North Korea is set to launch a rocket next week as part of its 100 year celebration of the country’s founder Kim Il Sung, and in case you haven’t heard, the rest of the region is all sorts of upset.Japan and South Korea have both put their militaries on standby, and the U.S. has deployed an Aegis-equipped ship as part of a possible plan to blow the North Korean missile from the sky should it stray over any neighbouring countries.
The Aegis is a state-of-the-art tracking system and could be quite effective in bringing down what is essentially a long-range North Korean missile.
Seemingly unfazed, the North has already prepped the launch site, and looks like it has no intention of cancelling the flight.
And Danielle Dementriou from The Telegraph now reports the regime says it will retaliate and mercilessly punish any country that shoots down the rocket after liftoff.
Despite the threats, Michael Auslin with the conservative American Enterprise Institute says shooting down the rocket is exactly what the U.S. should do.
Auslin writes (via DoD Buzz):
Diplomatists will be horrified at this [shoot-down] suggestion, but there are sound reasons for taking a stand now, starting with the geopolitics. The White House convinced itself that there was a chance for a new start with Kim Jong Un, even if no one changed at the top of the North Korean regime except its public face. When Washington tried the carrot, it was rewarded with one of the more subtle North Korean bait-and-switches in recent memory.
There is little prospect for any future negotiations under the current administration, but high likelihood for more destabilizing action by the North. Taking military action against an illegal missile test would show Kim and his military leaders that there also is a stick that the West can wield. That alone might cause better behaviour. Pyongyang’s overriding concern is survival and the West’s use of military force to defend interests and uphold international norms of behaviour—instead of just talking about all this—may make the regime think hard about its long-term interests.
What’s more, shooting down the missile is a proportionate, limited and clearly defensible action. It is neither aggressive nor provocative. It can be justified with reference to U.N. resolutions and long-standing self-defence pacts with Asian allies.
Philip Ewing at DoD Buzz points out that shooting down the rocket, however, could turn the North’s wrath upon the South, prompting a back-and-forth escalation that would lead nowhere nice — or the U.S. and it’s allies could try and take down the missile — and fail.
If that were the case, Ewing says it could embolden Pyongyang with the knowledge that its enemies defenses don’t work, and be a huge embarrassment for the nation that tried and missed.
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