Victor Davis Hanson says we shouldn’t be rushing to war with North Korea

Historians in the News
tags: nuclear weapons, North Korea, Victor Davis Hanson, nuclear war, Tribalism



Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and the author, most recently, of "The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern."

... We are told that China has few choices in restraining North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But without Chinese money, trade and technology, North Korea would today have no nuclear-tipped missiles.

Beijing enjoys playing dumb from time to time as it unleashes North Korea to threaten the West and consume American time, money and military resources in Asia and the Pacific. In truth, China has as much leverage over North Korea as the United States would have over South Korea should it ever choose to set off missiles all over the South China Sea and brag about targeting nearby Chinese cities with nuclear weapons.

The American options for pressuring the Chinese and the North Koreans, short of war, are said to be few. Most likely, they are almost endless.

The United States could expel rich elites of the Chinese Communist Party and their children from U.S soil and universities. It could ban Chinese citizens from buying U.S. property.

America could ratchet up trade sanctions against China, and embargo (or blockade) all commerce with North Korea.

The U.S. could declare solidarity with India in its border disputes with China, organize South Pacific and Asian countries to resist China’s illegal building of bases in the Spratly Islands, and triangulate with Russia over mutual worries about Chinese expansionism.

Massive new regional missile-defense efforts might result in neither China nor North Korea maintaining a first-strike capability over its neighbors.

The last-ditch lever is allowing Japan, South Korea or perhaps even Taiwan to go nuclear. America’s problems with North Korea would pale in comparison to China’s dilemma of dealing with three democratic nuclear states nearby.

It is not set in stone that either South Korea or the United States must spend the rest of eternity targeted with nuclear missiles by an unhinged dynasty in North Korea. There are economic, military and diplomatic options other than all-out war that can dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons — our strategic goal.

We are in the middle, not at the end, of a long North Korean crisis. But we need to ensure that worries over how the crisis escalates will be all Chinese and North Korean — and not our own.




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