NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Military Action in North Korea: Wrong War, Wrong Time

August 29, 2003

Since North Korea revealed earlier this year that it was producing nuclear material, the Bush administration has considered many strategies to face this threat, including military strikes on North Korean nuclear facilities. However, a military attack is the worst of all possible policy options because of the dangers it would pose to U.S. soldiers in the region and thousands of others in East Asia, says Doug Bandow (Cato Institute).

  • An attack by the United States would incite a North Korean military retaliation, which would threaten hundreds of thousands of South Koreans as well as the nearly 37,000 Americans stationed on the peninsula.
  • A successful attack on nuclear facilities could spread nuclear fallout throughout East Asia.
  • Any unilateral attack on the part of the United States could hurt relations with China and South Korea.

Instead of a military attack, Bandow says, the United States must choose the "least bad option" among an array of negotiations, deterrence schemes and diplomatic efforts in neighboring states. Ultimately, though, the United States should withdraw its troops from South Korea and encourage regional powers (South Korea, Japan) to provide for their own defense.

Source: Doug Bandow, "Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Why Military Action Should Not Be Used to Resolve the North Korean Nuclear Crisis," Brief Analysis No. 76, May 12, 2003, Cato Institute.

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