While South Korea begins its first official talks with North Korea in two years, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the Trump administration is debating whether to conduct a "bloody nose" strike against Pyongyang in an effort to quash its nuclear ambitions.
At issue is whether the United States could conduct a limited air war targeting North Korean nuclear sites in response to some new weapons development milestone — a new bomb or missile test, for example — without sparking total war on the Korean Peninsula. The South Korean capital of Seoul, located a mere 35 miles from the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, would be particularly vulnerable to a retributory strike by a Kim Jong Un desperate to survive or take his enemies down with him.
Inside the White House, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are pushing for diplomacy and de-escalation, the Journal reports, while National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster advocates military intervention. President Trump has indicated interest in both options, careening between threats about his "nuclear button" and proposals of negotiations at a dizzying speed.
For more clarity than the president may have, read The Week's Harry J. Kazianis on how a "bloody nose" strike could kill millions of innocents.