past 60 years.

Empirics prove

Salon 11 “Lesson from the Korean Crisis: North Korea Can be Deterred”, 1-7,

That link is good news, as it shows the the latest Korean crisis appears to have finally truly de-escalated, and it offers the lesson in the title: North Korea can be deterred, at least over some significant ranges of political disputes with South Korea and the United States, which is good news.¶ That is an important bit of information, because North Korea is a nuclear armed state that might possibly, possibly, on a good day, be able to hit American territory with one or two nuclear weapons with their extended version of the Taepodong II, if their missile could be launched before it was attacked by American and South Korean planes, get past the Airborne Laser of the Air Force, avoid the interceptors in Alaska and atVandenburg, and possibly also avoid an Aegis deployed on the West Coast, and it is only one or two that they are currently even possibly, possibly capable of attempting such a stunt with, at least as a single barrage.¶ The North Korean's nuclear weapons would not be very accurate, like within miles, and "at best" from the North Korean point of view, they would "only" go off at a yield of, given their two tests, five kilotons yield, less than half of Hiroshima, and would be at least as likely to "fizzle," and basically just create an unpleasant hazmat situation, if their warhead survived re-entry, but, that is still a nuclear weapons issue, and therefore an issue of something that the United States needs to deter.Whether or not North Korea could be deterred once it acquired nuclear weapons was actually subject to a non-trivial amount of debate, and was the subject of some worry as the increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula began with the sinking of the Cheonan in March 2010. All summer long after the Cheonan, the United States and South Korea conducted military exercises to deter the North Koreans from further attacks, including the South Korean military exercises on and around Yeonpyeong Island last November, drills that finished with North shelling South Korean territory on said island.¶ That properly made a lot of people pretty nervous, especially when the next South Korean military exercises were set to go live fire while the North was threatening to shell these wargames too.¶ Russia had announced that "major conflict" could be imminent within hours after a Security Council Resolution to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula failed to pass, over Chinese objections as to blame for the situation.¶ There was in other words a non-zero possibility of a war at that point, and that was true the second the Cheonan went under water last March.¶ Fortunately, the North Koreans then proceeded to do something after the failure of the Security Council Resolution to pass, which their conduct had raised a lot of doubts about, which was to then act like they could be deterred, by announcing they would not shell the South Korean wargames after all. They further de-escalated tensions on January 5 by calling for talks with South Korea, which of course was probably part of the point of this whole exercise in the first place, beyond the desire to show that the DPRK will still be here after Kim Jong il passes away.¶ But that wouldn't seem to be the whole story, because surely that is a big risk to take just to make that statement over sucession, and the existence of their nuclear weapons program shows why.¶ If you have nuclear weapons, you need from your own safety point of view to be thought of as deterrable, at least over some range of political disputes. This need is because if you have nuclear weapons and are thought to not be deterrable over any range of political objectives, the correct thing to do for any potential target is to attack you, before you attack them. That conclusion that the North Koreans in part launched this crisis to show that they could be deterred as part of their motive is still consistent with the DPRK domestic politics aspect of these events, and is still consistent as well with the acknowledgement that the North Koreans probably went to up to the brink of war in order to bargain over their future, where the brinksmanship was to get leverage in such talks by showing resolve. But still, these events also seemingly established that the North Koreans could be deterred, and that is actually in the interest of the North Koreans as a nuclear weapons state, even if they still want to be seen as "semi-crazy," to maximize bargaining leverage with the South. That is kind of obnoxious, because of the dead people and the scare-nuisance factor, but also shows that if the North Koreans are what is known in the literature as "risk acceptant," which is a fancy way of saying that the North Koreans will pull some crazy stunts sometimes that have a high potential to get out of hand, nuclear deterrence theory still applies to the North Koreans, at least across some intervals of political objectives, which is nice to know, since if nuclear deterrence theory did not apply to the North Koreans, we would have to attack them, which they also know that we know that they know..., and again may have been the most important functionality and certainly is the most important lesson of these events of all, and which is good news.

Tailored incentives are key --- targeting leaders and the elite makes deterrence effective

JEFFREY S. LANTIS 9, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at The College of Wooster, “Strategic Culture and Tailored Deterrence: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice”, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol.30, No.3 (December 2009), pp.467-485,

What are the implications of strong leadership for tailored deterrence? Dominant leaders who link themselves to prevailing cultural narratives may have a profound impact on security policy. If, drawing from insights in constructivism, one views the relationship between elites and strategic cultures as mutually constitutive, the leaders themselves become an important target of tailored deterrence initiatives. Elite allegiance to strategic culture also may be understood through the lens of emerging scholarship on identity and strategic choice. George emphasizes, 'the effectiveness of deterrence and coercive diplomacy is highly context dependent'.52 Much of the existing literature on strategic culture tends to focus on its role in authoritarian states, implying that there are more measurable strains of strategic culture manifest in certain types of political ideology, doctrine, and discourse. But recent case studies also suggest the power of elites to carry forward and shape strategic culture. Glenn Chafetz, Hillel Abramson, and Suzette Grillot suggest that the leaders of Ukraine and Belarussia demonstrated different attitudes toward acceding to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) after the collapse of the Soviet Union, partly as a function of strategic cultural orientations.5 Rodney Jones' study of Indian strategic culture emphasizes the interplay between leaders and a complex historical foundation. While deeply influenced by history, he argues, 'India's strategic culture is elite-driven and patrician-like rather than democratic in inspiration or style*. Successful leaders tap into a larger common historical narrative, the 'near mystical features of India's strategic culture* in shaping policy decisions. Murhaf Jouejati's study of Syrian strategic culture suggests that the al-Assad family has identified closely with Ba'athist secular traditions in the region to promote their own interests.55¶ Tailoring deterrence toward potential adversaries involves the identification of political leaders and elites, as well as individuals in the national military command, who should be the targets of important threat (or incentive) messages. -American responses to North Korea's nuclear weapon tests in 2006 and 2009 may demonstrate the evolution of deterrence messages. In 2006 President Bush declared that it was in the United States national interests to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. He added, in no uncertain terms that the United States would 'hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences' if it provided nuclear weapons or materials to other countries or non-state actors. In early 2009 the Obama administration appears to have diversified its instruments of diplomacy from opening a back-channel to North Korea and pushing a new set of highly targeted sanctions through the UN Security Council focused on individuals and firms doing business with that country. Former President Clinton's surprise visit and personal meetings with Kim Jong-il in August 2009 seemed to augment policies and messages targeted at select individuals in the leadership structure.

Studies confirm --- North Korea’s ideology and regime structure ensure consistent security posture

JEFFREY S. LANTIS 9, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at The College of Wooster, “Strategic Culture and Tailored Deterrence: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice”, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol.30, No.3 (December 2009), pp.467-485,

Recent literature on strategic culture also focuses on authoritarian states, implying that there are more measurable or identiliable strains manifest in certain types of political ideology, doctrine, and discourse. Contemporary studies of North Korea and Iran emphasize the power of strategic culture in shaping policy choices. North Korea has developed a highly focused core ideology of self-reliance (Juche) which defines a strategic culture appears to prioritize national security over all other policy concerns. This may help to explain that country's seemingly relentless drive for nuclear weapons. The cult of personality of Kim Jong-Il also ensures some measure of continuity in expression of military priorities and other security orientations. Similarly, studies of Iran suggest a definable strategic culture. Iran's strategic culture may be rooted in a nearly 3,()()()-year history of Persian civilization that lends itself to a combination of feelings of 'cultural superiority', 'manifest destiny', coupled with a 'deep sense of insecurity'. 7 Gregory Giles argues that, 'specific attributes of Shi'ism, which was adopted by Persia in the sixteenth century, both reinforce and expand certain traits in Iranian strategic culture'. 8 Experts believe that Iran seeks a nuclear capability as a symbol of national pride, as well as a way to deter the United States, gain influence in the Middle East region and achieve status and power internationally. Broadly speaking, strategic cultural models might work best for authoritarian states where there is typically a singular historical narrative.

Even if our knowledge is incomplete, we have to take every threat by North Korea seriously

Thompson 10—Chief Operating Officer of the Lexington Institute, doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown, bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern, former Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown (Loren, 26 July 2010, VOLATILE BUT VITAL TO OUR SECURITY,, )

The Korean Peninsula is the nexus of more security challenges than anywhere else that American forces operate. In one relatively small place, U.S. leaders must respond to the dangers posed by (1) nuclear proliferation, (2) China's rising economic power, (3) a failed state, and (4) conventional warfare. South Korea's rapid economic rise -- it now has a GDP roughly as big as America's $1.4 trillion projected deficit for fiscal 2011 -- has made it one of the 20 biggest economies in the world, but much of its productive capacity in microchips, cell phones, steel and consumer electronics could be quickly wrecked by an onslaught from the volatile North Korean regime. The repercussions of any such conflict would be felt around the world, especially in nearby Japan, which remains America's most important ally in the Western Pacific.¶ Our greatest challenge in dealing with the North Korean regime is its impenetrable secrecy, which makes every new move by Pyongyang a surprise. Because our intelligence community has no reliable way of determining the meaning or motivation of North Korea's frequent threats, all must be taken seriously. This has led to a state of chronic crisis on the peninsula that will probably persist as long as the descendents of Kim Il-Sung continue to rule. The threats seem to play a legtimizing role in North Korea's politics, justifying the continuation of dictatorial nepotism. Although the country has been dreadfully mismanaged for decades, its acquisition of nuclear weapons means that all threats are frightening and credible, regardless of the state of its conventional forces. Support of the Pyongyang regime also seems to play a role in China's internal political machinations. There appears to be broad opposition in Beijing to Korean unification, and China's own economic rise has made it less tolerant of the security role that America plays on the Korean Peninsula. It's hard to imagine that the Chinese can be comfortable with a nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang, but the prospect of a unified peninsula friendly to America and still nuclear-armed is even less palatable. U.S. policymakers have been hoping for decades that the incompetence of the North Korean government would eventually bring about its collapse, but circumstances are so tense and complicated in the region that the danger of war might rise with such a development, rather than receding.
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