[Ed. – The entire piece is well worth the read.]
The long-term challenge reaches beyond the threat to American territory to the prospect of nuclear chaos. An operational North Korean ICBM arsenal is still some time away given the need to miniaturize warheads, attach them to missiles, and produce them in numbers. But Asia’s nations are already under threat from North Korea’s existing short- and intermediate-range missiles. As this threat compounds, the incentive for countries like Vietnam, South Korea and Japan to defend themselves with their own nuclear weapons will grow dramatically — an ominous turn for the region and the world. Reversing the progress Pyongyang has already made is as crucial as preventing its further advancement.
Unilateral pre-emptive military action by the U.S. would involve a risk of conflict with China. Beijing, even if it temporarily acquiesced, would not long abide an American strategy of determining by itself outcomes at the very edge of China’s heartland. … An understanding between Washington and Beijing is the essential prerequisite for the denuclearization of Korea.