Well, we certainly live in interesting times. I have quite a few friends from, and with a lot of family still in, Seoul. It’s hard to be objective. This problem seems intractable.
Pretty much any military action, short of completely destroying all of North Korea’s military capabilities in one fell swoop, would result in heavy, if not massive, casualties in Seoul. And how likely is it even our military can get all of it all at once?
Negotiations got us to this point (Clinton – remember?) What do sanctions mean to a third world country seemingly without desire to join the rest of us? Containment? Well, containment only works if the other side is rational. Batman has been trying to contain the highly irrational Joker for decades now. The Joker won’t be contained. How rational do you think Kim is?
This feels like a Kobayahsi Maru scenario. (Yes – that is a Star Trek reference after a comic book reference.) But consider what the Kobayasi Maru scenario really is:
The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. [emphasis added]
The no-win scenario is a test of character.
Whatever response we, and the world, decide to make to the provocation of a nuclear and intercontinental capable North Korea, our first concern needs to be our own character. Among other things, character means being able to choose to make sacrifice and to ask for sacrifice from others. In fact sacrifice is probably the best measure of character.
When I look at 9-11 and its aftermath the single biggest failing of the Bush administration that I see is its failure to rally the nation behinds its military actions – to try and send the nation about its business as usual rather than put us on a war footing. It can be argued that our currently severely divided nation cannot possibly achieve such a footing, but if we don’t try we’ll never know.
The real challenge here is not for the Trump administration, but for the character building institutions of our nation. Something ugly seems unavoidable regarding North Korea. Churches, schools, Scouts etc. need to acknowledge the challenge right now. We cannot wait to see what the administration is going to do, because whatever they do is going to test our character. No matter what happens, sacrifice will be needed. We need to be ready to sacrifice.