Attack the North Korean missile base?

Ash Carter and Bill Perry say “yes.”

I haven’t been following North Korean developments at all closely, so I’m not entitled to an opinion of my own. But I know this much: Ash Carter and Bill Perry are both very smart, highly knowledgeable, and not at all trigger-happy. If they think striking the North Korean missile site is a good idea, they’re probably right.

Update A different expert has a different view.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

15 thoughts on “Attack the North Korean missile base?”

  1. Holy Shit!!!
    It's come to this? Otherwise rational people suggesting more pre-emption?
    It's worked so well so far, hasn't it?
    And what do we do when NK launches massive defensive strikes against South korea and Japan? WW#? Say "oops, we didn't think they'd do that"?
    This is another example of the paranoid madmen who run and have run our country. Where will the billions for a conflict with NK come from? We've already spent our surplus, saddled our children and grandchildren with massive public debt and now they want to borrow more money (from CHINA, for christ's sake) which our great grand children will still owe fifty years from now to finance more reckless adventurism in a world already sick of our posturing and arrogance. It makes sense that a government which thinks it's ok to illegally search and tap phones and generally tell everyone in the world what to do would think that they have the right to control every facet of policy and activity in every country in the world.
    Is there no end to the Bush regime and its supporters' arrogance and foolishness? Evidently not!

  2. I suggest that Carter and Perry may be missing a few facts. According to Defense Tech, N Schactman (sp?), there is no guarantee that there is a rocket or that is is fueled. According to DT the fuel is too corrosive to be kept in the rocket mor than a day or two. And, from what I read, S Korea has doubts also.
    In any case, a pre-emptive strike needs, or should need in a rational admin, excellent intel which we may or may not have – I vote for may not have.
    I am surprised at Perry especially. I am also surprised at you also, Klieman. As a person trained in analysis, as was I (I am retired), you should look behind the written word. Or at least don't make an apparent blanket acceptance!

  3. I can't believe you are being so uncritical based on some perceived authority (the Old Testament mentality?). Please read the long thread on this over at Kevin Drum's place for some sensible views.

  4. Not sure I see any relevant similarities (as apparently commenters above do) between (1) a targeted strike on a missile silo and (2) an invasion and occupation of an entire nation. There's preemption and then there's preemption.
    In any case, an issue that eludes Carter-Perry's analysis is the marginal antilegitimation effect of Bush's disastrous foreign policy decisions thus far. Those decisions aren't just sunk costs, but color the perceived legitimacy of future foreign policy action. Unfortunately, Bush has long since spent all the relevant capital. (Not saying perceived legitimacy is dispositive, but it seems like it's an issue they might have addressed.)

  5. "If you were Kim Jong Il and saw a buildup of American forces on the Korean Peninsula before an announced preemptive airstrike, would you be thinking that it would be only a limited strike and not the start of an effort to bring down your regime?"
    You might, if you didn't have Iraq as an example to go along with Bush rhetoric about the "Axis of Evil".

  6. Wow. Not content to send other people's children off to die in Iraq while they and theirs go about their other priorities, the Radicals are now advocating taking actions which will result in hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Republic of Korea dying and their nation being devestated. "Let's you and him fight" on a global scale. How….. American.
    We have just finished the Enron debacle, at tremendous cost in human suffering and dollars. Could we please get over this "smartest guy in the room" cargo cult? I am willing to acknowledge that _some_ of the top people in Washington DC are smarter than me. But they aren't the 300% smarter than not only me but ever other world leader that would be necessary to pull off god-like large-scale social reordering projects. Particularly those effected through military force (= killing people and breaking things). Give it a rest. Please.

  7. Dick Cheney won't get out of bed in the morning if a Democrat tells him to. I only wish Bill Perry had publicly demanded an invasion of Iraq back in '92.

  8. it truly amazes me how naive so many people are.
    did you know that NK has amassed an army of over 1 million troops on their border with SK? did you know that they spend all their money on upgrading their military?
    granted. it would cost money to deal with "invaders". …but let me ask you this – what are our options?
    we can pay now, or pay later.
    I think we should let them launch the missile. check to see where it is aimed. if it is found to be aimed at the usa – shoot it down. period.
    cost money, you say? yeah, I know. but like what can we do? let it hit us? or blow it up? frankly, NK has a history of lying to us. for all we know, the missile might even have a bomb on it. ..that's how crazy some people are in this world.

  9. > cost money, you say? yeah,
    > I know. but like what can
    > we do?
    Money? Money?? The Norks have an estimated 20,000 large calibre artillary pieces within range of Seoul. What happens if they declare the US shootdown of their "peaceful test rocket" an act of war and reply with a 10-minute barrage of the areas with the highest concentration of Americans? Say 30,000 dead. Is the Great Decider going to reply by declaring war against NK, against that 1m man army? If so, will his daughters be at the recruiting station bright and early the next morning to enlist?
    This willingness of the Radicals to decide that OTHER PEOPLE should die for the common cause is sickening. At best.

  10. Someone writes…
    "it truly amazes me how naive so many people are."
    and then writes…
    "if it is found to be aimed at the usa – shoot it down. period."
    Too bad the technology for shooting down missiles is still billions of dollars and many years away from being reliably an option. If you shoot and miss, which is quite likely, all you will have done is exposed once again the folly of this approach.

  11. reality based thinking wrote, "if it is found to be aimed at the usa – shoot it down. period."
    LOL! Shoot it down with what? The $10B/yr boondoggle that Bush ordered to be activated?
    Your handle "reality based thinking" is self-parody.
    "cost money, you say? yeah, I know. but like what can we do? let it hit us? or blow it up?"
    What we can do is safely assume it's not capable of hitting us, certainly not with any accuracy.
    "frankly, NK has a history of lying to us. for all we know, the missile might even have a bomb on it. ..that's how crazy some people are in this world."
    (1) A bomb? What kind of bomb? Is there any evidence that the NKs have a properly weaponized nuke that will fit in a reentry cone on this particular missile? And short of a nuke, the missile won't have the accuracy to hit a city, even if it could make it to the US.
    (2) Even ostensibly crazy leaders of nation states succumb to the logic of deterrence.

  12. NK might be trying to offer Bush a pre-Nov. chance to "get tough" and "force NK to back down." Maybe Perry and Carter are attempting to deflate any potential "get tough" maneuvers.

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