U.S. Vice President Mike Pence put North Korea on notice on Monday, warning that recent U.S. strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed that the resolve of President Donald Trump should not be tested.
Whatever else one thinks of these recent strikes, it should be clear that they aren’t comparable to a possible attack on North Korean targets. For one thing, any attack on North Korea would almost certainly precipitate a major war, leading to the the destruction of Seoul and massive loss of life. The Syrian government and ISIS targets in Afghanistan had no way to inflict similar damage on the U.S. or our allies in response to recent strikes. If one of the desired side-effects of these strikes was to intimidate North Korea into changing its behavior, it is unlikely to work because everyone can see that the costs of attacking North Korea would be very high and ought to be much higher than anyone in our government is prepared to risk. I have said before that proposals to attack North Korea were insane, and they still are. No amount of bluster from this administration about its supposed resolve makes them any less so.