With tensions mounting over the March sinking of a South Korean warship — investigators have concluded it was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has ordered his military to get ready for combat. South Korea said it would restart psychological warfare efforts suspended during a recent warming of relations, and Seoul has redesignated the North as its "archenemy." (Watch a Russia Today report about Korea's drastic measures.) Can war be averted? If so, how? Four commentators weigh in:
Keep up the pressure and hope for a coup: The population in the North is starving and the military is likely on the edge of revolt, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. Kim Jong Il is hoping that the U.S. "will come riding to rescue" with food aid to ease the desperate situation. It's a tricky balance and at some point Obama will probably have to do just that — but if he can steel his resolve and hold out long enough, the North Korean military "may just decide that [Kim's] not worth the trouble any longer" and get rid of him. Here's hoping...
"North Korea severs ties, communications with South"
Launch a preemptive strike: The worst-case scenario is that the North will lob artillery shells into Seoul with guns positioned near the border, says Richard Halloran in RealClearPolitics. The U.S. and South Korea should take them out in a three-pronged "surprise attack" using B-1 bombers, sea-launched guided missiles, and artillery shelling. That will remove the biggest threat, and "shock the poorly trained North Korean Army into standing down."
"War of words with North Korea"
Make sure Kim knows the score: If there's one thing that Kim Jong Il needs to be aware of, it's that the South will answer military action in kind next time, says Bill Powell in Time. Knowing this ought to go a long way toward keeping him in line, since a "hot war" would certainly mean the end of his regime. Unfortunately, the North has been cutting off even the meager lines of communication that exist between the countries, so it's hard to be sure he actually knows it. The solution? China needs step up and forcefully convey the message to him.
"War in the Korean Peninsula: Thinking the unthinkable"
Mask our impotence, while letting North Korea get away with sinking the ship: "The only government with the power to squeeze North Korea where it hurts is China," its biggest trading partner, says Richard Lloyd Parry in the London Times. But China doesn't seem interested in doing much squeezing. The only other viable option is to get behind a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning North Korea, and trumpet the sternness and significance" of the rebuke. Sure, it's only theater — but hopefully it will provide some cover for the West's "impotence" in this situation.
"Analysis: North Korea will get away with this outrage — again"